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Java Programming Sun Microsystems Games

Sun's Project Darkstar Game Server Platform No More 82

Posted by timothy
from the dropped-off-the-moving-truck dept.
sproketboy writes "Project Darkstar, an open source software platform from Sun labs that simplifies the development of horizontally scalable servers for online games, is being discontinued as of the Oracle acquisition. This project, mentioned a couple of years back on Slashdot, was a unique concept for building an application server specific to on-line gaming. Sadly they were so close at version 0.9.11 (which is still very stable). Hopefully the open source community can get involved and help continue work on this project."
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Sun's Project Darkstar Game Server Platform No More

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:11PM (#31011810)

    Mo, Marcie! You didn't have to do that!

  • Nothing helps out the community more than slashdotting their forum.

    At least they have measures in place for when the site goes down.

  • Sad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gusano (166423)
    Sadly I think this is the only real alternative for developing any mature MMOs under Java... so it's either the community taking the workload and continuing the project or it's back to C++ :-(
    • C++ if we are lucky ... some poorly scaling kludge with existing scripting languages without any form of JIT compiler if not. It's a pity no big MMOs adopted this and threw some consulting fees their way.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        EVE Online, which has probably done more in terms of scaling/balancing technology than any other commercial MMO, uses a *ton* of Python [stackless.com] server-side. One world for all players, with the ability to handle massive battles. A kludge it is not.
    • by pjt33 (739471)

      Are you calling RuneScape immature?

      • Are you calling RuneScape immature?

        Are you kidding? Have you ever talked to any RuneScape players?

      • Runescape uses Java & C++. I suspect C++ is used on the server side.
        • by pjt33 (739471)

          Unless the architecture has changed since I left the company the only non-Java code is a tiny library for non-blocking network I/O, which wasn't available in Java until NIO in 1.4.

    • by samkass (174571)

      Puzzle Pirates was (is?) 100% Java and was an interesting take on MMOs, IMHO.

  • What's next? Solaris? JavaFX?.. These projects eat lots of money and do not bring direct revenue, so Oracle may simply close them to cut expenses.
    • Nothing unusual with Oracle killing the fun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Oracle has repeatedly stated that Solaris, along with SPARC, is going to have increased investment.
      • by kimvette (919543)

        Sure, they say that now. What are they going to say about Solaris and MySQL once the dust has settled regarding antitrust concerns?

        • by rhsanborn (773855)
          I can't imagine they fought with the EU as hard as they did with the intention of killing MySQL. Were that the case, I imagine they would have added a stipulation that they would spinoff or release the MySQL brand and ease the concerns of the EU regulators.
          • Exactly. The only reason why that fight went on so long was due to Monty's butthurt that he can't sell MySQL as a proprietary product anymore now that he sold off the copyright. I truly feel so sorry for him and his billion dollars.

        • MySQL they arguably have an interest in killing, as they could regard it as a competitor to Oracle; that's why all the talk was about MySQL. Solaris and SPARC less so. I think that they're envisioning selling a self-contained box on which they own all the pieces, for which they need Solaris and SPARC to stay around.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oracle has repeatedly stated that Solaris, along with SPARC, is going to have increased investment.

        What would they replace Solaris with? Linux?

        Please.

        Linux isn't even 64-bit safe enough to allow single IO operations greater than 2 gigabytes [kernel.org]:

        +/*
        + * rw_verify_area doesn't like huge counts. We limit
        + * them to something that fits in "int" so that others
        + * won't have to do range checks all the time.
        + */

        • by vadim_t (324782)

          You mean like writing a block of 4GB in one go?

          What is that good for? Seriously, I can't think of a single application that does it. Databases write in small blocks. Copying DVDs around will use a much smaller buffer. The uses for this seem rather limited.

          It's a limit alright, but what is the situation where it becomes a problem?

        • by sowth (748135) *

          You may have a point about Linux not being perfect for all enterprise uses, but I don't see where it limits those values to a 32 bit int. It appears to limit it to the system int size. On 64 bit systems, wouldn't this be 64 bits and therefore much larger?

          • Actually no, assuming it's compiled with gcc, and I don't think Linux compiles under anything other than gcc. gcc on 64-bit platforms typically makes int 32 bits wide and long 64 bits wide.
      • Correct. From Oracle Outlines Plans To Tie Sun Hardware To Oracle Software [crn.com]:

        In terms of the server business, Oracle, in addition to increasing its investment in the Solaris operating system, will also accelerate its investment in its SPARC processor-based server line, and will continue to focus on forward binary compatibility, Fowler said.

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:16PM (#31011888)

    Is anyone I know using this?

