mogmios at mlug.missouri.edu
Mon Mar 18 03:15:48 PST 2002
> 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.
True. But since all games within a genre typically are built on engines
that are very nearly identical it is redundant to have to implement these
features again and again. If you build off of common work then your first
release will already have such features with no extra work having been
done by the author.
I've looked at a lot of opensourced games (and commercial games too) and
few of them have even basic expected features after lengthy development
processes. I'm not saying that all of them suffer this sort of problem but
that many do.
> 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.
Shareware is commercial games. Some of the best games of the 90's were
shareware. I see less of that sort of thing these days but shareware
certainly helped define PC gaming.
Your right that a lot of commercial games do suck, especially in the
stability and originality departments but they typically have more of the
expected features. A good many games I've seen that were opensourced did
not have the typical stability of opensource programs but were probably no
worse in this area than the average in commercial games. I can't really
think of any originality I've seen in opensourced games. Overall I'd still
say commercial games are better on average and have far more top quality
> 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.
Just to guess at a number I'd say 99% of games (both opensource and
commercial) are complete knockoffs of one another. Within a genre games
are expected to have certain elements of play, look and feel, etc and most
games simply 'borrow' such features from each other. Evidence of this is
how during game development the developers often switch engines
mid-development to trade up to newer technology. The game engine has
little to do with actual game play as long as it is well designed and
doesn't suck so much as to make the user aware of it.
Making the game engine and tools isn't a very sexy job and requires a lot
of effort and you're probably right that a lot of opensource developers
wouldn't want to bother. As with many 'boring' programming jobs though the
job eventually gets done one way or another. For someone already
developing such engines and tools to develop their own game with the extra
care taken to keep the code clean and reusable is not really that great
given the obvious benefit of being able to write lots of games using the
code you already worked your ass off writing. :)
> 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).
Exactly. And since source is available absolutely any mod is possible.
> So by "polish" you include eye-candy (or "sex")?
In games I do. Also included would be stability, look n feel, and feature
completeness. A game is about entertainment so appropiate eye-candy and
sound can improve a good game quite a bit.
> Are you equating "good" with "commercial-quality"?
No. There is no reason a game needs to be commercial to be good. But
opensourced game authors should try to compete with the top commercial
games as well as other opensourced games.
> 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...
There are some benefits to that model but it can be annoying in a PC
enviroment. I do play most my games on a console though and find that
experience less frustrating than most PC games. With the wide assortment
of possible hardware on a PC though I think you'd find programming a game
on bare hardware a huge pain in the arse and you'd end up with much larger
games. I have been surprised not to see Linux games packaged to be
playable on non-Linux machines at boot though. It'd bring the ease of the
console to PC games and the use of Linux, FreeBSD, or whatever opensourced
OS would mean there would be no hassles or fees from the likes of
> 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. :)
Artwork can't make a game but it can certainly keep a game from greatness.
> Most commercial games out there fail in this regard, AFAIAC.
I'd agree. Especially PC games. I'm hoping someday opensource games will
force commercial games to stop sucking. :)
> 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.
Tux Racer seems to be picky about hardware. Some machines with much less
omph seem to handle it fine while more studly machines choke. Seems a bit
odd to me.
Abuse was okay though I found the controls a bit odd. I'm not big into FPS
but Doom and Quake really did play a huge role in creating that genre.
> Heh. It lacks the depth of nethack.
Maybe but nethack is unlikely to ever attract more mainstream players.
Again with my point that artwork can make an already good game great. A
little polish and nethack could be great. ;)
> 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.
Playability is important but that really has more to do with design than
technology. That is one of those areas both opensource and commercial
games could use some work. Old Atari games often were more playable than
the current swarm of 3D rendered FPS whatever games. The engine used is
less important than the design of the game. That's why you may as well
reuse your engines. ;)
> Gaming geeks, *nix geeks, open-source geeks... be specific.
Nethack really is the sort of thing *nix geeks are into.
> 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.
Not trying to bash it or suggest it'd be better as a commercial
product. It could benefit from 'borrowing' features from good games of a
similar nature including commercial games.
> Well, yeah. So? They're not dripping with gratitious animation, or
> exhibiting a fetish for gore and skulls...
They also are written in the way 80's games were.. seldom well documented
or easy to reuse or maintain. There is no need to write games such as
these in such a manner anymore. Most opensourced games are not overly
intensive to your hardware so there is no reason not to make the code
easier to work with.
> 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.
The Amiga suffered a doomed fate for various reasons despite it's obvious
quality. Tbhat to is a whole other topic. ;)
> 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.
Why not? It's more stable than current leading gaming platforms, wastes
less CPU/RAM on the OS and has a large enough user and developer base to
make the process worth hassling with. There is really no reason games
should be OS-specific at all but the only way to encourage mass conversion
to portability is to do it first and better. Portability has gotten better
in recent years already but it could be a lot better. :)
> So what open-source gaming needs is a QA department. :)
Very much so. Most are horribly programmed and poorly tested. Unification
of engines and tools would let more eyes cover the same code base.
> 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"...
I'd say 5-15 years is a decent lifespan for a game. Pac Man, Super Mario
Brothers, Final Fantasy, etc have lond lifespans. That doesn't mean that
everyone keeps playing those games but that those who are fans can keep
playing them without becoming overly bored. Games that sort of define
> 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...
Which is a good start.
> All the games would begin to resemble each other. We've been down this road.
All games do resemble each other. :)
> 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.
I'd probably use the GPL but the LGPL would probably be considered better
by most. I'm not a supporter of a BSD license especially in cases such as
this where commercial alternatives already exist. Nothing is gained for
the community by letting companies use opensourced game engines and giving
nothing back so a BSD license is not a good choice. Regardless, logic code
and artwork that was original could be held under any copyright the
creator wanted while still using the opensourced engine. Only changes to
the actual engine would need to be kept under the original license. As
most games license their engines anyway there is nothing new about this.
> '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...
To some extent. How much does your 'stone' tile need to look different
from mine though? If you have something interesting and new to do you
always have the freedom to do it.
> 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...
So as I said quicker development time benefits the company trying to
release that game. Opensource benefits here and you don't need to release
code changes or even mention your game to anyone else until you release.
That is not so when licensing some commercial engines.
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