Piga Software

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Piga Software:

Piga-Logo.png

Piga Software is a free software organization that builds programs for GNU/Linux and other Unix-like systems, primarily in the Gambas language. Microsoft Windows support is added if possible, with their first release Donut Quest (2006) currently being Windows-only and written in Game Maker 6.1; ReactOS testing has also been considered. Some projects, most notably as Free Empires: Age of War, have also been worked on for FreeDOS via QBasic, but these projects also have hope for a Unix-like command line version. Since November 2016, Graham has also begun experimenting with RFO Basic for Android, a language created by Atari Basic creator Paul Laughton.

It was founded by Hamish Paul Wilson and Graham Lawrence Wilson on August 12, 2004 and it is based from a ranch, apiary and poultry family farm near Seba Beach, Alberta. The group does not categorize itself into one software genre but focuses primarily on expanding free software gaming. Other projects include contributions to GambOS, a Gambas-oriented live GNU/Linux distribution, and Piga Brain, an attempt at creating a mock artificial intelligence personality. Finally, software is sometimes written for usage in other projects, most notably Piga Animator.

History[edit]

Microsoft Windows[edit]

"Rockville", a ZZT game

Piga Software was founded on August 12, 2004 as "Piga Entertainment", named after a childhood toy called Piga in the manner of, say, Blizzard Entertainment, to function as a framework for Hamish and Graham Wilson's free software programming projects involving Visual Basic 6 (1998). These largely included first-person adventure game projects, but early experiments into desktop interfaces and a conceptual web browser were also worked on, as well as some slightly more diverse game projects. Piga Software was launched as a simple website that same year via Fateback, and it was not long after that the group's expanded scope heralded the change to its current name. Various games made in the cult classic ZZT (1991) game/creator were also being made to supplement the attempted Visual Basic releases.

In May 2005, after being inspired in game design by first playing the game Doom 3 (2004), Graham Wilson found the game development tool Game Maker 6 (2004). Game Maker has been used to make a notable amount of indie games such as Hotline Miami (2012) and Undertale (2015), and thousands more hobbyist productions. Several different game concepts and genres were explored by Piga, and several different game types and bases were created, however few of these projects ever created finished programs. Many of these ideas are left as possibilities for future Piga projects, or else just left as beginners experimentation. The games that were created have come to be known as the Piga Windows Entertainment Pack, after the old Microsoft Windows Entertainment Pack. These include various small arcade-type games, one of which is notable in that it includes an early soundtrack by Malcolm Wilson Multimedia, who would continue to work with Piga ever after.

Donut Quest screenshot

During the summer of 2006, work began on a game based on the Brogo web comic strip. Malcolm Wilson Multimedia, which is ran by Brogo cartoonist Malcolm Wilson, created the soundtrack and graphics for the game. Malcolm Wilson was the head designer, and the game was created by Graham Wilson and Hamish Wilson with the engine based on the archetypical "1945" example by Mark Overmars. The game was released on October 26, 2006. The next version upgrade, with many bug fixes and upgrades, was begun in December 22, 2007, but never completed. The product is currently, to the developer's regret, Microsoft Windows only, although a remake in HTML5 is being considered. 2006 also featured further experiments with Game Maker culminating in simple first-person and real-time strategy game engines.

Since 2005, Piga Software has also been using QBasic (1.0 and 4.5) for some of its programming, based upon reading the reference book Beginning Programming for Dummies by Wallace Wang (the pre-Liberty BASIC oriented editions). The language had achieved cult status during the MS DOS and Windows 9x days and continues to be used by hobbyists, and notably by FreeDOS users and supporters, as well as being spun off into derivative languages such as FreeBASIC. There were also a few projects attempted in 2006 using Liberty BASIC. Despite the varied amount of programs that have been experimented with, the only extensive QBasic project is a Free Empires spin-off called Age of War, done more as a hobby project.

GNU/Linux[edit]

2007 marked the beginning of the group's migration from Microsoft Windows to GNU/Linux primacy. Another motivation was a dislike for Game Maker 7 compared to earlier versions. Early that year, they moved development from Game Maker to Gambas, a Visual Basic-style language and IDE also heavily influenced by Java. In April, the development of Free Empires, a free software real-time strategy game based on the Age of Empires series began. This move generated a noticeable amount of outside interest on the newly finalized Piga Software Forum. Other projects and experiments, similar to their previous Game Maker counterparts, were also created. On August 17, 2007, the Piga Software Wiki was founded; later more formally titled PigaLore in 2011. Later in 2007, the Piga Nation project was also started, and two Source Releases of Free Empires were sent out to the development community, following from a sizable collection of development screenshots.

2008 was mainly a year of enhancements on the previous year's work, although some new experimental projects such as the eventually important Piga Animator also began. Development of the Free Empires engine, named Gambas Genie after the Ensemble Studios engine called Genie, separated into various technical demos. One of these was released on July 15th, notably featuring a contribution by Extreme Tux Racer project member, Christian Picon, who came to the Piga Software Forum in order to make Free Empires and the ETR partner projects. Various new endeavours, such as Windys, were also started, and on October 31st the first two full new releases in over two years came out: PigaVision, a television out front-end, and the Piga's Pumpkin Carving amusement game. The wiki also began to host free software-oriented information and Gambas tutorials and source code examples. Much of the year's activity was inspired by the book Masters of Doom by David Kushner, and the group was further influenced philosophically by Free as in Freedom and Free Software, Free Society.

2009 heralded the long predicted "opening of the flood gates" when it came to releases. This was caused by long standing projects being uninterrupted and completed successfully. This started with minor point releases for PigaVision, however, the first new game release was not an old project but a month long effort by Hamish Wilson to create an adventure game, called Alexei: Part IX. After months of final preparation, the game Windys, which has connections to the group's first ever game programming aspirations, was released on August 12th with a minor release on September 1st. The Gambas Genie technical demos were amalgamated and greatly expanded into a new release called Lamp Refugee during the months of May to October and it was sent out as a Source Release on October 26th. On October 31st, a year after the first new releases, an expanded version of Piga's Pumpkin Carving was released. Part of the reason for these releases was the now relative maturity of Hamish and Graham's non-Piga projects such as the Blood Wiki which needed a more of their attention during 2008.

icculus.org[edit]

In late 2010, Piga became part of the icculus.org project incubator, moving its web and file hosting over to the new host. This is the first time in the group's entire history that it could assure proper secure downloads, long an issue when using ad-supported file hosts. Hamish Wilson first got hosting for his GNU/Linux binaries for the Chzo Mythos, and after that experience he requested a page for Piga. The first release after the move was version 2.0.0 of Piga's Pumpkin Carving. In its press release to the world, Piga mentioned the existence of upcoming releases. The first of these was Piga's Thanksgiving Dinner Hunt, a program with similar roots to the other holiday themed game Pumpkin Carving, and the second was Piga's Santa Drop Down, an original holiday themed game. Throughout 2010 work was made on creating a preview release for Alexei: Part XIII, the next title in the Alexei Volkov series, and it was released at the dawn of 2011.

The start of 2011 was also marked by Piga on January 2 with the release of Piga's New Years Dodge 'Em, a small New Years-themed endurance arcade game which was developed in only four days. A bug fix release for Santa Drop Down was released on January 7th. This game, along with the two new holidays games of 2010, formed the basis for the Gambas Arcade Engine. Priorities for the year were the next version of Lamp Refugee, updates to Windys, further developments to Alexei: Part XIII and Piga Nation as well as other undisclosed projects. The second source release of Lamp Refugee was completed and sent out on May 8; later followed by a new terrain model technical demo on October 26th. On August 12, an updated version of Windys was released, followed by updates to Thanksgiving Dinner Hunt and Pumpkin Carving again in October. On November 11, a new game was released called Over the Top set in the trenches of the First World War. Finally, rounding off the year, updates were released for Santa's Drop Down and New Years Dodge'Em, the latter the last projected release to utilize the now antiquated Gambas 2.x series.

2012 featured a slow down in releases, due to underlying technological changes and considerations being attempted and examined. The only original releases of the year came on May 13, when Hamish Wilson released Soul Capture, a screen capture front-end for glc in a similar style to PigaVision which proved modestly popular, and Graham Wilson released the first source release of the collaborative demonstrative project Childish Cannoneer. The date also marked the day they both turned eighteen years of age, legally adult. Attempts to finish off the third source release of Lamp Refugee hit a brick-wall due to uncertainties about the graphical rendering system, a general perturbation not resolved until Graham Wilson came up with a plan for a system of multiple but interoperable rendering systems on December 19, 2012 (now trending more towards an integrated design of both). A released version had been intended for Piga Nation that year, as well new updates and additions to the holiday games, but various factors (illness, distractions and hardware failures) prevented most of these from happening at that time. In November 2012, inspired by getting into Neon Genesis Evangelion and thereby anime in general earlier that year, Graham made a serious attempt at expanding Piga Animator, bashing out a new design he is still working to complete.