    • by fusiongyro (55524)

      I was looking into it for one of my little side projects. If you know Java and have the time to look at it, I recommend it. To call it a game server is really to limit it; it's actually a framework and server for persistent, low-latency agent-based computing. Seems to scale quite well and the API isn't too intimidating. On the website they have some showcased apps [projectdarkstar.com] as well as case studies [projectdarkstar.com], but if you're really looking to find out a bit more, you should look at Project Snowman [java.net], a sample game of 3D snowmen wan

      • That would be great because this is could/should be the centerpoint for on-line open source MMOs.

    • echo
        echo
          echo
            echo

    • Well Sun's marketing being what it's been - not very many but there are production systems out there using it. I was planning on using it for my goldbox reboot.

    • by Lissajous (989738)

      Yes. It's the backend to Call of the Kings by Gamalocus. http://www.callofthekings.com/ [callofthekings.com] if you're interested.

  • One of many... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:17PM (#31011904) Homepage Journal

    ...blue sky projects that will disappear now that Sun is under rational management.

    • Re:One of many... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ardaen (1099611) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:27PM (#31012074)
      Define rational. Is money your primary or only measure? Only in the short term? The next quarter, maybe the next year?

      A project like this, if it took off, could be quite good for expanding the usage of the Java language. It might not be a success or a big success, but calling it a blue-sky project seems a bit unfair. Unless of course value is only defined by the next quarter.
      • Encouraged Java (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Unoti (731964)

        A project like this, if it took off, could be quite good for expanding the usage of the Java language.

        You're right- it did or would encourage the use of Java. But I never quite did understand that strategy, though-- how Java use helps Sun. Is it simply that a cross-platform language like Java is strategic to Sun just because it makes it so that one vendor doesn't dominate the entire market, therefore also-rans and non-dominating manufacturers (like Sun) have a better change at making sales?

        Essentially, th

        • Presumably they licensed Java to companies like BlueRay device manufacturers.

        • by jgagnon (1663075)

          That and it isn't controlled by Microsoft. ;)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by julesh (229690)

          Is it simply that a cross-platform language like Java is strategic to Sun just because it makes it so that one vendor doesn't dominate the entire market, therefore also-rans and non-dominating manufacturers (like Sun) have a better change at making sales?

          Essentially, the Java strategy is or was all about leveling the playing field?

          Essentially, yes. Java attracts developers away from Microsoft-only environments and enables them to easily develop applications that will run on Sun hardware, even if they're u

        • by fm6 (162816)

          But I never quite did understand that strategy, though-- how Java use helps Sun.

          They do make a bit of money licensing their own Java implementation and certifying that other implementations are compatible. Probably not enough to justify all the effort they put into creating Java. If all of Sun's ambitious plans for Java had succeeded, it could have been a real profit center. Recall that Sun hoped to persuade everybody to abandon Windows in favor of the JavaStation and other Java-based network computers.

          As

      • by fm6 (162816)

        A project like this, if it took off, could be quite good for expanding the usage of the Java language.

        Maybe true. Doesn't matter. When I say "blue sky", I'm referring to the "if" part, not the "could be good" part. Since this project has been around for a couple years without seeming to go anywhere, I think it's safe to say it isn't going to take off.

        Which makes it like a lot of other projects that Sun announced with great fanfare but that never go anywhere.

      • by bertok (226922)

        Define rational. Is money your primary or only measure? Only in the short term? The next quarter, maybe the next year?

        A project like this, if it took off, could be quite good for expanding the usage of the Java language. It might not be a success or a big success, but calling it a blue-sky project seems a bit unfair. Unless of course value is only defined by the next quarter.

        Except that it's forcing a restriction that isn't going to work for real-world game development.

        On the server side, Project Darkstar applications must be delivered as Java Byte Code. (source [projectdarkstar.com])

        The issue is that practically all real-time 3D PC or console games are written in C++. The server is not usually a totally isolated module, because it shares a lot of common code with the client. It would have the same network communication stack, it has to load the same resources, it has to do much of the same 3D maths

      • True but there are also a dozen client implementations in other languages [projectdarkstar.com] so this can benefit any client side game development platform.

    • I don't understand you, or the original title of this submission: no more? Canceled? Disappear?

      It's an open source project - anyone can, at any time, now or in the future, work on it, by him/herself or in a group. Opensource is more than just a fancy term. It's like the adamantium armor of +1000 protection.

      • So if that were true, then what's all the butthurt over MySQL about?

      • by fm6 (162816)

        Just because somebody can pick up this project doesn't mean somebody will. Might happen — don't know, don't care.

