Is a Pathfinder RPG computer game even possible?


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I was wondering if, from a licensing point of view, a PFRPG pc game is possible. This is independent of any questions of desirability.

Would Paizo be allowed to sell the license for a game based on PFRPG mechanics?

Liberty's Edge

When converting a PnP type game to a computer game, the mechanics wouldn't be as much of a concern as the fluff IMO. That being said, the fluff of PF (Golarian, etc.) is Paizo's IP and they shouldn't have any problem selling rights for a PC game.


I agree that the Pathfinder Universe fluff is Paizo's, but what about the PFRPG's "3.75" game mechanics. Could a game studio base their cRPG's mechanics on it?

EDIT:
For me that would be the most important. Where the game plays is secondary. They could invent a whole new world for all I care. [Don't get me wrong, I a fan of Golarion. Especially it's slightly more 'adult' feel is great (very refreshing, since 4E has officially made D&D a kiddy-game). It does have it's flaws though; in two words: Tall Elves.]


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

The mechanics are all OGL, so you can already create a game using the Pathfinder rules. Just include a proper OGL statement that lists sources in your game's documentation.

To use the word "Pathfinder" in the marketing and labeling of your product will require some sort of license (like the compatibility license) from Paizo itself. That would probably be easy enough to arrange.

To license any elements of the Golarian world definitely require a special license from Paizo. If you are a proven publisher I'm sure they would love to hear from you.


Alch wrote:
I agree that the Pathfinder Universe fluff is Paizo's, but what about the PFRPG's "3.75" game mechanics. Could a game studio base their cRPG's mechanics on it?

What you're really asking is if any OGL computer game would be legal. I don't see why not, but then, I haven't had years of schooling in IP laws.

The Exchange

Alch wrote:
I agree that the Pathfinder Universe fluff is Paizo's, but what about the PFRPG's "3.75" game mechanics. Could a game studio base their cRPG's mechanics on it?

I'd imagine so, I mean there were games based off of AD&D, D&D 3.0, D&D 3.5, so I'd imagine a game based off of the Pathfinder mechanics would be more than feasible...


Alch wrote:

I agree that the Pathfinder Universe fluff is Paizo's, but what about the PFRPG's "3.75" game mechanics. Could a game studio base their cRPG's mechanics on it?

EDIT:
For me that would be the most important. Where the game plays is secondary. They could invent a whole new world for all I care. [Don't get me wrong, I a fan of Golarion. Especially it's slightly more 'adult' feel is great (very refreshing, since 4E has officially made D&D a kiddy-game). It does have it's flaws though; in two words: Tall Elves.]

Phew. You guys are too fast ;) . Can't even quick-edit my post in time.

Shadow Lodge

Frankly, just for playability purposes, I would hope for a streamlined version of the PFRPG system, or even a Golarion game that only roughly simulates the d20 system. I played NWN, and while it was amazing that they managed to do such a good job translating the 3.0 ruleset to a computer game, if you were anything other than a basic meelee combatant, it meant wading through lots of menus. Even with the quickslot macros, it was still annoying to try to find and/or remember where a certain spell / ability was if it wasn't among your MOST used once.


AlanM wrote:
Alch wrote:
I agree that the Pathfinder Universe fluff is Paizo's, but what about the PFRPG's "3.75" game mechanics. Could a game studio base their cRPG's mechanics on it?
I'd imagine so, I mean there were games based off of AD&D, D&D 3.0, D&D 3.5, so I'd imagine a game based off of the Pathfinder mechanics would be more than feasible...

Yeah but these games were all made under licenses granted by WotC or Hasbro or whoever owns the D&D franchise.


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Imagine an epic game ala Planescape Torment centered in Cheliax.. mmmmm


Kthulhu wrote:
Frankly, just for playability purposes, I would hope for a streamlined version of the PFRPG system, or even a Golarion game that only roughly simulates the d20 system. I played NWN, and while it was amazing that they managed to do such a good job translating the 3.0 ruleset to a computer game, if you were anything other than a basic meelee combatant, it meant wading through lots of menus. Even with the quickslot macros, it was still annoying to try to find and/or remember where a certain spell / ability was if it wasn't among your MOST used once.

