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Popcap Games Framework

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Carlos
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Joined: 08/01/2009

First of all, this isn't meant to supplant existing initiatives to get a board game design computer program written: quite the opposite, I'm hoping this might prove helpful. But I don't want anyone to think I'm poo-pooing their efforts or being impatient.

Here's the short version: PopCap games, who have written a lot of board and arcade games for the Internet (you'll find all sorts of them on Yahoo Games), are offering their PopCap Games Framework as open-source, which, if I understand correctly, basically is a commerical-quality framework that someone with C++ knowledge can use to substantially cut the time needed to develop new software.

Here's the long version: Crosscut Games (http://www.runesword.com) is a two-person team of developers who create retro roleplaying games of a quality well beyond what you might expect two people with jobs and families to be able to do. They're working on a new game called Dungeon Delvers which is going to be, I think, a game similar to Talisman in playstyle and tone. Well, they started writing this puppy from the ground up, and were getting bogged down in developing the game engine. Then they discovered that PopCap was (and still is) offering their framework as open-source. They weren't sure if they were making the right choice, but took a chance and started experimenting with the PopCap framework. Here's the way one member of the team wrote up his experiences:

Quote:
Popcap's framework is open sourced and the the licensing is quite generous. It's free.

In general, "game engines" vary from minimalistic "frameworks" that still require considerable programming knowledge to feature laden "construction sets" where programming is easier (or even unnecessary in extreme cases).

Often, you trade away flexibility and speed for this ease. Plus, many game engines are not particularly proven in the real world marketplace.

Popcap's framework is definitely on the minimalistic + flexible + quick side. You're still doing C++ code, it's just has graphics/sound methods between you and the DirectX library -- and even allows you to default to software graphics if the PC is truly ancient.

Plus, this framework is very proven .... the Popcap framework is already running great on all manner of PC's out there. Popcap's games are popular, so it's been through the kind of fine-tuning for esoteric crap that would've taken us months to put in our engine. Our 2 1/2 month backtrack will save us at least as much time in the test phase, likely more.

The current build of DD runs at 60fps on my laptop. It will run fine on lesser hardware .... The code is very nearly back to where it was in the old engine. This by itself is a tribute to Popcap's well-done framework and how close it was to our old engine. Very little pain involved, we made the right call.

It seems like, for someone who knows programming, the PopCap framework could be a godsend--cut hours upon hours of time off of programming while provided a solid, relatively bug-free and proven product. So I'm wondering if some of you programmmers out there with an interest in developing board game protyping software might be interested in having a look.

Here's the PopCap link to more information:
http://developer.popcap.com/

Hope this is helpful!

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