Linked by Adam Geitgey on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:12 UTC
Games Despite the impressive list of achievements of open source software, it can be argued that there have not been any world-class games created under the open source banner. Sure, several old games like Doom and Quake have been gifted to the open source community, but there are no comparable original creations in this area. One should not expect this situation to change anytime soon, because the open source development model does not make sense for game development.
Order by: Score:
nethack
by Rab on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:26 UTC

Nethack beats anything the world of closed source has to offer. Sure, it's not flashy and full of rapidly aging graphical tricks, but the gameplay is second to none.

Open Source games focus on being addictive and fun to play, not on marketing like DOOM3, which, lets face it, is extremely boring and samey once you get over the fact it renders dank dusty dungeons with 20% more polygons than last year's blockbuster. Yawn.

I've never really found any closed source games that are particularly fun to play after a week or so. I suppose there were some good ones in the 80s and early 90s, but since then there's been little originality and less focus on gameplay. This is why the games industry is heading towards a crash, really, it can't produce interesting content anymore. People aren't going to cause riots getting the next mario release like they did in the 80s, when gaming was an innovative new social trend.

For these reasons I think OSS will come to rule the world of gaming. Gaming is rapidly becoming commoditised, unoriginal, and little fun. OSS it excellent and focusing on fun, and will catch up with the rest in time. Then gaming will be yet another victim of the success of OSS.

What's your point?
by none on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:33 UTC

"One should not expect this situation to change anytime soon, because the open source development model does not make sense for game development."

Is this some sort of preemptive strike against OSS games or something? Because I just don't see the point of this article.

In fact I don't think I've ever heard that the OSS model would work for big budget, big graphics gaming. Not once in the 7 years that I've been using OSS did I see someone point at Doom II or Quake III or now with Doom 3 and say "We can make the same thing but better via OSS!!" when the games first came out.

The place of OSS in gaming is possibly providing Free tools to code with, a Free Stable platform to code on, and maybe some actual code via SDL or ogg.

So yes, your right. OSS isn't the perfect vechile for creating big budgest, highly successful, marketing driven games. Didn't we all know that already? You did your research I just think this seems to be a two page answer to a question that didn't need to be asked.

Re: nethack
by Adam Geitgey on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:34 UTC

I think from your point of view you are correct. OSS will come to rule the particular world of gaming you enjoy - text based dungeon crawls. It already does.

However, this article is specifically about the world of high-end games and I think that is the area where OSS does not make sense.

RE: nethack
by Eugenia on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:35 UTC

Rab,
you are talking fanatically and without objectivity.

Nethack is great for what it is --my husband loves it too-- but it is like trying to learn VIM or Emacs. People who play games, don't want to study a whole encyclopedia before they start playing a game. It is not for everyone, in fact it is for VERY FEW people, even if Nethack is on the same par of GOOD open source development projects like Apache, PostgreSQL or Subversion.

And I don't think that "Open Source games focus on being addictive and fun to play". Most open source games are just games, designed by amateurs, who just learning some C and some SDL programming, or who just want to re-implement a game they loved once in their Amiga or their Windows PC.

But the reality is, as the article explained, that the times CHANGE. Market-quality games DO become harder and harder to develop every day because of the complexity in the AI and graphics. OSS can never --ever-- beat a good commercial game that took 2-3 years to make for a closed team working full time together, every day and researching on the same time for better algorithms.

You can disagree all you want, and give us poor examples like nethack (which I agree is great, but not for most people), but reality is, where is the Black&White in the OSS world? Where is DungeonKeeper or SimCity etc? Nowhere. These games are so complex and involve so many different skills, that the OSS model just doesn't work as well as a company-model would do.

re:nethack
by none on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:38 UTC

"For these reasons I think OSS will come to rule the world of gaming"


Well I guess at least one person thinks so but let me say again that this isn't common thought among OSS backers. People wishing to argue with this person should realize that he doesn't represent the majority of OSS users.



"Gaming is rapidly becoming commoditised, unoriginal, and little fun."

Says you. If you can't find a single game to play for more than one week and you really think that all modern games suck I have a shocking suggestion for you. Your NOT a gamer *gasp*. I know you probably didn't know this but its true. Stick to nethack and hearts and leaving the gaming to the people who still enjoy it.

the games
by gamer on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:40 UTC

Where are the games?
....simple
Where is the $$$$$$

re: Eugenia
by Rab on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:47 UTC

Is "Black and White" any more complicated than KDE? Gnome? The Linux kernel? I don't think it is, really. Plus, I was really thinking longer term. Games these days just aren't particularly original, and the programming is the least of the effort involved. You use your off the shelf 3D engine, you have an off-the-shelf genre, and so on.

Commercial games can maintain a lead up to now purely because games depend on pushing the technological envelope much more than eg a wordprocessor or VCS system does. The games of this year have to be slicker and faster than the games of last year, and that requires enromous investment in new technologies every release cycle that only commercial companies can afford, at this pace.

However, I don't think things will stay this way. I think the bottom is falling out of the games market, simply because that progress is unsustainable. It's a question of the law of diminishing returns. DOOMI was much, much more impressive and jawdropping than what went before. DOOM3 is like what went before, but a little slicker. Enormous investments in software and hardware advances are reaching a point where most gamers don't really notice all *that* much of a difference over their first 3D playstation I games. Transform&Lighting is much less impressive an advance that having 3D at all, and the next cycle of advances in games promise to be even less exciting. Add to that the dearth of decent, groundbreaking new ideas in the gaming world, and enough time, and I forsee a situation where OSS can indeed catch up very well with the world of commercial software, simply because the technological lead will no longer be relevant, and time will allow many of the exciting projects in OSS gaming today to mature, and mature, and mature..

What about simulators?
by Miguel on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:49 UTC

The author of the article and everybody else seems only talking about shooting games and similar ones. I agree that for those games the OSS may not be the best model, but there are other games. For example, consider flight simulators. There are a lot of them and they are very good. Just to list some:

www.flightgear.org
www.web-discovery.net
www.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/~martins/orbit/orbit.html

BZFlag
by Phil on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:49 UTC

BZFlag rules!

Lots of good ones
by Charlie on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:50 UTC

Games like Battle for Wesnoth ( http://www.wesnoth.org ), Vega Strike ( http://vegastrike.sourceforge.net ), UFO : Alien Invasion ( http://www.ufoai.net ), Boson ( http://boson.eu.org ), Free Orion ( temporarily without a webhost ), and many more games that are emerging.

Thing is, the author of the article is right. It takes a large team a long time to create commercial grade games. That is why the open source model relies on a community effort and in some cases (such as Wesnoth and to a lesser degree Vega Strike) this has happened.

The more people that are aware of the open source model, then the more people that will attach themselves to communities and improve games that they like. It's all about market saturation, and the open source market just isn't saturated enough just yet. I've a feeling things are picking up though, from the momentum I've observed over the last few years, and that in 2-3 years time we may be talking differently about a core of excellent open source games that are solid and polished.

v Well...
by AG on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:50 UTC
Battle for Wesnoth
by rboss on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:52 UTC

Anyone how thinks that open source games don't work should try "Battle for Wesnoth". It rocks!

Game Designers are Not "hackers"
by RaVen_ on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:53 UTC

I actually have noticed something. Being in college in the CS dep, the people who want to make games and are big gamers tend to use windows and know very little about how their system works. They are usually very inventive and with the training they get I have no doubt they will be excellent game designers, but they are just not playing in the same arena as most of the OSS people. Likewise, most of the OSS people I meet are not big gamers and have pretty much 0 interest in devoting their time to creating a really great game.

To me, this whole argument about the OpenSource model being good or bad for games is useless and has nothing to do with why there arn't many great OpenSource games. Its just simply that most Open Source programmers don't want to make them.

RE: nethack
by Eugenia on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:53 UTC

>Is "Black and White" any more complicated than KDE? Gnome? The Linux kernel?

Maybe not more complicated than the Linux kernel (which has huge contribution by companies anyway), but possibly more complicated by KDE/Gnome, yes.

But in any way, games are different than system software. System software does not change as much as 3D algorithms and 3D hardware do. To create a modern game, you need all the latest and greatest knowledge and beta 3D hardware and lots -- I mean lots-- of good testing. To create a modern OS, you just need an i686 and some freely available code from research OSes. However, the knowledge and hardware to get involved to an OS development is more readily available to people, than a *modern* game knowledge and hardware is. It also requires people with different skills than just coders: artists, level designers, pro testers. So, it's just different kind of development.

BTW, please use the right subject when replying.

Some games can be OSS
by Corey on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:53 UTC

If you notice something about all the big successful OSS games, they have one thing in common, and that thing is strategy. Freeciv, Nethack, and Battle of Wesnoth are all strategy games, and only the last has any kind of story. Thus, with a game that can and should be played many many times, then the OSS model works, as users will stick around. However, if your game is based off of one story line, yes closed source will fail.

And on another, slightly related point, OSS is very good for making engines and the like, and providing the framework. Thus the Doom3 people would have just had to write a great story wrapper around a already great OSS engine that is used in a great many games.

Corey

Re: the games
by Peter on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:54 UTC

Where are the games?
....simple
Where is the $$$$$$
Do you honestly think that a lot of open-source/Free software programmers do it for money? If you ask a lot of programmers who do F/OSS coding (me being including in that group), you'll soon come to know that (for the most part anyway), many programmers do it solely for reputation's sake: It helps them get a good rep among the hacker community and they do it because they like doing it. And with that said, take a look at what companies like Red Hat, Novell (with SuSE, Ximian, etc.), Apple (with the Darwin-based OS X), Sun (with StarOffice/OpenOffice.org) and IBM (with their Eclipse IDE, etc.) are doing. Things like these are open-source, yet they (the companies) are making money, even profit, on these F/OSS things. Heck, Havoc Pennington, one of the Lead GNOME/Metacity developers, and Alan Cox, one of the head Linux kernel devs, are employed by RH iirc.

That said, I'm surprised no one has mentioned SimuTrans:
http://simutrans.de/
or bzFlag
http://bzflag.sourceforge.net/

Re: the games
by Eugenia on Tue 31st Aug 2004 20:58 UTC

All the games you are mentioning, look SO 1995!
None of you understand the author I am afraid. We are talking about MODERN games, that if there was a kind of contest, these games would be able to compete at ALL levels of design to their commercial counterparts. There is NOT ONE OSS game today that can compete straight head to head with a commercial counterpart!

Is Simutrans good enough? Yes.
Is BzFlag good enough? Yes.
Is Frozen Bubble good enough? Yes.

But when you compare them with their commercial counterparts for consoles or Windows, these OSS games are so mid-nineties that it isn't funny anymore.

@ Rab and All, really.
by benn on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:00 UTC

rab: I completely disagreed with you, but I must say that your final post makes some excellent points.

All: I think that OSS games lag behind as well because the quality OSS games that exist (lbreakout2, frozen bubble, bzflag) are less about technology and more about fun, whether or not they are copies of earlier games, I really do.

So, if OSS is destined to be used for games, it will be in a more classic OSS style: several developers will come out with a good 3d game engine/API which would allow another set of devs to create some different, configurable AI plugins, and still other to write a story, others to work on art and others to bring the whole thing together. None of these working specifically in concert with the others.

A gaming development community that places a premium on glitz and glamour will only come into being the way the Linux base came into being: by gradually picking up steam and getting set of useable tools in place to help along the way...

The new gtk = GamerTK. ;)

Scorched Earth
by Cletus on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:01 UTC

Scorched Earth is a great OSS remake of a classic DOS game. It has been completely remade into 3D with OpenGL graphics. It features beautiful water, destructible terrain, and mutliplayer online and LAN gaming! Sure, it's no big budget game, but it brought back some great memories, and is way better than the original imho.

What about mods?
by squ1d on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:01 UTC

There may not be any truly FOSS games out there that can compete with commercial titles, but there is a HUGE modding community which I believe fills the void quite well.

Bonus points...
by Shadowlight Dancer on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:02 UTC

...for hosting an article that was professionally written and seems to be exclusive to OSNews, Eugenia.

On the subject of open source gaming, I would have to agree with the author - game programming is unlike application programming; it is in all odds there will be no long-term use that will generate lots of useful feedback while developing an open-source game and users will definitely get bored of "relatively the same thing" over and over and over again...

There are exceptions, though, I'd say: simulations (strategy, flight, racing) and puzzle-games (think, BeJeweled) seem to be the most likely canidate for a successful open source game to really shine in, because these games appeal to hardcore gamers who appreciate the tweaking under the hood; it really shows in these models, where a slight change in physics or unit stats can mean an entirely different experience.

An even better question is ...
by Darius on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:07 UTC

Where are the good closed source games? I think I can count all the good ones that have come out in the past several years with 2 hands, and sorry .. but Doom 3 ain't one of them either.

the problem is not...
by drift on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:09 UTC

...the gameplay, but the graphics and animation a top seller today must have. i'm not talking about coding skills: the roots of coding-skills for games are in the demo-scene.

i'm talking about professional made animations, graphics, textures, audio.... it takes a lot of time and human resources to develop a top-seller. but you do not need only human resources (oh, i hate this word) but also expensive equipment. if you have a look at the credits of todays games, you will see, that there are lots of people and equipment involved in game development nowadays. sometimes it's like producing a film.

so the problem is the lack of money, not the skills of the people involved.

Mac OS X
by Glenn on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:11 UTC

...they're being ported to Mac OS X. Yes, games on the Mac!

http://www.apple.com/games/features/

Sequel based development.
by SJ on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:13 UTC

If you try to model the commercial method of game development, yes its true it would be hard to do open source games. But open source offers more freedom in development models. What if games were developed in chapters like a book, with cliffhangers at the end of those chapters. Or if you could create new worlds/towns in an RPG that your character could explore. You could then re-use code build upon what was good in that chapter/world and make it better. A good game that constantly evolves could possibly make the best game ever. You sort of see this happening with mods with games like Counter Strike. Thus a good start would be to develop an opensourced gaming engine ang go from there.

AI and oss games
by o6nH on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:15 UTC

One of the skills lacking in oss game coders seems to be AI, i've never played any oss game that had even half decent AI, this completely takes away any gameplay pleasure. Maybe it's the reason most oss games focus on multiplayer.
Even if the gx are ok, it feels like your playing against a braindead chicken. A long way from games like no one lives for ever 2 or Tron 2.0.

v RE: An even better question is ...
by Anonymous on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:15 UTC

Two simple ruless:

1. Closed-source model makes sense especially when doing high-end 3D games development in the fast-paced game business. Everybody gains (developers and users alike) and nobody loses. Also, people wanting to develop and support 100% open-sourced games will always have their fair chances too - if only they manage to develop good enough products.

2. Open source mmodel makes sense especially when developing operating systems for general use. Everybody gains (developers and users alike) and nobody loses. Also, closed source operating systems will always have their share of the OS market too - if only they manage to develop good enough products.

There may be, of course, lots of mixed cases too, also in OS and game worlds, but generally, I think, the above rules remain mostly true.

RE: Bonus points...
by avih on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:17 UTC

i totally agree. the main point imho is that games are consumable entertainment.

that's why there won't be an open source film. because ppl watch it once, maybe twice, and that's it. no more. same goes for games. you buy doom3, play it for few weeks (after spending a fortune on a new graphics card), and stack it somewhere. the game is entering this hall of fame or another, and then forgotten. apache, ohoh, is used daily as an _infrastructure_ application. that's a whole different game (pardon the words game).

it's quite different with games that have some lasting appeal. those 'quickies' u can play for 10 mins after lunch (frozen bubble, solitair, schorch 3d, etc). simulations, etc. that's where OSS shines (or at least can ;) )

OSS is good for infrastructures, and code that lasts. no OSS dev will write code that ppl will use for a week, and then throw away (unless there's money in it, and that's how closed source does it).

my $0.02

avih

OSS has no OSD (Open Source Designers)
by CaptainN on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:17 UTC

There are a lot of programmers that will program engines and things of that nature for free, but there aren't a lot of designers (this includes UI designers) that will design for free.

