Volity: an open platform for multiplayer casual games
by Jason McIntosh
Related link: http://volity.net/
I am the head of the Volity project, an open platform for multiplayer casual games. (This has been my main project since I declared myself done with tech writing in 2003.) We consider ourselves an easy-entry alternative to systems like Yahoo! Games, providing a complete network-gaming infrastructure and inviting casual game developers of all stripes to use our open architecture and development libraries to rapidly implement and add their own titles to the system.
We've actually been in a quiet player-centric beta for the past few months, so we have live parlors running games you can play right now with Gamut, our Java-based client application, and lots of documentation and examples to help developers learn how it all woks. I'm posting here today because we just entered a developer-beta period with the release of new game programming libraries, currently available in Perl and Python flavors. (The platform is language-agnostic, but the core group happens to know these two languages best, so that's what we're starting with.)
The platform is open in the sense that anyone can develop games for it, and also in that it's entirely based on open technologies. Volity uses XMPP (a.k.a. Jabber) for user authentication and its communication transport. Gamut supports game UI files written in SVG and made interactive with ECMAScript. And it all actually works!
To dive into the system from a player's perspective, go download Gamut, which should work on any Java-happy machine. You can use it to create an account and start poking around our handful of launch and demo titles immediately. Most are implementations of real-world board and card games made by friends of ours, and implemented for the most part by Andrew Plotkin, our in-house wizard.
Our hope, though, is to become less a maker of games and more a provider of a platform that other people will want to make games on and that even more people will want to play games on! We already host a couple of games created by our first trailblazing game hackers. If you'd like to help with the developer beta too, please visit the Game Developer's Overview page on our wiki.
We've also started to roll out Volity.Net, the web front-end of the public Volity game network that we're running. It features a number of applications and other resources to help developers add their games to our platform, and maintain them once they do.
Disclosure: I am also helming a startup that is currently accelerating the development of Volity, and will try to make a buck off of it through magical jedi voodoo. We're being very careful about putting a logical and legal firewall between the company and the platform, so that the fate of one is not bound to the other. That said, we're staking the future of the company on how well casual game developers receive this idea, so we are keenly interested in entering a beta feedback cycle with some of them.
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It looks good, but unfortunately it needs little more advertising. And few games. I'd like to see some whist, poker, rummy, bridge and so on!