Quite frankly I liked that. Complexity is always great in PC games (something the console players don't understand). Also it was mostly due to their real-time approach. I wouldn't have a problem with a turn based game. It's been a long time since we've had a good one.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Alch wrote:
AlanM wrote:
Alch wrote:
I agree that the Pathfinder Universe fluff is Paizo's, but what about the PFRPG's "3.75" game mechanics. Could a game studio base their cRPG's mechanics on it?
I'd imagine so, I mean there were games based off of AD&D, D&D 3.0, D&D 3.5, so I'd imagine a game based off of the Pathfinder mechanics would be more than feasible...
Yeah but these games were all made under licenses granted by WotC or Hasbro or whoever owns the D&D franchise.

I am pretty sure of 2 things. First the games that were made under license were done so because they wanted the DnD name. I dont think for instance never winter nights was under direct license was it?

Second, paizo's ogl is far more open then the one put out by wizards/hasbro. I find it very unlikely that this could not be done.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I think that Atari has an exclusive deal for any computer games based on D&D. That's why you didn't see any 4ed computer game yet and that's why Hasbro is doing whatever it can to wrestle the license away from Atari :) I'm not sure if the license covers OGL as well.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:
Frankly, just for playability purposes, I would hope for a streamlined version of the PFRPG system, or even a Golarion game that only roughly simulates the d20 system. I played NWN, and while it was amazing that they managed to do such a good job translating the 3.0 ruleset to a computer game, if you were anything other than a basic meelee combatant, it meant wading through lots of menus. Even with the quickslot macros, it was still annoying to try to find and/or remember where a certain spell / ability was if it wasn't among your MOST used once.

Well it can be streamlined without sacrificing too much. DDO did a pretty good job of it. Though as a wizard you needed ALOT of quick bars, I had a friend who could play a wizard using a controller instead of the keyboard, and do it well. So it's definately feasible to create a videogame that is dynamic and robust without sacrificing alot of the system.

If they streamlined it too much, I would probably be less interested in it. One of the things I loved about never winter nights and knights of the old republic was they were in fact the d20 system, which I enjoy alot. The power based 'rpgs' that dominate the video game market are mostly boring to me. I found the games that stuck closer to d20 alot more fun to play.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Alch wrote:
Yeah but these games were all made under licenses granted by WotC or Hasbro or whoever owns the D&D franchise.

Yes, you need a license to put "D&D" and the logo on the side of the box. You'd need a license to write "Pathfinder RPG Compatible" on the side of the box.

You already have a license (OGL) to *use* the mechanics and terms of the game (be it 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, True20, Castles & Crusades, or any of the other OGL rules-systems out there.) Without a special license, you'd couldn't really advertise where the rules came from. You could say something generic, like "Based on a revised OGL rule set."

In order to advertise as "Pathfinder RPG Compatible" you'd want to contact License Manager: Jeff Alvarez (licensing@paizo.com) for a specific license. As I said before, it's probably easy to get a license for use of the compatibility logo. It's probably much harder (but still possible) to get a license for Golarian itself.


deinol wrote:

Yes, you need a license to put "D&D" and the logo on the side of the box. You'd need a license to write "Pathfinder RPG Compatible" on the side of the box.

You already have a license (OGL) to *use* the mechanics and terms of the game (be it 3.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, True20, Castles & Crusades, or any of the other OGL rules-systems out there.) Without a special license, you'd couldn't really advertise where the rules came from. You could say something generic, like "Based on a revised OGL rule set."

I see what you mean, but wasn't the OGL made because even the game's mechanics belonged to WotC/Hasbro and without it anybody producing a d20 PnP game or supplement would be infringing on their IP (the OGL is free, but it is a license nonetheless). The question is then: does the OGL also extend to computer games or is it just for PnP?


