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Game Engines

Noah's post got me looking at game engines again, and the options are better than last time I looked. My view is colored by my position as a mac developer of course.

Torque Game Engine (3D) by Garage Games
Torque Game Builder (2D) by Garage Games
Unity (3D/2D)
PopCap Framework (PC only?)
PTK Game Engine

Would anyone be interested in coming over to our house some weekend and having a mini game jam to try out one or more of these engines? Maybe one a month? Get the 30 day demo, grab some free art, and see what you can really do... I think it would be fun.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a lot of fun. I've started collecting a bit of free art for exactly this reason :-)

So yeah, sounds good. I've got a PowerBook, so I'll be able to join in even for things like Unity that don't have a Unix/PC equivalent.

For things that do, like Torque, you might want to write to Anton. He rocks, and has a fair amount of free time these days. Granted, he hasn't replied to me about *my* game jam idea yet, but I suspect that just means he's traveling and hasn't seen the email yet.
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
We'll have to find a weekend then. You're free to invite Anton, I don't know him very well at all, so I think it'd be weird coming from me. Are you doing anything presidents day weekend? Or the one after that?

And I've looked at a bunch of free engines in the past, and always concluded that they were missing the features that make using them really nice, you know, those features that are a pain in the butt to actually implement... But if you have one that you think looks really promising, we could try that. Which engine would you want to write a weekend game in first? I'd like to try Unity, but the price tag for cross platform deployment is pretty hefty. Which means I guess I'm more likely to try Torque first.

I'll take a look at Irrlicht, Ogre3D and CrystalSpace.
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
Torque and Ogre3D probably look the most promising to me. Depends if you're looking for 2D or 3D -- if the former, Torque Game Builder looks like it's probably the way to go.

Ogre3D doesn't have quite the feature set of Torque, particularly when it comes to the network model. But graphically it's actually quite nice. And I suspect we won't need a big complicated network model for the sort of games we could produce in a weekend.

Then again, I *am* really curious how Torque manages to do server-side physics, interesting computational physics, and reasonably low latency. That's very tricky in general, and apparently it's hard to match Torque's internal integration there.

I'm all good with finding a weekend. President's Day weekend won't work for me, Krissy and I are going to see Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas while she's on vacation. The following weekend might, though. I'll ask her about that one. I know some friends of hers are in town at around that time, but I don't remember what we're doing with them, or how long it will take.
Feb. 9th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
Okay. I've asked Krissy and bounced the idea off of Anton. I'll see how that works out :-)

As an aside -- the various Game Jam folks have tended to agree that having a theme, either technical or, um, thematic, is a good idea. For instance, a theme might be "physics engine", or "crowds", or "bouncing balls", or "building". Helps to keep people focused. So in addition to the basic technical theme ("let's see what we can do with Torque Game Builder in a weekend") you might want to consider a theme to help guide people.

Or you might not, but I figured I'd suggest it :-)

Feb. 6th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, and yes - PopCap framework is PC-only, and non-Unix. It's DirectX-based.
Feb. 6th, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
I hadn't heard of this before, but the Irrlicht 3D engine appears to be remarkably portable and mature for an open source engine. There are also Ogre3D and CrystalSpace -- at least the latter is also quite mature and portable. Ogre3D looks nice, but I don't remember what all it runs on.
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
So, Ogre3D is graphics only, no sound/input/collision etc.

Irrlicht - maybe, doesn't have the built in physics that Torque and Unity do, but it does have instructions on integrating existing physics packages.

CrystalSpace - mentions you will need little to no platform specific code. That 'little' is a bit worrisome. I'd like a complete platform abstraction, but maybe I would fit in what they have.
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC)
CrystalSpace does okay, but obviously you're going to have the option of shooting yourself in the foot :-)

Ogre and Irrlicht are usually used along with a cross-platform sound library. They're graphics-only, which doesn't mean a platform based on them has to be. One of the nice things about open source is the whole "mix and match" thing, though it gets annoying if you have components that are too intertwined with each other -- graphics and UI come to mind.
Feb. 9th, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC)
For free art, music and sound effects, the best resource I've found so far is the WorldForge SVN repository. Unless marked otherwise, all art is dual-licensed as GPL/GFDL, so very freely usable. A listing of the svn repository contents can be found here, and you can check it out via SVN as "svn checkout https://svn.worldforge.org/svn/media/trunk/". I think they prefer you check out the various subtrees individually rather than grabbing the whole trunk at once for reasons of server efficiency, but that might only be an old CVS bug and not apply to SVN.

There may be other good free art repositories, but I don't know much about that.
Feb. 9th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC)
It looks like I'm free the weekend after president's day (that's the 24th-25th, right?), so I could do this. Yay!
Feb. 9th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
Groovy. Thanks for the link to art, I'll have to check that out.

So, now all we need is a theme. I agree that they are good in general. I'll declare our theme to be childhood (candy, blocks, dolls, whatever) and/or open-ended physics based games. But I also declare the theme to be optional. :-) This thing isn't really formal.

I'll see who I can wrassle up for the weekend. What do you think, one day 8am-8pm, or 2 days, 12-6ish? Or one day 12-6ish? ;-)
Feb. 9th, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC)
I like the "one day 8 to 8" thing, if you think we can actually get people to be there for most of that time. Of course, if it starts with only three or four of us, that'll still give us a good chance to start trying to suck art in appropriate file formats in to the engine, which is all people will be doing at the very beginning anyway...

So yeah, count me as a vote in favor of "one day, 8 to 8".
Feb. 9th, 2007 10:35 pm (UTC)
Okay. Housemates are leaning to Sunday at the moment. I doubt I'll get very many takers, housemates + you + 1-4 of my friends maybe. + Anton maybe. And yah, it probably won't get into full swing until 10am.
Feb. 9th, 2007 10:44 pm (UTC)
Sounds good. I'll give the newly-available specifics to Anton and see if he's up for it.

Do you know what game engine you plan to start with?
Feb. 10th, 2007 03:41 am (UTC)
Seems like Torque would be a good place to start.
Feb. 10th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Excellent. 2D or 3D?

(I'm good either way)
Feb. 9th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of securing a bit of hosted space on the web and putting up links to various game jams, various free art we're starting with, links to different engines and a brief blurb about theme. The idea is that we could then upload any resulting code and whatever progress we made would be available for anybody later on to use, which I consider a really good thing.

SourceForge seems like the obvious place to do this, and I was looking earlier today at applying for a SourceForge project along these lines. To do so, we'd need to decide on a license for our code, though. Do you think anybody involved would be opposed to releasing GPL? As original authors they could still use it *themselves* for non-GPL'd purposes, just nobody else could. That would also be in keeping with the artwork's license, at least for the WorldForge assets.

It'd also be useful to come up with some kind of name for the project. I think "gamejam" isn't taken, though that's a tad grandiose. Or "gametank"? Dunno, mainly I figured I'd ask about the license, and the project name would otherwise only matter in the URL.

Sound good? Or would that be intimidatingly similar to publicity? I just like the thought of planning on making stuff public because otherwise this kind of thing really seems to sink beneath the waves...
Feb. 10th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC)
Um... It seems like your goals for this and my goals for this are really different. Well, my original goal was just to spend a weekend getting familiar with a game engine, with the benefit of a concrete goal and friends to do it with. And really, that's still my goal I guess. I'm not sure that there will be a 'project' to stick on SourceForge... if you want a history page with snapshots of games as they were at the end of the day, I can put together something on DonaldsonWorkshop.com. Probably the best thing would be a Wiki, then people can stick up their own notes and game. Set up accounts and passwords for everyone who comes? The games could be licenced however people felt. Could just put up screenshots or executables depending on the individual. I could set up a page on the engine we were going to look at, you can put together a wiki page of links to art. Sound reasonable?
Feb. 10th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
That sounds excellent.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )