Last week's Anarchy Arcade 24 hour streaming marathon went off without a hitch. Twenty-eight games were given away in total, and we all had a lot of fun playing games, listening to music, and watching videos. Next Wednesday it's all going down again on twitch.tv/AnarchyArcade. There's a whole new batch of games ready to be given out, and lots of fun to be had. So take a look at at the Twitch stream next Wednesday if you want to see Anarchy Arcade in action!
Also, there are only 9 days left in the Anarchy Arcade Kickstarter campaign! If you haven't already, check out some of the many update articles I have been posting there. Now is the time to pledge and leave a lasting impression on the Anarchy Arcade community!
Now, continuing on to the meat of this article, here are details into some of what Anarchy Arcade does behind the scenes to create 3D worlds from 2D websites & host them multiplayer, and the legal considerations that have gone into its design. You can listen to the audio, or read the transcript. The transcript also has some random screenshots of more exotic locations that have arcades built in them. They show a lot of community add-on content that Anarchy Arcade is compatible with.
3D Web, Multiplayer, and Copyrights
Generating a coherent 3D environment from a 2D web page is a complex task. Certain realities must be addressed before a good set of solutions can be implemented.
In this article I will address four of these issues specifically and the techniques that Anarchy Arcade uses to resolve them. These techniques involve various types of parsing to "understand" 2D web pages and generate coherent & functional 3D environments from them.
Further considerations must be made when using these 3D environments in single & multiplayer mode. Anarchy Arcade provides four different types of gameplay modes including private singleplayer arcades, personally hosted multiplayer arcades, community-hosted multiplayer arcades, and web-hosted arcades.
Technical restrictions are not the only type of considerations that need to be made when using these types of 3D environments in a multiplayer setting. Legal restrictions, such as copyrights, must also be a primary consideration. Anarchy Arcade addresses these issues at the very core of its design.
Anarchy Arcade generates these coherent & functional 3D multiplayer environments in the simplest and most adaptive ways possible.
Challenges of generating a 3D environment from a 2D web page
Traditional web pages are not designed to be displayed in a 3D world. In order to transform a 2D web page into a coherent 3D environment, Anarchy Arcade must be able to "understand" what is on the web page and extract specific information from it. This is called code parsing. For example, when a 2D web browser parsers the HTML code
Code: Select all
<img src="mycar.jpg" />
For example, consider making a 3D environment based on deviantArt.com. Let's think about the image search results page specifically. Wouldn't it be cool if you could just tell Anarchy Arcade a search term, and it automatically generates a functional 3D art gallery for you and your friends to walk around in? It is completely possible as long as Anarchy Arcade is able to parse the deviantArt search results page and "understand" what is on it. There are three different parsing techniques that Anarchy Arcade uses to achieve this. However, certain limitations must be considered for each technique.
The simplest solution would be to automatically grab every image used on the web page and put each one up on the wall of your virtual 3D art gallery. And then you could grab every link used on the page, and turn them into special doorways that take you to the 3D representations of other web pages. This is a very basic example of auto-parsing. It is most effective when the logic is kept general, used carefully, and only as a last resort.
The problem with auto-parsing is that 2D web pages are not designed for the 3D world. Doing something like grabbing every image used on the web page means you'll also grab things like menu icons and avatar pictures. It wouldn't make any sense to use these types of images in your 3D art gallery because you are only interested in the actual search result images. So in order to create a coherent 3D environment, Anarchy Arcade must be able to distinguish between the important images from all the other images that don't matter.
The first solution that comes into my mind is only grabbing the larger images from the search results page. That way, smaller menu icon images would be ignored. However, assuming that only large images are important is something that might not be true on other web sites. This leads us to site-specific custom-parsing.
The technique of custom-parsing uses logic that is specific to a particular website in order to "understand" what is on it. For the deviantArt example, this makes it possible to extract only the meaningful images from the search results page and use them to generate a coherent 3D environment from them. It also makes it possible to do things like grab HD versions of the images instead of the low-resolution ones, and grab the artist's name for each image, and generate a link to each artist's deviantArt profile so you could leave comments or discover more of their work. Custom parsing is extremely powerful and can be used to transform almost any 2D web page into a coherent & functional 3D environment.
The issue with custom-parsing is that it requires website-specific logic. Anarchy Arcade needs to be told how to "understand" each specific website for you to use custom-parsing on it. There's a lot of websites, and there's no way that I could write custom-parsers for all of them.
