Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Games Entertainment

Loki Announces Loki Hack 1999 Contest 126

Ethelred Unraed writes "Loki Entertainment Software has announced a contest where an elite group of hackers (in C++, that is) will be chosen to improve their port of Civilization: Call to Power. The winner will get a dual-processor Linux box as a prize. Take a look at their info page for more. " Thats a pretty crazy contest idea. They ought to give the winner a job.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Loki Announces Loki Hack 1999 Contest

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it only me or anybody else feel that Civ CTP is _morally_ wrong since it is a stolen idea of Sid Meyer who described it as a Civilization's "imitation"? The right to the game's title was acquired by Activision through a dubious court case of some sort.
    Even though I do C++ full time and used to work for a games company I've had enough of companies that "borrow" ideas!

    No matter how cool Loki Entertainment act on the Linux front they aren't getting my support as the only company that should be releasing Civ is Firaxis [firaxis.com].

    I'll wait for CivIII. It'll be done by the right people and hopefully less buggy than CTP. Besides a PC for lots of debugging/bug fixing is peanuts. If you're a games programmer wannabe then Firaxis are hiring too...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Man, thats a good challenging timeframe. Wonder if anyone does the whole time with no sleep. Man id forgoten what a bunch of loosers slashdoters are, half the comments make out that loki is doing something immoral for trying to arrange a contest, improve a product and have a bit of fun. flame away bug@cyberjunkie.com
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Huh? I've been getting paid for C++ coding on Linux or Unix for the last 9 years! Quite a few co-workers were as well. And Loki has been looking for people to hire.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In 48 hours you can't sufficiently read and understand such an enormous set of code to improve on something built by people who have had months, perhaps years to familiarise themselves with the code and the design. This is just a marketing ploy designed to draw attention to the linux port of Civ II they've been working on.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wow, what a great idea. I'm sure they'll be able to implement many changes to a program consisting of thousands and thousands of line of code in 2 days, without ever seeing it before.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is part of another post that I'm putting here because it might warrant discussion on its own:

    It might be interesting to enter their contest for just the chance to look at their current game code, which I beleive is not open source. But that brings up an entirely different subject. Since the contestants have to be able to look at their current closed source, they will probably require the contestants to sign all sorts of 'Non-Disclosure - Non-Compete' forms. And trust me, NO computer or contest (or job for that matter) is worth that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So I gather from this that the source to Civ will not be opened up to anyone other that the select few who are chosen to compete? This whole contest sounds just a little too much like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" to me, and we all know what happened to the select few who were allowed into that contest. I'll bet the selected cadre chosen to compete will have to sign all sorts of legal 'non-disclosure' and 'intellectual property' agreements before they can even smell the source code.

    Well, I could probably enter this contest. And I could possibly win it. Having another parallel computer would be sort of cool. Seeing my name in the game credits would be pretty cool. Looking at the Civ source would be even cooler. But NONE OF THIS is worth having to deal with the sort of legal entanglements Activision and Loki Software will require of the contestants.

    Why do you think Loki is limiting the number of contestants? I think it's because they themselves recognise the 'intellectual property' legal issues involved in letting 'outsiders' see their now and forever closed source code. They want to minimize the legal hassles here by limiting the number of contestants. And 'intellectual property' agreements are allways more of a pain for the person signing them than the party requiring them.

    If people want the computer that badly, by all means they should enter the contest. But they need to realize the full cost to themselves before entering it. TANSTAAFL!

    Thank you Scott Draeker and Loki Software for having this contest and offering the masses a prize and an opportunity to see your stuff. It's a lot better than the nothing we see from most other commercial software vendors. Even so, I have searched the Loki website [lokigames.com] up and down looking for the legal ramifications of entering this contest. I haven't seen a single thing.

    So, Scott Draeker, can we get some specific info on just what the real requirements are for entering? Or even some specific info on just what the heck the prize computer actually is? But even if the prize is one Manly Mother of A Box (tm) (and I have seen no stats on whether or not it is), I, for one, think I will choose not to participate in this opportunity.

    "Just because we give away free software doesn't mean we're stupid!" - or naive
  • ...at least sponsor me a green card or h1b or something?

    I'm a C++ guru. I eat design patterns for breakfast, I know ANSI C++ standard by heart, I apply LSP, ISP, DIP, RRP, I can write templates that put Stepanov&Lee to shame.

    But I'm not an Amerikkkan. Darn.

    Not that I'm eager to participate, but these "good only in contiguous 48 states, please specify a valid zip code" things drive me crazy. Can anybody say "global village"?

  • What is your point? I explicitly stated in my post that I had qualms about working full-time under an NDA. Congratulations - you win. And win. And win.

    And yet you're still willing to sign one just for 48 hours hacking privilege? To anyone who has had any experience with Non-Disclosure Agreements and Intellectual Property Agreements, that attitude doesn't make any sense!

    However, that's all completely irrelevant. In this capacity, Loki will never be your "previous employer." They're not employing anyone.

    I don't think you understand some of the basic facts of life here. First of all, you do not need to be employed by a company to sign an NDA or IPA with them or have it enforced upon you. Technically, yes, Activision and Loki are not exactly employing the contest entrants. But employment status is what's truly irrelevant here. Don't think for a minute that, employees or not, Activision is not going require NDA's and IPA's from all the entrants before anyone sees their closed source code. And the term of those NDA's and IPA's will be a lot longer than just the 48 hours of the contest. Duration of service and employment status don't matter where NDA's and IPA's are concerned. The only thing that matters in an NDA or IPA issue is whether or not you've signed one.

    this is no more than a fun, even charitable, way to give back to the OSS community

    You probably see it that way. Loki Software may see it that way. But do Activision and Activision's lawyers see it that way? I would hope there is a little altruism from them, but judging from Scott Draeker's post ("Activision is going out on a limb with this."), I doubt it. Activision would not agree to this if they didn't think there's something in it for them. I don't know what exactly it is they are after, but I really doubt they expect to get all that much real or usefull code in only 48 hours.

    And speaking of "giving to the OSS community"; thus far, Activision has only taken from it. And just what are they giving back to it? A single computer. To a single contest winner. That doesn't seem to me to be much for the community. They're giving the opportunity for a few people to see their code but nobody else. Well, I'm sorry but that group of people are really only that group of people. Please don't confuse them with the OSS community.

    So just what is the OSS community getting out of this? To the best of my knowledge, what the OSS community wants is Open Source Software, but that's definately not what they are getting here. Civ will remain closed source after this contest. Count on it. From what I can see, we're only getting a slightly improved version of a truly mediocre closed source game to take advantage of (and additional profits from) our open source OS.

    So what does Activision get out of all this? For the price of a single computer they are getting a lot of publicity. They might also get some nifty improvements to their closed source game. Additionally, they also potentially get a lot of intellectual property rights from the people that sign the IPA which they will require before entering.

    And what do the contestants get? One of them gets a computer. What kind of computer? We have to take Loki's word that it will be a good one. The rest get essentially nada. Sure they get to look at the Civ code, but Activision's going to make damn sure they aren't legally capable of taking advantage of that knowledge, either for their own benefit or for the benefit of the OSS community. That's the way most companies work. If Activision is truly different, why are they keeping their source closed? Remember that it's entirely possible for a company to publish their source code but still retain copyright on it. Open Source does not mean the same thing as Free Software. And why aren't they publishing the precise terms of their contest?

    There's one other "reward" for entering this contest that Activision and Loki just don't seem to want to talk about and everyone else seems to be forgetting. In addition to all these "wonderful" incentives, the contest entrants also potentially get the hassle of having to subjugate their creative efforts to the whims of Activision's lawyers for the next few years. Maybe not, but Loki and Activision aren't saying. People need to know what they are getting into before entering this thing, and Activision just isn't saying.

