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Marketplace content protection?

I edited my original post because there is actualy no clear indication that i talked about my stuff.Yep it souded kind of bad.Sorry about that.Also there was once a thing called game demos, guess what, almost none of the games now have demos, guess why, if you want to try it you need to buy it first.Very convenient huh, but not for the customer.I dont like this and i dont want to do the same thing more or less.

The problem with piracy is that i can do nothing about it if someone want to do it anyway, not in preemptive maner anyway.If you submit something that can be freely downloaded you dont pay Epic anything.The whole point is about convenience, the same thing what GOG is doing, no DRM, no bs, they’re making it convinient enough for the gamers so they’re more than happy to buy games from them.So, what is more convinient for people, to search forum threads for download links, or they can download it directly from the page in the marketplace, people can see the content for free, if they like it they can buy it from there.Like a ‘‘game demo’’ in a nutshell but cannot be used commercially.This is for the people who are using legal assets, i care about them.If someone want to use my stuff illegally, well lets face it i cant do almost anything about it and i dont think Epic can do much.

I’m not advocating anything to anyone.Like i’ve said this is how i want to do these things because from my point of view i think it’s fair, of course if i have the choice because currently there is no option for this in the marketplace, for instance i cant put in the description separate download link as far as i know.

Ok :smiley:

Hello Tim,

I agree with several of the other individuals who have posted on this thread. In order to foster an ACTIVE, and INCENTIVIZED group of Marketplace Content creators - There should be some mechanism to protect the Intellectual Property. The VERY BASIC implementation of - this mechanism could be the ability to Compile Down BluePrints, Materials, & Particles - so that they can be distributed on MarketPlace, and when used they configured via “Exposed Properties”.

/** What is the Player’s current musical skill level? */
UPROPERTY(EditAnywhere, BlueprintReadWrite, Category=PlayerMusicSkill)
int32 MusicSkillLevel;

=== SIDE BAR ===
While Almost ANY DRM system can be hacked, active platform development, and frequent releases can stay ahead of the Hackers.

Alternate viewpoint:

I plan to buy quite a bit of assets via the marketplace and then edit them to fit my project, but I don’t want DRM to get in the way of using the engine. The engine is complex enough without adding in DRM junk just to try to prevent piracy (which is like playing Whack-a-mole). I understand where content creators are coming from, but making everyone’s lives more difficult isn’t a good solution.

I would flat out not purchase anything on the market that was treated like this, with the exception possibly of music. Though for a game I would only spend money on music that’s set up to be dynamic with something like FMOD, and in that case I’d also need to be able to tweak it.

The asset store is not a Lego set where you find all the right pieces and snap them together. Anything I buy off the asset store is going to be something I have to tweak and fiddle with to get working in my game, and I’d bet that’s true for most people that would buy something.

  • Bought a material but the normalmaps aren’t pronounced enough, better edit it real quick. Nope, never mind, the author cares more about denying pirates than providing a good experience.
  • Bought some models but they use a single material, let me just split it up into multiple materials so I can customize different parts at runtime. Never mind, I’m being treated as guilty for giving you money.
  • Bought another material just to use the included mask in combination with another material. But I can’t use the thing I paid for out of fear of someone else getting to use that thing for free.

Locking down what I can do with the thing I paid for is nothing more than a surefire way to lose me as a customer. DRM is hostile and insulting when it comes to video games, videos, and music, which are meant to be consumed and enjoyed as is, without alterations. Your proposed method for game development assets is a level beyond that, because I can’t justify buying assets I can’t edit.

I would like to make clear my loss of temper in my above posts was never about DRM, I wouldn’t want that to be the case. My responses were about being so small a producer that i could never realisticly try to track google links, Torrents, released products with UE4. Hence why i feel it should be the responsibility of the seller (Epic) if the content seller doesn’t have the resources and ask Epic to take that role on their behalf.

Im releasing an asset pack with 50 Terrains not pre baked, Not pre setup in engine with no original maps but the whole series of assets from start to finish that the user can do what ever they need to. Each terrain comes with all the masks, normal map, color, Extended color, Flow maps, Deposit maps, Wear maps, Height map and the final composited final file. Plus the final composite source photoshop file.

Then also 3d scene file for each terrain to be able to sculpt, Procedurally texture map, Edit in anyway the user would want and be able to then bake out their new modified texture maps and height map to make sure within import to UE4 everything fits and no user has to end up with the same results as any other user who bought the asset pack.

Also ive done video tutorials from start to finish of the whole process for users.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=VGkkYMHVnZk

50 Terrains with all original maps, Finished edits of each, 3d files for texture baking (even for mobile devs that need to bake shadows into textures), 3D scene file for custom sculpting and height map export. 3D scene file for mixing multiple map’s from the pack into super sized terrains for the tile based terrain tool that’s being worked on by Epic.

