Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wild Pockets: Create your own 3D Games Online for Free

At the DEMOfall 08 conference today, Sim Ops Studios debuted a free tool for creating 3-D games online in a web browser, called Wild Pockets. It gives a casual users, the tools needed to build rich and interesting games online, and share them with family and friends.

The web based game creation tool allows you to create a game by dragging and dropping objects into a 3-D world editor. There is a large library of objects and environments to choose from, including some basic primitives to particle systems. There is also an option to import images in the editor from your computer or the web.The official press release states:

With an easy to use interface and innovative social features such as
collaborative game development, a user-generated digital marketplace,
and embed tags for viral game distribution, Wild Pockets gives game
creators of all levels everything they need to create the next
breakthrough game online.

Paul Preece, Founder/CEO of CasualCollective.com further added:

"The Wild Pockets platform provides fast and easy 3D content generation
capabilities and makes it simple to distribute the games created. The
platform could help us make the leap to next generation 3D casual
games."

While this promotes the concept of Open Source Gaming, there is still lots to cover to get to my Open Source Gaming paradise (will do a report on it soon). Sim Ops weren't the first to present this concept either. Microsoft presented PopFly earlier this year that uses its Silverlight technology, and even export it to number of social networks including Facebook. Electronic Arts also has a SimsCarnival site where you can create your own game. And then there is XNA Game Studios, which is a set of tools for more professional game developers to easily create games for Windows or Xbox 360.

Wild Pockets is much simpler though, and builds on the concept of Social Networking. You can start building a game and invite your friend to join you as you both colaborate simultaniously. The technology is not aimed at hardcore console gamers but rather casual players on the PC. When your game is finalized, you can embed it on any website. It requires a special plugin to be installed in order to run. The company is releasing its developer tools today and expects a full launch in early 2009.

Feel free to share your comments about this, and stick around as I write about my idea of Open Source Gaming.

Prism reflects Web Apps to Desktop

Prism for Firefox is an upcoming powerful extension that lets you create stand-alone web apps directly from Firefox. These applications run in their own process and have there own separate memory. This feature has been presented in other browsers as well, like Google Chrome, but Prism gives more flexibility even though it is still in the labs.

This blog post is written on Google Docs with Prism, and I had a very smooth experience even though I had a lot of other applications running in the background. Prism gives you the option to hide all the browser GUI components or choose the one you like (I preferred to have the Status Bar visible) and you can even customize the icon of the application.

Prism applications maintain their own session and are not bounded to Firefox. So you can sign in as a different user in the same service at the same time. This is a huge advantage if you want to check two Gmail accounts at the same time. You can be logged in to both simultaneously.

The normal browser context menu also disappears leaving you with the pretty basic edit options (Cut/Copy/Paste etc). This however didn't appeal to me as I wanted to use Ubiquity here. But since this is at a early development stage, we can hope to see that extensions would find their way into Prism. Note that prism does present an option to install addons but there aren't any available at this time.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts about this new extension, which is pretty much an application on its own right.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


UPDATE 3:


Browser available for download!

UPDATE 2:


Google Chrome to be available for public beta at September 2, 2008 19:00 UTC.

UPDATE:


As I have mentioned below, the browser is not available for download yet so please stop posting links to download it. Once its released I will post an update so its best to just stay tuned here.

I ran across many blogs and news sites a few hours ago that were claiming to give the newly announced Google Chrome browser (or a direct link to it) for free download. While I will not point out the exact sites, I will still warn readers that the official word on the browser will come on September 2, 2008. Apparently, the so called Google Chrome which is given for download is the Flock web browser with a theme applied to it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How To: Setting up a Dedicated Counter Strike Server on the Internet

Ok, this is where a lot of people get intimidated. Every other day I run into someone who is asking this question, and has little luck finding a simple answer. So I decided to do my own series of guides that would help people make better servers. First of all you need to get the ingredients.

The Game
Method One
First things first, you will need a copy of the game which would be the core of the server. If you have access to BitTorrent or are on a internet connection which disconnects often then you should download this torrent. What you require from this is the base game, plus the Add-on Pack. You do not need to download all of the files in the torrent.

Method Two
Optionally (and I prefer this), if you have a fast internet connection, which would be 512k or greater, then you should download this utility, and follow these simple steps:

  1. Create a folder on your hard drive and rename it to anything you want, like "Counter-Strike Dedicated Server" or something.
  2. Extract the above RAR file anywhere on your computer and double click on the installer.exe included in it.
  3. When the installer asks for the installation directory, simply choose the folder you created in step 1.
  4. After a couple of moments, a console window will open up and it will start downloading the Half Life Server files and Counter Strike. It takes about 30 minutes to complete on a 1 Mbps connection.
  5. After the installation is complete, verify that the size of the folder you created is between 310-320 MB. If its lesser, than re-run the installer, it will download the remaining files.
    Note: It usually takes twice to fully download.

