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tulcod
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:29 pm    Post subject: Why is open source game development failing? Reply with quote

Don't get me wrong, there are interesting games in the OSS community. But these games are merely interesting, they aren't games even windows guys would play (ie, none of them really beat the games you gotta pay for ;)). Some OSS games have good ideas, but bad graphics. Or vice versa. I think specifically the OSS community should be able to take down both, while the game development industry will keep their problems. What causes this? Can this be fixed?

ps: i don't know for certain if this can be answered and solved in one forum thread, so maybe we should move to a mailing list instead?

pps: useful answers only. we're not particularly interested in posts like "but bzflag DOES pwn!", "i think it's just not possible", "we need to donate. to me. cause i'm gonna develop a game, which will pwn" or "we need better 3d engines!!!1!one!1".
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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we're not particularly interested in posts like ... "i think it's just not possible"


I think it's just not possible.

Which you don't want to hear, but here's a two-pronged problem:

1) Making games is one hell of a lot more work than people think
2) An unfinished game doesn't attract users

That means that developers have to do an INSANE amount of work on 1) before they see any benefit from 2). That's a long, long, long time to work without any sort of reward, even "cool game, guys!"

Pretty much crushes your soul. You can write a text editor, IM client, image modifier, web application and have users at least using the alpha version to try and do work and get some benefit out of it. But the only benefit a game can offer is fun, and an unfinished game is not fun. Playtesting games is one of the more punishing jobs out there--you have to pay people to do it even if they love games.

OSS games aren't going to compete in production values (artists have an even rougher acceptance than game programmers do--people will say "dude, clever ideas in that game but it crashes too often"; art is either "good" or "sucks"). So you're not going to compete well there. You can stack the deck in your favor by picking a genre with "easier" graphics (take for example Eve Online, which often gets high marks for graphics--but note, no real animation, no rotoscoping, no clever textures... just static ship models and a few shaders; that's what I mean by "easier" graphics). Also keep in mind that software is really only a very small part of games these days, so there's a ton of other stuff that has to be done (graphics, sound, music, story and design if it's that sort of game).

But I think the short form is that end users will put up with unfinished utilities, but they won't see any point in an unfinished game. And without any sort of encouragement at all, amateur game developers get tired of the thankless work really fast. If they're going to put in enough effort to finish a product good enough to compete with professional games, they may as well get paid for it at that point, and so they take it to the indy game market.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi tulcod,

i think you are wrong. There are good OS-Games out there like wesnoth and openttd. These games i play on Windows too.
And you forgotten these "free" Modifications, like Conter Strike, Alienswarm, TrueCombat... oh a good example is Red Orchestra, which was a modification and brought(!?!?) by a Company for selling as a Box-Version.

Look at free "easy doing Projects" like www.zak2.org or Broken Sword 2.5! These games are Top Titles for free. Its Possible to made good Games. But there have to be investigate much time..
(When i say "easy doing Projects" i thing the games need 10.000 Hours (no, i don't know the real time) to be Complete these game. A modern Commercial game have much more Time investigate, the tenfold.. 100.000 Hours. And the free developers just develop maybe 20 Hours a Week. A Commercial Developer has maybe 40-50 Hours a week.

For OpenSource games you need much more People who can coding cool stuff. Cause they have not much Time to work on this. And or these games need too long for Release. I wait three or five years of Broken Sword 2.5, but its a Timeless Game Design. And i know it wold be nicer then a n k h or j a c k k e a n.

If in 20 years, there is another way to made Games, interactive Movies or Quest for MMORPGs.. there will be much more good Open Source Games. But now its too early.

Most important for a OpenSource Games are the gamers and the Developers. I think there are not enough Coders out there who CAN do jobs like a Commercial Games Coder, cause you need years to develop and learn, how to use a new engine.. and this sort of Coding is a hard job and need much time. If no one pay you in this time... you have a problem. Some games cold be like an Art-Project which Stud's made for University, and would be fine. For Example Games where are much improvements in the Storyline or how to Play the game... where the Visual is not mostly important. Have you think about a game.. where you just Talked with? Like a interactive audio book.. the pictures are in your head but you have an exorbitant creativity ingame.. and it plays like a phone call with Bruce Willice in Die Hard 4 ;D

Sorry for drifting away, back to gamers and developers. I think there not much enough interested players.. for free software. And or too much more easer ways to made a nice game like Modifications.

