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1  Games Center / Featured Games / Re: Wurm Online on: 2006-06-16 12:51:52
Really nice job on the game. Its encouraging to see what you can do with Java and JOGL. JWS seems to be working well in this context, no trouble setting up the game or logging in.  I’ve been playing for a few days, and subscribed and bought some silver coins.

On the graphics options, most didn’t make a huge visible difference. The exception is turning the shaders on, with cloud and hills reflection. Really adds to the nice job you have done with the sky. Not much performance difference, except for large textures. That drops the framerate from about 15fps to 4fps. That could be the flaky AGP driver I have on that machine though, it causes all sorts of odd problems.

Large textures off is still OK for me graphically. I get used to the oddities like non animated chars and NPCs pretty quickly, and the gameplay is very good. Real tough even gathering enough food in the early days, but that feels right for a bunch of pioneers in a new world. I see someone just opened a restaurant, so I expect things will get easier and more civilized.

Looking forward to seeing how it goes.
2  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: Gardening MMORPG on: 2006-05-18 02:31:12
I've changed the description of the current code release from "Early Beta" to "Tech Demo". Several people have pointed out there real isn't any "game" code there yet.  The flower growing code does seem to be running on a good variety of graphics cards though, thanks to JOGL.
3  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: Gardening MMORPG on: 2006-04-27 21:29:46
Solaris 10 on x86-64

I’m not that familiar with Solaris. Could the required commands to start up a set of executable jars be packaged in some sort of script file? At the moment, I am focussed on getting a Windows centric packaged version of the Early Beta out. It would be nice if Java had lived up to the early hopes of “write once, run anywhere”. But, after reading the long discussions about application deployment on these forums, it seems like that is not the case. Outside of these Java centric forums, my sense is that not packaging my apps as a familiar .exe will be a barrier to distribution.

As far as WebStart is concerned, I have of course considered it. I’ve read a lot of the debate pro and con WebStart here. I think it is a great tool for its designed environment, keeping desktop applications in step in a major enterprise. In a home desktop environment, its not as useful. You can distribute a single game application with a small amount of data. Or even a large amount, as WURM online demonstrates, though I suspect that took a good deal of effort. It doesn’t seem well suited to a set of cooperating application using local files though.

Judging from this conversation, http://java.sun.com/developer/community/askxprt/2006/jl0410.html, the JWS team do understand its weaknesses as an application installation tool, and it may get more suitable in later releases. It will be a good while before I get the “world” part of the online world done, so I will take another look at it then.
4  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: Gardening MMORPG on: 2006-04-24 02:04:20
what's up with Windows executables and bundled JRE with JOGL native in libs directory? I'm forced to reboot into Windows just to see what could have been launched using Webstart or something? I mean, I can manage java -Dlibrary.path=./.java/cache/jars...  -jar labtray.jar & but boy, it feels wrong...

what OS are you running on,  denka?
5  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: Gardening MMORPG on: 2006-04-17 23:30:58
Whoa, thats... weird. Really nice idea but the totally alien and unintuitive interface is impenatrable (even while reading the tutorial). Separate apps hidden in a tools directory which magically communicate with each other? WTF? Shocked

Good feedback. Thanks.

 The metaphor I am aiming for is gardening tools in a toolbox. My current thinking is that bundling them into one huge app would be more confusing that helpful. I’m hoping the “magical communication” stuff will make more sense once people come to this part of the game through the world, and not by a back door straight into the gene lab.

 Don’t forget that this Early Beta is a test of the ‘End game’ which I don’t expect many players to reach. Touring gardens and picking seeds to plant in your own garden should be much more straighforward. Learning about this game though the Early Beta is a bit like learning WoW by joining a Raid. I’m hoping at this stage I can find a small group of hardcore digital plant enthusiasts who scale the steep learning curve. Your response indicates its pretty steep though.

6  Games Center / Archived Projects / Gardening MMORPG on: 2006-04-17 00:19:59
 I recently set up an Early Beta of my Gardening based MMOG, “Gardens of Kyresoo”. Its at www.kyresoo.com . This part tests the flower growing, breeding and gene engineering code. The world itself isn’t built yet. The game objective is to “Create moments of Beauty”.

 It’s intended to be a slow paced, non-addictive game you can interrupt easily. Judging from the other games posted, most of the browsers here aren’t in the target market. But if you could test out a couple of the gardening tools (java apps) and respond to the Survey on the Beta page, it would be helpful. Particularly if you have access to some low end laptops or desktop machines with motherboard graphics. I figure my target market likely just have the graphics the machine came with, and I am interested to see how JOGL does on those machines. Pretty good in the early tests. I’m particularly interested if you had to use the “Disable Transparency” option to get the “labtray” tool to run on a laptop.

