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Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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dunkelschwamm
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:47 am
   Subject: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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Hey all, Dunkelschwamm (previously RGamesINC) here with a somewhat upsetting discovery:

This game ( https://store.steampowered.com/app/725280/Psi_Project/ ) and this game ( https://store.steampowered.com/app/725290/Psi_Project_2/ ) by one Vyacheslav Shilikhin have been sold using stolen graphics both from Monkee's Image World and from various commercial games (including LucasArts' "Zombies Ate My Neighbors" and id Software's own "Doom").

In the second game, you might be able to notice a zombie enemy used prominently in the screenshots and promotional material. That is this graphic I made when I was 14 years old and posted to Monkee's Image World: http://mmimageworld.dugtrio17.com/cgi-bin/index.cgi?search=Controlled+Zombie&page=1

I have written a DMCA report and flagged this to Valve, but I think this should be a sign that, as creators, we might need to be a bit vigilant about making sure our hard work and the work of our contemporaries aren't being used to line the pockets of cynical slapdash peddlers like Vyacheslav.

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Last edited by dunkelschwamm on Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:56 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:37 am
   Subject: Re: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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Quote:
I think this should be a sign that, as creators, we might need to be a bit vigilant about making sure our hard work and the work of our contemporaries aren't being used to line the pockets of cynical slapdash peddlers
Kinda ironic since you have ripped lots of sprites from wolf mods, other games and uploaded them to the popular sprite resource site https://www.spriters-resource.com/submitter/Dunkelschwamm/ Sorta "passively" supported such (steam) stuff that way by yourself. And I'm sure you didn't ask each (wolf) mod author if it's ok.
Also still lol on bottom of those 2 as a comment:
https://www.spriters-resource.com/pc_computer/batmannomansland/
https://www.spriters-resource.com/pc_computer/batmanvsbane/
Quote:
The creator of these sprites asked that I add some clarifications: Sprites created by DoomJedi. He offers free use of his sprites as long as he is credited.
Schabbs with a beard is freely useable for commercial games depending how you interpret it ><

Generally i agree that if you created something yourself that it shouldn't be exploited by others like that but people like to take shortcuts for fast success.

I seen a few games using ripped wolf3d sprites before on steam which were made with the game maker tool. Not sure if they got taken down by now or are still there or resurfaced. If the guy is from russia i doubt he will even care if the game is taken down.

People have no clue about ripped stuff usually or they don't care. Heck lot of people in modding communities don't even do and they know the stuff better. I doubt the situation gonna change if you can google sprites and images in a few seconds.

Maybe pointless but Monkee's Image World also doesn't have info if any graphics are free for commercial use, non-commercial, any use or dependent on each individual set. It's just there without active admin.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:50 pm
   Subject: Re: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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Seeing as the game being sold uses content from Id, claims it as their own *and* is selling it, yes - reporting this to DMCA was the right thing to do.

Atina wrote:
Maybe pointless but Monkee's Image World also doesn't have info if any graphics are free for commercial use, non-commercial, any use or dependent on each individual set. It's just there without active admin.
Indeed ... Majik's content being sold is *probably* within legal territory; he hasn't placed actual copyrights on his content as far as I can tell. I wouldn't be quick to rub it in his face, though.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:45 pm
   Subject: Re: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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DMCA against the thing is fine as long as it works. Looks like it deserves it for sure.

Since the Image World doesn't list any usage rules and never predicted usage outside of mods each graphic would have to be treated individual and each one has it's own copyright, even the selfmade ones. People who sent their graphics assumed mod usage only i guess ><
It's more obvious to people from the community where the stuff comes from or what it was made for but there also lot coming from outside of the community who find it by google.
The steam guy did it fulling knowing on purpose of course. But i can imagine there are some that don't know the games or mods and it can look like free image resource site.
Or they just do as they wish anyways.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:08 pm
   Subject: Re: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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My problem with these two "games" is how many people thought that it was good, with one person in particular claiming it was "like Doom with horror (sounds kind of redundant, i know). Now those comments could be troll comments, but they still caugh me off guard, because I expected mainly negative ones.

Edit: Turns out there's a third game to this series. With more stolen assets what a shocker!
https://store.steampowered.com/app/753990/Psi_Project_Legacy/

Edit 2: Looking at the rest of the games he has "made", Psi Project seems to be the only game that isn't an asset- flipped super mario clone.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 12:12 am
   Subject: Re: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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Update: after submitting a DMCA takedown, Psi Project 2 is no longer on the Steam store. However, 2 other games in the series, also heavily featuring stolen assets, are still available for purchase on Steam. Since I am not the owner of any of those assets, I cannot legally be the one to submit a DMCA on those.