Excuse me for my bad English and spaghetti-Code Mind ;) I hope you have received the core of my message...

regards

Chris

Edit: Another example for a really good open source game.. buts not released and i don't know if this would be real free... 0AD
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vputz wrote:
Quote:
we're not particularly interested in posts like ... "i think it's just not possible"


I think it's just not possible.

Which you don't want to hear, but here's a two-pronged problem:

1) Making games is one hell of a lot more work than people think
2) An unfinished game doesn't attract users
[...]

Interesting vision, and I agree with you that it's a hell lotta work. But maybe it simply means we need to split up game development? Up until now, every game was pretty much written from scratch, maybe except for the 3D engine. Only tiny bits of code are reused. Maybe that should change? Up to the point where you can "hack together" a good game?
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisJumper wrote:
Hi tulcod,

i think you are wrong. There are good OS-Games out there like wesnoth and openttd. These games i play on Windows too.
And you forgotten these "free" Modifications, like Conter Strike, Alienswarm, TrueCombat... oh a good example is Red Orchestra, which was a modification and brought(!?!?) by a Company for selling as a Box-Version.

While i agree with you that these games are played by a lot of players, so is BZFlag. There *are* games that don't look very cool but still are played very well. But why are we still waiting for a combination of good concepts AND good graphics?
ChrisJumper wrote:

[...]
For OpenSource games you need much more People who can coding cool stuff. Cause they have not much Time to work on this. And or these games need too long for Release. I wait three or five years of Broken Sword 2.5, but its a Timeless Game Design. And i know it wold be nicer then a n k h or j a c k k e a n.

If in 20 years, there is another way to made Games, interactive Movies or Quest for MMORPGs.. there will be much more good Open Source Games. But now its too early.
[...]

So again, I find myself thinking about how to split up game development à la unix
Quote:
Sorry for drifting away, back to gamers and developers. I think there not much enough interested players.. for free software. And or too much more easer ways to made a nice game like Modifications.

Bear with me for a second. Did you just say there aren't enough people interested in OSS games? And too much people want to pay?
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem is that it requires a huge amount of work to get a game up to a point where you can even consider calling it alpha. And while a model where you have a large amount of 3d engine stuff/sound/graphics etc available (aka shared open development) would be very nice, and might work, again, you require a huge amount of work, time and resources to get to that point.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

neuron wrote:
The problem is that it requires a huge amount of work to get a game up to a point where you can even consider calling it alpha. And while a model where you have a large amount of 3d engine stuff/sound/graphics etc available (aka shared open development) would be very nice, and might work, again, you require a huge amount of work, time and resources to get to that point.

yes. and we already have such interface libraries. so apparently, we need more splitups of the game itself, not just the interfaces, if splitting up work is the best approach. any ideas?
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Bear with me for a second. Did you just say there aren't enough people interested in OSS games? And too much people want to pay?


Yes. Cause too much People think a good game needs up2morrow Graphics and CPU-Resources. OSS-Games are 2 bad in Time... an one year old Game is often available for 5 Dollars in a Magazine and is old too, but much better then most Open-Source games. Or the Open-Source Players play Emulations or old Freeware-Games. Or use Wine or play free Mods.. and there are MUCH free Online Games.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ChrisJumper wrote:
Yes. Cause too much People think a good game needs up2morrow Graphics and CPU-Resources. OSS-Games are 2 bad in Time... an one year old Game is often available for 5 Dollars in a Magazine and is old too, but much better then most Open-Source games.

