Abstract

Gambit is a pure Ruby framework for building multiplayer Web games offering two key services: Game management and design tools. Gambit can manage player accounts, game hosting and joining, player histories, in-game communication systems and out-of-game notifications for in-game activities. Using pre-built game management services allows developers to skip to working on what's really important: The game itself. For that, Gambit ships with a wide assortment of standard game tools that can be customized and put to immediate use. Tools include boards of various shapes and sizes, pieces who's placement and movement behaviors can be defined in Ruby code, statistic displays, decks of cards and helper objects like “hands” and “piles”, dice and more. What's more, all tools include adjustable templates that allow game objects to handle their own display, making it trivial to assemble game interface screens. With the help of a Ruby interpreter and Gambit, game developers can write the game specific code, sprinkle in a few graphics and launch. Leave it to Gambit to manage the addicted masses of players!

Description

Games are big. According the an article published by the Washington Post this past holiday season, “Games for video consoles and PC's have become a $7 billion-a-year business.”

The art of building games has matured along with their rise in popularity. There are a huge variety of game engines available now and many companies prefer to buy a proven technology rather than start from scratch.

Even with all this growth, one area of gaming has been largely overlooked. True browser based Web gaming, no plug-ins required. This is an unfortunate oversight, because there's a huge audience available for these games. Many modern game hits require cutting edge hardware and blazingly fast Internet connections for a remotely enjoyable experience. But who doesn't have a Web browser? The server side of the story is almost as good. Ruby's probably in no danger of being tapped to run Quake IV, but, as Rails has shown, Ruby and Web applications are a good fit.

Good Web games are finally starting to appear. There are now open source offerings like BlackNova Traders and even commercial games like Evernight and Skotos Online’s strategy games. The only thing still missing was the great engine to run Web games… Until now.

Meet Gambit.

Gambit is a pure Ruby framework designed to ease the creation and maintenance any Web game developers dream up. Whether you intend to launch a massively multiplayer strategy game to rival the Civilization series or just want to add a simple little Web game featuring your products to your company's site, Gambit can get you up and running quickly and painlessly. The secret to Gambit's development assistance is really three things: A pure Ruby implementation, a ready-to-use game management system, and customizable design tools.

The first point may sound pretty insignificant to game designers, but the authors of Gambit consider it essential. Web Hosts don't like to spend hours doing abnormal installs and that may just be exactly where you need to deploy a game. Gambit embraces this. Install can be as simple as drag a copy somewhere Ruby can see it. You can even handle that over FTP. Ruby has a built in Web server, so we use that. One less dependancy to wrestle with. No databases, imaging libraries, or HTML systems required. Ruby and Gambit are all you need to build great games.

Once you're past the install, you have to start thinking about setting up player accounts, providing a means to create games, and allowing players to join and start. This is tedious coding that has little to do with what you're really building. That's exactly why Gambit will handle these messy details for you. Simply adjust settings to fit your needs, prepare game initialization code and choose a speed for game time to move at. Leave Gambit to handle the rest. You can literally be managing hundreds of games as soon as setup is complete.

Breezing through the boring parts with a little help from Gambit, you're now ready to tackle the game itself. But the helping hand doesn't end there. Gambit features a full suite of game design tools. Those tools provide a general, highly customizable framework to build your game out of. Boards, pieces, decks of cards, move histories, and more are available. Fine tune behaviors to fit your title and you'll have a playable game in record time. All of these components can display themselves using templates, so you can build the screens of your game with simple mix-and-match combinations. Styles and even the templates themselves are easily edited, so you'll have no trouble getting the exact look and feel your game needs.

Gambit helps you through the entire process of building your game, with exactly the kind of help you need each point. You're left to focus on what really matters, building a hit game title. Gambit manages the details under your guidance. Games can be assembled at such speeds, you might even find yourself with a little development time left over for the all important playing… er, testing phase.