An Engine/Toolkit
by benn on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:18 UTC

If there was an excellent plugin-able Engine/Toolkit for building moder-looking games there would be more, higher quality OSS games.

It takes time for a community to develop around such things. It took time for GTK to become a viable platform.

In the OSS world, it's first things first, and:

1) The core OSS OS isn't done yet.
2) The talent to get excellent games done is out there. Remember the original Quake's plethora of kickass mods?
3) It is just now, this year, getting to the point where a high-quality game project makes sense. Be patient.

I think soon, OSS will begin to produce better games. The process just needs to be started.

Hi, after contributing for months to Battle for Wesnoth, I can definitely state that "free software" development model is great for game development.

I agree when the author says that games require a great effort, but looking at games like Battle for Wesnoth, where lots of people are contributing, engines like CrystalSpace, and several other projects I'm sure great FOSS games will arrive in next year. And once that games and engines are here, people will be free to reuse art, 3d models, code, ... to enhance other games and write new ones.

(back to play Battle for Wesnoth ;) )

> Hi, after contributing for months to Battle for
> Wesnoth, I can definitely state that "free software"
>development model is great for game development.


You should only say this if you actually have experience working on a commercial game studio company too. If you don't have such experience, then don't say that "FOSS is great for game development", because you have only seen on side of the coin, not both.

TORCS
by AlV on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:25 UTC

TORCS (The Open Racing Car Simulator) was made by some friends of mine.

It's a GPLed racing car simulator (surprised, heh?) based on PLib and OpenGL.

It works both on Un*x (Linux mainly) and Windows.

http://torcs.sourceforge.net/

Cube, UFO Alien Invasion, ...
by Jaspero on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:26 UTC

One of the best free software games in the FPS category is Cube: http://www.cubeengine.com

Another 3D strategy game with promise is UFO Alien Invasion: http://www.ufoai.net

Crystal Space and Blender are good foundations for game development too. Sure, they both need some more work,
but all in all the free software 3D game scene is looking promising.

Many more good game links (including 3D games) here: http://www.debianlinux.net/games.html

Too much effort?
by Allen U on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:32 UTC

Maybe there aren't any good FOSS games because it takes too much effort and not enough rewards? The thing with FOSS tools is that once they are somewhat working, you can use them right away. If they're missing features, you can add them later, or maybe others can add them. With a game, you have to have all the content done before it's enjoyable. I think the content is what keeps us from seeing great games, although to be honest I haven't looked around for any open source games. Back in the good ol' days of BBSing, I wrote a few door games. For me, the fun in making them was the design and coding. When it came time to make the content, I just was not that interested. I got it done, but it was painful. I'm not sure how easy it is to convince artists and writers to come up with original content for free. Perhaps it's the hacker element that drives people to write game engines, and that is missing when it comes to the content?

Or you might just circumvent the problem and
by Garrigus on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:32 UTC

Get an X-Box, then you have games, DVD player and you can slap Gentoox on it. There you are, good to go.

v Eat your heart out Richard Stallman!
by Yoda on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:34 UTC
" no comparable original creations in this area"
by emagius on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:35 UTC

He's right. Virtually all the worthwhile OSS games are blantant copies of commercial games. If Taito, etc. cared, doubtless they could shut 'em down without much trouble.

v Re: Doom 3
by Darius on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:37 UTC

But then again, there are very few original games made, period.

I don't think the OSS model is at fault.

Gameplay
by Anonymous on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:42 UTC

Personally while I'd say that the closed source games currently rule in terms of 3D glitz and animations (and that's only until open source tools for creating these get faster and easier to use -- see things like http://www.povray.org/ and the various front-ends that are being built for it to see the future of open source game graphics) the OSS games rule in terms of playability and story. Someone before mentioned NetHack: http://www.nethack.org/ and that it's got better gameplay than anything in the closed source world. If a DOOM3 style front-end were built for it, it would hands-down beat out anything else in that genre of gaming, open or closed source. Consider also XConq: http://sources.redhat.com/xconq/ for an open source app that's got a better engine than most and is just looking for a good front-end (there are already a few available but none that measure up to today's current standards of animated graphics). Look at Adonthell: http://adonthell.linuxgames.com/ for an example of an open source game with a decent story behind it (or look at virtually any of the hundreds of titles of interactive fiction from the IF Archive: http://www.ifarchive.org/indexes/if-archive.html for open source games that are pure story). Look at Parsec: http://www.parsec.org/ for an open source game that competes pretty well in all areas...

oss can be good model
by pokryfka on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:47 UTC

oss can be good model for development of games.
i do think companies would benefit if engines were GPLed.
they usually buy engines anyway.
and i think the whole idea to contribute rather than to make everything from scratch would work for the reuseable parts (like engines)
but storyline, graphics, maps etc should remain a property of a company that created them.

of course anyone could create their own design/graphics/etc and make it public but
i guess it takes time and lots of resources.
i remember freecraft was a bit more advanced that warcraft2 but its graphics was awful.

Eugenia said:
You should only say this if you actually have experience working on a commercial game studio company too. If you don't have such experience, then don't say that "FOSS is great for game development", because you have only seen on side of the coin, not both.

I have only said that it's great not that is better (even if I think it's better ;) ), BTW, if you haven't been in any of the sides you shouldn't say anything at all ;)

Also
by Garrigus on Tue 31st Aug 2004 21:54 UTC

You might want to have a look at this if you like RTS games:
http://stratagus.sourceforge.net/screenshots.shtml

>BTW, if you haven't been in any of the sides you shouldn't say anything at all ;)

While myself I haven't worked on a game studio, I had many friends in UK that did, and I also used to report only for gaming back in 1999, so I am not a newbie in that industry at all.

Hollywood vs. Indie
by Anonymous on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:05 UTC

I would expect the comparison to be somewhat akin to Hollywood vs. Indie movies.

Hollywood movies have lots of money which usually means the finished product looks and sounds better, but that doesn't preclude indie movies from being entertaining.

Re: Gameplay
by o6nH on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:09 UTC

Do yourself a favor and go buy civilization III. Try the no one lives for ever demo to see what a good looking game is: http://nolf2.sierra.com/site.html

It's inevitable
by BrazenRegent on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:24 UTC

With the world of Open-Source Software Development gaining ground, PC game development will become one of its primary victims. Nearly all games are huge productions that operate more like a motion picture production than they do as a word processor in development. Games today are costing 10-30 million dollars each to produce. Most game developers do not want to be force to spend 10-30 million to develop a game and its engine(or license), then be force to make it available for free do to GPL mandates. Most software developers don't want to develop on the Linux platform and have to develop multiple incarnations of the same game because you have dozens(soon to be hundreds) of package managers to deal with(Autopackage won't realy help with the current state of the Linux community) and get little or no income from them(especially the smaller Package Mangers).

The most successful games in open source are the simple ones, the ones based on arcade, boardgame, computer/video game classics that have a have a high replayablity factor. Games like Tetris, Poker, Missile Command, Bomberman, Checkers etc.

With video game consoles existing as closed sourced environments, they offer a better future for game developers for a multitude of reasons. They don't have to deal with GPL, each console platform has only 1 hardware configuration, piracy is less of an issue, and PC hardware is just to expensive to validate to most people to use as a gaming platform. Besides the last great advantage that the PC's had in online play has been put to rest in the current consoles on the market.

In the end its best for major game development to leave the world of PC and fully embrace the advantages of the video game console. Besides, most people are fed up installing games on their computer that takes up 2 or 3 gigs of space and still have to use the Game CD to play the game.

Yea...not developers faults.
by Chris on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:27 UTC

A large chunk of game development is plot development and art creation. Besides, Wesnoth rocks hardcore.

Stamina.
by Shadowlight Dancer on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:29 UTC

Stamina counts, too. If you want a successful game you have to be willing to go the distance - willing is a subjective term, too. Closed-source gaming studios are willing to go that distance because at the end of that rain-bow is some sweet, sweet cash prizes.

Someone linked to Adonthell. The last developer diary was almost 9 months ago. The screenshots gallery is broken. The last news update was less than a month after the developer diary update. It reeks of death and decay.

Stamina counts - this is simply a fact of the development cycle. With an OSS project, its really easy to just "drop it" and not feel bad - the source is there, other people can contribute, right? Adonthell doesn't look so healthy to me, though. Nobody's got the stamina to keep working on it for whatever reason.

Closed source developers will always have this stamina as long as the money's still coming. ;)

Cha-CHING!

RE: Yea...not developers faults.
by Eugenia on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:31 UTC

You are living in a dream Chris. What does this mean that "not developer's fault"? We are discussing why OSS games are not as good as commercial ones. You say that design and art is part of the gaming creation, and that's true. But doesn't that mean that art/design is not as good for OSS, and while not developers' fault, the end result is the same?

So, if you are to say that "the school is not clean but it is not the teacher's fault, it's the janitor's", isn't the end result the same? School is not clean no matter whose fault is, and that's what matters to consumers/students.

Incorrect
by Chris on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:31 UTC

"You should only say this if you actually have experience working on a commercial game studio company too. If you don't have such experience, then don't say that "FOSS is great for game development", because you have only seen on side of the coin, not both."
Your logic is false. A statement that something is good or great is not necessarily comparitive, he didn't say better or greater. You can say product X is good, while product Y may in fact be better the fact that X is good remains true and un-negated(sic).

racer
by Jan M on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:38 UTC

http://www.racer.nl/

though it's not *real* opensource
I love to drive Nuerburgring.

Timeline
by Isaac on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:48 UTC

1984 - "It's impossible to have a free development environment"
.... - Emacs, gcc, gdb appear
1990 - "Ok, maybe a development environment is possible, but it's impossible to have an operating system not developed by a great software company"
1991 - Linux appears
- Ok, may be a kernel, but not anything "serious" as Unix
1998 - Linux is mature, widely used in servers.
- "Well, it is really easy to develop an OS and mail, DNS, ... servers, but Linux won't get into the desktop"
2003 - Gnome and KDE environment rocks
2004 - "Ok, all that stuff was easy but what about games?"
2005 - Guess what ;)

RE: racer
by Eugenia on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:51 UTC

I just tried it. It felt very 1998, plus it's pretty slow for what it does.

*yawn*
by SomethingYouCan'tGoogle on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:53 UTC

Go take a look at cube, or bettter yet the project im working on, it is at the moment a closed source free FPS created by a bunch of guys i know with an engine made from scratch, how much work do we have? some work on render code, and making the menus easier to use, then some network code optimization. Then that would do it. I made the textures, maps, models, etc. in about a year in my free time. Its not Doom3, but I think its at least as good as MOHAA or CS. The technology is there.
As for open sourcing, we will do it in due time, in order to allow mod makers a few more levels of depth in modification.

It's all bad.
by Michael on Tue 31st Aug 2004 22:54 UTC

The two OSS games I play most are Armagetron and the very pretty Neverball. The latter shows what OSS does well, and it's virtually a one man effort, which I suspect is the limit for OSS game programming. Group efforts seem to die quickly.

Story counts for a lot ( <- 2 words, count 'em 2 ). Try writing an open source novel. There's no surprise because all it's biggest fans had a hand in writing it. Those that didn't, submit twists and coincidences as bug reports and wait patiently for version 0.2.

There's little originality in OSS gaming. There's little originality in gaming, full stop. Doom/Quake et al really do play just like the early 90's classic that started this now-tedious phenomenon known as the FPS. It's dissapointing because games like System Shock and Ultima Underworld showed the potential if there were more than just fighting to do.

Alas, almost everyone involved with games is an overgrown adolescant. Someone said it was like Hollywood vs Indie films, but it's not. There's not art in game creation, just stories of alien civilzations battling in the void. Yawn.

There is some originality out there, most notably in the mainstream (ie. Windows) freeware scene. They aren't making big games but they are pushing the limits of genre gaming.

One more thing... why isn't everyone busy ripping off The Sims? It was original, a huge hit and had virtually limitless possibility for story telling. People are too focused on technology and particularly graphics to see an exciting game concept when one comes along.

WineX/Cedega
by pixelmonkey on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:01 UTC

Bla, boring. Eugenia's right--games are difficult to develop and require lots of devotion and teams of smart people. The motivation for making games is usually money oriented, and therefore OSS won't work for making full-fledged games like the ones Rockstar Games produces (Max Payne 2, GTA Vice City, etc.).

But hackers love hacking, and WineX/Cedega is a great hack. I installed Max Payne 2 on my Linux partition and can play it at full speed on my GeForce FX5700. It surprised me, but the product actually works as advertised. Put effort into that.

Perhaps taking it a step further, using what developers have learned from Cedega, some developers could come up with a library that allows one to cross-compile DirectX games to OpenGL environments, and therefore have cross-platform games. Attempts at this may already exist, I dunno.

Good OSS Games / Bad CSS Games
by KAMiKAZOW on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:06 UTC

"Where are the good closed source games?"

Starcraft, Warcraft 3, Pikmin, Metroid Prime, Legend of Zelda, Mario Kart Double Dash, Eternal Darkness, Animal Crossing, Half Life, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, F-Zero GX, Soulcalibur II, Virtua Fighter 4, Tales of Symphonia, Baten Kaitos, Metal Gear Solid, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, FarCry, Castlevania

Just to name a few.


"the OSS games rule in terms of playability and story"

Yeah right...
You don't know games. I play both OSS and CSS games. While OSS games can be great fun, most (not all) of them are just simple games. There are only a very few complex OSS games and some of them (especially NetHack) is mentioned since ... 15 years?
I can mention old games, too: Final Fantasy 6. Ever played it? It's awsome. Japanese RPGs are the absolute story telling kings. There are no OSS games with this deep gameplay and such a great story.

Woah
by Matt on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:06 UTC

This is extremely nieve of anyone to think OSS cannot produce full commericial grade games. Doom 3 isn't 100% original, the tools and engines they used come from other companies. Those same tools can be created in OSS world. If ID software were to open up all those tools (implying they were the ones who wrote all the tools), then the entire community would be all over it to improve those tools and build engines that far surpass anything out else out there.

Even the article admits the real draw to games is the storyline. So there you go, with OSS tools at your disposal, a couple 3D artists, a friend from a band who can write your music, and you too can create something to rival anything else out there. All this shows is that the real seller to games is something besides the source code.

IT REALLY pisses me off when people give credit to closed source solutions. OSS is moving past the era of just trying to scratch an itch.... bah... I could go on, but I doubt this is the place for that.

OS Siberia
by Ascanius E on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:17 UTC

Let's face the fact: Siberia is NOT very complicated in the term of engine. Nothing very hard to create by some gifted OSS developers.

But find me second Benoit Sokal, who would spend all his talent to enrich this engine. As for now there is no "Free Art/Open Art", at least among THE artists.
A.

Why all the fighting?
by P on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:40 UTC

One of the biggest problems any OSS game is going to have, is finding Artists/Animators/Sound Producers who are willing to donate the amount of work to make a blockbuster titile.

It's fun and all making a skin for uber cool system resource module for KDE, but making a complete set of 3d models, animating them, lip syncing them, skinning them, etc is a totally different beast.

Certain games actually do lend themselves better to OSS then closed source, namely online games (if you could get over the hump and get one started, get a community, get someone to pay for your incredible bandwidth costs, get people to watch the game 24/7 so that people aren't abusing or hacking you, having someone doing tech support 24/7), fun puzzle games that don't "get old", simulation games, such as flight sims and sports, things that people are going to spend TONS of time on playing, not sit down and play for 35 hours and then most likely put on a shelf.

One of the benefits of having an OSS game would be 1) no dead lines, you can add cool features until your hearts content (but of course people will demand a working product, crush you with demoralzing posts on your message board about how you're game is late, there isn't enough information etc), 2) there is no big mean publisher breathing down your neck demanding you get the game down in 3 months (when you know you need at least 6 to make it *GOOD*).

Another issue that would likely come up, is lets say you wanted to make a new incarnation of Madden NFL Football OSS, you'd most likely NEVER be able to use real players, teams, leagues etc, because you'd have to add a team of lawyers to battle it out with the NFL to give you the rights (and the subsequent 50,000 changes they "demand" in order to actually grant you those rights).

