There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few weeks about object ownership and more specifically not crediting the original authors for object creation. We all know that you can take an object (any object including Maxis ones) and re-do them and call them your own. In fact, you HAVE to clone objects produced by Maxis as there is no other way. However, there are a few caveats when doing this and in some cases, Maxis doesn’t give you permission cloning some objects (like cloning Living Large objects and re-distributing them). On the fan side of things, there are some people that put tremendous effort into creating objects, z-buffer and alpha channels to bring you entirely new objects and you others go out and steal their work.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done programatically unless Maxis comes up with something. I did have a scheme that would embed the information into objects in hidden places that only blueprint (or another tool) could find and decrypt. However, I found that this only worked half the time and The Sims came crashing down with the extra info in there. So for now, there’s no way to protect the rights of the original artists except by fair play. Now, some of you might moan and groan that just because someone puts something out there it’s yours to do with what you will, but I disagree. Certainly any objects I’ll be releasing may be used for cloning and building new ones, but you will not be allowed to just blatently go off and say “Look what I did all by myself!”.

So what’s the answer? I don’t think there is one but I do have a proposal. Hopefully enough people read this site to get the word out. My proposal is pretty simple. It’s something that was adopted years ago when people were building Doom levels and carried over to other first person shooters. I don’t see why it can’t be used for The Sims. It’s the simple inclusion of an agreed upon format of a text file that describes the object, who made it and some info about the object including instructions about copying or using as a base for new objects. I propose a file format similar to the one below, a Sims Information File (SIF) that all object creators would use. Like I said, it’s just a text file and a simple one that you take 2 minutes to fill out and include in a zip file with your IFF. A format I propose is below, but you’re welcome to suggest changes. I’ve created a new forum area on this site so we can discuss this and come up with an agreed upon format and some guidelines. Of course none of this is written in stone and I’m certainly not Moses handing down any commandments. I’m just suggesting a way to get along and respect each others work. If you don’t want to follow this format, that’s fine. I just think the community needs some kind of unity like this. Feel free to join in on the discussion in the forums for more information.

The SIF format would be as follows:


Sims Object Authoring Template v1.0 (Clip this line)
========================================
Title :
Filename : xxxxxxx.IFF
Author : Your name here
Email Address :
Author Website :


Description : Describe your object here.


Additional Credits to
========================================


* Play Information *


Game : Sims/Living Large/Both
New Graphics : Yes/No


* Construction *


Base Object Used : Name of base object and author
Editor(s) used :
Known Bugs :


* Copyright / Permissions *


Authors (MAY/may NOT) use this object as a base to build new
objects.


(One of the following)


You MAY distribute this IFF, provided you include this file, with
no modifications. You may distribute this file in any electronic
format (BBS, Diskette, CD, etc) as long as you include this file
intact.


You MAY not distribute this IFF file in any format.


You may do whatever you want with this file.


* Where to get this IFF *


FTP sites:
Web sites:
Other:

So let me know what you think!