I'd disagree.
If you look at the really successful games, you always find titles that excel at gameplay, not gaphics.
Most successful shooter? Probably Counterstrike. Most successful RTS? Starcraft. RPG? Maybe Diablo II?
Anyway. Neither of these titles were graphically impressive by the time they were released. They do however feature a superb multiplayer experience linked with good game mechanics.
(Oh, and some stuff i found to back that up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games#PC)
So if someone were to develop and OSS-Game and he was trying to impress people with amazing graphics ... you're doing it wrong
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not exactly sure it's "failing". Some OS games are more popular than commercial games.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dr.Willy wrote:
ChrisJumper wrote:
Yes. Cause too much People think a good game needs up2morrow Graphics and CPU-Resources. OSS-Games are 2 bad in Time... an one year old Game is often available for 5 Dollars in a Magazine and is old too, but much better then most Open-Source games.

I'd disagree.
If you look at the really successful games, you always find titles that excel at gameplay, not gaphics.
Most successful shooter? Probably Counterstrike. Most successful RTS? Starcraft. RPG? Maybe Diablo II?
Anyway. Neither of these titles were graphically impressive by the time they were released. They do however feature a superb multiplayer experience linked with good game mechanics.
(Oh, and some stuff i found to back that up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games#PC)
So if someone were to develop and OSS-Game and he was trying to impress people with amazing graphics ... you're doing it wrong


Um.. all those titles were graphically on the front when they were released, they might not be now, but they were the latest and greatest when they were released.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

neuron wrote:
Um.. all those titles were graphically on the front when they were released, they might not be now, but they were the latest and greatest when they were released.

Thats just plain wrong.
Diablo II was released in 2000 with a maximum resolution of 640x480. The expansionset enabled 800x600 mode.
Counterstrike used Halflife graphics (obviously). By the time CS was released (the sold version), HL was already three years old.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dr.Willy wrote:
neuron wrote:
Um.. all those titles were graphically on the front when they were released, they might not be now, but they were the latest and greatest when they were released.

Thats just plain wrong.
Diablo II was released in 2000 with a maximum resolution of 640x480. The expansionset enabled 800x600 mode.
Counterstrike used Halflife graphics (obviously). By the time CS was released (the sold version), HL was already three years old.


Starcraft was praised for it's graphics after release, diablo2 ok not great, but still not far behind, CS was based on HL, which was one of the most advanced engines at the time.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

neuron wrote:
Starcraft was praised for it's graphics after release, diablo2 ok not great, but still not far behind, CS was based on HL, which was one of the most advanced engines at the time.

But we're not talking about HL. HL might have had one of the most advanced engines at the time of its release. But CS came a few years later. It competed with Quake3 Arena and Unreal.
As for d2: http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/diablo2?q=diablo%20II
"What Diablo II lacks in visuals, it makes up for in music [...]"
"[...] though we are still baffled by the lackluster graphics."
"Higher resolution graphics and a better automap feature would [...]"
Actually the more i think about it, Blizzard always makes the best of technically unimpressive games. That way older computers can run their games while they still look somewhat decent. And so neither Starcraft 2 nor Diablo 3 have state-of-the-arts graphics - and they are not even released yet.

My point is: OSS games should just take some simple graphics, make the best out of it and focus on gameplay.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Code:
My point is: OSS games should just take some simple graphics, make the best out of it and focus on gameplay.

++

But i won't run down OSS games, but it's easier to made an impressed Modification, than a new game. And even if i could code a game with friends, first i will think about a Modification. I would loved to see Civilization 4 running native in Linux, today its impossible to use Mods for this game in combination with wine.

If i look to my friendships and open source games, there are some upcoming popular games out there like Teewars/Teeworld... i am sure there will grown up interesting new Open Source games.

i didn't need these amazing Graphics, personally i want a nice game design, funny multiplay (like the game with these bunnys - jump n bump *g*). But fact is. If you can get (and you can) a game for 5 dollar or free you won't play freeciv if you can play Civ4-BTS (21 Euro in Supermarket) with wine. Or you won't play warzone 2100 if your friends will play CNC3 - KW or Starcarft. This is my Point with "not enough players".

But if these Open Source Games will grow up, the will be a competitive for these. On some new (commercial) Game-Titles you can "feel" that too much time was investigating in the Graphic of a game and cause of this they let the game play or other more important points slide. Open Source games are focus on the game-play itself or the improvements of some pieces. But often the give "Code" or a incomplete, too early Version away (but they have cause its open ;) and Players keep in Mind "Free games are fool".


