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Games Entertainment

LGP Announces Game Development Project 319

michaelsimms writes "Linux Game Publishing is excited to announce our newest project to increase the appeal of Linux gaming. We are sponsoring the development of a from-scratch Linux title! We are looking for developers to work in a team to produce this game, and we will be publishing the game they make! If you are interested, please follow the link to our detailed announcement and within there you will find the rules, requirements, and application process. If you have wanted to get into the gaming industry, if you love playing games, and if you are a creative thinker, not afraid of a challenge and a bit of risk, then you need to take a look." I don't know whether to be happy about anything that promotes Linux gaming, or disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary.
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LGP Announces Game Development Project

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  • No Salary? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aelfwyne ( 262209 ) <lotherius@@@altername...net> on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:57PM (#5353622) Homepage
    A commercial game with no salary for developers? Count me out - in fact with that attitude I probably won't buy it either.
    • Maybe you should read the article. The development team gets 90% of the game royalties to split amongst themselves. The average publisher today gives the development studio less (probably much less) than 15% of the royalties. If the game sells well, the extra 75% will more than make up for the lack of a salary.
      • My bad, it's 70% instead of 90%, but my point still holds.
        • Re:No Salary? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stratjakt ( 596332 )
          Whats 70% of 0 again, anyways?

          If linux gaming had any commercial viability, EA and the other big dogs would be all over it. Not to mention that it's very hard to develop a commercially successful game in the first place, regardless of platform.

          Without at least a windows port, and *very* aggressive marketing, this will make no money.
          • Re:No Salary? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ThrasherTT ( 87841 ) <thrasher@deathma t c h.net> on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:09PM (#5354496) Homepage Journal
            Without at least a windows port, and *very* aggressive marketing, this will make no money

            I argue that WITH a Windows port, AND very aggressive marketing, this will have approximately 0.01% chance of making any money. How many people out there have gotten a group of people together and tried to make a game on their spare time? How many have succeeded? How much did the successful groups and/or their publishers spend on advertising, and how much did they gain in sales?

            Game development is VERY HARD, and game marketing isn't a bag of easy either. Add to that the fact that today's linux game market is so tiny, and you have a recipe for "being in the red."

      • > The development team gets 90% of the
        > game royalties to split amongst themselves.

        Whoopy.

        Do you have any clue as tohow many games actually end up paying royalties to anyone? I'd put the chance of seeing a cheque from them for working on this game just this side of nothing.
    • Re:No Salary? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by meshko ( 413657 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:06PM (#5353735) Homepage
      Of course its a troll, but it's the troll inpsired by the editor ("... or disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary") so I'll bite.

      They say that if the game brings in profit, the developers will get it. I think this is completely fair. Of course I'm not sure if that can be called sponsorship, because the really contribution from the LGP only starts when the game is well on its way (they will help to find artists etc).
      I beleive this is quite fare and makes sense. Finding good Open Source developers is possible. Finding good artists is harder. Organizing the development process in any professional kind of manner is hardes. If they will make sure that selected developers have a clue and really provide them with artists and QA -- they have a chance (unlike 99% of game projects on SourceForge, for example).
      My opinion is that it's a good idea and really nice of them, but I think that chances of success are around 20%. Success being a released title, of course.

      • Finding good Open Source developers is possible. Finding good artists is harder.


        Uh uh, un-qualified statement. I'd say not only are they of the same dificulty, they're one in the same challenge.

    • Re:No Salary? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by zackbar ( 649913 )
      Not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of a salary, you get a piece of the pie. With 70% of the revenue being split up among the developers, it could be lucrative.

      But note that the primary benefit is breaking into the industry. It's extremely hard to get a game programming position without experience.

      I'd consider it, but I haven't done any development for linux.
      • Re:No Salary? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:15PM (#5354617) Journal
        another quote from their site:
        Artwork/Level Design/Music When the development has reached a suitable point where we know more about the art, level, and music requirements (if any), we will expand the team to include people with appropriate non-coding skills.

        So, the coders will find out that they have to share their cut with people doing the art and music, who will also be cut in on the same basis - "if we make money, you make money"

        Then, "well, we also need marketers, etc, so they're taking a cut of your royalties too"

        Just my opinion, but anyone stupid enough to do this has:

        1. Too much time on their hands
        2. Not enough experience swimming with sharks

        Here's their game scenario: You're the leader of SimThisBusinessSux, and you have to figure out how to get everyone to do the hard work, while you sit back and play big-shot.

    • If you had took the time to read the article, you would have realised that they offer 70% of what the game will generate in revenue.
      If the game do not sell, LGP is the only one loosing money. If it sells, BOTH the developers and LGP will earn money.

      In my opinion, thats a good deal.
    • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:25PM (#5353925) Journal
      For those that have always dreamed about making a good (and popular) game, it's not always about salary. I think that the fame and pursuant job offers for making a free game would more than make up for the lack of salary during development. If every 15-year-old was picking your title up off the shelf/net and saying "coool" - reading your name in the credits - don't you think that would be a fairly rewarding experience in itself?
    • quote from their site:
      Contracts Once the development team is committed, contracts will be sent for all to sign. These contracts will be outlining the details given here, and will protect the rights of both the developers and LGP

      Why not post the actual contract details BEFORE people waste their time on this shit?

      It seems to me that there's the question of ownership of the code written, as well as future rights for derivative work.

      Also, some jurisdictions (Quebec is now one of them as of a few weeks ago) forbid the "employing" of people on a project for less than a guaranteed minimum wage. Check your jurisdiction - you may be able to collect a wage from them after signing the contract, as such "if we make money, you'll (maybe) make money"!

      In summary - "show me the money".

  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:59PM (#5353643)
    disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary.
    How else could they hold 100% true to their offer of, "Do you want to get into the gaming industry"?
  • by laetus ( 45131 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @01:59PM (#5353646)
    Since they're not paying the developers (but are generously paying the publishing & distribution costs), why not open it up to a competition? Tell people, look, everyone can participate. The deadline for submitting your game is (DATE). After we receive all entries, we'll decide which is the killer Linux game and publish it.