How do you let the mass market know you have a really good game out there with no advertising budget, no marketing director (to kiss the magazines ass to get a nice review, or slip the head buyer for games shops a few perks to get good shelf space)? With so much out there today, even if you have a truely good game, it can easily get lost in the media blitz (often good games lose out to hyped games, because of advertising budgets not anything related to the actual games themselves).

There are good games being created today, you just have to sort through alot of "ok/cloned/knock off/junk" before you find them. Things like DOOM3 while essentially the same game as the original DOOM1, also has alot more to offer. I think it's similar (oh god a car comparison) to the difference between a car from 1985 to 2004, while they essentialy are the same thing, to say they are equivalent is a terrible falacy.

One area I think that OSS can really help with a game, is when a game reaches it's sell by date, and is basically of no direct use to the commericail developer, they can release the code into the wild, which then allows fans who still love the older game to do things they may have been dying for to the game. This helps by allowing people with older systems get some new features in games, it helps build a sense of community, and in a lot of ways it can even help you find developers for the commericial side of things as well, you'd be suprised how many people get hired based upon their contributions to the community (i.e. mod makers, editor creators etc).

*GAMERS* shouldn't be getting up in arms over how their games were developed, they should just wish for/support/help any game they truly enjoy. Whenever it becaomes a religous war about CSS/OSS it gets dumb. As a gamer I want to play good games, I could care less if Indian programmers(from India) working for IBM (who then "contributes" it to the OSS community) have provided it, or if it's a hard working closed source company that is providing it. ENJOY THE GAMES.

Sorry the post was a bit long, but I thought i'd share my thoughts.

RW: Re: Gameplay
by Anonymous on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:54 UTC

> Do yourself a favor and go buy civilization III. Try
> the no one lives for ever demo to see what a good
> looking game is: http://nolf2.sierra.com/site.html

I think you're missing the point. The earlier post wasn't talking about "good looking" but rather about underlying engines. I think it stated that the front-end for the current open-source offerings is still somewhat lacking, but that the underlying engines aren't bad.

re: Re: the games
by gamer on Tue 31st Aug 2004 23:59 UTC

"Do you honestly think that a lot of open-source/Free software programmers do it for money? If you ask a lot of programmers who do F/OSS coding (me being including in that group), you'll soon come to know that (for the most part anyway), many programmers do it solely for reputation's sake: It helps them get a good rep among the hacker community and they do it because they like doing it. And with that said, take a look at what companies like Red Hat, Novell (with SuSE, Ximian, etc.), Apple (with the Darwin-based OS X), Sun (with StarOffice/OpenOffice.org) and IBM (with their Eclipse IDE, etc.) are doing. Things like these are open-source, yet they (the companies) are making money, even profit, on these F/OSS things. Heck, Havoc Pennington, one of the Lead GNOME/Metacity developers, and Alan Cox, one of the head Linux kernel devs, are employed by RH iirc. "

You, apparently unknowingly, made my argument for me. wtg

Shawn Hargreaves article
by Ceaser on Wed 1st Sep 2004 00:19 UTC

This article is a really bad version of Shawn Hargreaves excellent (and much bigger) essay dating from 1999 titled "Playing the Open Source Game"

you can find it at
http://www.talula.demon.co.uk/games.html

you all have it wrong.
by Ceaser on Wed 1st Sep 2004 00:29 UTC

its obvious people reading this dont understand.

the "before", games were about programming. the people who owned these machines were geek programmers. it was little about the art as the machines were not powerfull or colourfull enough...

the "now" is ALL about art. you dont need programming. system libraries do it all for you. You can buy that nice 5.1 sound library for any platform under the sun (firelights FMod, is the best example here). graphic libraries are a dime a dozen.

you cant buy off the shelf artwork.

it takes next to no time to create an engine, but it takes months and months to create artwork.

all games these days are about the artwork, which is not something your average game making developer can create.

Open Source game development is lead by programmers, not artists. This will never change. Hence, the state of open source games wont change.



The Doom example
by clausi on Wed 1st Sep 2004 00:29 UTC

I remember to have read an other article two or three years ago, with basically the same thesis: Games are entertainment that is consumed very quickly, and thus the OSS models doesn't work as good as for 'usual' software.

Doom is a nice example that the thesis is at least partially right, IMHO.

I don't know how many projects exists that try to improve the OpenSource'd engine. Six or seven? Amazing is just that all of them need the original wad files with the game content. There is only a single project that I know of, that tries to make open and free content for Doom.

How difficult can it be to make 32 new levels with 10 year old graphics? Obviously difficult enought that no project made it in all those years since the Doom engine was made OpenSource.

On the other hand, the number of projects trying to improve the engine shows that there is still interest in the game, maybe comparable to nethack that even older semesters than me like to play.

However, the thesis depends on its assumption so every game genre where consumption will take some time, is open to the OSS development model.

To sad that's nothing I like.

So, artists, what are you waiting for? Christmas? ;-)

Right and Wrong
by Spark on Wed 1st Sep 2004 00:47 UTC

Obviously everything the article states is true if you assume two things:
1) That the game is story and content driven (as the article states)
2) That "Open Source" refers to completely free engine AND content, instead of just a free engine.

There are many good reasons why Open Source engines are a good choice for game development. A 3D engine is a 3D engine, so it does not die after the game isn't sold any more. The big engines are into development for many years and used by a plethora of titles. Only very few developers can effort to create their own engine from scratch, everyone else is licensing one of the few big engines for lots of cash. Using and improving Open Source engines can be a good alternative to save money, especially for independent game developers, just like applications like the Gimp are a good enough alternative for many people who don't want to buy Photoshop. And it's not like current Open Source engines are infinitely superior to the latest and greatest. Tenebrea for example had realtime lighting long before Doom 3 was even leaked. Of course no OSS engine can compete with Doom 3 right now, but development is going well.
Try to write the article again and assume that a developer would keep all the content proprietary, only basing the game on Open Source engine code. I'm sure you won't find any reason why it shouldn't work as well (or even better) than any other Open Source project. ;)

Another advantage of Open Source engines is, that it makes it feasable again to focus on content instead of technology. I don't care for modern single player games anymore, because they almost entirely feel shallow compared to the epic role playing games or starflight sims which I enjoyed so much in my early years of computing. Today it seems that a game like this stands no chance to succeed, because it will be oudated already when it ships and won't justify the immense cost of creating so much content. Wizardry 8 was the last example of such a game which I can think of, and it was the financial death for the developers. Who knows what would have happened if they had based their work on Open Source technology.

Aside from money and development time, there are further advantages to Open Source technology for games, like:
- People will port it to different plattforms, you don't necessarily need to pay anyone to do it.
- Bugs can be found and fixed by everyone.
- The technology keeps developing and games based on it will be able to make use of all the improvements, which should increase their lifetimes. Games like Quake or even Doom still run reasonably well today because the community has improved their engines and id is actually still selling them, despite the source being released!

I have a lot of hopes for Open Source games because I got so disappointed with current games and I'm also hoping for more Linux ports this way. ;)
Recently I discovered the first game which follows this philosophy and yes, it's an epic role playing game. ;) It's called "Minions of Mirth" and its website is http://www.prairiegames.com/ . The game is based on an improved Quake 2 engine and looks very promising already. Of course it's not state of the art graphics, but a game of this scope would be impossible to do with latest technology anyway and it's still very impressive considering that it's being developed by only two independent developers on a very tight budget. It promises to provide a lot more content value compared to current games at half the price and I wish them the best of luck. I really hope they'll finish this title and I hope that it will be just an example of things to come. ;) I'm looking forward to have fun with gaming again.

You can also read the developer's opinion about Open Source games here: http://www.prairiegames.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=40
If you think about it, it just makes sense for independent developers (and not just them in the long run) to sell the content and not the technology. It wouldn't make sense for id Software, but they were always focused on the technology and not on the content. Doom 3 surprised me in that regard, but I still wouldn't buy it for 50 Euro just for the single player experience.

Sorry for writing such a long text, but I had those thoughts in my mind for quite a while now and this seemed like a good moment to write them down.

bzflag!!!!
by mattk on Wed 1st Sep 2004 00:59 UTC

"but there are no comparable original creations in this area"

no, you just haven't found BzFlag!!

http://www.bzflag.org/

Nothing beats jumping tanks armed with lasers or heatsinking missles!

misconception that fancy = good
by tech_user on Wed 1st Sep 2004 01:05 UTC

there is a common misconception that over-produced games are better games.

having tried a variety ... incl things like doom or grand theft auto vice city ... i much prefer the following;
* Ltris <- danger, addictive!
* Lbreakout
* gnuchess / xboard
* frozen bubble <- danger, addictive!

no fancy graphics, no movie sequences, no complex plots .. just simple fun!

Re: bzflag!!!
by Adam Geitgey on Wed 1st Sep 2004 01:40 UTC

"but there are no comparable original creations in this area"

no, you just haven't found BzFlag!!


hehe.. mattk, did you read my last paragraph?

Where does Open Source fit in gaming?

Of course there are exceptions to every rule. Open source might not be the best choice for developing the next so-called "AAA level" story-based shooter, but it works pretty well for games with unusually long lifespans. And that is exactly where projects like this have succeeded wildly. Examples include BZFlag, FreeCiv, and FrozenBubble

RE: <Everything>
by Meep on Wed 1st Sep 2004 01:42 UTC

The whole discussion is silly. The subject is so vague and subjective. "Good..." come on. Eugenia and some of the rest of the lot here should be saying "Graphically advanced." There's PROs and CONs to both sides. One side is more graphically advanced and more hyped/marketed, while the other [in some cases] is more advanced in respect to replay value and theme. I cannot imagine many people from either side would honestly say that there have been many truely innovative closed source games that also have great replay value coming out lately. Some people think free games with simple graphics and longer replay value is "good" and "better." Some people think it's "good" and "better" to buy a game with bleeding edge technology which [as of late] may not have a lot of long term worth. Also, open-source models and methods are starting to reach the point where it would be realistically possible to develop an "amazing" (graphically speaking) new game. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but it's getting there. And before I get shot at... I worked for several years for a company working on and porting console system games between PC and console and between the various consoles themselves. And now I work on various gaming projects in the open source world.

Thanks.

RE: What about simulators?
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:08 UTC

Flightgear may be a nice attempt, but is nothing compared to MS Flight Simulator or even X-Plane. I for one dont care if a game is open or closed source, but whether or not its any good. At the moment, it seems that closed source companies are making the great games. Is this bad? Not to me, but I suppose open source zealots that view anything closed source as evil will have something to say.

There are other games than Doom 3
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:34 UTC

I have seen many times the discussion around Doom 3. And altough it's on of the latest and more complex games ever, there are many others for PC, Xbox, PS2 and GC.
NFL2K5, Gran Turismo, Final Fantasy, KOTOR, Project Gotham 2 and many others. Are those OSS? Nope. If there were OSS, will be better? I don't think so. There is a big difference between gaming and OS/Application development. And one of those is that OSS is based on evolving in a slow pace. In the game development it's based on a short time, and faster development. For what I'm seeing, I don't think it will change...IMHO

game engines, not games
by andre on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:38 UTC

i see no reason why OSS can't produce a great game engine (e.g. Doom 3 engine, Half Life 2 engine, etc). but for the game itself -- yes, your arguments apply.

so that's where the commercial application of open source technology can possibly come in: the open source community develops tools/engines for developing games, then people develop games for it. i'm looking forward to such a situation ;)

There's plenty of good opensource games
by rain on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:38 UTC

There's a lot of opensource games that I've enjoyed playing over the years. However, most of them are remakes of old games and that leads me to the conclusion that most opensource games are made by developers who wants to play their old favourites, perhaps with better graphics or some extra features. There's sadly not a lot of gamedesigners with fresh new ideas in the OSS world.
New games doesn't need to be that technically advanced. I mean look at The Sims, it was a very simple game from a technical standpoint even at the time it was introduced, yet it became a bestseller. And look at all those little flash/shockwave games all over the net, a lot of people are crazy about them.
There is a huge market for simple games. Modern games doesn't have to be heavy 3D-shooters they can just as well be simple puzzle games, but with better graphics than what they had in the 80's.
Take a simple game like liero, add better graphics and full network support. I would be very popular.

There's a lot of good games that can be made using the opensource development model. But one problem is that most of the time people with fresh new ideas want to make some money off them. Few people would buy the game if it the sourcecode was available free of charge so there's not much money to be made.
The only kind of games where that would be possible are those that requires an account on a server to be playable.
But then again, someone would be likely to set up a free server anyway.

People with a great idea for a simple game (like The Sims) is more likely to turn to a commercial softwarehouse than to go to sourceforge and start an opensource project.

BTW, it surprises me that no-one has made any good clones of games like Worms Armageddon and The Sims yet. They would be pretty easy for a small team to clone.

OSS in Games
by DragonSoull on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:43 UTC

OSS may not be useful to develop games but I do believe their great to maintain games, there's lot's of games that people still want to play but can't because they don't work on their new OS/Hardware.

If the game developers released the code has OSS (just the code mind you not game assets or copyright) people could make little fixes that would make these games playable again.

I remember being exited when they released the code for duke nukem 3D since I knew someone would make a version that would work natively in windows and maybe even look better, and guess what I was right :p

Hmm
by Err on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:49 UTC

Small point, but important I feel.

People that create games don't get much out of playing the games they create.

Dunno how many of you have ever sat down and made a game, but I can testify that it's incredibly dull to play for the creator.

Why?

Because you've already spent more time playing it than any sane human being should.

Because you know all the tricks, all the traps, all the storyline. Everything from "Can I jump across that" to "And a monster will jump out...wait...wait...yes, here" is already known.

Simply put there are no surprises left.

A few people have mentioned Nethack. Would you really want to work on the Nethack code? To know all the probabilities, all the devious little secrets, and reduce the entire experience to little more than a dice rolling exercise? Or would you prefer to just play the game?

As I said, it's just a little point. However I think there is at least something of it in why OSS isn't doing well at games. People start out wanting to make the greatest game they can, then realise halfway through that they won't actually get any real enjoyment from playing their creation. Around about that time development ceases.

@err
by rain on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:55 UTC

Good point. But it mostly applies to games with a storyline. Puzzlegames, boardgames and multiplayer actiongames are a different from that.
However, you might get tired of the game after spending all that time developing it the same way musicians wouldn't want to listen to their own albums because they spent so much time making them that they've grown tired of the songs. Even though many of them created the songs because that's the kind of music they would like to hear.
pretty ironic.

RE: Good OSS Games / Bad CSS Games
by Wrawrat on Wed 1st Sep 2004 02:59 UTC

Yeah right...
You don't know games. I play both OSS and CSS games. While OSS games can be great fun, most (not all) of them are just simple games.


So what? They are still games.

Some are looking for games that will give them a complete experience. Others just want to have plain fun. I still play 8-bit era games and some of them are more fun to me than newer ones requiring 400$ video cards and 5.1 sound. But that is my opinion... and probably the opinion of the one to who you have replied to.

Now, I do enjoy some eyecandy! I'd rather play with a 3D remake version of the 8-bit game than playing the original with poor control and everything. I am a bit nostalgic but not completely retro. I just won't choose a game over another one because of graphic and sound. And while there are many good games these days, too many are simply focused on these things (IMO).

What about mods?
by Rich Steiner on Wed 1st Sep 2004 03:12 UTC

While the base for many mods is in fact commercial, a lot of effort has been made over the years towards the creation of mods for those existing games, and many of those mods are open source.

I suspect a certain amount of the effort that might otherwise be spent writing original open source game software is currently being spent on making modifications to existing commercial games.

Just a thought, anyway...

Engines
by wing on Wed 1st Sep 2004 03:31 UTC

I believe that an open source first person shooter engine that would be modable like Half-Life would be ideal for OSS.

pointless
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 03:51 UTC

This is nothing more then a rant on OSS. The article does a better job of illustrating the problems in Game Development in general. I've only seen OSS used very rarely in games, such as in using ogg for sound or open sourcing an old engine. Currently the problem with games are aging standards, aging graphic technology, the complexity of 3d editing and toolkits to base games upon.

