Medievia as seen by a player and coder
I want to say thanks to several people that have either supplied me with information and assistance in my research or who had the
guts to stand up for their convictions once they had made up their minds. This list is in no way complete. I also want to thank
those that have written me to tell me that they appreciate what I've done. I've recevied several positive responses from players
and immortals who are on Medievia. I won't list them here (unless they ask to be listed) because they might suffer some in game
retaliation. Sad I know, but Medievia is like that. I'd also like to thank those that have sent me corrections for my page.
- Omawarisan: For being one of the first high level Medievia immortals to speak up. You can read his
- Thranz: For another high level Medievia immortal to speak up. Thranz worked on the Medievia source code and so he speaks from
experience. Thranz's mortals were even purged off of Medievia because he posted to rec.games.mud.diku.
- Sevrina: For being another god that reacted to the copyright violations on Medievia.
- KaVir: For doing the original Medievia/DIKU faq. You can see his Medievia FAQ here.
My name is Kurt Schwind. I'm a programmer at Wells Fargo.
I've been writing code professionally for a decade. I've also been a Medievia player since 1996 (My
main character is Cestus.. [With the start of Medievia IV].
At the beginning of the year 2000 I started to look into the DIKU/MERC accusations being made against Medievia.
At first, I did what most Medievia players do. I defended Medievia. At one point, I was made an AVATAR [a
flag assigned to those Medievia players that have a lot of game experience and that want to help new players out].
In November I came to the decision that I would have to request that my AVATAR flag be removed. I could not, in
good conscience, toe the party line anymore. You can read the letter of Resignation here.
Since then, I've stopped playing Medievia. My character has logged in thousands hours
(over 3000 at last check) into this game. It was not trivial discarding all the work I've put into a character that I
really enjoyed. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIKU and MERC are codebases for M.U.D.s. Multi-User-Dungeon. A code base is the set of source code used to create the
MUD program. The DIKU code base has been used and enhanced many many times. You can see the DIKU family tree
at http://www.game.org/heirarchy.html. You can see that DIKU is the
parent and that MERC is a great grand child of the DIKU code base. (DIKU -> Sequent -> Copper -> Merc). MUDs are fairly complex
programs. Most people don't know how to "just code one" so a great alternative is to download a codebase and modify it to suit your
specific needs. For example, you might change the 'theme' of a mud from medievial to sci-fi. The new mud that is created in this
process is said to be derived from the original work.
When you download a copy of a MUD codebase, you get documents with the licenses. I've included a copy of the licenses
here. The DIKU License and The MERC License
The gist of the licenses is pretty simple though. You cannot charge money. You have to leave the DIKU authors names in the
login sequence. And you have to have 'help diku' and 'help merc' commands that show you the credits of the original authors.
It really isn't asking much when you think about it. They only want credit for their work.
Vryce is the 'immortal' name that Michael A. Krause uses on Medievia. He owns all of Medievia. He is the sole owner of
Medievia.com a class S corporate entity. [In other words, a "for profit" company].
Medievia takes monetary donations for in game equipment. The equipment sells for 25 -> 50 dollars. Most of the 50 dollar
eq is no-det (it lives forever in the game). All of the $25 equipment has a yearly charge.
I'm not sure when, but at some point rule 7t came into existance. Via this rule, you can make personal swaps with
characters for donation equipment. At some level SOMEONE had to either pay cash or pay in services,
but it is possible now to come into the game and get some of the donation equipment by trading in-game equipment/cash for it.
As of yet, I'm not sure if the nag-screen goes away about donating to Medievia.
A derivative work is a work based upon one or more preexisting works. You can read the US Legal definition in
17 USC 101.
The Berne Convention also protects the original
copyright in derived works.
An 'immortal' in game terms is a game admin. Often refered to as immortals or deities or Gods, these people manage, program
and in general oversee the goings on in the mud world.
The current claim by Vryce is that Medievia was MERC/DIKU but since he has changed so much of the original code,
Medievia no longer qualifies as DIKU/MERC. The statement directly from Medievia can be read here.
I've got a version of the document cached here.
AI also have received a letter from someone who has written Vryce and actually got a response.
I post it here in full only removing the name of the sender.
To break it down a bit. I've got claim/counter here.
