Game development meetings

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Please see Game development for basic information.

December 2007

  • Upcoming meeting: early Dec?
    feedback from CMU and S. Paulo -- jam kit uses, format feedback
    reviews and assessment: anything worth sharing?
    code review and improvement: conversion to full activities, mailing list joins
  • Java updates : Ben, others.


  • Meeting from October 21

Agenda :

Game Jams @ Brasil, CMU. Gambit involvement. Followups with former developers.
GDC next year; format, presentation, and plans.
OOOOO updates and MillCamp


Conference call from September 30 at 1500 EST with IRC chat on #olpc-content on


  1. Sj
  2. Jeremy
  3. Jesse
  4. Kent
  5. Kim
  6. Roberto
  7. Eitan


  • XO Game Developers summit; organized around CMU's Game Jam in mid-Oct?
    Other jams and events; ongoing classroom projects
    Get USC to run a jam; check with
  • Support for teams : universities/research (tamtam, csound)
  • Playtesting and getting to know sugar
  • E4All -- improve GAMBIT familiarity with the laptops



  • October 18-21 : E4All ; GAMBIT grads will be there in force. They have part of the accessibility booth; will check with the booth manager about having OLPC presence there.
  • November 10-11 : Game Jam Brasil (make sure there is online support and someone familiar with the patest pygame hacks)
    Simultaneous : Documentation sprint for platform technologies? Could be remote. Have translators, core developers present.
  • November 17-18 : CMU Game Jam
  • Feb 18-22 : GDC 2008
  • GAMBIT ideas : card engine details; project around it?

Groups and depts to work on games:


  • USC - Chris Swain; gerrymandering game
    huge collab a few years ago on Darfur is Dying
  • champlain, vt. 4 profs --> sgs last yr. Cogswell, ca.
  • bigger companies : LucasArts, Xbox

development ideas

  • storytelling and educational thematics; efficiency?
  • MacArthur's interest in serious games.
  • Check in with the SGS on latest work
  • MDP games. Olympics games.
  • First Playable (cf. chris oltyan, prod), MSFTF.
    associations with RPI, where toby saulnier came from --> coderanger.
  • EA Sports note. Decathlon games for OOOOO

need notes for : Sept 9


need notes for : August 19


We are having a conference call July 22 at 1500 EST with IRC chat on #olpc-content on


  1. Sj
  2. Mchua
  3. julius lucks
  4. ...


  • Game Jam followups and further designs
    • Next Game Jam and CMU
  • Courses on games this fall (Oregon, CMU - confirmed, MIT/Singapore - needs confirmation)
  • Second Life and discussion
  • Pygame updates
    • SDL and existing game integration
    • Performance tests, Chess and Go and card frameworks
  • Networking
    • Mesh updates and support

We had a series of meetings focused on producing parts of the game SDK and actual games for the laptops:

  • Conference call about XO Game Jam for spring in Boston : This will be a call with Boston IGDA and Boston Game Jam organizers to create a XO specific Game Jam for early June. This both serves as a goal to meet some of the development needs by then and to articulate games we'd like to see built as rapid prototypes.
  • Localization [across software & content fields] : We are looking to host a small call to iron out specifics about how localization needs will be articulated for games that will run on the XO. It should be straightforward but we're double-checking things prior to finalizing a document on this.
  • In-person, Cambridge, early April (10?), to set final development goals and 9-mo calendar : This will be a larger in-person meeting over a weekend in Cambridge to focus on final nuts and bolts issues related to producing initial workable game SDK (especially the pygame stack and initial libraries/engines/tools) for development. A formal agenda for these two-days is under construction.
  • XO Game Developers Summit plans : a first XO developers summit where there will be a release of tools , documentation, and sessions on developing for the XO. A further articulated developer program, future schedule, and hosting of games built... this needs to be set.


We are having a conference call June 3 at 1400 EST with IRC chat on, in #olpc-content.



  • Game Jam update and preparation
    • Sponsorships & budget
    • Coordination on-site
    • Setup and take-down
    • Music and art coordination
    • Demos and judging on Sunday
      • Know any local kids who'd like to serve as judges?
  • Flash @ the Jam
  • Haskell and other odd options
  • "how to dev games on the xo" resources for attendees (created Game Development Quickstart Mchua)

other notes

  • 3D Graphics update, B3 status
  • general strategy-wise: are we creating an olpc game dev community, pointing to other oss game dev communities (pygame, etc) or both (or does this question not matter)? Mchua
  • Meeting in 2 weeks and wrapup?
    • Java??
    • Text adventures update
    • Cairo and Pango issues


Notes from calls in May to come

April 22

We are having a conference call April 22 at 1400 EDT / 1800 UTC, with IRC chat on, in #olpc-content.



