Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games Entertainment

Indrema's John Gildred Answers Your Questions 96

Posted by timothy
from the ok-ok-produce-them-already-ok? dept.
Recently you asked Indrema founder John Gildred about the Linux-based console system his company plans to introduce. Here's what he has to say about its hackability, strategy, developers and more -- thanks for the in-depth answers, John.

1) how much homework have you done?
by brokeninside

In your interview with womengamers.com you mention that your marketing strategy will not be to go head to head with the big console makers (sony/nintendo/sega/xbox) but rather to focus on the Linux power gamer. Given that commercial Linux game sales seem to be somewhat lackluster[1], what market research have you done (if any) to point that points to the Linux power gamer market being large enough and lucrative enough to be worth developing a product like the Indrema?

[1] This may be due to many Linux gamers buying the Windows version which often includes a license for the Linux version and/or Linux titles typically coming to market weeks or months after the Windows version and/or the release of multi-platform disks that get counted as "Windows" sales. AFAIK, no one has yet sought to do a serious enough analysis of the situation to say one way or the other.

John Gildred: Good question. You're right, there have been significant problems with the sales of desktop Linux games. But I think you'll agree with me that these problems do not indicate a lack of interest in games by Linux enthusiasts, but rather problems with the porting, distribution and support of games for the PC, which you mentioned. Additionally, we are targeting hard core console gamers as well as Linux enthusiasts. That is a larger market, and one that has indicated very strong interest in the IES. Our product value to the consumer is based on three things (in order of importance): the hottest games, the best graphics, the most features (DVD, music, personal TV, broadband, etc.). We intend to deliver those three value points to our customers as much and as often as humanly possible.

Here are the problems with Linux gaming titles for the PC, as I see it: 1) The games released for Linux are generally ported Windows titles or games modeled on existing titles for other platforms; there are few truly originally games produced for Linux systems. 2) The ported games are released much later than the Windows title (and, since many people run both Lin & Win on their boxes out of necessity, the ones who are interested in buying the game probably already have it on Windows by the time the Linux port comes out.) 3) The PC in general is not an ideal game machine. The driver issues, and ongoing configuration difficulties are a big part of why PC gaming is only roughly 15% of the entire video game market. If you add Linux to that configuration requirement, the market opportunity gets even smaller, much smaller.

I don't mean to go off on a tangent here, but my point is that the fact that the Linux game market has been "lackluster" has not necessarily had anything to do with Linux, but rather has had to do with Linux on the desktop. These desktop gaming issues, I think, will not go away anytime soon.

To answer your question more directly, there is not, unfortunately, a whole lot of research available about the collusion of Linux interests and gaming interests. But one can look at other information available (for example the fact that the Linux and gaming demographics -- young adult males for the most part -- are largely the same) which strongly suggests that people who are into Linux are also into gaming. That describes me, as well as many of my friends, and I think is a pretty logical conclusion.

Of course, this is only part of the answer. The reason we are primarily targeting Linux enthusiasts (in addition to hard-core gamers, of course), actually doesn't have much to do with Linux: it has to do with Open Source. Linux, as an OS, is important to us of course-- it is a perfect platform for embedded devices, and it is a lean, stable, and fast platform for gaming. But the real beauty of Indrema is not that it runs on Linux, but that it is Open Source.

This is what means the most to me. It means that game develops who develop for Indrema, because they have access to the source code, will know exactly what they're developing for, and so will know how to best optimize the software for the system. (Which means better games.) Also, because our SDK and many vital development tools are all FREE, small and independent developers (who would never have been able to afford to develop for a proprietary console) will be able to develop for Indrema, and will have great opportunity for creative exposure and, if they choose not to open source their game, for profits. (This means more-- and more varied, eclectic and original-- games.) Furthermore, because these development tools are Open Source, developers will be able to tweak them to serve their purposes. If they think there's a problem with the SDK, or just something which could be done better or leaner, they're not forced to work around it-- they can just fix it. (This, again, means better games.)

Now, right now, many of you may be thinking that you already know that Open Source is a good thing for software development, but that there hasn't been a whole lot of luck producing games in this way. And I would agree with you. That's why Indrema has put so much effort in to creating a system which will foster and facilitate collaboration on huge, complicated projects (in other words, games). We call it the Indrema Developer Network (IDN), and I think it's a vital part of what Indrema's all about. IDN is a place where developers can download the tools they need to develop with-- the SDK, Open GL, OpenStream, etc. More importantly, however, it's also a resource, a forum, and a community-- where developerss will be able to discuss projects, form teams, and create projects in an organized way (as opposed to a Mozilla way). To make sure that this works for developers, that they're able to get the most out of Open Source game development, we've partnered with CollabNet, a company which has a lot of experience in managing Open Source projects. CollabNet shares the development and maintenance of IDN with us. (BTW, IDN will be going live in early November, and we?ll have some really important news to go along with it, so stay tuned.)

I know this is probably a longer answer than what you expected, so here's the short answer: I know what a phenomenal concept Open Source is. And I think that people who dig Open Source-- the people who really get it-- will also get Indrema. That's why we consider Linux gamers to be an important target audience for Indrema.

2) Is Linux the primary angle?
by Junks Jerzey

Is Linux really your primary angle or is that simply what Linux zealots are reading into it? I ask because OS choice is not even in the top ten reasons why someone would pick one game console over another, yet every article about Indrema fixates on Linux being the focus of the console.

JG: You're right. The average user won't care that the Indrema box runs on Linux, any more than the average Dreamcast user cares that that box runs on Windows-- the game console OS is transparent.

But this is not to say that it's not important. The user may not know that the OS that the L600 box is running on is more efficient, more stable, leaner, faster, and more optimized to run perfectly and precisely with the hardware components.* They may not know these facts-- but they will see the difference when they play the games.

(*I could give all the reasons why Linux is more of all these things than Windows or another platform, but I won't bother preaching to the converted :) You all know all that already, right?)

These are all performance criterion for the importance of Linux, but there's also the issue of the importance of Open Source for the console-- see question #1.

3) How are you going to stay alive
by UnknownSoldier (mpohores@NOBLOODYSPAMsfu.ca)

With PS2 (Sony), X-BOX (MS), and the GameCube (Nintendo) out or coming out next year, how are you going to compete againt the "big boys"?

It's a known fact that consoles (hardware) sells for a loss, and make it up on licensing the games (software). What game developers do you have lined up?

As a game programmer I'd be interested in getting a dev kit. The registration page doesn't have any info on price, or hardware specs. Could you give us any of those?

JG: The development kit (which we call the IESDK) will be available absolutely free from the web. (As some of you may already know, the SDK for other console systems generally costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.) It will be a portion of the resources available on IDN (Indrema Developer Network, see q#1), so you'll be able to get a hold of it on November 8, when the site goes live. On that day, I'll also be giving a webcast in which I'll be explaining the features of IDN, giving a walk-through of the site, and holding a short Q&A chat. As I mentioned, I believe the concept of IDN is central to Indrema and I encourage anyone who's interested in developing for Indrema (or anyone who's just plain interested) to attend. Those who have registered as interested developers on our site will be receiving an invitation to the event, and we'll also be issuing a press alert, so you'll be able to get all the info then. Again, we'll also be announcing some very important news at the IDN launch.

Developer support, obviously a very important question. As you all have probably read me say before, we've made a strategy decision not to announce developer support piecemeal, but wait until closer to launch and announce most of them in large chunks.

To answer the first part of your question: yes, this definitely is a very competitive market share. All of the companies you've mentioned have strong products, as well as existing brand recognition and market share. Some people have automatically counted us out of the game for this reason--i.e. David and the four Goliaths.

But you shouldn't be so hasty. The truth is that Nintendo was a virtual unknown in the US before they launched the NES (everyone had their money on Atari, remember?). It was because they had such an innovative product, and such great games, that they became the giant that they are today. I believe that there's no question that the IES is an innovative and technologically superior product. I also believe that, because of the extensive efforts we've made to accommodate developers of all sizes, there will be an explosion of innovative, creative, funky, original games for the IES- (in addition of course to your standard sports and first-person shooters), the likes of which we've never seen in the console space.

