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Louis Suarez-Potts Talks About Making Money with FOSS (Video)

Roblimo posted about 6 months ago | from the bringing-free-and-open-software-to-the-masses dept.

Open Source 33

Louis Suarez-Potts has been community manager for OpenOffice since it was sponsored by Sun Microsystems. He's still working with OpenOffice now that it's under the Apache Foundation umbrella. He also has a business going, along with several other long-time Free and Open Source boosters, called Age of Peers. They say it's "a collective forum for consultants, practitioners and boutique agencies, to collaborate on a bigger picture. We mix these ingredients in an organization built to foster collaboration, and harness creative cooperation into powerful new ideas." The company is focused on Open Source developers and companies, and often doesn't charge startups or individual developers for their services. They will be doing a live Google Hangout interview on March 5 that might give you some ideas about how to start, manage, and market an Open Source project -- even if you have no money to spend, which many people who have good ideas do not, at least when they get started. (Alternate video URL)

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I want my icons on slashdot (2)

NobleSavage (582615) | about 6 months ago | (#46305071)

OT: I really like the icons on the old Slashdot. The beta version has no icons just pictures and it looks just like every other news site.

Re:I want my icons on slashdot (1)

stooo (2202012) | about 6 months ago | (#46314987)

Beta is crap. We want Slashdot back.

--
Written on a classic slashdot.

Making Money on FOSS? (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 6 months ago | (#46305115)

The only way I've known to really make serious coin on some FOSS project is to write the book.

Ok.. Yea, there are other ways, but it's the book writer we all remember.

Re:Making Money on FOSS? (1)

moschner (3003611) | about 6 months ago | (#46309073)

IT seems the few people making money from FOSS have done so by using the software both as a tool to provide a service and as a form of advertising.

Age of queers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46305205)

More like it

Louis Suarez (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46305219)

Louis Suarez is my negrito. Man, that guy is amazing. All those goals. He could break the EPL record this year. He's a shoe-in for the Golden Boot. Now if we could just keep Martin Skrtel from scoring own goals...

Open source games (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46305223)

The transcript mentions gaming:

So for example if you’re doing Python, it might be reasonable to say go to a gaming community conference because that’s where a lot of Python people go.

But earlier it criticizes the commonly suggested business model for open source games, that of distributing the engine as free software and putting a paywall on the mission packs:

Nowadays it’s what some people would heavily criticize is that you can sell for example proprietary stuff that is built upon open source, so for example I can have an open source core, that then is have a glitzy enameled proprietary shell and people will then be able or want to use it and I’ll be making my money off the proprietary.

This is still the only way I can see to make money from a video game under a free software license. A video game doesn't require nearly as much support as business software, especially if it isn't MMO.

Patronage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46305969)

It wouldn't be too different from the current way proprietary shops work.

In a proprietary shop, the "patron" is the company who pays the developer to developed closed code.

So why not have a patron who pays a developer to develop code that is then released for free?

The patron here would be people who want to see a game made. It would be like folks who fund kickstarters.

Yes, this does mean a game developer has to keep developing games to put food on the table, but isn't that already how it is? Developers of proprietary software often have to sign away the rights of their work to their employer.

Re:Patronage? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 5 months ago | (#46306959)

So how would a game studio go about finding a patron who wants a Free game made? From everything I've seen, every patron that wants a game made wants the game to be proprietary because it's based on the patron's book, film, toy line, etc. that's likewise proprietary.

I already pointed you in the general direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46337789)

As I said, the patrons would be likely be found on kickstarter and crowdsourcing

People from traditional business are paying game studios because they seek to sell the finished game for a profit. That's is one reason they prefer closed source, as they can make more profit that way.

People on kickstarter however includes people who pay simply because they want the game made; to play it. Those are the people who would likely pay for a Free game.

How to build a fanbase (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46345245)

This article [bleedingcool.com] claims that Kickstarter is for studios that have "an already installed fanbase". How should a startup indie game studio build that first? If by building a substantial game or two and releasing it to the public without charge, then how should the studio find the funds to do that?

