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Are there any free/affordable systems/libraries out there for adding online features to a small PC game? (most likely, for a small primarily-Windows-based indie game)

I'm not concerned about matchmaking or online multiplayer - but I'm interested in leaderboards, and maybe slightly more advanced features, such as the upload/download of user-created-content (e.g. replays or player-created levels). Maybe even automatic updates or downloadable content?

Whilst it probably shouldn't be too hard to implement at least the very basics from scratch, it seems like a big wheel to reinvent, and a tried-and-tested system would be preferable, to reduce development time, and reduce the chance of gaping security holes. Is there anything in reach of low/no-budget indie developers?

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1  
What programming language / environment are you using? –  Hendrik Brummermann Jan 22 '11 at 16:38
    
Primarily C++, but potentially C# in the future –  bluescrn Jan 23 '11 at 1:44
    
I pitched this as a business idea to some web-hosting-guys I knew some years ago, but the business case is hard to make.. –  Jari Komppa Jan 24 '11 at 10:39
    
Yeah, it'd be cool if there was an indie equivalent of Xbox Live for this sort of thing. It'd need to be cross-platform, support many languages, and be very quick+easy to integrate. But most importantly, open enough and inexpensive enough for developers to use the service –  bluescrn Jan 24 '11 at 18:45
    
My business idea was that you get N free connections a month for a starter fee (some 20 bucks or some such), and if your game gets successful, you need to upgrade to a more premium, monthly fee package. The starter fee is to cull the accounts so that 99.999% of the accounts are not just sitting idle.. –  Jari Komppa Jan 25 '11 at 7:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Two options right now (besides roll-your-own)

OpenFeint is in alpha/beta for WP7 (so Silverlight/XNA would be available too). However the signup hasn't progressed beyond an email saying it's coming soon.

OpenXLive is an open version of the XBL leaderboard system. It looks like it's XNA but there are tutorials for Silverlight as well so you can use both.

Both systems have leaderboards, achievements, etc. but at the time of this answer only OpenXLive is actually usable.

OpenXLive: http://www.openxlive.com/

OpenFeint: http://www.openfeint.com/

Hope that helps.

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As said, you can use Cocos Live for leaderboards. I used it with android projects (Java and C++). I have rewritten the client part in Java (100 lines). Our C++ client uses libcurl and jansson.

Cocos Live uses HTTP commands (REST + Json). So it can be implemented easily in many langages.

Cocos live pros:

  • Leaderboard server available if you don't need yours
  • Google App Engine available if you need your private leaderboard servers

Cocos live cons:

  • Not complete as OpenFeint/ScoreLoop..
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Well, it would be relatively simple for you to roll your own basic system using Google App Engine. You could implement some basic security if needed. Most likely, this is probably what you will need to do unless you find an SDK, like Steamworks, that include such a thing.

Objective-C Solution: Cocos Live is free for leaderboards. I've used it previously for an iOS project of mine. It's a stand-alone library that takes advantage of Google App Engine on it's end. They don't charge you anything until your game is really, really pushing a LOT of scores (then they'll probably ask).

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