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1  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Defection To Mono on: 2005-01-26 18:49:49
Cas: Be sure to let us know if you get your games to run on an XBox with JET and that graphics driver package.

With all the three-letter companies recently releasing hundreds of patents to open source development, one can always hope that there is some truth to the rumors at Javalobby of one of the companies putting out an open source JVM, but I guess that's a very very long shot...

William
2  Games Center / Archived Projects / Re: Master's thesis on quest systems for MMORPGs on: 2004-04-01 14:02:11
Thanks. Like I wrote, it is the discussion that I think remains interesting too, now that I'm no longer working under those conditions.

There were limitations on the project that kept me from trying to build anything revolutionary (limited time, limited capabilities of the rest of the game platform, a requirement from the school to stay within the academic fields of the courses I had completed, requirements from It's Alive, etc.). However, the end product did succeed in a number of areas: it was very easy to use, it had few requirements on the rest of the game platform yet was very extendable, and it was basicly a finished product.
3  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Microsoft XNA on: 2004-03-31 17:41:38
Quote
4) Add real, INDIVIDUAL, dynamic content.
This is not truly a technical issue. THis is a "we don't give a @#$% about the players" issue. This is a "My game, my plot, MY CREATION" issue. To my knowledge, even though it is possible, no one has built a persistent online world that each player has the capability to rise to power, overthrow the head honcho NPC characters, and get knifed in the back by his/her buddy who wants to run things now.  

Doesn't Shadowbane let you do this? You can supposedly build and own the cities only to have your guildmates betray you. Never really got into the endgame so I'm not sure...
4  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Microsoft XNA on: 2004-03-31 16:54:10
Just posted my master's thesis on quest systems that also looks at dynamic generation of quests here:
http://www.java-gaming.org/cgi-bin/JGNetForums/YaBB.cgi?board=Announcements;action=display;num=1080762755

Will post it to MUD-dev too.
5  Games Center / Archived Projects / Master's thesis on quest systems for MMORPGs on: 2004-03-31 16:52:35
I have just gotten final approval on my thesis on quest systems for MMORPGs and figured I would post it here since we have had discussions about storytelling and content generation in MMORPGs. The thesis documents the research and development of a quest system for It's Alive Mobile Games's game platform, but the background and research chapters (chapters 1 and 2) may be of interest to all MMORPG developers.

You can view the thesis as a PDF-file at:
http://saar.se/thesis.php

Comments are welcome.

William
6  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Microsoft XNA on: 2004-03-31 12:17:22
Quote
Shards are not necessarily in use because of technical limitations at all - shards may be intrinsic to the problem that a huge online persistent world just might get boring.

I agree. The posts I've seen from MMORPG developers about scalability tend to be about the problem of scaling the content. Unless Jeff's platform also creates content, the work required to build and populate a big world for 50k players instead of making 25 copies of a small 2k-player world still makes sharding attractive.  

Then again, Anarchy Online did try the 50k player world option and they failed mainly because of technical reasons. It was simply the buggiest AAA-level game that I've ever played, even a year after its release, so maybe Sun can sell the platform to Funcom.
7  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: OSI president asks Sun to opensource Java on: 2004-03-30 18:20:41
I'm actually starting to understand why a Merril Lynch analyst wrote an open letter calling for a more toned-down Sun CEO. When you make a cocky statement like "open souce has never known a better friend than Sun", you better make damn sure that a big competitor like IBM can't challenge you on it and force you to back down.
8  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Microsoft XNA on: 2004-03-29 09:02:54
Quote

On to XNA.  So here is the official word on this from me (and not Sun ok?):  it's a total hack and a desperate move on MS's part.  ...
Didn't it seem a bit "thrown together" to you?  WOW portability between XBox and PC.  Developers do that porting now!  

Actually, porting between the PC and the Xbox seems to be a real problem for developers. DICE worked on a port for Battlefield 1942 for the Xbox but killed it to spend their resources on the sequels to the PC-version of the game instead, so porting definitely wasn't a trivial task.

Quote
O You want a complete games solution that carries the Java brand?

Have you considered the possiblity of creating such a solution based on Java technology without actually using the Java brand?

