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I would like to create an online implementation of a board game. What engines could I use to write the game and make it easily accessible to as many people as possible?

I would like it to be as widely accessible as possible, so it would be best if the user interface would run in a browser, not in a separately downloaded app. Likewise, it should be cross platform, not limited to a single platform; pure JavaScript/HTML would be best, as that would allow it to be usable on the iPad as well, though Flash or Java may be acceptable. Silverlight doesn't have the market penetration (I don't have it installed, for instance) and XNA is far too limited.

Other features that would be nice would be good chat and social features (or integration with other chat or social network systems), leaderderboard or tournament systems, and easy integration of bots to provide AI opponents in case there aren't enough human players around. Game timers, to keep people moving at a reasonable rate, would also be good. Saving game records, and allowing people to replay and review records for study, would be nice too, though I'm not expecting much as those types of features tend to only show up in purpose-built engines for games like chess or Go.

Being free/open-source software would be a big plus, so I could extend it myself, though closed or hosted solutions might be acceptable if they provide enough of the above features or provide some means for extending them.

Are there any such systems that meet my needs? Or any that are close even if not exactly matching?

Some similar systems, that don't quite meet my needs, would include:

  • Yahoo Games, which is web based, but I can't write my own games for it (or any of many similar servers in that category).
  • Volity, which is built on SVG and XMPP. It's open source, designed to be an open standard, has support for bots, etc, but it requires a separate client download, and seems not to be actively developed or used any more.
  • SuperDuperGames, which is an open source, online system for doing turn-based (play-by-mail style) games. That is, it's not live or real time, but instead you submit your moves, and wait for someone to submit theirs, within the next day or so. It's an active community, but I want something where I can play games live, not over the course of weeks or months.
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This guy has an amazing HTML5 Javascript NES emulator. He might be a good guy to ask about engines. –  Stephen Furlani Nov 5 '10 at 12:45
    
Pls have you found the right tool for this? I need it. –  tunmise fasipe Jun 30 '12 at 17:36
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closed as not constructive by Josh Petrie, Sean Middleditch, Trevor Powell, Tetrad Jan 7 '13 at 20:00

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3 Answers

I sincerely doubt that such a game engine exists. A.I. for example, is very domain specific and you probably won't find an engine that provides the A.I. you need out of the box.

Also: The interest in JavaScript by game-developers just started to increase with HTML5 and the iOS platform. Don't expect to find any mature game-engines implemented in JavaScript yet. If you want to go the JavaScript route, your best bet would probably be to implement most of the game-logic server-side and program a thin-client in JavaScript.

As already mentioned, online-games also require a client-server model in most cases. This makes it even more difficult to find an engine (one that covers both client and server software). My experience with game-engines is, that they usually cover the client-side very well but you'll have to implement most of the server-side stuff yourself. Of course you'll find software/scripts for leaderboards or online data-storage but these are usually not part of a game-engine.

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As I said, I'm looking for something close, even if it doesn't meet all of my requirements. I realize that I've listed a fairly steep list of requirements; but something close, which works in Java or Flash instead, might be acceptable, or something which I'm able to hook leaderboards into would be fine. The most important requirements are that I can easily implement an online board game, with as wide a reach as possible. The rest are "nice to have", but not necessary. –  Brian Campbell Nov 4 '10 at 20:20
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Vassal is an open-source Java engine, I believe. Might not be too difficult to port to JS/HTML5.

Aves is put out by Dextrose, but that just got acquired by Zynga, so I don't know any availability for it.

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I have developed and sponsored (the flash game version of selling) an online board game which I made in 5 days. It is called Quintarow Online.

My method was to use the development tool called Multimedia Fusion 2 which allows you to very speedily prototype game ideas. A working engine of Quintarow Online was developed in about three hours. The software has an extension which implements the quite wonderful Lacewing Networking Protocol and the server was something I custom wrote in Python using the Lacewing-Python implementation[pyLacewing. It was all a very painless experience.

That's just how I did it, you might find getting the software too expensive, or it doesnt

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