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Allegro Inspires A New Generation of Independent Developers
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Allegro Inspires A New Generation of Independent Developers

October 26, 1999 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

It Takes A Village...

There are three major mailing lists for Allegro users available at the Allegro homepage. There are also countless discussion boards across the net. Documentation and support, perhaps because of the open source policy, is plentiful for Allegro. Tutorials from users are common, with topics ranging from real-time lighting to an online Allegro hacker’s guide.

User-created library functions include a port of Michael Abrash’s Z-sorting edge-spanning polygon rendering code, an MPEG decoder, and an FLIC player. There are many utilities available as well, including quite a few sprite and tile editors.

The Allegro games themselves have created quite a following. Allegro now has a webring with over 160 sites, with quite a few dedicated exclusively to Allegro-developed titles. There is also the Allegro Game Reviews Index, which has a small stable of reviewed games.

Then there is the Allegro Game Depot, which boasts well over 200 games. Allegro users become members by contacting the webmaster and having their game evaluated. After becoming a member, the user can upload and update their Allegro games on the site. There are clear-cut categories and a search engine on the web site.

Matthew Leverton, webmaster of the Allegro Games Depot, thinks the reasons for Allegro’s popularity is pretty straightforward. "It is extremely powerful, it is extremely easy to use, it is extremely easy to port, and it is extremely cheap (free). As long as Allegro remains the above, it will be popular." Leverton seems to be banking on its popularity. Though just a depot right now, he plans on adding a multi-topic message board, adding more staff members and providing ratings and reviews for the games. He has other Allegro plans as well. "I will also be releasing a totally new website (unrelated to the AGD) geared towards the Allegro Community that I hope will become a center of information for Allegro developers and game players," Leverton tells us.

Another Allegro group is the Allegro games competition known as The Golden Keyboard. No, first prize isn’t a golden keyboard, but this does give Allegro users an opportunity to compete. "The purpose of the AGC is to encourage people to produce professional games and produce finished code under a deadline. I thought that if some motivational event was run, it might encourage people," says AGC organizer Arron Shutt. The Allegro competition gives small game developers (mostly solo) a forum to showcase their work, and to get involved in a healthy competition. A panel of judges, including Hargreaves himself, annually goes over the software and selects the best in a handful of categories. Looking towards the future, Shutt doesn’t plan on Allegro going anywhere. He is currently ironing out the speed competition, in which the contestants are given a game assignment on Friday night and are given until midnight Sunday to make the best game possible. He also plans on looking for commercial sponsorship, since he finances the annual contest by himself. The importance of small competitions should not be overlooked, says Shutt. "Finishing code is important. If I was employing a prospective games programmer, I would be interested in his ability to produce good code as well as in his qualifications. If someone is motivated enough to develop a finished game for the AGC, that is one more project they can add to their portfolio."

Overall, Allegro is the common thread that allows these different developers and programmers to connect, which in other circumstances they probably would not. The community element, Shutt says, is the main strength of Allegro. "The best part of the whole Allegro experience is people. You tend to avoid a lot of the ego-charged people and just get the ones who are out to help, or eager to learn."

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

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