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What is UGENE?

UGENE is a project dedicated to creating open-source games. Our focus is on creating fun and original multi-player games that don't require a powerful computer. Our current catalog includes Squee (a board game) and Five Thousand (a dice game). [Read More]


2006-Jun-01: Design Progress Made

Leon and I got together on Tuesday (May 29th) evening and got some good design work done. Today I'll be updating the design documents to reflect our work. At this point, the next step is to start the Squee game prototype.

Update: A major overhaul of the Eclipse Guide. It is now up-to-date, contains more useful information (like how to use the Eclipse plugins) and I've added JUnit to the plugin list.

2006-May-29: Design Work Begins Anew

Work on Squee stalled for a few months there. However, now we're back on track. The CVS server we rely on to do our work is back online (thanks SourceForge!), and real life has decided to give us a break in the workload.

Hence, we will now begin designing and programming Squee again, working toward our next release. Progress should be fairly rapid, since we've already gotten over a lot of the tougher hurdles. Stay tuned for more updates!

Update: I've updated the Screenshots section to add a few pictures of the Alpha1 release of Squee.

Update: I've also updated the Developer Documentation in order to reflect the new way that SourceForge's CVS service functions. All developers will need to re-checkout their local copy of Squee. I also fixed some links that got broken.

2006-Mar-06: Squee Alpha1 Released!

The very first release of Squee, Alpha1, is now available as of 2006-Mar-06.

Squee is a computerized board game that chronicles the journey of 2 to 6 university students as they perform research and attempt to pass their classes. What makes these students different from any other? They come from a planet called E, have incredibly advanced technology, and perform their research on alien planets! The game will offer Internet multi-player support and it will run on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

The Alpha1 release is a technical preview that offers very limited functionality. At the moment, it is possible to start a Lobby server, and for clients to join the Lobby. However, it is not yet possible to play the game.


The UGENE Team

2006-Feb-24: First Alpha Release Being Prepared Now

A lot of progress has been made in the last month and a half. Squee's lobby server, and the client to connect to it, have been completed. They are ready right now to be released, but I'd like to delay a little bit to improve the robustness. Look for the first Alpha release next month. Screenshots will also be made available. The lobby is where the host can create games, and where players can join games. So far there is no way to actually play a game, but we're working on that...

Design work has been done on the actual Squee game (which will allow players to play the game), and several team members will be meeting again next weekend to further the design. Our work so far can be seen in the developer documentation.

2006-Jan-11: Importing Squee into Eclipse

I added a step-by-step guide on importing Squee's code into Eclipse.

2006-Jan-05: First Alpha Coming Soon

A lot of work on this project was done during the holiday season. The Game Lobby's client and server have both been bullet-proofed (meaning that they are now very error-tolerant), and a simple user-interface has been completed for the client. Now all that remains is completing the user-interface for the server. After that, we can publish the first Alpha of Squee. It will be a Game Lobby, where potential players can see a list of available games, and join the game they want. The game host will be able to create one or more games, fiddle with their settings, see who has joined the server and who has joined particular games, delete games, boot players off the server, etc. Since there is no game to launch from the Lobby yet, this Alpha will not be too impressive. However, it lays the groundwork for actually creating a game. By handling the game's networking capabilities first, we've tackled one of the most difficult design problems, and by comparison the rest of the project is now easier.

2005-Dec-04: Lobby Nearing Completion

With regard to the RMI problems of the last update, we've gotten over them and development has been proceeding smoothly. It turns out that the Java code we wrote was a weird bastard child of Java 1.4 and Java 1.5. I suppose that RMI is implemented differently between the two Java versions, and so our client and server couldn't communicate correctly as a result (they each had different underlying expectations?).

At this point in time, the implementation of the lobby (where the host creates new games and the other players join in) is nearing completion. It's broadly functional and thread-safe, but bullet-proofing the code and improving the GUI are going to take some time.

Unfortunately, this means that there isn't anything particularly interesting to show off yet (unless you really want to see a game lobby?). Nonetheless, we'll post some pictures when the GUI is looking nicer.

In related news, I've updated the developer documentation to include more information on downloading and building Squee from the source code.

2005-Nov-15: Progress Is Being Made

Two weekends ago a large part of the team got together, bringing a ton of laptops, and we all started building and working on the Squee project. Unfortunately, we didn't get very far because we're having trouble getting clients and servers to talk to each other using Java Remote Method Invocation (RMI). We're trying to track down the problem and are making some progress.

The networking and multi-player aspects of the game are the hardest to manage, which is why we're tackling that first. Once that's out of the way the rest of the project won't necessarily be easy, but at least it will be straight-forward.

2005-Oct-14: Work Begins Anew

Hello again dear reader, I'm back from Europe. I've caught up on all that I missed, and I've even managed to get over the jet lag (there's a six-hour time difference between Montreal and Paris).

I have a clever new idea to help get our volunteer developers back in action on the project. Hopefully we should be in full development soon. It's hard to say at this point when our Alpha release will be, but hopefully things will become more clear in the coming weeks.

2005-Sep-01: Temporary Work Slowdown

Unfortunately we missed our Beta-by-the-end-of-August deadline by a long shot, seeing as how our new Squee project is still not even at Alpha yet. Unfortunately, real life insists on intruding into fun hobbies like making games. I (Jonathan Benn) am taking a business trip to France for the month of September, but starting in October I'll start working on Squee again.

Thus far we've created a basic framework for running a game server (and any number of games) on a computer. The next step will be to create the client and server portions of the game itself.

One very encouraging piece of news is that even though I haven't been able to work on UGENE for the last several weeks because I've been busy writing papers for scientific conferences (they're all due in September), our project's activity percentile is still over 95% at the time of this writing! That's very encouraging because it means that people care about this project and are visiting every once in a while to see what's going on.

Once work starts again soon, I'll let you all know about progress.

2005-Jun-22: A New Direction for UGENE

The UGENE development team has chosen a new direction for the UGENE project. In the past, we were dedicating our time to creating a game engine that would allow the creation of any low-performance 2D/3D game. In doing so we came to realize a few things:

  1. We didn't enjoy creating engines very much, we would have preferred to be making games.
  2. Our game engine's overall architecture was far too inflexible to be really useful.
  3. We were not motivated enough to start over making a new engine.

In light of these painful facts, we've decided to move on and start something new. We will now start creating games instead of game engines. That's much more fun! Since we're programming in our spare time and for no money, this seems like a better option. The game engine Beta release, as well as the Five Thousand dice game, will continue to be offered through this project. However, they will just be available in the background, and will cease to be the main focus of UGENE. UGENE will cease being an acronym (standing for the User-interface GENeration Engine) and will simply become the project codename for this game-making project.

I will now describe more about our new plan. One thing we're unhappy about is how the game engine only works on Windows. We want to support Windows, Linux and OS X. This (and dangling pointers) is why we're abandoning C++ and picking up Java as our programming language. We will also be using AspectJ for some of the trickier aspects (pun intended).

Our first game project will be a new, completely original, multi-player board game called Squee. We plan on at least reaching Beta status by the end of August, so you won't have long to wait before you can try it out. I'll provide more details as the summer and the project progress. This website will also be slowly updated to reflect this dramatic new change of direction.

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