MMORPG-related questions and concerns regarding SDK.

MMORPG-related questions and concerns regarding SDK.

I represent Guild Software, we make a space-combat MMORPG called "Vendetta Online", with native binaries for Windows, Linux, and MacOS X (Universal). Although our game is a traditional desktop MMO, in the vein of EverQuest, WoW or EVE Online, our engine is extremely scalable and we've had quite a few users playing on netbooks since the introduction of the first EeePC. Our title is one of the few 3D MMOs that will run on Atom based netbooks: we currently have detection and auto-configuration definitions for the GMA950, and in our next release (within a week) will also add detection/setting optimizations for the GMA500 and 3150. On my Pine Trail netbook, the game runs surprisingly well (with the correct settings), around 20-25fps, even with shaders enabled. A game trailer is available here, to get an idea of what we do: Like most MMOs, our game is self-updating; versions are checked on startup, checksums are downloaded and if necessary, patches are applied to the user's game client. We release game patches roughly every week to two weeks, and the "latest" version is always required to connect to our servers and play the game. Our game originally shipped in wide retail (box form) back in 2004, and we have continually updated and improved the game since then. We are rated "T for Teen" by the ESRB. Our game client is a free download, and since our Intel Software Partner account-manager brought this new Atom program to our attention, we're enthusiastic about providing the game as a netbook option. However, we have a few questions and concerns (I've read some of the available documentation, please forgive me if I've missed something or misunderstood): For one, we have no interest in charging for our client software. Our business model is account-driven, with a free trial period permanently available to any new account, and the same client software for both subscribers and non-subscribers alike. We appreciate that the authentication functions built into the SDK are a necessity for products intended to charge a fee, but we don't fit into that group. You appear to allow open-source products to proceed without the SDK, or without authentication, but doing so requires a submission of complete source code. Our product, of course, is not open source, and even aside from this I would feel very sorry for any person at Intel tasked with analysis of a codebase on the scale of ours. Usage of the SDK has a lot of negative ramifications for us, in terms of our auto-update functionality. We normally push out "standard" binaries for all of our supported platforms with each release: Windows, Linux, Mac fat-binaries, etc. We build and test every patch for every port on every platform, and we do this weekly. Compiling a version to use the SDK, and forcing the use of authentication, would essentially make for a completely unique "port", requiring constant maintenance overhead on every single patch, for no real benefit. Our actual Windows client binary will be identical, with and without the SDK (and the same for moblin, most likely), as we want the game to still auto-configure and scale for netbooks outside of this developer-program, as we have for years. Our game client has featured automatic crash reporting and tracebacks submission via HTTP (across all platforms) since we publicly debuted the alpha back in 2002, so we don't see any added value there either. Is there any possibility of middle ground for SDK/authentication requirements, somewhere between infrequently-updated applications desiring people to pay for them, and open-source projects? Like perhaps free closed-source apps that can get special-cased to some extent? Thanks much for reading my verbose query. I felt the background was probably needed to understand where we're coming from.
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Your submission sounds outstanding, especially since you took advantage of the Intel GMA.

In terms of your update architecture, could you disable that portion for your netbook port, and use the built in versioning feature of the Dashboard?

Hello,

thanks for your long post which explains your situation well.

The answer is the same as for all developers, as the rules apply to everyone to keep it fair:

- Self-updating applications are not allowed, all updates need to go through the submission process in "My Dashboard"
- The SDK is not required for Open Source software where the code is provided

http://appdeveloper.intel.com/en-us/article/developer-guidelines

Best Regards

Andre B.

Technical Support Team
Intel® Atom™ Developer Program
Intel® AppUp(SM) Center

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