Game Features

Interview with BarleyStudios about Theme Hopsital, Permissions and CorsixTH

Recently we broke news that a port of Bullfrog ‘s classic Theme Hospital had hit the Google Play market, courtesy of Barley Studios. A commercial success on both PS1 and PC its passionate fan base has given it several attempts at trying to revitalize the game through various open source projects. One of these projects named CorsixTH has been somewhat successful at doing this and is almost complete. News recently broke again that Alan from Armed Pineapple has altered the code of CorsixTH and ported it to android himself.

This is where things start to give you bloaty head syndrome, Alan has claimed that Barley Studios has stolen his code and that by selling the game the studio breaches the MIT license. Alan also raises awareness of the additional permissions requested by Barley Studios. One of these being access to sensitive data.

In this article we interview Barley Studios about these concerns and what sort of updates we can expect in the future. Enjoy!

DroidGamers: Firstly I love Theme Hospital and no matter what’s gone on behind the scenes, you were the one who has alerted me to an android version, so thank you for that. Getting serious, Alan over at Armed Pineapple has claimed that your version of Theme Hospital is based off his code and that by selling it, you not only discredit his work but that of the CorsixTH community, neither of whom charge for this game. What do you say about these allegations? If they are true do you feel that you’ve altered his code enough to warrant a charge for your version of Theme Hospital?

´╗┐BarleyStudios: Hi there, I’m glad to have this interview. I’m also a fan of Theme Hospital like you. Earlier this year, I found the project of CorsixTH, an amazing clone version of Theme Hospital, and tried to port on android because I love this game very much. After several weeks, I make some progress with my work, at this time I found an app of Armed Pineapple, I was exciting. I installed the app and shared to my friends. Because of confusing setup wizard and difficult operation, some of them cannot start the game smoothly. Why do I improve the ways of operation? Then I just did it.

After I sent the modified app to them, they were happy to accept and shared more friends whom were the fans of the game. Some people submitted some bugs to me and explained that they would pay for that if I like. I accepted their advice and upload to Google market on May 14th. I’m so sorry for Alan, because I thought he follow the MIT license like CorsixTH. On May 18, he sent an email and told me about license issue. However, the whole weekend I spend with my family but not check email.

On Monday, I read the email. I was shocked about this thing and checked his source repository again. He did add GPL license in that time. I relied the email to say sorry and open my work immediately (git://github.com/maliku/CorsixTH_Android.git). Also added a notice in my app description of Google Play as soon as possible. But the fans of Armed Pineapple look like unhappy either. Therefore, I have removed most of the code from Armed Pineapple since V0.7 and the work will go on. That’s the whole thing through, I don’t want explain much about this, just want to continue to improve the quality of the game.

DroidGamers: Other than questions about code, people have also raised issues about why you need access to sensitive log data and phone calls, perhaps you can explain your reasoning behind these permissions?

BarleyStudios: About the permissions issue, I feel frustration. I used a third-party analytics library which collected the call stack log only when the game crashed. It is aimed to quickly locate and solve problems. I don’t think this is a reasonable complaint. Source code is available to check. But in order to eliminate the doubts of the players, ┬áI have removed the permissions of read logs and phone state on V0.7. Some changes to improve the functionality was also injected into this version, and the new source repository is git://github.com/maliku/CorsixTH-AndroidFrontend.git, people can build the game for free if they wanted to.

DroidGamers: What changes can we expect to Theme Hospital in future versions? Your current 0.65 version leaves us thinking you’re not quite there with the end result.

BarleyStudios: I’ll keep on updating the app. In fact it also has a lot of room for improvement, such as mode of operation, font size, performance, etc. Thanks again.

So there we have it, this article offers quite a lot in the way of discussion so do hop on over to the forums or leave discussions below.

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