The old fashioned way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46346155)

Perhaps you're using the Socratic method here and keep asking questions, but I'll play along.

Yes, building a substantial game or two and releasing it to the public without charge is one way. Lacking fans, you'll have to fund it out of your own pocket. Ask friends and family. Or just suck it up and work for somebody else for a while. Become "those devs who worked on [AAA game] is now going off on their own"

Mind you, I disagree that you need a "substantially" costly game to build a fanbase. Mods, flash games, smaller mobile apps. Remember, a more complex, or longer, and better looking game isn't necessarily a better game. The world went crazy just recently over a game involving a bird flapping between pipes

Re:The old fashioned way (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46349037)

Perhaps you're using the Socratic method here

Nailed it. Thank you for having patience with me. A lot of other Slashdot users appear not to have patience for my methods. They tell me to just Google it without helping me through the thought process of coming up with keywords that produce relevant results, and Google isn't especially good at determining the reliability or obsoleteness of a source anyway.

Or just suck it up and work for somebody else for a while.

I'm doing that, but "somebody else" in my city happens not to be in the video game industry. I'd first have to fund a relocation to Austin, Texas, or another city with a video game industry, and that's the point where other Slashdot users usually stop being willing to help me.

Mods

After MDY v. Blizzard?

flash games

I assume I'd get around the $239.88 per year Adobe tax [adobe.com] with FlashDevelop and the Flex SDK [devmag.org.za] . (Source: Google flash games without flash)

smaller mobile apps.

A problem with mobile games is that iOS and Android devices don't ship with a directional control. Sure, I can tap the lower right corner of the screen to jump, but when I tried a game with an on-screen gamepad (the Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure demo) on my first-generation Nexus 7 tablet, I couldn't get a hang of the controls because I couldn't feel where my left thumb was relative to the on-screen controls.

Re:The old fashioned way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46350337)

I'm doing that, but "somebody else" in my city happens not to be in the video game industry. I'd first have to fund a relocation to Austin, Texas, or another city with a video game industry, and that's the point where other Slashdot users usually stop being willing to help me.

Well, I can't say much about your personal situation. Just like the usual Ask Slashdot articles, I (and most slashdot users) focus on generalities. That and I don't think many of us have day jobs as financial/life planners.

Remember the question was how to build a fanbase. Well, consider that you can get fans while you're still working on your day job. Thanks to the Internet, you can contribute to projects online. Including free and open source projects. I know XCOM for example has [ufoai.org] several [sourceforge.net] free [openxcom.org] and open source clones.

Of course that assumes your day job doesn't consume all your energy and time. That may be yet another intermediate step: if you current job really drains you, find another job that gives you the free time to develop your gaming passion on the side. Again, not a professional life coach. Anonymous Coward's Advice is not for everyone. Consult your doctor before use.

After MDY v. Blizzard?

After CS, DOTA/LOL, DayZ? I say sure, why not? Not all mods are equal (IIRC, Glider is more a bot than a mod)

And remember again, if it's about building a fanbase, being sued may in fact be a boon, as you'll become "that famous guy who wrote the cool mod but got totally reamed by evil EVIL Activision-Blizzard"

I assume I'd get around the $239.88 per year Adobe tax with FlashDevelop and the Flex SDK. (Source: Google flash games without flash)

That falls under the "pay out of your own pocket" thing. Before you can get somebody (fans) to pay and cover your expenses, you'll have to pay yourself.

Though I suppose you could use a free language/framework and release it into the wild. Some people do do that. See open source games above. They're much easier to pirate too, and piracy is basically free advertising for you. If you're cleaver, you can even make your game give a special message just to pirates (what was that game that did that? Game Dev Simulator or something?)

A problem with mobile games is that iOS and Android devices don't ship with a directional control.

Again, if it's about building a fanbase, it's about getting your name out there, not the type of game you use to get your name out there. That mobile game about that flappish birdish thing, which didn't use console style controls, succeeded attracting a following to its developer, and then some.