It wouldn't be the first time a company creates a new name to sell the same technology to different markets (Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura etc.).
9  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: profession or hobby? on: 2004-03-25 19:38:14
That games are risky multi-million dollar projects does in no way justify increasing the risk of failure by not paying enough to get proper personnel. All investor perspectives on business plans that I've ever read consider the team that will perform the work to be the most important factor in the investment decision.
10  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: profession or hobby? on: 2004-03-25 12:10:03
I'm not sure this phenomenon is specific to the game industry. Working conditions generally have to do with the maturity of the company and I would guess that the working conditions in the game industry may just be poorer than elsewhere because of the relative lack of established companies in the industry.

Economic theory states that established companies in all industries will generally use their reptutation as well as better pay and benefits to attract more qualified personnel compared to upstarts who will have to settle for more 'average' workers. Established firms also tend to have more experienced managers that can plan their projects better and won't need to use so much overtime. Extended overtime does tend to reduce the quality of the products and the productivity of the workers.

I've seen this in Sweden too. While job ads from game industry upstarts sometimes look for people who can "program C++", the established firms are active at the university and seem to realize that they will compete with other industries and companies for the best people.

William
11  Game Development / Networking & Multiplayer / Re: Regarding the size of the JRE on: 2004-03-20 19:05:12
The paper probably classifies broadband as 2+ Mbit. A few years ago some Swedish telecom or consumer rights authority defined broadband that way, and that definition has kind of stuck in the public mind over here. Most permanent connections are at 0.5Mbit though.
12  Java Game APIs & Engines / Xith3D Forums / Re: java3d to be opensourced on: 2004-03-19 09:19:15
Let's hope Sun chooses a real open source license, rather than the non-free Sun Community Source License, or they could cause real trouble for the Xith3D developers. After all, the core Java libraries are released under the SCSL and this has forced the GNU Classpath project to require that all its developers have never agreed to that license by looking at the sources.

OTOH, I wonder what the role of the expert group and the JCP would be if Sun went with a real open source license. Would they control what implementations that get to use the Java3D brand? Maybe just control what implementations get distributed from the java.sun.com site?
13  Java Game APIs & Engines / Xith3D Forums / Re: java3d to be opensourced on: 2004-03-19 06:34:07
I think the decision to open source Java3D is great because it lets the Xith3D folks grab some functionality that they haven't yet implemented. I don't think the decision will make Xith3D go away though, since if anyone forks Java3D to be optimized for games the fork will be just as "unofficial" as Xith3D.

Maybe the expert group will remove the multi-threaded execution architecture from the Java3D spec and ignore other needs of the visualization coomunity in favour of the game development community, but until they do, the official Java3D API will still be a lot less appropriate for games than Xith3D.
14  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What should Sun/GTG concentrate on now? on: 2004-02-24 20:33:01
I suspect getting Java onto the PS2/3 or maybe the Xbox (good luck!) is a necessary step to reach wide-spread adoption on the client-side in the mainstream game industry, so I figured "promoting Java to the industry" was closest.

That's actually related to the "open source Java"-thread as I only see it happening in one of two ways. Either the GTG goes does it the "bureaucracy way" and strikes a deal with Sony to develop such a solution, or a portable open source implementation of Java emerges and gets enough support and promotion that production houses integrate it in their PC and console games. Would the second option fall under the "promote games written by the community" choice? (even though a portable VM would be a tool, rather than a game, and even though the community might be GCJ developers rather than us).

If Java can't get on the consoles, Java will be competing with Flash/Director/BlitzBasic on the client side and C++ on the server side and should shape its efforts accordingly (which on the client-side might mean that the GTG focuses on increasing productivity rather than competing with LWJGL for the bestest low-level OpenGL bindings).  I guess that would mean to talk to individuals, like the people that does that kind of development (rather than the people who care whether a graphics API has gone through the JCP or not).

Anyway, these reasonings might provide inspiration for more poll-choices Smiley
15  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: What should Sun/GTG concentrate on now? on: 2004-02-24 17:02:14
Please add an "Other" option for polls like these...
16  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Altering that JRE license to my own ends on: 2004-02-21 15:29:35
Am I the only one who feels a bit uncomfortable about trusting the JVM that the user has installed to perform correctly?

I'm in the early planning stages for a small project that I'll either build in Flash or Java. Flash offers better media authoring, great support for both PC and Mac, but costs money. Java is free and I might need more advanced text and sound handling than I think may be possible or desirable to build in ActionScript (really depending on what kind of music I can get my hands on).

There is a good chance that my target users will be tech illiterates, or at least tech-trouble-dont-have-patience-fors, and my experience from releases at different Java companies in the telecom industry tells me that it is a very bad idea to release anything that hasn't been tested on the specific JRE version and platform.

I don't want to make the user go through the trouble of installing a JRE in addition to my app, especially if she already has a later version installed (one for which I haven't tested my app). I might actually just run the app directly from the CD without any installation whatsoever, so I will most likely just include a private JRE version with my app.

A smaller game VM would decrease the size of my app, but I'm not sure that will be a concern since I don't know if I'm going to support internet distribution yet. I want to stay away from direct installations through the web browser as I think it might be important for my app to offer an experience that doesn't connote "free hobbyist web-creation" (or worse, typical 1998's Java applet).

WebStart accessing a CD-rom or the network outside the browser could be an option for JRE installation since it allows me to target specific versions, but I don't really trust it as it doesn't work on my own computer (I've got JDK1.4.2 and others installed). I get a message that says "Bad installation. No JRE found in the configuration file." when I click a webstart app link (message is localized so exact wording might differ in English). I know I can probably fix it, but I'm not sure that also applies to my target user if she gets the same problem.

Edit: The point of my post is that configuration management is another strong reason for embedding a JVM with the app, and it would make sense for it to only contain the necesseties (like a game VM).
17  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: OSI president asks Sun to opensource Java on: 2004-02-17 19:12:40
Quote
Can anyone explain this? How can I create an Opensource Java?

I don't buy this either. Making an open source version of Java would mean that people would be allowed to modify it and distribute the modifications, something that ought to run into problems with the compatability requirements.

Quote
Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, last month we asked what the most pressing needs are for the GNU operating system (of which Linux is the kernel), he said: 'We need a free complete Java platform.'

Very interesting.
18  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: OSI president asks Sun to opensource Java on: 2004-02-17 15:40:55
I think what Cas describes is what Microsoft refers to as "shared source"... it's like open source, but not really...
19  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: OSI president asks Sun to opensource Java on: 2004-02-17 05:01:59
Quote
I don't believe ER is dumb, just that he's spinning the facts far from any rational perspective, merely to support his political aims.

His reference to the share price of Sun and Redhat makes you wonder though. The best way to defeat a standpoint is to defend it with really stupid arguments and that comment is right up there with Microsoft's "it's unamerican to support Linux" on the silliness scale.

I think it's good that Sun hasn't tried to squash the open source implementations of Java, like GCJ, Kaffe, and the Classpath project. Open source at least gives you an assurance of availability (though that doesn't really apply to those projects, because of their questionable legal status).

Still, since IBM has dared to invest so much of their business in Java and since Microsoft has provided C# as an ISO-standardized clone, I guess I shouldn't worry too much about Java being swept under an expensive and restrictive license in a bad turn of the economy.
20  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Java 1.5 Speed improvements? on: 2004-02-12 16:30:50
Quote
(That is, using only one class implementation that works with Objects and then inserting casts behind-the-scenes for you all over the place)

The C# architect may be right that this is bad for reflection purposes, but I really think the performance of casts is a non-issue.

My experience from optimizing code is that object-type casts done using the 1.4+ JVMs don't affect the performance at all. Now, the auto-boxing on the other hand...
21  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Selection Criteria for Mobile Multiplayer Game on: 2004-02-11 18:19:38
Quote
1.   Public acceptance ( )  

This is a very important factor for the later commercialization of the game.  

Don't tell Rockstar games Wink (makers of GTA)

It is more important for mobile games if you are planning on co-marketing or distributing it through an operator though.
22  Game Development / Performance Tuning / Re: GC Implementation Specifics on: 2004-02-05 05:32:39
Depending on how accurate and reliable it is, the MaxGCPauseMillis could be great for real-time applications.
23  Java Game APIs & Engines / OpenGL Development / Re: LWGJL vs C++ on: 2004-01-08 08:41:04
Tribal Trouble looks really promising (good name too!). Why hadn't I seen it before now? Smiley
24  Game Development / Newbie & Debugging Questions / Re: Java for a game on Pc/Consoles in 2005? on: 2004-01-08 07:37:11
Quote
1) If I understand you correctly, there's no such compiler currently.

