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Fergo

File format and name licensing

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Hello everyone, it's my first post in here. First of all, I would like to apologize if this is not the proper place to post this. Well, now to my question: I have some game programming experience, but we (me and the team) decided to end our old project (despite having good download counts) to avoid some licensing problems, as we were using an already registered name for the game and, at the time, we did not cared so much for this type of issue. Now we are about to start a new project, but this time we want to make the game in the most correct way, and the biggest problem I think is with licensing. It's a "home" project, so we don't have the budget to buy rights to use some format or resource. So my question is: which file formats I can use without having to pay for the rights or that I'm not getting in trouble using it (basically 3D formats, audio and textures)? Is there a place where I can check for stuff like these? I was wondering using the .3ds format for the city model (it's a racing game), .md5 for vehicles and common models (md5 is the format used by iD's Doom 3), .dds for textures and .ogg for audio (as far as I know MP3 is a proprietary format owned by MILES or something like that). How can I check if I can use these formats without any legal problems? The reason for using these formats is that they are pretty common, so we don't have to write our own format, plugins and converters to use in 3Ds Max, for example. I'm going to use this same topic to another question, which is also related to the trademark stuff, so I don't need to create another one. We already decided the codename for the project (which could probably become the final name) but after some google search I found a song and some other things (not game related) that already used that name. In this case, can I use the name for my game or I have to choose another one? If so, the world is going to run out of names very soon I guess. We don't really know yet, but depending on the final result, we have plans of selling the game. Also, if you have some link or something that deals whith this kind of issue, I would really appreciate (and I don't know if this stuff differs from country to country, as I don't live in US). Thanks in advance and sorry for some English mistakes. Regards, Fergo

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I am not familiar with Brazilian IP law, but in the U.S at least file formats generally aren't protected. Algorithms used on the data within the a given format maybe patented. for example, MPEG compression.

You shouldn't have any trouble using 3DS and MD5, MP3 on the other hand will require paying a license to Thompson because the compression algorithm is patented. You can easily substitute Ogg Vorbis for MP3 and use it for free.

As for the name, if you plan to distribute your game under the code name it would probably be easier to pick new one, than risk suits over trademark infringement and dilution.

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You could use .x or milkshape format for models, .ogg or .wav for sound. Mpeg should be fine if you have the right library but from my understanding, you can just write your own decoder since licensing is required.
Texture formats are pretty much all open like png, tga, etc.

If you are using md5, that's a little cheesy. People will think "pirating" when they see it.

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Hum, the model format from DirectX seems like a good idea, thanks. I'll look for it's features (if it support lods, animations, bones, etc...).

Have a nice weekend,
Fergo

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