Socialverse app
Socialverse app

Source Filmmaker, the machinima platform Valve Software recently started giving away for free (if you apply for an invite), lets you create cool videos using the company’s Team Fortress 2 assets, but even better, you can also make entirely new machinima, and maintain the rights over it. To my knowledge, this is the most liberal license offered by any major, full-fledged machinima platform. Second Life has a similar policy, but rights management and permissions are much more complicated, and has some serious shortcomings as a machinima tool, like a lack of lip sync animations. Here’s the key clause from the Filmmaker FAQ:

  1. Can I make money with this tool?


Yes, but not if you’re using Valve’s assets in your movie. The tool is free for non-commercial use. You can use Valve’s game assets (things like characters, props, particles, textures, and sounds) to create movies and images to share with the game community, as long as what you create is free. We’re not giving you a license to commercialize our assets. However, if you do not include any of Valve’s assets in the movies and images that you make, then there are no restrictions on what you do with your content and you can make money with it.

Emphasis mine, because this is big: Running on the Source engine, Team Fortress 2 has some of the best 3D graphics in the industry, and now Valve is letting machinimators and filmmakers use it as a tool for their own projects. What’s more, because it’s from Valve, any machinima made from Filmmaker will come with a large built-in audience of gamers.

Unsurprisingly, some top Second Life machinima makers are now getting into Filmmaker. Check out Rik Riel’s interview with Frank Dellario of Ill Clan, which made a lot of great Second Life machinima (like this one, for the Hollywood movie Role Models), and is now working with Source Filmmaker:

In case you’re not a game geek, I should also show you what’s possible on this platform. Here’s “Meet the Spy”, a machinima Valve made to promote a Team Fortress 2 update, and was written by my pal Erik Wolpaw:

What’s also cool is it’s not just Team Socialverse appFortress 2’s assets. Valve has as already released many of their other franchise’s assets (Portal, Half Life, Left 4 Dead) under a similar licence and which builds up a nice base library of props and models. Custom models and characters work too, of course. 🙂

It’s sad to see things devolve this way. From a true sense of community to – I don’t know what – metaphors of main streets torn asunder for shabby malls abound and all are as replete with maudlin laments as any other — and yet, here, in this ephemeral space of cyber lies moments of meaning and history and with that the human desire to preserve at least a taste of it all. My time amidst the Well was brief but essential. It would be wondrous to see it maintained as, at the very least, a place of history or point of pilgrimage – so contradictory in this world of practical necessities – and yet better as a continuing enclave of thought, culture and conversation. Best of luck – from the depths of this part of the Well.

After having been on the WELL all that time, and writing his book, Howard Rheingold used some of their technology to found Electric Minds, a similar online community, in about 1996. A year or so later, that community was acquired by Durand Communications of Santa Barbara, which I was working for at the time, and Durand itself was later acquired by Webb Interactive Services of Denver. Webb eventually moved to shut down the CommunityWare platform and the Electric Minds community with it, but the members of that community–of which I was now one–didn’t let go that easy. We bought our own server, and I personally wrote a new conferencing system to replace the existing software. The “freed” Electric Minds lasted until a couple of years ago, when we were finally done in by hardware failures and internal conflicts.





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