BZFlag for SteamOS?

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WorldOfTanks23
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BZFlag for SteamOS?

Post by WorldOfTanks23 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:32 pm

Wouldn't it be pretty straightforward to port BZFlag to SteamOS? It's Linux, after all.

This would be great to get some new blood on board since BZFlag activity has been gradually declining from 100 players to 30 players active during peak hours.

And what about PS4 or XBox One? Would that be possible with moderate effort? This would also enable the creation of a BZFlag Foundation funded by the proceeds.

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JeffM
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Re: BZFlag for SteamOS?

Post by JeffM » Fri Dec 27, 2013 5:26 pm

The proprietary consoles are not something the project is interested in doing, there are a number things that would make it very hard to work with in the current project structure, mostly the fact that major parts of BZFlag would have to be re-written and would have to be closed source (Microsoft and Sony require that at least for the platform specific stuff), and it would cost a lot of money. So we just don't want to go there, it's been brought up many times and we have thought about it and rejected it, including homebrew.

Steam is an option, but it's not as simple as many people think. To get included in Steam you have to be accepted by Steam , ether by invitation or using the Greenlight program. BZFlag could possibly go through the Greenlight program but then would need a number of changes before it could be integrated into Steam . Steam uses a proprietary library called SteamWorks that lets the game integrate with steam services. This handles things like authentication, networking, matchmaking, steam chat, achievements, and all those other fun things steam brings to the table. Since BZFlag runs on the 3 steam platforms we would probably have less to do in the main game code but there would still have to be changes made to the game. These changes would also have to be closed source, since SteamWorks is not an open source library. This closed source nature would drastically change how the BZFlag project is run and developed since it would no longer be possible for just anyone to build a steam compatible client and play, they'd have to be a steam developer. At this point the Steam version of BZFlag would not be compatible with the normal version and you'd end up with 2 different product lines, thus defeating the purpose of using Steam to bring more people into the existing game. There are ways to make it compatible but that requires even more work, merging steam and the native user systems, using shared networking, running our own servers instead of letting clients host them, and the like.

In addition to just integrating with Steam we'd have to clean up a lot of the problems with the game to make it acceptable to a modern audience, fix our lag problems, prevent cheats, make tutorials, cleanup the GUI and all that. As it sits right now the game is functional for those who know how to work around those issues, but people buying games on steam have a minim level of expectation. And that's just it, We would have to set some price for BZFlag on Steam, they don't do free games that don't have a micro transaction component. Steam has to make money somehow for the services that are provided, so that would make BZFlag on steam cost $2-$3 US. And since there would be money involved we'd need a company to handle that.

So in short, yes it's possible but it is highly unlikely given how the project is currently run. To get us onto steam would require more cooperation, dedication, and planing then the has ever been attempted before, and would require active support of the copyright holder, something he has not been willing to do before, even when asked.

That said, since SteamOS runs Debian, once you add the Debian repositories to it, BZFlag runs just fine under it, I've tried it personally. You just have to start it from the desktop instead of running it from inside Steams big picture mode.
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Re: BZFlag for SteamOS?

Post by WorldOfTanks23 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:47 pm

If you use SteamWorks the code calling it can still be open-source can it not?

Preventing cheats is probably the biggest problem and would most likely require altering the protocol.

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Re: BZFlag for SteamOS?

Post by JeffM » Fri Dec 27, 2013 9:51 pm

The open source code that called that steamworks API would be somewhat useless since you could not compile with without steamworks and would make it impossible to build a client outside of the developers that worked for the company that produced the steam version.

And the protocol would have to change no mater what in order to support the steam features.
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