    And you've made it out to be malicious

    Not malicious, just suspicious. There's a lot of information about this contest that's conspicuous by its' absence from the Loki website.

    should be a lot more supportive of Loki for having the guts to even support an open-source operating system

    Loki should be applauded for their attempts, but they also need to be more forthcoming with the exact terms of their contest. I would think that any company seriously courting the open source movement would realize that they need to be open on what the exact terms of their relationship with the OSS community will be. And please remember the first rule about commercial developers in an Open Source environment, "they need us more than we need them."

    blah blah blah - you spread FUD about it

    Oh puhleeze! You resort to the Mainstay Buzzword Attack of the Misinformed OSS Zealot. I am merely warning people that there is a lot of uncertainty regarding just what the real costs of this contest are. Potentially, the entrants could be setting themselves up for some major legal and creative hassles. They must make themselves aware of this before immediately leaping into any "opportunity" just because the company offering it appears to be supporting the OSS movement. Hopefully things are all right with this deal. Maybe not. Loki isn't saying. The risks involved definately warrant looking before you leap.

    You can sit atop your pedestal and decree your "creative professional" status all you want, but it doesn't make up for the fact that you are incorrect

    But I am correct. That's plainly obvious to anyone reading this who actually understands or has had any actual experience with NDA's or IPA's. You have expressed no rational arguement to the contrary. You might not beleive so, but I think you can be forgiven for your limited knowledge on the subject. The greatest part of ignorance is being ignorant of ones own ignorance.

    I have, I think, amply demonstrated how much more I know about the issue of IPA's and NDA's than you do. You may think you understand them, but if you are still willing to sign one just for a computer or just to see someone elses code, trust me, you don't. For your own sake I recommend you read the rest of this post before signing one. I can guarantee I have more experience with this sort of thing than most of Slashdot's readers and a lot more experience with them than you. Your lack of understanding might interpret this as arrogance on my part, but it's just the simple truth. Trust me. I learned about NDA's and IPA's the Hard Way. I would much rather have learned from someone elses experiences rather than my own. You should be taking advantage of that opportunity right now.

    don't bother lecturing me of the ramifications of an NDA

    But you so clearly need to be educated about NDA's and IPA's. If not for your own good, then for the good of those who are willing to learn from third party experience. In your first post on this thread you said:

    I don't agree with taking a job where all the code you write is closed and NDAd. But by claiming that doing so for a mere 48 hours is just not worth it is blowing it pathetically out of proportions


    honest hacking C++ for a day or two under and NDA doesn't bother me

    So let me get this straight? You aren't willing to be employed (possibly for a large salary) under an NDA or IPA, but you are willing to sign one for the simple privilege of spending 48 hours tweaking someone elses code for them with merely the possible chance of getting a computer out of it? Do you also refuse to work for a company that requires drug tests, but happily urinate into the lab cup of any 48 hour charity that requires them? Do you know just how non-sensical your attitude is? Do you really understand what an NDA or IPA is or means? Or how they work? They don't disappear when you finish working on a project. And they can be just as strong whether you spend one hour on a project or years on it. And it doesn't matter if you are compensated for signing them or not. Once again, whe only thing that matters in an NDA or IPA is whether or not you've signed it.

    When you sign an NDA or IPA, you are signing away your creative and intellectual rights. Sometimes the compensation and terms are acceptable, but often they are not. You are also placing yourself into a professional relationship with another party and their (potentially sleazy scumbag) lawyers which can at any time be used against you or anyone else that benefits from your creative efforts.

    I think that's a pretty sleazy thing to do - pose as a concerned member of the community when in reality it's your own interests that motivate you.

    In the future, please try to educate yourself and think about what you are reading before making defamatory (and incorrect) statements like this one. They only point out your ignorance and make you appear a complete ass. Clearly you have entirely missed the point of where my interest actually lies on this matter. Before you start any more Misinformed OSS Zealot propaganda blather, you and everyone else in the OSS and FS movements must become aware of one thing regarding NDA's and IPA's. Please be aware that signing an NDA or IPA not only limits your rights to take advantage of an idea yourself, it also limits your rights to freely give your creative work to the OSS community, the Free-Software community, or anyone else. I know this from personal experience. Only one party gains from NDA's and IPA's, and that is whoever is requiring them.

    If, by entering this contest, a group of potentially bright and productive people are prevented from future open contributions to the OSS or FS movements, just because they signed an NDA or IPA to enter said contest, we all lose. No computer is worth that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but 'dual processor' could mean a whole range of things.

    I have an old dual Pentium 90 MHz (not Pro, not II, not III, and not Xeon, just plain old Pentium) sitting in the closet right now. It's still running (348 days uptime on an _early_ smp_linux test kernel), it's just in the closet because the fans are NOISY. While it's a lot faster under Linux than the 'other' OS, it's not what I would call 'screaming' these days (although it was three years ago).

    So, what _kind_ of dual processor box is it?

    Dual Pentium - Pass.

    Dual Celeron - These are cool, but cheap enough I don't need to enter a contest for them. They make GREAT low end servers though.

    Dual PII - Now it gets interesting.

    Dual P3 - Even more interesting. What's the storage like though?

    Dual Xeon - Can I get one of the ones Seimens [slashdot.org] benchmarked Linux on? Oops, that was a quad Xeon.

    Dual K7/Athlon - Drool drool! But where did they get it?

    Dual Alpha - Gimme! Gimme!

    So, are there any specifics on just what the prize is? Their page is currently either slow or slashdotted, so I haven't been able to find the specifics myself.

    And my Boss keeps asking "Where's the incentive in open source?". Sheesh.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    OK, this might be off topic, but I just want to say that whatever bad opinions you have about this contest, Loki is doing something extremely important to the open source movement. Yes, they make money off of it, but bringing quality games to the OS is as important as anything else in getting it accepted (on the desktop). A desktop user needs three things: office suite, internet and games. On the office and internet side, one decent application is enough. On the games side we need many, many different options. Im sure many of you know this, but I just wanna say it again so more people will be conscious of it. And to the people who say "we dont need no friggin stupid desktop users!" just remember that they (and with them, mass production) is the ONLY way to get hardware support. And yes, we all want HW support. TN
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 1999 @10:38AM (#1675723)
    I was at the Denver LUG where Scott (Loki's president) unfficially announed this on Tuesday evening. Apparantly, Activision owns the copyright and they are hesitant to embrace the open-source model. They are afraid of thier competition getting a hold of thier clever "trade secret" hacks. Scott talked Activision into this contest as a way to prove, even on a small scale, that open source works. Hopefully, with any luck, some great hacks will come out of this and Activision will see the err of thie perevious ways.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 1999 @12:30PM (#1675724)
    When's the last time you got to see the source code for a commercial game -- and not several years after the fact.

    it's not like you are releasing the source, but here are a few that come to mind.

    Abuse - crack.com
    Wolf/Doom/Quake - id
    Decent - parallax

    Abuse was released about a year after it came out (faster than the linux port of Civ?)

    When's the last time you got to modify a game, change the rules the way you like, add something you think is missing? Then get your changes posted for the rest of the world to play around with.

    What game today doesn't let you do this? Unreal, quake, etc. Even Abuse allowed you to add new characters and hacks the day it came out by planning for that kind of thing and putting in an interpreter.

