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These days, games often have multiplayer portals with chat channels & match making system for the multiplayer aspects of the game.

An example would be battle.net, magic the gathering online's chat rooms, halo etc.

Now, for the rest of us indie gamers that probably won't be able to spend much development effort on creating those back-ends from scratch, what options do we have?

I was thinking of something along the line of using IRC as the backbone of the system. From there, implement the "community" aspect, player tracking, game tracking and match making on top of that. It seems to be what the old battle.net (brood war era) used to be.

The question is, is this easy to do? What does it take to run an irc server, and I suppose this also requires writing an IRC client (which seems to have been done a lot these days?)?

If there are other ways as well (say, an open framework for this stuff), let's hear them too.

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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I wouldn't do this with IRC. IRC is straightforward and simple, but in the end is nothing but chat and some management commands, which is relatively simple to build yourself. I think EVE uses IRC for some in-game community stuff, but most games do not, despite looking similar.

There are a few APIs available to provide match-making and other social/community features. GameSpy is one, Steamworks also provides the functionality. OpenFeint and Scoreloop exist for mobile platforms and provide some social features (but I don't see an obvious mention of match-making in either).

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Recently: Gamespy is discontinued, OpenFeint no longer exists. –  Suma Nov 20 '13 at 12:37
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Typically, if you're on the PC, you use Steamworks for a smaller game. Half the reason the indie game scene is rocking on the PC is because of Steam and Steamworks. Steam is an excellent sales platform and Steamworks is basically the best you can get.

If you're on a console, then the console manufacturer provides this functionality through Xbox Live/PSN/whatever.

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I am from Skiller, we've developed SDK that enables developers to add social layer to their new or existing games, use turnbased or real time tools to make the games multiplayer, or generate more revenues using built in store. The SDK is for free, and you don't need to worry about server hosting, making sure the server is scalable etc... We take care of that. Try it out on www.skiller-games.com and tell me what you think.

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Site does not seem to exist any more. Or does it? –  Suma Nov 20 '13 at 12:38
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We heard you! Long story short, we demoed our platform at the SV IGDA event at Google the other day, and somebody was mentioning that they have seen posts here on the forum about this problem.

We have been working on a multi-player platform that you might find interesting. You can see our project at www.16cubes.com -- we are providing a simple javascript layer to do peer to peer communication. It is somewhat based on the Comet principle, and we have plans to move to using websockets as it becomes a bit more standardized. On the other hand, we are providing some features off the shelf .. like automatic opponent matching, game chat, facebook friends one-click invitation etc.

We have a demo tic-tac-toe, you can probably get a better idea if you see it. And yes, you can play anonymously too. No registration required, if you don't want. There's less than 10 javascript API's you need to code against, and its available at www.16cubes.com/documentation

We are actively looking for feedback, so let us know both good and bad

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Site no longer exits. –  Suma Nov 20 '13 at 12:38
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