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View Full Version : An Open Game Console Standard



ZephyrXero
January 16th, 2007, 12:21 PM
Hey everyone. Don't mean to spam or anything, but I'm trying to spread the word of a new project I'm working on. I'm working to create a non-profit organization called the Open Game Console Consortium that will define a standard from which multiple manufacturers can release their own machines, but they will play the exact same games (and no, I'm not talking about a PC). It will all be built off of Linux and Open Source Software, so if any of you are interested in contributing, please join us (http://www.opengameconsole.org).

PS. If you have Digg account, I'm trying to get it mentioned there today (http://digg.com/gaming_news/An_Open_Standard_for_Game_Consoles) ;)

pmj
January 16th, 2007, 01:04 PM
I could fill a whole page of reasons why this is impossible, but they're so obvious that you must have thought of most of them yourself already. And that brings me to my question: how on earth do you intend to pull this off?

ZephyrXero
January 16th, 2007, 05:35 PM
I could fill a whole page of reasons why this is impossible, but they're so obvious that you must have thought of most of them yourself already. And that brings me to my question: how on earth do you intend to pull this off?

Read the proposal on the site. I've spent almost 2 years working on these so-called "impossible" problems in preparation for today. ;)

Brunellus
January 16th, 2007, 06:09 PM
The open game console already exists: commodity PC hardware running Linux.

Where's my revolution? Oh wait, there isn't one, for all the usual "not-ready-for-the-desktop" reasons.

MaximB
January 16th, 2007, 06:22 PM
yep , if you are talking about OS ...we have it right here
Linux can run on ANY architecture exists.
and some other free open sourced OS can be the "standard" like Open Solaris and BSD.

but like you can see not everyone using those open standards ;).
to the developers we have OpenGL ...but many are still using DirectX.

so what will be different with Hardware ?

ZephyrXero
January 16th, 2007, 08:26 PM
There are quite a few key differences for game developers between working on a specific console vs. the broad PC landscape. Developing for a console means you only have to focus on one set of hardware rather than the thousands of different combinations possible with PCs. This allows them to optimize their code much much more and to spend more time on the actual game rather than trying to support the numerous pieces of hardware potential players might have. With a console, developers know exactly what hardware and OS you will have, and can exploit that to the fullest rather than trying to write overly generic code that ends up requiring much more powerful hardware as a result. For an example, just look at the original Xbox. It was basically just a frozen set of PC hardware, and because of these advantages consoles have offer over PCs, many games are capable of running just as well, if not better on a 766mhz Celeron, with only 64MB of RAM and a GeForce 3 than they could on a PC with a 3Ghz P4 with 512MB of RAM and modern, mid-line graphics card. There's a reason more and more developers are abandoning the PC gaming market. And for those of us interested in freedom, an open game console format is our only hope. ;)

wert613
January 16th, 2007, 08:28 PM
there is a linux based portable video game called GP2x
http://www.gp2x.com/
check it out!

BarfBag
January 16th, 2007, 08:51 PM
there is a linux based portable video game called GP2x
http://www.gp2x.com/
check it out!

Holy crap, man! That looks amazing!

Brunellus
January 16th, 2007, 08:55 PM
Holy crap, man! That looks amazing!
equally amazing is the lack of titles available for it.

wert613
January 16th, 2007, 09:00 PM
actually you can download free games for it such as
clonk
i love clonk here is the homepage
www.clonk.de
and the wiki of the port to the GP2x
http://wiki.gp2x.org/wiki/Clonk2X

Mateo
January 16th, 2007, 09:04 PM
Friendly suggestion for your proposal: Bullet points are your friend. It lets the semi-interested reader read the parts the he/she finds interesting and skipping the rest. Otherwise they (myself included) don't want to read an entire essay.

mips
January 16th, 2007, 09:05 PM
I'm still waiting for my OJ prize !

G Morgan
January 16th, 2007, 09:06 PM
I think more than anything open gaming needs a standard development environment. Unfortunately VIM alone isn't enough for game development.


//edit - also note that games developers don't write all their code in ASM anymore than app developers do.//

sloggerkhan
January 16th, 2007, 09:13 PM
I think so long as console makers also own developers change is unlikely.

Henry Rayker
January 16th, 2007, 09:52 PM
You raised some good points in the proposal (such as console developers making very little on their consoles due to the licensing agreements etc.) however, look at it this way...I won't pay $600 for the PS3, even though it IS a blu-ray player...they also have the third party game developers. Why would someone pay $500 for a computer that they can't upgrade (due to potentially breaking their compatibility with the console's OS) that has no guarantee of third party support AND no blu-ray playability?

In my mind, the third-party support and blu-ray drive are worth more than $100. I'm all for the open software movement and everything, but this has less value, to me, than a PS3.

pmj
January 17th, 2007, 12:01 AM
Read the proposal on the site. I've spent almost 2 years working on these so-called "impossible" problems in preparation for today. ;)

I did. A few problems, just off the top of my head that aren't (properly) addressed:


Less than half as powerful as an xbox 360 at twice the price.
Must build it yourself.
Most consoles build won't be small, quiet and pretty boxes, but bulky, ugly and noisy PCs.
Building it will hopefully "only" be as difficult as building a MythTV box, something lots of people are failing to do by the way, but for this console, building it will be the easy part.
The advantage of having identical hardware does not exist, as everyone will have to build their own console and you have no way of guaranteeing that all the right hardware will exist during the lifetime of the console. Which is how long again? You can't even be sure that users will use just the right hardware when it does exist. Should I order my parts from 5 different web shops in 3 different countries if that's what it takes to get just the right motherboard and just the right game pad?
Nvidia will eventually stop supporting the card. I hope no new drivers will be necessary when that happens, or we'd be in trouble.
The problem with indefinitely supporting binaries on changing hardware
The only commercial support you could hope for would be indie developers, and we all know how popular they are in the Linux community. I don't think I've seen a single thread on the forum discussing a commercial indie game.
Even our current, typically hilariously bad open source games will have to be modified quite a bit so they have full game pad support and use the right resolution etc.
No money, no employees. The users would have to do all the work. No one will build and sell this console until after it has already become a success, and commercial games won't come before that either.
The games, where will they come from? This is too expensive for a dedicated emulation box. We need more.


Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of an open console. But what you're suggesting is comparable to climbing Mt. Everest naked while pursued by attack helicopters. But all of this is of course obvious for anyone to see. So how is this going to work?

ZephyrXero
January 20th, 2007, 10:43 PM
I did. A few problems, just off the top of my head that aren't (properly) addressed:
Do note my initial proposal is not to describe every minute detail of the project. For detailed info, please see our wiki (http://www.opengameconsole.org/wiki). But I will try to respond to all your points.

Less than half as powerful as an xbox 360 at twice the price.
A 'real' Xbox 360 still costs $400. I had originally tried to keep the price closer to $400, but certain issues kept that from happening, so now we're closer to $500. Also, if you know about supply and demand, the prices for these systems will most likely drop fairly quickly since we're using off-the-shelf components.

Must build it yourself.
Absolutely wrong. This spec is intended for hardware manufacturers and game developers, not gamers. Sure, you could always build your own system, but most people are lazy and will perfer to just buy a prebuilt machine. So, the option's there to you...but it's not at all the intention.

Most consoles build won't be small, quiet and pretty boxes, but bulky, ugly and noisy PCs. If you consider the Xbox, Xbox360 and PS3's to be small and quiet, then you should be just fine with practically anything manufacturers come up with for this spec.

Building it will hopefully "only" be as difficult as building a MythTV box, something lots of people are failing to do by the way, but for this console, building it will be the easy part.Once again, while it is possible for the average joe to build his own machine, the primary goal of this project is for manufacturers like Phillips/Maganavox, RCA, Sanyo, Apex, Pioneer, Samsung, etc to build these machines and sell them to you ready so that all you have to do is unbox it and plug it in.

