Learning game development with source code of Commercial games - Halo, Viva Pinata

After announcing the 2.0 version of XNA Game Studio during Gamefest's keynote, XNA general manager Chris Satchell also revealed that Microsoft will allow consumers direct, legal access to game content from a number of Microsoft-owned games.

This license is to use and display Game Content and to create derivative works based upon Game Content and strictly meant for noncommercial and personal use.

The licence is similar to the Creative Commons agreement that some writers and artists use to give their works free and open copyright to the public, gives users access to any game published by Microsoft Game Studios (but not any third-party brands).

With this materials from Age of Empires, Forza Motorsport, Halo, Project Gotham Racing, Viva PiƱata and any other MGS game can be freely and legally 'remixed' by players.

There are some clauses: the rights don't extend to music or sound effects, assets can't be used for racist, obscene or pornographic ends, and players can't claim to be adding 'lost chapters' to Microsoft IP, plus they have to add clear '©' and related disclaimers to their resultant creations. They also can't reverse-engineer the games, either.

However consumers may now use gameplay footage, screen shots and other gameplay elements to, says Microsoft "express their own imagination and creativity".

More details can be found at Microsoft's official 'rule' list for the agreement.

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