    The only reason for this contest is because Civ didn't plan for the mod comunity. The only way to add new stuff is to give people the source. While it's nice to study, a good game shouldn't have to give out the source code. That's like giving people the source to a JVM and telling them to "hack stuff in" rather than make the JVM complete in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 1999 @07:08PM (#1675725)
    hmmm... is it possible to make a dual 486? that might speed things up at the low end how about a group of 5 386 chips? what would a computer with a dual pentium setup cost?

    At college we had a Sequent Symmetry that started with 8 386-16MHz processors and slowly migrated up to either 16 or 32 (I forget how many) 486-33MHz processors. It was the fastest machine on campus for _years_. Pity it had to be decomissioned because we couldn't get any more hard drives for it. Needless to say, it was _not_ cheap, but at least it did _not_ run anything from Redmond.

    Even wierder, I think there used to be an architecture out there called a 'Hypercube' that was anywhere up to 256 '286 processors in parallel. That's right, 2^8 Intel 80286 CPU's. If I remember correctly, though, it had _no_ '287's and so it's floating point performance was still pretty sucky. Even so, I wish I could get my hands on one of these today. I'd put it right next to my NeXT.

    In short, just about _any_ processor, no matter how weak, can be used in a powerful parallel system _if_ you are prepared to create an appropriate architecture and OS to support that many CPU's. The machine you come up with _could_ be relatively inexpensive to manufacture, but the development costs would enormous.

    Stuff like SMP Linux and parallel computing standardizations have made parallel computers MUCH simpler and cheaper in recent history. But that's only if you use those standards etc., and I don't think you're going to find any older/cheaper architectures that follow the standards. Besides, the Dual Celeron board from Abit (the BP6 [abit.com.tw]) is _really_cool_ and _really_cheap_.

    If you _really_ want to play with a cheap parallel system using older technology, don't think 'parallel computer'. Think 'cluster computer'. Think Beowulf [caltech.edu]. You won't be disappointed (and you won't have to take all those old processors out of their current cases).

    Now, if Loki is offering something like a Beowulf cluster in return for 48 hours worth of hacking on their game, I might enter. Realistically, though, I would probably be more interested in their contest more if they offered the winner a job instead of the computer (at least a job better than the one I currently have).

    It might be interesting to enter their contest for just the chance to look at their current game code, which I beleive is not open source. But that brings up an entirely different subject. Since the contestants have to be able to look at their current closed source, they will probably reqire the contestants to sign all sorts of 'Non-Disclosure - Non-Compete' forms. And trust me, NO computer or contest (or job for that matter) is worth all that.

    Perhaps I should put the previous paragraph up as a post on its own.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 1999 @09:55AM (#1675726)
    I'd like to dispel any confusion about what we're trying to accomplish with Loki Hack. Seems like some people have assumed that we're looking for free work on the port, bug fixes, or the like. Wrong.

    The idea is this. When's the last time you got to see the source code for a commercial game -- and not several years after the fact. When's the last time you got to modify a game, change the rules the way you like, add something you think is missing? Then get your changes posted for the rest of the world to play around with. And all of this supported by the developer? And we throw in some prizes too.

    This is the closest we can get to open source with our products. The world won't see the source, but the contestants will. And all the hacks, mods, changes will be posted in binary form, freely downloadable for the world to see. Know anyone who has seen the Windows code for this game?

    Of course, we're going to help people along. Loki developers will be present to answer questions during the hack. We'll also have an intro session to get people familiar with the code.

    For those unaware, it's a very big deal for a commercial game company to let you look at their source for a current product. Activision is going out on a limb with this. We want to show them what the open source community can accomplish.

    Scott Draeker
    Loki Entertainment Software
  • RE: Movie playing from CD

    Make sure your CD-ROM is mounted. I was also wondering why my movies weren't playing anymore, until I realized the computer was rebooted and the CD-ROM wasn't remounted!

    RE: Speed

    I run it on a Cyrix 6x86 166 with 64MB and the speed isn't too bad. It even has a 2X CD-ROM and the videos play (the requirements said it needs 4X). Of course, if Netscape is also running, switching between them is quite slow. But the game is certainly playable.

    I agree - I'll take this and RailRoad Tycoon II any day over a stupid shoot-em-up.
  • If they offered anyone a job that would be stratospheric. Hacking C++ on Linux in itself is pretty useless in the professional world. It's the one reason you might want to think twice about sinking your hard earned weekends into it.
  • There isn't enough info to go on. What is the game structured like? Libraries? DLLs? What are the major subsystems? What technologies are used? XML? Object I/O? CORBA? Threading? Assembly? What aspects of C++ are used? Templates? RTTI? Operator overloading? Design patterns? Polymorphism? Generic programming? STL? Do they make heavy use of the preprocessor? Is the source commented? What kind of documentation will be presented? Are there UML diagrams for everything? These are all things that a developer ("hacker") needs to know before touching the code. In 48hrs, you can't just be dropped into uncommented, non-standard, C-ish C++ code without UML diagrams and documentation, and be expected to revamp the AI engine. You could be a good C++ programmer and a decent Linux hacker, but still not be able to do anything in the code. Someone else might have mediocre skills but just happen to know Linux threading inside out, and fix threading issues. Luck of the draw? Many, like myself, are already employed and under NDA and employment agreements. I'd have to check, but I'm not sure I can even do work for another computer company, unless I can positively be sure that it is non-competitive. That's hard, because I do data mining and AI, and damn near *anything* is AI. Is game AI non-competitive enough? So if they don't get professional developers, they are left with Linux hackers. They may be great hackers, but can they handle code of commercial size and quality? Remember, Linux is C land. Simple. Established. Old. If this game is modern, advanced C++, that may be beyond the skills of otherwise great Linux hackers. If I have to pay travel, and work for 2 days straight, while they get my services for free, I'm not sure a computer covers that. Still, I wish them the best.
  • The greatest competition is within oneself.

    As is the greatest ego. I didn't say ego was the only reason, only a possible reason. I also did not say ego was wrong.

    I didn't say is was wrong to compete, just questionable, since there are, IMHO, more rewarding outlets for any motivation one could have in participating in this contest.

  • I had the problem even when using CTP as my windowmanager and running no other processes. Clearly it is a memory related issue. Is it too much to ask that a simple game do ok in 64MB. Quake 3 plays fine after all.
  • It's not backlash pure and simple...that we reserve for Red Hat.

    Loki sold us a game that we paid money for and which is only half-baked. We bought it to support a cool company and Linux, but we expected decent quality in return for the money. Or at least I did. Otherwise I would have just sent them $40. Now you're telling me that I am not faithful because I treat them with exactly the same suspicion I would treat any commercial entity that wants to get something for nothing?

  • When I make a move or change a view I want see the update immediately. I don't want to wait 10 seconds as the hard drive thrashes, the sound skips and the screen freezes. Go into space view in the later part of the game and tell me it's not slow.

    As for bugs:
    preferences don't save,
    paratrooper moves can crash the game hard (e.g. paratrooping into an occupied square or city),

    there's a bug list available from
    which is remarkably slow at the moment.

    Yes the bug list is a good thing, and no the bugs aren't a good thing. Not when I'm paying money.

    Compare CTP 1.1 to say the latest patch of StarCraft. StarCraft is more playable under Wine than CTP running natively. The two games have similar levels of graphical complexity with CTP having more AI complexity, but also turns to do the processing in as opposed to real time.

    As for revolutionarieness. No, a good game does not have to be revolutionary. But a good game is either revolutionary, glitzy, or solid. Great games can be all three. CTP is none of the above.

  • by copito ( 1846 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:18AM (#1675735)
    CTP is a slow game with serious bugs that is barely playable on a Celeron 300 w/ 64 MB. All this for a 2D game that would have been revolutionary in the late 80's. Yes I paid my $40 bucks. Yes I wanted to support a cool company and Linux. And yes, I'm bitter.

    Loki isn't all bad. Their developers field actual bug reports and there has been one patch set to cure some of the more serious problems. They are a new place and they might port or create a good game someday. Apparently a lot of the problems with CTP exist in the Windows version, so they might have been just dealt a bad hand.

    That being said, the new contest they have created is a joke. Imagine if someone said to you, "you're a damn good programmer. I want you to spend some time doing some programming for us. No
    we won't pay you, but you might get a decent computer out of it and we get to keep your code and sell it."

    Considering this, what are your incentives:

    You really need that 'puter:
    A good C++ programmer can make enough money to buy the computer in what, a couple of days?

    Pure altruism:
    Perhaps, but you would be probably increase your cosmic oneness more by contributing to an open source project.

    Your kung fu is the best. You want everybody to know it. Well good luck, but here's a hint. If you're that good you should either be getting pay or serious recognition out of the deal, or possibly both.

    A job at Loki:
    Ok, you want to work at Loki, this might be a good way to strut your stuff, but they are getting far more out of the deal than you. Companies typically pay thousands to track down and hire a qualified candidate for a job, without immediate benefit to themselves.

    You really like CTP and want to see how it works:
    I don't agree, but curiousity is a valid reason for anything in life.

    You really like CTP but the bugs annoy the crap out of you:
    There are probably lots of people that fit in this category. Probably enough to give Loki their computer's worth. Go a head, give the Man a hand. He'll make it worth your while.

  • Easiest thing to do is to stop science production completely by setting the percentage of gold that goes to science to 0% in the civ menu. When cities get really big, new populations just become entertainers because they have no tile to sit on. I'd like to see the range of a city increase as it gets really big. This could be quite fun as you could end up with massive sprawling cities, perhaps even engulfing enemy cities within them.

  • Most of the posts I have read so far was about them requesting "free development" for their "unplayable" game (I wouldn't know -- I don't play games). The Loki people may see this as a backfire for supporting the Linux/Open Source community. Although it isn't open source, as has been pointed out, they are going to let the chosen coders to actually get to look at the source and hack at it (for a current product). How many other commercial software/game companies have you seen do this?
  • Let me guess: You haven't played the game all that much, right?

    At the end of the science, going for "future cultural 23"

    They only go to 10. Sell you're libraries, universities, computer centers, etc. Tell your cities to max on gold of production.

    Make a command like "at ease" or something to mean "chill until the next turn"

    Try the space key.

    If you take over an enemy's capital, you should gain all of his/her cities.

    What a lousy idea. Besides, Loki can't do that. If you want that feature, talk to the ActiVision. Loki only ported the game, they didn't design it.

    Whoever goes to Atlanta will have to deal with this also. They can only do so much to the game without making it different from the windows version.

    My understanding is that Loki and ActiVision have agreed to produce the same game on different platforms. This is part of why Loki was stuck with the crappy tile implimentation ActiVision made which spends so much time redrawing the screen.

    If you want to make useful suggestions, ask for speed improvements and UI features. For instance, I'd like to see a feature that freeciv added, which is the ability to sell all of a particular improvement, throughout your civilization. This would save a LOT of time and effort when you build the Emancipation Act and want to sell all your city walls, or oplution is just way out of hand and you want to sell off your oil refineries.

    This sort of thing could be added. Major changes, like 'loose your capital, loose the game', just aren't going to happen.

  • When I make a move or change a view I want see the update immediately. I don't want to wait 10 seconds as the hard drive thrashes, the sound skips and the screen freezes.

    I had this problem too, particularly when my system was already IO contrained on the hard drive because I was playing MP3s and ripping/encoding from a CD, all with IDE devices.

    I solved this problem by creating a large (160 megs) ramdisk and copying the graphics/pictures directory to the ramdisk.

    Once I'd done that, I could play MP3, rip/encode, and pan around CivCTP quickly. It made a huge difference in game play.

  • Let's hope it's not a (well the) z-mob.

    UofMD had a long lived expariment in making a multiprocessor. It was baised on the Z-80. The goal was to get 64K of them all running in one big cabnet. I think they were still working on it in '92.

  • But that brings up an entirely different subject. Since the contestants have to be able to look at their current closed source, they will probably reqire the contestants to sign all sorts of 'Non-Disclosure - Non-Compete' forms. And trust me, NO computer or contest (or job for that matter) is worth all that.

    This is just more OSS snobbery and bluster. Really? You hack code for two days under an NDA - so what! The cosmos haven't realigned, and no one really cares. You won't be better or worse off, and believe it or not your virgin mind might not be poisoned by looking at (ghasp!) closed-source code.

    Half of your argument is right. Personally, I don't agree with taking a job where all the code you write is closed and NDAd. But by claiming that doing so for a mere 48 hours is just not worth it is blowing it pathetically out of proportions. I'm a liberal-license zealot just like the next guy, but to be honest hacking C++ for a day or two under and NDA doesn't bother me. And I can't see why it would bother you.
  • What is your point? I explicitly stated in my post that I had qualms about working full-time under an NDA. Congratulations - you win. And win. And win.

    However, that's all completely irrelevant. In this capacity, Loki will never be your "previous employer." They're not employing anyone. If you want to argue a broad-scale philsophy on the merits (of lack thereof) of working, for money, under an NDA, why not pick a post that pertains to just that? My point, which still stands, is that this is no more than a fun, even charitable, way to give back to the OSS community (last time a checked, not all of the programmers who GPL their code could afford such a box) and at the same time recieve a little help from some experts in the field.

    And you've made it out to be malicious - Loki are the crooks, we're their pawns. A true supporter of the open source philosophy, as you've so eloquently made yourself out to be, should be a lot more supportive of Loki for having the guts to even support an open-source operating system. Linux supporting games don't exactly line the shelves at CompUSA. And yet you villify it. No, you do worse - you spread FUD about it. It's hard to reconcile these actions with those of a liberal license zealot.

    You can sit atop your pedestal and decree your "creative professional" status all you want, but it doesn't make up for the fact that you are incorrect. In the meantime, don't bother lecturing me of the ramifications of an NDA, especially in a context that I a.) wasn't even commenting on and b.) don't really care about. Obviously, as evident by the last paragraph of your post, you have an agenda to push here, and it's in your personal interest to scare as many as possible away from signing these contracts. I think that's a pretty sleazy thing to do - pose as a concerned member of the community when in reality it's your own interests that motivate you. Lame.
  • Of course, now I'm moving to better languages (the dynamic ones)...

    You seem to know your stuff. So what are the better languages? Because I don't want to waste my time with C++ if I don't have to.
  • by Flammon ( 4726 )
    The prize is hardly a T-shirt. It's a dual CPU system; sounds like it's worth about $2500.

    You're not writing a game, composing music or doing the creative work. You're improving an already complete game, for fun, in you're spare time to win a prize.

    Sounds like deal to me.

  • Great. Thank you for a complete answer. I'm also interested in a language that has GNOME or KDE bindings and I'm not sure if there are any for CL but I'm definately going to check it out.

    It does look like there is activity on the Python and Dylan GTK wrappers. Python seems to be more popular but Dylan seems a like a better language overall.

    Decisions, decisions ...
  • I mean, think about it: if some guy writes a really bad-ass hack for it, who do you think is going to be the next hire for Loki? I'd put down good money that they end up hiring at least 3-5 of the guys who show up for this. Consider it an extended tryout.
    Besides- two expenses paid days in Atlanta ain't so bad, is it?
  • No, I have played the game quite a bit.

