OpenTK 1.1 released

17. February 2014

 

OpenTK, a low level C# binding for the OpenGL, OpenAL and OpenCL has just hit a milestone 1.1 release.  It’s a project used behind the scenes by a number ofimage projects such as MonoGame.  Funny enough, they keep a low enough profile everyone always thinks they are dead!  Fortunately for .NET loving OpenGL fans, they are not.

 

 

This release brings a number of new goodies, including:

1. support for OpenGL 4.4 and OpenGL ES 3.0
2. strongly-typed enums for OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0
3. new, faster OpenGL bindings based on hand-optimized IL
4. a new SDL2 backend for improved platform compatibility
5. new Joystick and GamePad APIs under OpenTK.Input
6. improved startup time and reduced memory consumption
7. inline documentation for all OpenGL and OpenGL ES core functions
8. a greatly expanded math library
9. numerous bugfixes for Mac OS X, Windows 8 and Linux
10. ANGLE support for Windows systems without OpenGL drivers
11. support for Retina / high-DPI monitors
12. monolinker can now be used to reduce the size of OpenTK.dll
13. precompiled binaries for optional dependencies (OpenAL, SDL2, monolinker)

 

You can read the full release notes here and download the full package here.  OpenTK is an open source project hosted on Github here.

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When will common sense reign again? The story of King and it’s war on indies

12. February 2014

 

So you’ve spent the last few months or years of your life developing a game.  Even getting it to market is one hell of an accomplishment.  Getting it to market and actually making money is even better.  Now imagine getting stomped on by a lawyer because your game’s name is similar to an overly broad trademark.  That would suck, wouldn’t it?  Now can you imagine if you released and trademarked the game two years before the other game existed?  Now, insult to injury, can you imagine if the game company suing you very likely copied a great deal of your game in the first place? 

 

Sounds unbelievable doesn’t it?  Well, that’s exactly what just happened to CandySwipe developer Runsome Apps Inc.  The following was posted on the CandySwipe website.

 

CS

Open letter to King.com who wants to cancel the registration of the CandySwipe trademark.

Dear King,

 

Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying "...the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla..." I created this game for warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, "Sweet!" are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for "likelihood of confusion" (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don't have the right to use my own game's name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you're happy taking the food out of my family's mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.

 

I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it's my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.

 

This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in "An open letter on intellectual property" posted on your website which states, "We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large - have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create."

 

I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.

 

I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!

Sincerely,
Albert Ransom
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.

Link to confusion between CandySwipe and Candy Crush Saga

Link to Trademark Opposition - http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91210162&pty=OPP&eno=9

Link to recent Gamezebo article featuring this story.

 

I post this here because I think this story needs to be spread far and wide (and so far has been).  It’s not a matter that the US trademark system is going to be fixed anytime soon and everyone knows that is the crux of the problem here.  That however is beyond our control for now… people have been crying for trademark reform for ages and change is occurring at a glacial pace.

 

That said, we can certainly shame companies that stifle competition through abusive lawsuits.  The worst part is, these companies make it harder for companies that legitimately want to protect their IP rights.  In this day and age, a small developer ( basically any without a legal team ) are pretty much at the mercy of another company that want to simply clone their game.  The world of indie game development is moving towards a world where he/she with the largest legal budget wins and I think most of us never want to see that happen.  At least, those of us that aren't loaded or lawyers that is.

 

King certainly isn’t the only villain here.  Even a company I deeply love, Bethesda, was guilty of abusing an overly broad trademark ( Scrolls ).  They took a run at Notch of Minecraft fame.  The difference in that story is, Minecraft has sold a bazillion copies and had the resources to fight back.  Notch basically won but the outcome left everyone else basically just as vulnerable.  So, from this point on, Scrolls is basically off limit in your game name.  Had Notch not had piles of money, he would have probably been forced to concede without a fight.

 

But King are a special kind of awful.  First they applied for the overly broad Candy trademark ( awarded in the UK, pending in US I believe ), basically baring other video games from using Candy in the title, even ones created (and trademarked!) years ago.  As is obvious from this activity, they intend to use this trademark, no matter how stupid it was.  But this isn’t their only action, they also opposed ( the much more sane ) Trademark application of Stoic’s The Banner Saga as apparently the use of the word Saga is too close to Candy Crush Saga.  Fortunately Stoic are going to fight back.  Stoic pretty accurately sum up the indie spirit and oppositions in their comment:

 

“Two years ago, the three of us at Stoic set out to make an epic Viking game: The Banner Saga,” Stoic cofounder Alex Thomas said in a statement. “We did, and people loved it, so we’re making another one. We won’t make a Viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t. King.com claims they’re not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains. We’re humbled by the outpouring of support and honored to have others stand with us for the right to their own Saga. We just want to make great games.”

 

So, what’s the best response to King?  Letting people know, as many people as possible.  Let the lay person know that this kind of crap is going to make their game selection worse.  Let developers know how toxic a landscape this will create.  Own a King published game?  Well, reviews on app stores are certainly a great forum to educate people!

 

Don’t look to the legal system for solutions, at least not in the short term.  It’s broken and wont be fixed for a very long time.  So the next most effective way of deterring a company like King from these abusive behaviors is by hitting them in the wallet.  The CandyJam protests were certainly a good start, but frankly, that’s most a matter of preaching to the choir.  The people that really need to know are the average consumers, and App Store comments are about the strongest voice we’ve got.  Uprating CandySwipe above Candy Crush Saga would certainly be an interesting way to start!  Of course, it would also be great to see CandySwipe use the money to crush this in court, as frankly most of the power comes from the mismatch in legal resources, not due to any standing under the law.  That said, the more of us that talk about this, the more likely it hit mainstream press and the more people that associate the name King with evil.