    Sounds better than simply, we're gonna choose 8 people and then let them come up with a game. Sometimes synergy in groups doesn't work that way.

    Let individuals groups compete.
    • They arent paying the developers, but they are providing some financial support. If you need some tool/library/engine and can justify the price of it to them, they have said they would be willing to pay ( within reason, i doubt they would be able to foot the bill for a Doom 3 license).

      Getting a couple of projects to compete for the publishing deal would be a good way to spur development, but would be prohibitive when you know you only have the resources to publish one or two of them.

    • by e2d2 ( 115622 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:25PM (#5353926)
      Playing on your idea - what I would love to see is something similiar to Project Green light, where developers create game idea submissions, complete with specs, etc, and submit those ideas to a game development company, who in turn chooses one game idea to be developed. It would be great publicity for the game development house and great for the developer that lacks the funding/tools necessary to publish a good game. The developer could also come to work for the game development shop after the project if both parties agreed.

      Of course on the other hand the game development companies might not have a lack of good ideas and this is all a waste. But I think it would be a great way to promote the development house to the development community and others. Plus it would be a good tool for recruitment, many game developers simply start out building their own maps or add-ons and get offered jobs, this is simply a spin on that.

    • They want exactly one topnotch game, composed by the best team they can gather. Making a top/commerial quality game takes time and thats probably not so well suited for a hobby competition.

      Just my take on it.

    • Yes, that is one way of doing it, but, then a lot of people may do lots of work for no return, and that doesnt seem fair. One of the goals of LGP is that people get compensated for their work, and if 9 out of 10 groups that made a game get rejected, that would suck for those groups.
      • I think that if you did this, there would be a lot less committed people in the group. If you make it a select few that feel they earned their way in, then they are much more likely to committ. I know personally that it's hard to get a group of people together to make a game without much motivation.

        If it were easy then there'd probably be more good quality opensource games out there.

  • Slash (Score:2, Funny)

    by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 )
    ... or disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary.

    Maybe we should all help contribute to the 'slash' code instead of working on this commercial project. Ha!

    --sex [slashdot.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:00PM (#5353666)
    There are a good many open source coders who work on projects without being paid to do so right now. What difference does it really make whether the end result is sold or given away? Some things get done simply because people have a passion for doing them, and whether freeware or commercial, the product could help Linux. Earn your money, put food on your table, and if you're still looking for a creative outlet, here's your opportunity!
    • sold or given away? (Score:5, Informative)

      by oliverthered ( 187439 ) <(oliverthered) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:10PM (#5353787) Journal
      The difference is everything.
      I work on FOSS because I believe in freedom.
      I would rather money didn't exist, so I don't want to put my efforts towards freedom into something the promotes consumerism.

      (If they only charge for distribution 'costs', that's ok)
      • Because Advanced Server 2.1 is selling very well. Everyone has a choice to make as to what they do. If you desperately want to get into the game industry, what better way than to demonstrate your ability by building a game for free.

        As I recall the developers of CS (counter strike) have made out quite well and as a owner of Half Life I've never paid a dime for CS.

        Just because you would prefer money doesn't exist doesn't mean everyone feels they are being exploited by the system (consumerism as you put it).

        If you want to believe the world would be a better place if money didn't exist and everyone worked on only the projects they want to work on, there would be no sanitation workers, no one at taco bell, no one delivering mail, ...

        Socialism only works in SciFi. As much as I wish the opposite were true, socialism is a joke. The only way people work is if there is a tangible reward on the other side (99.99% that is).
  • Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by govtcheez ( 524087 ) <govtcheez03@hotmail.com> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:00PM (#5353667) Homepage
    How is this any different than the 10000 "Let's make a game!" posts seen on messageboards everywhere?
    • Coming up with a killer game is only half the battle. Getting it onto CDs, into boxes, out to stores and into the minds of gamers is the other half.
    • Re:Wha? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Antity-H ( 535635 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:07PM (#5353747) Homepage
      This is different in the way that LGP is already in for publishing the game when it is completed.
      They won't have to fight their way through publishing companies to find one that will find their project insteresting among the hundreds such companies must receive each month

      In addition, there is a high porbability that as soon as they have something with a shape, they will get subventions from LGP to help finish it

      I am an idealist .. and so what? If LGP realy wants tu push Linux games they must know they will have to make a few sacrifices at the beginning. Afteward if they play it well, they will 'own' the linux game market
  • Not being paid? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:00PM (#5353668)
    disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary

    In a way ANYONE who contributes to Linux is doing just that. When people like IBM et al selling product that in large part was written by individuals that will never be "paid" for their efforts, I don't see how this is any different. Is there anyone out there who contributes that thinks that their work won't eventually end up in a product that is sold (i.e. someone else will generate revenue from their efforts)?
    • IBM isnt making a cent off of the efforts of the developers of linux. They are bundling them with their systems for their customers convenience. In theory, the customer could download them for free. What they are paying big blue for is the hardware, the closed IBM software, support,and IT services. The difference is that the game they are talking about will be SOLD, with all the profits will go somewhere else. The code they are asking for wont be freely available elsewhere.
      • IBM isnt making a cent off of the efforts of the developers of linux.

        This is false. If Linux were not pushing IBM hardware sales, they would not be taking the time to sell systems with it installed. People buy solutions from Big Blue, not just hardware. IBM sells solutions based on Linux because that is what SELLS. Linux sells systems. Someone who is spending 7 figures for a system from IBM is NOT thinking about downloading some distro to run on their fancy hardware.

        with all the profits will go somewhere else

        Err, FALSE. Read their release

        2) 70% of sales revenue will go to the development company, to be divided up as the team sees fit. The remainder of the money will go to LGP to pay for marketing, and other publishing expenses.

        You DID read it didn't you?
  • I dunno... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zeronode ( 513709 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:00PM (#5353669) Journal
    Working on a game is a long long process, and more often than not, deadlines are missed and toward the ship date, everyone pulls the all nighters. But they get paid for it. I'm not saying that people won't do this, but I think it would be kind of hard to hold down the day job, which pays the bills, and still work on this project and come close to the deadlines.

    Then again, I could be wrong.
    • As long as the deadlines are realistic.

      LGP will be supplying an experienced project manager to help the group with this (at our expense).

      10 hours a week is a reasonable commitment, its 2 hours every evening or a long day at the weekend, its somethign that people can do and keep a job too. with a good project manager and realistic deadlines, this isnt an issue
  • Marketing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:03PM (#5353698) Homepage
    1) When the game is complete, LGP will publish your game. We will pay 100% of the costs to have it produced, marketed, and retailed worldwide.

    Anyone have any idea of how effective LGP is at this? Does "worldwide" mean "HTTP downloads from around the world" or do they really have a shrink-wrapped, on the shelf capability?

    I've sure as heck never seen a Linux-specific game on a shelf at Best Buy or some other place like that.

    Because otherwise, well. The "we'll give you 70% of the revenue" is not so enticing. AFAIK the bulk of game sales is still through the retail channel, not online sales.

    I'm genuinely interested - this looks like an Linux project that would be really worthwile to participate in (ie, it has a better than average possibility of turning a profit).

    • I've sure as heck never seen a Linux-specific game on a shelf at Best Buy or some other place like that.

      Try your local Microcenter. The one near me has quite a bit of shelf space dedicated to Linux. They also sell the Loki titles as well as Tuxracer.
    • It isnt downloads from around the world, but LGPs stuff is mostly sold online. Its more of shrink wrapped products off a warehouse shelf shipped straight to your door. I've seen Linux games on store shelves before, but not in the past two or three years. Guess they just didnt sell well enough
    • Re:Marketing (Score:4, Informative)

      by michaelsimms ( 141209 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:16PM (#5353835) Homepage
      We have resellers round the world and have products in physical packages already. The game will sell in a DVD-style box, same as many newer games do.
      • Cool, thanks for jumping in.

        Even if I don't go at it, I wish you (and everyone who takes the challenge) best of luck. Maybe this will be the thing that "mainstreams" Linux on the desktop.

      • Re:Marketing (Score:3, Informative)

        by FortKnox ( 169099 )
        I'll reply directly to you for my question...

        What difference is this linux game, and garage games "$100 per license of the Torque engine (with all tools) and garage games will publish the game", deal?

        And... the developers probably have to hold onto day jobs, so it'll be VERY difficult to produce anything graphic intensive (well, it can happen, but the graphics will be FAR outdated by the time the development is over).

        AND... the standard game developing ratio is 10 graphic artists/animators for every 1 developer. Is there going to be enough artists for the project??
    • Anyone have any idea of how effective LGP is at this? Does "worldwide" mean "HTTP downloads from around the world" or do they really have a shrink-wrapped, on the shelf capability? I've sure as heck never seen a Linux-specific game on a shelf at Best Buy or some other place like that.

      The question is not "can they produce off the shelf titles", the question is "do they WANT TO produce off the shelf titles". Creating OTS stuff takes more money than simply allowing downloads. The issue is whether or not you sell enough copies OTS to make up for the extra expenses involved in producing it.
  • Won't work. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:04PM (#5353716)
    Open-Source/Free games for Linux will not solve the lack of games for Linux. The only way to get game developers to come to Linux is to develop a Direct-X like API that makes it easy to develop Linux-native games. Until that happens, Linux gaming will continue to revolve around WineX, id Software, Epic, and begging game companies to release Linux executables.

    Given how unlikely it is that the Open-Source/Free software community could ever come together to make a decent cross-distro API, your best bet is to just subscribe to WineX.
    • Re:Won't work. (Score:5, Informative)

      by kiolbasa ( 122675 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:15PM (#5353823) Homepage
      How about SDL [libsdl.org], developed primarily by Loki? Pretty decent so far, from what I've used of it.
    • The only way to get game developers to come to Linux is to develop a Direct-X like API that makes it easy to develop Linux-native games.

      What's wrong with SDL [libsdl.org] / OpenGL [opengl.org]? It is stable, featureful, and cross-platform. The API is full featured, and the implementation is rock-solid. Throw in OpenAL [openal.org], and you have got everything that DirectX does (except stupid patented crap like force-feedback input) in a standards-based package.
      That is about as "linux-native" as it gets. I can't think of a single desktop-targetted distro that doesn't include the SDL libraries. If more windows developers used SDL for their games, then the Linux and MacOSX ports would be almost effortless.
    • Re:Won't work. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by praxim ( 117485 )
      I think the wealth of SDL/OpenGL comments you see pretty much spells out what's wrong with game development on Linux. I'm fairly sure that the Linux gaming crowd is a vocal minority at best, and few companies can afford to target this group. IIRC, profit margins on your average PC game are rather slim.
      It doesn't matter how good your APIs are- if people don't think they can profit from their work on your platform, they won't write for it. Just look at BeOS, which had a beautiful API but failed because it simply wasn't commercially viable.
    • Re:Won't work. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Patoski ( 121455 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:49PM (#5354129) Homepage Journal
      The only way to get game developers to come to Linux is to develop a Direct-X like API that makes it easy to develop Linux-native games.

      The existence of all the high quality Loki ports refutes this utterly. SDL, OpenGL and OpenAL are some noteable examples of cross platform and open APIs that are very useable.

      The real reason you don't see alot of professional quality Free Software games is the lack of Free art and music assets. Coding is only about 10%-20% of the job of creating a professional level game. Why do you think one sees so many Free Software/Open Source board games, tetris, and old school arcade clone? Its because the art requirements on these types of ventures are very small. Coders grok the concepts behind Free Software but its a much more difficult job getting artists (and musicians to an extent) to understand and contribute.