Do We Really Need Them?
by mystilleef on Wed 1st Sep 2004 04:19 UTC

If it is software, it can be done in free and open source development. The reason there are no world class open source games is simple. There is no need for open source world class games.

There is no open source gaming development community. Games are for recreational and entertaining purposes only. Free and open source development focus on productivity and development software, not recreational and entertaining software.

Don't expect a DOOM3 killer anytime soon on the free and open source front. Well, not until there is a rabid, radical and fanatical emergence of a gaming community and followers.

Do you folks remember 7 years ago when they said free/open source will never be as good as Windows or Macintosh on the desktop front? Deja vu all over again.

My point is, when the development infrastructures are in place, you'll see these world class games, yes even in

And don't be silly guys, you don't need a $1 billion budget to write a game. That's the dumbest comment I've heard all season. I know operating systems that cost billions of dollars to make and totally suck! (insecure, unstable, horrible designed, fragile, weak, reboot, reboot, reboot)

Writing good software, including games, doesn't necessarily mean you overflowing rivers of cash. It just means you have a talented team. Give me a plot writer, a mathematician, a software engineer and an artist. There you go, a recipe for a great game. In the free/open source environment, you have people who are all four of them.

Why don't they write games, you say? Because it's not worth it. The commercial games out there are doing a fantastic job. When this games start sucking, or when they start forcing to pay for unnecessary upgrades, or when you have to activate them online to play them, or when they start incorporating DRM such that you can only play them on one machine. In short, when commercial game developers start insulting your intelligence over your freedom, then we'll begin to see our first world class free/open source development platform.

That's how KDE/GNOME/XFCE/Enlightenment all started. And I remember the nay sayers even back then saying, "It CAN NEVER BE DONE." It can! Free/Open source is just better off writing productivity software. Now isn't that logical?

/ramble

open source games
by Mathman on Wed 1st Sep 2004 04:33 UTC

I'd probably agree that open source games will never be as good as commercial games. Not if you go and compare tux racer to something like half life 2. But then like mystilleef says, there's not really a need for open source games. Even so, there's still some great stuff out there. Triple A is probably my favorite: http://triplea.sf.net

RE: Do We Really Need Them?
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 04:35 UTC

Thank you for re-iterating the point of the article.. How useful.

lifespan longer than reported
by Dan Allen on Wed 1st Sep 2004 04:37 UTC

I think the statement that games are played once and then tossed to the side is a completely bogus observation. Sure, some people might establish an insatiable need for something new, but it is certainly not the standard. My wife still plays Age of Empires II almost every week, for the last four years! I cannot pry it away from her authoritative hands. Just tonight at the mall I watched an entire hurd of young males gathered around a console playing 16 bit video games, all trying to get a chance in the driver's seat. Games don't just disappear. They are a very big part of who we are, especially those of us who grew up with the technology.

I am not going to argue for closed sourced games or open sourced games. All I am saying is, don't write the games off. Any game created will never be unmade. Now, if you can excuse me, I have to get back to my game of Maelstrom!

RE: Engines
by Spark on Wed 1st Sep 2004 04:50 UTC

I believe that an open source first person shooter engine that would be modable like Half-Life would be ideal for OSS.

Quake 3 is going Open Source soon and that engine is much more advanced than Half Life, apart from sceletal animation. ;)

There is also Dark Places[1], which is build from the Quake 1 Source and has features that even Quake 3 doesn't have, like sceletal animation, bump mapping and realtime shadows (like Doom 3).
A very interesting project is Nexuiz[2], which is a (most likely) free deathmatch game which runs on the Dark Places engine, so there we'll have a completely free and Open Source game as a base for our mods, which will most likely keep improving at a steady pace (unlike closed source games, which are usually stuck more or less at the state at which they are released).
I think that very exciting times lie ahead for Open Source gaming and modding.

[1] http://icculus.org/twilight/darkplaces/
[2] http://www.nexuiz.com/

Open Souce games are way behind...
by Bobthearch on Wed 1st Sep 2004 04:52 UTC

I don't think it's fair to compare the state of open source gaming with new releases like Doom3 or Black Hawk Down. But even so, there are no open source games even comparable to five or ten year old titles like Outlaws, Myst, System Shock 2, BladeRunner, or Interstate '76. There just aren't...

There really aren't even many that are up to par with later DOS games such as Carmageddon, Aces of the Deep, or WWII GI.

There are many Freeware (closed source) Windows games that I gladly allow to waste my time: Fiend, Roll'm Up/Pool'm Up, Outbound, and different space racing games. There's no reason why open source can't be at least that good!

With a few exceptions, open source gaming (and original Linux gaming) is comparable to 8-bit console gaming - checkers, tiles and cards, RPG, scrolling shooters, etc.

TuxRacer was pretty good, at least the Windows version. The Linux version crawled along at something near 1 fps. And Chromium looks good although I've never been able to actually play because of the excruciating frame rate, not even slightly playable. Which brings me to another point. When discussing Open Source the conversation usually revolves around Linux. However getting decent graphics on Linux has always been a problem - it just plain sucks.

Best Wishes,
Bob

how about this game ?
by geek on Wed 1st Sep 2004 05:11 UTC
you forget
by Jonas Lihnell on Wed 1st Sep 2004 05:28 UTC

many many games that are commercial and crossplattform relies on open-source libraries such as sdl.

but what about neverball? billardgl? vegastrike?
and what about not-so-nice-looking games?
and frozen bubble? and tux-racer before it went commercial?

It's all we can do now to grab stuff the office A.I. and Aleph corroborate on and ship it out the door before they intellectualize it.

Great Concepts are neat for games; they tend to educate, and Barbie (Mattel Barbie) is making strong book on what I hope are much more edifying works than I'm willing to camp at WalMart investigating. What sells me is having a really solid performance on whatever the hardware of the day is.

Yeah, color ANSI works for me, but from a requirements standpoint, I need to have a decent love interest or a good Eclipse environment bundled in there for 2004. Something under 400W would be a bonus:
There may even be good cellphone games made commercially. But I like 5.1 to 7.1 EAX sound, an appropriately large immersive display, force-feedback someplace, and other things to suggest I shouldn't just actually go walkabout. These things aren't keenly prosecuted into the OS (sort of a game by itself; what's my screensaver daemon hiding in today, kdm?)

They might be keenly set up in our OS (the open interfaces of the cellphone, whatever) if another product of the videogame design process, the asset and compensation management er...VCS, were endowed with real credit (er, capabilities, really) systems.

Let's walk though this one a bit using a handy PA example. Let's say PenPen makes 24MiB worth of graphical assets towards whatever their personalized feed digested from the hulking XML design document, and gets vested NabooZM$42,000 as people confirm it into the digestion process of say, NabooZM$403,000 (incl. expenses and initial exposure) of VCS work. [Yes, it's already kind of alien.] The VCS is busy guaranteeing that spec assets remain usable, meeting with VCs, and sort of cheapening OSS by guaranteeing that the combined suite of assets is closed to people outside license and capabilities contracts (in NabooZM$.) In fact it's probably releasing some pretty cheesy titles in order to back up the NabooZM$8M fielding the real work in progress. It's all one sigma harder for everyone who eventually takes an ad buy, because they want assurances that Gnomovision and the VCS's corporation aren't paying them in mostly NabooZM$, and people who are trying hard enough to drop their OSS cryptoball in the clear find themselves out actual semi-hard currency, and still have to throw down for the non-demo version with 3 DVDs of source.
At this point, the VCS has made book and is buying governorships handing out NabooZM$ contracts it controls.
...anyone seen the rest of this one? It doesn't end like the Animatrix.

Well, that or some other method makes it fungible and an advertisable release, which sells massive hardware.

Thanks everyone who mentioned new OSS games! I think it's clear that games produce OSS as a sideproduct so far, but that wrapping the office Tyro who makes things happen in ESR's skin will throw an exception.

[Everyone walks around their chair twice, face in hands, shouting "I know who I am! I know who I am!"]

@Bobthearch
by Bas on Wed 1st Sep 2004 05:34 UTC

>TuxRacer was pretty good, at least the Windows version. The
>Linux version crawled along at something near 1 fps. And
>Chromium looks good although I've never been able to actually
>play because of the excruciating frame rate, not even
>slightly playable. Which brings me to another point. When discussing Open Source the conversation usually revolves
>around Linux. However getting decent graphics on Linux has
> always been a problem - it just plain sucks.

Bob,

Have you ever heard of 3D drivers? It seems you missed those on your Linux system where you where trying Chromium and Tuxracer. Shame.

It's hardly even worth discussing. Most people in this forum including Eugenia know little to nothing about creating games, despite what they say.

Here is something that is much more relevant

In both the free and commercial game development world around 99% of games do not make it to completion (Talking of PC games here). In the free world this leaves a lot of dead looking projects. In the commercial world this leads to loss in profits.

Why? (My Take)
In free development it is hard (as people have mentioned) to keep momentum up for the period of game development which can last anywhere from 6 weeks to over 7 years. Also (as people have mentioned) it is hard to get good artists for a free software project.

In commercial projects the problem is in project management and publisher pressure. Projects are forced into the development phase without proper design. This can cause project failures or crappy games as the programmers rush to meet impossible deadlines set by the publishers. This is due to the need of getting your game on the shelf (you need that publisher) so you do what they say. The industry itself admits this, you can read postmortem after postmortem on Gamasutra and they all say similar things "bad management", "too rushed at the end" and "we rebuilt everything from scratch maybe we shoudln't have".

Another failing of the commercial game industry is me-tooism or sequel-ism. Because of the lack of quality control, game purchasers go with what they know and that is the old game redone. DOOM III anyone? This leads to stagnation in new game ideas, during the 80's there where a lot more different games being published. Now days there are few.

Now a lot of people have pointed the finger at the free projects for being me-toos but you might consider that a me-too game has a much higher chance of being completed using any development model, because we already know what the game is. We can reuse concepts, maybe even artwork or the engine.

Free game development does have a lot of great game ideas but they never get realised because the focus is not in new areas. And therefore the amount of developers is in new areas. You need enough focused developers to hurdle the 99% hence few new concept games.

Something that the game industry could learn from the free developers is code-reuse. Many a commercial game crashes due to problems with the game engine that was built specifically for this new game. Because of "The not built here syndrome", almost every commercial game is built from scratch, when often an update to the old engine (assuming it was documented and designed right) could have been used instead. This wastes development time and causes new bugs (This also I have heard from other game developers)

Something that both free and commercial game development could use is a proper design phase at the start and good team leadership to encourage everyone to finish. Free will take off when there are more developers and there are always more developers because people love game programming and having completed a free project can look excellent on your resume. The commercial industry would need to take a deep crash before it sorts out its problems and that is not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

There space for both commercial and free game development in this world and both will keep growing. You will always see more games, that is inevitable.

happy penguins ;) aka linux game tome
by hobgoblin on Wed 1st Sep 2004 05:48 UTC

http://www.happypenguin.org/

its primary about linux games but as most of those that are listed there are open source they often have a windows port to ;)

and lately with useable opengl hardware driver for ati and nvidia it have started to show up a lot of opengl based gamed...

as for shooter, why bother? id software will most likley relase its engine after they have made a new one and then its just a matter of grabbing all the good mods that are out there ;)

examples
by Bas on Wed 1st Sep 2004 05:58 UTC


It seems that the lots of people (including the os news team) are always trying to prove that open-source or free software suck one way or another, it does not suck its great.

My oss/free game list:

http://www.racer.nl
(3D race game like Need for Speed or Gran Tourisme)

http://www.flightgear.org
(Flightsim like MS Flightsim)

http://www.hut.fi/~jtpelto2/nethack.html
(NetHack Falcons eye, advanced adventure)

http://www.parsec.org
(space sim. combat)

http://www.tobias-nopper.de/BillardGL
(opengl billard game)

http://www.xbill.org

I don't think so
by Croco on Wed 1st Sep 2004 06:54 UTC

I have to disagree with the author. I believe OSS completely makes sense for gaming. Look at typical Windows games. People finish them fast and then start looking for add-ons. That's where OSS has a card to play. Once you've got an engine, you can do all the add-ons you want. The Quake 3 engine has been used in a lot of games, licensed to third parties, tuned for some games, etc. The engine has been here for years and is still quite good today.

I don't think that developpers have to throw away all their old work each 2 years. An FPS is still an FPS. You have more detailed textures, more polygons, shaders, but it's basically the same. With an OSS game, each time the engine add features, extensions and optimisations people can upgrade their add-ons, release new levels, etc.

Finally, in closed source games like in any other closed source software the editor often does not give the user what he really wants because, well, that can be sold separately in second game. Marketing first, users second. Look at the FIFA games. One per year. Innovations? Some graphical improvements, updated teams. That's all. During the last world cup they even released THREE games dedicated to it. Innovations? Zero.

Big Budget != Good
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 06:56 UTC

It seems that the original article makes the assumption that big budget games with rich graphics, animation, background music, etc. are automatically good and games without the benefit of such a budget are automatically not good. With such a limited viewpoint, it's not surprising to conclude that there probably won't be any "good" OSS games anytime soon. Many of the critical comments seem to be addressing (in various words) the assumption that big budget equals good, and that's why terms like "playability" and "gameplay" are being tossed around and old classics still-in-development like NetHack and XConq are being named on the OSS side.

If big budget really guarantees goodness, why do some big budget movies (like "Catwoman" or "Gigli") suck? If little budgets make it impossible to have a good product, why are small budget movies sometimes pretty good (like "El Mariachi" or "Blair Witch Project")? The most that can really be said is that it's easier to make a good product with a bigger budget -- there is definitely nothing that precludes making a good product with a small budget, and there's certainly no guarantees against making a turkey with a big one.

Also, for another list of OSS software that has some titles which have already been mentioned and some that haven't, see: http://www.saugus.net/Computer/FreeSoftware/

While I mostly agree with
by sasquatch666 on Wed 1st Sep 2004 07:19 UTC

The observations here,every now and then I'm pleasantly surprised by an open source game,Case in point is Frozen Bubble. This is the most addictive and beautifully designed piece of work I have seen in many a moon.Granted It's no Super-Duper 3D ShootEmUp Tour De Force,just a simple shooting gallery type game that combines elements of pool and pinball.But seeing this game I can envision a version of it running on those little bar top video machines that seem to be the rage,at the local bars,with people pumping quarter after quarter into it,knocking down the pretty colored balls!

There's Just No Proper Need...
by Azmeen Afandi on Wed 1st Sep 2004 07:34 UTC

All useful and relevant OS apps were born because there's a need for it. Once they're released, they go through an ever evolving SDLC for one reason only; making it better.

Why OS games will never be as robust as other OS apps is only because of one reason: the "need" factor. Nobody needs games. For most people, it would be nice to have. For those who actually live and breathe games, a large majority of them couldn't actually code three lines of simple shell script, let alone a function to render some game character in OpenGL.

The MySQL people started the project because they want a database with certain features. A lot of other people _AND companies_ ($$$) want it too.

Same thing with the Linux kernel, and PHP, and hundreds of OS apps.

The problem with games is that NO COMPANY will want it. What's in it for these companies anyway? Even if they can sell it, there will be more people downloading it (legally at that). Charge for support? Heck, if the game is popular enough, there will be "community sites" popping up with this purpose in mind.

OS games will be just a hobby to hone the devs' programming skills. Why would they want to do that? For fun ("because I can!") and/or profit ("So I can stick it in my resume when applying for that EA job") mostly.

More games
by Gurkan on Wed 1st Sep 2004 07:44 UTC
What about classic style ones?
by Lupita on Wed 1st Sep 2004 07:45 UTC

http://dragontech.sourceforge.net has a couple of nice and classicstyle games that are worth trying

RE: More games
by Calroth on Wed 1st Sep 2004 07:59 UTC

Yes, but xrick, Jump 'n Bump, Mtp Target, SuperTux and the Dragontech games are not in the same league as Doom 3. Therefore they are irrelevant to this discussion.