In response to Monkee's Image World usage: it is clearly stated in the description of the graphic that was stolen that permission must be sought before it should be used in any project. While this is meant as more of a good-faith measure amongst modders, this kind of demand can lead to real legal issues if the property is then used in a commercial product.

Further: in regards to my sprite ripping, I have never attempted to make any money or claim credit for anybody else's sprites, and have, in every case that I have been personally contacted, added specific credit to content authors on the sheets. I attribute sprites to the mods they have been ripped from and only post them for the sake of organizing and displaying. I have also put my money where my mouth is and have ripped my own games for display on The Spriter's Resource. There's hardly a modder in the community who hasn't utilized graphics made from an author that they have failed to contact, with the main difference, where I also draw the line, being that we have never claimed credit for other's work, especially to the degree that we would sell it as our own product. If anybody is the creator of mods whose sprites I have ripped and wish to have them removed from TSR or to have attribution added, my inbox is always open. I will not shut down communication.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:59 am
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Alright, then.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 4:04 am
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We as creators should do something together or is it each on his own with DMCA?

I didn't say you are making money or anything off those rips. I only said you "passively" support such behavior and similar projects by posting them on a sprite site that has really lot of traffic. Just cause you posted your own mod sprites there and not taking credit for any sheets doesn't change that.

The one sprite you claimed by DMCA needs permission according to Image World. What about many of those mod sprites you ripped. Did the mod files say anything about permission or no permission or it only goes for uploaded sprites being used without permission in a game that is being sold? Just wondering where the line is crossed for modder sprites and commercial game sprites.

There are plenty of graphics in mods which were made from scratch or those Batman mod sprites which shouldn't be credited all to Doomjedi and even got a sort of "free license" on it cause he said so. You asked him for permission? Why he gets to call credits as he likes or does every author need to find their sprites on that site first and tell you to add ?

Either no entry gets credits or all but no cherry picking. I already contacted you about issues long ago.

What were your thoughts or goals when you uploaded about 1800 sheets oO there and what's the aim of the sprite resource site?
Maybe half of the visitors just look at the sprites and the other half gonna use the sprites in some way or game. Half of those might use them in exploitative ways. It gives people easy and fast access and some like shortcuts without effort.
Not that everything has to be licensed, credited or whatever and limit creativity but without caring a bit every now and then the morals are getting lower and lower until no one cares about anything anymore.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:43 pm
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I guess I should mention "Russia Battlegrounds" here, if only for the entertaining fact that it used a hand sprite from the ZDoom forums of an obscene gesture for a "punching" graphic.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:24 pm
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Okay, Atina - it's time to tone it down a bit. Passing off someone else's work as your own - and making money off it on top of that - it's indeed something to get upset about. But turning this thread into a battleground is not the way to solve the problem. I think dunkelschwamm did a good job of posting what was going on without being too confrontational. I think BT did well when he insinuated that turning the message board into a courtroom doesn't really help anyone.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:23 pm
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Tricob wrote:
without being too confrontational

dunkelschwamm wrote:
The Transgressions of Vyacheslav Shilikhin..... cynical slapdash peddlers like Vyacheslav
Uhm?

dunkelschwamm wrote:
but I think this should be a sign that, as creators, we might need to be a bit vigilant about making sure our hard work and the work of our contemporaries aren't being used to line the pockets of cynical slapdash peddlers like Vyacheslav.

He asked to look out for such problems and i pointed out that this is one part of the problem. 1800 sheets are not just a little amount of sprites.
I'm not sure if you realize what spriters-resource actually is. If you go strictly by the rules the whole site is illegally hosting copyrighted graphics of hundreds of games including Doom, Wolf3D, Spear, selfmade stuff (those have automatically copyrights too) and so on. How many visit the site to just take a look or learn from it and how abuse it?

This is from the https://www.spriters-resource.com/faq/
Quote:
This is most likely one of the most crucial rules we have, in that we are entrusted to have these sheets, and you are not. As such, you do not have permission from the sheet maker to host the file on your website. If you do want to put a sprite sheet onto your website, feel free to contact the sheet maker and ask them for permission - We suggest that it's the least you do if you plan to put their content on to your website.
You need permission from a ripper oO. To me it sounds like the want to keep their site without competition... why? The site itself makes likely some money out of all those rips.. likely with advertisement and sponsors.