A number of different open-source content licenses work differently. Some just specify that it can go into anything, even stuff that is sold, as long as the open-source content is shared. Other stuff can only be put in free-ware (or is only supposed to be) and not freeware has to pay the originator or can't use it. But since Pathfinder grabbed a bunch of OGL stuff, I imagine it can go into pay software. It's just the non-OGL stuff that can't without paying.

And who cares? It is rather difficult to implement PnP mechanics in an online game without modifying them somewhat anyway. Though the problem with NWN and NWN2 was the Aurora engine's limitations and not enough time to polish the code...

I imagine Paizo would love to pursue a Pathfinder game - the basic game has already been implemented a half-dozen times before. Though anything with "Pathfinder" on it is going to have a licensing fee. You can just make your own d20 game if you felt like it.


I believe it will be a difficult sell to develop any D20 game, including pathfinder or 4E, without some tweaking. You have to consider the mechanics and expectations set by popular online games like everquest, dark ages, warcraft, etc.

While any roleplayer may accept a pure form of the game, where you only get so many spells or powers a day, it also has to appeal to the mass market.

Therefore, even if you play Dungeon and Dragons Online (Free to Play), you will notice all spells use spell point bars similar to other games, you have rest shrines, and your selection of feats, and races are more limited and modified.

But still, one can hope.


Uchawi wrote:
You have to consider the mechanics and expectations set by popular online games like everquest, dark ages, warcraft, etc.

The mechanics of either of those games have nothing to do with d20 - which is already a defined set of mechanics. And I don't see your point anyway given that Baldur's Gate I/II, Icewind Dale series, Planescape Torment, Neverwinter Nights 1/2 are all d20 games. And even Elder Scrolls games before Oblivion were similarly designed.

Quote:
Therefore, even if you play Dungeon and Dragons Online (Free to Play), you will notice all spells use spell point bars similar to other games,

Have you heard of any of the games I listed? Especially the D&D ones.

4e is a different beast entirely because its mechanics are only remotely similar to previous d20 games. 4e would end up alot more like Guild Wars than it would Neverwinter Nights


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

hmm looks like anyone wanting to do a 'pathfinder' video/computer game would have to go directly to paizo to work it out.

"4. Usage Restrictions
The license granted hereunder is expressly limited to use of the Compatibility Logo in printed books, electronic books, and freely available websites. Anyone seeking a license for any other use should contact Paizo directly, at licensing@paizo.com."


I have had the same basic question myself, "Does the OGL extend to software/games, or is that reserved under the license, or reserved by lack of explicit mention?" Reading it might answer the question, or may not.

Only two things I know: 1) there is some commercial software out there, such as HeroLab, that uses OGL information, but it doesn't actually "run" the game; and 2) I haven't heard of any computer game put out that uses d20 rules that hasn't been licensed. The latter may be because no developer thinks they can profit from it without the D&D name.


Majuba wrote:
2) I haven't heard of any computer game put out that uses d20 rules that hasn't been licensed. The latter may be because no developer thinks they can profit from it without the D&D name.

Because d20 rules without a license is bland fantasy. And if you are creating a fantasy game, why make the job of creating a fantasy world even more difficult by trying to adhere to game rules designed without the constraints of a software system in mind?

Quote:
1) there is some commercial software out there, such as HeroLab, that uses OGL information, but it doesn't actually "run" the game

It's exactly the same thing unless it would be otherwise specified specifically. HeroLabs may not have a gameworld centered on the rules but it has ALL THE RULES.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Majuba wrote:
I have had the same basic question myself, "Does the OGL extend to software/games, or is that reserved under the license, or reserved by lack of explicit mention?" Reading it might answer the question, or may not.

The OGL doesn't prohibit software. While there aren't any commercial games that use it, there are a number of tools and utilities that do. I've seen at least one rogue-like that was based on it.

You can't put a "Pathfinder Compatible" logo or mention the trademarked name "Pathfinder" in any way without a license. You haven't seen any big name OGL based games before because the D&D logo and brand name are far more valuable than the actual mechanics. Any company large enough to sell their software at GameStop is going to be able to license the actual brand name.


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I think the closest game to the 3.5 ruleset that has been released is Temple Of Elemental Evil by Atari.