Edit, Add:

Quote:
I'm not exactly sure it's "failing". Some OS games are more popular than commercial games.

No not "failing", but they will need much more time to established. And Open Source general or Open Source games especial, have more "resilience" and will be much more flexible then Closed Source games, maybe i can play someday freeciv with my friends on my server via Mobile Phone.
After Open Source get established there will be an "brake even point" where the Games grow exponential. Cause... normal Software have an "Best Before" on it. OS can easily be recycled, if there isn't spaghetti code or a good Documentation available.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

some clarification.

My question was not about why *current* open source game dev is failing, it's why open source game dev seems to be failing per definition (and I'd love to hear solutions, of course). Some people seem to be forced to keep thinking in terms of what's currently available, while I think a lot more is possible with the right "business model".

But... yes, the fact that some older games can be picked up for a dime or two does clarify the lack of interest in completely free games.

One more thing. Is it so hard to increase a game's graphics quality? Of course, the speed at which graphics hardware becomes better is horrifying, but isn't increasing the looks of a game mainly a matter of increasing the number of drawn triangles and effects?
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Is it so hard to increase a game's graphics quality? Of course, the speed at which graphics hardware becomes better is horrifying, but isn't increasing the looks of a game mainly a matter of increasing the number of drawn triangles and effects?


It's dead easy to increase the number of drawn triangles and effects. It's not easy at all to make that appealing and artistic. Yes, Blizzard makes games which are not technically demanding and thus run on a wide range of hardware because their games are triumphs of art direction. Compare, say, Everquest and World of Warcraft when WoW debuted. Everquest's character models had many more polygons and higher resolution textures, but they looked terrible next to WoW in action because the WoW models were better designed.

And that's not a trivial thing to do. Art is HARD. Good game graphics aren't about technological capability and haven't been for years. So when someone says "ditch the complex graphics and focus on gameplay" they're dead right (see what's been done with Darwinia and Defcon by Introversion... very simple graphics done elegantly).

Consider how long Nethack's been going; it's a legend and doesn't even have graphics unless you tack them on.

If you try and tackle the commercial games industry on their own grounds (ie max effort resources, sharp graphics, good models, beautiful music, etc), you'll just fail. The size of a modern development team, and the pace that they are driven, just can't be matched by OSS; it's a brutal, painful industry. I think you have to accept that OSS games are going to have to be qualitatively different. OSS applications software works because developers "eat their own dog food"; they're scratching an itch and they use their own product. While I don't exactly have long-running industry chops, I did write a crappy game once, which was painful (and did all the art and sound effects myself) and then finished it, which was excruciating--and trust me--you get really freakin' tired of trying to play your own broken game. The "eat your own dog food" thing doesn't work because the product you're working on doesn't really solve a problem; it's supposed to be fun and because it doesn't work it just doesn't do its job. I had a bunch of volunteers design levels and even do graphics, and that helped a lot, but then I had to accept pretty amateur levels and graphics (see for yourself, if you can tolerate the pain of the horrible thing in DosBox).

If you can accept that OSS developers can't match the speed of industry, then you have to accept that even if an OSS game could be made to "industry standards" it would be at least a few years out of date--which is now not up to industry standards. It can still be a riot to play, but it will look out of date, which isn't the same as "commercial quality". So once again: OSS needs to focus on gameplay rather than graphics, because we can't win on graphics. The OSS model works for code because a piece of code evolves over time; a piece of art tends not to.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vputz wrote:
If you try and tackle the commercial games industry on their own grounds (ie max effort resources, sharp graphics, good models, beautiful music, etc), you'll just fail. [...] So once again: OSS needs to focus on gameplay rather than graphics, because we can't win on graphics.

Actually thats where OSS games could surpass commercial games. Commercial games cant change that much after release. The companies do some betatesting (at least i hope they do :x) to find major balance issues, but bigger things that only show after release pretty much cant be changed anymore. Blizzard usually avoids this problem by releasing an expansion set one year after the original game. But after that its only patches. Bigger stuff is saved for the successor.
OSS games on the other hand can have a very long period where you can add or remove content and change even bigger things. So theoretically OSS games could even be more successful than commercial games in terms of long-time competitive gaming because they can be balanced better.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
OSS games on the other hand can have a very long period where you can add or remove content and change even bigger things. So theoretically OSS games could even be more successful than commercial games in terms of long-time competitive gaming because they can be balanced better.


