Feb 4, 2010

Darkstar, I Never Got To Know Ye: Oracle squashed Sun's open-source application server for 3D multi-player online games!

 I never had a chance to explore Darkstar, and I'm sad to share the news that Oracle squashed it before I had a chance to explore it.  The Darkstar project was on my long list of "future" topics for this blog.  

What is Project Darkstar?
"Project Darkstar is a software platform that simplifies the development of horizontally scalable servers for online games, virtual worlds, and social networking applications. Its revolutionary design will eliminate serious problems like zone overloading, data corruption, and inefficient server utilization, while enabling new dimensions of play such as evolvable virtual worlds and very large scale battlefields."

Why am I disappointed?
Darkstar interested me because it could be a good tool for creating collaborative multi-player educational games that students could play at school and at home.  It was up my alley, given my background as a school psychologist and fairly recent coursework (VR for education & training, online learning & communication tools, game design/development, AI for games, information visualization/communication, HCI, etc.).  It was designed to help people like me "avoid the complexities of multi-threaded and distributed systems programming".

Information from the Project Darkstar website:
Today is a difficult day for all of us associated with Project Darkstar. Regretfully, we must inform our community members that Sun Labs engineering effort is no longer being applied to Darkstar development. You will hear from the individual engineers about what this means for them, but the organized lab project will not be moving forward...
More on the Darkstar Community Forums) Jim Waldo 

Here are links to examples how Darkstar has been used to develop 3D multi-user applications, from the Darkstar application list page:

"Sorpresas Mágicas is an online educational video game developed by Proyecto Metáforas at the Universidad de Chile. Sorpresas Mágicas is a turn based game, each team (composed by 12 players) have to make a bet tryiing to guess what is inside a box.What is inside a box depends on the the properties of the box (color, width, height and length). So the users have to use statistics to discover the surprise inside the box.
Twice in a year we are running in Chile a national tournament, the last was on October 23, with more than 5000 childrens playing this game. You could get more information about our game onSorpresas Mágicas, if you want a credential to access the game feel free to ask one to the email at the bottom.
Visit us at Proyecto Metaforas.For more information, please contact (Lead Programmer) at manuel [at] metaforas cl"

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