Were the current default songs for RnD and Mirror Magic included with permission from the composers?

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Were the current default songs for RnD and Mirror Magic included with permission from the composers?

Post by ncrecc » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:06 am

Don't worry, this is not a complaint post! :) I am simply wondering.

I'm interested in making my own tutorial level for RnD that covers everything absent in Niko Bohm and Aaron Davidson's tutorials (white keys, androids, gems slipping off of flat walls, etc.) and include a new "soundtrack" made of obscure, abandoned .mod tunes.

Before I do so, though, I'd like to know whether the songs featured in Rocks'n'Diamonds and Mirror Magic were just pulled off of the internet and credited or if permission was acquired from the composers beforehand. I could just include some of the .mod songs from here that do not have information on who composed them so that I will not have to go through the trouble of asking for permission to use the songs (they are very old, after all, and I'm not sure how the original composers would be reachable anymore), but I suppose if RnD did not ask permission before using its current tracks then I may as well feel free to use what I want as long as it is not too recent and I give credit when possible. I just want to make sure my tutorial would comply with whatever the current standards are for included music.

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Re: Were the current default songs for RnD and Mirror Magic included with permission from the composers?

Post by Holger » Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:24 pm

First of all, I'm happy to hear that you plan to do a new tutorial level set! :-)

Although I think that the existing two tutorial sets are very good, it is correct that they do not introduce all existing game elements, but only a part of them (which is fine, of course). It might even be just too much to use all existing elements in one single level set, so several ones with different focus seem just fine!

Regarding your question, remember that R'n'D is effectively a decades old (well, 24 years now) clone of even older computer games (that's up to 35 years then) from the classic era of home computer video games. To keep that "retro feeling" alive, it is crucial to use a game design that resembles those of the classics as close as possible. If it is possible, using the original or similar artwork gives the best user experience, of course, but comes with the problem that it is often hard or even impossible to identify the original authors of that old artwork (which could be graphics, sounds and music). Therefore, although such artwork is usually still under copyright, it is often impossible to identify and contact the owners of these copyrights to ask for permission to use it in software like R'n'D. Doing it anyway is therefore at least a grey zone, and it can happen at any time that such artwork is claimed to be removed from such retro style games.

Regarding such issues, R'n'D tries hard to not hurt any existing owners of classic artwork it may use within the game or within level sets to be played with it, especially regarding classic style games that are still sold. Regarding music, this led to replacing those classic music loops many years ago, which contained short excerpts of well-known music tracks (which was legal in some countries, but possibly not in others). Instead, those MOD tracks were used which are still part of the game music.

Also years ago, I had mail contact to some of the authors of the (old and new) music tracks, and interestingly, none of them asked me to not use his or her music at all so far, but some gave permission, some even offered improved (longer or higher quality) versions of their music (like full-length CD quality tracks of some of these old loops). The same happened with some of the graphics which where not created by myself (like those of the penguin, pig, dragon and mole, to just name a few). I do not remember exactly which of the artwork I got explicit permission for, for which I was able to identify the original authors, but got no response, for which I was not able to identify the original artists at all, and for which I just never tried at all, as most of this is deeply buried in decades-old mail correspondence in my mail archive (which starts in the very early 90's). Some of this very early correspondence was even by snail mail...

So my advice would be as follows: If you use artwork which is publicly available for a long time now from "reputable" web archive and abandonware sites (e.g. those that exist for many years now, like some MOD archive sites, and which do remove content if their owners ask for it), it seems safe to assume that anybody who is not OK with their work to be made publicly available there would have it removed from there long ago. If you give credits in your game or level set (look at the artwork set "BD2K3" to see how this is easily possible in R'n'D level sets), and react appropriately if the original owner asks to remove it, I think you should be fine.

Hope this helps!

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