Moping Doesn't Lead to Games
Posted Aug 19, 2006 17:12 UTC (Sat) by GreyWizard
In reply to: Where have we heard this before?
Parent article: X.org, distributors, and proprietary modules
Comparing a C compiler developed by university undergraduates in a year to a mediocre professional game is like claiming game development is easy because one person can write a graphical chess game in six months while making a C compiler that can translate five programming languages, target a three platforms and optimize half as well as GCC takes more time. Efforts to build games and compilers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so considering what it takes to be competitive is the only way to do an apples to apples comparison.
A competitive game might require two years of work from fifty people, but a competitive compiler or kernel is a ten year effort requiring hundreds of experts in dozens of specialized domains. No game ever created has enjoyed as much effort from such diverse contributors as Linux, GCC and other large free software projects. Do you suppose it's easy to reach consensus among even half a dozen brilliant egomaniacs working on a web browser, or to attract talent and enforce a consistent visual style in a desktop environment? Think again.
Proprietary games achieve what they do because an industry has formed around effective economic and social models. We in the free software community have found similar models compatible with our values for kernels, web servers, databases, browsers, desktop environments and more. We'll do the same for games. That's why engaging free software games that not as good as the best proprietary games are nothing to worry about. Like C compilers created in university courses, these projects are opportunities to learn the craft as well as find better ways to organize effort.
> We have working demonstrations of impresive 3D
> features that are *on par* with proprietary systems.
Which proprietary systems are on par? I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree on that, but five years ago you would have been moaning about how far behind free desktop systems are. I'm glad the developers who actually caught up ignored you.
> And we only get them on most systems by running proprietary drivers.
So? Graphics chip sets from Intel (which is committed to free software drivers) are readily available, as are R200 ATI cards for which free drivers work well. Reverse engineering efforts for R300 and NVIDIA cards are underway and future generations of CPUs for which specifications have always been available seem likely to have superiour graphics processing built in. Proprietary drivers are a serious problem but this is one battle among many that the free software community is winning.
Are you going to pretend that reverse engineering graphics card interfaces is easier than making games too?
> I said you're not going to get there using a seven year old engine, or
> by ignoring the most popular kinds of games.
Accusing me of attacking straw man arguments works better when you don't indulge yourself. I don't see anyone arguing that we should ignore proprietary games or that at the moment the best of them are not more technically advanced and polished than the best free software games. But we have to start somewhere. Moping and exaggerating the difficulty of making games won't get us there either.
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