Want to make this software Open Source? Now’s your chance.

I’m going to cut right to the chase:

I would like to Open Source all of my software (including Illumination Software Creator and Linux Tycoon) — while still providing enough income to allow me to continue developing them full time via contributions from the community.

In the past, I’ve argued that this is simply not a viable way to fund development based on one simple fact: There aren’t a lot of success stories out there of indie developers earning a living off contributions.

But then I got to thinking [as I am wont to do every once in a while]… how do I know it won’t work unless I try?  If  I can manage to make this model work, that will provide proof for others, who would also like to move their software businesses to be open source, that it is doable.

So, here we go.  It’s time to remove any doubt and give this a try.

And, in the interest of helping others learn how to do something similar, I’m going to make the entire process completely transparent and detail as much as I can.

What’s Needed

In order to fund active, full time development we need to pull together $4,000 USD per month in subscriptions.  This will allow me just enough to get by and focus on creating Open Source software.  One time contributions can then cover operating costs (equipment, servers, etc.).

How This Will Work

Starting today, people can contribute (using the options below).

If, over the course of the next week, we can hit the $4,000 mark, I will release the following software as Open Source (licensed under the GPL) :

I will set up these projects on a public source control service (such as GitHub) and set up project tracking tools for each (to allow for bug and feature tracking).

From that point onward I will continue to work on these full time, working with the community.

In addition, I have a few patent applications in the works [relating to Illumination Software Creator and the Lunduke SDK].  These will go into a public patent pool for Open Source projects.

And there will be much rejoicing.

What If It Doesn’t Work?

Which all sounds awesome.  But what if we can’t reach the goal in time?

If, come next week, we haven’t come close to the goal — then I hit the refund button.  Everybody who contributed gets a full refund and nothing changes (so there is no risk).  I continue to develop this software in a closed source way and get a little bummed out [I'd prefer to not get bummed out].

How To Contribute.

You can contribute one of two ways.  Below is a form that allows you to set up a recurring contribution.  Or you can make a one-time contribution in any amount you wish.

Monthly Contributions
 

What Do You Get For Contributing?

There are a two things that contributing gets you:

  1. The satisfaction of helping make some cool Open Source software.
  2. Your name (optional) on a donors page and in the about box of the software.

What Now?

As the week progresses I will be posting statistics on how much has been contributed thus far and how far we have to go.  This is going to be 100% transparent and documented publicly.

Any help in spreading the word, over the course of the week, will be greeted with high fives.

Update: THE GOAL HAS BEEN REACHED.

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  • http://flossexperiences.wordpress.com shirish

    Hi all,
    For those who are thinking some developer would come, fork the project and do the development for free they are not thinking straight. While it is true that projects have forked and will continue to fork in FOSS there has to be substantial motivation.

    While I’m not a developer as a user though I have seen many game projects for e.g. fall through the cracks. The more complete the game, the more incomplete it becomes as ambition for that one extra feature is always there. While I could name quite a few projects where forking and then again merged into the parent has happened as well so you cannot say for sure it would be like that.

    If FOSS games were such a bad idea then an initiative such as lpc.opengameart.org would not have happened. People are creating art and art assets as well as would be doing fresh game code and the prizes aren’t cheap.

    The art phase of the contest has the following three prizes:

    $1500 USD: grand prize (team or individual)
    $500 USD: secondary prize, individual only
    $500 USD: secondary prize, individual only

    The code phase has the following four prizes:

    $1500 USD: grand prize (team or individual)
    $500 USD: secondary prize, team only
    $500 USD: secondary prize, individual only
    $1500 USD: HTML5 game prize

    http://lpc.opengameart.org/content/liberated-pixel-cup-art-contest-launches

    What bryan could do is use either github or sourceforge.net and do tracking and let some people donate for partcular features.

    If the code is free, it is possible for coders who might not be wanting to do a full game but just learn some part or do some component of the game as well.

    All in all I have seen many a different ways in which things can pan out. It’s not so black and white as some people seem to think.

  • Charlie

    Bryan,

    Love your show and .. your idea. It’s a kind of patronage, as in the arts domain. Why not, software are kind of creative arts!
    My programs are also open-source programs (simple ones without any comparison with ardours or yours). So if you wanted to gather some more stats on the donation other open-source projects receive, you could count on mine… although my oldest project is ~ 1 month old ;-)

    Lots of success in your project and long live LAS :-)

  • http://freelikegnu.org FreeLikeGNU

    I think this is great and GPL is the way to go! By freeing your software, you enable others to contribute and make your software better and at the same time reach a broader audience. Like others have mentioned, with this license, your software can be part of an Ubuntu or Debian repo among other distribution methods which gives you great exposure. You can sell services related to the games you release as well as art packs, story packs and other expansions and your increased popularity will make it easier to get funding for more projects in the future! It also show that you respect the freedom of those who use your software and ensures that freedom into the future!

  • http://aliasbody.blogspot.com Luis Da Costa

    Hello Brian !

    I just want to say good work for all you did :D

    I just have one question, if it is not too much…. Could you please tell me (us) what is the programming language used to create Linux Tycoon for example ?

    Thank you in Advance and once again great job :D

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