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Developer Journal #1

Dev Journals By Guest Writer on September 14, 2005

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How Kaneva will Impact Game Development

By Greg Frame, Co-Founder and Chief Gaming Officer, Kaneva, Inc.

About seven years ago, I, like many of you, had a dream of creating a MMO game. After months of research and investigation, I found that to get into game development I needed to possess one of two things: 1) millions of dollars or 2) talent. Since I didn’t have any cash and I had some talent, I decided to create my own engine from scratch. I took a trip to the bookstore and purchased some game programming books and got to work. About one year later I had something that could be played. A few friends and I logged in and shot each other and all in all it was a great personal success for me. Now the question loomed…how can I take this to the next level? I started to dig more into the game design and features that I thought would make my game the next big thing and to be honest, I simply gave up my idea of becoming an uber game developer. There were too many complexities and too many tasks to be completed in my lifetime and I wasn’t aware of any free local game programmers that were available to help me.

I think this story rings home for many of the game developers out there. Most of the people I talk to in the gaming industry have told me very similar stories. It is very unfortunate that the creative ideas of so many game developers are never realized. We are often limited to playing games that have the “lowest risk” as defined by the large companies such as EA and Sony. Don’t get me wrong, I love most of the games we get from the big guys, it’s just that I know there are so many other games that could be developed that will never see a shelf in your local computer store. Well that is, until Kaneva!

About two years ago my partner, Chris Klaus, and I decided we were ready to take the plunge and attempt to level the playing field of online digital entertainment. We sat down and investigated all of the game technologies that were currently available, until we came up with a list that seemed to represent what a standard feature set would be. From that list, we identified what features were missing that would be optimal when creating an MMO game. We then had a first draft of a feature list for what is now the Kaneva Game Platform available for download from kaneva.com today.

So what does Kaneva mean to the world of game developers? For the first time everyone can give their game idea a try; and this is without shelling out millions of dollars to license technology and hook it together. Kaneva has all of the pieces to enable developers to start creating their game within a couple hours of downloading the platform. What’s more, the real value of our platform goes beyond the technology, as Kaneva also provides the service model that enables the delivery and distribution of the game. While many game studios may compare Kaneva to other game engines, almost no other MMO game engine includes the game A.I. and server setup, 24/7 hosting, distribution, security, billing, marketing and IT support. And most uniquely, this is all available for a nominal upfront fee. Kaneva enables game developers to focus on the game play and the user experience. No longer do developers have to worry about network scalability, credit card billing, website creation, hosting facilities, or forums. Kaneva provides the infrastructure to start making money as soon as your game is ready.

To get games created faster and more efficiently, the Kaneva Platform brings together all of the tools required to make games into one easy to use studio. I am frequently told that game companies utilize a myriad of documents, spreadsheets, post-it notes, stand alone programs and tools to create a game. Imagine using one tool that enables you to point and click your NPCs into existence, add a new skill just by typing in a name and some properties, or create a new AI boss in a few seconds. The Kaneva platform specifically addresses the most common tasks in game development and exposes them to the game designer in a simple to use interface.

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Now I can feel the hardcore game coders starting to grumble, don’t worry, Kaneva offers a very extensible blade architecture that allows hardcore coders to get in and create new and exciting game features in a DLL, or via our scripting interfaces that currently include Python and Lua. These code interfaces have well documented APIs to help a game developer to easily get the information they need about game state and to also change the state of the game or players to create a truly unique game experience. For instance; one of the companies using the Kaneva platform developed a totally new NPC quest system over a weekend with one developer. One of Kaneva’s golden rules is to not dictate how games should be created but instead to allow as much freedom as possible to the game designers and developers.

This seems great so far, but probably the most important question is how to get your 3D assets into the Kaneva platform, after all without this you won’t have much of a game. In a recent demonstration of our engine this was actually the first thing that I was asked. I was up to the challenge; I loaded up my 3ds max and proceeded to create a small world. In a matter of minutes we were walking around this new world, placing NPCs, adding quests, etc. The art pipeline is critically important and at times the most time consuming part of game development. We want the creator to be able to export their art directly into the engine and get an in-game feel before they commit to finalization. Kaneva offers game creators immediate feedback in terms of exactly how their assets will look in the worlds they are creating.

So then comes the big question; “Do you really think I can make money with my game?” That is somewhat of a loaded question, but I think in general the answer is yes! From what I have seen in the industry there are always a few people that share a common idea of what makes up a good game. Developers no longer need to have 50,000 subscribers to make money with their game. Honestly, game developers only need around 100 subscribers to actually start seeing some revenue. Not that anyone could retire on that, but it’s a start. It gives the game a chance to become the next big thing. This is what makes me want to come to work each morning; I remember back six years ago when I had players in my game having fun and that’s what computer gaming is all about. It’s not about playing the limited set of games that some big company financial wizard has decided is the lowest risk for their mega conglomerate. Kaneva is about choices, community and fun.

So in a nut shell, from small “mod” type games to massive online experiences, Kaneva provides the technology and services that empower game developers to quickly develop a game and put it online for players. I encourage everyone to check out the platform, and even better login to our demo game Gorilla Paintball and see what can be accomplished in just a couple months with three people, I think you will agree that we may be on to something here.

- Greg Frame


Thank you Greg for taking the time to write this up.

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