Wednesday, June 25, 2008

German SDL Book

I just discovered a new German book about game development with SDL will be released soon (08/07/2008) : Spieleprogrammierung mit dem SDL. Erstellen von 2D-Spielen mit dem Simple DirectMedia Layer (ISBN 978-3446412118) by Johannes P.-M. Kühn & Matthias Schlemm.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Game Developer's Open Source Handbook

Can't help, I just like books and by crawling on Amazon I found yet another interesting book - the Game Developer's Open Source Handbook by Steven Goodwin, Charles River Media (2006) - which is covering game development around Open Source - it's tools, strategies, the philosophy behind. This book seems to be a good introduction for game developer's to get an overview of the modern world of Open Source.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

GIMP 2.4 User Manual

Recently, the GIMP reached the next milestone with version 2.4, and now the new GIMP 2.4 User Manual is also finished.


Another quarter is over and time for me to write the next status report about the Unix Game Development project.

Indeed, a lot has changed. Most notably is the fusion of the UNIXGAMEDEV board, wiki, and IRC with the Free Game Development project. To the benefit of everybody we came to the conclusion both projects have similar aims and better work together, instead of having almost two identical project with a heavy focus on improving the FOSS gaming situation. Though we have slight differences in our vision - UGD is only Unix and open for every business model, FGD is OS agnostic and only FOSS - both are mainly about Unix & FOSS. In the end, the original idea of the UNIXGAMEDEV project to establish a Unix & FOSS game development community has been an experiment only. Somehow it failed, but in general lives on in the FreeGameDev project. This may sound a little sad, at least to me, but actually it is a very good thing pulling together when it's about improving the small and stagnating situation of the Unix & FOSS gamedev scene, and hopefully you share my mind on that point and will use & support the new infrastructure.
You may question what's about the UNIXGAMEDEV blog. Well, as far as I know there does not exist a FreeGameDev blog, only the Free Gamer blog about open source games, but maybe the FreeGameDev community someday will start one. Personally I want to keep this UNIXGAMEDEV blog to focus myself on Unix game development & the scene, but put any FOSS gaming effort into the FreeGameDev project.

Nevertheless, I am thinking about how to make use of the domain UNIXGAMEDEV.ORG now, at least I still owe it, 'cause for simple blogging I don't really need a top level domain. Maybe I start another experiment and redefine the vision - who knows, perhaps I'll use it as site for my devteam or something else. Anyway, will remain in the case I have no plans.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Unix Gaming History

Some time ago I have written a text about the origins of Unix gaming, and think it would be nice to publish it here, too:

While the roots of the Unix family lays back in 1969, and meantime has become a mature and widespread platform in the hacker culture, Unix-like systems never have been a traditional video gaming platform. Nevertheless, gaming also exist among hackers, and the BSD Games Collection (/usr/games) is a contemporary witness of traditional Unix games, a collection of classic text-based games. Due to Unix's strength in networking, it also has been used as MUD/MUSH server often. Probably the most popular traditional Unix game ever written is Nethack, from which even some graphical clones have been developed nowadays. Indeed, even graphical X11 games usually have a cheesy look.

As the gaming scene evolved in the late 1980's, because of new commodity hardware like VGA with lots of potential for gaming, Unix was rather used for expensive high-quality workstation-oriented graphics, but unsuited for arcade games. That's when the development of Linux started in 1991, which is the epitome of Unix today. Those days Unix's graphic capabilities were limited to an ugly implemented SVGALib with limited hardware support, or the network-friendly and flexible Xlib, which was slow. Some few attempts to establish the upcoming Linux as a gaming platform in the mid 1990's, by porting games like Doom or Abuse (both use SVGALib and X) didn't really break into a new market. Especially Dave D. Tayler did some pioneer work then.

In the mid 1990's the 3D revolution began with the introduction of commodity 3D accelerators, though it took some time to bring the new technology to Unix. Indeed, the new 3D technology heavily relies on the driver support of the manufactures, and due to their mulishness isn't yet supported for Unix-like systems in general. In 1993, Brian Paul started Mesa, a free implementation of the OpenGL specifications, but Daryll Strauss is known as the person who brought 3D graphics to Linux by convincing 3Dfx to let him port Glide. For the first time 3D acceleration was supported by Mesa 2.2 via Glide in 1998.

Since OpenGL doesn't handle presentation devices, it needs to be connected for a proper integration into X. This sort of glue is SGI's GLX, Open Source since 1999. It still needs a suitable driver for 3D hardware acceleration, and Utah GLX was an attempt to extend GLX with hardware acceleration. Indeed, it reached a reasonably good performance, but had intrinsic limitations in its design. Nevertheless, it was the beginning for Linux as a viable gaming platform, and the start for Loki Software (1998-2002) to port some games to Linux. Following Loki's example, Linux Game Publishing was founded in 2001 with the aim to port games to Linux.

The Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI) was another attempt to support hardware acceleration, and has overcome Utah GLX's design limitations. It consists of the Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) kernel modules, which provides an interface to the hardware, and a userspace backend for Mesa, which access them. DRI reaches excellent 3D performance on supported hardware, and is supported on Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and Solaris.

Only few professional game developers support Linux as gaming platform these days. Probably the best known developer still is id Software, but others like BioWare also see an opportunity. At this time, development of Unix games is mainly done for Linux by hobbyist of the Open Source culture, and is on its way to produce some very nice free titles, though they usually can't compete with modern games by the industry for several reasons. Due to this situation, over the years an alternative to playing original Unix games by machine emulation has become popular, and makes it possible to play original games for Windows, AMIGA, Super Nintendo, Neo Geo, Playstation, and many more. It is also possible to run Linux on several video game consoles like Xbox, PlayStation, GameCube, and Dreamcast.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Python Game Development Book

Apress has published a new book about game programming with Python: Beginning Game Development with Python and Pygame: from Novice to Professional by Will McGugan.

New Open Soure Game Developer

Recently the new game developer Sixth Floor Labs started its business with the aim is to improve the Linux gaming scene. Their concept is to continue improving their own Open Source games when the community is willing to pay a certain amount of money.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Gaming Miniconf 2008

The next Gaming Miniconf will be at the in Melbourne on Tuesday, 29th of January 2008. It aims to promote both FOSS Gaming and FOSS Game Development.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

GIMP 2.4 Released

Developers, artists and user interface designers from all over the world worked together to make GIMP more powerful and easier to use than ever. The changes from version 2.2 are too numerous to list here, please check the Release Notes to get an overview.

If you want to compile GIMP 2.4 yourself, you can grab the tarball from or one of its mirrors. Binary packages for the various supported platforms are becoming available as we speak. Our Downloads section should help you to locate the package for your system.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

EA wants 'open gaming platform'

The BBC reports a cry from EA for an open gaming platform,

"We want an open, standard platform which is much easier than having five which are not compatible."