What a total abortion of a game!

It could have been great, but was so buggy as to be unplayable.

I have heard that some folks (Circle of 8?) have made all kinds of patches, but I can't even load the game because the original disc has some sort of copy protection that makes it think it is a pirated copy.

A total shame because it sticks very closely to the 3.5 rules.


Cartigan wrote:
Uchawi wrote:
You have to consider the mechanics and expectations set by popular online games like everquest, dark ages, warcraft, etc.

The mechanics of either of those games have nothing to do with d20 - which is already a defined set of mechanics. And I don't see your point anyway given that Baldur's Gate I/II, Icewind Dale series, Planescape Torment, Neverwinter Nights 1/2 are all d20 games. And even Elder Scrolls games before Oblivion were similarly designed.

Quote:
Therefore, even if you play Dungeon and Dragons Online (Free to Play), you will notice all spells use spell point bars similar to other games,

Have you heard of any of the games I listed? Especially the D&D ones.

4e is a different beast entirely because its mechanics are only remotely similar to previous d20 games. 4e would end up alot more like Guild Wars than it would Neverwinter Nights

You are correct that I was making a distinction in regards to online games versus stand alone. So for the latter, I believe I have only played neverwinter nights. But I do believe they influence each other, and it was just another point for consideration.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There was an indie d20 game called Knights of the Chalice, http://www.heroicfantasygames.com/, that was very cool, despite its limitations-only 3 classes, not that many spells, basically only combat, no skills. I do not think they had to pay for the license, and there is no mention of D+D in their game. It is their own fairly generic fantasy world. It is one of the best tactical combat games I've played. Beware, it looks like Ultima 6, for you next gen people.


Uchawi wrote:


You are correct that I was making a distinction in regards to online games versus stand alone. So for the latter, I believe I have only played neverwinter nights. But I do believe they influence each other, and it was just another point for consideration.

You can play NWN and NWN 2 online, though I don't see what online or offline games have to do with this at all anyway

Sovereign Court

I am no lawyer, but I seem to recall Wizards explicitely stating that video games and related stuff were VERBOTEN !

Paizo Employee Creative Director

The interaction of the OGL and video games is... weird. It's been done before, though. Anyone who's played Knights of the Old Republic and is familiar with d20 knows this, after all. A Pathfinder video game COULD be done, but I'm not 100% sure about the OGL implications, really. Hopefully some day we at Paizo will have a reason to figure those implications out!

Also, there's plenty more genres of video game than RPGs that wouldn't necessarily need to flaunt the mechanics of the game at all. A "Red Dead Redemption" style game set in the River Kingdoms would rock, as would be a stealth first-person game set in a thieves' guild in Absalom, or a Tomb Raider type game where a Pathfinder explores Thassilonian ruins in Varisia.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Stereofm wrote:
I am no lawyer, but I seem to recall Wizards explicitely stating that video games and related stuff were VERBOTEN !

If you used the d20 license, yes. We've never used that license, though; we always use the OGL, which is a LOT more permissive.

Sovereign Court

I know I'd enjoy seeing a Pathfinder RPG series of games similar in style to the old Fallout games. Turn based combats with a grid and so on. Or..which one was it? Temple of Elemental Evil?

Though...a gold box style one might not be too bad either. Really go old school with it.


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Neverwinter Nights can provide a pretty decent table top game experience in pc game form. The DM client and the easy to use tool set are the key elements.

Any PCRPG without a DM capabilities provides weak and hollow role play opportunity at best.

Neverwinter Nights 2 messed up by increasing the complexity of the toolset. The average user was put off by the learning curve.

I'd love to see a Pathfinder game, but man I hope it's more table top RPG and less MMORPG.


I do not want to see Pathfinder dumb-downed and turned into a MMO ripoff.

Wait…oh…nevermind.


James Jacobs wrote:
A "Red Dead Redemption" style game set in the River Kingdoms would rock, as would be a stealth first-person game set in a thieves' guild in Absalom, or a Tomb Raider type game where a Pathfinder explores Thassilonian ruins in Varisia.