If you can walk and chew gum at the same time (console controls, gain a following, pay the license fee to flash/Apple/whoever, move out of Austin, learn to play guitar, get that root canal you've been holding off, etc.), great. If you can't, well, you gotta prioritize

Re:The old fashioned way (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46350929)

Well, I can't say much about your personal situation. Just like the usual Ask Slashdot articles, I (and most slashdot users) focus on generalities

I'm aware of the preference for generalities, as opposed to the kind of thing that Stack Exchange sites call "too localized". That's why I was trying to phrase it in terms of the generality of anybody relocating for the first time.

if it's about building a fanbase, being sued may in fact be a boon, as you'll become "that famous guy who wrote the cool mod but got totally reamed by evil EVIL Activision-Blizzard"

Or "that guy who has no respect for intellectual property", which might cause one to end up on an industry blacklist. I have removed projects from my web site in the past once I became aware of case law that contradicted my own lay interpretation of copyright statutes.

That mobile game about that flappish birdish thing, which didn't use console style controls, succeeded attracting a following to its developer, and then some.

Why did it succeed for Dong Nguyen and not for Sunflat (SFCave) or Zanorg (Piou Piou), who made the same game earlier? I've heard the App Store referred to as a casino [slashdot.org] .

Re:The old fashioned way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46356117)

That's why I was trying to phrase it in terms of the generality of anybody relocating for the first time.

Well, the general advice to relocating would be the same for any profession, not just game/software development. Though as I mentioned, software is one of those fields that can leverage the Internet.

Or "that guy who has no respect for intellectual property"

Again, not all mods are equal. Not all games are equally mod friendly. WoW supported add-ons, but not bots like Glider. Starcraft/Warcraft on the other hand had no problems with people making maps, which spawned DOTA.

Why did it succeed for Dong Nguyen and not for Sunflat (SFCave) or Zanorg (Piou Piou), who made the same game earlier?

I pointed to Flappy Bird as a response to your question about console style controls. The point is that if you're trying to get fans, do not restrict yourself to certain control schemes.

I've heard the App Store referred to as a casino.

Life itself is a casino, but if you don't play, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Gotta work with the hand you're dealt with.

If you don't like the odds at the app store, release your game/mod/whatever elsewhere. That other place also would be a gamble though. There are no guarantees in life. Even if you go to government, you could end up being 38 Studios

Re:Open source games (1)

wertigon (1204486) | about 6 months ago | (#46309929)

Actually, the model of Open Source Games is really solid. Atleast for Single Player games.

The reason why that model works is because you're giving away essentially the whole of the source codebase. But textures, 3D maps, specific game scripting for levels (when pressing button X, Y happens) isn't free.

The only proprietary bits, in other words, are the content itself. Think of it as releasing an Open Source e-reader but selling the books separately.

Re:Open source games (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46313741)

I seek solutions to at least three problems:
  • Most of the game's logic (as opposed to rendering code and the like) would have to run in a script interpreter in order to enforce a wall between copylefted engine code and proprietary game-specific code, and script interpreters tend to have a factor of 10 or more overhead compared to native code. And yes, it'd have to be an interpreter, not a JIT recompiler, in order to work on certain console and mobile platforms whose W^X policy allows only the system executable loader to change a writable page to executable, which forbids applications from recompiling script code into native code. This limits the complexity of physics and AI that can be included.
  • What technical measures could the publisher of a proprietary mission pack for a copylefted engine take to deter prohibited copying of the mission pack?
  • Not all game genres work well on PC, and console makers have made it clear that they want no copylefted code on their platforms. See what happened when the publisher of a proprietary mission pack titled Pajama Sam tried to use the copylefted engine ScummVM: Slashdot story [slashdot.org]

Re:Open source games (1)

wertigon (1204486) | about 6 months ago | (#46317557)

1. This is mostly done already in either case. If you look at, for example, Unity3D, you work pretty much entirerly with scripts. Today most professional games have a scripting engine and have had it for the last 15 years, since the decoupling benefits are tremendous. Performance wise, game logic isn't heavy unless we're talking physics calculations - But even then much can be offloaded on the GPU using OpenCL or similar technologies.

