City of Heroes’ SEGS rebuild project releases a pre-alpha version of its engine

    
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MIND

The Super Entity Game Server (SEGS) project, which readers will recall is an attempt to rewrite the code for City of Heroes to connect with game assets players already own (and thus skirt any legal trouble with NCSoft’s EULA), has made a fresh step closer to its projected late winter alpha release with the launch of a pre-alpha version of the SEGS Engine.

The engine is open source and free to download, so those with the tech knowledge to play around with it can now do so. Regular players won’t get much out of the current version of the engine just yet, but in any event, the developers of the project are very clearly making progress. An alpha is still expected by the end of the year.

source: Twitter
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Ironwu

For those folks below that think that companies do not or cannot exercise their IP rights? Companies do so quite frequently, usually by issuing Cease & Desist orders against the violators.

Certainly, a group that creates its own assets and code may be somewhat safer, but even they will be subject to successful legal challenge if what they ‘created’ is to close a copy of an existing IP.

Folks spend money, and play, these products an their own risk.

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Hikari Kenzaki

Yeah, I get people wanting to be hopeful, but when it comes down to it NCSoft owns City of Heroes, Statesman, Manticore, Sister Psyche, Hellion Brawler, etc. Any game that has those without their permission is at risk.
It’s unlikely that NCSoft will do much at this point, but pretending there is some legal ground to stand on is just not founded in reality.

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Ironwu

Just to be clear, players do not “own” ANY assets. They merely license the use of said assets at the company’s (in this case NCSoft’s) pleasure. That license can be revoked at any time and for any reason.

Even the use of those assets without the express permission of NCSoft very likely violates TOS/TOU contracts. So just creating your own server system does not release ANYONE from their contractual obligations as it relates to using the client code.

NCSoft may choose not to enforce its rights. But that does not mean they cannot enforce them.

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traja

I’m not a lawyer but that description doesn’t sound accurate to me. For example this would mean that Nintendo could at any moment revoke your right to play your old copy of Super Mario on your NES console.

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cursedseishi

I didn’t realize you had to read a ToS and agree with it to play any game on an NES upon firing it up in good ole’ 1980s.
/s

That isn’t at all what it means. Besides, ToS/ToU aren’t exactly fair law, on the surface you ‘agree’ to something but courts rarely ever actually enforce them if it goes so far. That is why most any private server for an MMO usually reverse engineers and then implements a similar but wholly ‘original’ base for the servers–because if they decided to go whole sale on use of code it crosses over into much more legally actionable territory. Assets are still utilized from the game of course, but the assets of the game are stored locally and not distributed. And tampering with those is a separate though somewhat similar issue. And legally, you are hit more by acts tied to violating the ToS rather than the violation itself if it does go to court.

You only ever see these agreements on titles with Online interactivity of some sort however. And the license is connected more so to how the game connects and works than specifically the content of the disc itself. Let’s use Blizzard’s infrastructure as an example. You violate their ToS, Blizzard revokes your license to the game, but that most always is specified tie to online only where you have to use their servers–whether that be Battle.net for Starcraft or the entirety of the game ala WoW.
That’s why, if someone is playing Dark Souls 3 and gets hit for violation of the ToS? They only lose access to the online component, not the game itself–even if the copy of the game being used was purchased digitally. FromSoft cannot take the game away, only your rights to use their infrastructure used by said game.

For a single player game, one cannot have their (Purchased) physical copy revoked. Now… If you were talking about someone emulating Super Mario on the PC? That is an entirely different and grey area of legality but most companies don’t really do much unless you’re actively and openly distributing said ROM.

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traja

One caveat to this is that nothing stops them from filing a lawsuit. You could be sued for breaching the ToS by connecting to an unofficial server with your copy of the client. It doesn’t sound like something that would get very far but just having to defend it would be a huge drag on your life. Of course there is nothing really for the company to gain from doing that beyond being vindictive.

BIG Rich Lawrence
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BIG Rich Lawrence

We are working on a custom client as well that is capable of using the original game elements as well as new original ones.

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cursedseishi

Like I said, courts rarely if ever actually enforce ToS though. Companies that have tried to enforce their ToS legally have it thrown out, and instead have to rely on the acts that violated it. And that is true for multiple cases.

And in the case of breaching the ToS through connecting to an unofficial server? No, no company will ever sue. Yes it would be a big ‘drag’ on your life, but it’ll be even worse for the company. They’d have to enforce that similarly against a large swathe of people, filling courts in multiple districts and paying out the backside for literally no return of money. An end user’s damage in participating in a Private Server is almost none, and unlike something like music? Private Servers don’t distribute the game as a whole (except where the game is dead), they use their own purchased client. Not only is it a massive drain financially, but the PR of it would look far worse than it does for a Record Company suing an 80 year old woman for $15k USD because she downloaded a copy of Rebecca Black’s hit song ‘Friday’.

The only thing that would hurt worse would be articles popping up about ‘Blizzard’s Nation-Wide Lawsuits Freezing Up, Shoveled Out of Courts’.

It’s more effective for them to hit the Private Server group as a whole. Which, well… is exactly what does happen. And even then, that is rarely brought to court as most simply take the Cease & Desist letter and stop.