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FARTRON
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« on: March 02, 2007, 03:01:49 PM »

I started to make a post to tie together some of my thoughts about the OLPC and indie gaming, but it got a bit long and involved, so I spun it out into a blog entry.  Nonetheless, I'm mainly curious as to the thoughts of the community on the XO platform and games.

Below I've pasted the contents of the blog entry, sans links/references.

Quote
The OLPC Project and the Ludic Renaissance

The One Laptop Per Child program is under way, and the second batch of the so-called "$100 laptops" (although there are different reports on the real cost, everyone agrees it's more than $100 -- they're being branded now as XO laptops) have made their way into the world. Presumably some have gone to the underprivileged children they are meant to empower, although others have been going to business journalists and Norwegian developers. Some people are already starting to get serious about developing for the platform.

Built on a base of Red Hat, python and GTK+, the interface, named Sugar, is far from the standard Xerox-inherited desktop metaphor. Built to serve children at different levels of literacy with many different languages, the look is bright and pictographic. It utilizes radial menus, network presence avatars, and offers cooperative modes for almost all of its activities. Operating within its Human Interface Guidelines, even the simplest tasks (called "activities" and not "applications") take on the guise of video games.

Tetris was an early "activity" developed for the platform, and game development has continued:

Quote
11. Games: John Palmieri has started a project called Block Party (based upon Vadim Gerasimov's Tetris-like game with mesh functionality for the laptop). John moved the drawing code to use Cairo instead of GDK graphics contexts. The repository will be the basis for a Sugar-activity tutorial John is writing. Vadim, Brian and Barry Silverman, and Walter played Dazzle Star, a multi-player network game originally written by Hal Abelson in 1975, that Brian and Barry ported to run on the laptop. Vadim was in Sydney, Brian and Barry in Montreal, and Walter in Cambridge. Walter and Brian won 12 to 11.

The laptop is designed to be educational throughout, and with the etoys "activity" the developers mean to get the children who use the system to begin thinking procedurally. If they are successful, it will not be long before the children begin modifying and expanding the platform itself. Anyone familiar with some of the programs available for the TI-8x series of calculators will know that the sort of "activities" students make for their devices have been predominantly games.

Although the hardware specs haven't finalized and the systems are still in an incremental beta stage, once finalized the laptops will offer many of the consistency benefits traditionally associated with console gaming. Some believe that operating within constraints has lead to some of the greatest innovations in creativity, and the limitations of the laptop will certainly constrain those who would create games for it. Currently the system has 128MB DRAM, and 512MB flash storage, making the modern penchant for large art assets in games incompatible with the design. The processor has been reported as high as 500Mhz, although the product wiki still lists 366 as the clock speed. The LCD runs at 1200x900 in monochrome and switches down to 800x600 for color, but the specifications mention that the framebuffer never leaves 1200x900.

Despite the limitations, the potential audience of millions of children is likely to draw game designers, especially those with an indie bent. The upcoming Game Developer Conference is hosting an OLPC game design contest with 2 XO Laptop systems as prizes for the winners, while keynote at the Serious Games Summit will address the OLPC as a gaming platform directly. The coming cultural clash between the creative souls of the indie gaming community and the children receiving the laptops has the potential to lead to a renaissance in game design.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2007, 03:04:30 PM by fartron » Logged

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wonderpus
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2007, 03:39:53 PM »

It Runs DOOM !!!
http://www.olpcnews.com/software/third_party/doom_on_the_olpc_xo.html
so its plenty beefy enough for a lot of games so long as you aim really low for your minspec machine , using libsdl or whatever at 800x600 and assume no HW acceleration

i think Balding Quest would run well ( assuming its not reliant on HW acceleration )

maybe we could tie the OLPC into the Game Making Compo ? http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=83.0

- Wonderpus








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ravuya
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2007, 08:42:04 PM »

You can download the Linux image they use to flash the little guys and run it in QEMU/VMware or another virtual machine tool.

Last I checked, it had a wad of libraries which should make our life easier. No SDL, but then again I checked a long time ago.
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« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2007, 08:33:08 PM »

Seen running Sim City at GDC last week

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ravuya
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« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2007, 10:12:48 PM »

Does it still come with Squeak? I could probably hack together a Smalltalk game or two.
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FARTRON
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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2007, 10:46:51 AM »

Was that lincity, or some other simcity clone, or had they actually ported the original?
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Arne
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2007, 12:40:09 PM »

Heh, why are there Playstation buttons on the monitor? (Edit: Ah, the screen folds around, but why Playstation?) It would make it larger than the Lynx as a handheld.

Yeah, a game contest for this would be interesting, since the audience would be a bit different.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2007, 01:05:41 PM by Arne » Logged
Anthony Flack
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2007, 05:42:26 PM »

Oh yes, they are Playstation buttons aren't they! I guess it fits with their language-neutral philosophy, and they are probably the most familiar controls at the moment.
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Albert Lai
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2007, 05:47:55 PM »

Heh.

We spend the equivalent of 100 US dollars and all you do with it is play games?
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FARTRON
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2007, 09:39:14 AM »

Does it still come with Squeak? I could probably hack together a Smalltalk game or two.

Squeek is Etoys.  Maybe I'll go back and edit in the links for the motherpost.

Also, they're supposed to post the winners of the OLPC game design contest sometime today.
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