PlaneShift License

Read the first three small sections of this page if you want to have a quick overview of the licensing used by PlaneShift. This is intended to briefly explain the major points, and doesn't want to be in any way an amendment or addition to the license itself. The license follows at the bottom of the page.

For players:

The first goal of our team is to make a free game for players. This means you will not have to pay for the game, nor pay a monthly cost. You can install our software on as many PC as you like, play it as much as you want.

You cannot distribute the client, sell it or gain any profit from it.

You can use our client only to connect to Official PlaneShift Servers.

For modders and developers in the PlaneShift community:

We encourage you to experiment with mods and changes to either our source code and to our art assets. PlaneShift is an open source project, based on community contributions, and made to ensure people can learn from what we made, and we can learn from them. We create and package our files in such a way to be editable by players and modders, including sounds, configs, icons and items. The UI is made to be skinnable and changed with ease. The license will be enforced only if we see abuse of our assets and art (example reuse in different projects, making illegal profit out of our art, etc...).

For modders and developers outside the PlaneShift community:

If you want to reuse PlaneShift for another project or you want to use it commercially, please remember the following. Code is under GPL license, this means you can get all our source code, study it and reuse it in any way you want as long as you keep it open (GPL) and give back to us your changes.

All artwork, musics, dialogues, stories, names, 3d models, etc... are under a proprietary license. This means you cannot reuse those in any way without our explicit permission. If you plan to create another game based on our source code, remember you will have to redo all art,music,models,stories,etc...

You cannot host another server where PlaneShift Clients connects to, because our license on assets forbits it.

A detailed explanation of the licenses follows.

Background and Purpose

In the PlaneShift Project we have two different licenses:

  1. The first one is GPL. This license is applied to all our source files except the rpg rules ones. You learn more about that license here.
  2. The second one is PlaneShift Content License. This license is applied to all artwork and texts in this web site and is applied to all art/models/music/texts/names/setting/... present in the game.

It is very important that new developers and the community understand why we have decided to split our efforts among these two licenses, so we encourage you to read it all. If you just want to have a brief explanation jump here.

Atomic Blue is the name of the Non Profit Organization that holds all copyrights of PlaneShift assets and is used to run the development team.


The PlaneShift Team believes strongly in the Open Source community and, more importantly, in the Open Source philosophy and process. For this reason, before the project ever started, we decided to open our source code and to have all this code publicly available. The theory was that the Open Source strategy would enable us to gain more developers and to share knowledge and ideas with people that do not have the time to join our team full time, but are still interested in contributing some code. We believed it would enable PlaneShift to build a community of developers and to help other projects that decide to use Crystal Space as their 3D engine. We have been gratified over the last three years to see that these beliefs were correct.

The more controversial decision, of course, was the decision to use more proprietary licenses for the non-code assets of the game. However, we believed at the time and still believe that this decision is a necessity for the success of this project and protects the value of the efforts of all team members.

The standard path

Let us explain our view of the MMORPG scene and of the many developers out there that are trying to build a game.

It all starts when someone has a great idea and he begins to work very hard to obtain what he wants. He will surely look to other games and he will try to build something that is at least decent compared to the current industry standards. The tremendous amount of work needed to create a competitive product will overwhelm him. No one can create a good game without a big and solid team. In the gaming industry there is no place for small projects, they will simply fail for lack of resources, lack of time, lack of money, and mainly lack of commitment. If the project does not progress quickly, the interest of the net-surfers dwindles and with it the morale of the team. With bad team morale, the project slowly dies. The problem is that many people have a good idea in mind for a great game and start to create a new project on a very small scale. They focus on adding the most innovative ideas and content, but this costs a lot in terms of resources. When using this method any small team trying to create a MMORPG will ultimately fail.

