When I was a kid, my dad introduced me to the ZX Spectrum, a BASIC computer that transformed our living room TV into a magical realm of pixels and sound. Tapping away on that squishy, rubberized Chiclet keyboard, I soon grasped that this was no sorcery; it was technology. While playing, an idea germinated: If I can play games, why not create them? Thus, my dreams pivoted from “Astronaut” to “Game maker”.
I like to think that 8-year-old me is satisfied. 🙂
The Canvas of Creation
Crafting a game today has evolved from the ZX Spectrum’s days of few-line codes. Visualize investing years, meticulously crafting a masterpiece, each line of code resembling brushstrokes on a canvas. Using game engines as our easels, the story shifts from painting serene landscapes to navigating treacherous seas if the rules of the canvas change.
Decades ago, while I was doodling games on the ZX Spectrum, the rules were basic. My family owned that Spectrum—the rubber keys, the cords, and every byte of code. It was ours, with no unseen hand altering our creation.
But fast-forward to today, and the game development scene is an intricate ballet of trust. Trust in tools, platforms, and terms. But the digital landscape can morph without warning. Today’s canvas? It’s dynamic, capable of changing hues with a software update or a policy shift.
The Unity Upheaval
Enter Unity’s recent pricing debacle. To those unfamiliar, Unity introduced a change in its pricing model moving from a simple up front cost of “art supplies” to a “pay per game install” model. Developers, once using Unity as their trusty canvas, find themselves unsure of how these changes impact their games’ monetization schemes.
Unity, for countless developers, mirrored my ZX Spectrum—a beacon of creativity. It was perceived as a neutral craftsman’s tool, its price akin to purchasing paints and brushes. And Unity thrived in this aura of neutrality. Universities embraced it, content creators promoted it, and novices found it welcoming.
However, Unity is not just a tool; it is a product with corporate strings attached. That innocent “Accept” click on their terms was more than just a formality—it was a pact of trust. The community felt the shockwaves when Unity decided to shift its stance, making developers question the ground they stood upon.
Trust as Capital
In this era, trust isn’t just gold; it’s platinum. Unity had amassed a vault of this trust, its value augmented by the community’s zeal. It was reminiscent of my ZX Spectrum days—a sense of belonging, predictability, and unwavering trust. But Unity’s pricing reshuffle sent tremors across their trust foundation. Their stock dipped by 5%. While this may seem trivial to outsiders, those in the know recognized it as cracks in Unity’s fortress of faith.
As developers begin to realize that the cost of their canvas can go from being a purchase to a renting agreement Unity will find it harder and harder to retain these vital community resources. The illusion of cooperation is gone, and is unlikely to be restored.
The Allure of Open Source
The brilliance of the digital age is the democratization of tools. And while platforms like Unity might stumble, open source stands tall with its promise of transparency. It’s the ZX Spectrum promise—once in your hands, it remains unaltered. No one can stealthily change your creation.
Consider Warzone 2100, a game from the 90s that’s still loved today. Why? Open source. Games like Doom and Quake 3 share the same legacy. Engaging with open source ensures that your craft stands the test of time, becoming part of a shared, unaltered heritage.
Building for Tomorrow with Ramatak
My love for open source steered the creation of Ramatak, a platform built on the Godot engine. With Ramatak, we sought more than just trust; we desired assurance. Our commitment is etched in the OCV Public Benefit Company (OPC) Charter, which champions the open-source spirit.
What this means, in a nutshell:
- Once open-sourced, it stays that way. No take-backs.
- Transparent development and public testing frameworks.
- No hidden nudges to opt for a paid version.
- Majority of our features remain open-source.
- Clear demarcation between proprietary and open-source segments.
- Swift security updates.
- Embracing data openness, ensuring users can tweak and enhance at will.
It’s not just about products but communities. Foundations should offer more than just trust; they should provide certainty.
Game development’s landscape is ever-evolving. But with open source, developers can remain anchored, insulated from unexpected shifts. Ramatak embodies this spirit, blending the open-source foundation with the tools essential for contemporary gaming. Our mantra? We can’t alter the deal.
Imagine a world where your canvas remains inviolably yours. A world where the tools and platforms respect your craft, nurturing rather than dictating the artist’s journey. The world of gaming is vast, teeming with potential. Every creator should have the freedom to chart their course without fearing unexpected twists.
Open source, in essence, is more than just code. It’s a commitment to fostering a community-driven ecosystem where creativity thrives and trust remains unbroken. After all, our collective dreams deserve a canvas that stays true, game after game, era after era.