Those sprite sheets have more clicks than lot of the mods using the actual graphics have downloads ><
About 1200 - 3500 views on average... Let's assume that 1% exploit it. 1% is probably way too high but that would leave you possibly with 12-35 people exploiting it for money or in other ways. Maybe it's 1-3 people per game or sheet. Not to mention that the sprites also get spread around on other sites that way more likely. And those sheets don't have credits or game/mod title on them, only the ripper name.. so at some point it's some nameless graphics out of nowhere.


If you put me into a courtroom cause you got problems with my argument style then i ask you as moderator to take a neutral, close look at all (mod) sprite sheets, the sprite resource site, the wrong credits, the possible exploits, the maaaany steam/indie rip offs like the ones mentioned before and find a possible solution that helps fellow creators having a somewhat fair deal.

Since you mention BT. Would he be ok with the fact that Spear Resurrection and End of Destiny sprites are also posted there?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 4:17 am
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Well this escalated quickly.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:40 pm
   Subject: The Transgressions of Vyacheslav Shilikhin
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The part of the FAQ which demands permission from the rippers is, perhaps not well worded, but an artifact from when many websites would rehost sprite sheets with attribution to the ripper/sheeter removed. Ripping and sheeting takes a fair amount of time, so there used to be a lot of arguments revolving around this. Nowadays people generally understand that the ettiquite is that if a ripper wants credit for the work it took to rip the graphics and you don't want to follow their instructions in using the sprites, you'd just rip them yourself. This is also part of how we keep the sheet on the site where it is, by the very structure of the site, paired with the game it comes from as a form of attribution. It has never been the case that a ripper's requests should override the rights of the original content creator, but then both rippers and modding communities alike end up afloat on lots of mostly harmless sharing, sometimes modified and sometimes not, content created by other people. Sometimes it's from hobbyists within our own or other amateur development communities, sometimes it is from artists for whom the graphics were a professional endeavor. I know that my graphics (including the zombie graphic in question here) have been posted and reused elsewhere without credit or permission, but I still draw my line at commercial use of others' work without permission and I firmly believe that most of The Spriter's Resource would agree with me. If you disagree that they would then you simply misunderstand a culture that you are looking at with an outsider's eyes. The uses of sprite sheet archives and the concepts behind their ethics has evolved a lot over time since their original use as a way of finding Megaman sprites with which to make comics on Geocities sites and it's easy to find relics of the old days scattered about. The community absolutely does not, at least not intentionally, promote content theft. It is for displaying and organizing graphics to celebrate them, to show off different sprite techniques, to catalogue them in history. Had I posted this thread in their forums there would have been no question among them that the Psi Project games are doing something unethical.

The Spriter's Resource, about making money, it should be noted has always been running behind on the funding needed to keep the site running with ads. This is one of the reasons why they invested so heavily in running other projects like Did You Know Gaming in order to keep things running.

Further: saying that I have 1800 sheets of Wolfenstein mods is inaccurate. While it's true that I have ripped some of the mainstay Wolfenstein mods like Astrostein and X-Mas Wolf, and some of the more contemporary TCs that I think deserve a place in history as their own great games in history such as the Batman mods, the bulk of my rip history is from RPG Games (some freeware, some commercial) and retro FPS games such as Heretic, Hexen, Duke Nukem 3D, Strife, etc. Mods really make up the smallest percent of my rips.

The point of this thread, before it became so thoroughly derailed (partially my own fault for dedicating so much text to defending my position), was to point out that there may be predatory devs on Steam flipping our assets to make money without any acknowledgement that the graphics come from anywhere other than themselves. The Spriter's Resource does not condone this behavior whatsoever and any suggestion to the contrary is based heavily in misunderstanding of the TSR community. Finally, it should be noted that the graphics stolen from myself in this case were lifted from Monkee's Image World and are nowhere to be found on The Spriter's Resource. Perhaps we can put this side topic to rest within this thread now.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 3:09 am
   Subject: Re: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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Thanks that you took at least the time to reply. The thread is not being derailed cause it's connected to the problem unless you only wanted to target that single person while addressing kinda all modders for your goal.

That your sprites came from Image World doesn't change much. Both sprite resources. But spriters-resource has way more visits, bigger target and that way you also get way more exploits.
I seen sprites, made by friends, from some of those sheets in places already where they weren't supposed to appear. I asked you already years ago to fix something and you still ignore it.

I seen also a lot of posts of people asking on websites for sprites and thinking they can use spriters-resource for commercial indies till someone tells them they have copyrights.

Ye, those 1800 sheets (how many sprites are that... 50.000?) aren't all mods. But all of those graphics (mods, free, commercial) are made by individuals working multiple eternities on it compared to what it takes to rip them. If rippers want to be seen as respectable then they should also give some respect to the artists. Else they are biting the hand that feeds them.