Thanks.
7  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Some f&% good games that should have been made in Java on: 2006-03-13 03:11:01
I'm not sure if this has been suggested (too lazy to read all the posts) but I don't think UFO = God Mode.

I'm guessing you need to build up a certain number of resources and research certain technologies to be able to perform such an action as terraforming. The game is just in a very pre-alpha state. The game mechanics aren't there. I think (hope) that it's just showing off the power of their universe creation system. Random conflicts will probably be introduced and substantive competition should come into play. One can't just go blowing up entire solar systems.
 


I’m not sure they need to go beyond God Mode to provide things to do. The "game" in God Mode is creating stuff. Its what gods do. And some people like doing it to. Plus, in some respects,  its a good business proposition. The server load in a creation MMOG is a lot less than in a competition one. The "score" in a creative world is fame. And that is cheap to track. In Spore as currently described, you just need to track who uploaded which civilization when. That’s saves a lot of hassle at the server end.

Introduce substantive competition between civilizations though, and validating a score  becomes much more difficult. Not only do you have to track the outcome of a battle, you have to check that neither side cheated. And that means validating the detail transactions that made up the war.  Tough in a game which mostly happens asynchronously on players desktops.

Be interesting to see which way they go with it.


8  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Some f&% good games that should have been made in Java on: 2006-03-11 21:10:45
And when you get the ufo.. well.. heh.. No more game.

I think "Game" is likely a bit misleading when applied to Spore. Hobby, pastime, craft might be closer. What I got from the video was that it is a creative game in which you create a world and upload it the server for others to visit. You can then visit their worlds with your ufo, and use some of their stuff if you like.  This a common 'game' mechanism in the model building, gardening and crafts worlds.  Create stuff and show it off,  browse other peoples stuff for ideas.

The name of the game in the creative world is "fame". Who is using my stuff? Spore measures that. So it has the structure needed for a creative game. Nothing like the structure of an RTS though.

I'm picking it up like a ringing phone, of course, but I don't expect it to last very long. :\

I hope its not long lasting. Most MMOGs put enough grind in there that people will play for years. But that takes it out of range of most casual players. Asynchronous creative  multi-player is inherently far  cheaper than synchronous competitive multi-player. So EA should be able to make money off quite casual, short term play. Hopefully, a whole new audience for multi-player games.
9  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Some f&% good games that should have been made in Java on: 2006-03-06 23:17:50
I think Spore is the most interesting game on the horizon at the moment. It combines procedural generation of content, with player “directed evolution” of the procedures. That makes new user generated content very easy to ship around, and limits the freedom of users to generate “naughty” content. If it works, once its running, the developers can just sit back and watch the players entertain each other. Of course, given the publisher, they will likely ship expansion packs anyway.

 I’m a bit biased though, as the game is asynchronous multi-player, like the one I am developing. Its encouraging seeing one of the big guys following the same playstyle.

10  Java Game APIs & Engines / JOGL Development / Re: What hardware does JOGL run on? on: 2006-02-23 04:29:42
Ok, thanks Ken. I'll aim to shift to JSR-231 before before my Early Beta release, which I hope to have out by the end of March. It would be great if it runs on some of the laptop chipsets, so many people seem to be switching to laptop only these days. Especially amongst my Mac friends.
11  Java Game APIs & Engines / JOGL Development / Re: What hardware does JOGL run on? on: 2006-02-22 13:50:43
To me it seems the JSR-231 is more ore less API-stable. The only issue I've seen was the renaming of a package named "utils" to "util" in the nightly builds. This should be set with the beta3 release, so I suggest trying out the JSR implementation rather than the 1.1.1.

API stability is not really the issue here. It’s a question of history. What the individual user wants to know is “Will this run on my system?”. In that context, an old JOGL version that runs on 80% of systems is better than a new one that runs on 85% of systems. That is, if the old one has enough history that you know which are the 20% of systems it doesn’t run on, while with the new one, the 15% is an unknown quantity.

So my question is, what is the known history of JOGL 1.1.1? Or does Sun keep a history of what configurations JSR-231 has been tested with? That would be really useful.

12  Java Game APIs & Engines / JOGL Development / What hardware does JOGL run on? on: 2006-02-22 02:11:57
Is there any listing of what video card hardware/ driver software JOGL works with? I’m writing up some “System Requirements” for my game, which is written in Java and uses JOGL. My broad brush description at the moment is that it runs fine on nVidia cards, and fairly well on the latest ATI cards but not the early ones. Most motherboard chipsets are a no go. What is the situation on Windows Laptops? nVidia chipsets work and others don’t?

My one brief test on a low end Mac laptop gave me a black screen. What Mac hardware have people been successfully running JOGL based games on?

I’m interested particularly on JOGL 1.1.1, which seems to have been round long enough to build up a history. It sounds from what Ken has been posting that JSR-231 will have a bigger hardware reach when it is done, but it’s a bit of a moving target at the moment. 
13  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What makes a game a RPG ? on: 2006-01-28 22:30:50
I put the "good choices" in quotes as a jab at people who value that Smiley Sorry if that section was a bit misleading.

Understood. On the Net, such jabs can too easily go astray Smiley

I think I have a better grasp of what you are proposing. It may well avoid some of the problems I raised. Sounds expensive, but I hope someone can try it someday.
14  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What makes a game a RPG ? on: 2006-01-28 16:23:58
I guess I was led astray by this:

Making descisions about talent distribution are fun choices, but the "good choices" are limited and do not create more than 27 varieties.


My point is that if you only want to play the “good” choices, you are setting an almost impossible constraint on designing different paths through the world. Add a hundred different quest paths through WoW, and most of the current player base will simply look up the “best” ones on websites. Why? Because the game design has implicit signs posted all over it that say “Level as fast as possible”, “Seek the optimum path”. Its those signs you need to tear down before you can have significant choices in the world. Unfortunately, I think WoW is mass market because it does very clearly have a path marked “This way to Victory!”. That’s what many people want.

An alternative is easy to program. You could simply take a WoW server and severely soft cap the rate of loot and experience acquisition. Once sub-optimal characters and optimal characters arrive at the same level and wealth at pretty much the same time, there is enough depth in that world for all sorts of character choices to bloom.

The problem with the world changing idea is that each change is good for someone, and bad for someone else. This works poorly if optimizing your character is the game goal. I am playing “A Tale in the Desert” at the moment. In that world, the developers do let players make significant changes to the world. But any change that does not simply benefit everyone is greeted by cries of “I quit” from people who are on the negative end of the change. As someone who plays these games to create a story for my character, these negative events are a good as, if not better than the usual steady stream of victories. But if your game is dominated by min/maxers, you are restricted to world changes that are essentially “presents for everyone”, like the current Gates of AQ event in WoW. And even there, many people are moaning that others got better presents than them, and it wasn't fair. 
15  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What makes a game a RPG ? on: 2006-01-28 04:23:47
There are things I would expect for a game to call itself an RPG. I should interact with the world through a single character (or a small party of characters). The powers of the character should play a significant role in those interactions, rather than being based on my skills and abilities like an FPS. And my character should be able to create a story of his/her own in some way.

There are quests that deliver the story of the Warcraft world, but any alliance player can play every story and with a bit of persistance complete them all. There are no real choices here, so no consequnces, no real playing of a role. If we can all do the same thing or quest, like the PacMen, what makes us truely unique?

In my experience, there are huge amounts of character choices in WoW. Provided you are prepared to define your character in the way it normally happens in this world, by their flaws. You only end up with a bunch of similar characters in WoW if you min/max. (which most people sadly do). Then you will end up looking like all the other min/maxers. But that is your choice, not a property of the gameworld.

 Try playing a dwarf paladin that always walks. The World of Warcraft looks like different from that perspective. And you get instant bonding with those other rare souls who also walk through the world. Try playing an Alliance hunter who only kills animals, and wears home made armor. Then a rogue who only kills humanoids and wears his own loot. You will end up with very different looking leather wearers, and different paths through the quests.

Seems to me you are saying you choose to take the optimum path through the game, then wonder why everyone looks the same. Flawed characters make for better stories and unique stories. Perfect characters are all the same.
16  Game Development / Networking & Multiplayer / Re: improvements in JWS for java 6 on: 2005-11-30 15:27:40
Like c_lilian, I would like my users to be able to stay with the familiar version until they are ready to move on to a new one.

It says they fixed that part.

As I read it, the new feature allows you to abort the update every time you start the application. That could become a pain. Allowing the application to determine when updates are even checked for, never mind actioned, would give developers much more control over the process. At the moment, JWS assumes one kind of Enterprise approach to software distribution. Everyone updates in lockstep. And as c_lilian points out, not even all Enterprises want that.
17  Game Development / Networking & Multiplayer / Re: improvements in JWS for java 6 on: 2005-11-29 17:30:48
Things still missing : an API to trigger client updates (like : refering to a new jnlp file) from inside the app. That would allow for example to have version N of a game accessible from everybody and version N+1 accessible only for some users when certain conditions are met (e.g. if their hardware supports new features, of if they are registered to always have the latest version).


That would help a lot from my point of view. Add a fourth value to the “check” attribute of “application driven”. When this attribute is set, JWS would only check for, and execute, updates when requested by the application. That way, I could set my own policy for when my server is pinged, and when my application is updated.

JWS seems way to Enterprise oriented for use on a home machine. Its great if you want to keep all the legs of the corporate centipede marching in step. But on a home machine, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” seems to me a better strategy. Like c_lilian, I would like my users to be able to stay with the familiar version until they are ready to move on to a new one.
18  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Distributing Sun server-vm on: 2005-10-25 21:59:08
All Sun needed to do was to ADD a stipulation to the license that if you bundled a private JRE, stripped down or not, that you are required to display a "powered by Java technology" message and logo clearly on your product.  That would start to put a much more positive spin on Java, particularly as a gaming platform.  Now Cas' has gone and done the opposite (removing mention of Java) and obviously that only hurts Sun's efforts.  Time to wake up, Sun!


Cas’s efforts seem pretty minimal compared to the damage Sun has done to the Java brand itself. Most of my non-technical friends think Java = Javascript, so don’t understand any potential advantages Java may have. Now Sun have repeated the error with the “Java Desktop”, which doesn’t run Java apps. Seems to me the biggest confusion about the “Java message” is coming from Sun.

I’ve been happy with the development advantages of using Java for my game. But now that its reaching a distribution stage, Java seems more of an obstacle than a solution. In the Enterprise space Sun have done a good job of promoting Java positives. But in the personal computer space, I can only think of negatives.

19  Game Development / Newbie & Debugging Questions / Re: How to bundle a JRE on: 2005-10-20 15:25:27
I want to do this too, but I have run into a problem. I installed the latest JRE in my game’s directory. Shortly afterwards, it pops up the “Java updater” dialog. This could be a bit confusing for the non-technical user. But what is seriously wrong, is that if you click on “install”, it does not install the updated JRE over old one. It installs a new version of the JRE in the default C:/JRE… folder. Then the next time Java Updater runs, my bundled version has not been updated, so it asks to install a new JRE again. With the same result.  Anyone else come across this?  Seems like the Updater should update the location it is running from.

I'm thinking that this is because I actually installed the JRE in my game directory. If I just copy and paste the JRE folder into the game directory as Riven suggests, does this stop the Java Updater from kicking in?




20  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Webstart Rant on: 2005-02-09 11:08:07

Seems to me the "scary message" makes Java quite impractical for distribution of my kind of game. Who, other than friends and relatives is going to click past that? Its kind of sad really, as there is an alternative. Back when I first started using Java, in 1997, one Java feature Sun was proclaiming was the "Sandbox Model". This allowed users fairly fine grained control over what runs on their computer and how. Over the years, this feature has been quietly knocked on the head and buried, presumably at the insistence of the Enterprise market. In an alternate world, in which Sun was interested in the end user market, the Sandbox could have been marketed as a feature that makes running Java programs more secure than running other Windows programs. The default configuration for JWS could be to only read and write to its own folder. The "scary message" could be replaced by an upbeat one noting that, because you are running Java, your computer is much safer than if you were running a native Windows program. Can't see that happening though.

I've been following the JWS discussion on this board for years. My conclusion is that if I want significant distribution for my game, I will have to get it rewritten in a language that is native to the Windows PC. I really like Java as a development environment. But as a distribution system for my kind of game, I think it very limited. I can see its usefulness in simple games that don't require disk access. And in retail boxed games that carry their own Java install and just look like any other game to end users. But for my game, intended for net distribution but does need disk access, I don't see Java as being practical. Sun is committed to the Enterprise market, not the end user one.

JWS, with its Enterprise orientation, is pretty much useless for mass market distribution. At best, it can help me reach a small "enthusiast" market for beta testing. And given the corporate orientation of Sun to Enterprise computing, I don't really see that ever changing.

21  Java Game APIs & Engines / JOGL Development / Re: Causing the stuff to refresh on: 2004-12-22 23:50:24
Pahidla>Just out of curiousity, can't java (rather than opengl) tell me the color of a pixel on the screen?<

Java does provide a method for reading the color of a pixel on a screen, the getPixelColor(int x, int y) method of the java.awt.Robot class. But it may not be what you want. For one thing, x and y are absolute screen coordinates, whereas you mouse listener will be returning coords relative to your Canvas. So you have to convert between the two. Second, it returns the color on the screen, where your mouse clicked. Which is usually the mouse cursor block color. Not what you want. So you need to use the Robot class to move the mouse out of the way first, then pick up the color, then return the cursor. Third, I have heard rumor this Robot method doesn't work so well on Macs, but haven't tried it as yet myself. Picking the color OpenGL thinks is on the screen, through glReadPixels(), sounds like a safer bet for your application if you can get it to work. In my application I used the color that actually is on the screen. That turned out to be more complex than I expected.
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