2. Basicly some token encryption and maybe some proprietary DRM extensions. DRM is, however, all about delivering a crippled product to your customers while letting pirates have a complete and fully functional product.

3. Consoles: See SteamBox, OUYA. But yes, definitely - as long as no AAA games are open source, there is no incentive to develop for it. If you're a small-time developer though, chances are you won't ever get onto the console market in any case. One could of course dual-license, but yeah...

Re:Open source games (1)

jon3k (691256) | about 6 months ago | (#46334257)

I think you're discounting the freemium model. Free game but you pay for other things within the game. I'd like to see someone develop a game like this. Then maybe you run the login servers but each installation can "shard" their own server. Maybe you only charge them if they have more than X number of logins per month? I don't know, I think we're not thinking creatively enough. And there's just no reason to choose open source vs closed really.

Re:Open source games (1)

tepples (727027) | about 6 months ago | (#46336211)

I think you're discounting the freemium model. Free game but you pay for other things within the game.

If the game is free software, what keeps people from patching it to award "other things within the game" without a real-money payment?

I'd like to see someone develop a game like this. Then maybe you run the login servers but each installation can "shard" their own server. Maybe you only charge them if they have more than X number of logins per month?

If the game is free software, what keeps people from developing their own competing server implementation, such as a single-player mode that runs the server on localhost?

Saurez-Potts Open Source Stone Soup (3, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | about 6 months ago | (#46305413)

Once upon a time, there was an open source developer who published an open source project on GitHub and declared that he was going to make a lot of money from it. People were curious; how could he make any money from what he gave away for free? So they asked him what his secret was.

He thought a moment and said: "You too can be making money from your free software project. All you need is to become a consultant."
"Really?" exclaimed the people "We never thought of that! What do you consult about?"
"I consult companies on how to make money from their open source projects"
"Oooh. That's clever. Uh... but what do you use your OSS project for?"
"Sometimes those companies sometimes hire me to write something for them."
"Your OSS project?"
"Well, no. They usually want something different made."
"But it's open source, right?"
"Uh, no."
"So your advice is basically to put your OSS project on your resume so companies know you can code and then will give you a job?"
"Well, yes..."
"So you are not really making any money from your OSS project, you are just using it to get a job?"
"Uh..."

Re:Saurez-Potts Open Source Stone Soup (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 months ago | (#46305791)

That's not how you make money with OSS. The real way it's generally done is to sell support and customization services. This is how companies like Red Hat and OpenERP do it. You produce some open-source software and market it to businesses, then get them to buy expensive support agreements, and also charge them if they want any customizations or other special services. Obviously, this approach doesn't work at all for software aimed at individuals, it's only good for selling to companies of varying sizes (usually the bigger the better, because bigger companies are more willing to spend tons of money on support contracts).

Music analogy, is it valid? (1)

cribera (2560179) | about 5 months ago | (#46306077)

I mean, in modern music, the composer would be equivalent to the developer.

And the composer use to get frar less money than the most famous singers, instrumentalists showbiz people, hair stylists, managers and so on. So, the royalties given to the composer are perceived as an unfair payment for the creative minds of the business, isn't it?

Isn't the free software movement proposing something even more unfair for the creative minds of the software business?

They don't even have the right to the small royalties they have in music, free software evangelist claims such is unfair, and that the creative mind must turn himself/herself into a support guy, to make a living from trivial customizations or from writing books, or giving conferences, of anything besides the strictly creative process.

How come this approach is so popular in our field? Arent we shooting ourselves in the foot by convincing several entire country governments to go into the free software way?

All these years... (0)

Jizzbug (101250) | about 6 months ago | (#46305565)

...and OpenOffice / LibreOffice still suck.

Came here to say this (-1, Troll)

hessian (467078) | about 5 months ago | (#46306575)

Every time I use OO/LO, I'm reminded of how inexpensive Microsoft Office is in the long run.

These excruciating pieces of software seem to be developed by people who have never used the equivalent products.

