Open source games?

All the recent issues with Digital Rights Management (DRM) have had various effects on the gaming industry. While on-line games and pay-per-play business models like World of Warcraft and recently Age of Conan are one popular way another recent addition is: give the games away for free! Some other MMOs allready use this model and instead charge for micro-transactions in-game to buy virtual items but now Electronic Arts and DICE are about to release a game in the popular Battlefield series for free, Battlefield: Heroes. The game is a simplified version of their original game, a more colourfull and “cartonish” look and to start the game you first have to log on to their website. If this is a new business model or a one time thing remains to be seen.

While we now have free operating systems and enterprise grade software (Open Office, Apache, MySQL, Firefox) we still do not have any “very popular” open source games. The only game programming I’ve tried myself was based on the open source C/C++ library called Allegro. Still no title coded in open source have made the gaming news to the best of my knowledge. Many open source games are “free copies” of exsisting games (Free Craft aka Star/Warcraft, FreeCiv aka Civilization etc), a list of examples can be found on the Wikipedia.

Featured picture on

Lone HouseTodays featured picture on is a lone house in sunset. Now there is nothing special about the picture in itself other than that it is pretty beautifully set. What is special about it to me is that it was rendered using an open source 3D rendering software called Blender. Images like these used to be rendered by Silicon Graphics dedicated machines running programs nobody would ever have access to, at least not outside of very large companies. Now I’m not saying it’s easy now, but at least it is possible, for almost anyone to start using software to create whatever comes to mind. This can be programming, music, art or possibly just about anything else that people can think of using the computers and Internet for. This is a time of great oppertunities and I hope that everybody who has an idea can use the tools available and create something that will be in museums or history books in one hundred years.

Firefox 3 evaluation

Firefox logoWith the release of Firefox 3 I finally made the switch on all my computers to have this as the main web browser instead of Internet Explorer that used to be standard on some of my windows machines (I have too many computers I use daily). There where several reasons I switched and I thought I’d publish them so perhaps other people could find the same benefits I saw.

First of all I have no love for Microsoft in general, while they have some good products I do not find Internet Explorer to be one of them. They seem to invest as little as possible in it and only making changes when “forced” by an outside source (take tabed browsing for example, it wasn’t included into Internet Explorer until Firefox started using it). I’d also like to point out that other web browsers like Safari and Opera might also be great but I haven’t had the time to get acquainted with them. This also only concerns desktop/laptop browsers, on my Wii and phone I use Opera!

Why did I choose Firefox as my main browser? Here is the simple list:

  • Security – this is probably the main reason. Firefox out of the box is a slightly lesser target for hackers at the moment but while that might change there are several other factors making Firefox the number one security choice and one of them is the addon NoScript. A really nifty little program that simply stops all scripts on all pages you visit. With a simple click you can activate a single domain to use scripts either always or just temporarily for your current visit. This really improves security while browsing the Internet. While some pages look terrible these days without scripting ability you can always choose to trust those that you want to visit (and remember you used to trust ALL of them). This still doesnt save you if your favourite site is targeted by a cross-site scripting attack but at least being conservative with who may run scripts on your computer makes the odds work against you being a target.
  • Speed – the rendering engine of Firefox 3 seems faster, I do not know if this is true of just a perception of mine. It may also help that I’ve installed AdBlock Plus. This is another great addon that makes you able to block all incoming adds before they are downloaded, you can either manually block different ad-vendors by domain or different filters or you can also choose to subscribe to a kind of blacklist filter. With the blacklist filter “EasyList” most of the ads are gone! Visiting ad heavy site used to be very slow but with all the flash graphics and different connections to ad servers but with the filter in place you get to download what you really came from and not all the crap the site tries to throw at you. I’ve also found this very helpfull while being out with my laptop and wanting to conserve the amount of traffic I use while browsing the web.
  • AddOns – I’ve allready mentioned two addons but still the ability to customize your browser deserves special mention as well. While the average guy might not be able to develop addons for Firefox the open interface makes it perfect for everybody wanting to add their own idea to the web browser. This is clearly a popular feature and when visiting the official addon site you can download almost anything you could think of to pimp your browser.
  • Privacy – while maybe not a reason to install the web browser at my own computers the privacy settings and features of firefox are very well to my liking, when I use a public computer I use Firefox if they have it since the ability to remove personal data is made so easy.
  • Bookmarks / History – a fresh take on bookmarks and history is made in Firefox 3. I don’t know if I’m alone in having stoped to add bookmarks for everything but the improvements really support my way of browsing. The history list is made part of the bookmarks with features to visit the latest sites (also available in most browsers with history of course) but also the most visited sites. If you choose to skip bookmarks all togheter (like I usually do) and just type the URL the dropdown that used to be only the domains is expanded with domain, icon, title and a small description of the site. This really helps casual browsing and is a nice looking feature.
  • Open Source – while not a major benefit in itself I am a strong supporter of open source and if there are two products, one open source and one proprietary software I would go for the open source alternative any day (on a private level, this might be different in a business point of view depending on the situation).

While there are major improvements in choosing Firefox there are of course also drawbacks. Most of these are minor and will probably change with time. There are a few sites that just doesnt work well in Firefox and one of them is my on-line bank which at the moment only accepts Internet Explorer. These sites are very rare though and I think most site administrators are adapting to the fact that Firefox is becoming one of the major browsers.

Firefox is no longer a browser trying to catch up with Internet Explorer, Firefox just took the lead. Now let’s see some healthy competition and more innovate features ahead in all browsers.