As a follow-up to yesterdays discussion and news about The Sims on Linux, I got an email from Gavriel State, TransGaming’s CEO and CTO. TransGaming provides a distribution of Linux to the masses that contains a modified version of some Open Source software called Wine (they call their solution WineX). Wine allows you to run Windows applications under Linux, much like you run Windows apps under VirtualPC on the Mac. TransGaming (a Canadian company) is providing this package to people that don’t want to get all techy with Linux and just install something with the click of a button as it were. From the website:



WineX includes a new implementation of the Microsoft DirectX┬« multimedia APIs, including Direct3D – the core graphics system most Windows games use for hardware accelerated 3D. This allows many Windows games to run straight out of the box, and in many cases without a significant performance penalty. We are able to achieve this by mapping hardware-accelerated DirectX calls to equivalent calls to Linux native APIs such as OpenGL, which are similarly accelerated.

The email he sent me asked a few details about my involvement with Maxis and The Sims and explained how they were packaging up The Sims with their latest release:



…Finally, as far as our use of Wine to port the game goes, we’ve structured things so that as far as the end user is concerned, they don’t even know that Wine is there. When they buy the Mandrake Linux gaming edition, they simply choose to install The Sims, and they get a nice icon on their desktop to launch the game. Couldn’t be simpler.

Personally I wouldn’t call it a port. You’re still running over another layer of emulation but sounds pretty good to me if you’re looking for an alternative to Windows but still want to play The Sims. You can get some more info about The Sims running on Linux here, which includes some screenshots of it running on their distribution using Mandrake. I’m not sure if Maxis will support a setup like this though so caveat emptor.

A little bit of a diversion here today. As I was browsing one of my more favorite haunts, Slashdot, I came across a news item that focused on some things Don Hopkins mentioned on LinuxGames.org regarding game development on Linux and other varoius things. Some interesting quotes:



I evangelised to my co-workers and managers at Maxis about how I thought Loki would be the ideal company to port The Sims to Linux. Since there really isn’t much demand for a Linux port, I proposed doing a Mac port in a way that would facilitate them both. Before The Sims was ever released, I wrote and sent a proposal around Maxis, outlining how to port The Sims to the Mac and Linux, using SDL and Open GL.

And…



So I used SDL to do a native port of The Sims to Linux, and got most of the game running quite well, except for drawing the people and roofs (which would require hacking a system memory back end to Mesa), and sound (which would require using OpenAL, with which I hoped Loki would have been able to help me). I was actually quite surprised at how quickly I was able to get a native port of The Sims running on Linux. My previous experience porting SimCity [catalog.com] to Unix took a lot more time. But the tools are much better and computers are way faster now. And of course I was more familiar with the code base. I offered the results of my work to Loki on reasonable terms. They didn’t seem interested. I talked to some people at Maxis about it, and they said that Loki had been discussing it with Maxis, but they hadn’t heard back from them in a long time.

So the code has been ported to Linux to an extent (I knew Don was working on this for the Sims online servers that are going to be running Linux but wasn’t sure how far he got, expect a call tonight Don to barrage you with new questions). Anyways, for the geek involved maybe you’ll find it interesting. Here’s the link to the full posting (about 3 or 4 posts down). For the rest of the Sim world, you’ll probably just yell at me and tell me to get back to working on blueprint.

Greets!

Well, another evening full of ghouls and ghosties and things that go bump in the night. Well, not quite. Anyways, I have the Mac testers put together so you’ll be getting an email sometime in the future (nice and specific huh?) about what we’ll do there. Just relax though, it’ll be a few weeks before anything moves on the Mac platform. I am going to try to support all Mac OS versions (7.5.x and up including X) but try is the key word here. My resources are a little limited (two Macs and an emulator) and as much as I’d like to, I’m not going out to buy a Mac version of the program. I’ll leave the specifics up to the Mac testers so hopefully we’ll have all bases covered there. Enough of the Macspeak. As for the other set of beta testers for blueprint 2, you’re still on my list and I’m checking it twice. Just hang in there. I’m also working out some logistics with the multi-platform support right now which is slowing things down a bit, but I don’t like having to re-write gobs of code for each OS (blueprint weighs in at 10,000 lines right now and then there’s the other utilities and the Sims code that I had to port because Aspyre [the guys that made the Mac version] never returned my emails). Sigh.

Another point. Someone mentioned about my news postings sometimes just flabbering on making much ado about nothing. This is true. I am guilty. Hey, I can’t be Mr. blue 24/7 and I certainly can’t come up with news on a daily basis but I do. Even if it’s just to say that I’m still alive or my house burnt down or zombies took over the Earth. So maybe I can’t talk geek talk everyday, or tell you something useful but if you’re reading this then you’re still paying attention right? Beats the hell out of surfing for porn.

