Jason Rohrer, the developer behind One Hour One Life, published a blog post earlier today detailing the confusing events that transpired after launching the commercially successful game under public domain, only for it to be "unofficially" ported to mobile.
This is a good reminder for developers who choose to upload their work under public domain to take caution when doing so, and use Rohrer's experience as a lesson in what to do should they find themselves in a similar situation.
Rohrer begins with explaining that, just like with his previous games, One Hour One Life is placed in the public domain and isn't subject to copyright. The content and code of the game are available on a public GitHub server for other developers to access.
"There have been unofficial adaptations of my work in the past," Rohrer writes. "There was never any confusion about these adaptations, and I generally have no interest in controlling other people, so the more the merrier."
But now there's an unofficial adaptation, One Hour One Life for Mobile, which Rohrer says is causing confusion among players and reviewers alike.
The aforementioned mobile developers behind the adaptation implemented design changes that strayed from Rohrer's vision, which was an issue because players thought the decision was approved by him.
Rohrer requested the mobile devs be clear in their marketing and promotion of the game to be transparent about how the unofficial adaptation was just that-- unofficial.
Rohrer even provided sample wordings the studio could use, but they responded with wording that was "confusing, and not the clear wording that I originally asked for."
The unofficial mobile adaptation was published to TapTap (an online mobile store) in China as a free demo, with Rohrer writing that "the wording on the splash screen AND in the TapTap app store text was missing."
"No mention of it being an adaptation, no mention of it being unofficial."
So what can Rohrer do about it? He admits that he's making it up as he goes along, but sent over a few solutions to the mobile devs in an attempt to make things right.
Be sure to read the entire, complicated debacle over at Rohrer's blog because it's definitely worth the read.