Re:Came here to say this (2)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 6 months ago | (#46310973)

To be fair, LibreOffice is doing a good job of fixing OpenOffice, but you have to look at how massive the task at hand really is. OO was designed to pull in Java for as much as it could, and the list of dependencies for OO is absolutely nuts. LO is better, and a prime long-term goal is to strip out all Java dependencies, but when you're trying to fix a complex program that has over a decade of a "let's pull Java in BECAUSE JAVA" mentality, it's going to take a monumental effort to fix the code base to not be a bloated suckfest. Microsoft Office is better, but LibreOffice has potential to get there eventually. In my estimation, the biggest problem with LibreOffice is that it really is pretty bad in terms of bloat. Calc on an old P4 laptop is barely usable; Excel 2007 on the same laptop is just fine.

If you want to point out an open source project that sucks hard, pick anything Lennart Poettering has had a major hand in (PulseAudio, systemd, and important programs GNOME 3 and udev that are forcing systemd dependencies despite massive outcry and a severe break from the UNIX philosophy that makes UNIX-like systems so great in the first place) and with a cursory search it won't take long to find out why they're so crappy and community-dividing in nature. LibreOffice is a bloated thing that needs a decent bit of CPU power to function, but systemd is slowly destroying core Linux software and is rapidly working as Red Hat's agent for its own embrace, extend and extinguish campaign. [wikipedia.org]

Wake when it gets close (1)

hessian (467078) | about 6 months ago | (#46311009)

Microsoft Office is better, but LibreOffice has potential to get there eventually.

I think you're correct in noticing that often F/OSS is used as a vehicle for companies to promote their products, like Java. The idea behind OO was as a demonstration of Java superiority. Obviously, that failed. It really should be abandoned and a new project started, but that's another story.

Interesting how you describe Red Hat engaging in a similar strategy. I guess it works. After all, there's still thousands of people out there making new Microsoft Office fans by recommending OO/LO, which as you mention is still a far ways off from being minimally competitive.

You didn't try it :) (2)

stooo (2202012) | about 6 months ago | (#46315001)

All those years and you didn't try LO.
MS. Office is really not any more at the level of Libreoffice...

Age of peers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46305719)

Usually between zero and 7 years [wikipedia.org] as well as increased risk after 60+ years [wikipedia.org] of age, according to Wikipedia.

I hate Hangouts videos (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 5 months ago | (#46305807)

Hangouts videos need to go away like yesterday. They're amateurish at best and always sound horrid, plus no one ever does any cutting of them before posting them to the Internet, so they're needlessly lengthy and if they have interesting content it's lost in the sea of "uhhhh....ummm....paaaaaaaaause." *sigh* I couldn't get through a quarter of this video because it's just so freaking bad.

SEND VIDEO DATA OVER PORT 80, SLASHDOT (1)

Jizzbug (101250) | about 5 months ago | (#46306227)

Either stop hosting your own videos, or make your stupid video player send video streams over port 80.

Just create a YouTube channel and be done with it!

Obviously you're not interested in viewership.

Two good business models (1)

blanchae (965013) | about 6 months ago | (#46309787)

I like the business model that Schmooze/FreePBX has. It provides a free Linux distribution based on the Asterisk private branch exchange (PBX) VoIP telephony switch. It does about 80% of what a large company would want and pretty much what a SOHO would need. They have paid support for those that are serious about providing a telephony solution for a business.

The part that I really like is that in the pull-down menus, they have options for the paid modules which are disabled but instead are links to the specs with instructions to purchase. This is nice because you don't have to hunt all over the place to find a particular compatible module and you can easily see what is available. This form of advertising works for both Schmooze/FreePBX and the user.

They also provide weekly emails that indicate new features, howto articles and other tidbits.

Another good example is ClearOS and their "marketplace". ClearOS is a headless CentOS server that you can load up with whatever services that you need (web server, email, ftp, etc..) They have a free community edition and an enterprise edition. The basic modules are free and there are paid subscription modules. Some are very inexpensive like Zarafa - $10. You can't beat that! And of course you can pay for support.

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