Making middleware

Discussion in 'Game Development (Technical)' started by Bad Sector, May 24, 2010.

  1. electronicStar

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    Creating a viable game engine would require a lot of investment for maintenance (ie: answering people's questions, fixing bugs, keeping compatibility up to date etc...) it's not just about programming the engine. I think it would require you to either hire people or make the engine open source.
    But I think there is already too much competition rightnow for pure 3D engines.
    But I also think that there is a great field of opportunities for middleware "on the side", stuff to help artist or to smooth out the creation pipeline, so as other have suggested I will tell you to find an original idea, something that coud become complementary of ogre or unity or udk.
    Recently DrPetters released SFXR, and I think there is a lot of room for improvement. So far it is the only non-professional tol for sound creation (well the only one that I know) and I think there could be a lot more options (like for examlpe mixing several sounds in the editor, a timeline, changing the waveform of preexisting sounds etc...) using audacity +sfxr is a bit clunky.
     
  2. PoV

    PoV
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    Free Middleware - Easy, specialize somewhere (physics, 2D, RPG's, Platformers, whatever, ...), put it online with some easy samples, let people play with it, set up a forum, success.

    Paid Middleware - HAHAHAHA!
     
  3. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Here's my 20%/80% feature set for a Brief editor.

    * - undo last item on undo stack
    home: first press = start of line, 2nd press start of page, 3rd press start of document
    end: first press = end of line, 2nd press end of page, 3rd press end of doc.
    alt-e: open window to open a file
    alt-b: open window to get a list of files open to choose between
    alt-c: begin region (ie. column) grab, very handy feature
    alt-a: begin normal selection
    -: cut current selection, if nothing selected then cut current line
    +: copy current selection, if nothing selected then cut current line
    f7: toggle macro record
    f8: playback macro record
    ins: insert contents of clipboard
    del: delete current selection
    alt-w: write current file
    ctrl-alt-f: open find in files window
    alt-f5: open find in file window
    f5: find next instance of what you were looking for in last search
    alt-g: goto line #. Line and column should be displayed in lower right corner.

    I'm sure there's more but that's a lot of it and if implemented would actually be better than anything I currently have. I think the biggest headaches would be the multiple files open and the undo stack.
     
  4. Bad Sector

    Original Member

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    @tolik:
    I'm sure there are middleware projects which are leftovers from games, but i highly doubt they're the only great ones.

    @Bmc:
    That's something i thought to write when i wanted to convert Mochi's SDK from AS3 to haXe, but these languages are mostly similar. I'm not sure how one would convert C to Java without making it unreadable for example. It might work as an assistant though, but this is something i haven't thought much about.

    @jcottier:
    I haven't underestimated it because i don't know and i doubt that anyone, inclusing most middleware developers, know. When it comes to people wanting to use it or not, i see it similar to a game: its random enough for me to not be able to make a definite answer. I can guess a negative one so i won't have any expectations so things won't go wrong if the outcome is actually negative, but that would be pure guessing from my part and people telling me that "there are too many middleware projects out there" isn't very different from people telling me "there are too many FPS games out there". Ultimately it might be a waste of time, but its not like i otherwise make stuff that provide me something. Even then, i'm going to do something that i find interesting enough that even if it fails commercially i would have a good time developing it :). In the worst case nothing changes :p.

    @electronicStar:
    Yeah its a lot of competition because there are many 3D engines, although most of them are not being used. At the past i searched in the 3D Engines database for engines which had documentation and tools and i've found much less than what expected.

    If the project becomes too big for me to handle it'll probably justify it. But you know, any commercial project requires support, even the BRIEF editor lennard proposed. It is not like i can avoid supporting people's request :).

    However after the replies on this thread, i'm reconsidering the 3D engine case. I won't abandon the idea, but i think it might be a better choice to not make one now and focus on side helper tools. Later when i reconsider it, i can always package the tools with the engine and offer a more complete solution than many engines (after all most engines lack tools - even Torque didn't had a world authoring tool until recently).

