Looking at Middleware: BigWorld and Hero
MMOG Development in a Box – BigWorld Technology & Hero Engine
Carolyn Koh looks at middleware at AGC
What is middleware? The Carnegie-Mellon Software Institute describes it as “connectivity software that consists of a set of enabling services that allow multiple processes running on one or more machines to interact across a network.”
Frankly, I prefer the simple laymen’s description from the Middleware FAQ of the Internet2 Consortium:
“Middleware is the intersection of stuff that network engineers don’t want to do with the stuff that application developers don’t want to do.”
In 2003, I took a look at Butterfly.net (now Emergent Game Technologies:), a middleware company that was positioning itself as a cross-platform MMOG network solution company. At the time, there were only two companies - Zona.net (which was acquired by Shanda Networking) being the other – providing almost complete solutions. Both left the graphics engine and game mechanics to be designed and developed by the game company.
These days MMOG middleware has grown up, filled out, put on make-up and rings and things and buttons and bows. Complete solutions are available and I visited two of them at the AGC; Bigworld Technology and Hero Engine.
What do companies like these mean for the online gamer? Two things mainly:
Their suite of tools include:
They do not include any billing backend, but they do provide a Demo package of example code, a fully-formed mini-MMO, with code for trading systems, combat, AI, pathing, chat, and other systems.
BigWorld Technology does have an MMORPG client that is published – Farlan’s Dark and Light, but they were quick to point out that the only piece that Farlan licensed is the Server Technology. Both Tien Cheng and Tian Xia 2 (from China) will be released at the end of 2006, and Star Gates World’s first screenshot was released this month.
The tools HeroEngine offers are:
HeroEngine boasts a full turn-key solution and their presentation concentrated on their collaborative game building tools. Although they have only one external client, since BioWare Austin’s announcement that they were developing a yet to be named MMORPG on the HeroEngine, they admit that they have been swamped with enquiries.
Both booths were side by side at AGC, but despite a nifty booth gone astray in transit somewhere, HeroEngine managed to draw the crowds with their demonstration.
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