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HTML 5, Social Networking and Gaming-V

Hi all,
The post would be about some more ideas and issues about game development specifically with HTML 5 coming and using social networking tools which are not being used so much to drive development.

I usually try to stick one post per week but activities/ideas this week have led me to do a second one as well. First up, it was really interesting to see the game which used HTML 5 made by Doug.As the game itself states “A game written in 100% JavaScript and HTML5/Canvas/Audio. No flash.” it was cool. I wanted to embed the game as one can do Youtube videos but as wordpress.com has issues with javascript I knew it was not possible. On sharing the same concern with Doug, he was kind enough to offer to share me the .php and .html files to do the same. This would be a chore hence decided not to go ahead. Maybe some enterprising dude might want to make a mirror of the game on his site perhaps.

This ideation/conversation got me thinking on various things which could improve FOSS gaming further. Some of those things are :-

1. Wouldn’t it be cool if games like the ones I posted couple of days before could use HTML 5 to turn the game into a browser-based game. If any of those games turn into browser-based games where you sign-in and play in sessions, they could give games like Farmville and Frontierville a run for their money. The only downer could be the complexity of the world as time goes on and time-lags suffered by gamers but as they are RPG’s they would be more acceptable for sure than action games which require much more attention. People could play on their PC as well as play online as well. For people who might not have the time/energy/bandwidth they could play online. This is something that the game developers could think of. The other issue would be bandwidth charges to the developer of the game

the game made by Doug reminded me of the 1980’s game Space Invaders which was extremely addictive and I used to play till my hands ached. I was not a good gamer as I used to be out by level 15 unlike some of my peers who used to cross level 30 or more. While Doug’s plunder is side-scroller Space Invaders was top-down or down-top whichever way one sees to sit fit.

2. Most of the FOSS game projects have not really picked up the collaboration-competition model/paradox/opportunity that the Interweb/Social-networking/Web 2.0 offers. Almost none of the FOSS projects that I have been seeing/observing over the last few months talk/share about other projects in the same genre or other genres for that matter. It would be cool, interesting and useful if all the projects shared links, news, resources, better practises with each other. That would lead to more sustainable FOSS gaming landscape in the long-term and a far richer experience to new users/developers. One of the things game designers and developers could be enriched is also cross pollination of artists between games. I don’t know much about Artists but I do know people get bored quickly if they are doing same/similar things all the while (human tendency).

The only fear or downside I see that people have are :-

a. Either My work is not good enough to stand to competition at this point in time OR
a. This would be a distraction to new users I hope to convert to the game OR
a. The player may go and join other game/community exclusively.

All the above fears I see are unfounded. If the above had been the case, then only one game of each genre would have survived. Only one OS (Microsoft Windows) would have been enough or even one distribution of GNU/Linux would have been enough. As it exists right now, 350 odd distributions of GNU/Linux (source distrowatch.com) exists as well as OS’es such as Haiku and Mac OS. Even in hardware while x86 is prominent there are other hardware architectures as well. All this simply means people like variety and the probability of users/gamers remaining exclusive is small. People like to experiment and that is a good thing. In fact, the massive movement/revival of Retro gaming or the community behind one of the magazines or of Atari speaks volumes about the diversity we have inherited. So IMHO it would be wise and in their self-interest to inculcate the habit of socializing, sharing links and resources with like-minded peers. The benefits clearly outweigh the fears that developers may have. If there are any others which I have not thought about, feel free to share those as well.

3. The third interesting thing/thought is about the redesign happening at OGA. For those unfamiliar to the site, its a site which is a resource to post or take free,legal game art to use in FOSS projects (tuned mainly towards game developers and the gaming community) . One can download and use the art given provided one complies with the license the art is under. There is a major redesign in the offing as its shifting from what its developer (bart) calls from version 1.0 to version 2.0. I have seen the site when it was in baby, while it was not so user-friendly, of late it has been better. While he is inviting suggestions for the upgrade I would also invite you to use the forum and add to the pool of ideas and suggestions. Also feel free to to make also donations on the site as (from the developer’s own statements he would be using it exclusively to commission art exclusively. He has also made clear the issues I have seen on many such sites (No automation of donation in real-time and lack of accountability on where the money is spent.) A related issue is how to know how much money/price is good for a work of art. He should possibly describe a work of art and ask people to submit a sort of open tender for the same. There should be a way where people can see which artists are going or putting up these works. Maybe we come to know of artists which we didn’t know before. Things such as previous experience of donating or works being commissioned by bart, previous quality of work etc., adhering to timelines and all should all be in the open and make it a more transparent site. This lack of transparency is also what bogs major projects. For e.g. look at wikipedia’s yearly budgets. They tell as much as they hide. There is a need of real-time accounting systems but that’s a different tale altogether.

4. One of the other off-shoots of ideas I see is a tool which can be used either from GNU/Linux, Mac or MS Windows where I, a user can filter stuff (images,sounds etc.) depending on my need and the software would go to the site and take stuff from there. I have seen something similar for wallpapers in Ubuntu a few versions back. Of course the developer (bart in this case) would have to make his database,labels with some standard and give some technical documentation perhaps but this could be done. Also there could be some sort of an uploader which would upload art from a user’s desktop to the site as well. A unified program which does both would be perfect. Of course would post the same in the forum as well for bart to think about.

4. Although while personally not an artist I do know few guys who work with layered digital Image files. For those who don’t know what I mean to say, a .jpg, .png or image files of such category (which we see on websites)are flat files where one doesn’t know how the image has been created. The same file is created/imported in blender or Coreldraw (a .blend or .cdr) on the other hand, is a high-resolution file having multiple layers where any artist can go back in history (till the time the image was not made flat the last time) and do/undo changes. From a production perspective, having access to such files and the history therein is very important as it could make an artist’s job so much easier. Potentially it also could be used by other artists to remix art. Apart from the Open movie Projects made by Blender Foundation I don’t know of resources where artists could upload such large files (anywhere from 20 MiB to 100 MiB per image or more) . What would be cool is a site/place (from the artists perspective) where they could store such big images and just like wikipedia keep versioning the Works in progress. Something akin to entries made in wikipedia. This would make the whole thing so much more interesting. Of course funding and making it work would be such a huge challenge. A relevant question to ask at this point would there be artists who would use this opportunity as some of the mystery of making art may be gone as well as the time taken for uploads for such large files? Also there would be technical issues for e.g. what happens if a file is stopped mid-way due to network congestion or some other issue? A good indication perhaps would be to look at the workflow followed by Youtube for inspiration as a starting point. Of course with the last couple of months, with the newer kernel having got quite a few filesystems which can handle petabytes of data this would be an interesting place to view.

One can find my old posts from 1,2,3 & 4 on FOSS game game development. Comments, brickbats and suggestions are all welcome.

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One thought on “HTML 5, Social Networking and Gaming-V

  1. As HTML 5 grows and gains more browser support I believe gaming will also adapt as well. Especially with things like canvas, the possibilities are endless.

    I have a blog over at http://gamervoices.com and was just checking out some wordpress blogs and stumbled across this article, thanks for the interesting read.

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