In the current MMORPG and RPG scene, many projects are very similar. Although different teams tend to build everything in different ways-new rules, new races, new interface, new engine-if you look closely, their final goal is absolutely the same: a persistent multiplayer fantasy world forming a successful and enjoyable game. This diffusion of talent with common goals among dispersed projects is one of the primary reasons few Open Source projects succeed.

How PlaneShift Is Different

We have seen too many projects fail, and it is painful to see more when we know how much effort has been put into them. We want to find a way to gather all these individualistic developers and create a successful project-for the players, but also for those developers that share the same dream.

The videogame commercial industry does not care too much about Open Source because in most cases the projects are not organized and strong enough to reach their goal and to compete with them. The only way for any of these small OSS projects to succeed is to join and form a large and well-organized team. In this way, all talented people can bring their ideas and skills into one project. These talented people will be less responsible for overall project progress, but they can concentrate more on what they really want to do, have more fun and have a much greater chance of success.

Our vision is to convince talented and dedicated people this is the right path to follow, by focusing on two key objectives: gathering and keeping talents, and maximizing chances of success.

Objective 1: Gathering talents under a single common project is very important to build a strong team. We should try to avoid our project forking into other similar projects, because this means splitting people and thus, lowering our chances of success. Those other forked projects will repeat efforts already spent on discussion of rules, building new races, writing new code and we will end up again with a lot of resources wasted and no goal reached.

Objective 2: Ensuring success is another key point of our organization. We are trying to preserve the work done by our members as much as we possibly can, with licenses and by adding only talented members to our team. For the project to be successful, it needs to be unique in architecture, rules, music and ideas; it must attract good players and RPG ers and create a fun, stimulating, friendly community. Most importantly, it must be playable and complete.

Why PlaneShift Is Licensed the Way It Is

To try best to achieve these two goals we have made some tough decisions about licenses. However, in order to explain our conclusion, first it is necessary to examine the alternatives:

Option 1: Release absolutely everything under the GPL license. This option sounds great in theory but in practice has the following problems:

  • Anyone can get all of the code and art, music and setting information and start building a similar game with a part of our team. This is sub-optimal because the forked project will split our forces and will lower our chance of success, which is contrary to Objective 1. We need to protect against internal division on the team to keep momentum and stay productive.
  • Anyone can get all of the code and art, music and setting information and start building a similar game with a completely new team. The new project would be similar to PS and would destroy much of the uniqueness we are trying to put into the game to make it special. The game would hence be less appealing and more confusing to players, because they will have no common reference point for hall of fame, guilds, etc. The other project can also change the main guidelines/story of the game, giving races and NPCs a different background and history, or even alter it in ways deliberately calculated to hurt PS reputation. That will cause a lot of confusion amongst fans and players, and will disrupt our effort to have the best quality control possible in our game, which jeopardizes Objective 2. Furthermore, the new (and separate) team is a waste of resources if they are trying to reach the same goal as PS. We can join and reach the same goal faster together. So, this problem also detracts from Objective 1.
  • Most artists do not want to release their work to the general public. They fear it will be used in projects or in ways they do not like, so we would lose out on potential artistic contributors joining the project this way, which is against Objective 1.

Option 2: Leave the copyrights in the names of the authors of the material. Again, this approach sounds very fair to everyone, but on closer examination has the following problems:

  • A member could decide to leave the team and deny the continued usage of material they had already contributed to PS team. This will be a major blow to our progress if he removes many models. We would have to rebuild those from scratch. This scenario would only have to play out several times before our progress and momentum would be slowed measurably and our chances of success reduced, which detracts from Objective 2.
  • If we decide in the future to modify, change, or publish on a website any contributed material, such as a screenshot or preview of the game in action, we would have to get advance permission from all the various copyright holders of each model and each reproduced piece. It is true that he may have already agreed on many aspects, but we could easily face a new scenario (like his art published on the cover of a book or on a press magazine). We already have a list of more than 50 people that have contributed to PS so far and it would be really complex or difficult to contact them again if they have left the team. This will hinder our ability to expand or publicize the game and so it is against Objective 2.
  • The author of contributed material could reuse the material for another similar game by simply allowing another project to also access his copyrights, which would hurt the uniqueness of PlaneShift and increase the chances of forking our team. This also detracts from Objective 2.