Of course the money on the site goes first to the server costs... how else you would keep it running and make more money. They want people to upload the sprites themselves so they aren't guilty if there's a problem.
The site became so big.. Is there any transparency or news post where each month's money goes to exactly?

Making a culture out of it is the bothersome part i criticized before and supporting the exploit problem. I said i don't want to limit creativity, learning or someone's limited art skills cause of rules, credits etc. Unless the individual acts bad. Talking about it like it's a nice and traditional thing without shadows. It only sets the tolerance lower and lower. You neglect and don't even keep any negative side of it on mind . This is the scary part for the future. People gonna become more careless and things will get worse.

First post is addressing all of us as creators... but line is only drawn if money is involved? What about modding culture and other things.
Why did the Batman sprites needed permission and got self-picked questionable credits compared to other mods?
Free games doesn't necessarily mean the resources are freely available. They are just easier to exploit =p

There can be all kind of reasons why a mod author doesn't want them on such high traffic site or outside of mods at all. Shouldn't be selfmade mod sprites be more protected than commercial game sprites cause those creators do similar hard work as commercial studios but don't have same way of protection and compensation

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 1:58 pm
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Atina wrote:
Tricob wrote:
without being too confrontational

dunkelschwamm wrote:
The Transgressions of Vyacheslav Shilikhin..... cynical slapdash peddlers like Vyacheslav
Uhm?
This was in reference to his second post rather than his first. My first post was made to set things in a friendlier direction. Sometimes we might take conversations in a hostile direction without realizing it - myself included - so I put what I did in the first post to gently steer things right without calling anyone out. Only when things continue to escalate (or it has already become heated) will I call out anyone specifically. Smile

Quote:
Since you mention BT. Would he be ok with the fact that Spear Resurrection and End of Destiny sprites are also posted there?
It was really the work of AReyeP and MCS. I don't really know where they stand on this issue, so unless one (or both) of them ask me to represent them, I won't. Smile
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:54 pm
   Subject: The Transgressions of Vyacheslav Shilikhin
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I feel that many of the relevant points regarding TSR have already been addressed in my previous post and are now just being rehashed or pushed in places where my representation of the website is limited.
It sounds also like a big issue being had is with the idea that people may be misunderstanding the ability to use the sprites available at TSR, but since the theft around which this thread revolves made clear what the terms of usage were this seems to be an entirely hypothetical and rhetorical issue being invented to suit your argument. I also feel that, though you don't find that this is a derailing subject, my goal is to point out where our resources have been stolen without any kind of attribution and sold in commercial projects, and TSR is only tangentially related to that if you suggest that it is somehow responsible for the issue at hand (which, for reasons I've already addressed isn't something you've been able to make a very clear case for here). The topic's issue showed graphics stolen from a site where the rights of the graphic usage were made very clear but the graphics were stolen anyway. It sounds like you have enough to say about sprites being hosted on display on dedicated sprite-celebrating archives that it can form its own thread, and maybe that would be a more focused place to look at the issues you have instead of attempting to shoehorn them into another topic that I remain unconvinced is related enough to warrant such aggressive takeover of the topic.

Finally: I have personally responded to every rights holder who has reached out to me and honored their wishes. If I somehow missed your private message or email, please feel free to send me your concerns again and I will see to it that the issues you are experiencing with your sprites are resolved. I'm sorry that your concerns had so far gone unresolved, and I hope to fix that.

As it stands, I am relabelling this thread to make clear what its goal is. I would appreciate if we could dedicate this to pointing out the actual predatory thieves and asset flippers rather than tangentially implicating websites which neither sell nor claim artistic credit for others' graphics, and which haven't conspired or intended to contribute to or have even been shown in any meaningful way to have contributed to modder's sprites being used illegally for commercial projects.

I will no longer address this side topic in this thread.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:28 am
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It comes down to artists having disadvantage so players can be entitled to more free games being made which they don't have to pay for. As long as society revolves around work and money it's gonna exploit someone somewhere.

Who you gonna contact if you reaaaally want to ask permission for some sprite? Googling titles on random mod sites and download them for one lucky email... people are too lazy for that. They just roll without a name then.

Quote:
If I somehow missed your private message
You replied to me over a year ago.

Ripping ethics? Open minded?
https://www.vg-resource.com/thread-29658.html

Just for your own future interest, have a short look at this and give it a thought.
https://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comments/5pxldd/ultimate_as_promised_guide_to_legal_needs_and/

For such a big resource host is there any transparency that each month's money is not used for profit?
If you can't answer the question there is chance ALL of the sprite sheets are breaking the rule by YOUR definition. And if people realize that they might rethink of leaving their sprites on the site.

