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  Uses and Abuses for cracked MLOD models  
Uses and Abuses for cracked MLOD models

1) Introduction
2) Treatment of property rights in the community
3) Lack of BIS legal models and documentation
4) Legality vs logic
5) ArmA addons becoming illegal
6) Conclusion and possible solutions

1) Introduction

A few days ago a kind of earthquake has occurred unnoticed by all but the Modders of our community. Generally modders can learn how to model and create config files by using BIS samples and seeing how they are made, since there is very little public information and documentation.

Unfortunately only a very limited amount of these models have been released by BIS, so Synide, a modder, converted all BIS encrypted models to an editable format, called MLOD, to offer them to the modding community. He did this without BIS permission, so it was a kind of reverse engineering method, which is clearly forbidden in the Armed Assault EULA.

Recently BIS has made it clear that people that used the reverse engineered MLOD's should cease doing this immediately, including sites that host the results of this breach of the EULA. As you may have noticed we just opened this section on our website a few days ago and were forced to close it. Our action to propose these models to the “masses” actually kind of started the whole issue.

Pic of our section

2) Treatment of property rights in the community

All content is the property of the creator, whether it be BIS, a mod team or an individual addonmaker, since regardless of permission, the original creator always remains the owner of his work. Intellectual property has been a hot topic for the many years that we've been members of this community, at times conflicts between individuals and teams resembling a nuclear conflict taking place on many different levels. Too often have people shown a serious lack of respect for the rights of the original creator, by using content without permission both from this community and from other games. The attitude towards BIS, as well as hard working fans, is at times disgraceful, and leaves us in the hope of building a time machine, to bring back the old OFP community. From this point of view it is not surprising that some groups including BIS may view (other) addonmakers with skepticism.

For OFP, things like a commented config were released, to aid addonmakers in learning the basics of making addons. Unfortunately this hasn't happened for ArmA. While no one that bought ArmA, simultaneously bought the right to any kind of support, not being provided with much detail regarding the addonmaking process does appear to increase the need to "reverse engineer" BIS made content for some, as was done with OFP, a lot of the early addons being hacks, with BIS not having released any content for addonmakers to use either. As we have learned from experience, seeing something "in action" makes it a lot easier to understand a certain technique than just reading about it (editorial comment: talking about porn movies?). You learn about things like selections, optimized models that are only as much a burden to the system as they need to be, usage of lods, texture-mapping etc. As Kegetys, a well respected addon-pioneer put it:

"If BIS content used without explicit permission is now not allowed then that would mean most of the addons & mods I have made for example would now be illegal. Especially everything made in the early days of OFP were based almost entirely on "reverse-engineered" data & information, since there was no official material and very little documentation about anything."

3) Lack of BIS legal models and documentation

One would expect the selection of MLOD models that have been released by BIS itself to include such a selection of models to represent samples of every class available in ArmA, which makes it peculiar that they did not release samples of tracked vehicles, helicopters or ship models. Of course it is their right to release what ever they want, or nothing at all, but the selection seems odd. And this is why reverse engineering models seemed to be inevitable.

It seems strange that BIS is trying to hinder the fansites and community that have done so much to promote it's games, offering support and hosting mods & addons that have taken OFP far beyond the life expectancy of most games. BIS may have created a great game, but the players, mods and addonmakers, in other words the Community, have made OFP a legend. It seems the community is being punished for reverse engineering and sharing BIS' models to others that had not been included in the official MLOD pack, and the people that released addons using these models.

4) Legality vs logic

Anyone with the right knowledge and tools can reverse engineer the PBO and model files in the installation folder of the game they bought from BIS. All are publicly available files, that can be tampered with by individuals for many reasons, commercial use, porting to other games, creating cheats or simply learning.

As much as we disagree with reverse engineering for a lot of reasons, a lot can be learned from this breach of EULA. Yes we respect everyone's property rights and especially BIS', but the files will get out one way or the other, in our opinion it would be better to share them with people that are trying to make your game better, rather than restricting them to people that create cheats or cracks that ruin the game. Someone that wants to destroy the game for many others can get his hands on files, but someone that is trying to improve the game can't? That seems absurd!

As someone put it:

"The most logical course of action would be to grant non-exclusive rights to any addon maker that develops addons; whether reverse engineered or not; or modifications for Armed Assault. Then go after the people that develop addons/mods for other games, using Armed Assault content."

Using these files (for learning purposes) may not be legal, but it makes a lot of sense, considering it looks like being the only way to step in the modding community for newcomers and beginners.

5) ArmA addons becoming illegal

So what about all the addons and mods that have been released and were based on, or using these illegal MLODs ? If we want to respect legality and continue on this straight logic, we should remove them from our download sections since they are the fruit of these reverse engineered models.

Of course we do not want to sound alarmist , as far as we know, BIS has not taken an official stance on this yet . We do not see how they could take a such decision that would in the end kill the ArmA community. So they will probably have to find compromises and give a clear line of conduct about what is allowed and what is not, and what is “tolerated”.

6) Conclusion and possible solutions

To sum up we can understand BIS choice and must respect it, but a solution must be found in order not to harm the modding community any more.

At the end there are only a few logical solutions concerning this issue:

- BIS release enough public MLOD models to learn from, like 2 models by category for example, and/or a massive amount of documentation;
- The community creates free MLOD models made by the most talented addonmakers, as well as some nice tutorials, but it would require a lot of time and dedication to do this;
- BIS allows reverse engineering on models only (not other materials), and for being reused in Armed Assault only;
- BIS doesn’t give enough resources, people resort to the only option that is left, and these illegal models end up being shared through underground channels between aware modders and BIS closes its eyes as long as there is no file publicly hosted.

You can leave your thoughts and opinion in the comments.
  February 2nd, 2008 - 01:20   Comments (4)  

 
 
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