 

We shouldn’t live in a world where only the wealthy can defend themselves.  Sadly though, that is what we are becoming.

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Godot game engine finally open source

10. February 2014

 

About a month ago I reported that the Godot game engine was going open source.  Today it finally has.  In their own words, Godot is:

Godot is a fully featured, open source, MIT licensed, game engine. It focuses on having great tools, and a visual oriented workflow that can export to PC, Mobile and Web platforms with no hassle. The editor, language and APIs are feature rich, yet simple to learn, allowing you to become productive in a matter of hours.

 

Below is a screenshot of the editor in action:

Godotss1

 

The website is available here but it is getting clobbered.  The code itself is available on Github.

 

Always nice to see a Unity alternative.

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Project Anarchy release beta of 2D Toolkit

17. January 2014

 

OK, right up front I’ll admit I was a bit asleep at the wheel on this bit of news, as it actually happened last week…

 

Anyways, Havok have released the 2D Toolkit for ProjectAnarchy.  Project Anarchy is a bundling of Havok game development tools for making mobile games, all completely free ( as in beer ).  They also somewhat recently announced indie friendly pricing for supporting desktop targets.  The core of Project Anarchy is the Vision engine, as well as several dedicated libraries Havok makes for Physics, AI, Animation, etc.  Many of these libraries are routinely used in AAA games.  If alt textyou are interested in learning more, I created a tutorial series shortly after PA was released.

 

The 2D toolkit aims at making 2D game development easier as the tools are primarily geared towards 3D development.  In Havok’s own words, 2D Toolkit is:

 

Although you can make 2D games with Project Anarchy out-of-the-box, it takes some custom code to get spritesheets working and doing basic 2D collision through LUA. This sample 2D toolset gives you a couple new entities and utilities to create 2D games entirely through LUA without having to write any custom C++ code. There is still a lot of work left before this can be considered polished, but this is the first step and we wanted to give you, the community, a first look at this so that you can provide us with feedback early on.

Features

  • Adds two new entities: Sprite and 2D Camera
  • Automated sprite generation using Shoebox
  • Runtime playback of spritesheets
  • Collision detection and LUA callbacks

 

The toolkit also ships with 3 samples, Shooter, Impossible and Physics.  This is very much a work in progress, with not all features yet available across all supported platforms.  The toolkit is open source and hosted on Github.

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PlayStation Vita support added to Unity. RIP PlayStation Mobile

15. January 2014

 

It was announced in March of last year that Unity would support all of Sony’s platforms, including the PlayStation Vita.  Today that is finally a reality.  The followingimage was announced on the Unity blog:

 

Back in March 2013, we announced a partnership with Sony based on support for every single one of SCE’s PlayStation platforms, in addition to Unity for PlayStation®3. Today, we’re thrilled to announce that with Unity 4.3 we’re releasing Unity for PlayStation®Vita to the public.

Developers with a licensed developer agreement from SCE for PS Vita will now be able to deploy their game to PS Vita via the Unity engine and make use of platform-specific functionality including:

  • Motion sensors
  • Front and rear cameras
  • Dual analog sticks
  • Rear Touch pad

Furthermore, Unity for PS Vita will enable you to integrate the full suite of PSN features into your game, including Trophies, Friends and Matching functionality into your game.

As with all the other platforms we support, Unity for PS Vita allows you to develop your game once, without rewriting the code from scratch; simply build and run it on your PS Vita devkit. Not only that, you can now create both 2D and 3D games with Unity 4.3, animate almost anything with the native animation system Mecanim, and implement very cool graphics. And all of it can be run directly on your PS Vita devkit for quick iteration! Why don’t you head over to the release notesand take a look?

Zoink! has just released their new game “Stick It To The Man” developed in Unity for both PS3 and PS Vita. The game has already been very well received. Check out their game at their websitehttp://www.stickitgame.com/ to see what it is all about!

We are proud to have reached this platform milestone and we are very eager to see what exciting games you will create for PS Vita!

To become a licensed developer for PS Vita please visit the SCE company registration site (https://www.companyregistration.playstation.com).

 

So… what does this mean for PlayStation Mobile’s future?  Let’s just say writing a book on the subject would be a seriously stupid idea!  Truth of the matter is, no matter how much I like the PlayStation Mobile strategy, it was ruined by a number of bad decisions.  First off, they greatly limited the power to support an 8 year old smartphone that nobody bought…  Second, well, they basically abandoned development of it anyways… look at the release history, it is pretty much non existent. Third, it never came to all that many devices in the end, nor did it get supported on PS3 or PS4.  Fourth, it wasn’t all that well promoted, the finished games that is. Fifth, they started charging for it, which completely killed off the nascent community that was being developed.  And they rolled it out in such a way that developers in many countries were SOL.  This was the beginning of the end actually, its when the development community said “oh screw this”.  By the point they undid the developer licensing, people had moved on.

 

Oh, and see above how Unity supports front and rear camera and the rear touch pad as well as trophies, friends and game matching?  PSM supported none of that, even with developer outcry.

RIP PlayStation Mobile, you could have been great. Sad smile

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