    "future cultural 23" was a hyperbole. My point was that there should be something useful to do with science after the race runs out.

    I missed the space-bar means chill. Nice feature, would have been nice to document it.

    The contest announcement doesn't put any restrictions on what can be done. The contest is "a special contest in cooperation with Activision, Inc."... It certainly sounds as if they would allow my changes, and that the changes will be applied to both versions.

    I'm interested to hear why you think it's a lousy idea.
  • Railways move you fast, but you can still only bring 9 troops together. Troop carriers would allow you to ship larger numbers all at once, or make slow troops travel faster. And, of course, troop carriers would move faster on rails.

    Clerics are units in Civ:CTP (perhaps also in test of time, but I've never played it). Clerics can convert a city, and can see other clerics and slavers.
  • by drig ( 5119 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:33AM (#1675749) Homepage Journal
    I'm not really a strong C++ coder, so I thought I'd throw out some ideas I'd like to see be put into the game.

    If you take over an enemy's capital, you should gain all of his/her cities. But, the cities should have an enourmous happiness cost, spawning revolutions in many of them for an unprepared attacker. This also makes bloodlust games less tedious to win.

    Perl/Python/Java/etc. scripting. I know this one is a big task for 48 hours, but it'd be nice. Maybe someone could mention it to someone when they're there. The current scripting language is lacking (particularly in documentation).

    New units: Land-based troop carriers. This would make it easier to carry large amounts of troops. Differing levels, as well. Different movement, whether they can move over mountains, etc. Also, some could be invisible (like the spy and cleric), to hide the units within.

    At the end of the science, going for "future cultural 23" is kinda boring and annoying that it comes up. Add a science that converts science into gold, like Capitalization turns production into gold.

    Like "Fortify" and "Sleep", add a command to tellt he unit to wait out the turn. For instance, a settler wants to settle on a river. But, he only needs one move to gain the ground. The settler can't settle until the next move. "Sleep" will cause him to be forgotten the next turn. Make a command like "at ease" or something to mean "chill until the next turn".

    I think that's all I can think of for now.
  • I suppose that's why they take a subset of all entrants, and the 48 hours is in a secure setting. Bet they don't publish the changes! Still sounds like fun tho. I look forward to the results and hearing reports from the contestants.

  • And the lack of fussy laws is also the reason for the ridiculous sprawl, the two-mile-an-hour gridlock commutes, the decision by several high-tech companies to not expand in Atlanta until it starts to control its development and stop sprawl, and the most rapidly deteriorating air quality in the US.

    Seems Atlanta could use a few fussy laws.
  • Activision might have spirited away the Civ name, but the overall quality of AC over CTP is Sid's very sweet revenge. AC has very nice big icons for selecting units, CTP has this miniscule MFC-based interface at the very bottom of the screen. Diplomacy in AC actually consists of intelligent complete sentences, the chinese-menu quality of it is far less evident. Every single advance has a highly relevant and cogent quotation behind it. The effects of projects actually make sense. And just *listen* to AC, the music and sound effects are eerie, very sci-fi. This is what I call "production value", when a game feels like it all fits together. CTP on the other hand looks and feels slapped together, the interface especially so.

    I think Sid sleeps well at night now. But the person to credit is really Brian Reynolds, who is responsible for most of Civ II and AC.
  • Unless these participants have a particular bug in mind, is this really practical?
    The source code must be very large, and I doubt even if you were able to stay awake the whole 48 hours that you'd really be able to contribute something really useful.
    Might get lucky and spot a few nasty and obvious innefficiencies I suppose, but I don't really buy it.
    On the other hand, you could come prepared with a bitmap for a new logo or something like that...

    Another option, is maybe their developers aren't that good and need a lot of pointers? :-)
  • "All the other kings said it was daft to build a castle in the swap, but I built it all the same. Just to show 'em." (Sorry, I had to)

    This contest may seem bad at first, but how is it any different than working for a software company? They only pay you so much per year but stand to make a great deal of money off of the software they sell. I think this contest is a great idea on Loki's part.

    And I imagine that most of the people who enter are going to do so, at least in part, to make the game better through their efforts.
  • Scott Myers' "Effectice C++" and "More Effective C++" may be of some use to more advanced C++ programmers.

    I agree with most of what you said. I have to say, though, that Effective C++ is a great book even for newbie C++ coders. It covers lots of basic C++ principles, on the order of "Use cout and cin instead of stdio," that IMHO every user of g++ should know.


  • Imagine if someone said to you, "you're a damn good programmer. I want you to spend some time doing some programming for us. No we won't pay you, but you might get a decent computer out of it and we get to keep your code and sell it."
    I don't have as much of a problem with this. Last I heard, when you write a program and get paid for doing so (in other words, it's part of your job description to write this program), the company that paid you owns the copyright on the code and can redistribute and/or sell as they wish. I had a rather rude awakening to this fact several years ago.

    On the money that is involved in this project... Loki isn't asking you to provide a complete rewrite of their product, their asking for hacks. For the amount of time that I would be likely to code for this project (a couple weeks of part time work), a $4-5k computer seems a very reasonable pay.

  • by Skeezix ( 14602 ) <jamin@pubcrawler.org> on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:14AM (#1675760) Homepage
    While this contest is cool in the sense that a better game will be produced, and those who enjoy hacking will get a shot at some cool work and the chance to win something, this should not be viewed as a charity or embracing Open Source on the part of Loki or Activision. The source code doesn't get out since the contest is held in a secure location. All they have to do is give away a computer, and they get 1440 man-hours of hacking by the elite. Pretty darn good deal for them if you ask me.

    --Jamin Philip Gray

  • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @09:36AM (#1675761)
    IANAL, but it seems to me...

    That this is probably illegal as it amounts to hiring people to do work without paying them. It depends on the state they are in, etc. In California you'd never get away with this :-)

    If they don't actually pay at least minimum wage for the duration of the "contest", they probably can't claim ownership of what the contestants produce, especially if they plan to release them as part of a commercial product.

    In many states it's hard to give up your rights to this kind of thing, so even if they have the "contestants" sign away their lives on some contract, there may be laws that override any such contract provisions, and provide fertile ground for any number of lawsuits.

  • wouldn't a contestant need some time to look over the code before finding something to 'fix' or being able to add new features?

    The Simple DirectMedia Layer [devolution.com] is used for CivCTP, you can check out the source [devolution.com].

    Too bad I'm more into Perl :)

  • Im suprised more comapnies aren't doing that. They really should hire the winners. It's a much better way of seeing someones abilities than looking at some worthless paper. Would you rather have someone that can code faster and better than anyone else on your staff or someone who should be able to code faster than anyone else on your staff?

    I hope we see more of this in the future.

    "I'm not gonna say anything inspirational, I'm just gonna fucking swear a lot"
  • This has been tried before-- and sometimes it works. Star Control II scoured the internet (such as it was in those days) for talented MOD programmers. As a result they had some of the most creative music of their time.

    In more recent history, Total Annihilation recruited scores of people from the Internet to help design maps. Some of them are quite good.

    It's not exactly Open Source, but it's still in the spirit of large-scale collaborative development-- and it often pays off.

  • by ChronosX ( 18644 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @11:21AM (#1675765)
    I'm going to give up my privileges to moderate the comments for this article to say a public "Thank You" to Scott for taking the time to respond.

    I think he presented the pertinent points quite well, so I won't go over them again. Suffice to say that I believe people are being way to critical of Loki on this issue.

    Yes, the situation isn't a perfect mesh with the Open Source ideals. They aren't releasing the code to the world so that everyone can have a crack at improving the game or possibly learn from examples. This is far better than nothing. It looks like it would be a lot of fun too.

    It's just a shame that I don't know C++ well enough to have a chance to be one of the thirty. Such is life.

    ... Back to my original point. Thanks again Scott. You've really improved the image of Loki in my mind.
  • I take your point, but I think they're going to release the Update to CTP for free. So, Loki arn't going to make money on this one, but People who have bought CTP will get more out of it.
  • The biggest problem with this is that it requires you to go to Atlanta. How many people with jobs that won't let them away for the better part of a week to fly across the country for the purpose of playing won't be able to participate?

  • CTP is a slow game...

    What do you mean, "slow". It's turn-based, so how fast could it be?

    ...with serious bugs...

    I only came across one bug (and I'm not sure it was: Wonders didn't play the movie from the CD. But they played fine right after the install, so I may have done something wrong. In any case, this wasn't a "serious" bug.

    ...that is barely playable on a Celeron 300 w/ 64 MB.

    My 350 ran just fine--and I was running multiple Netscape windows, email, compilers, etc on other desktops.

    All this for a 2D game that would have been revolutionary in the late 80's.

    Why does a game need to be revolutionary to be worth buying and playing? In any case, I'm sick of 3D shoot-em-ups (speaking of revolutionary in the late 80's, look at the latest Wolfenstein clone: Quake II or III or whatever that drivel is up to).
    Put Hemos through English 101!
    "An armed society is a polite society" -- Robert Heinlein
  • > I missed the space-bar means chill. Nice feature, would have been nice to document it.

    Its been in there since Civ1, which means its been in _every_ game since the beginning. Complaining of a lack of documentation on such an elderly feature is like complaining that Q3 didn't document that in the default config, you can fire by using the left mouse button.

    Anyways, now you know, so you can enjoy the game a little more :-)

  • by chandoni ( 28843 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @10:00AM (#1675771) Homepage
    Freeciv Hack 2000 [freeciv.org]

    Make your contribution to Civilization! No, not all civilization, but rather you have the chance to take part in our Freeciv Hack 2000 contest to improve Freeciv. Recent improvements include more races and nations, city build lists, and the addition of more CivII rules (paratroopers, more terrain specials). Other improvements such as GUILE scripting, improved AI, hex maps, and stacked combat are being developed. (Read our mailing list archives [complete.org] for more info.)

    What is Freeciv Hack 2000? It's a special contest in cooperation with an international term of developers, where you can show off your Linux (and BSD, commercial Unix, BeOS, Java, even Windows) hacking skills to everybody...and win prizes to boot! First prize is the ego gratification of getting your name in the PEOPLE file.

    Here's how it works: download the source from ftp.freeciv.org [freeciv.org] and get to hacking. Everybody with a C compiler will be chosen. If you're chosen, you can show up to our hackfest, which will conveniently be held on your own computer!

    Any and all changes and improvements worthy of improving Freeciv (and, by extension, civilization as a whole) will be included in the CVS snapshots and new public releases starting with 1.8.2. So what are you waiting on? Download the source and get hacking!


  • it might not be on Linux but Alpha Centauri might be the greatest game ever created. I don't even try and start new games now, knowing that if I do the next 3-4 of my days will go without sleep, food, shelter, and the other bear necessities of life. Some things are more dangerous than crack.
  • by redwolf ( 31023 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:47AM (#1675773)
    "Flame On!"
    I can't believe people are complaining that Loki's prize
    isn't big enough or doesn't cost enough to 'make it worth my time.'

    Here's my advice: If the prize offered isn't big enough... DON'T ENTER!
    But please, stop the complaining.

    "Flame Off!"
    Thanks to Johny Storm and the Fantastic 4.
  • Jaban, is that you?

    Yeah, I hate it when sites get slashdotted. Perhaps there should be a mirror for all relevant stories. Transfer the site entirely (wouldn't be hard), and then post the mirror alongside the original story link.

    I'd be willing to host just about anything that got slashdotted. I'm sure my server could handle the horde.

  • CTP is a slow game with serious bugs that is barely playable on a Celeron 300 w/ 64 MB.

    I agree, I was a bit disappointed when I tried to load it onto my K6-166 with 32MB. HOWEVER, when I added 64MB (for a total of 96), I could not believe the performance I was getting! There is almost no lag, and after installing the movies on the hard drive, the entire playing experience is very enjoyable.

    As to the bugs, there are some significant problems. I have had frequent crashes (thank God for the save feature) At this time, and this may not solve anything, but I am reformatting my hd, and switching from RedHat to Debian in the hopes of creating a more stable environment.

    All in all, I say it's worth the $40 bucks, not to mention supporting a Linux developer leaves me with a nice, warm feeling. :) Keep up the good work Loki, and keep those patches coming!
  • I've never played any other version of Civ than the original one, but at least in that one you could press space to tell a unit to "chill" until the next turn....
  • by Alphix ( 33559 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:09AM (#1675777) Homepage
    Im not sure why or if it's just slow.....anyway...here's the text on the page if thats all you want (and the server keeps crawling).

    Loki Hack 1999

    Make your contribution to Civilization! No, not all civilization, but rather you have the chance to take part in our Loki Hack 1999 contest to improve our Linux port of Civilization: Call to Power. (Then again, by making Civilization better, you can make civilization better, too. You get the idea.)

    What is Loki Hack 1999? It's a special contest in cooperation with Activision, Inc., the Atlanta Linux Enthusiasts, and the Atlanta Linux Showcase, where you can show off your Linux hacking skills to everybody...and win prizes to boot! First prize is a dual-processor screamer of a machine, running Linux, of course.

    Here's how it works: apply to enter below and tell us about yourself. Thirty participants will be selected based on experience and involvement in Linux development--strong C++ skills are a must--and chosen participants will be notified via e-mail. Then, if you're chosen, you can show up to our invitation-only hackfest, which will run for 48 hours in a secure setting, on October 11-13, 1999 at the Atlanta Linux Showcase at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

    Any and all changes and improvements worthy of improving Civilization: Call to Power (and, by extension, civilization as a whole) will be included in an upcoming special-edition update for the game. The best of the best will receive that beast of a computer. So what are you waiting on? Fill out the form below and get hacking!
  • For an abit BP6 motherboard + 2 celeron processors youre looking at :
    mobo = $130
    celeron (2 @ 450Mhz) = $ 90 x 2
    Add a box ($50) and a few RAM chips, hard drive etc, should not go beyond $600-700.
    A new developer or beta tester on the other hand..
  • video cards are dirt cheap. you get tridents for $30 max. its not that big a deal to get a box under $600. i have a box which cost $560 sitting under my desk with 2 celerys.
  • Once you have read an 'introductory' C++ book (try ACCU [accu.org] for some good reviews). I would recommend that you join ACCU. Their publications are excellent and their subscriptions are very cheap (approx GBP 15.00 per year).

    Then read "The C++ Programming Language 3rd Edition" by Bjarne Stroustrup. (ISBN 0-201-88954-4) It's quite challenging and is absolutely essential for professional C++ programmers. I can quote the ISBN because I'm meant to be working on a C++ program at the moment, so the book is on my desk.

    Don't underestimate the length of time it takes to become a C++ programmer. It is a huge, rich, sophisticated language, and well worth the effort of learning.
  • That this is probably illegal as it amounts to hiring people to do work without paying them. It depends on the state they are in, etc. In California you'd never get away with this :-)

    I am also not a lawyer. However, I think that the arguement you are making is a reletively new 'legal theory' that has not been tested in the court room. As far as I know, only one case that has used this arguement; and it has not gone to trial yet. If you know of any cases where this arguement has prevailed, please cite the case.