However, if you run your own website and want to have more control over the type of 3D experience that your visitors have when using Anarchy Arcade, you can generate a special script file in a language that Anarchy Arcade already understands and host it on your web-server. It's up to you how specific you want to get when defining your 3D version of your website. You could simply put a list of items and allow Anarchy Arcade to decide how to arrange them, or you could design every last detail of the 3D world your visitors will be exploring. Custom maps, addon props, everything you can imagine. All served from your website to give you complete control and provide your visitors with a unique & coherent 3D environment for them to enjoy.
Bringing it all together
It is important to understand that a 3D representation of a 2D web page might not need to take up the entire 3D environment that it's in. A web page might only require a single room for its 3D representation. Or even just one corner of a room. The 3D environments of Anarchy Arcade often have multiple websites housed in them at the same time. In Anarchy Arcade, a 3D representation of a website is called a Hub. They vary in size and design, and are generated using a careful combination of the three parsing techniques described above. In doing this, Anarchy Arcade has addressed the four major issues with generating a 3D environment from a 2D web page.
Issue 1: Traditional websites are not designed to be 3D environments.
Solution: Parse the 2D web pages & extract the important information needed to generate coherent & functional 3D environments.
Issue 2: Auto-parsing can only do so much.
Solution: Make careful use of auto-parsing so as not to create incoherent results, keep the logic general, and only use it as a last resort.
Issue 3: Custom-parsing is effective, but must be designed specifically for each different website.
Solution: Implement custom-parsers as addon-scripts so that support for new sites can be added in the future.
Issue 4: It is impossible for me to create a custom-parser for every website in existence.
Solution: Provide the community with the tools needed for them to write their own custom-parsers for their own favorite websites as user add-on scripts.
Using these environments in single & multiplayer mode
Anarchy Arcade has four different types of gameplay modes, each with the same style of user experience for a friendly and consistent feel whether you're playing single or multiplayer.
Anarchy Arcade is all about you and what you like to do on your computer, so singleplayer mode is where users are expected to start off. From there you start to build your Anarchy Arcade media collection and venture out into multiplayer in hopes of earning big rewards and advancing your Anarchy Arcade career.
These are private personal environments that are used as personal 3D desktops or media arcades. Just like all other gameplay modes, you can spawn absolutely anything you want in your singleplayer arcade. This includes games, movies, YouTube videos, shortcuts to programs you have installed on your PC, family pictures from your My Pictures folder; absolutely anything. You can either keep them private for personal use only, or, if you want, you could host your personal 3D desktop in multiplayer mode and invite your friends over to explore all of your stuff right along side of you.
Personally Hosted Multiplayer Arcades
Using your personal computer no longer has to be a personal experience. In fact, depending on how awesome you are, it can be very enjoyable for your friends to come over and hang out in your personal 3D desktop. They can listen to your music with you, watch your favorite YouTube videos, check out your favorite games & movies, and watch you walk around all day from program to program as you launch the various things you use your computer for on a daily basis.
Visiting your friend's personal 3D desktop is a lot like stepping inside of their head and experiencing what they like to do on their PC. And it's not a passive experience either. If your friend allows it, you can create your own little corner in his virtual world that has all your favorite stuff in it too. If you have a lot of friends and you're always hanging out with each other, larger community-hosted multiplayer arcades might be more your style.
Community Hosted Multiplayer Arcades
These are dedicated servers aimed at providing an enjoyable experience to an entire community of players rather than just a handful of friends. Anybody can setup a dedicated server for their community and customize the experience that it provides. Since these types of arcades are geared towards larger groups, they contain media items and shortcuts that have a broad appeal to their community rather than files that are spawned from somebody's personal documents folder. However, just like all other gameplay modes, you can fully customize your community server how ever you wish.
You can set it up to always have the latest news, videos, and images related to your community, or allow your community members to each customize their own portion of the community server. As the server admin, you are in complete control of the experience your community members will have in your arcade.
Web Hosted Arcades
If you have your own website and want to deliver a customized experience to your Anarchy Arcade visitors, you can generate and host a special script file on your server that does exactly that.
Web hosted arcades are very much like community hosted arcades, except that they do not require any actual game server. Web hosted arcades can be accessed by Anarchy Arcade users simply by typing your website's address and pressing enter.
Users can either browse the 3D version of your site in singleplayer mode, or host their own multiplayer arcades where they can invite their friends to join them.
Just like all other gameplay modes, you can customize your web hosted arcade how ever you like. You can even setup your web server to dynamically update your arcade so it always has the most recent posts and information.
Consistent Multiplayer Experience
When you are in a multiplayer arcade, you want your friends to see everything the exact same way that you do. You want them to see the same pictures on the walls, the same games in the cabinets, and the same movies on the screens. And you want them to be able to play any game and watch every movie that's in there, exactly as if they were at your IRL house playing on your computer with you. This type of truly consistent multiplayer experience would only be possible through the use of two very important features: screen-sharing and peer-to-per file sharing.
Unfortunately, implementing either of these two features would require Anarchy Arcade to impose extensive restrictions and user moderation over the community to prevent copyright violations from running rampant.
I do not wish to impose restrictions or extensive user moderation over the Anarchy Arcade community, so Anarchy Arcade does not have either of these important features in its design.
There is nothing illegal about either of these very powerful technologies, but it is simply a design decision to leave them out to insure that users have absolute freedom over what they do in Anarchy Arcade.
Anarchy Arcade is NOT screen-sharing or peer-to-peer file sharing software. Instead, it has been designed to give the illusion of these two very important mutliplayer features, without opening itself up to exploits that they are normally accompanied by. It is designed from the ground-up for you to use & share your copyrighted material in a legal way. This is best illustrated with a few specific examples.
Let's say that you're hosting your personal arcade in multiplayer mode and invite a friend over to check out your stuff. So you're showing your friend around and click on a YouTube video that you have placed on the wall. You expect that you'll both be able to watch the video together in the virtual world, right on the wall, at the same time, just like you were standing together in real life. And in Anarchy Arcade, that is exactly what's going to happen most of the time.
However, some videos that are legal for you to watch in your region of the world are illegal for people to watch in other regions. You may have experienced this yourself when browsing YouTube.com in your web browser, clicking on a video, only to see the words "This video is not available in your country."
Region restrictions are just one of the types of legal & copyright restrictions that YouTube.com automatically implements to prevent copyright violation from running rampant.
Anarchy Arcade has been designed NOT to break YouTube's copyright restrictions. This compatibility is implemented at a basic level and extends to other sites & services such as Netflix, Hulu, Vemo, and more.
For this reason, it is possible that your friend will not be able to watch that particular YouTube video with you in Anarchy Arcade, and instead would see YouTube's standard message "This video is not available in your country." In order to legally watch that video together with your friend, you'll have to be standing together in the same room in-real-life Sorry.
Multiplayer & Games
Let's say that your friend loved that YouTube video, but then sees your Goat Simulator cabinet over in the corner, runs up to it, and clicks Play. You expect that he'll be able to jump right into Goat Simulator and start wreaking havoc in all things edible. And once again, in Anarchy Arcade that is exactly what's going to happen if your friend has access to that game. It doesn't even matter if you own it on Steam while they bought it from a DRM-free bundle; the same cabinet can launch the game for either of you.
However, there's always the chance that your friend doesn't have access to that specific game; especially if your media collection is much larger than theirs. Anarchy Arcade has something to help them out with that too.
When you try to launch a game that you don't yet have access to, Anarchy Arcade automatically generates a list of links to your own favorite places to get your games from. It will take you directly to your favorite site's search results page for the game you're looking for. With Anarchy Arcade, you don't have to start using some strange site that you've never even heard of before. It is built to be useful, not to sell you crap that you don't want to buy from stores you don't want to shop at. Anarchy Arcade assists you as you continue to use the sites you know and trust.
Multiplayer & Local Movie Files
In Anarchy Arcade you are able to play movies from your own PC on the in-game virtual screens. However, special multiplayer considerations must be made because Anarchy Arcade is not screen-sharng or peer-to-peer file sharing software. It seems like it would be nearly impossible to accomplish any sort of consistent multiplayer experience without these two important technologies, but Anarchy Arcade does provide a general solution to the issue.
First, it is important to remember that the items spawned in Anarchy Arcade are cross-compatible even if you and your friends got the media from different sources. This means that a local movie file, for you, might be a Netflix movie when your friend watches it. In this case, you and your friend might end up watching slightly different versions of the same movie, but the illusion still holds true and gives the feeling of truely consistent multiplayer without the use of screen-sharing or peer-to-peer file sharing. This same type of support also works for the scenario of you and your friend both playing your own local copies of a movie file.
And remember that Anarchy Arcade can help you get movies that you don't yet have access to from your own favorite sites and services, just like it does with games.
Users have repeatedly requested to be able to stand behind one of their friend in the virtual arcade and watch their friend play the game LIVE, as it happens, directly on the in-game cabinet. This is exactly the type of thing that screen-sharing software is perfect for, so it was a challenge to figure out an alternative solution that Anarchy Arcade would be able to implement.
It finally dawned on me that game-streaming services, such as Twitch.tv, already have their own copyright mechanisms in-place and it would be possible to implement general support for these types of sites & services without having to impose my own restrictions upon Anarchy Arcade users. The next day, over-the-shoulder spectating was implemented into Anarchy Arcade.
