Skip to main content

Open Source: Closed Source Video Games

About a year ago, my buddy Ben Bangert gave us his old GameCube. My wife and I really enjoyed playing Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.

"Paper Mario" is a closed source game. I bought it used at my local GameStop. Since I'm a bit of a free software nut, you might wonder how I could live with the thought of playing a closed source game. The fact of the matter is, I don't think "Paper Mario" could be produced in an open source manner. Technically, I'm sure it could, but who would want to? A hundred people or more were involved in producing that game, and what do they get out of it? I wouldn't volunteer on such a project--I have real work to do! If I can't imagine volunteering my time on such a project, then why would I expect anyone else to? Instead, I paid money. I'm happy because I have a fun game to play. The developers are happy because they got paid. Believe it or not, it's a win win situation.

However, I do have enough time to write a small video game. I wrote it in a week with my buddy Adam Ulvi. It's open source. It's based on the open source library, PyGame. I also made use of an open source library called PGU aka "Phil's Game Utilities". Phil wrote PGU while he was writing his own video games. The fact that PyGame is open source has saved me multiple times, since I've often looked at the source code in a pinch.

Now, I'm not trying to say that big projects can't be produced in an open source way. If that were true, Linux wouldn't exist. I'm just saying that I enjoy large closed source games like "Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door", and I also enjoy writing small open source games using open source tools like PyGame. My point is, there's room in this world for both!

On a more personal note, I'm coming to the conclusion that I need to just relax. The industry is going to go in whichever direction it's going to go, and there ain't a heck of a lot I can do about it. My best bet is to stay flexible, friendly, and helpful--as usual ;)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Drawing Sierpinski's Triangle in Minecraft Using Python

In his keynote at PyCon, Eben Upton, the Executive Director of the Rasberry Pi Foundation, mentioned that not only has Minecraft been ported to the Rasberry Pi, but you can even control it with Python. Since four of my kids are avid Minecraft fans, I figured this might be a good time to teach them to program using Python. So I started yesterday with the goal of programming something cool for Minecraft and then showing it off at the San Francisco Python Meetup in the evening.

The first problem that I faced was that I didn't have a Rasberry Pi. You can't hack Minecraft by just installing the Minecraft client. Speaking of which, I didn't have the Minecraft client installed either ;) My kids always play it on their Nexus 7s. I found an open source Minecraft server called Bukkit that "provides the means to extend the popular Minecraft multiplayer server." Then I found a plugin called RaspberryJuice that implements a subset of the Minecraft Pi modding API for Bukkit s…

Apple: iPad and Emacs

Someone asked my boss's buddy Art Medlar if he was going to buy an iPad. He said, "I figure as soon as it runs Emacs, that will be the sign to buy." I think he was just trying to be funny, but his statement is actually fairly profound.

It's well known that submitting iPhone and iPad applications for sale on Apple's store is a huge pain--even if they're free and open source. Apple is acting as a gatekeeper for what is and isn't allowed on your device. I heard that Apple would never allow a scripting language to be installed on your iPad because it would allow end users to run code that they hadn't verified. (I don't have a reference for this, but if you do, please post it below.) Emacs is mostly written in Emacs Lisp. Per Apple's policy, I don't think it'll ever be possible to run Emacs on the iPad.

Emacs was written by Richard Stallman, and it practically defines the Free Software movement (in a manner of speaking at least). Stal…

ERNOS: Erlang Networked Operating System

I've been reading Dreaming in Code lately, and I really like it. If you're not a dreamer, you may safely skip the rest of this post ;)

In Chapter 10, "Engineers and Artists", Alan Kay, John Backus, and Jaron Lanier really got me thinking. I've also been thinking a lot about Minix 3, Erlang, and the original Lisp machine. The ideas are beginning to synthesize into something cohesive--more than just the sum of their parts.

Now, I'm sure that many of these ideas have already been envisioned within Tunes.org, LLVM, Microsoft's Singularity project, or in some other place that I haven't managed to discover or fully read, but I'm going to blog them anyway.

Rather than wax philosophical, let me just dump out some ideas:Start with Minix 3. It's a new microkernel, and it's meant for real use, unlike the original Minix. "This new OS is extremely small, with the part that runs in kernel mode under 4000 lines of executable code." I bet it&…