Decompiling Maps.

Discussion in 'Site Discussion' started by LeSwordfish, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    Recently there was a big discussion in chat about the following site rule:

    This rule technically prevents people from decompiling any map, for any reason - but we're not sure if that's what we want. It's clear that some people are interpreting it differently to others, and we want to nail down what we mean.

    On one hand, decompiling maps is great for learning tricky entity work or seeing how a particular cool thing is done (or even just finding a tricky prop). It's a great way to learn how to apply skills like lighting and optimisation in a actual map circumstance. We have the Valve Maps Decompiled thread, which is a great resource - but one that technically isn't allowed by site rules.

    On the other hand, some people really strongly dislike the idea of their maps being decompiled. Decompilation makes it very easy (and tempting) to directly copy-paste or plagiarise, which we're very strongly against. And technically the site rule is that it's not allowed, though it's very hard to police.

    So! What do people think? Should we change the rule to allow decompiling maps? Plagiarism and copy-pasting would still be banned. Or should we keep the rule as it is, but start more actively enforcing it? Including perhaps taking down or rethinking the Valve Maps Decompiled thread. Another option might be an opt-out system, where if the mapper prevents you from decompiling a map, then it's forbidden under site rules.

    We might have a poll on this later, but for now: discuss! We're interested to hear your ideas.
     
  2. MaccyF

    aa MaccyF Notoriously Unreliable

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    Besides Valve's maps, i think permission should always be given, at the end of the day it's using someone else's work to better your own. I reckon an opt-out system would be best, perhaps a tag on their sidebar (where it shows donator status, badges etc.,). Whether it should default to allowed or disallowed is a better question IMO, and one I don't readily have an answer for.
     
  3. fubarFX

    aa fubarFX The "raw" in "nodraw"

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    It's up to the mapper to determine how the content he publishes can and cannot be used. This is called software licensing. there is a bunch of licenses and surely there's one that suits your needs. for reference, a general rule of thumb in licensing is: If there are no license included that grants you permission to do anything with the content provided, assume it is copyrighted.

    a more important issue would be to figure out under what terms the assets offered on the site are available.
     
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  4. Yrr

    aa Yrr An Actual Deer

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    Copyright and ownership laws aside, I'd never decompile someone's map, simply because it feels rude and invasive.
     
  5. Fr0Z3nR

    aa Fr0Z3nR Creator of blackholes & memes. Destroyer of forums

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    (Should note, that in the ToS for Steam/Valve/TF2, there may be something that says "You must use this type of license" ... so, the decision for the type of license, may be out of our control)
     
  6. fubarFX

    aa fubarFX The "raw" in "nodraw"

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    I've taken notice of the license included with source's codebase but it doesn't extend to the content you create for it. Submitting to the workshop grants valve some rights but if you stay out of it I'm pretty sure you are the full owner of your content. Of course your map depends on copyrighted content from valve but as long as you are not distributing that content, you're theoretically in the clear. I'd have to check to make sure but if our work is in fact bound to a license, you can always sublicense it, given that the licenses are not in conflict with one an other.
     
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  7. Lain

    aa Lain Resident wrong opinion holder

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    Honestly, just be responsible with what you do with levels.
    I have decompiled many a level in my days just to see what scaling a fun area had, or what brushes were used to pull of an aesthetic, that's not malicious and I honestly wouldn't care if people were doing it to my work either. It's kind of like looking at a time stop of a painting, seeing how the artist pulled off certain looks and styles, all out of appreciation or curiosity.

    Where it stops though is copying brushes. Sure you can use some scaling for reference or something, but the moment you copy/paste it into your own work is where it stops being appreciation and becomes plagiarism. That's why I was so mad at the decision of that CTF map's plagiarism, is obviously had extremely similar geometry and scale to Overlook, and while I can't say it was copy/pasted wholesale, it was very close.

    Also for the love of god do not take down the Valve decompiled maps thread. I've learned more from Valves levels than I have any tutorial by some schmuck. Looking at how the professionals do it makes you much much better, it would be like having to learn the intricacies of Music without learning some Beethoven or your favorite artist. Ridiculous.

    Should we change the rule to allow decompiling maps?
    Of course! As long as nobody is plagiarized from decompiling and the level designer isn't adamantly against decompilation, it's 110% fine and should be encouraged, at least for Valve levels.

    Or should we keep the rule as it is, but start more actively enforcing it?
    Enforcing rules like this just ends up with shitshows "you stole this brushwork from me!" "How did you find out that it was the same units size?" "You decompiled my map you bastard!" Who is in the right here? If the rules were more highly enforced, nobody of course. If someone is REALLY feeling that a piece of a level is ripped wholesale from them they should talk to the person in question about it in a PM. I'm not particularly proud of how I handled calling out those two plagiaristic levels, it was childish and mob-like. I attempted to get people to dogpile onto these people, even when they might not have been plagiarizing. These things should first and foremost be discussed in a PM and sorted out there, mod intervention only need come when someone is going against the decompiled map owner's wishes.

    Another option might be an opt-out system
    I think it should definitely be asserted if it's a straight rip (someone takes the buildings from Sunshine middle and puts them in a map) then it's not cool, (but even then it once again falls under plagiarism) unless someone has asked the designer about it.