The advantage of having identical hardware does not exist, as everyone will have to build their own console and you have no way of guaranteeing that all the right hardware will exist during the lifetime of the console. Which is how long again? You can't even be sure that users will use just the right hardware when it does exist. Should I order my parts from 5 different web shops in 3 different countries if that's what it takes to get just the right motherboard and just the right game pad?This is yet another reason why building your own is discouraged. All consoles will have to be submitted to a certification process before they can legally call themselves a truely conformant console.

Nvidia will eventually stop supporting the card. I hope no new drivers will be necessary when that happens, or we'd be in trouble.As the OS will be set in stone before the first machine is ever even sold, the nVidia drivers will never be updated regardless

The problem with indefinitely supporting binaries on changing hardwareThe only way the hardware will ever change is if a part becomes discontinued, and then a new revision of the spec will be created that takes all of that in to account. So if for some chance, nVidia stops producing the GeForce 8600 we will probably go with in 3 or 4 years, we can switch to the new 12-600 model or whatever they're at, and still be fairly sure that the old games will run just fine ;) However, if this console takes off and we get nVidia on board, that hopefully will never become an issue in the first place.

The only commercial support you could hope for would be indie developers, and we all know how popular they are in the Linux community. I don't think I've seen a single thread on the forum discussing a commercial indie game.Ok, this is the first valid one you've thrown at me. Yes, this will be our hardest issue. Just as in the Linux world...game developers will present us with the chicken and the egg scenario. For our console to sell well, we'll need good developer support, but for our console to recieve good developer support, we'll need to have good market share. I think you underestimate game developers when it comes to linux though... there are already a decent handful of commercial games with native ports like Doom, Quake, Unreal, and Gish. The second thing beyond market share that holds developers back from making Linux versions of their games is the current state of distros. If company A makes a game that runs well on Ubuntu, it may not run very well under pure Debian, and possibly not at all on Fedora. Since this console standard would require strict compatibility certification, we wouldn't have this issue to worry with.

At first we will market ourselves as sort of the Sundance Channel of game consoles...and start out with all the small/independent homebrew developers as our main thing that sets us apart from the big three. Hopefully we'll be able to get a few of the major independent studios like ID and Epic on board. And then of course we'll also have all the free, open source games and homebrews too. It will be a slow, growing process...but I think in about 5-10 years when we release version 2.0 of the standard, we'll be ready to compete head to head with the next gen from the proprietary manufactuers.


Even our current, typically hilariously bad open source games will have to be modified quite a bit so they have full game pad support and use the right resolution etc.
Yes, this is a console, not a PC....all games made for it will need to be properly ported just as to any other console.

No money, no employees. The users would have to do all the work. No one will build and sell this console until after it has already become a success, and commercial games won't come before that either.Until the first hardware manufacturer releases a full fledged console to retail, this project will not have launched. By that time we will have to have some money and full time employees for the certification process and such.

The games, where will they come from? This is too expensive for a dedicated emulation box. We need more.As while I suppose you could always install your own emulator, don't ever expect the OGCC to support such a practice.


Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of an open console. But what you're suggesting is comparable to climbing Mt. Everest naked while pursued by attack helicopters. But all of this is of course obvious for anyone to see. I don't think it's quite as hard as you describe but there's always the old saying of: "anything worth doing is rarely easy."

So how is this going to work?maybe you should read it again? and check out the wiki too ;)

http://openGameConsole.org

&)ky#)^
March 7th, 2008, 08:40 AM
I'd like to reopen this topic. I've been looking for an open source platform to program SDL-based games on. This looks right to me. The only alternatives I've seen are the HYDRA development console (http://www.xgamestation.com/browse_products.php?category=7), which is incredibly puny in the power department and too expensive to boot, and homebrew on the Dreamcast, which is far too obscure and difficult.

Any progress on this idea?

CaptainCabinet
March 7th, 2008, 10:46 AM
I could fill a whole page of reasons why this is impossible, but they're so obvious that you must have thought of most of them yourself already. And that brings me to my question: how on earth do you intend to pull this off?

I love how whenever someone tells us about an idea they have, someone says it isn't worth it. :roll:
Some encouragement wouldn't go amiss. He obviously knows what he's doing and he's put alot of work into it.
To the creator, this sounds like a very interesting idea and I'd love to get involved somehow. :)

&)ky#)^
March 8th, 2008, 07:23 AM
I imagined an open source console being like this:

Probably an ITX board with an integrated CPU ~1Ghz with a fanless heatsink to keep heat and noise to a minimum and keep the form factor tiny.
A stripped down USB hub on the front of the box for controllers and peripheral connections, since most controllers used will probably be USB PC game pads.
Flash drives or SD cards used for game media since you could save your games to the same medium the game is on, and these are common media.
Internal flash drive or solid-state drive for a minimal, custom-tailored linux supporting SDL, OpenGL, and X. The flash or solid state would reduce heat, noise, and power consumption. Probably a flash drive to keep down the cost.
OS should include SDL and OpenGL to take the need of providing those libraries away from the game software.
Around 256 to 512 Mb of RAM. Maybe 128 Mb of VRAM. Those specs blow PS2, Xbox, and Wii out of the water and even rival PS3 and Xbox 360.


I figure that this should project the quality of games achievable to rival even new releases, depending on the dedication and the resources of developers. Even the specs given in the proposed standard seem unnecessarily lofty for a game console.

With a bit of thriftiness and some bulk purchasing, I bet one could even get this hardware for around $250 USD or less.

Now, how about some fun mock-ups of the case design...? :tongue:

&)ky#)^
March 8th, 2008, 07:31 AM
But what you're suggesting is comparable to climbing Mt. Everest naked while pursued by attack helicopters.

I sense an idea for the first Halo killer for the open source console!

lingnoi
March 8th, 2008, 09:36 AM
Since you need commercial backing from the main players.. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.. How do you plan on getting Microsoft to make an open source box?

It's not clear at all what you're trying to do here. Create a new console? Get existing console manufacturers to all use the same OS so a game can run on all three consoles?

If it's the second one then I think you're going to be disappointed. Console manufacturers sell hardware at a loss so they can get a nice cut on the games sold that have to be officially certified for their hardware.

Creating an open platform where games don't need to be certified from a publisher kills any chance of publishers such as Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony ever picking up your idea.

If you're talking about creating a new console and using a for profit sister company to become the publisher then how is this any different then just starting a new console system?

If that is your plan it is going to fail, even if you put in millions of dollars because Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo could simply make their systems compatible with your console's games while at the same time have their official games that only work on their console. Now you have removed the incentive for people to purchase your system because you can't run Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo games on your system.

Even if there is compatibility it won't convince game developers either because Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo could simply decrease the royalties given out to developers who create games using your standard and not their own.

You haven't taken care of the fundamental problems. They are there for a good reason, to make money.

3rdalbum
March 8th, 2008, 02:39 PM
Here's a better idea for you to pursue.

Rather than make an "open-source console" using hardware which will go out-of-date, cost a lot and likely not attract any developers, why not create a standard for writing a game ONCE and being able to run it on multiple systems, with the appropriate change of medium?

A set of high-level APIs that abstract away the hardware, a custom program loader, and the backend code to get all this running on a Wii, on a PS3, on an Xbox 360, and on a Windows PC. You can still use OpenGL and possibly SDL.

When you put the disc into the appropriate console, it will load your miniature operating system as though it was just a game. Your OS will then run whatever game is on the disc.

You could make money off it by licensing the kit for free-as-in-beer-and-speech use for open-source developers but charging a license fee for commercial developers. If the performance was good enough and porting a game for a different console was easy, game development houses would jump on-board.

Being able to write a game for one system, and it being quickly modifiable to run on other systems as well as computers, is pretty much the holy grail. You would still have to battle Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony; but at least then you'd have a legion of big-name game developers and some capital behind you.

Have a think about it. I don't know if my idea has been done before, but I do know that yours has been done to death and simply has never worked.

&)ky#)^
March 10th, 2008, 01:23 AM
Rather than make an "open-source console" using hardware which will go out-of-date, cost a lot and likely not attract any developers, why not create a standard for writing a game ONCE and being able to run it on multiple systems, with the appropriate change of medium?

First off, that's called Java and IMHO Java3D needs a lot of work to be attractive.


Since you need commercial backing from the main players.. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.. How do you plan on getting Microsoft to make an open source box?

Okay, why do you need commercial backing? Linux has such wonderful commercial backing from the "main players" i.e. Microsoft and Apple, yet it's going strong.

Look, in my mind this is not a mainstream box. It's not designed to compete with with the commercial consoles. This is for a niche homebrew market. That's why it needs to remain cheap and accessible. It may catch on enough, but I'd never expect it to outsell even a PS3.

Let's face it. Most console owners don't want to play open source quality games and probably have little idea what homebrew even is. This isn't for them.

CaptainCabinet
March 10th, 2008, 01:29 AM
Here's a better idea for you to pursue.

Rather than make an "open-source console" using hardware which will go out-of-date, cost a lot and likely not attract any developers, why not create a standard for writing a game ONCE and being able to run it on multiple systems, with the appropriate change of medium?

A set of high-level APIs that abstract away the hardware, a custom program loader, and the backend code to get all this running on a Wii, on a PS3, on an Xbox 360, and on a Windows PC. You can still use OpenGL and possibly SDL.

When you put the disc into the appropriate console, it will load your miniature operating system as though it was just a game. Your OS will then run whatever game is on the disc.

You could make money off it by licensing the kit for free-as-in-beer-and-speech use for open-source developers but charging a license fee for commercial developers. If the performance was good enough and porting a game for a different console was easy, game development houses would jump on-board.

Being able to write a game for one system, and it being quickly modifiable to run on other systems as well as computers, is pretty much the holy grail. You would still have to battle Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony; but at least then you'd have a legion of big-name game developers and some capital behind you.

Have a think about it. I don't know if my idea has been done before, but I do know that yours has been done to death and simply has never worked.

If that ideas so good then you do it.
I really don't understand why so many people are saying this is a pointless idea and it's not worth pursuing. It surely can't hurt to try. And if it doesn't work out then he knows not to do it again. Trial and error I believe it's called.
I'm tired right now and I little stressed. I'll be better in the morning. :)

ZephyrXero
March 19th, 2008, 09:23 PM
Wow...I'm glad to see this thread open again :)

Just as an update, yes... we are still working towards our goals. Progress has been much slower than I had hoped, but that has not stopped us.

Some mentioned a while back bullet points would be nice, and as it's fairly obvious I'm not exactly a great wordsmith, perhaps the old proposal is too long and hard to read. So let's give this a whirl...


The OGCC is a non-profit organization

-The OGCC defines and develops the standards and software that consoles will be built from

- The standard defines a static set of hardware and an OS/SDK that all certified consoles must conform to for compatibility and performance sake

- The proposed sister (for profit) company will simply be there to administer the certification of consoles and run the download store (think Live Marketplace)

- Neither the OGCC nor the for profit company produce nor sell the actual consoles. That is handled by 3rd party manufacturers.

- Comercial backing and partnerships are not necessary from Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. The idea is to allow the hundreds of other hardware manufacturers to get into the console market.

- The primary goal of the project is to create a new console, based on open standards and open source software that will allow independent developers to sell their games without royalties
Also, in responce to 3rdAlbum's idea...I've had a similar idea before, but that would be a seperate project. Someone said "oh, that's just java" but not really....a better example would be Crystal Space's CelStart (http://www.crystalspace3d.org/main/CELstart) project.

If any of you would like to join in on discussion and development of our open game console project, please feel free to stop by our forums (http://opengameconsole.org/forum) ;)