  6. After the download is complete, you need to patch your server to work without steam. For this download this file. This is only required in case you want to run a non-steam server.
  7. Unzip the above file and place it in the Server's directory replacing the original files.

Getting the Game Online
No matter what method you followed from above, you now have a Half-Life Dedicated Server with Counter Strike ready to run on non-steam clients. However, it is configured to run on LAN right now instead of the Internet. To make it work online:

  1. Go to the installation directory, and open the cstrike folder.
  2. Look for a file called server.cfg and open it with any text editor like Notepad. This file contains all your server settings including the server variables (termed cvars onwards). So it is a good idea to tweak it.
  3. Replace all the text in it with the following code:


     

//Server Name
hostname "ACN-Clan.tk (Beta CS 1.6)"


//Match Settings
mp_autokick 0
mp_autocrosshair 0
mp_autoteambalance 1
mp_buytime .5
mp_consistency 1
mp_c4timer 30
mp_fadetoblack 0
mp_falldamage 0
mp_flashlight 1
mp_forcecamera 3
mp_forcechasecam 2
mp_friendlyfire 0
mp_freezetime 2
mp_fraglimit 0
mp_hostagepenalty 3
mp_limitteams 1
mp_logfile 1
mp_logmessages 1
mp_logdetail 3
mp_maxrounds 0
mp_playerid 0
mp_roundtime 3
mp_startmoney 800
mp_timelimit 30
mp_tkpunish 1
mp_winlimit 0


//Server Settings
sv_contact "uzairsajid@yahoo.com"
sv_region 6
sv_voiceenable 0
sv_aim 0
sv_airaccelerate 10
sv_airmove 1
sv_allowdownload 1
sv_clienttrace 1.0
sv_clipmode 0
sv_allowupload 1
sv_cheats 0
sv_gravity 800
sv_lan 0
sv_maxrate 7000
sv_maxspeed 320
sv_maxupdaterate 101
sys_ticrate 10000
decalfrequency 60
pausable 0
log on
decalfrequency 60
edgefriction 2
host_framerate 0
rcon_password yourpassword


//Additional Scripts
exec listip.cfg
exec banned.cfg

//plugins
bullet_damage 1
amx_bulletwhizz 1
amx_bulletwhizz_dis 35



I'll explain all the important cvars in a while, but for now just bear with me

  1. Goto your HLDS directory (Its the one you created initially, where you installed the server files) and right-click on the HLDS.exe. Select Create Shortcut and then open up the shortcut's properties. Click the Shortcut tab above.
  2. Now add the following at the end of the text in the Target box:


     

-console -game cstrike -ip localhost -port 27015 +exec server.cfg +maxplayers 4 +map de_dust2


For example, if you're HLDS is in G:\HLDS, then the field should be:

"G:\HLDS\hlds.exe" -console -game cstrike -ip localhost -port 27015 +exec server.cfg +maxplayers 4 +map de_dust2

  • -console enables the console and starts the server.
  • -game cstrike tells the HLDS to set the server type to Counter-Strike. This however could be any Half-Life MOD.
  • localhost should be replaced by you're IP address. Its a good idea to have a Static IP for a dedicated server, or if you have access to a DNS and are registered then place the domain name their.
  • -port is the default port for the server. Note that its a good practice to also forward that port to accept incoming connections.
  • +exec server.cfg tells the HLDS to execute the server side file first. In this case, its the server.cfg configured earlier.
  • +maxplayers 4 sets the maximum number of players allowed to 4. Its good practice to setup low number of players on test servers.
  • +map de_dust2 tells the server to start dust2 map.


 

  1. After you are finished with this step, you can double click on the newly created shortcut to start your server. You can also add this shortcut to you're system startup to autmatically start up everytime your system reboots.
  2. Congrats. You're basic Internet enabled Counter-Strike dedicated server is now ready. Join the game now and frag

Also note that this is just a basic server (MetaMod, AdminMod and StatsMe are installed in the backend but we are not using them) without additional features. Do comment about any suggestions or difficulties you had doing this. Next, I would post how to setup AMX Mod X (The King of Half-Life Server Side Scripting), HL Guard, and other cool plug-ins. Hope all this could help.