Developers bash Windows game interface

Summary:Microsoft Corp.'s plans for a single programming interface for games took a blow on Wednesday when game developer Dynamix announced it would not use Direct3D for its upcoming title Starseige.

Microsoft Corp.'s plans for a single programming interface for games took a blow on Wednesday when game developer Dynamix announced it would not use Direct3D for its upcoming title Starseige.

Instead, the game developer has decided to use two competitors to Microsoft's (MSFT) Direct3D programming interface -- an open standard known as OpenGL and another popularized by 3D graphics chip maker 3Dfx Interactive Inc. (TDFX), known as Glide.

"I refuse to compromise the look and feel of Starsiege because a third-party interface is lacking," said Rick Overman, lead programmer for the Dynamix project. The programmer stated in his plan file that the Direct3D interface has "caused us nothing but problems."

Direct3D is part of Microsoft's DirectX famework, designed to offer up a common set of multimedia features on every Windows computer. This fall DirectX will be revised again, said a Microsoft spokesperson, fixing many of the beefs that game developers have with the programming interface.

Different goals for Direct3D, OpenGL
Game developers, looking for a better way to write the code for the special 3D effects that make their products popular, have been debating the merits and failings of Direct3D and OpenGL ever since Microsoft introduced its programming interface.

DirectX jumped up to Version 5 a year ago, after a troubling debut left developers less than pleased with Microsoft.

Part of the problem is that Microsoft's plan doesn't jive with the needs of game designers. For Microsoft, the development of DirectX is all about creating a common platform on which to do multimedia.

"It is something we provide to let people bring their products to market more quickly," said Kevin Bachus, product manager for DirectX at Microsoft. "Publishers want to target the mass market and that is where (our interface) comes in."

Yet, to stand out in a crowded market, game designers need the bells and whistles that other programming interfaces provide.

"Our stuff is more demanding than most," said Barrett Alexander, spokesman for id Software Inc., the makers of the extremely hot Quake and Quake II series. "As long as OpenGL stays as good as it is, we will stay with it," said Alexander.

OpenGL says, 'open sesame!'
Game developers -- for a long time, satisfied with DOS -- are opening up to OpenGL. Some find Direct3D doesn't meet their expectations; others feel Microsoft is forcing them to adopt the standard.

"OpenGL has a more complete feature set and is more stable than Direct3D," said Dynamix's Overman. Originally intended for precise and complicated 3D rendering, OpenGL is more flexible and advanced standard than Direct3D.

Still, such praise wouldn't have been enough to vault OpenGL into the market, without a major company showing the way.

That company? id Software and its blockbuster Quake. "We feel like we are driving the 3D video game hardware market," said id's Alexander, with a characteristic lack of modesty.

Yet, surprisingly, he is right. Many companies have released OpenGL drivers for their 3D accelerators with just enough functions to support Quake and Quake II. Another 3D chip maker, NVIDIA Corp. -- whose chip has found its way into Gateway 2000 Inc., Dell Computer Corp. and Micron Electronics Inc. computers -- has decided to go all the way and provide a full driver for entire OpenGL interface.

Such support may not be enough to make OpenGL a successful alternative to Microsoft's ubiquitous Direct3D. Still, an alternative to Microsoft's interface gives game developers some leverage their battle to make Windows more programmer-friendly.

Microsoft Corp.'s plans for a single programming interface for games took a blow on Wednesday when game developer Dynamix announced it would not use Direct3D for its upcoming title Starseige.

Instead, the game developer has decided to use two competitors to Microsoft's (MSFT) Direct3D programming interface -- an open standard known as OpenGL and another popularized by 3D graphics chip maker 3Dfx Interactive Inc. (TDFX), known as Glide.

"I refuse to compromise the look and feel of Starsiege because a third-party interface is lacking," said Rick Overman, lead programmer for the Dynamix project. The programmer stated in his plan file that the Direct3D interface has "caused us nothing but problems."

Direct3D is part of Microsoft's DirectX famework, designed to offer up a common set of multimedia features on every Windows computer. This fall DirectX will be revised again, said a Microsoft spokesperson, fixing many of the beefs that game developers have with the programming interface.

Different goals for Direct3D, OpenGL
Game developers, looking for a better way to write the code for the special 3D effects that make their products popular, have been debating the merits and failings of Direct3D and OpenGL ever since Microsoft introduced its programming interface.

DirectX jumped up to Version 5 a year ago, after a troubling debut left developers less than pleased with Microsoft.

Part of the problem is that Microsoft's plan doesn't jive with the needs of game designers. For Microsoft, the development of DirectX is all about creating a common platform on which to do multimedia.

"It is something we provide to let people bring their products to market more quickly," said Kevin Bachus, product manager for DirectX at Microsoft. "Publishers want to target the mass market and that is where (our interface) comes in."

Yet, to stand out in a crowded market, game designers need the bells and whistles that other programming interfaces provide.

"Our stuff is more demanding than most," said Barrett Alexander, spokesman for id Software Inc., the makers of the extremely hot Quake and Quake II series. "As long as OpenGL stays as good as it is, we will stay with it," said Alexander.

OpenGL says, 'open sesame!'
Game developers -- for a long time, satisfied with DOS -- are opening up to OpenGL. Some find Direct3D doesn't meet their expectations; others feel Microsoft is forcing them to adopt the standard.

"OpenGL has a more complete feature set and is more stable than Direct3D," said Dynamix's Overman. Originally intended for precise and complicated 3D rendering, OpenGL is more flexible and advanced standard than Direct3D.

Still, such praise wouldn't have been enough to vault OpenGL into the market, without a major company showing the way.

That company? id Software and its blockbuster Quake. "We feel like we are driving the 3D video game hardware market," said id's Alexander, with a characteristic lack of modesty.

Yet, surprisingly, he is right. Many companies have released OpenGL drivers for their 3D accelerators with just enough functions to support Quake and Quake II. Another 3D chip maker, NVIDIA Corp. -- whose chip has found its way into Gateway 2000 Inc., Dell Computer Corp. and Micron Electronics Inc. computers -- has decided to go all the way and provide a full driver for entire OpenGL interface.

Such support may not be enough to make OpenGL a successful alternative to Microsoft's ubiquitous Direct3D. Still, an alternative to Microsoft's interface gives game developers some leverage their battle to make Windows more programmer-friendly.

Topics: Microsoft, Windows

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