Remember that Anarchy Arcade itself is not screen-sharing software; however, it IS able to watch video streams. So as long as your friend knows how to broadcast to a Twitch channel, you'll be able to stand behind him and watch him play LIVE right over his shoulder. And this functionality is implemented in such a general way that it doesn't have to be Twitch, it could be any other service such as Hitbox or YouTube.
From Complex Technology to Simplified User Experience
Anarchy Arcade uses a very careful mixture of all these powerful techniques behind the scenes in order to provide a simple & consistent user experience. How do you launch something in Anarchy Arcade? You walk up to it and click PLAY. Regardless of what it is, where it's at, what mode you're in, or whether or not you have access to it. You just walk up to something you want to play, and click PLAY.
The various parsing techniques are used behind the scenes to generate coherent & functional 3D environments from 2D web pages that the community loves, with full user-addon support so Anarchy Arcade can become even more useful and friendly as time goes on.
Anarchy Arcade avoids restrictions and extensive user moderation by avoiding the use of screen-sharing and peer-to-peer file sharing technologies. Instead, it gives the illusion of these very important features through various tricks and tecniques. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense, but in the end gives the feel of a truly consistent multiplayer experience.
All of Anarchy Arcade's features carry over gracefully from singleplayer into various modes of multiplayer; always providing a consistent user experience.
These are only some of the many techniques, technologies, and design decisions that make it possible for Anarchy Arcade to provide all of the functionality that it does, without falling into the pitfalls that so many other programs have fallen into in the past. Many of these features are demonstrated in the playable prototype of Anarchy Arcade that you can try out for yourself, today! Anarchy Arcade has already been greenlit and will be released on Steam, but it can only be fully realized with the help of the community it is designed to support. So if Anarchy Arcade interests you, help it come onto Steam full-force, ASAP, jam-packed with these and tons of other great features that set it apart from all the competition!
Anarchy Arcade Website
Kickstarter Fundraising Project
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/aar ... chy-arcade
New Video, 3D Web & Free Game Giveaway
The Wednesday of April 2nd I gave away a free game every hour for 24 hours during a live 24 hour Twitch.tv broadcast stream using Anarchy Arcade. It's happening next week as well. I also updated the Kickstarter video to show off some of the non-gaming related uses of Anarchy Arcade:
Over-the-shoulder spectating, multiple video screens, and 26 new cabinets!
The week of 3/17/2014 saw a prototype update that had many exciting new features.
This explains the gameplay elements of Anarchy Arcade and the in-game economy that fuels it.
Doing What the Competition Simply Doesn't
This update talks about how Anarchy Arcade is different than its big-money corporate brothers.
Emulator Support for All
This update talks about how Anarchy Arcade is able to support a virtually infinite assortment of emulators.
Official Website Revamped & Updated
This update talks about the revamped Anarchy Arcade website.
Prototype Updated - Oculus Rift Support & Multiplayer Bug Fixes
This article talks about the initial Oculus Rift support that is now implemented into Anarchy Arcade.
Kickstarter goes LIVE!
This is the original announcement of the Kickstarter going live on March 5th.
Prototype Update 2.2c - AnarCAST.tv
This update added new features to help you share your media and activities in your arcade with your friends, even if they don't have Anarchy Arcade or a PC at all.
Twitch, YouTube, and deviantART scrapers go LIVE!
Hi everybody, this is my first post here. I just signed up today, but want to get some feedback from you guys on a project of mine. I'm not a bot, and I'll be sticking around to answer any questions you might have.
For the past few years I have been researching and developing a sort of media-rich 3D desktop. Basically it turns your computer into a 3D virtual world where you can customize your virtual homes and explore the virtual world that exists inside your computer.
Here's a general overview of what it has:
And here is a boring explanation of what it actually does:
It is built on the Source engine, so it automatically has pretty good Rift support.
The project has been Greenlit and will be hitting Steam with Early Access in September. In general, players seem to feel very strongly about the game 1 way or another and I expect it to do well once it is put on Steam because of all the gamers on there. It is versatile enough to be used as a 3D desktop, but is geared towards gamers (especially since it is going to be distributed via Steam.)
I'll be here to answer any questions you guys might have, but in the mean time here are some links to more info about my project:
Main Website: http://www.anarchyarcade.com/
Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.smarcade.net/Anarchy_Arcade_FAQ.pdf
Greenlight (no longer active): http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/f ... =180122020 (lots of feedback from players there)
I look forward to hearing your feedback.
If you want to try it out first hand, right now you can still grab the FREE prototype from the main website's Download section. All you need is Steam to play.