The article states, "...there are no comparable original creations [to Doom and Quake] in this area."

OSS is not the contrary of commercial!
by tharibo on Wed 1st Sep 2004 08:03 UTC

Why on hell should OSS games developped by the community? Why some studios trust in OSS development while developping their game, like Nevrax in France (http://www.nevrax.com http://www.nevrax.org ) developping Ryzom (http://www.ryzom.com )?

This article mixes the development model and licensing terms of software. OSS is not always developped by the community while not always free of charge.

But I agree that we cannot develop games like an opensource spreadsheet software, as explained in the article. It is just that terms used are not the right ones...

Lack of Vision
by Calroth on Wed 1st Sep 2004 08:10 UTC

OK, enough antagonism. Why I think OSS doesn't work for games...

Lack of vision. What projects need is one charismatic designer who has vision and focus and the drive to see it through. And the co-ordination to keep other people committed. The obvious example is John Carmack. However, most OSS projects don't really have this (they don't need it either! except for games).

You need to keep your developers interested... if they've played your game out in 40 hours, they won't stay interested and will leave. Developers can stay interested in a kernel or RDBMS or web browser for years, but games have a short life-span.

The modding community is a nice comparison to the OSS games scene; another is the MUD community. You still need vision and focus from the high-up people, but the barrier to coding is much lower. And there's a ton of replayability, because it's not just a game, it's a real-life interacting community.

In fact, what's in common with the modding community and MUD coders is exactly that: the games are networked, and therefore becomes a community, keeping them interested. Someone pointed out that most "successful" OSS game projects are in the strategy genre, but I don't think it's that... it's because they're networked. Games such as BZFlag.

RE: Lack of Vision
by Richard James on Wed 1st Sep 2004 08:19 UTC

I wouldn't call it lack of vision but rather lack of motivation as time moves on. This is the one critical thing that will kill a freely developed game off.

all these games are just cheap rehashes of CSS games
by youreallsofuckinglame on Wed 1st Sep 2004 08:28 UTC

frozen bubble = puzzle bobble/bust a move
flightgear = MS flight simulator (can barely be considered a game anyhow)
solitair = MS solitaire (its an shitty included system game ffs)

notice a trend? all these games are shitty remakes of old 90's (earlier even?) close source games. do you honestly think that someone on windows would be happy just playing puzzle bobble, MS flight sim and solitare all day long when there are hundreds of newer, more exciting games about? heck, could you even consider yourself a gamer? these are the sort of "games" my mother plays, the hardcore linux-gamer she must be!

even if there are only 3 original games coming out on windows each year that are actually lasting fun, its three more than linux gets. get a grip and admit to yourself, linux sucks for games. it doesnt make you any less of a man to admit it. some of you need a good beating with a cluebat

The best game ever (no, it's not Doom3)
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 08:55 UTC

Chess is the most popular strategy game in history. Two mighty armies marching against each other! Feel the excitement of the battle! Test your wits against the opponent! But be warned, Chess is VERY addictive. Now available also in OSS.

Solution?
by kimo on Wed 1st Sep 2004 09:01 UTC

Well developping games IS difficult and needs lots of inter-disciplinary effort. In my point of view the only solution can come in either one of two flavours.

1- John Carmack sees how advanced Linux/KDE/GnuApps have become, he decides to open www.opencarmack.net & actually teaches people how to write games, becomes a center for artwork & music. Here we are using Carmack's experience & love for open source. Of course the same would go for other companies like epic & the like, but they are not known to support OSS that much

2- Some linux centered organisation (read KDE?) Decides to orient some of its developper/artist army to kreating games (www.kames.com) ??

Here we're building upon the shear number & enthusiasm of the KDE guys (whom I love & respect). Of course, other organisations are also valid (Gnome, Vendors ... RedHat/Suse/..)

Sure?
by Giorgio on Wed 1st Sep 2004 10:18 UTC

Sure...
1) that this kind of work worth?
They were many very amusing games made with few bits and blips and they still are here amusing us (with mame or other emulators) because they are amusing and inventive.
It makes no sense making a huge hypertecnological game with billions of man/hours IF it's not amusing and inventive, and closed-source system force the market to buy the last boring game with more polygons simply keeping the good (old or less old) games captive under rojalties and non disclosure agreement.
2) that open source couldn't help?
How many of men/hours are spent reinventing the weel each time a 3d engine is made? Would we see in Doom3 shaming polygons instead of true circles if an example of an engine making true circles was an open knowledge?

FOSS bad model for games?! i don't think so.
by freaks on Wed 1st Sep 2004 10:29 UTC

pfff, that's a pile of bullshit,
there's a lots of real gems in FOSS/linux world, about gaming...

first, look at http://happypenguin.org/ you blind writer of broken articles for osnews..
there's tons of excellents projects, just open your eyes...

and, wine isn't listed on LGT, but wine enable you too play even latest PC/windows titles such as doom3.

So you can play a lot, in linux world, either with very nice genuine FOSS games, or with wine, or some emu.
Any other OS isn't requiered. Even zindoz..
the penguin will get you all! o_O

Uhm, the statement is too general.
by dpi on Wed 1st Sep 2004 10:44 UTC

Open Source is not an Advantage in Game Development

"Open source in game development" is not the game alone. It includes underlying architecture such as SDL, OpenGL, OpenAL and others. This is an advantage for portability. You do the maths.

@ Eugenia
by dpi on Wed 1st Sep 2004 10:58 UTC

<mode=bullshit detector>"People who play games, don't want to study a whole encyclopedia before they start playing a game."

1) Your husband plays games (proposition = true; you stated it yourself).
..hence..
2) One who plays Nethack has to study a whole encyclopedia before they start playing (proposition = true; according to you. I think its slightly less than that. You just have to learn some standard commands before you can play. In the meanwhile you can learn during playing; subtle difference).
3) People who play games, don't want to study a whole encyclopedia before they start playing a game (propisition = false; because 1 and 2 are true. Or is your husband not human? :^).

Its a generalisation, really. If nobody were to play these games then why do these exist? Why do people here recommend them? Sure, perhaps Nethack is niche, but OTOH if it were only popular games we would get these "clone" and "doesn't innovate" arguments again.

Also, you'll always have to learn some things before you can play a game. In fact, part of a game is learning by trial and error else it'd be too simple, right? Now, Nethack is one of the games where the player has to learn some basics before starting to learn by trial and error although there is a X11 version with a simple click 'n play GUI where commands are not necessary.

</mode>

What about games like Counter-Strike?
by njs on Wed 1st Sep 2004 11:09 UTC

The OSS model can be successful. Counter-Strike (the original) was written by hobbyists. Of course, they had a game engine already, but so do the OSS world! I'm not sure why there haven't been any major OSS FPS's already(I think it might have something to do with the lack of 3D modellers for Linux), but it is possible, as games like Counter-Strike show.

Different games
by Kent on Wed 1st Sep 2004 11:13 UTC

I usually place games in one of two categories: "Fun" and "Buy more hardware". The last category is games that play just like an older game, except it's prettier and requires us to go out and spend much more money than the game itself cost on some graphics card that will be obsolete with the next game anyway.

The "fun" category is games that don't require buying new hardware, but is much more fun to play. Sure it may look like something from 1993, but who cares? Are we here to have FUN or watch pretty pictures?

It seems that most posts talk only about the "buy new hardware" category, and I will agree that OSS is not good at developing stuff for the purpose of selling hardware. OSS programmers don't get anything out of requiring some way expensive graphics card, not even a free card. So, it would actually cost an opensource programmer money to help e.g. Nvidia sell more graphics cards. But OSS programmers don't do "buy new hardware" operating-systems either. You need Windows XP for that.

But when it comes to the "fun" category, I see more OSS games than closed. Why? It seems that closed game developers are only interested in making pretty games that require more hardware.

In case anyone is in doubt:

Frozen Bubble is in the "fun" category.
Doom 3 is in the "buy new hardware" category.

Ey guys, just take ANY OSS Game and compare it to an real expensive CS-Game of the same Genre.
What you get?

The CS-Game, has better Soundtracks, better Graphics, almost ever better Story (excluding some oss games where story is build over years now ... but i prefer not playing on console ...), finer events, more action, more ppl playing that game online (it it is an Online Game), ...

you can fullfil the list by your own .. just compare and stop talking that the OSS-Games right now can compare.

And ppl think netgame is much better then some new MMORPG ... sorry, if you are into console this may be. But if i want to play a Game i want to see my enemies most near to in-life-graphic. You cannot call yourself a real gamer then. ( ok, i am not gaming that often the last 2 years, but im not that crazy to try comparing this games :> )

I also prefer administration on console, but for games, it should be as near as possible to RL-Graphics.
And Doom 3, for being an EGO-Shooter, if your into EGO-Shooters it is one of the greatest games ever.

Don`t tell other that D3 is a f****ng game only because u do not like egoshooters... D3 has the most advanced AI in EGO-Shooters ive been messing with. (the only manko is, its running like a diashow on my pc ...)

anyway, OSS will never be for Brandnew "AAA-Level" Games.
Since if you create the OSS-Enging, and AFTER that, someone thinks, oh i could create desings, and AFTER taht the story ... uc, by that time a better engine is out by a CS-group, which can invest some million dollars. Money rules the world .. it war, it is, it will be ...

with that, so long u guys .. cu and hf

by micro

PS: nice article !!

nethack*
(if it is...

sry for the spelling mistakes *G*

RE: What about games like Counter-Strike?
by dave on Wed 1st Sep 2004 11:33 UTC

What's more, CS went through a dozen beta phases, each one adding more and more to the game. If it had stayed the same, or the changes were minor, it wouldn't have ballooned as much as it has - players would have stopped playing around beta 3 or 4, and it's popularity would have declined instead of increase. Even now, Valve still add new things to it to keep it alive.

The article should have pointed out that for single-player FPS games like Doom 3, evolutionary OSS development wouldn't work (I don't want to play a mission again just because it has a whole new monster)... but for a multiplayer game, it adds a whole new dimension (partly because no two multiplayer games are ever the same and you have control over the direction it goes).

My point: some games types grow well with an evolving development cycle, and that is where OSS games should place themselves if they want to be successful (but it's no replacement for a decent game).

Shared vision
by dave on Wed 1st Sep 2004 11:37 UTC

there is also the problem that OSS games are made from many people... they all need to share the same or similar central vision and deep understanding of the game dynamics in order to create a good game.

That's the important part: making a GOOD game.

what seems to be missing to me...
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 11:47 UTC

is that Linux would probably be an excellent target platform for experimental games, since those people will be more open to new things... remember they left the 'old' thing because they got tired about certain 'issues' in the system (OS and games). As a game company working on an experimental project, you could cut your costs by asking for cooperation from the Linux community AND you have the source code for everything you are programming to. If there is a bug, you *will* find it, while I am not sure this is always the case for a closed source game developed for windows, if the problem is with the windows source code (which you cannot get to see, at least I think you cannot).

So you can have free labor (and the enthousiastic people won't really mind when they're volunteering anyway) AND a good test market for such a 'daring' project...

let's face it: (trying to) develop original games in these days is *dangerous* for commercial companies/developers. So little original is developed at all. You could almost call this the "recycling age of gaming"...

RE:
by dK on Wed 1st Sep 2004 11:52 UTC

> But when you compare them with their commercial counterparts
> for consoles or Windows, these OSS games are so mid-nineties
> that it isn't funny anymore.

It is, but you are a consumer who has been convinced that it's not funny anymore. You are easily impressed by minor features which do not bring anything fun, just flashy things for consumers like you (you are more consumer than player). Of course, people who enjoy games and write open source games are not consumers, they're interested in fun games, and that's what they write. They don't write games for consumers. You just have to grow up.

funny.
by Ceaser on Wed 1st Sep 2004 12:00 UTC

its kinda funny how some people think OSS game dev is viable, yet cite remakes and retro makes of existing stuff.

CSS games are created, sold and left. you would be lucky to get a bugfix patch as the company is on to the next project, and by that time most people have finished the game so the patch is moot.

console games dont even get that. they hit a deadline and ship after a load of QA. once its pressed thats the end of it.

gamedevelopment moves VERY FAST. OSS development moves VERY VERY SLOW.

CSS games are developed by a team of people whose sole job is that project. OSS games are by 1 or 2 people for a couple of hours a week.

gamers want the best. OSS game development cant provide this.

look at happypenguin, linuxgames.com etc. 99% of all those games are remakes.

what would be nice, is for CSS gam dev houses to make official ports to linux and macosx.

two genres that existed before the CSS game development have long been eclipsed and are no longer made by CSS. roguelikes and interactive fiction. both are the domain of the hobbyist and are fully controled by OSS developers.

frozen bubble, is it an awesome OSS game? no. its a crap port of an licensed tittle, puzzle bobble. it has ZERO originality. take away remakes, take away emulations. what have you got in the OSS game dev world?? nothing.

bzflag? wow its totally original here. battle zone and CTF. WOW! my mind is blown away.

eye of the falcon. awesome! a new tileset on nethack, the 20+ year old game. whats more, they are still fixing bugs. (personally when they went to v3 they should have started from scratch since the class system is hacky).

CSS games are developed to make money
by Mike on Wed 1st Sep 2004 12:43 UTC

CSS games are developed to make money, so they have to offer modern graphics and features. OSS games are made for the fun of it, or for the experience, so they can offer whatever the heck they want. No-one has to buy the majority of OSS software (Ryzom is OSS, but commercial), so it doesn't matter that they look 10 years out of date. As an earlier poster said, DOOM 3 (to him/her) got stale pretty quickly. So what did the flashy modern graphics give them? Not much. I still prefer to play Day of Defeat because for me, gameplay is key. This article didn't really give me anything.

Good OSS Game
by Iv Kozak on Wed 1st Sep 2004 13:17 UTC

Just want to mention that last year a really great open-source game vas released. It's "Babylon-5: I've Found Her", a 3D space simulator based on the Babylon 5 movie.

http://ifh.firstones.com/

Re: Mike
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 13:22 UTC

"As an earlier poster said, DOOM 3 (to him/her) got stale pretty quickly. So what did the flashy modern graphics give them? Not much. I still prefer to play Day of Defeat because for me, gameplay is key. This article didn't really give me anything."

Indeed... anybody remember Commander Keen? Does anyone truly think this would be more fun in 3D? That would just be wishful thinking and being trap in the notion that '3D==Good Game'

OSS engine Pay for content - the future of game development
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 13:29 UTC

Engine and content.
What the author completely misunderstands, is that Open Source is just that. Source code. A game is much more than source code - graphic, levels, content.
So a game could have an GPL engine and make a lot of really good content protected by copyright.
Se Nevrax for an example.
John Carmack could easily make Doom3 Open Source, and make a living. The problem is that John Carmack is gready, and also want to make money on the engine for other games.
Doom3 is already the best selling game - so it is simply greed that keeps the source from being avaible.
If other companies decide that they will consolidate their programmer efforts, and make a Open Source engine, it would get the best of both worlds.
Money for the content, better engine through coorporation.
_This_ model I think will be very popular in a few years, when game engine becomes so advanced that a lot of people can get involved in writing shaders and porting.

UFO ALien INvasion
by f on Wed 1st Sep 2004 13:29 UTC

Ufo alien invasion is based on the Quake engine. If not for quake 2, no alien invasion.

The best place for free software development right now is in MODDING existing games. I don't think you'll EVER see any FOSS cutting edge game engines-- but you don't need to be cutting edge to be fun.

Of all the FPS games i've played, I like NONE OF THEM out of the box-- the MODS ARE WHAT MAKE THEM FUN. THe mods are what make the games worth buying/playing. Ever play BF1942? It's ok for a month or so--then try it with the 50 mods that are out there, each mod is worth 3 months of your time!

Halflife is the BEST example of this--and older 3D engine with new/updated (and fun to play) mods still being released today.