- Claim: Medievia has 250,000 lines of code compared to the original 26,000 lines.
Therefore it is no longer DIKU/MERC.
- Counter: SMAUG is another code base. It is currently
just under 200,000 lines of code stock (basic code no frills). It follows both the MERC and DIKU licenses without difficulty.
- Claim: Medievia is switching from C to C++ and that's totally different.
- Counter: No programmer that I'm aware of sees a transition from C to C++ as any big deal.
Furthermore, the SMAUGWiz codebase is an excellent
counter-example. It is also in C++, based on SMAUG it follows Smaug,Merc and DIKU licenses.
- Claim: Medievia is working to 'revamp' or 'recode' the entire thing. Once that is complete,
it won't be derivative!
- Counter: As Medievia is using the DIKU source and modifying it, Medievia will always be
a derivative work. To /not/ be a derivative work, they'd have to pitch the entire thing and start again, from scratch.
See the definition of 'derived work'. Here I'll give you an example that I used in my letter of Resignation.
- "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."
- "A fast beige vulpine leaped across a slothful mutt."
The second sentence has no words in common with the first, but it is clearly DERIVED from the first.
The only way to not be a derived work, is to start from scratch. It is not possible just modify the 'derivativeness' out of a work.
- Claim: Vryce claims that DIKU should have sued him already if they wanted to. And that furthermore,
he's in contact with some of the DIKU team to work on a for-profit project.
- Counter: I can't tell you if he's been in contact with some of the DIKU team or not. I can
tell you what some of the DIKU team members think of him. Michael Seifert (one of the creators)
said "I have been shown the [Medievia] code...there is no doubt that it is Diku based." and Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt
says "Vryce was indeed one of the major reasons I stopped contributing to the community, and found other places to
spend my energy."
Because of Vryce the open-source community suffers. Why contribute if someone is going to
take credit for your work?
So why don't they sue? What would be the real point in suing? They aren't in the United
States. These people are overseas. They cannot afford lawyers and no lawyer is going to take a case where the
big 'payout' is putting credit where it belongs.
- Claim: Medievia needs the money from "donations" just to keep running.
- Counter: Medievia has spent tens of thousands of dollars in advertising. So it doesn't go to just
'stay running'. Also, the whole concept of the DIKU mud is that it is run for free. If you aren't running
it for the love of the game and the players, then write your own. No one forced Medievia to use DIKU
code. Vryce could have written one from scratch, but he didn't.
I'm getting my information from people that have worked with Medievia or are currently working with Medievia.
Many people are willing to give information 'off the record'. When I started to gather the information in
earnest (and read up on copyright laws etc...) I sent an email to Vryce. He never responded to it. I asked
for his side and never got it. If he wants to let his side be known, I'd be more than happy to post it here.
I'm in the fortunate position to be about as objective as you are going to get. I played Medievia for many years.
I have never broken a rule on Medievia. I was trusted to be an AVATAR for the game. I get no money from
Medievia. And likewise, I get no money from people who have an interest in seeing Medievia fall. I'm not in
competition with Medievia. I have no interest in spreading lies about Medievia. Nothing would make me happier
than for Medievia to either code from scratch a new mud or to give the MERC and DIKU teams credit
and to follow the licenses. I have also found many of the current developers to be pretty frank about
seeing stock DIKU code in the game. This isn't a big secret.
First let me say what I'm not interested in.
I'm not interested in nudie pix of Med gods.
I'm not interested in slandering Medievia individuals.
I'm not interested in personal information on any of the Medievia staff.
I'm not interested in Medievia source code or snippets.
If you have information that you think is pertinent you can email me at kurtschwind@yahoo..com.
I do get a lot of email, but I will try and answer any questions you may have.
I've seen this question asked dozens of times. I've had it asked of me dozens of times.
The short answer is never. If you are adding/changing/modifying the DIKU source
you are still a derivative work. If your goal is to have a mud
that is yours to sell or take full credit for or whatnot, you have to code it from scratch.
The DikuMud FAQ is pretty clear on this. Here is a snippet:
"Do I need to follow the license agreement?"
YES YES YES YES YES!! No matter how much you have or think you
have changed in the code, you must included both the 'credits'
file and the names of the authors in the initial logon screen.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this.
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Last updated July 15, 2005