Or something like Heroes of Might and Magic, called Kingmaker :)

Or, if you want parties instead of armies, Disciples. (Minus the horrible bugs found in Disciples III....)

Or some nice horror survival action, when you find yourself in the crashed starship in Numeria, with no recollection how you got there. Or somewhere in an Osirian tomb.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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There are correct answers in various posts above (especially from deinol), but for the sake of having it all in one place:

The Pathfinder RPG rules are available as open content under the OGL, and there's nothing in the OGL that prohibits using it for computer games. (Wizards' d20 System License could not be used for interactive electronic games, but that's largely irrelevant here.)

The OGL *does* prohibit indicating compatibility using trademarks owned by others without a license, so while you can use the rules for your game, you can't call it "Pathfinder" without a license from us. (The Pathfinder RPG Compatibility License, which is what allows print and PDF publishers to specify compatibility with the Pathfinder RPG, deliberately does not apply to computer games.)

Our setting material is not open to commercial use, and that's actually the part that's going to have the most appeal to a computer game publisher.

We do hope to work with an established computer game industry leader on a Pathfinder computer game someday—which is part of why we're not giving those rights out for free—but we're in no particular hurry.

Liberty's Edge

EA/Bioware, please! And thank you!

You know, I suspect that (purely hypothetically, of course) if EA/Bioware bought the rights to, say, Kingmaker, they could quickly make the most compelling RPG game of all time. Quickly, because I'm sure that they still have more than a few guys and gals on their staff who worked the 3.5 licensed stuff, which of course is it's own brand of legend...wait for it...dary, and compelling because, well, Paizo is pretty amazing.

I wish you were in a hurry, because I have a feeling you'd be rolling around in piles of money off the deal, but I understand the reasons for not being in a hurry, too.


Bioware won't do it; they intentionally got out of the business of making licensed RPG games. They didn't like dealing with the licensors and wanted to make their games exactly the way they wanted without having to consult a higher power on "Mother may I?".

EDIT: Also, Kingmaker would be a stone cold b***h to code in any way that actually preserves what makes it awesome.


I've played many a great computer game but yet to find a good story telling computer system v_v

Sovereign Court

Exploration like a fun, sandboxy Oblivion, quests like Dragon Age, exciting combat like Uncharted 2 (sans guns, I'd assume) ... with a side of fava beans and a nice Chianti...


Jeremiziah wrote:
EA/Bioware, please! And thank you!

The awesomeness would be substantial. It's also never going to happen.

Frankly, there's no upside for Bioware at all, particularly not with the Dragon Age IP to play with. Why share the glory and profits with someone else, when they can just use their own IP and keep all of both for themselves? As much as we here like Paizo and Golarion, I think you'd be hard-pressed to defend the idea that more people know about either than know about Bioware, not to mention EA, so there's really no reason to think that slapping a Golarion or Pathfinder label on the box would generate enough extra sales to make the licensing worthwhile from Bioware's standpoint.

Which is a shame. Because there's awesomeness aplenty that would come from that particular pairing...

Scarab Sages

Alch wrote:
Quite frankly I liked that. Complexity is always great in PC games (something the console players don't understand). Also it was mostly due to their real-time approach. I wouldn't have a problem with a turn based game. It's been a long time since we've had a good one.

Check out Knights of the Chalice

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zurai wrote:
Bioware won't do it; they intentionally got out of the business of making licensed RPG games. They didn't like dealing with the licensors and wanted to make their games exactly the way they wanted without having to consult a higher power on "Mother may I?".

A sentiment I can identify with and agree with completely, as awesome as it would be to team up with Bioware to do a Pathfinder game.


Zurai wrote:

Bioware won't do it; they intentionally got out of the business of making licensed RPG games. They didn't like dealing with the licensors and wanted to make their games exactly the way they wanted without having to consult a higher power on "Mother may I?".

EDIT: Also, Kingmaker would be a stone cold b***h to code in any way that actually preserves what makes it awesome.

Maybe this is why there were no more Baldurs Gate type games made. I liked those more than the NWN games.