    @PoV:
    So you mean people aren't paying for middleware and developers should release everything for free? :p
     
  5. hippocoder

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    That exists, its called haxe. It currently goes to C++ if I'm not mistaken, but close enough for iPhone.
     
  6. tolik

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    You can't make a good middleware unless you eat your own food. Not just samples, but real products. It takes years to make something worthy.
    We are on 7th month of our inhouse 3D flash technology and 2 released products and want to start all the pipeline tools and framework bindings from scratch for 3rd game... (totally not worth)
     
  7. zoombapup

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    I think there ARE small "middleware" applications you can make. If done well, i.e. with good support, documentation and with a hobbyist price tag. You'll never make a huge living, but look at the likes of the blitz basic guys as an example. Or darkbasic or any one of a dozen other tools.

    Middleware is a tool. It will never be universally accepted, but if it serves a niche very well, I dont see why it wouldnt work.
     
  8. hippocoder

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    Unity3D springs to mind regarding great middleware. It's middleware which licenses more middleware to become fatware, or biggleware.

    Never mind me :p
     
  9. FlySim

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    I agree. When evaluating engines, I put a lot of emphasis on samples games and number/quality of released games. Ended up with Unity.

    You might take a look at doing tools/scripts for Unity. There are supposedly 100,000+ users - Im sure that most are hobbyist but still potential customers.
     
  10. tolik

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    How about making some good games?
     
  11. Bad Sector

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    I'm not of the mentality that says "samples != real products". A full game depends on more than what some piece of middleware may provide, even if it is a full 3D engine. One of the most important parts is the person who will use the middleware. Anyone can shell out $100 to buy Torque, but only a small percentage will finish anything. You could blame Torque (and in part it might have issues but there is no software without issues), but i think a more likely culprit is that the people who didn't finished something were not able to take advantage of the engine (which includes not being able to make assets for their games, not knowing enough about programming, not knowing enough about level design or even being able in all aspects but not having time to do it). Note that i haven't used Torque, i just gave it as an example of a cheap engine that people know.

    Samples are more important because they show the engine itself. They focus on what the engine can do without getting an offset by a game (a game can be successful or failure based on its gameplay, art assets, etc but this doesn't have to do with the engine).

    As an example from what i've done personally, assume you had to choose between my RayFaster 1 and RayFaster 2 3D engines for Flash (probably you wouldn't but assume you had to). Would you choose RayFaster 1 which has a simple Wolf3D-like rendering engine, simple 2D sprites, works with a generic tilemap editor but had a game made with it or you would choose RayFaster 2 which has a much richer world rendering engine, dynamic world structure, 3D models, decals, lighting, scripting, multiple resolutions, a WYSIWYG editor but no game made with it and only a sample that shows what the engine can do?
     
  12. Bad Sector

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    One doesn't exclude the other.
     
  13. PoV

    PoV
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    No, just it's not easy. If it's free, people will try it. If it's paid, people will be incredibly scrutinizing of it. It needs to fill a need and save the buyer time and money. 3D engines, those are plentiful.

    Even giving stuff away for free is full of problems. Users expect a certain level of support from you, and a willingness to bend over backwards for them, unless explicitly stated that you will not support them.

    Anyways, IMO, it's not worth your time to make middleware.


    There are more options in the same vein as middleware though. You could develop a piece of "technology" for internal use, and seek clients. Flixel is a good example of this, though it's not their business model. Flixel is a piece of 2D platformer game middleware designed for Flash, but Adam and the crew have tools and things for taking games built on Flixel to iPhone. That sort of relationship is interesting.
     
  14. Greg Squire

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    If you're looking to make some middleware, how about making this. :D

    In all seriousness though, the Kasual Kit was an April Fools joke years ago, but there are some elements of it that lie in the realm of possibility. If you could choose a basic template for a certain game genre or type, it could give you a good start towards creating your game (as long as it was close to the mold of the basic template).
     

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