From what I've heard, any console development is likely to require some console-specific code (which is why many game firms require knowledge of assembly programming when hiring console programmers).

For Java, that might mean to hack GCJ to compile for the PS2. How much work that would require hasn't been conclusively established in this thread yet. Jeff was sceptical of GCJ having a portable runtime, but the Kaffe VM lists a port for the PS2 (with Linux kit) on its homepage so I don't know how much trouble that really means.

I would suggest you check with the GCJ folks before completely dismissing the option, maybe someone has already done it (maybe the Kaffe VM would be satisfy your needs?).

Quote
Say you use an OpenGL based 3d Java engine like Xith3d

Is Xith3D really OpenGL based? I was under the impression that Xith3D was written in a way that would assist supporting different rendering APIs. You will probably have to write the Java bindings to the PS2s rendering API yourself though.
25  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Ars news article on a new console thing on: 2004-01-07 13:48:07
Halo doesn't make a good counterpoint since it incurred porting costs when it eventually got ported to the PC (it is currently also getting ported to the Mac).

Only true exclusives, like Nintendo's Mario series, would not benefit from better portability.
26  Discussions / General Discussions / Re: Ars news article on a new console thing on: 2004-01-06 15:15:48
Where does that post say anything about console makers worrying about losing exclusivity?

It talks about gaming publishers not liking openness because of piracy, but gaming publishers are hardly the ones that really want the exclusivity (or the console manufacturers wouldn't have to pay them extra to not release on all platforms at once).
27  Game Development / Newbie & Debugging Questions / Re: Java for a game on Pc/Consoles in 2005? on: 2003-12-23 18:19:19
Couldn't you also natively compile the bytecode for the console with a compiler like GCJ? Might require a bit of compiler tweaking, but at least the console philosophy means that you only have to tweak and test it for one platform.
28  Discussions / Miscellaneous Topics / Re: Silly chat/game idea on: 2003-12-14 14:28:25
Quote
Witness that (games without subscribers aside) no MMOG has reached 1 million players

Lineage claims to have several million active subscribers in South Korea, but it's often considered an exception because of the gamer culture over there.

I think your disagreement with Jeff has a lot to do with terminology (story as a dramatic structure vs story as the player's experience). A good text on the subject is Chris Klug's
Implementing Stories in Massively Multiplayer Games
. I bumped into the problem for my master's project on a quest system for an MMOG and tried my best to avoid using the word "story" in my thesis (except when discussing references and traditional storytelling).

I think your experience from Diablo is something that would be less powerful as a story in a MMORGP than in a single-player or non-persistant multiplayer game. In most MMORPGs, the experience would be more like scoring a goal in a match than changing the world simply because Diablo would respawn shortly for someone else to kill.

I'm sure many would find it more satisfying to be a sports hero in a MMORPG than a world savior in a single-player game though.
29  Game Development / Performance Tuning / Re: ArrayList performance on 1.4.2 is good on: 2003-11-26 20:22:08
Quote
Isn't this and the casting feature they are adding simply going to be dirty compiler tricks instead of at runtime?

The techniques will be performed at compile time, yes. That's perfectly appropriate for eliminating casts since the only benefits you get from generics are clearer code and compile-time type safety. At least Sun's VM has optimized away the cost of casts in all the apps I have benchmarked, so performance isn't an issue there.

I also don't know of any runtime optimization specificly for autoboxing objects (which is why I asked about it). The object creation optimizations (like generational garbage collection) that Hotspot uses seem to apply to all object allocations, so I can't see any good reason to break backwards compatability and make autoboxing a part of the VM.
30  Game Development / Performance Tuning / Re: JADE: Another HashMap and more on: 2003-11-16 17:42:58
I guess you're right, the gains of replacing or re-generating a collection to natively support primitives wouldn't be very big, except for perhaps for ArrayList, since you'd still need to have the List/Map-entry object.

I can understand now why they didn't add primitive versions of the collections to the package. They would only be able to get rid of per-object allocations/GC for ArrayList, which is the easiest of the collections to implement yourself, and if you can accept one allocation per object to store you can probably also accept the allocation that the auto-boxing brings.

I used to think that they didn't provide primitive collections because they had some smart optimization up their sleeves that would make auto-boxed primitive use of the Object collections real efficient.
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