Option 3: The final (and best) option is to have a proprietary license that will assure past, present and future PlaneShift Team members that Objectives 1 and 2 are met and that their work will be used for PlaneShift only.

  • All new contributors (or their legal guardians) are required to review, agree to and sign the Atomic Blue Contribution License Agreement ( ABC LICENSE ). If the creator of a work wants to contribute that work for inclusion in PlaneShift, but cannot be bound to the ABC LICENSE, the creator must contact Atomic Blue at With very limited exceptions, only contributors that agree to the ABC LICENSE are eligible for full membership on the Atomic Blue team (the development team for PlaneShift) and only materials submitted under the ABC LICENSE will be included in the PlaneShift game.
  • The submission of materials under the ABC LICENSE gives both the content developers and the Atomic Blue team assurances that:
    • The materials will only be used in the PlaneShift game (or its successor games created by Atomic Blue) and not in any other.
    • The materials, once contributed, will be retained by Atomic Blue no matter what might happen with other projects, forks, mergers, alliances, and Atomic Blue will control how it is used.

Explanation of Atomic Blue Contribution License Agreement

A contributor do not have to be a member of Atomic Blue (a non-profit organization), to submit graphics, rules, code or any other contribution for use in PlaneShift. However, he is required to agree to the ABC LICENSE, which creates three categories into which submissions are divided, each of which is licensed differently: source code, game rules and all other work.

  • Source code, other than game rules, are treated as open source software covered by the GNU General Public License, available here with copyright explicitly assigned to Atomic Blue.
  • Game rules can be scripts, documents, or any other expression in any media. In any of these forms, Game rules are not open source they are the property of Atomic Blue. You should not submit any game rules unless you agree that they belong to Atomic Blue and that you will not have the right to use them in any other application.
  • Any other work (such as 2D graphics, 3D models, music and sounds, character descriptions or fantasy world histories) will be the property of Atomic Blue once you submit it, but you will continue to have the right to display the work as part of a personal portfolio. You are not allowed to display or use the work in another game or application and you are not allowed to use derivative works owned by Atomic Blue.

PlaneShift Content License

Assets that are property of Atomic Blue, use the following PlaneShift Content License.


  1. This License applies to any material or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this PlaneShift Content License.
  2. Terms defined in this Article 1, and parenthetically elsewhere, shall throughout this License have the meanings here and there provided. Defined terms may be used in the singular or plural. Definitions:
    • The "Material", below, refers to any such material or work, and a "work based on the Material" means either the Material or any Derivative Work under copyright law.
    • "Derivative Work" shall mean a work containing the Material or a portion of it, such as a revision, modification, enhancement, adaptation, translation (including compilation or recompilation by computer), abridgement, condensation, expansion, or any other form in which such preexisting works may be recast, transformed, or adapted, and that, if prepared without authorization of the owner of the copyright in such preexisting work, would constitute a copyright infringement.
    • Each licensee is addressed as "you".
    • "Official PlaneShift Server" is defined as a server name and ip address. Official PlaneShift Servers are defined by Atomic Blue and published on the site No other server, except the ones listed at that web site, can be considered an Official PlaneShift Server.
  3. You may not copy, modify, publish, transmit, sell, participate in the transfer or sale or reproduce, create Derivative Works from, distribute, perform, display or in any way exploit any of the Material released under this License unless expressly permitted by the Atomic Blue.
  4. You may use the provided Material, for personal use only, to connect to an Official PlaneShift Server only in conjunction with a Planeshift Client, distributed by Atomic Blue. Official PlaneShift Servers can only be designated by Atomic Blue.