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Gaming Open Source - page 3

Opening Ceremonies

  • October 3, 2005
  • By Dee-Ann LeBlanc

There is more to open source than just raw code. Those who don't choose to use open source code in their games still might end up using open source tools in game development, as server platforms, as office programs, and more. One new game company, Edocero, has used open source on many levels in order to make it possible for them to build and release their first game on a limited budget. In the office, the company uses OpenOffice.org for their document processing needs. The larger savings, though, came in the form of using Blender to actually develop the game.

The advantage of using Blender for a brand new game company is that this open source, free software acts as a modeling program, an animation program, and a game engine. Modeling software is used to create the three dimensional objects that will exist in the game, everything from rooms to characters things they�ll be picking up. Animation software is then used to bring those objects to life. The game engine�s job is to create and manage the world for the objects to live in. Blender�s strengths are in modeling and animation. For a simple game, Blender can act as a game engine with no problem, but with much more powerful software freely available such as Quake III�s now GPL�ed engine, many people would choose this alternative when possible.

This three-in-one combination--no matter what open source game engine is used--packs a powerful punch when trying to get a first product to market without breaking the bank. Even given the reluctance of many game programmers to use other people�s code, which typically comes into play with the game engine and other components, free modeling and animation software is a crucial help to newcomers to the industry who have incredibly limited budgets.

Add on open source tools like the OpenOffice.org office suite, the Apache Web server, Linux for file serving and backend worlds (in Massively Multiplayer Online Games, for example), ogg vorbis for royalty-free audio formats, cross-platform libraries (such as OpenGL, libSDL, and openAL), Python for a free programming language, and more, and the massive cost of building games can be reduced at least on the software side. Since the major expense in games is typically paying the artists, animators, programmers, designers, testers, and more, this savings can at least help a new company focus on those important people elements and might make the difference between having to skimp on what could be a beautiful design or budget for extra hours to really do a great job.

As some of the other issues are dealt with, perhaps more open source code will make it into commercial games as well.

About the Author

Dee-Ann LeBlanc is the Desktop Editor for Linux Today and LinuxPlanet as well as the author of Linux for Dummies, 6th Edition and numerous other computer books and articles. Between books, articles, and training, she keeps her finger on the pulse of how and where people are using Linux.

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