Hey ho. Thanks for the great response yesterday to the Mac users. I think we have a good set of people now that will be able to give the Mac versions of the programs a good workout. Now just to get everything released. Catcha later.

Hey guys. Back again to fight another weekend full of programming good things for you.

I’ve finally cleared out the blue office to get some work done. Things have been in a bit of shambles the last few days and I’ve been rebuilding the network. After blowing up another hub, I finally managed to get my Mac, Win32 and Linux boxes all back online and talking to each other (makes for moving files across to other systems much easier). I will be looking for some Mac testers so if you’re running the Mac version of The Sims, let me know and I’ll add you to the list. I only have a cheesy little PowerPC so I’ll deter the real testing to those with big, powerful cubes.

XP is out but I’m not installing it. I just can’t deal with the Fisher Price OS they have and the constant reminders to sign up with Passport and whatnot. I know there are some problems under XP so if you have those, we can work together to fix them. Again let me know through email if you’re interested and we’ll talk.

Sigh. Seems like I have to keep up with a half dozen OSes these days to make everyone happy. Seeya!

Greetings. Missed yesterdays post. Well, we can’t be perfect. Certainly not me anyways. Still working on things as usual as I can find time here and there. Just a clarification about the Mac versions of my programs that will be out soon. These are not programs to run under VirtualPC (or whatever other emulator you’re using). They’re native Mac apps and you’ll need to have the Mac version of The Sims installed (plus whatever expansion packs you own). Having The Sims running under VirutualPC just means you’re running the Windows version and you should be able to run my apps with that setup already. If not, please email me and I’ll take a look at what might be the problem. Thanks.

Sheesh. In all the hub-bub yesterday I forgot to mention some pretty cool news.

I’ve been making some pretty massive changes to blueprint lately and in all the fix-ups, things have become pretty modular. Anyways, the short of it is that most of the code has been designed for portability in mind and is only a few steps away from running on three platforms now, Win32, Linux and the Mac. I’m still working out the Mac issues right now and still don’t have a copy of the game for The Mac so I’m not sure how I’m going to do the whole testing thing (plese don’t email asking to test it I have enough to sift through right now). So the short of it is that there will be a Mac version of all the tools found here. As usual I’m not sure when this will happen and the Mac and Linux versions won’t show up until after the Windows ones, but they’re on the way.

Enjoy.

Hi ho. Back again after an exhaustive few days of political battles and corporate fire-fighting. Life is grand. Seems like I’m doing nothing but updates with no new content. Things should pick up and I’m glad you’re hanging in there. So let’s go down the list:

Beta Testers

Argh. I really hate this but the testers are still in a holding pattern. I’m still trying to get things going here and it’s coming along, but slowly. So for the testers, you’ll be contacted soon and we’ll get things rolling. Sorry I haven’t replied to everyone yet. You’ll be getting an email shortly but for now this is the best I can do. For the rest, lots of great things coming.

SimFreaks

As you may (or may not) know, SimFreaks is looking at a solution to the ever growing problem that all popular Sim sites are facing. Covering the costs of bandwidth. This is an ongoing problem and some sites have shut-down because of it. It’s very simple. ISPs and Webhosting services charge a fair amount of money for bandwidth (you know, everytime you load this page?) and it costs. A lot. Unlike TSR, which runs off their own servers and a part of a huge collective, SimFreaks and other sites have to pay for this monthly and the charges get into the hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. Whoever said the Internet was free obviously needs a kick in the head. Anyways, even though SimFreaks will probably be charging for access (and frankly, it’s not a bad deal given the huge amounts of stuff they put out), I will not be charging for access to this site, nor will I ever charge for any software I write. I’ve always stood by this motto since my own feeling is that software is like sex, it’s better when it’s free.

New Software

Yes, there’s a bunch of stuff still coming and here it is 2 weeks later and I’m still talking about it. Argh. Contrary to what the Rolling Stones say, time is not on my side these days.

Sims Book Project

Still no name on the project but I’m completing the legal dance with Maxis however they’re a little bogged down with Hot Date so things are on hold until that gets resolved. The issue of releasing Edith still is not confirmed yet. Everyone wants to release it and it’ll get out to you, they’re just working out how and when.

Hey guys. I’m really jammed at the office with impending deadlines and backlogged work. I’ll be offline until next Monday, October 22. Sorry about this but some things have to take priority from time to time.