bofh at stremler.net
Sun Mar 17 13:07:25 PST 2002
begin repeating what Michael wrote on Sun, Mar 17, 2002 at 04:42:34AM -0600 :
> > Surely this depends on the game.
> > I personally consider both nethack and xpilot to be games worthy of the
> > opensource community, and they have been around for some time, and are
> > undergoing continual improvement. They have a success that dwarfs their
> > commercial rivals (who have widespread, but brief, effective "lives")
> > and if they lack the "polish" of commercial games, they more than make
> > up for it in playability, configurability, a sometimes even depth.
> While there are many really bad commercial games most opensource games
> I've seen lack the quality of top notch commercial games. Why commercial
Well, on _average_... :)
> games suck is a whole other topic so to define my meaning opensource games
> lack polish and often features of commercial games. This can be anything
> from an inconsistant interface to a lack of a 'save game' feature. Usually
Hm. I would attribute this to (1) open-source games are frequently
released before they are completely finished -- presumably as soon as
the author(s) have enough functionality in place so as not to embarass
themselves, and (2) you're looking at the wrong sort of open-source games.
I recently set up an iMac for my parents, and I purchased a number of
games for the machine as well as downloading a few freeware/shareware
games (that, if they like, they can send in the fee). I do not know of
any open-source games for the Mac, so I'm extrapolating on thin ice...
Anyway. The best-of-the-best games, in terms of such minor features, would
be the commercial games ... but they were also well-represented at the
bottom end as well. Some commercial games suck hard enough to bring the
"average" quality down below the "average" for shareware.
> minor features. Opensource games also tend to be less stable than most
> other forms of opensource software and seldom based on a reusable engine
Reusable engine designs don't lend themselves to open-source. There's not
a strong incentive to churn out a few dozen different games that are
basically all the same. If you're going to be writing a game, presumably
you're trying to do something new and interesting, not Yet Another Knockoff.
The opening up of the Mod capability is probably best seen in terms of
extending sales (for commercial games) or allowing creativite extensions
without forking or bothering the devteam (open-source games).
> something commercial games frequently do make use of (use it and
> then license it to all the clone games). Lack of decent artwork etc is
> also largely a problem as far as polish.
So by "polish" you include eye-candy (or "sex")?
> > By "commercial-grade" do you mean "aimed at the click-and-drool crowd"?
> > Or do you mean "high-volume and short-lifespan"?
> Neither of these needs to be true and is often not true of really good
> games. Everything from Super Mario Brothers to Final Fantasy can be a good
> commercial-quality game with a new (at the time) style and an extended
Are you equating "good" with "commercial-quality"?
> A commercial-grade game should be well though out,
> have a stable
As in "it rarely crashes the system"? Yeah. Except that I'm starting to
wonder if the hardware-bangers had the right idea, and a game should simply
preempt the OS and take over the machine. Back in days of 1 OS / platform,
this was obviously a bad idea, but now that there are several OS's for the
same hardware platform, it would be easier to port games if the game just
took the machine over...
> have quality artwork,
If you're selling a game, then yes, poor artwork is indefensible. But
is artwork *necessary*? Psygnosis had *beautiful* artwork, but they also
put an immense amount of effort into making the games playable; without
that, the artwork wouldn't have justified the games.
Necessary, perhaps, but not sufficient. :)
> be interesting, and in general not suck.
Most commercial games out there fail in this regard, AFAIAC.
> I've seen no opensourced games that really satisfied these basics. Tux
> Racer wasn't bad but even it turned kinda-sorta commercial. Abuse, Doom,
> etc were commercial before being opensourced.
Tux Racer wouldn't work on a 733MHz SMP box. Dunno about Abuse, but I
was never really impressed with Doom and its ilk -- the only FPS I ever
thought interesting was Marathon, but even that I didn't bother playing.
In fact, most of the 'new' generation of "open source" games simply suck
when I've tried them. But then, I'm not collecting gaming boxes, with
the latest $500 video cards and fastest cpus and suchlike. If I really
wanted a game platform, I'd buy a PS/2 or something.
> > Diablo (I & II) are nice, but I can see the day when I will give them
> > up and return to nethack (when I want a dungeon crawl) or xpilot (when
> > I want a twitch game).
> I'd consider Diablo a good but not great commercial game but definately
> better than most opensourced games.
Heh. It lacks the depth of nethack.
Nevertheless, it's a game that I can dump hours into, and thus is in the
same class as Lemmings, SimCity 2000, Agony, Mission Impossible, and
suchlike. I doubt it'll ever get close to Rogue (Epyx - Amiga version),
which consumed several hours a week for years on end.
> better than most opensourced games. nethack can be interesting but doesn't
> even begin to compare for anything but us geeks.
Gaming geeks, *nix geeks, open-source geeks... be specific.
> xpilot is fine but
> definately not commercial quality.
Not in the sense of "lots of people will spend outrageous sums of money for it".
But it's a better game than many commercial titles available. If it were a
commercial game, they'd be trying to sell custom controls for it, and they'd
strip out nearly all of the possible control features. It's a difficult
game to master, especially if you have to learn asteroids-style flying.
> These games have the feel of the 80's
Well, yeah. So? They're not dripping with gratitious animation, or
exhibiting a fetish for gore and skulls...
> and can be fun to play but are not going to challenge Windows as the
> gaming platform of choice.
Being a gaming platform is not sufficient -- nothing could challenge the
Amiga as a gaming platform *and* general-purpose computer, and it still
failed in the marketplace.
In fact, I'm not sure that *nix has any business trying to become a
gaming platform -- RTOS flavors excepted, maybe -- so long as the
"twitch games" remain the most popular games.
> > I guess the point that I'm missing is what's a 'quality game' mean, and
> > why are the commercial entities doing any better?
> Not all commercial games are quality but the ones that people want to play
> do have a quality that is missing from the majority of opensourced
So what open-source gaming needs is a QA department. :)
> > Most games have a very brief lifespan; you don't have much time to
> > make money from the average game. This is both a bane and a boon to
> > commercial game companies -- because the lifespan is so short, there
> > is a need for constant turnover in "hot" games.
> Only crappy games have short play lifespans.
What's "short" to you? To me it should be < 5 years. It seems that
in the gaming world, a year-old game is considered "long in the tooth"...
> You might stop selling enough
> new copies after a certain point to make it worth keeping the game on the
> shelf but many games are played much longer.
> The current fad in twitch
> games with a fixed number of levels also limits the lifespan of the
> games. Modable games (especially those that are multiplayer) have
> considerable longer play lifespans than other games.
To wit: xpilot -- create your own maps and shipshapes, and people keep
playing it. It's not ruling the gaming world, but it has a steady influx
of new players...
> > Open-source of a game helps the community, but hurts the business. Even
> > if they were to opensource the game *after* the point of declining
> > profitability, doing so would probably impair further sales if the
> > community were to make that game playable again.
> Not true. If the company can use pre-built opensource engines and tools
> they don't have to program these themselves or license them from another
All the games would begin to resemble each other. We've been down this road.
> This saves time and money and garentees a higher level of
> stability meaning less QA time, fewer tech support calls, and happier
Under what license? Open-source engines would presumably be under the
GPL, which would be a really poor business model, or under something
like BSD, which would give damn little back to the community, knowing
the typical attitudes of the gaming companies.
'course, you're talking about adjusing attitudes, aren't you?
> Using stock art allows the games to be designed at much lower
> costs and with more attention paid to those areas that make the game
> unique and fun.
...and all the games resemble each other even more...
> Besides the article wasn't about why game companies should
> donate their games to opensource, it was why opensource programmers and
> mod authors (who rarely benefit directly from their efforts) would work
> well together.
Surely mod authors benefit by (1) getting to play their mods, and
(2) receiving the kind of accolades that presumably motivate the open-source
> A good part of that problem is due to the high cost of producing a
> game. The more money invested the less freedom to innovate is allowed. If
> games can be created on a shoestring budget then there is less of an
> investment to be lost and more people can participate. Also if your not
The high cost of producing a game is due to the short time lines required
to get the game out before someone else comes out with something a little
shoddier but basically the same -- and scoops your market. An innovative
game that is released *after* it's copy is seen as a knockoff...
> struggling to make your deadlines you have more time to add nifty features
> and work on new ideas.
cf. nethack and xpilot :)
 for me.
 and then probably put a keyboard on it...
 which is apparently the idea-source for much of the game.
 or was killed -- would it have succeed if C= had uncorrupted management?
 or OSX. I've been told that OSX has a lot of features aimed at the
game developer/player. A *nix may actually be a gamer's platform one day...
 prior to the dot-com thang, which presumably dumped a bunch of $-hunting
folks into the open-source community hoping to get rich quick.
-Stewart "Rogue is the granddaddy of all dungeon crawls." Stremler
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