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On The Difficulty Of Developing Open Source Games 87

Thanks to an anonymous reader for pointing to a Competitive Enterprise Institute essay for discussing lessons learned by looking at the history of open-source games (PDF link, text version as posted to Politech list.) The piece suggests that "generally, games have not been a success story for the open source community", arguing that "...the consensus among gamers and developers is that open source games still lag behind proprietary games in originality, sophistication, and artwork; many are clones of earlier proprietary or shareware games." It notes that "...the open source business model seems to have trouble coming up with large initial investments at the cutting edge of innovation, where risks are greatest", and then suggests some larger lessons for governmental public policy on open-source software.
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On The Difficulty Of Developing Open Source Games

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  • Laxius Power (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gr33nNight ( 679837 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:17PM (#7512847)
    Laxius Power is a free SNES-type RPG created by one person in France with RPG Maker.

    The website is: http://laxiuspower.fr.st/ and its about 20 megs, and one of the best damn RPGs I have played. If you are a fan of SNES-era rpgs, check this game out. At times it is very difficult, but very fun and rewarding.
    • Re:Laxius Power (Score:3, Insightful)

      Looks nice, I'll need to check it out after work.

      Unfortunately, it's offtopic a bit, as it's not open source. It's made with a (nice proprietary) RPG creation program called RPGMaker.

      Just because it's distributed for free doesn't make it open source. However, if I'm wrong and the download is an editable module for RPGMaker that someone could load up and tweak the hell out of just for kicks, then I'll accept it as being on-topic.

    • Oh please, a game "created by one person in France," I can't believe someone fell for this obvious plug of Gr33nNight's own game.
      • Dude, I did not create this game. I am an American living in Wisconsin. If I did create this game, I would be telling everyone, cause I would own. Download the game and play it, all the dialog is in Engrish, some of it is outright funny because of that. Im a huge fan of old school RPGs and I figured this was a good thread to post about this game.
  • the reason IMO ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dreadlord ( 671979 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:20PM (#7512883) Journal
    ... is that the open source mevement lacks good artists, you know, open source apps are usually well-coded but lack a good GUI, in games, good graphics / sounds greatly affect the gaming experience, so developing a good open source game requires programmers (already available) and artists (aren't there yet unfortunately).
    • "Second, a large part of game development involves drawing, not programming; and the open source movement had not evolved to support stables of artists."

      Not only in your opinion, but it is also the author's opinion. RTFA :D
    • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @05:39PM (#7514405) Journal
      I disagree. Everyone here is taking the opinion that all that goes into games is programming and art, forgetting the one thing that makes games great: design. I don't mean the design of the code, I mean the ruleset by which the game operates, and the game mechanics. Programming is about implementing that design, and art is about giving it a coherent look. Unfortunately, I think most open-source games come from a programming pradigm where the coder starts writing stuff, and plugging problems as he goes, with no real 'feel' for the overall design and game mechanics.

      For example, I have been playing FreeCiv a lot lately. For those that don't know, FreeCiv is a free/open source game based on Sid Meier's Civilization series. I really like it, but let's face it, it's just a clone. Now, I'm willing to bet that when Sid Meier made the original Civilization, the majority of work went into gameplay & balance, not into coding. It's that kind of vision of how a game should *work* that most free/open game projects seem to lack. I'm not saying that they're all bad or unoriginal - it's just the nature of the free/open source community to be made up mostly of coders honing their skills rather than game designers.

      Some other data: Linuz Journal's 2003 user choice awards [linuxjournal.com] picked out Frozen Bubble as their best game - a clone of an old arcade game. Second was Quake 3, and third was Tux Racer. Tux Racer at least seems to have an original concept and design, so at least it shows the community can come up with some original ideas.
      • by Saige ( 53303 )
        I think you hit on one of the key points here.

        This is why we see so many projects started to clone an existing game - you can get a group of people to, say, copy X-Com UFO Defense, or Civilization, or Dance Dance Revolution, because they know what the final product should turn out to be.

        Trying to create a new game results in much more difficulty, as you have people disagreeing over what the design should be, each person gets their own features in and then wants to keep them in regardless of the game balan
    • That's ironic, because I have always thought that the values which seem to be central to the open source community (liberty, self expression, etc) are ones which have also been leitmotif of the more artistically inclined long before computers ever existed.

      There may be few artists in the open source community, but I feel generally there are far more 'artists' contributing to the public domain than there are programmers. Skins are a good example of artist contribution to the public commons (for example www.t
    • thats true. i work with an open source splinter of quake2 thats running a quake3 mod's media, with features found in d3. (sorta, i'm not making all of them active cause not everyone has a space shuttle vid card.) having the artwork, the models, the levels helps allot. there's no way that it could've been done without production from the team.
  • Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:25PM (#7512932) Homepage Journal
    The only reason is because of the artwork and graphics. Programming is easy and many programmers have lots of free time and don't mind working on open source stuffs. That's why software is the primary open source product.

    Art and graphics and such take a lot of time, effort, work, etc. Nobody who has the ability to do that stuff well is going to do it for free and release the rights to it in a GPL style license. Especially if they design marketable new characters or make new amazing music. The talented folk who do that stuff well all have jobs doing it for a living. So they sure aren't going to want to do it in their spare time.

    Look for open source game engines. You'll find a-plenty of high quality ones. But complete games need artists in addition to programmers. And these types aren't into the open source action. Old games work very well for open source because they are all pixely and you don't need to be a great artists to do them, just a decent one. A programmer who can wield the gimp well can make an old school game. But I'd like to see you make a modern fps at the Half-Life2/Doom3 level with just 3 programmers in a basement. Expensive artists are an absolute requirement.
    • also.. games are usually a project meant to provide one final release.

      which doesn't get quite into the open source model where software evolves over time and gains momentum..

      but the artwork/leveldesign/scripting/plot are the main issues. there's lots of high quality free games from genres that don't rely on these(puzzless&small action games&etc).
      • Or so it appears on the surface. Often, game engines are built upon and reused, with new and shiny graphics set applied to make it look more new than it is underneath. This especially applies to sequels. It is a huge money and time saver for developers to reuse code rather than do everything from scratch.
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TwistedGreen ( 80055 ) <twistedgreen&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:57PM (#7513286)
      The talented folk who do [art and graphics design] well all have jobs doing it for a living. So they sure aren't going to want to do it in their spare time. ...as opposed to the programmers who program in their spare time?

      I think it's primarily a difference in mentality and subculture. A lot of these design artists don't have an 'open-source community.' Why this is, and why the two communities are different, is left as an exercise to the reader.
      • Being a starving artist won't get you laid, so you don't free work.

        Being any kind of programmer won't get you laid, so you may as well work for free if it's fun.

      • I think it's primarily a difference in mentality and subculture. A lot of these design artists don't have an 'open-source community.' Why this is, and why the two communities are different, is left as an exercise to the reader.

        I believe it is modern western culture which splits these two camps so starkly. Modern western culture teaches artists that their artwork is a special sacred thing that we dare not tamper with and it is heresy to allow anyone else to modify our works. This is of course a very re
        • Eh...maybe (Score:2, Insightful)

          by tigermonkey ( 670142 )

          Maybe...but then again, one could argue that Shakespeare synthesized new plays from material that was available then; from what I've seen from at least some of the sources for some of his plays, there are enough differences between what Shakespeare wrote as a play, and what the sources Shakespeare probably used actually said, that Shakespeare's stuff comes across as mostly original and unique.

          Music has a similar problem: yes, musicians can borrow either theme or sample from an existing work (or body of wo

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frequanaut ( 135988 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:57PM (#7513292)
      Wtf? This is modded up?

      Yeah, us programmers. Easy work with lots of free time. Why just yesterday I rolled out of bed around 11AM, scooted off to work for an hour or so, then came back home to work on my open source project.
      Ahhh, drawing, that's hard work my friend. Manly work. Many is the day I've seen tortured, broken, artists rubbing their nubby, dirty, worn fingers; sore from the back breaking illustration marathons.

      In my experience, as a programmer married to an artist, they're not too different.

      The fact is *most* open source projects are done by students or the unemployed. There are exceptions to that where there is a business supporting the product (i.e. apache or the linux kernel) but the majority of projects are done by students.

      Artists would release their work into the public domain for the same reason people writing GPLd code do. Recognition, enjoyment, chicks, whatever.

      However I think the concept of open source, giving something away that could be sold is pretty unique to software development right now. I find it humorous that people just give away all their work myself.
      • The fact is *most* open source projects are done by students or the unemployed.

        Do you have research on this? The Boston Consulting Group's Hacker Survey [bcg.com] (warning, PDF!) had some very different numbers. I'm curious to the real story either way.

        • No, I don't. It's my impression after spending much time looking over sourceforge and spending time lurking on the debian mail lists.

          I too would be interested in putting some real numbers down. If you'd be interested in collaborating, let me know.
      • The fact is *most* open source projects are done by students or the unemployed. [snip] However I think the concept of open source, giving something away that could be sold is pretty unique to software development right now. I find it humorous that people just give away all their work myself.

        Let's see... I'm a college student, an open source programmer [halo43.com] and an artist [halo43.com]. I seem to fit pretty well into your stereotype except for two things. One, my artwork is just as free as my software, and two, unless somethi

        • "I seem to fit pretty well into your stereotype except for two things."

          I'd not categorize it as a stereotype, just an impression. Stereotype is the wrong word as it conveys a negative connotation.

          Your artwork is nice, if uninspiring and I'd hardly call HTML work "programming".

          Maybe you should spend some more time collaborating with a low level programmer (e.g. not PHP/mySql) to create a video game ;)

          But, you actually do fit into my 'stereotype' as you're a college student giving away your code. I'm curi
    • Lack of skilled artists with spare time isn't really the problem in my mind. They exist, in masses, just look at fan art and person art pages. But these people are ussually just artists and lack the knowlegde of how to transpose a drawing into a game. What is in low supply is graphic artist with modeling skills. Making a good model still requires expencive software and a lot of time. But as making models gets easier and generic ones start comming avaliable there will be people willing to contribute.

    • The only reason is because of the artwork and graphics. (...)Art and graphics and such take a lot of time, effort, work, etc. Nobody who has the ability to do that stuff well is going to do it for free and release the rights to it in a GPL style license.

      Have you ever seen the Desert Combat [desertcombat.com] and Eve of Destruction [planetbattlefield.com] mods for BF1942 [planetbattlefield.com]? They look waaaaaayyy better than the BF1942 game itself, and they are free. OK. I know, BF1942 is not GPL-ed. And there is already an existing graphics engine. But many skille
    • "Programming is easy"
      A 'Hello World' master are you? Good programming is not easy, tough guy.
  • While there are a plethera of worms and viruses directed at Windows because of the political proclivities of hackers...

    I'm guessing the main reasons people write worms for Windows in not because of some ideological disagreement with Microsoft but probably because (a) Windows is riddled with security holes, (b) tons of people use Windows, and (c) a worm or virus activated by a common user on a Windows machine can do lots of damage to system files.


    • Actually, I think it's a lot simpler than that. (a) Most script kiddies own Windows machines, and so most script kiddies write Windows viruses. If most script kiddies owned Macs, most viruses would be written for Macs; on the other hand, since Mac lacks the gaping security holes that Windows has, there probably wouldn't be enough viruses to support an anti-virus software industry.
      • I think it's simpler than even that.

        Most people use Windows, and most people are stupid enough to run any unfamiliar program that they get their hands on. A virus is propagated.

        Though this is more exclusive to trojans versus worms, which exploit user stupidity (b) versus security holes (a) respectively.
  • by Damien Neil ( 11403 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:30PM (#7512993)
    http://www.capitalresearch.org/search/orgdisplay.a sp?Org=CEI200

    The CEI appears to be a pro-business lobbying organization. Their donors list is a who's-who of US automobile and oil companies.

    The article referenced can be summed up as: "There aren't very many open source games, therefore governments shouldn't open source code they pay to have written and shouldn't have procurement policies that prefer open source code." No real effort is made at connecting the thesis and conclusion. (Governments don't buy many games--America's Army aside.)

    I'm not certain why a very minor article from a propaganda organization would be considered newsworthy.
    • *grumble*

      Preview, I meant to hit preview...

      http://www.capitalresearch.org/search/orgdisplay.a sp?Org=CEI200 [capitalresearch.org]

    • Care to attack any of the specific points? Or just the source...

      Didnt think so.
      • Actually, despite his appearance of attacking the source, he does make a good point, in that the article tries to take game development, which is a very specific field that has very specific requirements that hinder open source development, and then applies it to more general development.

        In fact, government-funded development is done under whatever license the government chooses in it's terms for the funding. This can be a point of negotiation in many contracts, but since contracts are often open-bid, ther
        • He just attacks the source. You took the knowledge you have presented here and read into his attack on the source what you wanted to read. His post said none of what yours did.

          I actually agree with most everything you state except the last part.

          Once that source is available under the public domain it can be used for any purpose without restriction, which should be the intent of government-funded software research (unless, of course, there are specific reasons to keep the software itself out of the pu
  • Not Suprising (Score:4, Informative)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <agnosticpopeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:35PM (#7513039) Journal
    Most people can't afford to develop games full time without getting paid. The software industry has become more mature in figuring out ways to make people buy games. People who do want to develop games as a hobby tend to use ready made editors. The Warcraft 3 editor is extremely powerful and can make games well beyond the RTS genre. These "new games" are open source by default but can be protected if you really want to (most people don't). Many people downright encourage manipulation of source (check out wardraft [wardraft.org] for example).
  • Additional reasons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:35PM (#7513047) Journal
    In addition to the extreme cost of producing media for games such as artwork and sound, there's also the problem of legal threats. A lot of game companies try to bully small and open source game producers into shutting down their projects. Hasbro has done this dozens of times, taking their small competitors to court, losing because ideas aren't protected by copyright, and appealing until the defendant gives up or go bankrupt.

    An example of an open source game being bullied to death is FreeCraft, a great WarCraft II clone developed by fans primarily because WarCraft II doesn't run on Linux or Windows, and Blizzard showed no intention to port it. Despite the fact that it encourages you to buy a copy of the game to rip the tilesets from, Blizzard shut them down earlier this year by threatening to sue. Since most non-business oriented open source projects aren't backed by money, the developers had no choice but to give up on the well matured project, despite having a a good chance of winning if they had gone to court.

    Unless you're inventing an entirely new genre, you'd be taking a big risk developing an open source game these days.
    • Er... Isn't the last statement there a little broad considering the example you gave...

      From the FreeCraft/WarCraft II fiasco, I would think the lesson would be that companies are willing to go after open source projects that try to be direct clones of existing games. There's a big difference between creating a game in the same genre, and creating a game that is supposed to be a clone(down to importing art files) from an existing game.

      While the attitude of the companies is rather short sighted, I'm n
    • It will probally take a decade to get rid of people claiming that FreeCraft got shutdown by Blizzard, it is simply not right. FreeCraft did not get shutdown by Blizzard.

      Yes, Blizzard sent a letter to the FreeCraft developers asking them for a name change and a few other things, which seem to be mostly a result of Blizzard lawyers not understanding what FreeCraft really is and never ever looking at it. Thats it, the next day the FreeCraft developers deleted the project from sourceforge.net without any furt

    • there's a big difference between creating a new game and trying to exactly clone an existing one.
  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @03:35PM (#7513053) Journal

    This "report" is filled with all sorts of wonderful crap, isn't it?

    Furthermore, some of the political support for building preferences for open source into the process comes from anti-Microsoft sentiment...

    Perhaps it's more a matter of the government being wary of being completely and utterly dependent on a company who makes products riddled with security holes and has already been found guilty of illegal market practices.


  • Games go beyond the "scratch an itch" model, because they require a artistic vision that is probably very hard to motivate other people towards unless you pay them. Imagine the mailing list flamewars over what philosophical or political undertones to put into a game or, even worse, what the cup size of the heroine should be.

    • Hmm.. Actually, I've found that philosophy and politics are the least of the problems. The most serious problem I've run into is related to the fact that any significant game involves work on more than just the game itself - you need the tools to make the data for the game. While you can use some existing libraries for some things, they may not (read "almost never") provide all the features you need, so a lot of the actual work initially doesn't go into the game at all: it goes into the editors behind it. A
      • I've been working over a year on the editor for a rpg I plan to write. One of the worst parts of that is keeping in contact with people interested in working with you. I've already lost a couple people whose circumstances have changed in the large time it's taken to get it somewhat functional. I still maintain the importance of a good editor though. It might take a long time to get ready, but once done you can get a lot of help in the development from non-programmers. The artists can test their sprites, mus
  • The opensource model does not lend itself to the massive untertaking of making a game.
    The great part of OS is that it allows everyone to add to a project, changing it to fit there needs or desires, and give their opinion. This doesn't work for making games though. You really need a group of people that are lead by a single idea.
    Developing a game for free is not a viable idea. It takes too long and requires too many skills. If you were to do it following the OS model the game would be out of date by th
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The amount of creative conflict present in a team increases exponentially with the number of people on the team; thus, without a clear leader who can hire and fire, large "open source" teams will never be able to resolve their creative differences.

    Image 25 people trying to paint a painting. Without a single vision, such an effort is doomed to fail, which is why knockoffs are common among open source and freeware games; they're easy to agree on, and have a functioning prototype sitting right there. Game

  • Writing a game in my spare time, which I intend to (one day) release open source. I keep notes in my journal. My business model is that I have almost no life.

    Probably it will take me several more years to finish.
  • People comparing how "open source" or "free software" has failed compared proprietary software are performing a non sequitor. It's like saying Susan B. Anthony failed to live up to the standards of attractiveness compared to women in her day. Of course! That's the whole point--feminism wasn't about bettering oneself in the eyes of common feminine mores, it was about rejecting those mores. Correspondingly, free software is about rejection of the proprietary model, it isn't just another business model.

  • This is an idea I've been thinking about for a while...
    Why not just Open Source the game code but keep the artwork/music/levels/etc. copyrighted? The project would gain all the advantages of the open source development process, but the final product could still be packaged and sold. People would have to buy the game to experience it in full, as the designers intended, but the packaged game would include source code so that modders can hack it to their hearts content. It could also turn a game of partia
    • Maybe you should look at the Planeshift MMORPG (www.planeshift.it). The game code is opensource (GPL, IIRC), but the art and maps are a simple copyright. This lets anyone make their own MMORPG, but prevents people from putting up their own Planeshift servers.

      Of course, the problem with Planeshift is the slow development speed. I've been watching the project since 2001, and I don't expect a more-or-less final version of the engine until late 2004 or early 2005, with the maps taking even longer.
    • Well some companies sort of do this. Id Software [idsoftware.com] usually releases their sourcecodes a little while after the games hit the shops so developers can look at the code and also use it to build own mods and things.

      Still, the game is not distributed, so you still have to buy the box if you want to play the original game. Plus you need a key if you want to play online.
  • ... they draw in sketchbooks [piselli.com], paint [piselli.com], sculpt, design web pages [piselli.com], or any other of a variety of personal artistic projects.

    now the question then becomes: "well what of the CG artists who have an itch to scratch?" well, many of them opt to create their own highly detailed renderings, or digital paintings [piselli.com], or even make their own animated shorts. there is far more artistry at your fingertips when you are not constrained by the limitations of a realtime graphics engine.

    "ok, ok, but what about the miniscule subs
  • This article is rather weird. Here it is, summarized:

    Back in 1999, Shawn Hargreaves wrote a really neat paper on the dearth of open source games. That paper is still true today.

    Open source software doesn't seem to be able to handle the initial risk that corporations take on when they fund an innovation that may fail. Games are on one side (high risk) of the spectrum in software development and OSes are on the other (low risk).

    Um... and governments shouldn't be forced to use open source software any mor

    • Yeah, that was my first thought when I read the article. While it's clear that open-source games haven't made much of an impact, it's quite a leap to try to relate that to government procurement. Aside from the likes of America's Army, how many games do governments actually commission? I suspect that the creation of most government software doesn't require many artists, musicians, or writers.

      Take the current hot topic of e-voting machines--in this case, the user interface/experience is very important
  • Originality (Score:2, Informative)

    by Beolach ( 518512 )

    "...the consensus among gamers and developers is that open source games still lag behind proprietary games in

    originality, sophistication, and artwork"

    I disagree with OS games not being original. Liquid Wars [ufoot.org] won Happy Penguin's [happypenguin.org] "Most Original Linux Game 2002", and is IMO on of the most original games I've ever played.

    Just my 2 cents

  • First off, it is true that open-source games lack a lot of the glitz and spectacle of closed-source games. But that's actually not relevant. Look at a great open-source game like armagetron [sf.net]. My non-geek friends love this thing. Everyone I've introduced it to gets hooked on it. But it's really nothing more than "Worms" done right with great gameplay.

    Armagetron, in my opinion, is like "The Blair Witch Project". They are both the work of talented amateurs. Armagetron will never be Doom 3, but Blair Wi

  • by Who Man ( 671061 ) on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @05:23PM (#7514222)
    This could be its own Ask Slashdot post, but it seems relevant enough here. It's clear why Linux makes people money. Because it's not trivial to put together a distribution, people will pay for one. People will also pay for support. And Linus gets paid to do speeches. It's clear why things like Zope or JBoss make money. Because it's not trivial to build a website, people will pay someone else to do it or they'll pay for training. It's clear how a multiplayer game could make money. Sell subscriptions to access the servers hosting the game. But a single-player game seems the most contradictory to an open source model. People buy the game and essentially throw it away (as a couple other posters have mentioned). If others can just redistribute the game for free and undercut the cost of the original developer, then the developer has no incentive to produce the game in the first place. And the better the game is, the less money you would make, because the game would spread that much faster. I'm trying to get into game development, and I can see only three reasons for making open source software: I think I can make a game that's so great that other people want to advertise on my site. I think I can make a game that's so great people will want to buy t-shirts and hats. Or I think I can make a game that's good enough that a company will hire me--to help make a proprietarty game! Can someone dispute this?
    • Huh. So you can't think of ONE MORE reason eh?

      Making a game for the enjoyment of making a game is not a reason? You're a programmer, so I assume you enjoy programming. I assume you'd enjoy seeing people deriving pleasure from your software. I assume you'd appreciate comments and praise and the increase in credibility you would gain from putting out a quality piece of software.

      Every one of your reasons is economic. Does no one write software for the sake of writing software anymore?
      • Of course, that's an excellent reason to do something--it's the reason I do most things outside of my job, including game programming. I guess the question should have been:

        How can making single-player open source games get me out of my day job?

        There are shareware game developers that make money (and thus get out of day jobs), because they enforce registration. How can someone make money with an open source game?
        • I guess I see that as putting the cart before the horse. I don't write an open source game so that I can get out of my day job, I work a day job so that I can write an open source game.

          Even Linus worked at Transmeta all those years, yeah they gave him lattitude to spend time on Linux, but they didn't hire him to do it.
    • this is (Score:2, Interesting)

      the most insightful post in the thread.

      The best way to make money is to create a commercial game, and build an edit module so that the user community can build their own rooms and levels. Not unlike Neverwinter Nights, Morrowind, and others.

      Thus, your game is not "disposable" when finished - the commercial game serves as an education for amateur developers, who then make new content (for free).

      Next, develop a moderating system for the user-created content (to weed out the crappy stuff), and see what flo
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1. Introduction

    As everyone knows, Open Source software is the wave of the future. With the market share of GNU/Linux and *BSD increasing every day, interest in Open Source Software is at an all time high.

    Developing software within the Open Source model benefits everyone. People can take your code, improve it and then release it back to the community. This cycle continues and leads to the creation of far more stable software than the 'Closed Source' shops can ever hope to create.

    So you're itching to cre

  • The reason why open source games can't compete with big-budget titles is because corporate game houses have a small army of best-of-breed artists, designers and coders (and marketing sheep). The OSS collective has a handful of genius kernel hackers and network engineers, and a bazillion lazy perl/php monkeys. Let's face it, we're better than the unwashed masses but we suck as a whole when it comes to coordinated effort. Look at the biggest most successful OSS projects: most were made by a single person s
  • Open source, multi-platform, intelligent, funny. Plus it's got *awesome* graphics, at least on my console.
  • by Tyreth ( 523822 )
    I think all open source games need is time. Take for example Quake 3 - this engine didn't just give us Quake 3, but also a whole slew of other fully featured first person shooters like American McGee's Alice and Jedi Knight iirc. And don't forget the enormous number of community made modifications for these commercial engines.

    Games are built on top of an engine. What we need is some really good quality open source engines. We only need one or two, and from that we can build a number of excellent gam

  • There are mountains of original open source games, each is probably considered "successful" by its authors as they have actually been released to the public...

    And what is with drawing in all the FUD about governments software policies?? The real issue for governments (and many others) is open formats, not source. Vendor lock-in and the inability to review old data stored in an unsupported format is a great concern (for _all_ software users). This is something the author completely ignores.

    Governments are
  • The report blaims a lot on companies for not willing to take risks and governments for forcing open source work on people. This leads to only one answer. These people don't know economics.

    1. There is no safety net when it comes to open source. With closed source products, you can sue someone for cold hard cash if they try to steal your work in any way shape or form.
    2. Comparies are in the business to make money, not to be "different" and program only for Linux since its not an open source OS.
    3. (Some) Gove

  • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Thursday November 20, 2003 @02:55AM (#7517963) Homepage Journal

    Games aren't like any other piece of software, in that, as a class of software, they exhibit two qualities that most other software doesn't:

    • Most people who play games on their computers (or consoles or whatever) want/have significantly more than one game. Constrast this with operating systems, office suites, or web browsers, where a typical user will have one, maybe two. But they might have 20 - 30 games (or more).
    • Game as software typically have a much shorter lifespan than any other type of software. An office suite or a web browser might go through dozens of revisions over the span of a decade, being reworked to improve upon its deficiencies, and improve it for new eras in computing. But games typically get tired after a year or two -- you might have a few minor patches, and maybe one or two "add-on packs", but after that you pretty much have to bring out something new, designed more or less from the ground up.

    Writing big games as Open Source typically doesn't work out for the above two reasons. Developers want to sink their time into software development projects that are going to be somewhat lasting -- something they can contribute to over long periods of time, and continually refine.

    But you can only refine a game so much. I'm sure there are all sorts of optimizations you can add to Pac Man, but no matter how much you debug it and modify its routines, in the end it's still the same game, and won't ever hold the same popularity it did in the early 80's. Pac Man with cutting edge graphics is still Pac Man. Gamers want something new to play -- constantly and consistently.

    Most Open Source developers, in my experience, want to work on more important software -- stuff that will be useful to people for years to come, to which they can add new features and continually improve upon. Games simply don't fit will into this sort of development model.

    (Plus, of course, I completely agree with all the previous posters who pointed out that artists and musicians/audio engineers are typically exceedingly difficult to find for Open Source development. Heck, for my project I once asked a graphic artist I knew who owed me a favour to put together four 40x40 icon graphics -- and they refused because I wasn't going to pay them (nevermind the fact that the week before I starred in their art film for nothing...grumble grumble grumble...)).


  • one reason (yes, didn't read the article, in a hurry) why open source games don't work is that there are too many people with too many ideas working on a same project.

  • I disagree that the open source model can't produce a good game. Actually I think the games would benefit from the bazaar approach, and stop the endless flow of lacklustre 'me too' games which are currently available. I would like to see people experiment and play around with new artistic and game play ideas. There are certainly people out there who are interested in pushing the boundaries of gameplay (ludology.org, experimental-gameplay.org) but in this very risk adverse industry the progress is shockingly

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?