  • Game Jam update
  • 3D Graphics update
  • Northeastern game event notes
  • Meeting next week
    • Java discussion?
    • Flash update and testing
    • Cairo-based games
    • Text adventures
    • Test suites in general
    • pre-Jam test run

April 15

We are having a conference call April 15 at 1400 EDT.

We will have a simultaneous IRC chat on, in #olpc-content.


  • Sj talk 23:53, 14 April 2007 (EDT)

Discussion notes from 4/15 meeting

We had a troublesome phone session, losing the connection a couple of times when the person who set up the call broke the connection. Oops.

Participants: Ben Sawyer, Justin Bisceglio, Jonathan Blocksom, Kent Quirk, SJ Klein

  1. Game Jam update: we're on for June @ Olin
    We have awards to give out: passes to Austin and GDC 2008, for starters
    Sponsorship: we need to raise ~$8k
    Check the wiki page GameJam and give us feedback, please.
  2. Sister Jams (California, S. America)
    Who's interested? We need to give them a template, place to share the content
    We need to set up a git repository; best would be to get a repository manager to be there the first day to help set things up in real time. SJ will check on this.
  3. Developers program:
    Ben has a document he will share with us. We'll review and revisit in a future meeting. Lots of discussion around testing and certification and badges. General agreement that we should probably have a centralized badge system, but individual badge certification will be distributed to different groups. Some dispute as to whether badges should be binary (yes/no) or graded (gold/silver/bronze).
    We should document the processes for getting software distributed at various levels, so we can tell people about it.
    Documentation in general is really important. We need to establish the documentation structure
  4. 3D
    Jonathan Blocksom is interested in figuring out how to get useful 3D running on the platform. Could be OpenGL ES, or some other software renderer. He's going to edit the wiki with info as he does his research.
  5. Pygame update
    Some activity this week on integrating Pygame and Sugar; still needs more work, especially to get it to play nice. One of the SoC students will be concentrating on this when he starts, but chunks of the problem are being addressed by random interested people. We need to make sure it's a robust solution.
    SoC students will also be concentrating on filling out the lowest level (parallel to SDL / PyGame) so that the hardware is well supported.
    Pygame games that run quickly and not so -- Kent is going to generate some benchmarks or get some of the SoC students to create some.
    Gnash benchmarks and testing; Binary game update; we need a test page of Gnash/Flash games, some performance analysis would be useful.
    Java games and mobile-java; currently there's not a lot of interest in this area, but there's some good educational content out there it might be nice to leverage. Ben will talk to Ken Perlin to see if he has anything to offer in this area.
    Kye and upcoming activities
    [1000 blank white cards]
    Go, Chess, and Cardgames
    Mancala / Owari: Kent is writing a spec for a "universal" multiplayer stone game that would be configurable for as many variants as we can find rules for.
  6. Not covered in this call: Mailinglist outreach: pygame, childsplay --> updates from andrew/oro
    IGDA - Jason Della Rocca, casual games list.
    prepare letter to send out about 1) the Jam, 2) the dev program, 3) game-platform thoughts

April 1 -- no joke!

We had a conference call April 1 at 3:00 PM EDT (postponed from 2:00 after a glitch).

We held a simultaneous IRC chat on, #olpc-gamedev.

  1. Olin schduling: Mel, Mon
  2. Mailinglist outreach: pygame, childsplay --> andrew
  3. Developers program: Mark&Ben
  4. igda - Jason Della Rocca, casual games list.
    clarify who wants what, prepare for brutality.


  • Noah Kantrowitz (coderanger)
  • Charles Murphy
  • Dan Roy
  • Mark DeLoura
  • Mel Chua
  • Orospakr
  • SJ
  • Kent Quirk
  • Kim Quirk
  • Peter Smith
  • Ben Sawyer
  • Josh Seaver (Yoshi)
  • Joe Lee


  • Technology
    • SDL -- status of SDL build; search for volunteers. It is both urgent and important to get this running ASAP, so we can't really wait for some SoC project to do it.
    • PyGame -- dependent on SDL but also important to get started ASAP
    • Support for OLPC-specific hardware (camera, mesh networking, etc)
    • Do we feel comfortable telling people to build on PyGame starting now?
    • JavaScript game status
    • Flash game status
  • Game Development
    • Game Jam 1 -- (probably) at Olin campus, sometime in the spring (June 8-10?)
    • Game Jam 2 -- timing? Location?
    • Translation / localization system
    • Documentation system
    • Publishing plan -- pre-ship, post-ship
    • Formalize developer program?
  • Quality, quality, quality -- solid builds and repeatable results
    • how to keep quality standards while encouraging newbie developers to contribute/learn?
  • Display and artwork
    • How to create material for this mode
    • Describe colorspace and range...
    • Articulate specific needs for paint program. Tux? Pixem? Blender? Anim?
  • APIs for calibration (colorspace, analog in...)
    • Also: design games thatfunction withlow reresh rate, monochrome mode. Serve as inspiration for tech tests, &c.


- documentation -- something to go play with...not necc written docs.
- quasi-official apis.

SDL and Pygame

  • SDL -- volunteers. kent + andrew. cant wait for SoC
  • PyGame -- dependent on SDL but also important to get started ASAP
  • Support for OLPC-specific hardware (camera, mesh networking, etc)
  • Do we feel comfortable telling people to build on PyGame starting now?
    • Yes. Contact pygame, childsplay mailing lists

JavaScript game status

  • Test suite, good examples. Document how to tweak.
  • Experts: john in #jquery

Flash game status

  • Test suite, good examples. Document
  • Experts: check with gnash-list, rob

Game conferences

  • preJam -- May ??
  • Game Jam 1 -- June 8-10
  • Game Jam 2 -- mid-July? Location? onsite, online. MIT + CMU + Brasiliero?


  • Have SVG as a well-supported option
  • Other blittable formats
  • fast action games: display size? what is the bottleneck?
  • Hardware image scaling. graphics/display gurus: adam jackson, jordan crouse [cosmicpenguin, ajax]

Translation / localization system

  • python - docstrings, code are english. How to work on this?--> localization at laptop
  • Documentation system - how to write; how to localize / expose strings
  • See also Translators for support.
  • Publishing plan -- pre-ship, post-ship
  • Formalize developer program?


  • how to keep quality standards while encouraging newbie developers to contribute/learn?
  • Define a quality gauntlet. 1) review for running/bugs 2) general fun and approval 3) country / locale
  • Use element of content stamping for this ...

Display and artwork

  • How to create material for this mode
  • Describe colorspace and range...
  • Articulate specific needs for paint program. Tux? Pixem? Blender? Anim?


  • Design test frames for var APIs

March 18

Our March 18 conference call focused on the following questions and subsequent notes:

[This was revised to show more the decisions coming out of meeting]

  • What big picture decisions can we make about each of the above needs?
      How can we get them properly developed in unison?
  • Weekly meetings. We are working on weekly meetings both online and via conference all - looking at weekend (Sundays?) We don't yet have a set schedule.
  • What do developers really need and by when?
        Goal: A reasonable first pass SDK, future development doc, and developer program by July '07
        Documentation: Docs should have guidelines for 2D, 3D graphics, networking, working w/sugar,
        size/footprint, common libraries, etc.  Have started Game Developer Docs to begin this process.
  • Deadlines: April: All core plans for year in place, June: Developer Jam @ Olin College, July: OLPC Game Developer Summit
  • What process and structure needs to drive the next 12 weeks forward? (deadlines, updates) <-- this still needs work.
  • Where should development be centered and how do we create a means for making tough decisions?
  • Who houses this work? Who makes sure builds are working and certified?
  • Who does documentation?
    Kent: SDL, Ben & Peter: Khronos,
    Ben: high-level games, general notes
    Ian, Rob, Gnash-doc-writer: Gnash
    CMU ETC: Housing integrated platform, helping with key holes as identified?
    <Java... Stefano?> What will be the Java VM and when will it be finalized?
    What are the preferred file-formats? Can we make a common resource file format? common XML format for translation?
  • How do we link this work into the core XO OS design group / get involved with that development?
    Docs on how to take part.
  • What should a developer program look like?
    Specifically what should we be able to tell developers now, in a few months, in the future, and what do we want them to make, to build?
    Ben? get Jason dlr to talk about XOs; accept pro bono liaison offers. Have a site-section to sign up...
    Places to gather to show off; SF/CMU/CAM?


First 2 weeks in April

  • Meet in person; Cam / CMU (both?)
    Turn out a document to show the world what we want / expect
    Set 9-month calendar. Compare boston gamejam; indy gamejam for the XO in May?
    Get every game co in Bos/NY to come out.
    1 artist & sound guy for every 15 devs
    Figure out how this would work - separate conf call, with Darius/DanR [startup]
    Olin --> good for an offsite
    MIT --> available; harder to reserve

May-June sprints

  • prep for a v1.0 in July -- have sprints in Cambridge? school's out. cf. CMU's 2-wk sprints all fall.
  • articulate 9-month cal including Austin, for full-game devs.

July XO dev conference

  • Something to prepare for / develop for
    Set up piggybacking on fall events.


  • Kent Quirk
  • Ben Sawyer
  • Mel Chua
  • Kal
  • Peter Smith
  • Mark Prensky
  • Chris Murphy (online)
  • Jeff Keller
  • j, dustin, more.

specific platforms

SDL: "It needs to start working nicely on the XO." -- orospakr

  • Work out an SDL spec : what we need and why (who would use it)
    • 1200x900 is too big for most 2D SDL games to render quickly. if we activate hardware scaling for SDL applications (Mitch says that the Geode in the XO can only handle hardware scaling for "video", not "graphics". I'm not sure, but I think "video" simply means no access to any other 2D hardware acceleration primitives.)
    • SDL doesn't seem to play nicely with matchbox. You have to kill it and start twm.
  • Avoid hardware optimization?


  • Cross-development enviroinment for Ubuntu, Debian, RHEL, &c
  • C++ engines and frameworks people build on recommendations...

Gnash and Flash

  • Status on the system: working, somewhat; no games testing; sloth issues in browser
  • Get standalone Gnash working, test on specific games. Q: A Gnash-activity or a separate one per game?
  • New project started and approved: Game Development with Flash on the XO-1


  • J2ME, JREs? Harmony
  • [super]Waba
  • Footprint requirements
  • Key target apps

[Other] Low-level APIs

  • Smalltalk...
  • TBD. (people to invite. check with mobile platform, emulator devs)

Game platforms

  • Pygame: Develop with GTK, et al. now.
    • Q: How much more efficient is this?
  • GCompris

3D and animation platforms

  • Blender variant?
  • Polygonal 3D
  • Open GL ES [subset] (or 1.1?)
    Or 1.1? Java 3D? Check w/mike ab., david, et al.
  • OpenKode


  • GStreamer
  • CSound hooks?
  • Vorbis devs? [Ben S. to inquire]
  • Microphone libraries


  • Touchpad input
  • Probe input
  • Wireless/mesh-strength input
  • Battery level
  • Power/current input
  • Gesturing/cam API? Using existing video libraries


  • Wireless/cellular
  • Standard MMO networking

New platforms components

  • tile based animation, sprite and animation tools
  • tools for loading maps and doing simple game development; perhaps built on top of greater pygame frames -- Ben S. to write?

Define requirements: physics, tiles, animations, sound, events... glass legos


  • Display: shaders? How to differentiate b/t color and b/w? How to make a 640x480 image fill the screen properly? cf. display swizzling... et al.
    • Give directions to people with games optimized for normal displays... for pixel-counters. "The Pixel Manifesto" [compare modex & vga learning curves]
  • Speed: emulate low-cache, cpu/memory.

High level languages

  • universities: CMU, USC, MIT : would love this division
  • note that people can build things on fixed levels [C++ | pygame | Gnash], while discussing other classes of language

visual programming

  • etoys, mindrover [kq]
  • graphical adventures (SCUM &c), arcade-like games (motion/spatial oriented), story games

story engines

  • Zork engines, text et al; small and portable
  • kidpics, kidworks : illustrate drawings with words

arcade and spatial

  • click and play, et al [KQ]


  • Cameras : Ben Sawyer checking with Jamil. Kent Q. put camera on SoC call.
  • Shadow Garden, from GDC '03, SIGGRAPH '06 : cameras --> projection --> distance detection
  • David Chait - x games dev; gl es
  • Note from the Khronos group : open source tools 'facing group' for marketing. Send memos to
    Ben S and Peter -- update on Khronos support next week

next steps

  • schedule another meeting to go over specifics, with devs from related projects.
    First week of April? Can Carnegie-Mellon host?
  • Writing a spec of what we need for SDL, and other low-level implementations: Kent
    PyGame implementation spec here: PyGame Implementation
    SDL implementation spec here: SDL Implementation
  • Writing about network and mesh offerings (P2P size, limiting factors): ??
    Note what server apis might be interesting/useful here [available within some network distance, reliability, ...]: <>
  • 3D update : Ben S & Peter
  • Server spec (beyond networking): <>
  • Have Ian work on Flash games this week.
  • Talk to Jamil now about Austin & the next GDC