    Also, how is this any different than you sending in a patch to Red Hat for their rpm software. If Redhat uses it, they do not pay you yet they make money off the improvement.

    Also, the winner is getting a computer system for 48 hours of 'work'. If you divide the cose of the computer by 48, you will find that it is over the minimum wage.

  • wish it would be possible to bump M. Scott Draeker post up to 10 (i would surely have done it had i been assigned the job of moderator),IMNSHO this is a great contest,well,i admit my post is pretty much content free,normaly,i wouldn't have posted but my back would have been on fire if i hadn't posted.
  • CTP, at least from what I played, isn't a good game at all, regardless of it's speed or bugs. How about if instead we petition Loki to petition Firaxis to get them to release Alpha Centauri's code, and bring a REAL Sid Meyer game to Linux.

  • Why you should participate

    i don\'t own the game. i barely know c++. you really shouldn\'t pick me!

    Yup, yup!
  • I seem to have been a little hasty with my last post. I meant to say:

    I can't believe it! I think Loki just found the most cost effective mode of software development
    imaginable! They get hundreds of improvements on their port for the cost of a (nice) computer! Why
    didn't anyone think of this before!? What a way to harness a bunch of huge egos into doing their bidding...

    But anyways, I still think it's a heck of a way to get your software fixed. Has anyone heard of this sort of thing happening before?
  • by Analogue Kid ( 54269 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:10AM (#1675787) Homepage
    I can't believe it. I think Loki just found the most cost effective mode of software development imaginable! They get hundreds of improvements on their port for the cost of a (nice) computer! Why didn't anyone think of this before. What a way to harness a bunch of good egos into doing their bidding...
  • This isn't flame bait. This is this guy's opinion. It does seem like a way to take advantage of programmers and get some free marketing attention for loki.
  • Yeah, except for the 29 losers that get, what, a free t-shirt? Is that minimum wage?
  • You should in general avoid any programming book which includes the phrase "in 21 days" in the title. The Association of C and C++ Users [accu.org] provides a book review [accu.org] section, it should be able to help you find a good C++ book.
  • I don't think the deal is as sweet as you make it out to be. It will take the participants a certain amount of time to get up to speed on source that they've never seen before. I don't think you can really view this in terms of man-hours.

    The work will be included as a special update to the game. I think the chance of any hacker making any significant improvement after most (all?) of the coding has already been done is slight. What they need is people who are familiar with the guts (i.e. employees) to analyze bottlenecks.

    Don't get me wrong. This is a cool idea, but I don't think Loki is getting much "for free."

  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @08:14AM (#1675792)
    But doesn't it seem as if Loki will be getting a lot more out of this than the cost of a "dual processor Linux box"?

    I have a contest idea! If you are an 31337 h4x0r, I will allow you to write key modules of my software for me, which I will then sell at enormous profit to me! The winner will receive this attractive T-shirt!

    I also have some fine swampland real estate to discuss with you...

  • A few days to learn another one ? Maybe if we're talking about pascal-c-fortran and related languages, where the differences are mostly syntactical. C++ is a complex multiparadigm language. Yes, you may learn the syntax and continue your present practices in the language, but have you learnt the spirit of the language ? I would say that you have not.

    Here's a challege: Learn to write good Common Lisp or Prolog in a few days.

  • Well, with C++ you're not wasting your time. Many companies want employees that know C++ and C++ is not going away any time soon, so it would be irresponsible for me to say that don't learn C++. C++ is probably one of the most used languages today, the other two are Java and VB. Perl is also widely used.

    My definition of "better" is subjective; for some tasks C++ is very good, and for some tasks it sucks. If you need the maximum efficiency combined with portability (e.g. games) then C++ is hard to beat. If you want to write programs that are easily extended (i.e. have plugins or some other way to add functionality, e.g. emacs) then C++ isn't that good, there's a lot of red tape involved. Also writing safe code in C++ is harder than in many languages, which is the main reason to use other languages. Starting C++ you will have to spend a significant amount of time debugging, since C++ doesn't check for array bounds, memory leaks, invalid pointers etc. and it's very easy to miss an error when debugging. However, there is software that can help you debug.

    There's an existing efficiency fetish that efficiency makes up for everything else. When someone says that language Y is safer, has GC, etc. then the language X zealot dismisses all this with: "but X is more efficient", even if the difference isn't noticeable. I personally disagree with this view. In many cases producing reliable functional software quickly is more important than attaining maximum efficiency.

    For the better languages: Smalltalk, Dylan and Common Lisp for instance (at least Dylan and CL have free compilers for Linux). All of them can be compiled to native code and are quite efficient when the programmer knows what he is doing. Dylan has a more conventional syntax than the two others. I've also heard good things about python. I guess this depends on the application area you're interested in... I personally like Common Lisp; it seems to be a mature well thought out language, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Like I said it depends on the application area, you can always find an area where these don't work as well as some other language, but there's no such thing as a perfect language (CL comes close though ;)).

  • by TimoT ( 67567 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @04:02PM (#1675795) Homepage

    You don't develop those in a hurry. It took me a few years, but now I know the language inside and out and don't need the reference-books. Of course, now I'm moving to better languages (the dynamic ones)... I wish I had moved to them earlier, since C++ has a lot of problems in dynamic applications. I still have to use C++ for work though.

    Strong C++ skills also include strong programming skills and those take a few years as well. The only thing that can make a good programmer is _experience_. Now looking back a few years, when I thought that I was a good programmer, the code looks like crap, a few years from now the code I write now will look like crap. There's always room for improvement.

    I think the point where you really are good with language is when you've written something bigger with it (including design, my bigger project was around 20 KLOC). When the total lines of code you've written in that language is around 100000 then you should pretty much know it. I've written way more than that in C++. My point is that you can't become a good C++ programmer in 21 days, or even 21 weeks. Maybe you learn enough to work for a company in desperate need for new programmers, but not well enough to write well-designed C++.

    It's not a bad start, but don't expect to get good without a lot of practice. If you already know how to program, then you may learn C++ a lot faster. I made the mistake of learning C++ as the first serious language and it probably slowed my learning down a lot. Had I learned a simpler language well-enough first, I would probably have learned C++ faster. The size of the language and the amount of idioms (small coding tricks, the C++ way of doing things) in C++ is overwhelming.

    To seriously learn C++ I suggest that you learn OOA/D (good code requires good analysis of the problem and good design !) from, for instance, Rumbaugh's or Jakobson's books (I don't like Booch). For the small C++ tricks there's Coplien's book on C++ idioms (can't remember the exact name). The book "Design Patterns: Elements of reusable object-oriented software" is one of the classics of OOP. Scott Myers' "Effectice C++" and "More Effective C++" may be of some use to more advanced C++ programmers. You learn most of these things with enough practice, but why learn through trial-and-error (like I did), when the books can give you a head start and spare you of the worst.

  • Maybe if the contestants concentrated on a small part of it, such as AI or some scripted events, they could get more out of it. THay way, they wouldn't need to study the whole code, just some small parts of it.
  • by slag187 ( 70401 ) <geoffNO@SPAMzorched.net> on Friday September 17, 1999 @09:07AM (#1675797) Homepage
    How many lines of code does CTP have? I really don't know, but this is a significant piece of work here. The contestants will have 48 hours to compete in this thing.

    My point being, it's going to take them most of the time just to read through the code to get a good grasp of how the system works. It will be the first time they see the header files, etc so they'll have to figure out what functions and classes do what and what they need to be passed, etc.

