I think the use pre-existing content, eg, royalty free images and sounds, should be allowed.
1) Publicly available code libraries are allowed.
I must admit that I myself never use pre-existing code or libraries and start all my projects from a blank canvas. I understand the rationale behind using such libraries – no need to reinvent the wheel – and I have no issue with it. But why doesn’t this reasoning apply to content? If I can use a royalty-free image of a simple space-invader why should I create it from scratch, especially if I have limited artistic ability?
Currently, this seems biased towards artists. Game developers are, above all, programmers; they may have some artistic ability, but first and foremost they must be able to program. Yet, we allow existing code libraries to be used.
Is it permissible to create, use and distribute a public code library which renders royalty free images or plays royalty free sounds?
2) “We want you to create something free of copyright restrictions” (from Competition Rules).
Surely, Ludum Dare is then the perfect place to delve into royalty free content then? It is a skill to find, assess, rework, and credit if necessary such content. This is the perfect place to practice such a skill, and a breach of copyright in the realms of a 48 hour programming competition is far preferable to a breach of copyright on release of a finished product.
3) “Photos and recordings you make of people or things are acceptable content, just you must acquire them during the competition.” (from Competition Rules).
Again, if coders complain of having to reinvent the wheel, isn’t this a far worse situation? For example, I want to use a siren. I now have to spend valuable time walking the streets, waiting for a police car to pass, while clutching a hand held recorder. It seems a bit unnecessary to me, when game development should be the priority – 48 hours is a much shorter time-frame when it comes to collecting media assets as compared to purely programming.
Can I ask a friend to play the assorted sound effects I need, and stand beside him with an audio recorder?
4) “Fonts, drum loops, drum samples, and sampled instruments are allowed IF you have the legal right to use them.” (from Competition Rules).
So samples are OK? So to circumvent the rules as they stand I can create a soundback of royalty free sound effects, package them together and claim that I am using an instrument?
I don’t see any practical difference between a “sampled instrument” and a “sample”.
I also don’t see any different between a character from a “font” (esp. wingdings) and an “image”.
I hope I’m not coming across as pedantic, or spoiling the “spirit of Ludum Dare”, but it seems to me that the current ruling as regards royalty free content fails for many reasons: It is difficult to “prove” if someone has used them or not; It is difficult to enforce; It can be circumvented in clever ways; It puts people with little or no graphic experience at a severe disadvantage.
There exist content generators, and one can procedurally create content – but why remove the option of pre-existing free content?
As an additional note, I love scrawly scratchy art and amusing sound fx generated solely for the competition – like people saying “BANG!”. Such content has it’s place, and it will always be used.
Any thoughts on this?