As I mentioned in the WomenGamers interview, we also have a more involved strategy. We don't plan to just appear on the scene, throw a bunch of money into advertisements and developer pay-offs, and expect to conquer (I'm not going to name any names, I'm not going to name any names . . . .) Rather, we're beginning with a limited launch this spring--a launch intended to build momentum, increase brand recognition, and basically spread the word about the quality of the system and its games. This is the launch in which we intend to reach out to hard-core gamers and Linux fans. These groups tend to be early adopters of the next big thing (like, say, Linux), and also tend to tell their friends about it. So, by the time that we have the mainstream, large-scale launch towards the end of next year, most people will already have heard from a friend (or a friend of a friend) how great the IES is.

Oh, and keep in mind -- David kicked Goliath's ass.

4) Betamax vs. VHS
by nezroy (spamme::nezroy@moscow.com)

You're not really counting solely on superior hardware to make this thing work, are you? This kind of bet has failed so many times in the past it would be hard to ennumerate them all here. Obviously you're going to have to grab enough of a user-base that developers are going to jump at the chance to support your console.

So what is the killer feature that will be so irresistible to gamers and developers alike that we're going to take a chance on an unknown console instead of putting our money down on a tried-and-true PlayStation 2?

JG: No, we're not looking to become the next Jaguar. : ) I know that 'the best' isn't necessarily the most successful (in fact, the two often have very little relation at all.) So, we're well aware of the danger and don't expect to just ride on our superior technology (see strategy discussion in previous question). As for our "killer feature," I believe it's Open Source. Here's why: when you get down to it, the end user cares about the games. If the games are cool, if they look and play great on the system, and if there's lots of them-- that's what matters. That's what every console lives and dies on. And Open Source is our ace in the hole. Open Source will mean more numerous, better, and more original games developed for Indrema (see developer benefits in q#1 & 2).

5) Competition
by Drath

At a recent Xbox technical presentation that was held at my school (Purdue), a Microsoft representative said their chief competition was Sony and to a lesser extent Nintendo. When asked about the Indrema he merely laughed, pointing out that he thought the project would never get off the ground without $2bil pumped into it (ie. Xbox..). Which raises the question: Your company is definitely the underdog in sheer resources how do you plan to compete commercially with the likes of Microsoft and Sony?

JG: Microsoft would think that, wouldn't they? Take a look at the strategy discussion in q#3.

6) Online Gaming
by FortKnox

The X-Box, PS2, Dreamcast have all mentioned having a 56k Modem. The N-Cube claims to have an ethernet port for those with broadband. What kind of online capabilities will this machine have? Seeing as how quickly broadband is growing, I'd like to heavily encourage having an ethernet port :-) Keep in mind, that online gaming is the future ...

JG: For me, online gaming is the present! I've lost many a night's sleep playing Quake and Everquest-- or, at least I did before I decided to start my own company; that is, back when I had a life : )

I also think that broadband, specifically, is the future of gaming. Which is why every L600 will be equipped with an ethernet port.

However, I also recognize that narrowband is still the present (only minority of internet users currently have broadband internet access.) For this reason, an optional 56K modem will also be available for the L600.

7) How on earth will you get enough developer support?
by EnglishTim

Even though you seem to have some reasonably impressive technical specs for your machine, a console is nothing without a good lineup of games. How do you expect to be able to get enough developer support whne you've got competition from the likes of Nintendo, Sony, Sega and Microsoft? Microsoft alone will apparently be spending half a billion dollars on marketing XBox, and all the other companies have a record of making games consoles, and are well known by the public.

For a game devloper to be able to make their money back, they need to sell a large number of units of their game, which isn't going to happen unless you've got a large user base. I just can't see how you're going to out-market the giants ...

JG: See strategy discussion in q#3 and developer/Open Source discussion in q#1 & 2.

8) The question is: Are you insane?
by flatpack

Okay, so maybe that's a bit harsh, but it seems like you're risking a lot of money on a product which will give only minimal returns. Linux is simply not viable as a gaming platform at the moment, and indeed for the forseeable future. Like it or loathe it, DirectX support would go a long way to making Linux more popular with the kind of trigger-happy moron who enjoys playing Quake.

And then there's the fact that within a week of launch some hacker spouting Stallmanist rhetoric will have hacked into the box and posted instructions on how to do so onto the net for all and sundry to read. Hell, Taco'll probably help them out by posting a story on /. about it.

So my question is, where exactly is the market for this box and how will you generate a profit? It all seems like a pipe-dream to me.

JG: Hey, take it easy with the "trigger-happy moron" remarks; I happen to like Quake! :-)

As I mentioned above (q#1), problems with Linux games have been problems with Linux on the desktop. Linux is an ideal platform for embedded devices, which makes it an ideal platform gaming consoles. Look at what?s in DV Linux: we have the OpenGL API, a very solid hardware accelerated 3D programming interface; OpenAL, a true 3D audio API (PS2 doesn?t have true 3D audio); and OpenStream, a new scalable video API for Linux supporting hardware CODECS. That is a very complete set of interfaces, which all have open source implementations running in the IES game engine. So I wouldn?t say that Linux is behind the gaming technology curve at all, in fact, it is pioneering much of what games will offer down the road, by establishing a platform which is controlled by the developers who use it, not by the marketing direction of one company. Unless Microsoft wants to open source DirectX, it offers little to Linux for gaming. And I wouldn?t hold your breath for that to happen.

The survival/profit issue is discussed above, but I would like to add that a lot of great things have been done by "insane" people. When the personal computer was first developed, all the industry big shots thought that was a pipe dream ("A computer for ordinary people? Why would ordinary people want a computer?). Crazy ideas are generally the ones that have the biggest impact.

9) Why?
by lbredeso

Okay, we've got PS2, X-Box, and Nintendo Game Cube coming along. Why do we need another game console, even though it does run Linux? What advantage will this game console actually have over the others? As far as game consoles go, I'm not going to go buy one because it "runs linux" ...

JG: No, if you're like me, you're going to buy it because it has the best games. Which is where Linux and Open Source come in. (See above.)

10) Why Linux?
by OlympicSponsor

Linux is great for server, development and even many desktops and I use it both at work and at home exclusively. HOWEVER, Linux is missing (or semi-missing) several pieces to make it an excellent gaming platform: easy to install/configure high-end graphics and, of course, DVD. From the Linux community's point of view, it's great that Indrema will be pushing to better these -- but what is the advantage from the Indrema point of view? What possible advantages could Linux have that would make you overlook the glaring flaws that Linux has as a gaming platform?

JG: Again, I believe that it's Linux on the desktop which has limitations as a gaming platform. One of the main reasons we selected Linux for use in the IES is because of its incredible flexibility and customization. We took advantage of this by stripping it down and making it our own in a distribution that we call DV Linux. DV Linux (which we're co-managing with Red Hat) was designed specifically for digital multimedia and gaming, and so is best suited towards these purposes. In addition, Open Source technologies like Mesa3D, OpenAL and OpenStream will be included with the DV Linux distribution and will further strengthen it.

Part of what makes the IES platform so compelling, is that the developers own the engine. They can scratch their own itch when they find something in the engine that should be improved or added. You can't do that with the other boxes. The fact that we offer developers a software layer to write to, which is not proprietary, and is totally open, allows games to get to market faster, and the game engine to evolve at the hands of the developer community and Indrema together.

11) Developers lined up?
by AugstWest (fnord@themanagement.egg)

Probably the main thing that has kept the current crop of video game manufacturers alive over the years has been their ability to sign key game developers along the way.

What kinds of alliances have you been striking with game development companies, or are you planning on relying on the normal development of PC games for Linux?

JG: Since there's a 90% overlap between the DV Linux and desktop Linux, it's natural that many games which have been developed for Linux on the PC will be ported for Indrema. These games can be ported very quickly, and other PC or console games can also be ported fairly quickly (three to six months, depending on whether the game has a great deal of video, audio and images which must be re-mastered for the higher resolution of the IES.) So it's natural that you will see many of these games.

These will not be the only games, however. There will also be big-name third party games developed for IES, original first party games, and a plethora of independently-developed titles (even shareware!). Because Indrema gives developers more ways to develop (and at significantly reduced cost), the quality and number of games available for the IES will definitely be one of Indrema's strengths.

12) So, how "hackable" is it?
by David E. Smith

Recently, TiVo (they make one of those nifty set-top, hard-disk based recorders) announced that they don't really care if end-users crack open their units and play around (installing new hard drives, etc.)

Give the size constraints of the Indrema, you might not be able to leave lots of empty space for future expansion. But how much hardware modification will be possible, for those inclined toward such things? Will it be possible to buy a unit with a smaller hard drive, then upgrade later with an off-the-shelf unit? (Corollary: We will be able to download OS patches, right? :)

JG: Modifying the console is really not something we're very concerned about. If you're so inclined and you think you know of a way to make the IES better for your purposes ... have fun. But one thing we will protect is the right of any artist and developer to enforce copy protection of their works. This is just as important as the right of the developer community to a free and open game development platform. Our digital rights management system will ensure that any copy protected content will be protected. For example, any MP3s which are loaded onto the box without copy protection will be considered public domain content, but any SDMI or other copy protected music downloaded to the IES will be properly protected. We use very strong encryption and digital signatures to protect that data. Hacking that would be extremely non-trivial.

As for OS patches, definitely. One of the beauties of Linux is that fact that it is constantly improving and constantly improvable. The console is basically self-tuning; here's how it works: Tuning packs (including kernel enhancements, ATI level enhancements, etc.) will be issued every few months. When you get online with the IES, you will be given the option to download the tuning pack, and if one is issued while you are already online, it will be downloaded automatically. So people aren't interested in the technical aspects of the system don't have to know anything about them. They can just play.

13) Two questions....
by shutdown -h now

My first question is about possible connectivity of the indrema to an existing Linux box. Will there be a way to interface to the box to an existing Linux box to increase the storage capacity, ala exporting a drive off to the indrema using kerberos or nfs? How about firing up a terminal on the indrema?

The second question is obvious...the web site made no mention of an existing linux box being capable of running the indrema software. Will existing linux boxen with proper hardware reqs be able to play these games?

JG: Connectivity to a desktop PC or command line interface will not be included with the shipping product. However anyone can create an application for the IES and submit it for certification, and a PC connectivity product would be very interesting.

As for your second question, our distribution of DV Linux is very similar to the Linux you have on your desktop-- but it's not exactly the same. So, no, you won't be able to play the IES games on your existing Linux PC. Correspondingly, you won't be able to play your Linux PC games on the IES-- although they will be easily portable.

14) open code?
by photozz

Being that Linux is primarily an open source OS, are there any plans to release the code for the console and games?

JG: The IES is composed of a combination of Open Source and proprietary elements. Here's how it breaks down: All driver level code, API implementations, and kernel code is Open Source and freely available. The only exceptions to this are the components of drivers (which are preserved in a binary library file for security or copy protection integrity), and the Xtrema (our UI) API implementation. Some application components, such as Gecko HTML rendering engine and Necko transport engine, are also Open Source.

Of course, we want developers to be able to profit from the games they design for Indrema, so the software will not be Open Source. However, we have a not-for-profit certification program through which developers can release their games as officially IES certified shareware, and not have to pay money to Indrema for the privilege. I know that this sounds self-evident (not charging people to distribute games for free), but the fact is that it is not possible with any other gaming console system. This is one of the reasons that Indrema will have a greater variety of games than are available for other console platforms.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Indrema's John Gildred Answers Your Questions: IN PROGRESS

Comments Filter:
  • I think he was implying that the console will be expensive since software will be open source. He really didn't mention price at all. Also, he said they are targeting hard-core gamers who will put money into the console, not everyday consumer price-watchers.
  • Couldn't you just put the game under a dual license?

    Use the GPL to distribute the game online or something, and use Indrema's license scheme for the console specific version.

  • Would have been nice to get an upgrade of Gauntlet Legends for the N64 so it wouldn't crash and freeze playing 4 players ;) So I'm *not* alone! I got that problem at one Gauntlet-fest a while back. I was ready to blame it on the RAM expansion pack, actually. To make matters worse, I tried to play it recently, and it refused to come up at all. I don't know what happened, but it's not leaving me feeling all that happy about the game. If Indrema has these kinds of problems, it may be even worse. At least Nintendo (and Midway, in this one case) have enough money to weather the bad PR of a game crashing like that. One little bug, and Indrema might be in more trouble than they can handle.
    Raptor
  • This is actually not a bad idea. One could easily use an IES as a substitute NES, SNES, Genesis, Atari2600 and what not, all at the same time, allowing you to play those classic games on a TV with a handheld controller.

    There are plenty of emulators already available for Linux, transfer the roms to the IES and you're set. The only thing that might need adjusting would be the controls, as I'm not sure Indrema's controller would be supported by the emulators. But then, if the emulator is Open Source... ;-)
  • I talked to these folks at the LWE ... and the main thing is that if you want to make your software availiable for the Indrema, you have to pass a technical certification. The technical certification does things like make sure that the software is stable, etc.

    If you're releasing your software for money, that technical certification costs something. Otherwise, it doesn't.

  • Not if it includes GPL stuff from other sources. This is the same problem as occured with Qt.

  • My take on reading between the lines is...

    Porting will be able to be done only with the source of the game.. EG can be compiled for one and/or the other. Freeware games with the source can be ported to the box by end users with the developers compiler. A commercial release in Binary will not be portable from the box by an end user. That way the copy protection can not be beat by porting to Linux and playing freely on many machines.

  • You could -- if you wrote ALL of the source yourself. The theoretical beauty of open source is that you can make use of lots of other existing, hopefully stable, open source libraries and code to build up your application. Much of this code is currently under the GPL. You clearly can not 'dual license' someone elses code. Thus there is a problem.
  • Why then, are OpenGL and Direct3D two different APIs?

    If Direct3D is just a wrapper for OpenGL, then everyone in the entire industry is stupid.

    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • id Software's engine is not Open Source. The game logic source code is available (though it is not released under anything like a true 'Open Source' license) but the engine source is only available commerically. At a cost of many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Well, you have a very good point there... However, despite the fact that the Indrema won't support PC connectivity hardware at launch, I doubt that situation will last for long (especially with a an included ethernet jack!) and I'm sure the current fans of MAME are already familiar with the concept of finding arcade ROM images. (In perfectly *cough* legal ways, of course).

    In fact, given the state of console emulation under linux, the Indrema could become a console to end all (older) consoles. XMame can be compiled to use OpenGL for rendering and smoothing of emulated graphics (very sexy, for that old fashioned blurry arcade monitor look), and it's now packaged with XMess, an emulator which covers a variety of consoles and personal computers, including the Ninendo and the nostalgically beloved Colecovision (wh00p!). Not to mention the lovely snes9x (near flawless Super Ninendo emulation, also with 3D (well... Glide) support) dgen (Sega Genesis) and many more...

    Besides, who wants to store ROM images on unrewriteable media, anyway? Aside from the (staggeringly illiegal) distribution issue, I tend to spend a lot of time sorting out*, adding to, and deleting to my collection anyway...

    *(By sorting I mean, of course, separating those roms which I have legal rights to own and use from those I don't. Or something. Despite the fact that the companies that make these roms haven't made money off them in years and seem to want them to be swept away by the cruel, unfeeling hand of bit rot...)

  • Having Linux as a console OS is the dumbest idea I ever heard.
    Ever wondered why $200 games consoles outperform $1000 machines? Yes, that's right, because they're built for the job.
    Linux is full of all kinds of redundant code, and will always lag behind real consoles.


    Linux is opensource which means it can be built for the job. Obvioulsy DV Linux will remove all the junk it doesn't need. $200 game consoles outperform $1000 pcs because the hardware is static. IES developers know that this box will have such and such nvidia card that can utilize specialized OpenGL extensions because they don't have to worry about people without those extensions (everyone has the same hardware). Games on PC are slower because you have to try to make your code compatible with the widest range of hardware.

    Open Source doesn't have any innovation, and will always be playing catch-up with the commercial software. Where's DirectX? Not there. OpenGL: not an open source innovation.

    OpenGL is not open source... but it is an open API. Actually until recently DirectX had to play catch up to OpenGL. IES won't lag behind anything... the OpenGL extensions will make full use of the hardware, and not only that stuff can be updated as the platform evolves.
  • From http://www.mids.org/mn/904/vcerf.html:
    Vint Cerf responded to MSNBC's questions about the Net's origins with this e-mail:

    VP Gore was the first or surely among the first of the members of Congress to become a strong supporter of advanced networking while he served as Senator. As far back as 1986, he was holding hearings on this subject (supercomputing, fiber networks...) and asking about their promise and what could be done to realize them. Bob Kahn, with whom I worked to develop the Internet design in 1973, participated in several hearings held by then-Senator Gore and I recall that Bob introduced the term ``information infrastructure'' in one hearing in 1986. It was clear that as a Senator and now as Vice President, Gore has made it a point to be as well-informed as possible on technology and issues that surround it.

    As Senator, VP Gore was highly supportive of the research community's efforts to explore new networking capabilities and to extend access to supercomputers by way of NSFNET and its successors, the High Performance Computing and Communication program (which included the National Research and Education Network initiative), and as Vice President, he has been very responsive to recommendations made, for example, by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee that endorsed additional research funding for next generation fundamental research in software and related topics. If you look at the last 30-35 years of network development, you'll find many people who have made major contributions without which the Internet would not be the vibrant, growing and exciting thing it is today. The creation of a new information infrastructure requires the willing efforts of thousands if not millions of participants and we've seen leadership from many quarters, all of it needed, to move the Internet towards increased availability and utility around the world.

    While it is not accurate to say that VP Gore invented Internet, he has played a powerful role in policy terms that has supported its continued growth and application, for which we should be thankful.

    We're fortunate to have senior level members of Congress and the Administration who embrace new technology and have the vision to see how it can be put to work for national and global benefit.
  • Um.. they will their money just like all the other consoles do... by licensing. If you want to put a a free game you may do so and you will pay no licensing fee. However, if you wish to sell a game for profit you must pay a license fee.
  • He also talks about how easy it's gonna be to port to the box, but, you can't run applications from the box on a normal Linux machine, and the opposite is also true. Problem is, what's thier advantage here? If it's easy to port back and forth, what advantage is this going to give the developer, who already has an installed base of PC's running Linux he can develop for? (I know, same argument can be made for the X-Box. At least with it you have some really good hardware reasons to go that direction, maybe.)

    The reason you would port is the installed base of PC's running linux he can develop for is incredibly small. This is a console something your ordinary Joe can operate. Not only that but the box has better hardware than your typical linux box and has an OS, libraries and API's all tuned specifically for it.
  • Okay, well am I correct in saying that Direct3D has many more extensions that expose nifty features of the hardware?

    The image that I concocted through reading about OpenGL vs Glide vs Direct3D was that OpenGL hasn't had many extensions to do very common tasks like Direct3D does. Ie, (and this is completely hypothetical, I'm not sure if it is supported this way or not) you want to do volumetric fog, it takes one function call in Direct3D and 17 in OpenGL.

    Is this perception wrong?

    Not a graphics guy,
    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • This was mentioned in a previous article about Indrema (I'm too lazy to look it up): if a game is not certified, it will not run. Even if you write your own game, you have to get it certified to run it on your own Indrema console (unless you buy the expensive "developer" box).
  • I hope the Indrema (damn cool name too) kicks the crap out of the Xbox (Indrema is a cooler name than Xbox, Xbox was kinda cool but now it's dumb).

    M$ X-box => MSX-box is a natural name choice for the follow-up to the previous legendary Microsoft effort.

  • Are you kidding? You could store every 8-bit video game in history on that box. L600-Nostalgia Edition.
  • I am surprised that there is still that misconception about the Dreamcast:

    any more than the average Dreamcast user cares that that box runs on Windows

    For the last time, the Dreamcast itself does not run on Windows, or any other OS. There is a simple bootup system that gets things going. It is up to the game developer to decide which OS to go with; most games run the Sega OS, but some, like Dino Crisis from Capcom, run WinCE.

    To be honest, the answer sounds like a jab to try and get the Linux zealots to knock one product for the other. "They run Windows, we run Linux. If you are a real Linux user, you know what you must do." Bah. A poor attempt at marketing.

    Bryan R.
  • by alriddoch (197022) on Friday October 20, 2000 @07:00AM (#689697) Homepage

    I have decided that as an Independant Linux games developer, I am going to do everything I can to see to it that the Indrema succeeds. A stable binary target that we can make release for, with a Free OS is great, and I am determined that if it does fail, it will not be because I did not help.

    However, this does not mean that I don't have any reservations about the Indrema. I posted a while back on another topic on the subject of the highly dubious business models under which most console manufacturers operate. I don't mean that it is dubious in the business sense: obviously it is not as the industry appears to be extremely profitable. I refer to the level of control console manufacturers exert over the software that is run on their machines. It appears that part of the reason that Atari failed was their unwillingness to use such morally dubious marketing practices on their consoles. (I know there are other reasons why Atari failed, we don't need to go into it here). Basically no console manufacturer is able to sell the hardware for a reasonable price because the competitors will undercut them, and then make the money back by levying a charge on any game sold for that platform. Games that have not been certified are not permitted, and Nintendo have made this hold up in court in a case which I understand was brought by Atari.

    When I first heard about the Indrema I was concerned how an Open gaming platform would survive in a market like this. As I dug deeper into their website, and then read the above Q&A, I discovered that they too have realised that this is in the case, and in fact are planning to use the same practices, all be it in a slightly more benevolant form. I assume game certification is going to be enforced by using some kind of encryption scheme, so that consoles will only run games that have been digitally signed, or even encrypted by Indrema. We read above that freeware games will be eligable for certification at no cost, but I am interested to know how well this will fit with the fact that the GPL explicitly permits commercial distribution. In fact, a GPL program cannot legally be distributed under any terms that forbid commercial distribution. Will Indrema be able to make this work? Can they come up with a certification scheme that will allow GPLd games to be certified without undermining their business model?

    As a central member of the WorldForge [worldforge.org] project this issue concerns me. In particular, part of my responsabilities to the project include putting together releases of our Acorn [worldforge.org] game, and in this situation it is my responsability to make sure that the entire release, which currently stands at about 27megs, is all correctly licensed, and all the source code that is required by the licenses is also included. It would also therefor be my job, if I wanted to make Acorn available for the Indrema, to make sure I was not violating the trust of the other developers by breaking the GPL.

    I really hope that Indrema make it, and create a console that I can create code for without causing any major moral dilemas, but we need to keep a close eye on what they are doing. Make sure that if you are interested, you are there on November 8th to make sure the Free Software community, and Indrema can work together, and do great things.

    In the end I would like to see a market where the hardware can be sold, at a profit, on its own merits, and this sort of control is not necessary, but this is still a long way off at best.

  • Here's the reason why I'm gonna be holding out for an Indrema:

    MAME - you can bet that as soon as the SDK's are released some bright spark will decide to port the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator to it. Then all they'll need to do is package it up onto a CD that's jam-packed full of ROM images and it'll sell like hotcakes!

    Sure, it might not be the most legally sound of releases, and will never get the offical stamp of approval, but it WILL be done. And us retro-gamers will lap it up!

  • by pcosta (236434) on Friday October 20, 2000 @07:05AM (#689699)
    I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy this one. As a Linux hacker and proud owner of an HDTV, I don't really care about third party support for the box, as long as I can connect it to my TV and write my own games. My very first project will be to port MAME to it. That should keep me busy playing for a while.

  • Even with his 'Indrema Developer Network' I can't see enough people jumping on board to create games in time for enough people to buy his system.

    Modern games often take at a team of 15 people 2 years to produce. I can't the average open source project populated by people doing stuff in their spare time cutting the mustard, somehow. This isn't sendmail, where you can release an early version and keep adding incremental improvements for years. You need to get it done fairly quickly, and you need to get it all done and dusted before you start burning it onto a CD.

    Anyway, if it does get released - I'll buy one. Then I'll install Windows on it, just so I have a chance of running some games on it ;)
  • As I understand it, the Indrema certification process (for open source games) determines whether you can download the game from the certified site.

    It doesn't seem to make sense that software without certification would refuse to run on the Indrema- otherwise, what good does that lovely free sdk do you?

    I think the bottom line is that if people can obtain your game for free, then you are entitled to the free certification, even if you allow someone else to sell it.

  • I am totally in favor of this concept, but I couldn't help notice that he failed to answer the question of how they would make money. It is established that consoles are sold at a loss, and the money is made in licensing.

    I agree. It seems he is banking on the Open Source Developer community jumping with both feet whole-sale go-for-broke into the concept... and I would jump on the band wagon too, provided the hardware was cheap enough.

    But there's your point! If they plan to make money on the hardware, the boxes will be too much for me to mess with... and probably for most gamers to mess with too. Does he plan to loose money on consoles at first then jack up the price to start turning profit? If he charges for licensing then does the console remain Open Source?

    I'm dying to develop some software on this thing (OpenGL woo hoo!, Free SDK yee haw!) but are they going to be around in 3 years? Did I miss something? I basically got the idea he was building a phenominon not a business... not that I mind.

    --// Hartsock //
  • Having a product does not mean that you will be able to make it available to customer. If your business plan rely on on-line order there will be no problem. But if you want to follow other console marketing plan, you will need to have agreement with store like WalMard, Toys'R us, etc... you need TV ads that tell people, who don't knows about your company, that you exist. You need to rub it in their face, if you want to make money.

    A console ( or a new computer ) will succeed if the software for this platform is great ( in this case, games ). Hardware does not matter, it's software. If you rely on independent software house with couple thousand dollar project to start the software base of your console I wish you good luck. Hopefully big game house will follow, I truly wish. But how will you compete against near millions dollars project that other console / PC have and will launch with?

    I think that a great game is about gameplay and arts. So everybody can do that, no need to be a big game house.

    Open Source is great. But when you work on your Open Source project, you will like to see the release when it ready. It takes more time but it's better.

    The hardware for your console will be freeze for how many years? If I start a project, how long should I expect it to be running on your new platform. I rarely see good games been out before a year from the starting point. Arts consume a lot of time when making a game.

    I don't mind paying 150$ more for your console, if I can burn ISO from the internet. 50$ a game is also a blocker. If an Open Source project give the bin away, I will consider it. But if it's another console with their 50$ games, I will look at the game choice/quality first.
  • I see you perfer a LIAR over honesty.. Where are we going..
  • I don't want to run a cable from my iMac to my TV. Besides, I'll need an adapter RGB->Component. Considering that the indrema is supposed to cost around $300, it's easier to buy one. As for wasting time, that's what computers are for :)
  • Step 1. Steal Underwear
    Step 2. ???
    Step 3. Profit
  • Okay, this was a quick search & count, so my count may be slightly off, but. . .

    Number of times that John says. . .
    Linux: 45
    Open Source: 22
    Indrema: 20

    Note: I only counted the number of times that John used those words - I ignored the questions.

    -"Zow"
  • Even if they were using "commodity" PC parts, it would still be more than your bare bones home PC, and I certainly couldn't put something together for under $500 (Fast CPU,GPU and memory). Does anyone know how much a console really costs?

    As mentioned in another reply, the machine will sell for US$300. Actual cost of the hardware is expected to be $500-$600, I believe. The developer machine will be sold at about hardware cost, but will either play unsigned games or come with software for signing games just for that machine.

    Mass-producing identical hardware and not needing to give profit to n levels of resellers and shippers for each component lowers cost. The GPU might be equivalent to a $300 card on its own. I'm curious what the swap-in GPU upgrades will cost.

    Numbers come from memory, but originate with an audio presentation previously featured on Slashdot [slashdot.org].

  • He didn't really talk about the profit model on the units. So that may be a problem for them. But it seems to me that any use of the loss-leader model in the world of modern computers is fraught with difficulty.

    On the one hand you want to use standardized, cheap parts and interfaces to keep down costs. Well, the winners here are standard PC parts (CPUs, chipsets, SDRAM) and the standardized PC interfaces (PCI, IDE, USB); they have the volume of manufacture. Also, this allows you to sell a machine with add-on parts, which clearly can help keep down costs. In the interview, Gildred says that the modem would be such a part.

    But on the other hand, there is an army of geeks standing by with their gimlet eyes, waiting to pick off any sufficiently useful device and convert it to their own use. Recall the fun we had with i-openers.

    I guess as long as the only possible display the thing can use is a TV, they are probably OK. The resolution is too low to be interesting for most other uses. But if they leave in the ability to drive a normal monitor at, say, 800x600 or more, I don't think the loss-leader model is viable.

    X-box is likely to have the same problem.

  • For information on this case, you should read the great book Game Over by David Scheff. In a nutshell, Atari(Tengen) claimed Nintendo had infringed on one of their patents. This enabled them to look at Nintendo's patents. They then used information from those patents to create a bypass chip that would allow them to create cartridges for the NES without using Nintendo's technology.


    That doesn't make any sense. What was keeping Atari from examining Nintendo's patents in the first place?
    Or do you mean "trade secrets?"
  • I dont agree - given that they will act as a MP3 Player, TiVo, game machine, DVD, be able to dload shareware ect will make it very attractive... its a more open (buzzz) platform. PS2, XBOX, Cube are all very specific static consoles, this will probably have a menu 'look for free games to download and play now' option - that will be attractive to people, imagine getting software/games ect on your console - all for free. This is a very interesting idea... Indrema is offering something none of the others are...

  • by ronfar (52216) on Friday October 20, 2000 @10:18AM (#689712) Journal
    For information on this case, you should read the great book Game Over by David Scheff. In a nutshell, Atari(Tengen) claimed Nintendo had infringed on one of their patents. This enabled them to look at Nintendo's patents. They then used information from those patents to create a bypass chip that would allow them to create cartridges for the NES without using Nintendo's technology.

    However, this was not "clean room" reverse engineering. The problem was that Atari was using information gained from a Nintendo patent, not that they were legally not allowed to make NES games.

    If you want better information, look at the Bleem! and Connectix cases that went to court recently. They both prevailed, and can make emulators for Playstation games.

  • Nintendo (and Midway, in this one case) have enough money to weather the bad PR of a game crashing like that. One little bug, and Indrema might be in more trouble than they can handle.

    Unlike your N64 cart, Indrema/developer(midway) could issue a patch and update your game... this is an advantage of Indrema - what about 'upgrades' and whatnot - how about: "Would you like to download 20 new levels for XXX-your-favorite-game-hereXXX now for $3.95?" Alot of interesting things can be done here that 'regular' consoles cannot do, like fix your broken Gauntle Legends (BTW: is GL good? I loved the original! Spent tonnes of quarters on that game..)

  • But all I see are the same 3 being asked over and over again.

    I think our faithful editors should take better care next time - I agree it was a little silly.
  • I agree - and the 'creative way to abuse the TV' is a big deal... When people see the 'Care to download free games?' option - that will be the kicker, how about a $3 game or somesuch.. totally different options compared to Xbox, cube & ps2
  • And I paraphrase from shoddy memory with shakey crack filled hands John Carmack:

    "When writing games for a PC you have such a wide range of hardware there's little incentive to get a speed improvement for Voodoo2 blah edition as it'll only be seen by 1% of people and your time is better spent concentrating on other things. When programming for static hardware - however - every little bit of speed you pull out of your code will correlate to a faster games system. It's a real incentive."

    He went on to say,

    "That girly haired boy couldn't program his head out of his arse."

  • on ScreenSavers [thescreensavers.com] he mention ed a target price of $299. [techtv.com]
  • Of course, the Quake (I) engine has been GPLed. But you're referring to Quake II and Quake III, which we recently learned [idsoftware.com] are $125,000 and $300,000 respectively.

  • If a game on the Indrema console segfaults, where does the core dump get stored? And will Indrema or the game company be able to analyze the core dump?

    Also, will the game title programmers for this console diligently debug their titles before releasing them? So far, no Linux title (be it an OS distro or a software package) has proven stable or up-to-date right off the CD.

    I'm praying that the segfault issue is moot due to the strict quality control of the programmers. (I hope, I hope, I hope!)

  • but i think they dont have much of a chance. With the coming of the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox, a small unknown company hardly stands a chance. He is confident and that is good, but if the only people standing behind his product is the open source community, then he'll be eating ramen noodles in a few months.........

    "sex on tv is bad, you might fall off..."
  • I am personally pretty interested in the concept of an open source console game... What would make it really interesting to me would be if the thing had a network card in it, so you could have say 2 people at my house on a split screen playing with other people in the country... thats what makes computer games so interesting for me is the ablility to play multiplayer with folks around the globe... it makes it that much more interesting...


    mov ax, 13h
    int 10h
  • by Kintanon (65528) on Friday October 20, 2000 @06:23AM (#689722) Homepage Journal
    But all I see are the same 3 being asked over and over again. Didn't anyone notice that the same few questions were being asked repeatedly?! Heck 3 of the answers simply refer back to the first or second questions answers. Come on now, I'm sure there were more than just those three questions....

    Kintanon
  • I am totally in favor of this concept, but I couldn't help notice that he failed to answer
    the question of how they would make money. It is established that consoles are sold
    at a loss, and the money is made in licensing.
  • by d-rock (113041) on Friday October 20, 2000 @06:28AM (#689724) Homepage
    So, the X-Box has Nvidia on board, Nintendo's cube has a specialized GPU from, who, ATI? The PS2 has something similar. I know that consoles are usually sold at a loss, but how much of a loss? It seems that to get the right performance into a small box you have to have specialized hardware that would be comparable in price to this high end hardware. Even if they were using "commodity" PC parts, it would still be more than your bare bones home PC, and I certainly couldn't put something together for under $500 (Fast CPU,GPU and memory). Does anyone know how much a console really costs?
  • by ultrabot (200914) on Friday October 20, 2000 @06:28AM (#689725)
    I bet the copy protected games will be cracked in a due time, and released as nonprotected versions... just as in PC market. Which is what gives Indrema a certain edge over PS2 and X-Box (which probably require hardware modifications). I hope this doesn't turn away the developers, though...

    I would also guess there will be a huge market for all kinds of open-sourced creative ways to utilize/abuse the television. With any luck this will be the set-top box to end all set-top boxes.

    And the port of Angband for this thing will obviously bring linux gaming to the masses.

  • Ok, I know that this country is hardcore into gaming and entertainment. There is currently the PSone, N64, DC, GameBoy/Pocket/Color, PS2 will be here this coming Thursday, and there are at least 3 coming out within a year or so (GB Advance, MS xBox, and GAMECUBE). Now, I cannot possibly see where Indrema fits into all of this, seeing that there have been so many startups that failed, IE: Jaguar, 3DO, M2, Virtual Boy, Nuon, and a lot of older consoles that were dominated by the then-all-powerful Atari. My point is, I see Indrema going the way of all those failed systems. Nintendo, SEGA, and Sony have nothing to worry about from this machine I would fathom. I am going to stick with my Sony console and my GBP.
  • This box looks like a great idea in theory. But in reality, I gotta say, I think they are probably screwed - but I sure hope they keep trying!

    Also, for me, I've got mixed emotions about this. Linux tends to be a very Open Source oriented system as a whole - but now the box in question is going to be a combination of both. For those that support Open Source efforts, this goes against the grain in some ways (proprietary API's and binary only packages). It just doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to me.

    He also talks about protecting the copyrights of developers - but, in reality, why bother with the effort? At best a token effort should be put forth, but, anything to protect copyrights on a system like this is gonna get cracked, and fast. It's just the norm of the world.

    He also talks about how easy it's gonna be to port to the box, but, you can't run applications from the box on a normal Linux machine, and the opposite is also true. Problem is, what's thier advantage here? If it's easy to port back and forth, what advantage is this going to give the developer, who already has an installed base of PC's running Linux he can develop for? (I know, same argument can be made for the X-Box. At least with it you have some really good hardware reasons to go that direction, maybe.)

    Personally, it sounds like a fabulous idea that's gonna flop in the face of some really stiff competition. When I start hearing about some killer games that will be available for it, and no where else, I'll get more interested. At best, Linux fans will have a new toy to play with for a while, until interest wains.

    I do also have one other fear - this guy is just some crook trying to do a money grab off of the Linux name without really providing any real benefit to the Linux community, or providing a great product to the end user. Hopefully, that fear us completely unfounded - he does sound sincere. (But, then, so did the last car salesman I talked to.)

  • > Just curious, where is a good place to go if you are currently developing or interested in collaborating in Linux-based game development?

    http://sourceforge.net/foundry/games is where you want to go.

    they've got resources for developers and loads of hosted projects that are just itching for another coder.

    Go for it!
  • Just curious, where is a good place to go if you are currently developing or interested in collaborating in Linux-based game development?

    1. Where Your Vote Should Go [mikegallay.com]
  • the X-Box has Nvidia on board, Nintendo's cube has a specialized GPU from, who, ATI? The PS2 has something similar

    The ps2 has more than just "something similar" to an nvidia or ati chip. They call it a "graphics synthesizer." Okay, so I'm sure they have a lot in common, but sixteen of these things were working in parallel to render in real time scenes from what was IIRC Toy Story at siggraph (data was coming from an sgi o2k). I forget the specs, but it does sound somewhat unique to the world of current GPUs. I could be and often am incorret and off-topic.

    Mike
  • This is a great point. A port of the Connectix virtual Playstation software running on this box would allow all of us who have Playstation games to buy this box instead of PS2.

    On a "pirate" note, I wonder how long it would take to port MAME and burn games with a boatload of ROMs. :)
  • I'm not so convinced that he's dead in the water.

    Oh, to be certain he's got nearly impossible obstacles in front of him. But as I've been watching the market, there's a chance that Indrema might - might, the operative word here - might just pull off the impossible.

    Here's the reason why:

    • Once upon a time, Nintendo was king of the world. Then they made some mistakes: they kept with their cartridge technology while Sony moved to CD's, they kept their price for licensing high while Sony made it cheaper (and therefore more profitable for developers), and their hardware while in some ways was superior to the Playstation couldn't compare to how easy it was to make a game for.
    • Then Sony makes the Playstation 2, a system that is a) hard to program for, b) expensive to develop for and c) has some hardware limitations (low video ram, etc). Now developers (Oddworld, Konami, Square) are developing for X-Box, a system that is easy to develop for and has sexy hardware.

    The point? Each console generation somebody takes it away from the established line - Atari had it stolen by Nintendo, Nintendo by Sony, and now I see Sony about to get bitch-slapped for not learning from their competitors mistakes. Combine a lower-than-expected count of PS2's worldwide, and the fact that Indrema is so easy to program for, there's the off chance that maybe some developer will say "Hey, this looks easy to develop for. Let's let those guys in the wacky division make a game for it" - and all it takes it that one killer app.

    Likely? Probably not. But don't count them out yet - its another year until we see X-Box, GameCube, and yes, even the PS2 in the market (I'm prediciting most will have to wait until March for their PS2 games). If Indrema plays their cards right, doesn't make any mistakes, and capitlizes if any of the other console developers screw up, we could see the next upset.

    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    John "Dark Paladin" Hummel

  • I think that Linux needs a good competitor to DirectX though. OpenGL just doesn't cut it, it hasn't kept up with any of the other APIs

    You've been FUDded. nVidia has exposed all their hardware-specific functionality through OpenGL extensions. Likewise ATI. Likewise 3Dfx. Exactly what D3D features are you talking about?


  • Having Linux as a console OS is the dumbest idea I ever heard.

    Ever wondered why $200 games consoles outperform $1000 machines? Yes, that's right, because they're built for the job.

    Linux is full of all kinds of redundant code, and will always lag behind real consoles.

    I mean FFS, *Unix* as a *games* system.

    Linux sucks for games and will always suck. When X-Box comes out, it will wipe the floor with this thing. Why? Because Open Source never invented anything.

    Open Source doesn't have any innovation, and will always be playing catch-up with the commercial software. Where's DirectX? Not there. OpenGL: not an open source innovation.

    You can bet when XBox comes out Micrsoft will have come up with a whole heap of new stuff and the Open Source will always be left behind trying to copy (like Wine's copying (badly) DirectX)).

    Why?

    No income, so no funding for research and development. Microsoft spend billions of dollars on R&D, whereas Open Source spends precisely nothing.
  • according to a techtv screensavers interview earlier this week (or was it last week) the target price for the indrema is $299, just like the PSX2.
  • I want to hear more about the TiVo-esque features of the box. It will be able to record shows to the built in HD i presume. What king of MPEG-2 encoding is being performed? Is it done in hardware (hopefully). What kind of resolution will it be able to get? How about how the files are stored on the HD. He mentions copy-protection, does that mean some form of encryption will be done to prevent me from getting MPEG-2 files of off the disk? (please say no. :))
    bruce
  • We read above that freeware games will be eligable for certification at no cost, but I am interested to know how well this will fit with the fact that the GPL explicitly permits commercial distribution. In fact, a GPL program cannot legally be distributed under any terms that forbid commercial distribution. Will Indrema be able to make this work? Can they come up with a certification scheme that will allow GPLd games to be certified without undermining their business model?

    Where in his entire discussion did it say that it was going to be lisenced under the GPL, all he said was that it was going to be open source
  • by Wee (17189) on Friday October 20, 2000 @10:45AM (#689738)
    We read above that freeware games will be eligable for certification at no cost, but I am interested to know how well this will fit with the fact that the GPL explicitly permits commercial distribution. In fact, a GPL program cannot legally be distributed under any terms that forbid commercial distribution. Will Indrema be able to make this work?

    Who said anything about releasing anything under the GPL? Did anyone see the letters "GPL" in this interview? I didn't. He merely said that everything would be "Open Source". That term is not synonymous with "being GPL'ed". For all we know, they might have an Indrema Public License coming out soon...

    So the games are Open Source (speech), but "owned" by someone, and maybe they are given away for free (beer). But maybe not -- they might be sold for profit. I don't see the problem.

    -B

  • The biggest part of the problem was that despite the /. crew posting links to four or five previous interviews with Gildred, nobody bothered to read the fscking interviews and kept asking the same questions that had already been answered more than a few times.

    It didn't help that even the moderators didn't seem to have read the previous interviews and kept modding up questions that had not only been asked in the prior interviews, but were also repeats.

    What I really want to know is how my question that only got modded up one measly point ended up being included when it has a rating of 3 which included the +1 Bonus.

    have a day,

    -l

  • Nintendos GPU is from ArtX, the same people that designed the GPU for the n64
  • If games are open source, no one will pay subscription fees to play them.
  • Why then, are OpenGL and Direct3D two different APIs?

    Because Microsoft didn't want to suppport SGI's (relatively) Open Graphics Library. Your paren poster's point is that OpenGL is a well-designed library that supports extensions, that hardware manufacturers can use to expose nifty features of their hardware to applications.

    If Direct3D is just a wrapper for OpenGL, then everyone in the entire industry is stupid.
    It's not a wrapper, it's the same hardware abstracted through two differnt software APIs, in order to support wider ranges of software/OSes. Whether the card makers choose to implement the one on top of the other or on top of some common lower level, is up to them (I'd assume the latter is more efficcent).

    © 2000 Ilmari. All ritghts reserved, all wrongs reversed

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure at least one person will correct me, but I thought the purpose behind a console box was to create a standardized environment in which you can just pop in a game, when your ready to play, and in a matter of seconds your shooting holes through the chest of your enemy?

    The Indrema seems to be giving into the all to familiar PC problems: "I'm ready to play, yeah, yeah, yeah.... shit, I need to download the latest version of DirectX." I'm sure the Indrema could cause just as much hassle, if not more, because you just know that every cutting-edge game that is developed for it will require some kind of downloadable quick fix.

    Unless of course, they (Indrema) have some strict guidelines as to what constitutes the certification of an update. If they do that, you have a whole list of other questions: Will they only certify changes that add functionality that could not be accomplished previously? (If they don't, then just imagine the number of updates that will be available. If they do, it's still a hassle to have to update your game console). Will they require the new fixes to maintain backward compatability? (If they do, then you have the possibility of excess overhead that accumulates with each update 'i.e. Windows'. If they don't, then you have an even larger problem because users will have to backward-patch there system to run older games). This is just a small sample of the problems they could be asking for without strict control of system level upgrades.

    So then you say to yourself, strict control is good idea on the Indrema! Until you realize that one of the key selling points was that the API's could be enhanced by the OpenSource community and that upgrades would readily be available.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that the Indrema is a great idea and most of there idea's sound great, but maybe they should make the base platform, the standard on which all games are certified & developed for. Yet still allow the system to be hacked and configured for those who want to make it do something extra special.

    --Relativity... Before it was discovered, nothing was a matter of perspective, everything was static.--
  • Their digital right management obviously cant reside anywhere else but in the signal path, otherwise you could always release software to avoid it (a java MP3 player comes to mind).

    The question then begs itself, why? Hardware copyright protection for computer software makes sense... but this is easy, unlike sound/video it can not easily be transformed. But where is there economical benefit in doing end to end digital rights management? They would no more be at risk from prosecution than sound card manufacturers... in fact making moral decisions for your customers seems counterproductive for your success.

    Do they intend perhaps to become part of a closed end-to-end system of media distribution? (no software on a truly open system like the PC could ever give the guarantuees the media mogles would like) If not all they would be doing is limiting their customers choices, which benefits neither them or their customers.
  • by Morgaine (4316) on Friday October 20, 2000 @07:05PM (#689745)
    I think you made a good point, but it can be condensed into a much shorter one which I bet will concern many a potential games developer.

    In a nutshell, you want to develop GPL'd games for this console, but you are worried that the terms of certification for the Indrema effectively prevent that. Yes, it seems that you are right, judging by the information on the Indrema site [indrema.com] and the implications by omission in the interview. There is little doubt that the Indrema is neither intended to be nor can be a console for GPL'd games, nor for GPL'd anything else, for the reason you gave and also for a slightly different version of it in (i) below.

    I want to buy and to develop for this machine because it has such great potential for being the premier open multimedia A/V platform, not just a gaming console. I would like to develop GPL'd products for it which make use of the hardware beyond typical gaming. I'd like to help to make it the lounge interface to the open, online multimedia world.

    The trouble is, the above will never happen for three reasons:

    (i) It won't happen because you appear to be right about the incompatibility of Indrema with the GPL, and here's a radically different slant on why that is. It is impossible to provide to the end user the GPL'd source code corresponding to a released product, because of the encryption step that denies the possibility of any direct correspondence between a given source and a given binary being established. In effect it cannot be proved that you have supplied the source code, and of course the end user cannot prove it independently nor make independent executable modifications either since the certification process is a closed black box.

    (ii) It won't happen as long as certification is necessary, simply because I would guess that ad hoc developers (unlike corporate ones) aren't going to accept being limited by one company's particular view of the world. [This assumes that certification will involve vetting, which appears to be the case.]

    (iii) It won't happen for GPL-conscious developers because the toolset is NOT open: one key part, the certification tool is entirely unavailable unless you buy a much more expensive version of the Indrema hardware, it seems. The cost will stop some, and the restrictions inherent in certification will stop others. How many will be left?

    Don't get me wrong, I love this platform and I intend to help make it succeed like the poster of the parent article. However, it won't succeed unless somebody breaks the certification system, and Indrema the company isn't likely to support that. We'll see what develops, but I expect it'll be a slow and painful ebbing away of the prospects of the console if it remains restricted in this way, because such things will turn potentially excellent developers away from it. I specially worry about the demo groups, as it's the kiss of death to lose their interest and great energy. They'll just go to the X-box where the manufacturer certainly won't be going out of its way to control use of its hardware, based on past precedent.

    Opportunity lost? It's distinctly possible.
  • Maybe the huge potential turnoffs of costly developer box and controlled certification could be overcome by providing some added value with the developer unit.

    Here's an idea for adding value in a form with which many a developer will identify: supply the developer box in a 1U or 2U 19" rack module!

    Developers are suckers for rackmount equipment. I should know, my wallet's already half open. :-)
  • Er, the Sony Playstation 2 uses Linux for the OS.

    -Paul Komarek
  • >Er, the Sony Playstation 2 uses Linux for the OS.

    Close, but wrong. The PS2 uses Linux as its development environment.

    This brings up a good point, though, tied to why I think the Xbox and the Indrema will never succeed against the established Big 3 (Nintendo, Sony, and Sega, of course). Their consoles have no OS (Dreamcast only runs WinCE while web browsing). Any OS, any APIs, introduce significant overhead, whether it's trimmed Win2k bloat or a leaner Linux. If a console developer wants to tweak the absolute max performance out of a console, I garuantee you they don't write their game in Visual C++ 6.0. They write in assembly, directly to the hardware. The Indrema won't have a big of a handicap as the Xbox, as I'm sure Linux scales down better than Windows.

  • Seems they already have copyright protection in mind when they design the console. It is a good thing.

    Just that, please don't consider DVD region coding as a copyright protection.
  • Our digital rights management system will ensure that any copy protected content will be protected. For example, any MP3s which are loaded onto the box without copy protection will be considered public domain content, but any SDMI or other copy protected music downloaded to the IES will be properly protected. We use very strong encryption and digital signatures to protect that data. Hacking that would be extremely non-trivial.

    That struck me as an odd bit of reasoning. Is he talking about licensing or simply about what the system will and won't make an effort to protect? The fact that a game stores music as an MP3 doesn't affect the terms under which it's licensed and it's not in the console maker's power to change that licensing.

    ---------

  • If a game on the Indrema console segfaults, where does the core dump get stored? And will Indrema or the game company be able to analyze the core dump?

    Kinda tough to tell at the moment as there's no specs on the website (that I could find quickly) but one of the questions above seemed to indicate there might be a hard drive in the console. That might allow for some debug storage, though personally I would hope it would be an option of some kind. Just imagine if the hard drive filled up with core files and you were some regular Joe that had no idea what they were and was too afraid to delete them for that reason...

    Also, will the game title programmers for this console diligently debug their titles before releasing them? So far, no Linux title (be it an OS distro or a software package) has proven stable or up-to-date right off the CD.

    Nor, unfortunately, have many Windows games I've played. Fortunately, the entire PC market has the possibility of software upgrades being available (assuming there's a hard drive of some sort the game is installed to) I can't say the same about most consoles. Would have been nice to get an upgrade of Gauntlet Legends for the N64 so it wouldn't crash and freeze playing 4 players ;)

  • This guy claims to have done a ton of market research, and yet he thinks that Dreamcast runs WinCE. His research appears to have gone about as far as looking at the little icon on the outside of the console, without even reading the sub-title below it!
  • The console probably will be a bit more than the others but what is key that you seem to have missed is that it will be free to give a way a game (shareware anyway). But as for profit making games? Thats probably where they are looking to make their money
  • I like how he equates having a life with playing video games all night.
  • No, what about GPL'd games? If they are put onto copy-protected disks for distribution, that's a problem.
  • Of course, we want developers to be able to profit from the games they design for Indrema, so the software will not be Open Source.

    So a game developer can't profit from an Open Source game? Look at what id Software has done: open the engine but sell the product bundled with great grafx/sound/etc. If you seperate the engine from the content, it's still possible to profit from them.

    ...
    All driver level code, API implementations, and kernel code is Open Source and freely available. The only exceptions to this are the components of drivers

    What's the difference between "driver level code" and "components of drivers"???
  • Actually... It isn't unique. Lots of old 3d Accelerators like "Obsidian?" Voodoo 2 had more than one chip. The only the difference is that they were accelerators, graphics processors on the V2 cards. The new Voodoo 5 I believe has multiple GPUs. The name "Graphics Synthesizer" is just a silly buzzword that they use to draw people's attention to the hardware, which I believe is highly over-rated. Gamecube has a chip that was designed by ArtX. They were purchased by ATi or 3DFX. I cant remember exactly. I believe it was 3DFX. ArtX also made the 3D accelerator on the N64.
  • Where in his entire discussion did it say that it was going to be lisenced under the GPL, all he said was that it was going to be open source

    You misunderstand my point. My point is that if I have a game that is written under the GPL, and I want to make it available for free for the Indrema, will I be able to do so without a clash occuring between the GPL, and the certification agreement with Indrema? Presumably if I get it certified, I will have to agree not to distribute the certified game for money, and require this of anyone who downloads the game, which will voilate the GPL on the game.

    In fact the first clause of the Open Source Definition [opensource.org] specifies that an Open Source license must allow commercial distribution, but that is irrelevant to my post.

  • Yes, however isn't the problem with using extionsions is that you have to throw in hooks for each vendors specific extension? I think an argument can be made that OpenGL needs to be updated to include these advances in the base spec so that you will only have to code for one target, not 3.
  • Hey, if I could get my 3 TIVOs to talk to my Indrema via Linux, I'd be very interested in this thing -- especially with the Indrema's ethernet and the TIVO's conspicuous lack of any easy-to-implement ethernet connectivity.

    (The TIVO army on the avsforum, of course, maintains that TIVO doesn't need any sort of broadband support -- it's become a sort of mantra for them -- but I wonder what sort of possbilities might exist when indrema meets TIVO. Anything to prove that rabid, fanboy TIVO army that they're a bunch of kissass TIVO fanboys, but I digress...)
  • I just saw it released for the Dreamcast. I wonder if the DC edition will have the same problems as the N64 edition, or if they fixed it.
  • by Lumpy (12016)
    I would forgo the ethernet and put in usb (Donning the asbestos suit quickly) that way a nice cheap usb ethernet,modem etc.. can be plugged in instead of having to buy "Company XYZ's special modem for $399.95" I can see making el-cheapo hardware "special" so that the manufacturer can horribly overprice it (sony and nuntendo are masters at that!).

    Oh well. It'll be a neat venture, but I really dont think it will ever reach the levels of the PS or nintendo64.
  • It's a great game, aside from the crashing and all. I'll go out on a limb and assume that the PSX and DC versions don't have that same problem, though.

    More importantly, though, do you *want* to log on to patch a console game? For me, if I'm playing a console game, I plug in the cart (or pop in the CD), hit power, and begin playing. My reflexes for it go almost as far as it being just an arcade machine without a quarter slot. I don't want to *need* to log on to play a game, unless it's designed for network gaming only, and even then, it should be transparent. What's the Indrema going to do? Check for a core dump when a game crashes? Pop up a "Please wait. Fixing game now..." screen? While it would be nice in terms of being able to fix the game, the point is that QA for console games needs to be a hell of a lot better than for PC games, and if the Indrema (and the X-Box) neglect to address this, I probably won't be buying either one. It's just pointless for me to have something that pretends to be a console by sitting near my TV, but acts like a PC by telling me to go download the latest patch.


    Raptor
  • If this product reaches the shelves in a nearby future I'm going to get me one. I totally agree with this guy!

    I hope it will work on PAL TVs in release 1.
  • Keep the "virgin" configuration available to the machine at all times. Then each game applies the needed patches before running itself. These patches are either distributed with the game or standardized ones which are required to be available on the HD. In any case, each game creates its own necessary environment from a known starting point. Then you don't have to jack with backward compatibility or worry about a variable target configuration.
  • Given that you're a "proud owner" of an HTDV...given that there aren't that many stations broadcasting in HDTV format what does it do for you?

    Do you think it was a _really_ good investment at this time, do you believe that it's a cool toy, but not ready for the masses (not thinking price here).

    Just curious.

    Thanks.
    ---- Sigs are bad for your health ----

  • Ooops, I meant "HDTV" not "HTDV"...
    ---- Sigs are bad for your health ----
  • From the interview:
    The IES is composed of a combination of Open Source and proprietary elements. ... Here's how it breaks down: All driver level code, API implementations, and kernel code is Open Source and freely available. The only exceptions to this are the components of drivers ... and the Xtrema (our UI) API implementation.

    Without the serious development $$$, it will lag the X-box in price/performance, so all it really has going for it is its free and open nature. But these guys make their API proprietary. They are shooting themselves in the foot.
  • I was a little surprised that a +5 question I posted for the Carnivore reviewer [slashdot.org] interview didn't make the cut, while 5 (maybe 6) of the 10 questions that were asked [slashdot.org] were all variants on, "You tell us you'll tell us the truth but aren't you lying when you tell us you'll tell us the truth?"

    ---------

  • by dizee (143832) on Friday October 20, 2000 @06:42AM (#689770) Homepage
    Just because this idea is so damn arrogant, I'm going to buy one of these.

    As a kid, I never had a console, it was always a PC (well, I had an Atari way back when with Burger Time, Qbert, and Zaxxon, but it got replaces with a screaming 4.7 mhz 8088)

    It would be so awesome to actually own a console (which I really should buy sometime, I miss console games), and buying one that ran Linux would be so much sweeter.

    I hope the Indrema (damn cool name too) kicks the crap out of the Xbox (Indrema is a cooler name than Xbox, Xbox was kinda cool but now it's dumb).

    I think that Linux needs a good competitor to DirectX though. OpenGL just doesn't cut it, it hasn't kept up with any of the other APIs. Someone needs to step up and make an awesome 3d api for Linux, something that will match Direct3D and outperform it and support cool stuff like full-screen antialiasing.

    I just wish I knew something about graphics, I'm more of a console guy myself, writing a program that linked with svgalib and changing the mode to 640x480x256 is the extent of my graphical work ;)

    Mike

    "I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer."
  • I noticed that there weren't any questions asking about emulators. Given the open source nature of this beast I would think that code to emulate some of the other gaming consoles would be one of the first things written.

    Imagine the number of lawsuits if this could run games from all the other games makers as well as the specific ones.

  • "I've lost many a night's sleep playing Quake and Everquest-- or, at least I did before I decided to start my own company; that is, back when I had a life : )"

    You call staying up all night playing Quake/Everquest having a life?!?
    --

Nobody said computers were going to be polite.

Working...