making of online games, a newbie perspective

If you’re a player, this is going to be a bit tech-boring post, be warned ๐Ÿ™‚

I wanted to share what I’ve learnt so far from the release of my first Public Alpha of my game Planet Stronghold. Was a good choice to make it a downloadable? What if was a webgame coded in Flash /JS /Unity ? This is what I think are pro and con of each:

  • the problem of updating: I coded an autoupdater in python. It SHOULD be cross-platform and work everywhere. The first version was a bit bugged and missed some error messages. I don’t have any real statistics but from what I gathered from testers, my guess is that only 10-15% of people couldn’t use it for one reason or another. Still, it’s a good percentage of people!
  • With a webgame, the full asset/code gets updated on SERVER, so there’s no possibility that it fails: that’s a BIG advantage if you’re interested in making a online/MMO game. However be warned, the bandwidth use is going to be HUGE, since most browser have a very small cache of 50mb which means players are probably going to redownload the whole thing everytime.
  • Unless you use JS, you can have pretty much all effect you have with Renpy (with Flash), or a 3d engine (with Unity3d), online. The problem is that python is really one of the best RAD languages, that is most top games like Civilization, The Sims 3 or even Google uses it internally. Damn it, if only there was a working python to SWF compiler…!!! Any coder who’ll make that will be covered by gold, mark my words ๐Ÿ™‚

Also, it’s SUPER EASY to make mistakes with online games. A first thing to do is NEVER mix your test server with the live server. For example I uploaded a wrong file last night, and the autoupdater would keep looping, thinking it’s always 1 version below the latest one ๐Ÿ˜ Luckily for me Ayu was testing the game and reported the bug, which was only a wrongly uploaded file on server…!!

So for now I’ve learned lession number one. Always do your test in local, and if you really must, have a BACKUP SERVER to do your own tests. Never test anything on the “live” server!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

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3 Responses to making of online games, a newbie perspective

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  2. killdream says:

    The thing about MMOs are that they’re quite expensive to build and maintain. At least MMOs which have a good deal of players online โ€” which would render maintaining all the assets on the server too expensive to be practical.

    I can’t say it hasn’t its advantages over non-online games as long as the server ain’t a problem, though. For instance, you have no piracy, and can make money through other business-models than directly selling the game, which have already proven to be quite profitable.

    And… hm, I don’t really see a problem with updating, other than you have the assets on the client computer. Still, you can have the game logic on the server and the assets on the client, so it’d reduce bandwidth usage. There would be plenty security concerns in this case though, but I guess it could be doable โ€” TiddlyWiki uses this.

    As for using Python, Unity3d has Boo, which is basically a dialect of Python. The problem with Unity3d and Flash (more with the former) is that it requires plugins to run. Also: no iPhone support if you plan to target that platform.

    Btw, using Canvas with JavaScript you can have pretty much all the effects that are possible with Ren’Py. It doesn’t have hardware surfaces though, so it may not be practical for intensive effects, but it runs at a reasonable speed for simple ones. And you can use ChromeFrame to workaround IE support.

    Still, it’s a fairly new technology but since some new features like OpenGL support (through WebGL) and such are on their way, it maybe a good gaming platform in a near future.

    Oh, also, there’s a Python-to-JavaScript compiler called Pyjamas. I’ve got it, but never tried anything with it really, so I can’t say anything about it.

    • admin says:

      Yes I know about boo for Unity ๐Ÿ™‚ But honestly I am not targeting 3d games, too much expensive to create the assets.
      Didn’t know about ChromeFrame! Going to look around for that, most people coding in JS have the problem of the IE being “very unfriendly” (to say the least!) towards JS.
      I really can’t stand Flash, so is not likely I’ll ever start learning it. I mean, I could easily modify something already done in AS3, but not work on an engine from scratch for sure. I’d prefer to use javascript which is also more compatible as you said. Interesting also that python to java but I doubt it can work really well ๐Ÿ™‚

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