I didn't bother to list any games cause i thought the problem is more obvious to see.

Anyways, a few cases:

Space Trucker
Sold on steam with plenty of stuff from TekWar, Blood, Duke3D and others
https://techraptor.net/content/space-trucker-loads-stolen-assets-steam
https://forum.zdoom.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=54357

They even use your sprite sheets for comparison of the game. You got so many fps game sprites you really think they won't be exploited in fps shovelware or commercial raycast game maker fps?
What are the chances that a lazy commercial ripper bothers to rip from rather unknown games in a possible complicated way and doesnt take it in a sec from a sheet on a popular site? I mean you really think people this daring selling such stuff on steam would take suddenly the hard way and rip it themselves?

Bad Vibes or other indies with external assets on itch.io
https://pfail.itch.io/bad-vibes
Depends where you draw the line. Optional to pay but you are greeted by it when clicking download. In such cases itch is also troublesome cause people can add assets license to the page.

Tristania3D
Asset flip of End of Destiny was partly sold as CD version in hungary inlcuding mp3 soundtrack. Online for free so depends on someone's point of view if it's ok to pay for a overpriced disc then.
https://lambdateam.blog.hu/2011/10/04/tristania_3d_release/ (under the cd photo and the 2nd last comment)

Interstellar
Full Planet N rip off. Guess for free but cant say for sure with so many russian game maker rip offs out there.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXbtSIuGq1s

German Fortress 3D
Some cheap game maker game using WSJ enemies
https://store.steampowered.com/app/664350/German_Fortress_3D/

Skyfall
Doom mod stuff and other things it seems
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqUCCn8I4p4

What happens if you take that 1 sprite from a mod/game.
http://diehardwolfers.areyep.com/viewtopic.php?t=6678

Witching Hour (bootleg) for 14$
http://archive.is/sgGCn

Wolf3D mod CD collection for 15$
https://www.etsy.com/listing/627119218/wolfenstein-3d-mod-collection-fan-made
In total it's 80-90 mods from what i can see. Small list below
a madman's dream
a time to die
aliens vs terminator vs predator
alienwolf
armageddon
assault on hellf
beyond tobruk
blake wolf
community map pack
cover of darkness
crash bandicoot
crash bandicoot 2
daleks
halloween
hotal romanstein
krankenstein
the last mission
mutantstein 1-4
xmaswolf
wolfendoom


Your sprite sheets:

Batman vs Bane (explained before)
Batman: No Man's Land (same)

Spreading:
https://www.deviantart.com/modelsandsprites/art/PC-Computer-Northern-Darkness-Everything-504634872

Northern Darkness
Demon Hunter
Could have flagged those with DMCA already long ago if really really wanted to. First time it was quite disappointing to see the Northern Darkness rips cause wanted to do a sequel and the ones from part 1 were planned to be released for free use.
You know your sheets are not just 1 enemy or few sprites that show up in some random mod or game.

If there is no problem maybe we can host all original wolf3d and spear sprites and resources on the forum now so mods gonna be faster made Question

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:55 am
   Subject: Commercial Shovelware illegally flipping Modders' Sprites
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In my opinion, in a modding community it is foremost a question of the respect and trustworthiness, with regards to oneself and one's work, a modder should be entitled to expect from fellow modders, whether said work is appreciated or not, approved of or not.
If realizing one cannot expect this it is fairly little one can do, except of course being more restrictive in the future.

When it comes to what people outside the community do, one can hardly expect, or do anything about it, at all.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:55 am
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Be it any community, open-source games, sprite resources, or even submissions related to big business, there will always be the question of whether someone dishonest will come along and claim your work as his/her own. It can discourage people from submitting anything at all. My counterargument to this is simple - I submit the work I do because I want to make good things happen. I don't want to feel like a heel because I backed out on helping someone out. In my mind, that's reason enough to continue submitting my work to the public.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:15 pm
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Problem is, some people would want to turn this "help" of yours into a quick buck.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:22 pm
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Then it's them that's doing the wrong, not I. I'm not going to hide away my work and deprive someone of help just because someone else wants to demonstrate lack of scruples. Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:00 pm
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Would it be ok if your mod files were used to advertise racism, kitten killing, porn.. or if someone from the community takes your mod and sells it? Different people, different threshold.

What's the goal with all those sprite sheets. Personal fame? Helping people out there by pissing off some artists?

That would be doing good on one side while doing bad to the other side except all sides agree ><
There are pros and cons. It can't be all just good and perfect.


Can we post the full version of wolf3d, spear, beyond wolfenstein 3d and other games here to download? To help people with mod making.

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