    I think the main thing we should be asking is, are you against people taking a peek at your work for learning purposes? Or would you rather them ask you permission?
    For me honestly I don't care if you decompile my maps, just stay far away from stealing brushwork. I will admit that I've looked at some levels from users here in my mapping infancy to learn lighting, angled geometry and some artistic brushwork, but I have NEVER stolen brushwork or detail work, it's always been my own original work. Keep in mind that this was from people who I definitely couldn't get into contact with, even though I may had tried.
    Maybe i'm being too hopeful of people's inherent good nature, but I think a hands off approach is better than stamping down on learners like me just trying to soak up some greatness from the giants of this site. It's all in appreciation, never malicious. And I think that's the point, if my level is being decompiled by someone that wants to examine my work, i'd honestly be flattered.

    tl:dr yes no sure
     
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    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  8. Yrr

    aa Yrr An Actual Deer

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    IMO official maps are fair game since Valve owns them and is ok with it

    but unofficial maps are still v personal and I think you should at least have to ask (and respect) permission
     
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  9. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Technically speaking, I'm not sure why something like that even qualifies as a site rule, because it is not something I use the site for. I use BSPSrc. Restricting what I can do, off site, in my own time, is as silly as if the EULA for iTunes had a rule against eating meat. "Do not upload maps containing content copied from other people's maps (except VMFs provided in the Resources section)" is a horse of a different color; that's within the scope of things people use the site to do.
     
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  10. Beef Bucket

    aa Beef Bucket L41: Blessed Member

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    Between the surfaceprop and mat_crosshair commands, decompiling a map for one prop seems a bit unnecessary
    Perhaps we could open up a "Before you decompile" type thread?

    Definitely don't take down the Valve Maps Decompiled thread, I still get all my light_environments and most of my logic from those
    Am I making sense? I feel like I'm not making sense
     
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  11. Idolon

    aa Idolon the worst admin

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    While that's a fair point, a better analogy would be iTunes restricting people from sampling music in their own work. Copyright infringement is only illegal if you publish your work.

    In other words, we can make a rule against decompiling, but we can't do anything about what we can't prove. It might be better to word this as what our stance on decompiling is. We can't keep people from pirating, but we don't allow people to talk about it in chat.
     
  12. Pocket

    aa Pocket func_croc

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    Yeah, but that's too much of a 1:1 comparison, and analogies like that don't work so well if you're trying to make a point.
     
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  13. Hyperion

    aa Hyperion L16: Grid Member

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    I think changing the rules would have no effect to decompiling community maps. Some people do it already and some don't and rules won't change it. We have no way to control it and know who does it
     
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  14. Werewolf

    aa Werewolf Probably not a real Werewolf

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    Surely the amount of copied brushwork should factor in somewhere? Say I make a map that is 95% my own work, but I copy a staircase from someone else's map. I don't think anyone would really mind that. But the question is, at what point do we mind? A 80/20% map? A 60/40% map?

    The fact that the source engine has an ideal way to optimize and if maps are built on grid, we're going to end up with areas that are similar to each other anyway. They may not be exactly the same, but many maps have similar corners due to the fact the mapper was trying to break a sight-line or just optimize an area? (I'll try get some example pictures in here)

    To me that is not intentional plagiarism. If anything it's a shared idea. I've not seen any guide on optimization or level layout design that says "This is for example, but you still can't copy it for your own map."

    I think the rule should stay as it is, minus the decompiling part:
    9. Respect others work. Do not change or release another mappers work without explicit permission.
     
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  15. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    To address the bolded orange points in reverse order:

    It's already an opt-out system. To opt out all someone has to do is say they're ok with their stuff being decompiled.

    Leave it as it is. Enforce it when someone is acting without permission. Valve's maps are different from our own, we own the intellectual property for our maps, Valve own the IP for theirs. Valve is a 'faceless corp' who won't be upset by someone decompiling (plus we actually know they're cool with it because they love modders and such)

    Don't change the wording to encourage or even be passive about decompiling, because with that, you'll open up the can of worms that is plagiarism.


    Key points bolded. But the most important point here, that I'll repeat again because it's so important:

    We own the intellectual property that are our maps. Valve own the intellectual property that is the official maps. Valve aren't really being wronged when someone decompiles their maps. (if they ported them to a different game, then yeah but that's a separate issue) When someone decompiles one of our maps they're using our intellectual property in a way which we may not have wanted.
     
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  16. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    I agree with very many of those points, YM. To add, though:

    What about officialised custom maps?
     
  17. theatreTECHIE

    aa theatreTECHIE Yet another Techie for the net...

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    I believe that officialised custom maps pre-Gun Mettle were purchased off the creators, so Valve owns the rights to those maps, however post-Gun Mettle (and including) Valve is just facilitating those maps being in the game officially, but the creators still own the rights to the maps.
     
  18. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/
    This agreement grants Valve permission to use and create derivative works from the intellectual property, but does not grant permission to others. You remain the owner of the content.

    So for anyone who signed an IP transfer agreement for their map, that map is now Valve's. For anyone who uploaded to the workshop, they still own that map.

    In other words:
    Anything before Gun Mettle -> Valve's and free for all
    Anything in and after Gun Mettle -> Not Valve's and not free for decompiling without permission
     
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  19. LeSwordfish

    aa LeSwordfish semi-trained quasi-professional

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    Thus maintaining the thread would require only contacting mappers since Gun Mettle?
     
  20. YM

    aa YM LVL100 YM

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    The Valve maps decompiled thread? Yeah that should only have maps owned by Valve in it, or post-GM community maps with permission