      The reason one doesn't see many commercial Linux ports is because the Linux desktop market isn't quite large enough for development houses to justify the effort (although this is beginning to change).
    • Re:Won't work. (Score:5, Informative)

      by StarTux ( 230379 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @04:49PM (#5355638) Journal
      Huh,

      Been living in a closet? We have SDL (http://www.libsdl.org) and FLTK (http://www.fltk.org). Not to mention OpenAL nor Miles sound system.

      Winex is good for those games that either had a developer who would never port to Linux (aka Microsoft).

      As for DirectX, well if you follow any game related mailing list you'd know DX9 has been causing a lot of issues with games...

      StarTux

  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gpinzone ( 531794 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:05PM (#5353722) Homepage Journal
    I don't know whether to be happy about anything that promotes Linux gaming, or disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary.

    RedHat...IBM...And this is different from that way Linux itself is promoted, how?
  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:08PM (#5353751)
    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    I'm taking applications for people to make a product for me. I'm much more flexible, in that it _doesn't have to be a game_. It could be anything. How about a new type of car? Or some sort of exciting new food product?

    Anyway, i'll be happy to introduce the team to each other. Then you guys can get to work inventing something fantastic. I won't pay you or anything, you just get together somehow and do it. W00t

    When you're done, give me a call. I'll look at it, and if I think its a product that can make money, i'll market it, sell it, and keep 30% of the profits from it. Think about it though, if you invent something worth 10 million dollars, you make SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS. Thats a lot of money.

    If your product is crappy, I'm not going to try to sell it or anything. I have a life, you know.

    Sound exciting? Well, it sure sounds exciting to me. In fact, i'm not going to limit it to a group of 8, i'm willing to let the entire ./ readership start developing products for me!

    Godspeed and Good luck!
  • by int2str ( 619733 )
    ...their web server isn't getting paid either ;)
  • by michaelsimms ( 141209 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:09PM (#5353773) Homepage
    We are not asking people to work for free. The situation is the same as when ANY game company is started, but we are giving the people assistance and guaranteed publishing.

    Imagine, if you start up a game development company with some of your friends, you wouldnt expect to be able to go up to a game publisher and say 'hey, pay me every week and I'll make you a game'. In fact you'd be VERY lucky if even they reply to your phone call when you offered them a completed game.

    The people working on this project will be starting a new company, but instead of the uncertainty, the 'is it worth our carrying on' - they can KNOW that they have a publisher, and they can KNOW it will get onto the shelves if they can get it finished.

    Yes, its a risk, but it could pay them bigtime - if it works.
    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:23PM (#5354720) Homepage
      We understand that you may have good intentions, and if you actually did guarentee publishing this would be a great deal.

      But you don't.

      At the bottom of your announcement, LGP commits to publishing the game but reserves the right to not do so if we feel that publishing will harm our company.. In essence, you do not guarantee publishing. You are guarenteeing that you have the option to publish, but that you have a convienient out if you choose not to do so. This is the most commonly abused clause in book publishing today, with many authors works tied up in legal tape surrounding the issues of optional publishing.

      *Actually* guarantee publishing, and make some guarenteed publishing commitments (x amount or more marketing, x amount of stores, x amount for box art...), and you have a good deal. But remember, you're a publisher now. Nobody will give you the benefit of the doubt on anything because your fellow publishers employ more lawyers than developers. It's a risk, but a significantly smaller one than you are asking the developers to take.

      And for god's sake, get a team of free artists and free level designers in on the thing before it is too late to have a complete game.
    • by ebooher ( 187230 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @05:05PM (#5355802) Homepage Journal

      Ok, look. I'm going to have to admit to being a little naive here and .... why is my rear end suddenly getting warmer, please put the flamethrowers down until *after* the post. I don't really understand why so many people are so caught up in complaining about this.

      I don't play games, typically, so I'm not your average raving fanatic ready at all times with my tome of useless time line knowledge on the whole of the gaming industry. However, I know that it is big business, and I also know that manufacturers are beginning to look in the direction of the gaming developers as the next level of high line computing.

      But did Id software start out, fully formed. Leaping from the bushes, games firmly in boxes hidden beneath trenchcoats ready to make nefarious deals? Psst. Buddy .... need a game? One of the great things about online forums is no one really knows how old anyone else is, until statements like the one I am about to make are made. Then one dates themselves. But, I remember a time back in the days of dinosaurs when we had these little programs called "Shareware." I seem to remember that the original Wolfenstein 3D was shareware. Wasn't it out before Doom and Quake? The first 3D shooter of the genre? Even though Doom was the biggie, and apparently built modern gaming as we know it. The ol' Wolf was pretty "bad" back then. For all the youngsters, "bad" is a term indicating something was really "rad," "hip," or "cool." Which are all terms to indicate "Good." God I hope "good" is still in Webster's Dictionary.

      These games, you see, were on a floppy diskette. You could pick them up all over the place, flea markets, the gas station, the grocery store. I kid you not, you could buy Wolfenstein 3D from my local grocery store. Then there were other true Id favorites. Duke Nukem. Which had three parts, or seperate games, if memory serves. All of them shareware. Written by some really imaginative people in a garage somewhere. All they ever asked for was like $10 - $15 bucks for a game. You mail them a payment, and they send you a code to unlock all of the game, or send you the floppy with the full game already on it.

      Don't you think that all of these "High line Gaming Developers who would Shape the industry and our world as we know it" had day jobs? All of them did, I'm sure of it. Even if there day job was coding another project (maybe even another game) They weren't feeding their families on this. They were using it for the exact same thing that I read out of this.

      A chance.

      Plain and simple. They wanted to be noticed, wanted their software to be used. Wanted their games to be played. And shareware was so much more than games, they had spreadsheet programs, comic book databases, you name it there was a shareware program that could do it. Oh wait .... that is kind of like the GNU/GPL/OpSo software today. Software all written for a chance to get noticed and have the opportunity to do something really really cool. By really imaginative people.

      I can't help but read through all the posts that are saying things like "This sucks." or "You suck." or even "You want me to code you something for free so you can make money off of it." and think to myself. How disappointing. No vision in any of them. Not a single imaginative soul in the lot. You don't seem able to see things in the larger perspective. This isn't about working for free. Hell, it can be argued that all of us work for free. It is about attaching *your* name to a project. Giving *your* John Hancock to the world of gaming. Something that Rare and InfoGrams and Sega and hell even Microsoft might notice

      This is about screaming I to the world. Well I say I damnit. Crazy script kiddies that don't know how to do anything that doesn't come with instructions. If you can't click next, next, next then you think you can't do it. You have to have it all spelled out for you because you as a world are afraid, you're all terrified of failing. This has nothing to do with money, it has everything to do with knowing the whole world is laughing at you. But you know what. Sign me up.

      That's right. Sign me up. I don't know a thing about C, or C++. I know bash shell scripting, I'm a UNIX administrator. I know some PERL and a little BASIC. Go on, laugh at me. That's right. I used to code games in BASIC for the Commodore 64. Bring it on. Because I'm not afraid. Whether you think that you can, or that you can not, you are right! And I tell you I can. I'll learn C, I'll learn C++, put my name on the list. Bill it as Ed Booher's Optika World VII. But give me my chance!

      Mr. DeVille, I'm ready for my close up.

  • by revery ( 456516 ) <charles@[ ]2.net ['cac' in gap]> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:09PM (#5353779) Homepage
    Developers are obliged to make the minimum 10 hours a week commitment...

    Let's see here, 8 people working at 10 hours a week. Is LGP also managing the team working on Duke Nukem Forever?

  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:11PM (#5353793)
    I've used the term Rock Band companies before based on the high school rock band.

    A bunch of kids get together and decide on a 'bitchin name for their band.

    Then they scribble it on their bass drum.

    Then, they actually start thinking about the music.

    Looks like they're doing the same thing here. The first thing they have scheduled is to think of the name for the company, (and make sure you can grab the domain name!!!) then it looks like part 2 of the agenda is to invent a new genre of computer game. Well, wouldn't I like to be a fly on the wall in THAT meeting!

  • This sounds like the worst kind of project management, honestly. Take a random sampling of developers, all with their own attitudes, skill sets, and motivations. It's like herding cats by default. Now choose a leader. How? During the first meeting? To steal from Cory Doctorow, what's the dude's whuffie? I don't know him from a hole in the wall. So the minute that I disagree with him I'm gonna get all tense and no longer be into it with the same passion that I would normally be. Sure, maybe there's a protocol for changing leaders, but all that means to me is that somebody in the group is going to want to change the leader *every single meeting*.

    And what role does LGP play as far as leadership goes? If they see the team, leader and all, going down a path they don't like, can they pull rank? Then what? At any time can they keep the idea for the game, toss all 8 programmers, and bring in a fresh batch?

    As I apply for jobs I find myself writing several times a day that a hacker who is passionate about what he's doing is 100x more productive than an average schmoe looking for a paycheck. Figure out a way to get a bunch of hackers together who are passionate about an idea *first*, and *then* keep them glued together with the paycheck. Not the other way around.

    I think that if you want to do this, then find 8 friends that you trust and respect and then do the exact same thing -- name a company, think of an idea, and code the hell out of it. THEN, maybe, once you've got a demo, go talk to LGP.

    • by michaelsimms ( 141209 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:59PM (#5354313) Homepage
      You have some good points so I'll try and answer them.

      The developers will all pretty much have one motivation - to create good Linux games. That will be a good starting point. Some of them will want to be in it for the money, some for the creativity. But the goal will be the same. Differences apart from that can sometimes be bad, sometimes be good for teamwork. You never can tell, it is the risk we all take starting a new company with new people.

      LGP cannot simply pull the whole team out. We cannot pull any member out unless HALF of the team requests it. If the whole team is messing up and not putting their back into it, then we can tell them that they need to improve or they risk not getting a publishable product at the end.

      The only direct leadership we will play is to supply a project manager to the group, to help them stay organised.

      I agree 100% that passion is more important than someone looking for a paycheck, which is why we feel that this is a good thing. People applying for this will know they dont get paychecks every week, they are going to have to create something good first. They get out of it what they put into it. Schmoe looking for a paycheck wont even apply.

      As for you rlast point, yes, if you have a good game, come tell us about it, we'll look seriously at any serious proposition we are offered.
      • Hi Michael,

        I didn't mean to sound discouraging to the idea, actually. I hope that it does work. I've just watched too many games fall victim to the committee syndrome where everybody has an idea for what they want, but don't want to code it..and don't want to code anybody else's idea, either, because hey screw em they didn't like my idea.

        The developers will all pretty much have one motivation - to create good Linux games. That will be a good starting point.

        I hope that this is enough. But I think it's too abstract. I remember a project I tried once a few years after I got out of college. I tried to deliberately stay up all night hacking. Couldn't do it. When I called my hacking buddy from college the next morning to tell him, he laughed and said "You didn't leave yourself a concrete enough plan, right?" And he was exactly right. Just saying "I will hack all night" couldn't get me over the hurdle, because I kept hitting these down periods of "All right, now what?" when the hacking stops. And I think that just saying "create a Linux game" might suffer the same fate. There's a certain critical mass you have to reach before people's passions will carry them over the finish line, and it's getting to this milestone that kills most committees for the reason I mentioned above. There's a catch 22 involved, absolutely -- I don't believe the game will exist until somebody can show me a concrete enough plan (or design, or requirements, or *something* to get it out in the open and agreed upon), but yet who wants to start a game if you don't believe it will exist?

        Good luck. I hope it works out.

  • by raytracer ( 51035 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:12PM (#5353801)

    Next you'll be saying that people will just donate their work to, oh, I dunno, say create an entire operating system from scratch.

    We all know that that will never work.

  • by NorthDude ( 560769 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:19PM (#5353868)
    They are offering peoples the opportunity to write a game for Linux.
    That's great in my opinion, even if the developers do not get paid.
    I mean, no one ever got paid for creating Tux Racer? Are do they?

    So, they don't get paid, but LPG offers to pay for the publishing AND the marketing.
    In doing so, they encounter the risk of LOOSING money.
    If the title do not sell well, THEY will lost money, not the developers.

    BUT, they also state that they will give 70% of the money made out of selling the game and keep the remaining to pay for the afore mentionned publishing/marketing cost.
    How can people see this as wrong is beyong my understanding.

    Peoples work on project for free because they like it, for fun, to learn, etc. etc. and no one complains about it.
    Now, a company offers those same people the chance to make money out of this work and all you can say is that they are bad?

    As much as I like the free software community, at times I have much troubles understanding what all of you value so much.
    Is it really "free speech" and "alternatives" or is it ONLY "free as in beer"?!?
  • LGP commits to publishing the game but reserves the right to not do so if we feel that publishing will harm our company. We will advise the developers in the planning stage if a game design is unsuitable, and as early as possible during development if development standards are not high enough.

    That's certainly a novel use of the word "commits".

    Honey, I'm entirely committed to this relationship, but reserve the right to not do so if it will harm my life. You will be notified as early as possible when I get sick of you or if someone better comes along.

  • I don't get it: Why not pick some existing project and get that off the ground? Why start from scratch when there are lots of Linux games that could use the help getting done (and probably getting wider notice by being "published" in a more formal sense)? I'd personally like to see Parsec [parsec.org] get finished.

    Having said that, this sounds like it might be a complete turn-off, purely because of the way they are going about it. LGP kinda sounds like they want to make money without making much effort. "You work for free, we'll make money" doesn't come across well, and is an easy forst thought.

    I'm all for Linux games as much as the next guy (probably more so; I bought every title Loki put out), but I don't think turning people off to the OSS dev model is how to go about it.

    -B

  • That was expected (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fredrikj ( 629833 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:22PM (#5353892) Homepage
    According to the text file they are looking for 8 programmers and 0 designers at this point. So, the programmers will have to do the design. No offence to programmers regarding their ability to design stuff, but, seriously, isn't this a bit typical for Linux-related projects? (I'm not trying to be flamebait)

    Design is just as important as programming when it comes to games and should not be considered at first in the last stage of development. Mind, powerful game engines like Quake II are already open under the GPL, so it wouldn't even be necessary to code everything from scratch if you are lazy (or clever).

  • "A new kind of game" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dmorin ( 25609 ) <dmorin@gFREEBSDmail.com minus bsd> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:24PM (#5353915) Homepage Journal
    You know, I don't think this idea will work, and already posted why. Having said that, it did give me a reason to brainstorm about the "new kind of game" concept and I can't let a good idea go to waste... :)

    What I want is a game that follows me places. Sometimes I'm at a terminal, sometimes I have a laptop (wired or not), sometimes a PDA, sometimes a cell phone. I want a game that takes advantage of as many of those as possible. A game that, when I'm not at one of those gadgets, has me thinking about what to do next time I am. A game that I can talk to my friends about, not in the past tense of "Dude, so I was playing Unreal last night..." but rather in the present, because the game is constantly going on and I'm using my friends' input as part of my strategy toward winning.

    There was such a game going around in 2001, sponsored by EA, but I forget the name. While playing you would get various emails and phone messages giving you clues about the game's progression. But I guess 9/11 had something to do with it's cancellation. I never got a chance to join.

    Anyway, that's the kind of game I'd be pushing were I to join this project. After all, where is Linux big? Servers, and embedded devices. If you go straight for the userinterface / graphics route, and don't end up at Windows, you're gonna die in the market. Come up with an innovative reason for why your game is a Linux game in the first place, and help the long term cause (getting more people onto Linux) rather than just providing a toy to the people who already have Linux (and know where to get all the free stuff anyway).

    • There was such a game going around in 2001, sponsored by EA, but I forget the name. While playing you would get various emails and phone messages giving you clues about the game's progression. But I guess 9/11 had something to do with it's cancellation. I never got a chance to join.

      Just found it, the game was called "Majestic" by Electronic Arts.

  • Michael - Perhaps you failed to read the article (as usual)? Maybe you missed the 70% remark? Sure, LGP isn't offering them salary, but the dev team will get 70% of the profits. They can do whatever they see fit with the 70%. The other 30% covers marketing, etc. Why did you fail to mention this?

    This is a damn fine idea, if you ask me. And it seems very fair. If a small team of good, dedicated coders wants to work on this, then so be it. They do this all of the time anyways, coding GPL apps for the benefit of everyone who sees fit to use it.

    MSimms of LGP even mentioned that they'd front the cost of tools (he used the Garage Games engine as an example) if they were needed, as long as it was a reasonable request. Either way, I see it as a good way for LGP to get noticed, assuming that they come up with a good game. What have the devs got to lose? If they volunteer, and have free time, the worst thing that they can get is 70% of the profits. You take a gamble. Make a crappy game, and don't make much money. Make a good game, and there may be very many benefits. I'd say that its not for everyone, but it is a reasonable offer, and a good (and unique) way to get in on commerical game development.
    • > Sure, LGP isn't offering them salary,
      > but the dev team will get 70% of the profits.

      Hate to be a nay-sayer, but 70% of 0 (or some other low number) is still bloody well close to 0.


  • I think these online role playing games are really the future of gameing (and much greater human interaction in general, but that is another story).

    People seem to love the community they build as well as like to just have little video game super hero represenations of themselves to goof around with, at least I do :)

    I think there are already some OSS projects desiged for this type of game development server side, but I couldn't find any on a quick search.

  • I'll probably get trolled for this. Oh well. Troll me if ya gotta if you really wanna miss the point.

    I'm sorry to be the one to say it, but as you've set up this process, you've doomed yourselves to failure.

    Hiring the programmers first and the designers, artists, later, you're putting the cart before the horse.

    You don't start making a moving by hiring actors. There's a script. A director. A lot of storyboarding. Conceptual Design. Location planning. Scene planning. Shot planning. You know, for the most part, how every piece fits together before there's any action in front of the camera.

    A game doesn't start with programmers. A game starts with an idea. A concept. A concept that is then fleshed out by writers, artists, etc... Quite possibly one or two programmers/developers with a knowledge of whatever game engine will be used (and/or maybe helped choose the appropriate one in the first place.) are available to consult with the conceptual team and prototype some things along the way. But the code is more than likely the LAST thing to be written.

    It's a shame. It sounds like an interesting project. It's one I'd certainly like to lend my artistic talents, writing, and imagination to. But it's going to fail unless things are done in the right order. You can't tell 8 programmers "make a game, we'll make it pretty and give it a plot and music and a look, etc... later." You've got to take the proper time to conceptualize your game _before_ you get programmers on-board.
    • You are making a VERY good point.

      The developers will be the ones to decide on the type of game, and then as soon as it is appropriate we will get onto finding artists, musicians and the like. The time of WHEN we do this is not fixed, it is for the developers to decide, and LGP will advise them to th ebest of our ability.

      If they want artists and mucicians in right at the start, then thats what they get. Their call.

      LGP is a guide here, not a master, they have creative freedom and decision-making freedom. We just nudge occasionally {:-)
    • A game doesn't start with programmers. A game starts with an idea. A concept. A concept that is then fleshed out by writers, artists, etc...

      Yep, absolutley. I mean, look at Tetris. That was started with a programmer first, they even completely forgot the plot writers, and look where that ended up!

      I mean, damn, you wouldn't want this thing to turn into another Tetris would you. That'd be pretty sucky.

  • Get this projects promises in writing before you begin!!!

    If this turns out to be a money making process, you could get screwed.

    Just my $.02

    Dolemite
    • Well, seeing as this is a proven company (Linux Game Publishing) that has released a number of games to the community, and also given that Michael Simms is known for being responsive and patient when assailed with questions, I'd say that LGP has a pretty solid reputation going. The likelihood that they would screw that over to make a few bucks is incredibly slim.

      I'd also be highly surprised if LGP *didn't* have a handful of paperwork for the eight people that they choose.

      • Thanks for picking this one up, its always nice to hear someone say we have a reputation for being honest and solid. Thanks! {:-)

        Yes, you are correct, we have paperwork ready for people that are chosen for the project. We would never ask people to work without an agreement in writing, otherwise, it is as dangerous for us as for them.

        In effect, the agreement structre will be

        LGP will have an agreement with the dev company (which will be a legal entity, I will have a UK Limited company formed for the development).

        LGP will pay that company.

        That company will have agreements with the developers. The developers, having 90% stake of the company, can then completely control the money received without LGP being able to interfere.

        LGP cannot fail to pay that company, we would be in breach of contract and the company could take LGP to court and claim the money. It will be watertight. The documents are drawn up already.

        And as a final note, it is *so* not in our interests to screw anyone over. The long term goal of this is to help form a self-sustaining game development company that is Linux-friendly. This will give is all more games, most likely published through LGP, so we would be stabbing ourselves in the foot if we screwed the group over.
  • Wrong Market? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThrasherTT ( 87841 ) <thrasher@deathma t c h.net> on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:31PM (#5353980) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it is just me, but is a game for linux really marketable? How many linux-only games have turned a profit? How many linux ports of other games have sold enough copies to make up for the porting effort?

    How do you market a game to users of an OS that:
    A) Is currently focused on servers
    B) When "on the desktop," are being run (in general) by people who want all of their software to be free (beer and speech)
    C) Is planning on making it harder for hardware vendors to create/distribute closed software in the form of drivers

    If this ever gets off the ground (low chance), and if it makes it to completion (extrememly low chance), would it even sell enough to make up for the marketing costs? I worked on a game for free for a while, during which time I had a day job which was VERY slack (this was not long after working on a game for an actual game dev house/publisher). Even so, it took many months to get to the point where we even had an idea of the kinds of tools that would be required to generate/integrate the content into the engine.

    I'd love to see this work, but realistically, it won't. Not at this point.

    • Re:Wrong Market? (Score:3, Informative)

      You are right, the Linux market pays less money than other game markets. But, the fact is this. I started LGP cos I am a gamer and because I am a Linux user. I dont do it to make me rich, I do it because I am getting games for the platform of my choice.

      This project has the option, they can also make their game for windows, consoles, anything. They have that choice. LGP has contacts in windows publishing houses to pretty much guarantee we can get them a good windows publisher too. The only restiction is - it must work on Linux - not exclusively on Linux.
      • Re:Wrong Market? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ThrasherTT ( 87841 )
        Have you and/or your company review the success or lack thereof of the marketability of games created by the Game Developers' Conference's Indy Game Festival award winners? I would tend to think that those people that are active in the game development community would be interested in the GDC, and those that have free time to make games would be interested in working toward that sort of exposure. I don't know of a single game from the festival that was successfully marketed, perhaps you can prove me wrong?

        Have you actually worked in the game development community in the past 5 years? When LGP says that justified tools will be purchased for the development team, does that include budget for the Quake 3 engine, for example? Or just a linux clone of Lithtech? My point is that the non-Linux market isn't going to tolerate less-than current technology, and current technology is expensive, whether you develop it from scratch or buy it outright. Which leads you back to the problem that the linux gaming market is small, perhaps infinitesimally so.

        What in your business plan can you say makes LGP look more promising than Loki?

  • by Gannoc ( 210256 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @02:32PM (#5353997)
    6 teams of 8 programmers each. Give the teams names like "The Lightning Crew" and "Project: Dynamite".

    Then, let them compete with each other in a bitter struggle to earn the affection of LGP by developing the best game.

    The contest can be punctuated by weekly challenges. Say, two teams have to play a UT2003 team deathmatch against each other... WITH THE MONITORS UPSIDE DOWN. The winners get use of a rendering farm for a day. The losers lose their internet connection for 48 hours.

    Or, the teams need to rot13 encode the first page of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by hand, while a naked man squirts lemon juice in their eyes. The winner receives their choice of an O'Reilly book. The loser probably goes blind for a day.

    Or, a chosen member of each team has to write a functioning HTTP server (text only!), while being forced to watch the goatse.cx website - Clockwork Orange style. The winner receives a 2.0ghz P4 system from Gateway.com. The loser has his liver pecked out by ravens.

    Slowly but surely, a product emerges and is judged. Now _thats_ something that will propel the linux gaming movement forward. Hop to it.
  • Massive retail seems to go against the idea of Open Source.

    Build it and they will come; this has been well proven. But the kind of marketing they seem to be espousing really only works for Microsoft based stuff, mainly because they hold the majority share of the desktop environment. I mean, MAC beats Linux on the desktop, thus there are Mac game sections in most game stores.

    I don't see this happening for Linux until the desktop market share is higher.

    Now a flat-out free Open source game would kick some serious ass. Zangband is cool as hell, but we really need to move on.
  • Yeah, I'd like to sign up for Lead Non-Coder. Pffft. Here's a hint: A good game is a collaboration between Engineers and Artist (non-coders). Art is not something you tack on when the code's complete.

    I will now fail to acquire a ten foot pole, which will preclude my touching this.

    Also: "Depending on how good the game is, how much the public like it, and any porting to other platforms, the revenue from the game could be a
    modest 50,000 pounds (75,000 US Dollars) up to a substantially larger sum in excess of a million pounds."

    Or a really modest 0 pounds. The public, god bless 'em, can like something zero-much. Not trying to be an ass, but someone really needs some clue-sticking re: current state of the game industry. And I'm not even talking about the current down turn, just on the relative odds of success for any developer. It's a damn tough world, adjust your expectations accordingly.

    That being said, done properly, it could be a good education for young 'uns who want to get into the industry. But education & opportunity are not necessarily equal. You might then be able to leverage that education into an opportunity. Therein lies the trick.

    Good luck to all, it will be required.

  • This is very similar to a music contact, but without the "evil":

    * The developers get 70% instead of 7%-10% (or less)
    * Development costs are *NOT* recoverable (except they are paid after the fact)
    * There is no mention of who owns the copyright, that should be ironed out, but it appears the developers would.
  • don't know whether to be happy about anything that promotes Linux gaming, or disappointed that people are being asked to work on a commercial project without a salary.

    However on the flip side this may be a good for someone who wants to get a start in game development. Nothing like a title under their belt to spruce up the ol' resume.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Friday February 21, 2003 @03:04PM (#5354417) Homepage
    So the development team absorbs the risk, the up-front costs of development, and in return gets... Um... Free beta testers (which can be had online) and... uh... An option to publish. Of course, this is for linux publishing, a niche market with low success and high attrition rates (read: slave pay). And this publishing comes from the company responsible for the linux ports of, well, look at their page of games [linuxgamepublishing.com] and resellers [linuxgamepublishing.com] yourself and decide how well they penetrate into your local market. Majesty, Deciples, Bantits, and Ballistic aren't released yet, so only look for penetration of Mindrover (an excellent game, BTW), Candy Cruncher, and Creatures.

    You pay the entire development cost, and 30% of the worldwide take. And 10% of whatever the team develops in the future. And the article hardly mentions this, but they retain the copyright, as your company is their property during the development cycle. Which means you give them the rights to any sequels, and any ideas you may have developed. You also give up human resource options, as they choose your team's members and your team leader.

    The fact that the development announcement makes no mention of artists, sound engineers, or designers until "some point in the future" leads one to question the ultimate success of the project. How do you design a display engine without a vision of the world to display? Will you need vertex shading, texture mapping, bump mapping? Will you need a deep field of vision or a short one? Does your main character need some sort of ponytail physics engine? What physics resources do the level designers need to draw the player in? What will be the musical theme of the project? To think that games are developed by programmers alone is foolish bordering on the asinine. Do programmers spend years learning how to draw in and capture the attention of users? Can that be grafted on at the end? What kind of animation engine do your artists recommend working with for the kinds of movements your game will require? Can you create compelling characters? Do you know what kind of interactions your compelling characters will need to make with the wider world?

    Now you have spent 40 hours a week (10 is a joke if it is to ever ship) for 8 months to develop this title, without vision or human exchange. If you assume they chose good programmers, the development team has invested over 4 hundred thousand dollars worth of their time alone (not to mention what the artists / etc will eventually be doing). You also can't prototype without artists and level designers, so we can assume this will be a single-revision game. Which means it will be garbage. You will have lost $400,000 of your time (50k per person), in exchange for knowledge and experience about how *not* to run a gaming company. Likewise, even if you successfully make it to market (1/4th of all games are canned), you still only have a 1 in 10 chance of market success. And in a market the size of linux gaming, that can be quite small, especially for a programming team the size of that working on Worms 3.

    You're really much better off finding a serious group of programmers, artists, and musicians, and developing a game yourself. Once you're there, shop it to publishers. Or self-publish... You're far more likely to be the next Ambrosia than you are to be the next Id.

    If this were announced by Acclaim, it would be a case of publishers crassly exploiting the youth and energy of fresh game developers. It is difficult to call LGP an "exploiter," as their mere survival is shocking. However, this project of theirs is driving down the value of game developers, already horribly underpaid and overworked. They, in exchange for several hours from a producer (a lot of involvement, 100 hours, would still be only 4,000 dollars) get the option to own and publish an original title at 30%, and own 10% of a fresh, young development house. It sounds like a great deal for LGP. But chances are, the people who developed this game are walking away with little other than their name on a box. Or, I should say, in the credits to a game with someone else's name on the box.

    If you take your value as a developer seriously, you will stay away from this deal. This is not the "in" you have been dreaming of.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian

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