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Re: Excuse, sort of

Mads Bondo Dydensborg wrote:

> I do however still believe that games represent a special kind of OSS that
> need a special kind of developers (apart from programmers, artist are
> badly needed), and that the "level of entry" into this kind of OSS
> development is high for games in general.

There is a problem in general with OpenSource software of any complexity.

If your program uses music, sound, 2D, 3D graphics, joysticks, etc - it's
inevitable that you'll have more dependancies than (say) a C compiler or
a tape archive program.

It's all those dependancies that cause the problems and OpenSource authors
are faced by a continual dilemma:

 * We can lean more heavily on pre-existing libraries - which reduces
   the amount of work we have to do - and allows for richer, more complex
   games because we are spending less time re-writing things that already


 * We can reject as many external libraries as we can tolerate in order to
   ease installation for John Q. Public.

Those two options continually pull in opposite directions.

The way commercial games get around that is to distribute games on 600Mb
CD-ROMs that can contain duplicates of every library the program needs and
a complex 'installer' to stuff them all onto the user's hard drive.

If I made people download copies of every different version of Mesa, plus
GLIDE, GLUT, PLIB and others - my game would go from a 1Mb download to
perhaps 10Mb.  If I went nuts and depended on SDL, Mikmod, etc, etc - it
would be much larger.

While the majority of users still don't have more than a couple of K bytes
per second of usable bandwidth - and a significant number pay for connect
time - we can't possibly simplify the dependancy situation by brute force.

We need something more elegant to make this easy.

I've proposed some things to make life easier on our users several times,
in the past - but it's not a very exciting project and I don't personally
have time to do anything about it.

Steve Baker                  http://web2.airmail.net/sjbaker1
sjbaker1@airmail.net (home)  http://www.woodsoup.org/~sbaker
sjbaker@hti.com      (work)

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