But that's a bit like a bricklayer saying "over the long term, we'll be better off than the skyscraper company because we can keep adding bricks to this cottage while they build a whole new skyscraper in half the time"--if we're talking about commercial-quality graphics and content, of course they tend to do it in expansion format--they get paid more that way. But it's still new content (and generally holds together better than a packet of third-party user-made levels or whatever). And they're still putting out new original content (meaning here models and graphics rather than levels reusing existing models and graphics) faster than an OSS team would.

If we're just talking about reusing existing resources to produce new content (like level editors for FPS games, module editors for games like NWN, etc) then we're back to the problem of look and feel being quite a ways behind industry standards. Again I pick Nethack as an example--it's evolved tremendously over the years to be a legend in its own right (as it should). But I'd never pretend it had an interface up to modern commercial standards. Or the burgeoning world of interactive fiction--there's some great stuff out there, on par with (or better than in some cases) the classic Infocom text adventures of the 80's, and if you allow for MUDs and such you indeed have OSS teams adding content like mad. But text adventures haven't been commercially viable for years, of course.

Modern OSS games like Tremulous, World of Padman, etc look pretty good, and their teams deserve lots of attention for doing good work (Padman in particular deserves attention for a good distinctive look and feel). But they still look dated, partially because of time spent and partially because of older engines.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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My question was ... why open source game dev seems to be failing per definition


I still don't understand the question. You are asking why OS game dev is failed by definition? by definition of what? of development? You think there is no OS game development going on? Perhaps you should define "failing" for this use-case.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

coolsnowmen wrote:
Quote:
My question was ... why open source game dev seems to be failing per definition


I still don't understand the question. You are asking why OS game dev is failed by definition? by definition of what? of development? You think there is no OS game development going on? Perhaps you should define "failing" for this use-case.

by definition of a good (both graphics and gameplay) game being developed in an open source and often volunteer context.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vputz wrote:
But that's a bit like a bricklayer saying "over the long term, we'll be better off than the skyscraper company because we can keep adding bricks to this cottage while they build a whole new skyscraper in half the time"--if we're talking about commercial-quality graphics and content, of course they tend to do it in expansion format--they get paid more that way.

Put it the other way 'round: They have to do it in expansion format, because otherwise they dont get paid for it. A company cant really afford to work on a game thats selling already, because that doesnt earn them money.
Regarding your comparison you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Companies build a new skyscraper, even if you just wanted new furniture. The problem for OSS developers is to even get to that point. Im confident OSS organisations would be better at maintaining a shiny and comfortable skyscraper. They just dont have any (yet?).
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tulcod wrote:
coolsnowmen wrote:
Quote:
My question was ... why open source game dev seems to be failing per definition


I still don't understand the question. You are asking why OS game dev is failed by definition? by definition of what? of development? You think there is no OS game development going on? Perhaps you should define "failing" for this use-case.

by definition of a good (both graphics and gameplay) game being developed in an open source and often volunteer context.


IMO, there are several OS games that have good graphics and game play with modern engine effects.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tulcod wrote:
by definition of a good (both graphics and gameplay) game being developed in an open source and often volunteer context.

I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that the networking just isn't there. As the programmer of a few failed? OSS games, I've found it very difficult to get help writing the game. I'm not by any means an artist, nor am I a good overall game designer. But if there were some sort of way to form a team with people who have those other skills, then I think the overall process could be much more successful. Granted, I never tried very hard to find team members outside of people I already knew, and maybe there are decent forums to find such people. But that above all was the main issue with my games.

Plus, since we're mostly hobbyists, we have other things going on in our lives and that often gets in the way of game writing. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does hamper a lot of OSS game projects.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 17, 2008 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good games are currently too big and require huge amount of time invested . If you try to make it instead a collaborative effort the game doesn't come too good with all the disagreements that come from collaborative work.
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