FOSS absolutely rules when applied to existing GAME ENGINES. If there were generic game engines for the most common types of game platforms:
Turn based Isometric games
Real time Isometric games
FPS games

The first two i mentioned are simliar enough, but all three of these cover everything from Panzer General to Diablo to Red Alert to X-com to BF1942. Games of this type all fall into one of these 3 categories (and games that are rip offs of these.)

Some engines were given away free like Quake and wonderful things were done with it (even flight simlulators were made.)

Boson itself is a copy of Total Annihilation--a good copy I might add.

Want to see an amazing Free Windows game: GLEST--A warcraft 3 knock off.

--Dave
FOSS works best for mods of existing game engines.

Nethack
by JBQ on Wed 1st Sep 2004 13:33 UTC

nethack is a great example of a good open-source game. But it has a pair of unique details:

-most of the levels are random-generated (between 80 and 90% if I remember correctly), so it has a fairly high replay value, and new versions that only have small differences are still appealing.

-the value of the game is in its logic, not in its art. the depth of the game is almost unsurpassed. because of that, it is actually more appropriate to have such a game as ever-evolving open-source (what's gonna be next? the ability to chat with monsters and actually get useful information? the ability to build one's own weapons and/or to repair them?)

doom3 as an example?
by [Lemmy] on Wed 1st Sep 2004 13:53 UTC

but doom3 sucks...

i mean, honestly. its dark, its slow, it eats hardware like a teenager eats crackers, the monsters go at you always from behind... and the basic idea is not much different from, say, unreal2 of 2 years ago...

So why on earth should i shell out 50 bucks for the game, and 500 for new hardware? Or, to stay on topic, why should i believe that a bunch of OSS coders couldnt do better than that? the only problem would be that high quality graphics do cost money, and manpower. and no OSS coder would want to slave away at hand-painting textures in gimp for whole days, over a period of several months...

Re: OSS engine Pay for content - the future of game development
by Adam Geitgey on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:02 UTC

Engine and content.
What the author completely misunderstands, is that Open Source is just that. Source code. A game is much more than source code - graphic, levels, content.
So a game could have an GPL engine and make a lot of really good content protected by copyright.


My whole thesis is that content is just as hard to create as an engine, but vital to the game. Content has to be "debugged", tested, and improved just like code. But unlike code, content has a limited appeal to the user so you can't find good volunteers to help test and improve content like you can if you were writing spreadsheet code. Since content is a huge part of an open source game and the OSS model does not work very well when creating it, the OSS model breaks down for content and thus games as a whole.

Saying that open source game projects should only be expected to produce the "source" part and not the "content" part is basically agreeing with my point - Open source does not work very well for producing modern games. The article was not "Where are all the good Open Source game engines?". We have plenty of those.

You are claiming I completely misunderstood a point I was actually making.

John Carmack could easily make Doom3 Open Source, and make a living. The problem is that John Carmack is gready, and also want to make money on the engine for other games.
Doom3 is already the best selling game - so it is simply greed that keeps the source from being avaible.


That is the stupidest statement I've ever heard. It's not greed. It is their business model. Yes, John Carmack could make D3 open source and make some sort of living. But in the business world, people are not expected to work 80 hours a week for four years to create an unmatched product and then only earn the bare minimum from it to feed themselves. It is not greed to produce something and then try to sell it in such a way to maximize profits. That is our economic system, not greed.

Should Nabisco only change 40 cents for a box of crackers because they can manage on 10 cents profit and asking more is evil greed aimed at starving the homeless? Of course not.

...when people remember what games are for, why people play them, and how they come to be.

The 20th and 19th centuries were the "I-Me-Mine" age. Everyone owned his or her ideas, to the exclusion of everyone whi didn't pay. Before that, games were often developed over years and centuries, through consensus, experimentation, simple play, and tradition. People didn't brand them, they just played them because that's what they were for.

I'm no graphic artist, and I have far less time to do any coding than I would like, even at my job. However, there have to be an awful lot of kids, students, and retirees who have the time and the skill to develop (and play) new games, or come up with interesting variations on old ones.

Go to any big computer superstore, and you will see lots and lots of "bargain bin" software, often discarded or unwanted (or even orphaned) "commercial" computer games. I think that's because people buy them, get around the challenges, and then put them away in a closet.

I think there are ceartain games that last for thousands of years, for various reasons, and that people will play and play for generation on generation. I will suggest to you that these are most likely the ones where nobody has to be paranoid that some publisher's cop will come beat down their door over, among other things.

Have people had to pay royalties if they had a baseball game and charged money for attendance, or paid the ballplayers? If so, then here's the exception that proves the rule.

RE: doom3 as an example?
by Adam Geitgey on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:07 UTC

but doom3 sucks...

i mean, honestly. its dark, its slow, it eats hardware like a teenager eats crackers, the monsters go at you always from behind... and the basic idea is not much different from, say, unreal2 of 2 years ago...


Yeah... When I wrote this, Doom 3 was just being released and served as a topical example, but maybe not the best example. Since there was a delay of a few weeks before OSNews had an opening to post the story, the example is a little less timely and perhaps a little less effective. But just do a mental search and replace with "Half-Life 2" where you see "Doom 3". Suddenly it will seem topical again ;)

Puh-lease
by nxt on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:10 UTC

Eugenia, you could use better arguments than "so 90-ties", considering that lots of your screenshots include a music player playing Boney M.

You see, it's all about subjective preferences. I admit that Doom 3 has great graphics, but first person shooters simply don't appeal to me. So for me, Doom 3 is not a good game. On the other hand, I really enjoy Fish Fillets NG. This is now an Open Source game, released by the original authors of the commercial and windows-only version. Sure it looks worse than Doom 3 (2D sprite graphics vs. newest 3D engine).

However, for some of us, gameplay and fun are much more important than the looks and sounds. No 3D does not imply a bad game, in general.

Also, how many games can you run on OS X, *BSD or the Be-clones? I expect that the majority of readers would agree, that an Open Source game would be easier to port than a closed-source one.

The difference between Indie and Hollywood
by benn on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:18 UTC

its kinda funny how some people think OSS game dev is viable, yet cite remakes and retro makes of existing stuff.

I don't think that is true about all the games mentioned. Some, yes, but than again many CSS games are remakes...most, probably, in one way or another. Doom3, as far as I'm concerned was a remake of a remake of a remake of Castle Wolfenstein. ;)

The poster who mentioned the difference between Indie and Hollywod movies was right on, potentially. As more devs start working on OSS games, they will be offering an alternative to the CSS experience. For example: nethack is a great game, probably impossible in the CSS world. Not a competitor to CSS games, not worse, but definitely an alternative.

And, in keeping with the Hollywood vs. Indie theme: Hollywood video games will always be more popular than Indie, by definition.

Re: B5 IfH
by -=StephenB=- on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:21 UTC

Just want to mention that last year a really great open-source game vas released. It's "Babylon-5: I've Found Her", a 3D space simulator based on the Babylon 5 movie.

http://ifh.firstones.com/


It's not open source, but it is free (and pretty entertaining).

RE: Puh-lease
by youreallsofuckinglame on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:21 UTC

However, for some of us, gameplay and fun are much more important than the looks and sounds. No 3D does not imply a bad game, in general.
yeah, and the lack of it doesnt make great games either. whats your point?

Re: Puh-lease
by benn on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:26 UTC

yeah, and the lack of it doesnt make great games either. whats your point?

I believe that what he was saying was quite literal and straightforward, requiring little to no interpretation beyond basic vocabulary. Simple. Being pretty doesn't make a game good.

Also, if wereallsofuckinglame, what does that make you?

RE: Puh-lease
by nxt on Wed 1st Sep 2004 14:36 UTC

yeah, and the lack of it doesnt make great games either. whats your point?

If it's not clear to you, Mr NotLame, my point was, that a game which does not use a 3D engine can be a really good and enjoyable game. Unless, of course, you live with your head buried in sand and think that game == 3d first person shooter.

OSS and game development.
by Zakaelri on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:15 UTC

First of all, I agree with many of the previous posters: this is something that has already been known, and really never been disputed in the world of OSS. As a matter of fact, Eric Raymond already made your point, and put it much more eloquently [1].

Having said that, Eric Raymond's papers concerning Open Source are now becoming rather dated, because new play styles are being invented, and companies are producing "hybrid" games. Take the Unreal Engine, for instance. While it is not completely open source, you can download and modify large portions of the game, via the UnrealScript editor. An area that OSS may want to attempt to venture into is the creation of a robust and high-performance gaming engine, similar to Unreal. Instead of making games themselves, venture into the suport for those games.

Another example is the WorldForge [2] and Planeshift [3] projects. They are trying to create and maintain MMORPG environments.

The key point is that in all of these environments, the code itself is commodized (sp?), as it is in the OSS world. The parts that matter are the services provided for the code. That is how OSS is supposed to "make it's money"... by providing the services.

As far as games in general go, however, I think that to try to create the next Doom 3 or Half-life 2 as an open source project is to persue red herring. Instead of trying to create the games themselves as open-source, we should (instead) concentrate our efforts on creating development environments and gaming libraries, to encourage the big development houses to create software for linux, in addition to Windows. If you combine that with an environment that passes "the grandmother test", then that will give linux a greater chance of conquering (/konquering ;) the PC desktop.

[1] The Magic Cauldron: http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/magic-cauldron/
[2] The Worldforge project homepage: http://www.worldforge.org
[3] Planeshift: http://www.planeshift.it/pslicense.html

Where are the 2D Arcade games?
by 3D Shmeedee on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:21 UTC

Sure I can use MAME, or another "emulator" but technically speaking it's illegal to do so, and it would be nice to have better animation and more quirky visuals - AND smooth scrolling (like the good old days of the Amiga) Why..if I were 10 years younger ;-)

Hey btw, we had students working here recently for us (we're a design company) who had to produce graphics for levels of a "theoretical" game using the Quake/Unreal engines as part of their project for their degree final year. Some of these were/are VERY good, sooner or later either the kids or the colleges will catch on to OSS, and you'll have your high quality artwork before you know it.

If there's any developers reading this I'd suggest getting in touch with the local colleges or Uni's and asking if their design courses include 3D textures and modeling etc.

Meantime, where's my bomberman clone, pacman, galaxians, ranibow islands....and a zillion Amiga classic clones? Quit arguing and get to it! ;-)

RE: doom3 as an example? (Adam Geitgey)
by [Lemmy] on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:22 UTC

But just do a mental search and replace with "Half-Life 2" where you see "Doom 3". Suddenly it will seem topical again ;)

which still makes my comment valid. Even HL2 (IF it ever arrives) is just another FPS. Run around, shoot things, try not to die. OK OK physics engine, new kickass rendering techniques... so what?

What I'd like to see is a game that is
a) addictive
b) hardware-friendly (as in "it does not need to come bundled with nvidias or atis latest card")
c) a NEW idea
d) easy to start (ok not necessarily)
e) all of the above.

And if something like that comes up, i'd give a rats ass wether it'd be OSS or closed source ;)

RE: Puh-lease
by youreallsofuckinglame on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:24 UTC

If it's not clear to you, Mr NotLame, my point was, that a game which does not use a 3D engine can be a really good and enjoyable game. Unless, of course, you live with your head buried in sand and think that game == 3d first person shooter.
I'm quite aware that games dont need 3d to be good. some of my fave games are old lucasarts adventures. i just get fed up with all these people saying how wonderful some lame oss game is, we'll use frozen bobble as an example. yeah, the original (puzzle bobble) was great in its day (1990's) but it just doesnt cut it today. we played the the classics in their day and moved on, rather than waiting 10 years for a shitty linux port. have fun playing nethack while we play halflife 2, Fable, GTA:SA, the sims 2 (not my personal preference, but the charts speak for themselves) and a zillion other games that OSS just cant compare to (at least not for 10 or so years when the crappy clones/ports start to come out)

RE: Puh-lease
by nxt on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:36 UTC

'm quite aware that games dont need 3d to be good. some of my fave games are old lucasarts adventures. i just get fed up with all these people saying how wonderful some lame oss game is, we'll use frozen bobble as an example. yeah, the original (puzzle bobble) was great in its day (1990's) but it just doesnt cut it today. we played the the classics in their day and moved on, rather than waiting 10 years for a shitty linux port. have fun playing nethack while we play halflife 2, Fable, GTA:SA, the sims 2 (not my personal preference, but the charts speak for themselves) and a zillion other games that OSS just cant compare to (at least not for 10 or so years when the crappy clones/ports start to come out)

Point taken about 3D, even though, in that case, you previous comment was plain useless.

Played Quake 1,2,3, UT 2002, Doom 1,2, HalfLife, GTA, need for speed (different versions) and did not have much fun. On the other hand, I have had fun playing Frozen Bubble (never knew there was an "original" until now) and Fish Fillets (go try it, before you say it is not fun).

Burn your money and time on games you prefer, I'll burn my time on games I prefer. I won't say your games are, just that I don't like them. Accept my games the same way and we can and this useless thread. Useless, because game quality cannot be measured in such exact ways as other software.

v I have the answer
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:37 UTC
dunno
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 15:59 UTC

Where are the affordable and secure proprietary operating systems?

Re: I have the answer
by ccchips on Wed 1st Sep 2004 16:02 UTC

"The socialist software movement flounders around wondering why games do not exist.

NO one will pay MONEY for them, they want something for nothing. If you want a game PAY for it and get a grip."

Really brilliant. I understand.

You'd be amazed at how much money I used to pay to play "scissors-paper-rock."

If I'd never done that, I'd actually be a rich man by now!

re I have the answer
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 16:04 UTC

"The socialist software movement flounders around wondering why games do not exist."

As far as I can tell the only folks who seem very concerned about this aren't really big fans of FOSS to begin with.

Not entirely accurate
by Arc on Wed 1st Sep 2004 16:32 UTC

Whether are not there are few major game titles built *entirely* with free/open source software, there is quite a bit of it going into parts of game engines. Case in point: we have been building our commerical game engine for some time now using several free/open source software components:

SDL (http://www.libsdl.org)
GLEW (http://glew.sourceforge.net)
ligpng (http://www.libpng.org)

The game servers themselves are running on all free/open source software:

FreeBSD (http://www.freebsd.org)
Apache (http://www.apache.org)
ACE (http://www.cs.wustl.edu/~schmidt/ACE.html)
TAO (http://www.cs.wustl.edu/~schmidt/TAO.html)

Likewise we have been building the engine using free/open source software tools on free/open source software operating systems:

GCC (http://gcc.gnu.org)
GNU Make (http://www.gnu.org/software/make)
Bash (http://www.gnu.org/software/bash)
GDB (http://www.gnu.org/software/gdb)
DDD (http://www.gnu.org/software/ddd)
Gentoo Linux (http://www.gentoo.org)
MinGW & MSYS (http://www.mingw.org)

Finally, we are planning to release much of our own software infrastructure as free/open source software. Thus saying that the open source development model does not make sense for game development is not entirely accurate.

Arc

What amazes me.....
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 17:21 UTC

The fact that NO games will be written and produced because a company is not going to give them away for free!

Needless to say, anyone who opposes someone's view point on here they try to get it removed because they cannot handle the truth.

The ironic factor is they call it open source, but they shut up anyone who tells the truth. Like the old saying goes, I was blind now I can see.

Nothing like stating the FACTS, and watching them squirm around taking up for some socialist movement led by idiots.

Re: What amazes me.....
by benn on Wed 1st Sep 2004 17:33 UTC

The fact that NO games will be written and produced because a company is not going to give them away for free!

Needless to say, anyone who opposes someone's view point on here they try to get it removed because they cannot handle the truth.

The ironic factor is they call it open source, but they shut up anyone who tells the truth. Like the old saying goes, I was blind now I can see.

Nothing like stating the FACTS, and watching them squirm around taking up for some socialist movement led by idiots.



What are you talking about? You post this drivel without making a single valid point. I assume that my responding to your post qualifies as trying to shut you up?

1) The great thing about OSS is that you don't rely on companies to produce the software you need. Most people when referring to OSS are talking about teams of independent developers.

2) Needless to say, you have posted your viewpoint and I'm responding to it. Are you sure that you are not allowed to have your opinion here? Have you considered that maybe you simply find people who have different viewpoints threatening?

3) The REAL ironic factor is that they call it "free market capitalism" yet try to use tactics that undermine the "freeness" of the market when a differing system (and one that could coexist peacefully) appears. THAT is ironic.

4) What FACT did you state? That there are some zealots who don't listen to reason? Welcome to planet Earth, Anonymous.

Take a look in the mirror. And before you get involved next time, think up something useful to post.

OSS and the game model
by tkn on Wed 1st Sep 2004 17:43 UTC

The games that will work in an open-source model are of several types:

1. Simple concepts that just need graphical tweaking (i.e. Tetris block games)

2. Long-term games such RPGs/MMORPGS where people are comitted for the long-term, tweaks are basically ongoing, and evolution of the game is expected and, in fact, desirable. Flight simulators tend to also have this aspect of long-term devotion and a desire to get more accurate simulations.

I think a game like NWN could be done via an open-source contributory model. Shooters are just over in a few days, therefore need to be polished before being put out there.

RE: benn
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 17:44 UTC

3) The REAL ironic factor is that they call it "free market capitalism" yet try to use tactics that undermine the "freeness" of the market when a differing system (and one that could coexist peacefully) appears. THAT is ironic.

What is this mess here, you theory on coexisting peacefully does that mean you sit back while someone robs you blind?

IN a BUSINESS you do what it takes to survive, you don't play paddle cake with your competition while they conquer you.

Geez, I would have thought up something better than this. Lets all live in a peaceful planet, all be friends and love one another. Meanwhile, terrorist fly planes into buildings and try to destroy us.

Needless to say, the FSF is trying to force its OPINION on others by shoving it down your throat. People with commonsense and a brain, call this what it is. A socialist moron leading this mess, that is an atheist......

My .02 on the cost of creating a game
by KadyMae on Wed 1st Sep 2004 18:07 UTC

I'm friends with several professional artists who've done a lot of work for gaming companies like White Wolf. Based on the things he's done for White Wolf and some of the art he's created to market video games, a friend of mine, John Van Fleet, recently did a huge design project for EA Games.

http://www.johnvanfleet.com/staging/production.htm

I've seen the originals for this and they are a stunning mixture of photographs, photoshoppery, and acrylic painting -- this is not pure digital art. You can buy his originals (not prints) for the backgrounds and they start in the $100 range and go as high as $350. (Those thumbnails don't do them justice.)

Do you think his services to EA games came free? Do you think he did it out of the goodness of his heart in his copious amounts of spare time? Hell no.

If you want world class visual design for your coders to model over, you pay for it.













Wow...
by Jeff on Wed 1st Sep 2004 18:17 UTC

I can't believe some of the games you people are claiming are as good as commercial ones....

I mean, maybe some are very high quality, but commercial games just go above and beyond, its that simple.

NetHack? Don't make me laugh. And as good as Wesnoth is, its still no Dragon Force. Doom 3 is more than just new graphics. It is atmosphere and art... things sorely lacking in the OSS Gaming world... things that take a lot of money or a whole lot of time.

Some of you are just freaking zealots. Gaming is not dying, its not boring out, and its not going to crash. Someone said no good games are made anymore? Are you on crack? I can name hundreds of good games released in the past few years.

I plan to use OSS games to help learn programming and have some fun, but some of the claims being made in here are just fucking rediculous.... although I'm sure its the same crowd that moans "Get a console" and that bullshit as well.

I'd love to see OSS games really foster, but I've yet to see an OSS game that has better art / interface than Warcraft I or II which are old as hell now... or anything truly original either. Games are bigger than movies, it is an entertainment industry - not something that "OSS" can one day conquer like it can a server or OS market.

Just the engine, ma'am
by Chris on Wed 1st Sep 2004 18:29 UTC

- Open source systems evolve slowly over a long period of time, in general.
- Gamers do not often play one game over a long period of time--with some exceptions, of course.
^ Gamers do not want to play an open-source game.

Fine. But how about this:

- Multiple games can use the same game engine.
- Producing a game engine requires time, effort, and money.
- Producing texture and sound libraries is difficult and expensive.
- Open source packages are free.
^ If a game engine or a texture / sound library were open source, it would be free.
^ If a game engine or a texture / sound library were open source, it would cost less money to produce a game.
- If it costs less money to do something, more people will be able to do it.
- If more people do a particular creative thing, more good products will emerge, ceteris paribus.
^ If a game engine or a texture / sound library were open source, more good games would emerge.

As the article mentioned, it would be inadvisable to have an entire game developed openly. However, it takes hobbyists about two years to develop a good, full-length mod (say, at least ten hours of play) for an existing engine, even when their tools are not reliable or simple and community interest is depressed; it takes about five years to create a game from scratch, or heavily modify an existing engine for a game and then develop that game.

Simply mapping a game, doing the voice acting and special textures / sounds, should take less than a year, using a stock engine and going at iD's rate. And with greatly depressed entry fees, hobbyists will be able to produce complete, standalone games without too much trouble.

Then an individual would install the game engine; the individual games would install on top of it, taking up less space. An 80GB drive might hold two or three times as many games. And the graphics and textures could automatically update themselves--or not, if the user chose otherwise. Advances in the engine would make every game run faster or look sharper.

The only problem with that is when a high-resolution texture meets up with a low-polygon surface. The solution to that, I would suggest, is having high-poly models that are interpreted periodically into the low-poly, in-game models. The same installation of a game with different versions of the engine would provide vastly different experiences--not to mention that those with ultral33t systems could instantly access a higher quality of play while those who haven't been able to update their hardware can still play acceptably.

Hmm, I think you've missed the point..
by julian oliver on Wed 1st Sep 2004 18:37 UTC

Adam is right in assuming that on a per-game basis there are difficulties, but he makes several mistakes thinking they impede a future for OSGames. The Open Source model has advantaged many game development teams on the level that they aren't forced to reinvent the brick, they can use code written by someone else under a flexible license. Examples of this are really boring things like a sound manager, communications layer or texture processing tools. Tons of open libraries are used already in commercial projects for this reason: OpenGL, Python, Ruby, SDL, DevIL, OpenAL, Java to name a few. To what level of open source development is he talking about here? Secondly, whether or not they release the code for open development during the development cycle is their business, and in many cases is unwise given the possible loss of focus on a specific development project. Why would you want 500 people working on extending an engine while you were trying to make an AAA Second Person Fish Throwing Game? You wouldn't. Instead Adam assumes that opensource development always implies community development during the game production cycle:

"Doom 3 was quite playable half way through its development cycle. That means with two years of full-time development left, in an open source world, players would already be playing it. Two years is a long time in the gaming world. It would be very hard to keep any sort of public interest alive with weekly test releases where the only change might be that a weapon was tweaked, a room was added halfway through the game, the lighting was adjusted, or load time was slightly reduced.

I don't know why he doesn't see the alternative option of releasing the source after the game has been released, to be further developed later. This is a way of retaining control of the project, it's obligations to the inaugural release date and to the publishers. On a commercial level, what is the engine really worth? How much money can a game developer make on licensing out an engine they have made? ID software and Epic Games might be licensing their source out to developers with some success, but really no one else is (though many are trying). Looking at the list of takers for ID's Quake3 engine, few can afford, or justify, the $US450,000 ticket on the code. It is simply out of the reach for almost everyone, and those that can afford it would often rather bring their own pie to the table. For this reason, Open Source game development is integral to the future of independent gaming; small teams with innovative ideas can actually afford to make a game without having to work with expensive proprietary code already rigged up for making a certain kind of game. However even large companies like Activision are recognising real advantages in releasing the source of their engine after the development cycle. This is so a community of developers can freely extend the development of the engine after the market life of the project for use by the originators, or anyone else later.

"On 28 October 2003, Activision released the source code for Call to Power II. This part of our CtP2 section is dedicated to the CtP2 Source Code Project: the collective effort by the Apolyton CtP2 community to document and improve the source code of the game."

Anyway, it is really a question of critical mass in the source pool. With enough free source available (including libraries, API's and whole engine projects) to make nearly any kind of game, as is happening right now, small to medium teams can quickly develop a specific project with the primary budget being dedicated to human labour, not licenses and legalities.

Companies like Radon Labs have really cottoned onto ths, and looking at the commercial games derived from their own Nebula engine, opensource game development is really working, and working commercially for the developers.

On the level of assets and opensource, have you got your wires crossed? Do you really mean 'shareware' data here? Assets are no more opensource than an mp3 released under the creative commons is opensource. 'Opensource' can only apply to code, maybe you're talking about copyleft?

Ironically, it's on the level of separating the engine from the assets that viable business models can be built out of open source game projects. Looking at the way that ATARI dealt with the successful Linux Client for Neverwinter Nights reveals a productive trend toward this end. Game data is sold, the game client is free (though in their case not opensource). Ryzom are doing the same, though their engine is open source.

Re: The cost of creating a game
by ccchips on Wed 1st Sep 2004 18:48 UTC

"If you want world class visual design for your coders to model over, you pay for it."

I don't believe there are any copyrights or patents on chess.

You can go to a really expert craftsman, have the person produce a gold-and-marble chessboard, with pieces made of ivory, platinum, whatever, beautifully modelled, and wind up paying 4 times my annual salary for it.

Or, you can get a box of poker chips, draw the shapes of the characters on them (or even put the names of the characters on them,) and draw a chessboard on a piece of paper with charcoal.

If you're really ingenious, you could use something that wouldn't smear, and then photocopy it.

Then, you can go outside to a picnic table with your friend and play chess.

Have I made my point yet?

re: Just the engine
by KadyMae on Wed 1st Sep 2004 18:53 UTC

- Open source packages are free.
^ If a game engine or a texture / sound library were open source, it would be free.
^ If a game engine or a texture / sound library were open source, it would cost less money to produce a game.

---

True.

1) And who's going to pay for the creation of the cutting edge, modern game and sound library? In high end gaming, a 5 year old game engine just isn't going to cut it.

For example, it's taken 5-6 years for KDE and Gnome to get half-decent UI's as the result of thousands of hours of gift coding.

I don't see volunteers contributing 8 hours a day for several months to get the new game/sound out the door.

Game engines (not so much sound files) are time sensitive.

2) Yes, an open source game engine or other game construction tools would lower the price of a finished game, but once again, name me a single company that's going to build it (at the cost of several hundred K dollars in wages) and then give it away, or point to the coding team of 40+ that wants to come together for 6-8 months 8 hours a day for nothing.

The only tools that a company would give away are those that they don't use any more. The ones they consider obsolete.

Gaming companies are very smart to allow the community to do the equvalent of "fan-fiction" by building game mods and expansions, this keeps interest in a franchise going and guarantees that the game needed to run the mod will have steady sales and a longer life cycle.

However, revinues and royalties from their exclusive techology are what allow them to
(a) develop new code
(b) pay the all the people who write code
(c) pay for the writers/scripters/developers
(d) pay for visual design/voice actors

Sure, if some company can be talked into giving away its killer app engine, that will spark a revolution in game design and cost, but first you've got to talk a company into pissing off its stock holders/investors/venture capitalists by doing that act. Or you've got to show them how it's going to make them more money in both the long and short runs so that they can demonstrate that to the stock holders/investors/venture capitalists.


@cchips
by KadyMae on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:03 UTC

I don't believe there are any copyrights or patents on chess.>>

You make my point with the master craftsman comment though.

If you want to go play on your picnic table or your piece of paper, fine.

If you want to play on the chessboard made by the master craftsman, you pay for the master craftsman's labor and materials.

BTW, chess, shmess. Gimme Mahjong!

Nuance...
by dpi on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:27 UTC

Do you think his services to EA games came free? Do you think he did it out of the goodness of his heart in his copious amounts of spare time? Hell no.

What a strange nuance. If you don't love what you're doing then how can you do it for so long? Ofcourse that person made it with love, had pleassure creating it -- (s)he just doesn't want to "give it away" (licensed under a permissive license) and earn money using his/her IP instead.

That's not the same as "not from the heart". Do you really think people from Microsoft, Apple, Sun Microsystems and old UNIX vendors make their software with hate? Come on, you can't be serious on that.

quite a biased article.
by makka on Wed 1st Sep 2004 19:52 UTC

u underestimate the gaming community completely.

sure, u get people who buy a game, play it, and throw it away, but generally that's limited to Single player only based games.

your example of doom3, it is designed as a SP experience, but, many many many MP games, such as (well any MP game), has a ver VERY long lifespan.

i've played q3 for 4 years, and others for almost as long.

yes they aren't closed source, but, games such as cube, and the upcoming nexuiz are completely free games, maybe not entirely OSS, but generally speaking, they fall under that category... u can expect many people to play these games for a long time.

for games with fancy shaders and graphically heavy lighting, textures, etc, then yes, it takes a long time to make, but not many people in the first place can even play these games at full detail, so u may aswel make a game that focuses on gameplay, tweak the gameplay over time, and improve the engine as u go.

people WILL play it, there just isn't a game with the advertising, gameplay, or decent enuf graphics to demand a large following, but that's not to say the OSS model is failing, "developing" would be the correct term, opensource gaming is in its infantcy, give it time.

@ dpi
by KadyMae on Wed 1st Sep 2004 20:49 UTC

What a strange nuance. If you don't love what you're doing then how can you do it for so long? Ofcourse that person made it with love, had pleassure creating it -- (s)he just doesn't want to "give it away" (licensed under a permissive license) and earn money using his/her IP instead.

That's not the same as "not from the heart". Do you really think people from Microsoft, Apple, Sun Microsystems and old UNIX vendors make their software with hate? Come on, you can't be serious on that.>>

Your misreading of my comment and attempt to put words in my mouth is quite ... interesting.

I didn't say there was no act of love, joy of creation, sense of satisfaction at a job well done.

I just said that EA games didn't get several weeks of his labor and creativity for free.

---


If it's going to happen
by iridium_ionizer on Wed 1st Sep 2004 21:32 UTC

OSS gaming (not necessarily free) may take off when
1) ALL game developers need to resort to cheaper tools and assets to financially stay afloat (increased demand for games with higher quality and more assets while staying under the fixed price point ($50US) and getting sued for forcing their workers to work 80 hours a day),

2) sufficiently high end tools and game engines are created/released as OSS (once real-time rendering, cloth physics, and facial expressions are in every game engine gamers -aka UBER-engines- gamers will start caring less about how games look and more about their gameworlds and gameplay),

3) creative commons begins to contain VAST amounts of ultra high end models and textures that can be dumbed down or altered to fit a particular game (really how many different army jeeps, dragons, and oak trees are really necessary),

Gamers migration to Linux will probably occur over a long period of time as more good free games appear, established developers continue to port their games over, and people in general switch to Linux for mainstream applications.

I for one would love to see a game where developers would use more high-end behind the scenes programming instead of just visual glitz. Even a 2-D game that had Turing-class chatbots or realistic ecosystems would be great.

RE: iridium_ionizer
by Anonymous on Wed 1st Sep 2004 23:24 UTC

I am very perplexed by the following statement:

OSS gaming (not necessarily free) may take off when
1) ALL game developers need to resort to cheaper tools and assets to financially stay afloat (increased demand for games with higher quality and more assets while staying under the fixed price point ($50US) and getting sued for forcing their workers to work 80 hours a day)......

So you are going to 'fix' the price on a video game at $50. Please tell me how you are going to do this, in the United States in a free market you can Price it at what you want to sell it at. If you want 'FIXED' price controls, no freedom, then may CHINA would be an excellent home for you.

This amazes me how everyone wants something for NOTHING price wise (FREE). Yet, they contradict themselves on wanting a paycheck. Let the market set the price, let the business charge what they want. PLEASE, stop with the Communist mumbo jumbo.






Oh my, 160 comments already...
by A nun, he moos on Wed 1st Sep 2004 23:25 UTC

Oh no, I can't believe I missed this thread! Games and open-source software, my livelihood and my hobby together in the same article...Damn you, drsmithy, for dragging me in a long-winded debate about the FreeBSD poll... :-)

I just wanted to chime in and say that, as an OSS advocate (some will even call me a zealot), I completely agree with the author of the article. Game development isn't normal software development, in fact in many ways it's closer to making films (except games are much more complex than films).

I will say, however, that Open Source software is useful for game development. A lot of game developers use GCC and other Free/OSS tools to build the games. Also, game engines could be Open Source (probably LGPL or BSD to avoid linking issues).

So OSS does have a place in game development, but games themselves can't to be open-sourced - shelf life too short, budgets too high (average is now 2.5 million$ for a console game). Well, at least not until they've outlived their commercial lives...

And for those, like Rab, who say that there are no original games out there, I can only say that they're probably just old farts who should keep playing Centipede or Joust on MAME...or Robotron - quite a challenge with only a keyboard! (My personal favorite "vintage" is Tempest - I've been looking for an affordable Tempest arcade machine for years...) Fortunately for my paycheck, today's kids and gamers disagree with them, making the game industry one of the only one related to computers that didn't suffer from the Internet bubble burst, a couple of years ago...

@all
by matt on Wed 1st Sep 2004 23:54 UTC

first off, thanks for all the awsome links guys! i remember hunting for good linux games a year or so, and the overall quality seems to have increased significantly over that time.

i would also like to add a note, im a relatively hardcore gamer who uses linux, so this is a subject near and dear to my heart. ive been playing nethack for years, and the only game that comes close when it comes to commercial rpgs for pc is baldurs gate 2. dont knock the ascii rpgs until youve tried em, ive been playing zangband since it came out, i dont think theres another game ive played for such a long period of time. look at MUDs, archaic ui, but still a huuuuuuge following. look at counterstrike, a mod from a game from '92, and its the most played game ever.

graphics are nice, but what most commercial game developers have forgotten is that gameplay and fun are far more important then pretty graphics. shining example is doom 3, i played about two hours and now have no real desire to continue.

thats not to say that most commercial games are ass, there are some shining examples of excellence. G.O.D. leaps to mind, so does Blizzard. and of course BioWare. but these guys are all small fries.

i would choose nethack over dungeon siege any day.

Doing something about Open Source Gaming!
by Carlos on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 00:55 UTC

Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but I would like to plug the "largest open source game contest." It's called "uDevGames", and you can find out about it at http://www.udevgames.com. Each year, the contest awards many prizes to the winners, and their source code is released into the community. The winning games are very slick, and many of them are now on Source Forge, and some have even been ported to other platforms.

Offering collaboration
by Noize on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 01:40 UTC

Hi,
I don't know anything about coding but instead I work as animator / digital artist (mostly 2D) for TV commercial ads.
I'll like to collaborate with some interesting OSS game / project, designing or animating.
Also can contact musicians who will like to work if the project its interesting.
If you are interested in some help please contact me at guicarbo@yahoo.com

The problem with games under linux isn't money.
You **CAN** make closed source programs for linux
and probably make them pay scaled to the linux
marketplace.

The market of scale is not quite there to see corporations jump in unless linux users actually start **PAYING** for the games that they are downloading from happypenguin, etc. in a big way.

The problem with most game projects under linux is that
people keep attempting to re-invent the wheel as far as
engines go. Everyone wants the glory for creating the
ultimate 3D engine. Nobody wants to put the **REAL WORK**
into generating content and story lines.
Game engines already exist for linux. Check out garagegames.com for a really great comercial 3D engine that works with linux.


As for Doom or Quake the content is essentially the same on
every level....You shoot things[yawn] Big deal. After 10 minutes any old text adventure with no graphics is more interesting than that.

What really needs to happen with linux is for X-Windows to be dumped and a better direct windowing system be developed,
free from the shackles of old XFree86 code. X has always been a sloppy pig for programming.
The user interface and multimedia (audio/video) drivers need to be a highest priority tasks on the system so they don't get pre-empted by system tasks. Thus the driver model needs to be adjusted to make media work in its own space without hitching and burping when some background housekeeping takes place.

@pete (IP: ---.bchsia.telus.net)
by A nun, he moos on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 04:11 UTC

I suggest you try the new 2.6 series of Linux kernels. Media applications no longer hitch nor burp. In fact, I can play large mpegs or quicktime files and do plenty of stuff in the background without missing a beat.

I doubt X is the problem, seeing as how native 3D games on Linux have similar (if not better) performance than the Windows version...

Good Games
by Eric on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 05:35 UTC

It's obvious Windows will always be the home of good, closed source, blockbuster commericial games. I believe the future of gaming in Linux is through WINE and the emulation of Windows and, more importantly, DirectX API's.

Re: game engines, not games
by Andrew on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 05:45 UTC

> so that's where the commercial application of open
> source technology can possibly come in: the open source
> community develops tools/engines for developing games,
> then people develop games for it. i'm looking forward to
> such a situation ;)

Here's one:
http://www.insectwar.com/ (the content)
http://www.stratagus.org/ (the engine)

I find it difficult having to explain what should be blatantly obvious. I have never heard of someone being gifted so as they are capable of playing video games and being productive at the same time. I used to struggle with the dilemna myself and it took a final expenditure of over 3 grand on the killer game computer before realizing that something is wrong with my values. I look back at the lost time consumed by selfish and self gratifying entertainment and wonder what if I hadn't been so careless? perhaps life wouldn't be as difficult now if back then I'd studied or made the right contacts instead of wasting time. Oh well, the least I can do is warn others of the realization they will experience eventually.

RE: I can't believe someone is crying about games!
by Chris on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 09:24 UTC

It seems a little silly to me as well, although I am not an avid gamer. I enjoy the quick games with simple goals.

But the fact is that there is a market for this sort of thing, as you yourself stated when you said you dropped 3K on the beast of all gaming rigs. But hell, that'd be a really nice dev machine as well.

The other depressing thing is that people make money out of this stuff - who's that Fatal1ty (fatality) guy who plays UT2004 (I think) and pulls in thousands in cash and prizes? That's when I wish I was a killer gamer who loves to game.

Unfortunately, I'm not.

@ KadyMae
by dpi on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 09:54 UTC

I just said that EA games didn't get several weeks of his labor and creativity for free.

..among other statements (to which i replied). If the above is what you meant to say, then say that, instead of leaving some vague grey area alive.

i think there are couple of things which make it that way:

* games are not just about engines but probably more about design, look&feel, lots of WOOOW audio/visual things and and even more about scenarios, plots and overall playing concept (marketing is an extra to all of that)

* FLOSS ppl are usually techies without decent sense for beauty (that's why they shamelessly can compare ugly amateurish FLOSS games with the brand new titles. sense for beauty is relative (and open to discussions) but not when market is paying the price)

* for great games you need great scenarios, plots, concepts, designs, layouts (those things techies can't do, unfortunately)

* ppl who are able to do great designs, layouts, scenarios don't care too much about FLOSS.. or at least not when they need to share their skills (many ppl appreciate OS & software free as in free speech but don't see their speech to be free as in free speech)

* games' market is too fast for FLOSS dev cycles (there is no way but money which can keep big number of ppl motivated in full time audio/visual innovative jobs because a lot of ppl should follow just few ppl's visions and that is not quite usual for FLOSS.)

democracy and horizontal hierarchy is not best model for time/efficiency results...

i hope games (either comercial & FLOSS) will motivate more gamers in the future to start to make something on their own coz when it will come to nano/biogames they would be the game and Gamers would lough loudly...

may the source be with FLOSS devs...

@bob smith
by A nun, he moos on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 12:57 UTC

I find it difficult having to explain what should be blatantly obvious. I have never heard of someone being gifted so as they are capable of playing video games and being productive at the same time.

I am.

Not only that, but there's a growing interest in the educative aspect of games, especially simulations and "serious" games:

http://www.seriousgames.org/

And what about those surgeons who perform better when they've play some video games?

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/4685909/

If you couldn't control your gaming habits, don't blame the rest of the gaming community. You didn't have to blow 3K$ on a new computer when you could have bought a playstation 2 or Xbox for 1/10th of the cost...as with everything, use is fine, abuse is bad.

More games on BeOS
by GregC on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 16:33 UTC

There was probably more shrink wrapped games (2 of them?) sold for BeOS than there was for Linux. I really think that the GPL is a hindrance in this scenario. Is it possible to create a closed-source game with an OS thats mostly entirely GPL'd ?

@GregC
by A nun, he moos on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 17:08 UTC

Is it possible to create a closed-source game with an OS thats mostly entirely GPL'd ?

Yes it is. Neverwinter Nights, America's Army, Quake 3, Doom 3 (soon), SimCity, Unreal Tournament, Soldier of Fortune, Myth 2...

There is nothing that prevents producing closed-source software for an open-source OS. The only reason why there are still few commercial Linux games is that the market share is still too low for many developers. The GPL has nothing to do with it.

addendum
by A nun, he moos on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 17:11 UTC

Oh, and I seriously doubt there were more commercial games published for BeOS...

But what about Yahtzee?
by ccchips on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 17:26 UTC

"If you want to play on the chessboard made by the master craftsman, you pay for the master craftsman's labor and materials."

If it ended there, I would be fine with that.

The problem is, people have gotten into copyrighting and patenting the games and rules themselves, to the point where hobbyist game developers can't freely develop simple knock-offs of the game without getting in trouble.

This is where I think things are starting to go wrong.

I'd be happy to pay to see the Cubs play baseball, and have sand-lot baseball for pennies or free-of-charge.

But that's where I would like to see it end. Games are for people to play together and share with one another. That's always been my point. The high-quality, shall-I-say ritzy, aspects of gaming shouldn't interfere with that in any way.

There's no reason in the world why Linux, or any other free software platform, shouldn't have lots of fun, addictive, interesting games that don't require a fine artist. I've written simple games myself just for laughs.

Here's an example. If I put together a program that had 1 long line down the middle, 2 short ones at either side, and a little square that 2 players could bounce between them, would I get in trouble with a copyright office?

Nice article
by nonamenobody on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 17:43 UTC

I quite liked this article. It is not uncommon to get people asking why there are no "good" open source games, and when I thought it through (a few months back) I came to the same conclusion as the author. A stereotypical blockbuster game just wouldn't work as a community developed Free Software.

I felt that the conclusion "Where does open source fit into gaming?", was a little incomplete. It missed a few places where open source does/could fit into gaming:
* Gaming APIs and multimedia libraries, e.g. SDL (if it could overtake DirectX it would be a masive boon to multiplatform gaming), Open AL, Ogg Vorbis, Open GL (the reference implementation is now Open Sourced).
* Installation software (Loki installer)

As we see more games for Linux and MacOS/X I imagine we will start to see Open Source software playing a larger part in gaming. I would be very surprised to see an open sourced block buster, however I could see an open sourced game designed to be modded (to replace the aging half-life) becoming very popular.

artists missing on linux
by MatzeBraun on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 18:07 UTC

1 point not mentioned here, is that in my experience artists are very rare in the OSS world. Linux seems to be used by techie people only, which usually isn't true for artists. Also gimp/blender isn't really the same as photoshop/3dsmax yet (ok maya is there for linux) so there's very little motivation for them to switch to linux.

Why Linux is still lacking commercial quality games.
by yannick on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 18:56 UTC

It's true that the market share for Linux is still very low compared to Windows or consoles. However, I doubt that's the primary reason why we don't see many games ported to Linux. Apple is behind or not too far ahead of Linux on the desktop, yet the number of high quality PC games ported to the Mac is staggering, as evidenced by this link :

http://www.apple.com/games/features/

Also look at Nokia's phone/handheld console hybrid, the N-Gage. There are probably more Linux users than N-Gage owners, yet games are still being made for the N-Gage, a console that is tanking in the market place.

I think one of the primary reasons why Linux is still lacking in that area is because of its non unified nature. Take testing, for example. Testing is already very hard under Windows, imagine how hard it would be to not only test for NT/XP/98/200/Me and different hardware configurations, but also for the different Linux derivatives/distributions.

Same thing for support. There are so many possible options with Linux that supporting it would be far, far from trivial. Most games that have Linux clients available (Unreal Tournament 2004, Neverwinter Nights, etc.) have refused to officially support the Linux versions. There is no official support for UT2K4 or NWN under Linux, these versions are released pretty much out of good will alone.

It could also be that most Linux users don't want to pay for their software. Sure, there are, and I know many, people who would buy the Linux version of a game - if it was available - over the Windows one. But take the Quake 3 Linux boxes for example: they didn't sell well. Carmack said that in the same time frame, they moved 100 Linux boxes and 250,000 Windows boxes.

Some people said the open source scene lacks quality game engines and tools. I would disagree, as there are many impressive open source engines. OGRE, Axiom, the Neo Engine and Crystal Space (which powers the Planeshift project) and associated projects are quite impressive. There is also the very, *very* impressive Nebula Device, made by Radon Labs; the engine is impressive to the point that some commercial games were made with it.

Open Source: Always late and under budget
by Anonymous on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 21:10 UTC

People said making kernels was hard too. It's not a question of difficulty, it's a question of critical mass. When there is a good, generic, open source engine people will hack on it as well as make games with it. When will that engine appear? Late as usual.

Measure of Goodness
by Anonymous on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 21:48 UTC

I think all the comments saying that there will never be any good open source games are 100% right on. After all, everybody knows that no open source developers have any artistic skills at all. Even more fundamentally, how good something is is directly measured by its glitz, animation, soundtrack, and special effects. That's why "Barb Wire" is so much better than the movie it was based on, "Casablanca", and why "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" is so much better than "Star Wars: A New Hope".

RE: Open Source: Always late and under budget
by yannick on Thu 2nd Sep 2004 22:04 UTC

Anonymous,

have you seen my post? Such engines already exist. I mentioned one that has been used for commercial games, one of them ("Urban Assault") published by Microsoft.

The open source engine and tools are there.

@ Anonymous
by dpi on Fri 3rd Sep 2004 10:19 UTC

That's why "Barb Wire" is so much better than the movie it was based on, "Casablanca", and why "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" is so much better than "Star Wars: A New Hope".

I think you even fail to comprehend how this is highly debatable and biased. I wouldn't bet a dime using an analogy on the quality of game. Rest assured there won't be any consensus.

Its a matter of personal taste. I care less about the special effects (although i do on other fields). What i want is a damn good story line (which are better in books anyway, in general). Luckily there is no Holy Grail, no perfect game, else we'd see a lot less diversity ;)

So your meassure of goodness says little. Sure, Apple does research in UI's which is (more) credibly but that doesn't say anything about say Blender or GIMP.

PS: For a(n incomplete) list of games on Linux go to icculus.org -> FAQ -> Game list. Pretty impressive if you ask me, but yes, its nothing near Windows. It's the relative numbers which matters though.

RE: @ Anonymous
by Anonymous on Fri 3rd Sep 2004 20:42 UTC

That's the point. The original article had a very narrow viewpoint of what constituted "good". The posting is very tongue-in-cheek because the definition of "good" really does vary from person to person, and saying that the open source world is a bad environment for graphics-heavy games and equating that to being a bad environment for good games is nonsense.

To further clarify, it was a sarcastic measure of goodness.

I personally also rate story line pretty highly and think that most of the time the various IF titles (see http://www.ifarchive.org/ for bunches of free ones many of which are on par or better than their commercial counterparts) rule in this regard. That doesn't mean though that I want to use IF all the time...

RE: What I said
by iridium_ionizer on Sun 5th Sep 2004 00:44 UTC

I just wanted to clarify a point I made which was obviously misinterpreted. I meant there is a Max. price point of about 50$US. In other words, very few people will buy a game if it is at a price much higher than that. Just like gaming consoles won't reach a mass market (even when brand spanking new) if they are priced higher than 300$US. It's market economics. That's why a lot of the console costs are subsidized from revenue gotten from game sales.

Furthermore, with game production costs continuing to rise (with increasing graphics and complexity) there may soon be a time when game developers and publishers may have to do something drastic to lower production costs. Open source? Out source? I don't know.

@iridium_ionizer
by yannick on Sun 5th Sep 2004 17:27 UTC

Many companies already outsource to a certain extent (artwork, motion capture, music, etc.).