    For this to be impressive, they would have to get the code and then have at least a week . . . then we would have some real bug fixes and imporvements. As is, this is just a publicity stunt.
  • i like the idea of sponsoring a hack contest for civilization. this is a very cool idea that will no doubt get some very, very cool improvments to the game. the only thing that disappoints me is that the contest is only open to thirty participants. but, then again, you have to put them somewhere and i guess that the atlanta linux expo is as good a place as any. i particularly like the idea of locking the participants away for a 48hour hacking run. will jolt be supplied?
  • Damn,

    Can i get in on this one?

    Also we will be giving away.
    1 2X CD-Rom
    1 dx266 w/board 8 megs, local vesa bus
    14 inch goldstar DIGITAL monitor
    and a plethora of Encyclopedia Win CD's

  • I'm really happy a closed source company like them would at least expose a part of their source to the "greater unwashed" in the hopes of getting some good programming ideas. I'm glad OpenSource is starting to sink in to the commercial sector, it validates some key points :-)
  • But that was a few mins ago, ages in Internet time ;-)

    Anyways, it's just an entry form. They randomly select people who have entered to be allowed to participate in the whole "hack" contest. Winner gets SMP (^2) Linux machine (Leeenoooks, not Lynucks). Graphics heavy content on the page, and it renders improperly in Opera :-/
  • It's free, it's open, it has a robust client-server architecture and a good AI engine.
    Furthermore, there are ports for OS/2, *BSD, BeOS, Amiga, etc.
    And I don't miss any features that CivCTP has. If you say isometric presentation, I have to say that the isometric presentation is very bad for my eyes (I have a rare eye-disease), so I prefere the plain 2D. I am afraid one day freeciv might go isometric, which will make it unusable for suckers with my same illness. But the good point about open source is that I have a chance to at least try to change it to my willing.

  • "...this is your unique opportunity to glance at the marvels of our Windows 2000 sources! Imagine, you will have the chance to join the developers of the greatest software company in the world and add your improvements to the greatest OS in the world. For 2 hours it's yours! And you could win a copy of Windows 2000, Office 2000 and Visual J++2000!
    Where else would you want to go today?"
  • I think the question you are asking is fairly straight-forward and deserves a corresponding answer, rather than a bibliography or a lecture about how you'll never be a decent C++ programmer until you've fulfilled a certain number of specific criteria, bla, bla, bla...


    No, this is not a bad start to the subject.
    In fact I regard it as a very concise, well-written and highly understandable start to the subject of the C++ programming language.

    It is not, however, (and doesn't propose to be) a guide to good programming practice and theory in general.
  • WOW!
    Almost $ 40.00 Value! I might even throw in a copy of KKND that is buggy with my (new) card....

    Lucky you didn't think of it 1st though ... -2 karma....
  • It's unlikely Georgia has the ridiculous restrictions you are describing. Lack of fussy laws like that is part of the reason for the incredible hi-tech economic boom in Atlanta.
  • I don't think they are looking for Design improvements. More like Bug/Stability/Performance improvements. X11 is a hog dog. It wasn't designed to play games very well.

  • Just one question about policy in regards to creating the above setup. Where is the video card? Isn't that really important.
  • by slashdot-terminal ( 83882 ) on Friday September 17, 1999 @09:23AM (#1675810) Homepage
    To address some of these complaints:
    1. The game is slow
    1.1. The code might be inefficient
    1.1.1. The contest may address this by weeding out the bad portions of the code and allowing the better parts to come out and the best to survive
    1.1.2. The code is not optimized correctly for the processor. Most code for linux systems is set for 486 target architectures The exception to this are things like pgcc/some of the egcs flags, Mandrake, etc however I would still advocate software to be compatable with the 486 style I don't want to be forced into an upgrade because "The world moves on..."
    1.2. The current config for the hardware is in conflict
    1.2.1. Many programs have the potential to conflict with particular configs. some corel apps have conflicted with recent or experimental designs
    1.2.2. Overclocking of the processor Processor intensive operations are very able to vause exceptions that may be getting caught in some kind of exception manager that is taking up something like 30% of the Celeron hence causing slowdown.
    2. Needing a computer
    2.1. Avaibility
    2.1.1. It seems that most individuals cannot buy an SMP enabled machine from their local computer store (compusa, radioshack, bobslocalcomputeremporium)
    2.2. To code?
    2.2.1. Not unless you code something like your own version of a CTP similar app with 500Mb or source and tons of time intersive operations
    2.2.2. Need to program a device driver that uses hardware exclusively found on a new computer Usually open docs take care of this
    2.3. To play CTP or other like games on
    2.3.1. Kind of defeats the purpose and wastes the cause of efficiency.
    3. Altruism
    3.1. The company is hard up
    3.1.1. Perhaps because they produce crappy games they need help right where they need it (in their wallet)
    3.2. Their programmers are all stupid
    3.2.1. They are testing the waters to find new people or to shame their current ones In that case it would be most beneficial to do a good job and a nice career can be yours
    3.2.2. Programs that need to have the likes of Einstein to work on them are just plain wrong and perhaps hurt human intellecutal ability to accomplish
    3.3. You like giving to the first person who asks
    3.3.1. A typical tactic to anyone who has ever done anything that involves free or reduced services of any form It is really bad form to refuse a person who initially had your help when someone new comes along You establish report with people that you serve with and make the person you helped grateful
    4. A Job at the host company
    4.1. Sucking up
    4.1.1. Nice especially if you want to seem selfless (ok not totally they are giving out a computer to the winner)
    4.1.2. People remember the person who gives them nice comments without seeming to be giving insincere flattery. This would be a nice time to show them that you are selfless enough and dedicated to their vision to do what they want and need
    4.2. Show level of competence
    4.2.1. Competent people have an increasing need of physical evidence to prove who they are and what they do a nice directed project.
    4.2.2. It's the type of competence that is directed to the job
    5. Curiousity
    5.1. Efficiency (see above)
    5.1.1. Answer the burning question (why is this so slow?). Is there a better way to do this?
    5.2. Obtaining a good strategy to win
    5.2.1. Cheat codes are usually embedded in games and are not all totally obvious at first glance These codes override the things that make you loose and conversely make you win.
    5.2.2. If there is a function create_big_scary_monster_with_sharp_teeth(player)
    some code here...
    perhaps you can defeate his logic and then win that way. This is usually how we win games of this sort look for patterns and then reduce those complex patterns.
    6. You hate bugs
    6.1. Don't play the game
    6.1.1. I have programs that have been on my computer that have for various reasons failed me I usually take this as a personal problem and then just use something else.
  • If they owned the source, they would give it away. They and activision are on the line by doing this. Give them credit.

    Everyone here attacks for the sake of attacking (including myself)...but there should be limits :|
  • It is an interesting idea, but I wonder how many improvements you can really expect to see. There's only 48 hours, and (I have no experience with this sort of thing, but... ;)) wouldn't a contestant need some time to look over the code before finding something to 'fix' or being able to add new features? I guess if they're just looking for Linux-specific fixes then it probably wouldn't be so bad...interface-type stuff as opposed to gameplay things. hmmmmm....
  • by the sounds of it, not much work will be done. Why? 1. First you've got to understand the source code. this takes time - you dont' have to understand all of it, but enough to be productive.

    2. by the time you've understood a piece of source code, you've got to find the bugs, and fix them.

    3. after 1 and 2 are done, there isn't go to be a lot of time for many bug fixes, and other non bug fix improvements to the game.

    48 hours is way too short.. even for a seasoned C hacker...

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst