misc 007 – IndieZen Open Source

it had always been my hope that by the time i released UMMO (underworld mmo), there would be sufficient technology available for $1000 or less (preferrably open source) that could be used by anybody to create a triple AAA mmorpg. and i could disseminate it. document it deploy it and manifest with it.. IF i didnt arrange other funding by then. i ont believe in copyright law but i obey it.

i never expected to be a maverick in the area, i somehow assumed that teh same great minds who bring us things like winamp or google would SURELY and especially i the middle of a DEPRESSION, bring the masses a tool to make their own games, not just FPS, but RPGs, MMORPGS, and the like.

there are quality open source versions of almost EVERY TOP shelf piece of software we produce as a human race.

blender for 3d animation, gimp for 2d art editing, there are ausome tools like terragen, daz studio, paint.net, and the list goes on and on

everything except the MMO. i dunno why. i program at every level, including machine code, if i have to to get a job done or make an application more efficient..

still a part of me REFUSED to even attempt to THINK about creating an mmo engine from scratch or even by putting together my favorite individual (and compatible) libraries in something like .NET or C++

i simply (and still cant) understand ro agree that all of the usable engines or bts and bobs of engines that ARENT truly still generating income for studios, arent out there free

why dont some of the awesome coders that create so many cool things for the million movie studios contribute code to an engine..

i dont understand it to tell you the truth. btu i can say that no matter WHAT other task you need to do in the world, the code is out there in a semi complete form in a price that anybody can afford

i suppose its the fact that games engines are not just USED.. they are in fact sold in an end product called a GAME

but we have so many awesome open source tools like Linux and Apache that are used for all sorts of profitable things

i dunno.. to me software does nto have to posess intellect or a soul to be an organism. software is ALIVE and has lived with us for many decades now

software has evolved and each program is a creature, each version is a sibling. there are parents and grandchildren

especially in games. street fighter is more than the sum of its characters. it is a whole family of different applications

developer time is like food for the lifeforms we call applications.. software organisms, though they may not possess what we call awareness, they are aware of the foods they eat and how they are processed and their output (makes me think of word and excel most for some reason)

linux, *nix, osx, windows, i guess those are the kings of the heap of the software kingdom at present. they consume so much power text, scans, images, sounds.. and then they produce, with our help and guidance at the reins of a motley army of individual applications from a variety of designers (breeders)

but the one animal i have been waiting to fly on, like a boy in his first race car.. is the MMORPG engine.

i am an artist i am telling a living story, one i want millions to live in. it must live, and breath, and the engine i use will be like a paintbrush to me as i paint the various elements of that living world into being

i know the palette i want to see, i know the brush stokes i have in mind, i have already the pencil sketches to cover ten Sistine chapels.. but i feel like “The Bride” waiting for Hattori Hanzo to finish his sword in “Kill Bill”

try as i might to want to save my mortal life which fell into a million tiny pieces as i pushed further towards this goal.. i still want to make sure with my own eyeballs and mind and fingertips, that no matter what path i take to make this game

i have to somehow personally verify or document that there is a path to creating your own Triple AA game from nothing.. somewhere..

and at the least i would prefer to have an engine and technology that was legally open to peer review, so we could accept enhancements from any of the best and brightest in an open fashion.

so far in these pages i have detailed MANY MANY ways that almost anyone (EXCEPT ME) could make the MMORPG they want for ranges from free to $199 to $700 to $1000 (that’s engine cost only.. so add additional code and art development costs)

but that still leaves two important things.. my own game Underworld MMO and whatever games might be coming in the future and require some of the latest advances in their game with minimal coding.

primarily for it’s (OGRE?) engine and editors, i have decided to do the first phase of my interactive project in Visual3d.net but i am still keeping an eye on Peragro and now an alternative Open Source path to making an MMORPG (although unlike Peragro, IndiZen is not game type specific)

Sorry for the above rant.. its been a bit of a tryign time lately.. so called real life intruded almost 100 percent for what has to (for me) be the longest period that ever happened (3 months)…

where was i? oh yeah.. IndieZen is a “framework” meaning it is a collection of individual libraries and plugins that connect them to one another.

there are names for different game “types” that already exist in pre-connected packages of these libraries and the plugins.

