An Update and a Few Recommendations.
Some of you may or may not know I have commenced my masters in London. I don’t have that much time for web development at the moment so posts here have been fairly sporadic. I can however update on what I have been doing for my masters. Firstly I’m doing my masters in computer game technology. I’m exploring many different game technologys and I want to share a few of them with you right now.
Box 2-D is a fantastic physics library. I’ve been programming quite a lot using box 2-D and I really enjoy it. Box 2-D supports joints, bodies and the number of various other components that can be used to model real worlds. It’s written in C++ but there is also a port available in action script. There are a number of flash games that are using this port to various levels of success. The possibilities are endless and I am sure I can find a way to incorporate this library into some Web work or to use it to animate an interface that is not necessarily game orientated. Something I would have never considered before starting this course.
Simple fast multimedia library
The simple fast multimedia library is a tool for producing desktop games. It supports Linux, Macintosh OS X and Windows. It can produce both 2-D and 3-D games. It produces 3-D games by providing interfaces to OpenGL classes and methods. It produces 2-D games by providing classes that handle the displaying and updating of sprites. It’s also got classes for sound and controller imports. There’s a handy integration project for Xcode so you can develop easily on Macintosh OS X if you choose to. I’m pretty sure the same exists for visual studio on Windows but I am not 100% sure. A welcome change as there is a lot of computer game engines that specifically run on Windows. Not that I would hold a grudge against any gamer who are solely interested in Windows. Let’s be honest there’s not a whole lot going on around Macintosh in the gaming industry.
XNA is a platform developed by Microsoft. It supports both Windows games and Xbox games. It installs itself as an extension to visual studio. It’s completely free and anyone can download the express edition of visual studio as well as the Microsoft XNA installer. The really cool thing is that you don’t have to pay to start developing games. You are however limited to C# Microsoft’s proprietary implementation of Java. There is quite an extensive website for an and it’s very easy to publish to the Xbox live Arcade once you have finished developing a game. As is the custom with Microsoft, XNA almost in its own world ignoring other technologies and platforms out there. It uses exclusively Microsoft directX with no support for OpenGL. Again you can’t really begrudge Microsoft for wanting to support their own platform. It is however ironic when they say that XNA supports multiple platforms. Windows and the Xbox. Ironic.
There are so many other game technologies are available and so many other resources at the game developers disposal you feel spoilt for choice. Much like the Web there are different tools out there that are good at different things and it’s up to the developer to choose the appropriate tool for the job. I’m surprised because I thought more of the games industry was based around building up proprietary libraries and not really sharing a whole lot of code. Whilst the big players undoubtedly do this and so they should they have the budget to do so there is room for the Indy game developer. People in my position who want to get started in the industry but don’t have a lot or even any money to spend on licensing engines and technology. Whilst it’s hard to break into the gaming industry there are certainly plenty of tools around to help you do it. Really encouraging stuff.