Good 4-5 Months of hours, Ive suggested the selling price to Epic of $35 for everything because i want to help the UE4 community that im part of. Really it’s £400 of content. There’s no way i could try to make this any cheaper for my fellow UE4 devs, I Just hope people understand the amount of work gone into it and im trying my best to make it accessible by all, If people Pirate it they have no soul. If i don’t make money from this im homeless by Christmas.

I get that, but it’s also an insanely difficult problem to either track down and stamp out all pirated links or prevent pirated copies from working. Everyone knows the pirate bay. Yet there are 25 results on the Pirate Bay right now for Unreal Engine. Epic are a large company but I’m pretty sure they’re not bringing in billions annually. So let’s look at Microsoft, since their 2013 revenue report claims 77+ billion. How many links to Microsoft’s Windows are there? Let’s go with Windows 7, since Windows 8 is (Unfairly I think) poorly received.

1000+. The search won’t even tell me how many hits there are because there are so many. The first page has tons of links claiming to be Windows 7 installers. (Bundled malware and fakes aside) Nothing Microsoft has done has stopped piracy, it looks to be more trivial than ever to install pirated copies.

You’re not going to beat it. Epic’s not going to beat it. Microsoft might beat it but their track record shows nothing noteworthy.

Tracking down individual shares without an automated system is whack-a-mole, it’s nothing but throwing money away. An automated system that is 99% accurate and isn’t riddled with false positives is unfeasible. Look at YouTube’s Content ID system, how many songs and full movies are up there without getting caught? Yet some video of birds chirping gets taken down for copyrighted content? Seriously. Pick your favorite band. Type their name into YouTube’s search bar. If it’s not filled with dozens of illegitimate results I’ll eat my hat. Granted I’d need to go buy a hat first…

Twitch.tv just implemented Content ID for their hosted VoDs, courtesy of Google’s former provider Audible Magic. Yet I still find VoDs, even ones uploaded after that date, filled with copyrighted music in the background. And they had to manually intervene for Valve when videos of the International (DotA 2 tournament) were taken down for having Valve’s own music in them. Brace Yourself Games, developers of Crypt of the Necrodancer, were streaming development of their game on Twitch.tv when their VoDs were silenced. No one with the rights to that music, neither themselves nor the composer Danny Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, etc…) had ever registered the songs in question with Audible Magic.

How do you propose Epic spend their resources on this problem? I’d rather they keep developing the engine, if they want to play whack-a-mole it’d be a better investment to buy an arcade machine.

EDIT: Let me know when there’s a thread up for that pack you’re discussing, it sounds like a great deal and if it would fit my current project I’ll probably buy a license. I’m not meaning this post as a personal attack, I’m just not convinced that it’s worth the resources to try to fight this problem.

In regard to the protection of blueprints and materials, those graphs have the ability to collapse selected nodes to functions or macros. That would be sufficient (minimal and unintrusive) protection for me if those collapsed nodes could remain locked and not viewable with a double-click to open.

A purchaser would be free to edit any other nodes in the graph, e.g maps.
That would be a fair compromise for both the author and client:

  • Client is not penalised by heavily intrusive DRM and has artistic flexibility to adapt blueprint/material to their own project.

  • Author can protect specialised functions that do not have to be seen in order to use the blueprint or material.

Unfortunately, this scheme does not protect models, sounds or textures which must be viewable in their entirety at all times.

“Please fix this bug so I can play with my friends again!”

“Sorry little Billy, that bug is in the black-magic-voodoo section of the blueprint, I can’t edit it because the author would rather harm my business than let even one pirate get something for free.”

Seriously, you’re talking about the marketplace for Unreal Engine. You know, the one that treats source access as a basic right of anyone using the engine? The one that posted this blogpost less than two weeks ago?

If there is a bug in UE4 what would be the sensible thing for ‘little Billy’ to do?

(a)
throw his toys out of his pram and accuse Epic of harming his business

(b)
Send a helpful bug report so the issue can be fixed

Are you suggesting that if a multi-million dollar company such as Epic gives away their source for free as a ‘basic right’ then every single subscriber-developer must do the same?

With all due respect, that is Epic’s policy for Epic software. It is not *my *policy.

Keep in mind that the ‘basic right of free access’ isn’t actually free. It costs the subscriber $19pm and/or 5% commission of any profit made from sales related to the basic ‘right of free access’.

So, yes, unlike me, Epic can afford to give away their source for free because it will generate millions of dollars via other revenue streams.

(c)
Fix the bug because the sources are available, then send the patch upstream if it would be relevant to other projects.

And therefore you will get none of my business. I wish you good luck, but I can’t in good conscience pay money for a product from a developer that hobbles the things they give paying customers out of fear of someone else getting that thing for free. It’s absolutely disrespectful to punish paying customers.

And furthermore, those locked blueprint macros? They’re only going to be locked for people like me that follow the rules. Those people you’re trying to protect against? They’re the ones that won’t be affected by that.

Subscribers who are c++/github proficient may go into the engine source.
The rest submit bugs on the answerhub and forum. Not everyone is a coder.

I’m sorry that you consider it offensive to not be given every little trade secret that an author uses to try and make a living.

That is not a problem. Good luck to you too sir.

What if someone need to change something in those nodes/functions and they can’t?What then?The answer is simple, refund.

I dont know about blueprints and functions but, i personally find locking materials to be absolutely ridiculous.People everyday day are releasing in the forum materials for free, i’ve been shown my stuff all the time when someone is asking.Also materials arent that hard to replicate, because basically everything is taken from released papers, at least some of the advanced stuff.And those papers are released for free, nobody is hiding them or want money for them.The rest is not that hard to figure it out.Btw these kind of stuff are so easy to share, you dont even need to pirate them, one screenshot is more than enough, thats how easy it is.Unless is something very specific like POM for instance.I just cant see why anyone will want to sell just materials without textures or models with them,it is even hared to imagine who will buy them.But maybe i’m wrong. :slight_smile:

Everything should be visible all the time.Because every project will need specific stuff and people should have the option to change, tweak, removing, adding, or whatever else may be they need.Unless is something so specific that cannot be changed in any way, just tweaking parameters, which i just cant imagine what this can be.But again maybe i’m wrong, i’m just environment artist after all. :slight_smile:

Absolutely!
The customer loses nothing, and the author retains his edge.

Ultimately, the BP aspect of this debate may be totally moot when Epic figures out how to deal with c++ dependent BPs on the marketplace.

If you only have to upload compiled binaries with exposed members for the BP then the that could serve as casual protection in itself.

I totally agree that restricting flexibility of use is a pain. If I released a blueprint utility it would be as flexible as technically possible. There are, however, situations when an implementation is so bespoke and specialised that it isn’t meant to be changed intrinsically. These are the types of functions I expect to hide.

For example, consider a hypothetical Realtime Satellite GPS blueprint node, or a Realtime Dynamic Fur material node.

You simply provide input parameters and you get an output result. It isn’t necessary to see (or even understand) the algorithms/functions inside the node. It is up to the developer to make the node interface flexible enough to be useful.

If this happens I want a clear indicator as to which products include sources and which contain precompiled binaries.

Not seller description level, metadata level. And sortable.

I’m sure the marketplace developers would accomodate this request so everyone is happy with the intended use of their purchase.

You should also post the suggestion on the answerhub as a
Feature Request so it isn’t overlooked.

Actually it sounds like it is you that needs to put in the Feature Request for precompiled modules without the source code as you have already pointed out, Epic has a sane policy of including source code to everything.

The difference is that Epic is a company with real tangible assets and it is in their best interest to fix bugs so that it doesn’t hurt their image/bottom line. What guarantee do we have that you will fix a bug in your precompile code? For all we know you could take our money and run. Who knows what kind of vulnerabilities/backdoors/keyloggers/etc will be enabled with precompiled code on the market. A smart developer is not going to pay money for something that could hold their end product hostage. I won’t and I’m sure very few will. Buyer beware I guess.

Missed this edit:

The people that pay you money to solve problems in code are not looking to steal your “trade secrets”. Chances are your ultra-private implementation is based on something you read in a book or white paper somewhere, and the people paying you are doing so for the implementation, not the idea.

If I needed to put in a request I would. I have not, because I don’t need ‘precompiled modules’. I’m using blueprints.

Do you not think Epic would have stringent controls in place to screen and test every single marketplace submission before it is made public? Why would Epic allow part of their core business to be threatened by malware or fraud?
It is not in the interest of any company (financially or ethically) to allow such things to happen.

No one is paying me money to solve any problem.
I am creating a game and writing ‘utilities’ to support it.
Utilities that I think will be popular are considered as an asset to sell for a small price ($10 - $20) to fund my project.

If you like an asset buy it. If it doesn’t offer 100% access to every morsel of implementational detail you desire then simply don’t purchase it. No one is forcing anyone to purchase anything.

…sigh…

The whole purpose of UE4 is for source access, and even they said that it follows with all content in the marketplace. So pre-compiled “locked” down assets will not happen.

Aren’t you the one that is claiming people are going to rip you off by copying and pasting your work? From earlier in the thread:

You edited your post to make it look better, but that is what you originally posted.