The IndieZen package that most represents MMORPG is called Zen Worlds and it should be in a Beta release version within the next couple months

i have no idea what this means as far as editors (i swear the most important thing t me nowdays in software development is quality editors, and when it comes to an MMORPG, i believe in that even more

one of my primary reasons for deciding to abandon open source (temporarily) was due to the fact that commercial game engines HAVE to make decent editors for almost every step of the pipeline if they want to compete in the indie market

i need to put out somethign tangible. call it an alpha, call it a demo, call it somethign to let the fans know what they are contributing to the development of by helping contribute to development BEFORE the last few million dollars of development and testing and design are spent

i have intentionally decided to forg the freezing of the development process that happens once massive influxes of capital are put into a project

i also do NOT want to have huge opening sales. the unique design of this game world, especially it’s experimental nature.. mean that i want extremely small initial player counts that GRADUALLY build up over the time after release

that will allow me to make the best game possible and allow a more organic development. a more organic connection between the player base and the system.

i want art development and player desire to be neck and neck eventually. a world that adapts continuously and rapidly to demand

i do not have a computer right now capable of graphic development. so i am taking this time to finalize exactly what objects, art, audio, story, characters, and directions will be manifested between now and december 22, 2010

deciding to use actual real world topology in this version of the game has really freed me up to embrace trying out different types of engines while still building the same material without worrying about the difficulty of replicating level design.

the actual “look” of the land will take a while for me to come to. i will most likely go for surreal more than realistic.

heavily inspired by the work of Moebius, Otomo, Dali, Brom .. when it comes to landscape. for right now i can promise i wont be payign much attention to the textures on the landscape.

just grabbing bits and chunks of the real world, tossing them into the engines listed above, and then going into Blender and the rest of our tools and creating animations, effects, characters, and scenes to happen on those landscapes.

after a few months i will have much more than enough material to release a few trailers showing the look of basic gameplay

after that will come the oh so exciting (not) part where i fill in all the animations and objects that WERENT seen in the trailers.

filling in, object by object and character by character, the scenes and actions in between.

once thats done i will put real effort into remaking a real community site for the game to start having a robust dialog where fans can comment on the direction of development as it progresses.

a year laetr i hope to have a combat version of the game playable.. fans will have to decide how much they want to see the game developed further with their wallets.. 3 dollars a month and every month we will be adding more content, locations, effects, and code..

i accepted money before. but decided to stop doign that .. in the year 2006 i accepted donations on hardware, but to be perfectly honest.. the 2008 release i promised to the fans would have resulted in a project much MUCH less evolved that the one detailed in these pages.

i simply dont trust myself to put the work in AFTER the first version is released. to manage that game AND create a totally NEW one at the same time and move all the data across.. etc..

so instead of releasing a cash cow first version and then dividing resources into running that and developing version two, i poured more energy into studying the industry and experimenting with different coding platforms, frameworks, engines, and technologies.

as i devoured more content in the forms of films, books, and research, the game evolved along with technology to the point where i feel i can develop a world that is relatively infinite in scope, and modify that design as technology evolves without changing the design

engines have just gotten to a level where i can begin production on a true solar system sized amount of terrain (even if i decide to break each large planetoid into a level and place other objects, such as rings (for example) or satellites as objects above the level following paths through the air

the engine almost doesnt matter at this point, although an engine which can allow for easily integrated point and click (as well as fps) works the best.

..back to IndieZen : the idea of a multitude of libraries (such as OGRE for graphics, raknet for networking, etc) together with a bunch of editors (there are quiet a few nice editors for ogre, and in an upcoming release, a paging/paged terrain system and accompanying editor will be part of the core release)

really the ultimate determining factor to whether or not IndieZen will develop a great community is how much development is done on it and it’s accompanying editors, and how many developers start working on that framework.

so the evolution of an mmorpg software organism for the masses movies along at its own pace, which no dominant organism (like Linux) appearing as yet

but we still need a project and ultimately, no matter what engine we start off with, my ultimate goal would be to eventally be using open source technology with only a few commercial plugins (like speedtrees, for example or endorphin) for support

the reason i would do that (and preferably with some form of modular technology, such as IndieZen) is so that the application ummo can itself evolve rapidly, using all available technology and mental contributions, and in whatever direction best suits the player populace (and at which pace)

i am a firm believer that open source si a way to ensure a certain level of code efficiency that can rarely be reached in a closed source manner

maybe that is my religious side, but as i eventually want to use the game to power research (a la folding@home) i suppose i like most distributed computing designs

so i recommend anyone interested in n open source mmorpg framework to investigate peragro and IndieZen and anyone interested in low cost alternatives to investigate visual3d.net (and of course realmcrafter and multiverse) to see if they may suit their needs.

i am skipping a lot of other suitable choices, and for that i apologize, but i am trying to only cover systems i am actually following relatively closely.

i have been focusing in more and more on projects that use at the very least, open source 3d graphics engines

OGRE or CrystalSpace (to be honest CrsytalSPace is an actual game engine, not just a 3d graphics engine)

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