        My point was about Sun's habit of starting ambitious projects that are supposed to revolutionize this or that, but don't go anywhere. As far as I could tell when I worked there, they were mostly about keeping busy people who were no longer useful to Sun (if they ever were) but were too well-connected to be let go. Sun always had a big problem with cronyism.

        • Just because somebody can pick up this project doesn't mean somebody will. Might happen — don't know, don't care.

          Well then if no one picks up the project it most likely means that it had an insignificant audience.

      • MYSQL made thier money by putting the client libs under the GPL and trying to claim that the GPL applied to the wire protocol (a dubious claim but still not something I'd want to risk ending up in court over if I could help it) and then selling commercial licenses to let people get out of those restrictions.

        Sure someone can fork mysql but I don't see much money in a database that can only be used with FOSS software and it won't help those who are already using commercial mysql with non-gpl software.

        Not that

  • 9.11 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:26PM (#31012060)

    ...never forget.

  • by realinvalidname (529939) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:51PM (#31012464) Homepage
    blurb = "The Sun %s project, which we <a href=\"%s\">mentioned a few years ago</a> on Slashdot, is being <a href=\"%s\">shut down</a> in the wake of the Oracle acquisition.

    That should save the editors a little time over the next few weeks as they iterate over every minimally-viable, staff-of-three Sun mini-project that has been terminated by Oracle.

  • Maybe we are lucky and it's going to get to rewritten as a Groovy/Griffon project. Belive it or not, I'm not trolling. It seems like all the cool stuff is being done outside Sun these days.
  • Great film, bit IIRC it all ended badly when the computers malfunctioned in Dark Star [wikipedia.org]

  • by Simon Carr (1788) <slashdot.org@simoncarr.com> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:34PM (#31012992) Homepage

    Just did a write-up on Wonderland [devlab.ca]. Development resources are no longer being applied to the project. From what I'm reading the community is going to keep it going, but it's still disappointing to hear that something so forward thinking is being cut from the vine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sproketboy (608031)

      Well yeah - Wonderland runs on Darkstar so it looks like it's all going to be gone.

  • I guess Oracle didn't want to feed the alien...

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @05:17PM (#31014946) Journal

    "Sun's Project Darkstar Game Server Platform No More"

    Hmm. That doesn't seem right. Let's move a word.

    "Project Darkstar Game Server Platform No More Sun's"

    There. Not grammatically great, but it gets the point across. It's an open source project. The corporate backer is no longer backing it. It's still an open source project, and can be developed by the community.

    That's a primary point of open source, isn't it?

    If most OSS projects can't survive without corporate sponsorship and guidance, then the OSS model is a failure and needs to be rexamined.

    • If most OSS projects can't survive without corporate sponsorship and guidance, then the OSS model is a failure and needs to be rexamined.

      That's only the case if the real goal of the OSS model is to oppose corporations, which was not my understanding.

  • So an open source beta platform being axed is too bad. Sadly, there will be a lot more of them.

    Personally, I'm more worried about seeing commercial products slashed - Directory Server is almost certainly going to be on the chopping block.

    • Why?

    • Having worked at a company that ditched Directory Server in favour of Open LDAP I can tell you that the migration from one to the other is a piece of cake. Just export the Directory Server schema in LDIF format, import into Open LDAP, transfer the data, and job done. Nothing to worry about at all, other than saving a few $$$ on license fees.
  • Those of us that play MW2 will already know that "Servers" are entirely unecessary. MW2 proves that everyone on the Net has a 10M symmetrical link with a small Cray running their game meaning totally flawless gameplay every second of the day (as opposed to 1 in 4 games having a great host and hours wasted waiting to find a game that doesn't spit you out as soon as the game starts - coz that would just be stupid).
    • You miss the scope of this project. Darkstar is for servers that handle massive connections where the data has to interact in unknown ways, such in MMOs and social networking sites. It has little to do with game-specific hosted servers like you're thinking about. I do not think that very many of us are running machines that could handle a massive number of connections transmitting large amounts of data like what a MMO's zone server does.
  • Most games that use a client/server based model where the usual gameplay instance is small (ie, not an MMO) scale perfectly already. You just throw in more hardware, start a few new server instances, and presto.

    I can see a system like this being useful for MMOs, but for all the other games that /aren't/ MMOs - all they need to do to create a scalable multiplayer architecture is just do what the likes of id Software, Epic, and Valve have done for years - make a decent dedicated server platform for your game

  • I wonder if there is any significance to name DarkStar, or is it just a Code name for the project. Cause I remember that Dynamix, formerly a subsidiary of Sierra Online used to have a game engine called DarkStar. I believe that both Starsiege and Starsiege: Tribes were developed on that platform. Hence my curiosity.

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