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nathanfunk

Interested in a webcam game library?

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Hi game developers! I just graduated with an M.Sc. in computer vision and am working on my own business now. A friend and I are considering writing a library for game developers to write webcam games. We've heard of the success of the Sony Eyetoy and are wondering whether webcam games are just waiting to happen on the PC. We have considerable experience with cameras, image processing, math and 3D geometry. But we have almost no experience in the game development field. We imagine that we could simplify the process for developers to write games that use webcams, but feedback from you would be *extremely* helpful. So I've got specific questions for you: 1. Do you think this is a good idea? 2. What advice would you give us? 3. How does interaction between library developers and game developers typically happen/work? 4. Is this too risky for a two-man company (e.g. are large businesses working on the same thing)? If you have any other comments, I'd be glad to hear them! Thanks a bunch!!! Nathan

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Quote:
1. Do you think this is a good idea?


Yes, IMHO it's a very good idea! AFAIK, there's no real, easy-to-use, free, cross-platform and open-source webcam library, so you'd have big chances for success.

Though, in my experience, there aren't many PC games that take advantage of webcam, there's also a possibility that this situation is caused by fact, that there aren't any libraries that could be effectively used by them. And on, and on, so it goes...

Quote:
2. What advice would you give us?


I know that game programmers like to use libraries that:

1. Are free.
2. Are open-source.
3. If not 1 and 2, then at least they're cheap and/or have free-trial version.
4. Have good, clean documentation and regulary updated website
5. Are actively maintained
6. Etc. :-)

So, IMHO, sticking to theese guidlines would be a good idea (but bear in mind, that there also many other common-sense rules you should obey).

Quote:
3. How does interaction between library developers and game developers typically happen/work?


Well, first developers need to know about your library - typically, when making new releases, some library developers adverties their products on forums (ie. Your Announcements here on GD). If your library is good enough, people will soon start informing other people about your product - that's very important if you want it to became widely used.

Now, if all the mentioned conditions are met, and there's game developer who would like to use some functionality he can't develop by himself, he usually googles for it. So having YourLibraryName.com/.org etc. site with sections called (and filled with apropriate content) Screenshots, Downloads, Tutorials, Examples, Documentation, About, Licensing etc. is priceless.

Typically developers take a look at them and then decide whether they will be using such an library.

Oh, and having a cool library name and logo is also very important! ;-)

Quote:
4. Is this too risky for a two-man company (e.g. are large businesses working on the same thing)?


Well, this point implies that you're going for commercial business, right? Well, I don't know any large companies that would be selling webcam library for game developers, but AFAIK, there's similiar functionality in DirectX, which is free (though not cross-platform). Also, since webcams aren't indispensable for 98-99% of current PC games, so generally developers (at least amatours) wouldn't want to invest money in an such an element (of course, assuming that they aren't making a game in which webcams play essential role).


Quote:
If you have any other comments, I'd be glad to hear them!


Have you heard about SDL? It's free, open-source, cross-platform library which aims at (game) programmers. It's very popular these days, since it's mature, stable, has good n' clean interface and documentation, there's lots of users and informations about it on the internet etc. I'm sitting at their mailing-list, and IIRC they were mentioning the need to add to SDL ability to easily interface with webcams. I'm sure they would be very grateful if you could help them implement such feature.

Btw, what are the statistics for current webcam ownership rate within PC user market?

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