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GDC: The OLPC Project And Games 36

Posted by Zonk
from the learning-on-the-cheap dept.
Gamasutra continued their extensive coverage of GDC Tuesday, with information on the second day of serious and indie gaming tracks. For those who have been following the One Laptop Per Child Project, one of that project's developers put out a call for serious games to support the device. With plans already in the works to get Sim City open sourced and on the machine, OLPC content manager SJ Klein hopes that more serious titles will enable children to learn through play. Other sessions on Tuesday included a look at the Gatekeepers of indie content, suggestions on prototyping for indie developers, and what sounds like a humorously interesting presentation from Eric Zimmerman about milking the casual games cash cow.
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GDC: The OLPC Project And Games

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  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:00AM (#18274358) Homepage Journal

    At kindergarten, everything is play for my four year old son, even if he is learning at the same time. He has access to computers at home, and uses them to play games, mainly flash applications on the web sites of popular characters.

    So the younger you go, the more important game play is when you want to use software for education.

    • by zoward (188110)
      Amen to this. My 3-year-old's online adventures are currently limited to supervised visits to the Flash-based games portion of the pbskids.org [pbskids.org] website, especially the content for Curious George and Dragon Tales. It's a great way for him to learn keyboard, mouse and browsing skills - plus what he learns from the games et al on the site.
    • by sumdumass (711423)
      Learning through play isn't a bad idea in itself. What we have to watch out for is teaching them to learn through entertainment. If they becomes used to all the big shinny coins or the drama that pulls them into the game, regular studies like a school setting might seem too boring and uncomfortable for them. They might becomes deficient in their attention span.

      I have noticed this happenging to some degree. Ever wonder why getting grounded from the TV or gaming consoles for not doing well in school made some
  • While not a game, the TamTam music composition suite for the OLPC looks like a great app. The SynthLab sound editor is much like a modular synth, teaching audio physics and circuit design at at the same time. Check out this SynthLab video [wordpress.com], good stuff.
  • I'd love to (Score:3, Informative)

    by Punto (100573) <puntob.gmail@com> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:20AM (#18274702) Homepage
    I'd love to develop games for the OLPC, if only there was a way for us (especially the indie developers, which is what GDC is supposed to be about) to get access to the machine. It seems like they're making an effort to keep it _away_ from us tho, so I'm not sure why they'd come out with this announcement.
    • by jomas1 (696853)
      I don't disagree with you about letting developers have access to the machine, but have you tried virtualizing the olpc desktop in qemu, vmware et al? http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OS_images_for_emulation [laptop.org] has some links of interest.

      Is a virtual olpc not enough to get your games on a real olpc? I ask out of ignorance so please don't take offense.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        As a developer, I can say that Virtual Environments are great for quick checks if the program still runs properly. Once you get to where you want to be -sure- the program runs, and tune its performance, you need the actual machine.

        It's like saying, 'I've got this great product. I've never actually tried it, but I know it's great because I used my imagination.'
        • by Punto (100573)
          True. there are some 'physical' aspects too (it's portable, the screen flips in a bunch of ways, etc), plus the power consumption, the screen size/changing resolution, etc. you can't emulate all that.

          Also I don't really care for this attitude of "you just contribute to the upstream packages and we'll get them into the machine". I know it's about "helping the children" and all that (and I appreciate, being from one of the supposed "launch countries" I've experienced our public education first hand), but a

      • by Calinous (985536)
        No, the virtual OLPC (simulated) is nowhere near sufficient to check games. Not even the Sugar interface is not running real-time on emulation.
  • A self-powered SimCity machine? I'd almost sell my freaking soul for that.
    I wonder how receptive EA would be to letting out SimCity (classic or SC2K please) as OSS.
    And no, LinCity doesn't count. It's not quite the same.
  • How about Civilization?
  • Does anyone here think those things can run Spring?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      You'd probably need to write a different renderer, a much simpler one. But it's not inconceivable. I don't know how much more complex the internals of spring are as compared to total annihilation, but TA ran like a CHAMP on a P2-233... Keep in mind that the color resolution of the system is very low, so you might conceivably want to go to a B&W renderer, although I'm not sure what the refresh rate on the monochrome display is like.
      • The software sees the screen as a 1200x900 16 bit color framebuffer (and draws on it via X11). There is a button that rotates the screen, and the software does notice the aspect ratio changing between 1200x900 and 900x1200, thanks to window resize events propogated through the window manager. The hardware automatically converts it to monochrome and reduces the color resolution (called "swizzling"). So the color/monochrome "mode" is invisible to the software. You just keep drawing in color at the same full

  • The fewer games on the OLPC, the faster the third world can catch up to the drooling, screen-confined first ;)
  • Will this have the ability to run Pygame [pygame.org], the main game toolkit for Python?

    On a different note, Vernor Vinge's recent novel Rainbows End says something about a popular online game that's an obvious knockoff of a certain pocket monster game, mentioning that some of the creatures involved were designed by Third World kids. Maybe we'll see the OLPC spawn some kind of loose-protocol indie game vaguely comparable to GURPS.

When Dexter's on the Internet, can Hell be far behind?"

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