Liberty's Edge

Never say never, dudes. Anything's possible. Look at the Call Of Duty/Activision situation. What if some guys from Bioware set off to create their own studio? Who knows what happens? Never say never.

Kingmaker would be a beeyotch to code, but these are guys who make their bread off of coding things that are a beeyotch to code. Nothing new there for them.

In summary, never say never.


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ULTIMA UNDERWORLD - STYGIAN ABYSS, I MISS YOU *-* !!1!

It just chills my heart at the prospect..

...i've yet to see a computer game rpg that makes use of the medium to hide/streamline all the clunky elements of a pen and paper rpg and make decent use of networking, easy-use editing, world building etc

Too many wannabe movie directors making the games. Not enough room to customise.

The very nature of game development/production beast means that corners have to be cut to ensure deadlines are met lest publishers unleash misery.

When I boot up the game and I click on the barmaid, I at *least* want some kinda of 'Do you really wish lamp the barmaid? y/n' >_<

...Bah. Just feels that they've always constrained play with the transistion.

*shakes fist*

Give us a tool box - let us make our own game/campaign. NPC editors, a scripting system any ole' Joe can use while drunk, map editor, terrain editor, diety editor etc etc

I don't want to play through someone elses's idea of fun. I'm far too disfunctional...

Sovereign Court

Vic Wertz wrote:

The OGL *does* prohibit indicating compatibility using trademarks owned by others without a license, so while you can use the rules for your game, you can't call it "Pathfinder" without a license from us. (The Pathfinder RPG Compatibility License, which is what allows print and PDF publishers to specify compatibility with the Pathfinder RPG, deliberately does not apply to computer games.)

Our setting material is not open to commercial use, and that's actually the part that's going to have the most appeal to a computer game publisher.

Does this cover things like fan made mods for games? I'm sure some enterprising fans would/could/have/should(?) worked out ways to build the Pathfinder setting into games like Neverwinter Nights or an Elder Scrolls game. Is that something that is permissible under all these licenses, is that fair use, or is that against policy as far as anyone without a law degree knows? Obviously assuming they don't take any claim for the setting since we know that'd be wrong right off the bat.

A for instance being: a group of friends spends a few months converting the Council of Thieves adventure path into a mod for Half Life (just to be random).


i don't think kingmaker would be hard to code at all. If anything building a city/town would be a mini game of sorts. depending on how much graphics you wanted to make the town. me i would keep the town simple overhead 2d -make it like themepark/simcity and done. graphix in the building tiles point and plop and so on. entering shops and such to buy stuff could be done as easily as the old school pool of radiance style one room cut scene. the castle and inns i would put more work into and make them more like suikoden so you could interact with your vassals and people and gather rumors or just chat. lastly i would NOT do combat in real time like ice wind dale,warcraft,diablo and all the other same old same old style of so called RPG's. i would do more like final fantasy tactics or disgea. that way you could make use of strategy,terrain,area effects, flanking, etc. man i miss games like that. why did everything go real time?

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Morgen wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:

The OGL *does* prohibit indicating compatibility using trademarks owned by others without a license, so while you can use the rules for your game, you can't call it "Pathfinder" without a license from us. (The Pathfinder RPG Compatibility License, which is what allows print and PDF publishers to specify compatibility with the Pathfinder RPG, deliberately does not apply to computer games.)

Our setting material is not open to commercial use, and that's actually the part that's going to have the most appeal to a computer game publisher.

Does this cover things like fan made mods for games? I'm sure some enterprising fans would/could/have/should(?) worked out ways to build the Pathfinder setting into games like Neverwinter Nights or an Elder Scrolls game. Is that something that is permissible under all these licenses, is that fair use, or is that against policy as far as anyone without a law degree knows? Obviously assuming they don't take any claim for the setting since we know that'd be wrong right off the bat.

A for instance being: a group of friends spends a few months converting the Council of Thieves adventure path into a mod for Half Life (just to be random).

Selling it would be definately out. You'd need to look at the community use licence to see if freeware would be possible, but I weouldn't be hopeful.

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