Frequently Asked Questions for The Light Princess

This is a collection of FAQs frozen from the
Wiki FAQ Page, as well as some old FAQs from 2001 (just a few revisions).
  1. The Story

    1. Who wrote The Light Princess?
    2. Who is George MacDonald?
    3. Why did we pick The Light Princess?
    4. How close will the game follow the story?
    5. Where did the alternate endings come from?

  2. Us

    1. Who's making this game?
    2. Are you making / charging any money?
    3. Can I distribute or sell this game?
    4. What's the License?
    5. Who is Source Forge?
    6. What does Source Forge have to do with The Light Princess?

  3. Technical

    1. What's a Graphic Adventure Game?
    2. What's Interactive Fiction?
    3. What's Interactive Cinema?

A.1 Who wrote "The Light Princess"?

The Light Princess was written by George MacDonald, in about 1864.

A.2 Who is George MacDonald?

George MacDonald is a celebrated 19th century Scottish fantasy writer, who is one of the predecessors of modern fantasy literature. He is noted particularly for influencing such well known English writers as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. His style is remarkable in its ability to deal with very serious subjects in a very light way, and The Light Princess is a very good example of this.

A.3 Why did we pick "The Light Princess"?

Several reasons: We like it. It is in the public domain, so there are no copyright entanglements with producing it as a free software. It is particularly well suited to adaptation to this sort of game, as there are many puzzle opportunities in the story. Also, the story doesn't take itself too seriously (and is actually meant to be very funny and satirical). This should play well in a game -- in our experience the best games had a strong humor component, since it's hard to sustain drama within the artificial game environment. We're hoping, though, that the characters will be involving enough to get the player thoroughly involved by the time we reach the serious dramatic climax of the story.

A.4 How closely will the game follow the story?

Pretty closely, but not slavishly. There are many opportunities for branching into other endings, and we're going to allow that. It's true that not all of the endings have the same dramatic strength as the story ending, but some of them afford more interesting game play. The idea is that different players will probably prefer different endings, and with multiple endings there will be more benefit to going back and playing the game again. Also, the agent-based characters will tend to alter the game a little bit for different sessions, even if the same goal is set by the player.

A.5 Where did the alternate endings come from?

They were, for the most part, suggested by passages in the original story. George MacDonald presented several characters' imaginings about how things might turn out if such-and-such didn't happen, which makes it very easy to interpret these as alternate endings. Some of them were pretty silly things that he obviously didn't mean to be taken seriously, but as this is a fantasy / fairy-tale world, we can go ahead and do them anyway.

B.1 Who's making this game?

We are a group of individual volunteers. Some of us really want to see adventure games available for Linux, others are taking the opportunity to hone their skills working on this project, still others just enjoy the Free Software community. For a list of people presently involved, see the Credits Page.

B.2 Are you making or charging any money?

No. There's no money involved. We are doing it because we want to. There are some potential ways to make money off of a project of this type, but we are not exploring those at this time.

B.3 Can I distribute or sell this game?

Yes! Please do (once we have a release, that is). What you cannot do is restrict others from selling or distributing the game. So if you actually wanted to have a market, you will have to add some proprietary value to it: by "shrink-wrapping" it, by producing copies on reliable and convenient media (such as CDs), by adding some kind of book or other "value-added" package (though the game will be complete without it), or by compiling it for new platforms -- although you will be required to make the source available as well. This is the Free Software way, and some companies have made money at it. You are welcome to try. I think we'd all appreciate being informed if you try this, but it is not a legal requirement.

Of course, it should be appreciated that we are still a long way from our first release.

B.4 What's the License?

Revised 2005-8/2

Game content in The Light Princess will be licensed under the Gnu General Public License. This is originally meant to be a license for compiled software, but it works reasonably well for media such as a game, especially when there are definitely many source files and data which must combine to operate as a program. There's nothing that really keeps the GPL from being used for creative work, either, and many people have happily used it that way for some years now.

I also considered the "Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike" license, but:

The "Universe" game framework will also be licensed under the Gnu General Public License, although it is the authors' opinion that game content is data not linked software under the terms of the GPL license, so that other, non-free games could be written to run on the Universe engine without license conflict (This pretty much has to be true if it's true for compilers and interpreters, which according to Gnu/FSF it is.

The DSL is NO LONGER BEING USED for The Light Princess. It fell out of favor and is no longer even being promoted by its author. We are therefore using the much more well-known Gnu General Public License for all game content. We're lucky, because none of the actual game was ever released under the DSL. I'm not certain how accurate this entry is, because some of the things I thought the DSL did, it apparently did not do, or did not do well. Some of the concept art is still presently covered by this license, though I would like to get the artists' permission to correct this.

Please see the Wikipedia entry on Design Science License for more information if you are still curious about the DSL.

B.5 Who is Source Forge??

I would describe Source Forge as an on-line Free-Software incubator. They provide a range of very useful services for maintaining a Free Software project. Source Forge is maintained by VA Linux, on the principle that the more free software is developed the better their product will be! I mentioned above that some companies make quite a lot of money selling Free Software, well VA Linux is one of them. I hope they get a big return from this, as they are providing an excellent service for the community!

B.6 What does Source Forge have to do with The Light Princess?

Source Forge provides our web-hosting, CVS repository, mailing lists, and other services which we use to maintain the project. However, there is no organizational connection to us as a group (i.e. they don't tell us what to do, or vice-versa, beyond obvious things like "don't put anything illegal on our server"). It's basically a much more advanced version of the free web-hosting services you've probably seen all over the web.

C.1 What's a Graphic Adventure Game?

This is a genre of game based on text adventure games, but with a graphical interface. These are the kind of games that Sierra (TM) and LucasArts (TM) are best known for, for example.

C.2 What's Interactive Fiction?

This is another word for "text adventure game". The most famous were the commercial Infocom (TM) games. There is also a large following of free software IF games.

C.3 What's Interactive Cinema?

This is a less commonly used expression, but it is basically another way of thinking about graphic adventure games, which is analogous to using "Interactive Fiction" to describe Text Adventure games. In this way of thinking, the game is really a movie with which the user interacts, allowing the ending and plot details to be determined by the user. This is pretty descriptive of "The Light Princess" game as currently conceived.

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