Following the twins' graduation from high school in June 2013, Piga Software's efforts changed as their lives did. Juggling programming with efforts such as working annually at an apiary as well as reviving and expanding their own family farm, have lead to a dry up in releases (broken by a revamp of Piga's Santa Drop Down for Christmas 2016). Also contributing to this was the beginning of working on fewer but larger scale projects, as opposed to many more smaller ones. Much of Graham's efforts have been put in studying OpenGL, animation theory, and getting a formal education in programming, web design and computer graphics via edX to supplement his previously largely self-taught knowledge.

The group turned ten years old on August 12, 2014, commemorated with a write-up of their highlights and plans for the future. In September 2015 PigaLore was again taken down when its host Orain was destroyed by a denial of service attack. As of the end of 2016, the current priority projects are putting out a stable release of Animator to allow for an open development model, as well as a new streamlined and expanded version of the Gambas Platform Engine to be used in an ambitious new game project. This is to be followed by another based on Gambas Genie and birthed from Free Empires, and then potentially one using PS Tech. PigaLore was finally begun to be brought back online on December 14, 2016 using Miraheze as its new host and the imposition of annual backups.

Bovine Softworks[edit]

  • TBD (Shush!)

Activism[edit]

Website blackout

Piga Software has also worked on supporting free software and GNU/Linux in various ways such as contributing to the Libregamewiki (which was not limited to adding articles for itself or its games), helping negotiate the creation of the historic September 13, 2009 blog post by Timothee Besset concerning the future of id Software GNU/Linux porting (even if this was later overridden by ZeniMax Media discontinuing "unofficial binaries" and Besset's subsequent departure from id; John Carmack's later resignation also reduced the likelihood of an eventual source port), writing an attempted case for porting when it comes to Splash Damage and Brink, and working to convince new GNU/Linux developers such as Mangled Eye Studios, creators of Dark Salvation (though a port remains forthcoming), as well as keeping in touch with old ones such as Running With Scissors (even if, again, this proved unsuccessful due to the actions of Akella).

The group also regularly tries to expand free software and GNU/Linux gaming articles on Wikipedia, such as successfully driving in 2010 to get the GNU/Linux games category to reach a third page. On May 17, 2010, Hamish Wilson won the Linux Gaming News contest for his article on his efforts to get the Chzo Mythos more conveniently running on GNU/Linux (later also the 1213 series and Adventures in A Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment) and thus won a free copy of the GNU/Linux-compatible game Osmos.

After Graham Wilson sent notes and corrections (particularly GNU/Linux related notes) to Theodor Lauppert about the gaming section of his website Astoria he linked to Piga on his GNU/Linux gaming page. Graham also started collecting a variety of the more notable quotes from the influential Free Gamer blog, the initial nuceluos for the FreeGameDev network, for Wikiquote but after it was deleted there he temporarily moved them to PigaLore, before sending it over to the Libregamewiki for better exposure.

Graham Wilson has been in negotiation with Kevin Stokes of a refounded Pie in the Sky Software, towards the release of the source code for the Pie in the Sky/Power3D engine used internally in Lethal Tender (1993) and Terminal Terror (1994), as well as all games made in the 3D Games Creation System, such as Pencil Whipped, a 2000 finalist for the Independent Games Festival. Stokes came to the Piga Software Forum to thank Graham for having made a Wikipedia article for the engine due to retro-gaming (particularly early 3D) interest. As of late 2010 in private e-mail discussions, Stokes has looked up the old code but has not been able to compile it. If he could, he would not mind releasing it and would be keen for someone to port it from Direct3D to OpenGL and make it cross-platform.

On January 18, 2012, the Piga Software and Malcolm Wilson Multimedia websites purposely blanked their indexes for the day in solidarity with the wider Internet blackout protests against SOPA and PIPA. On June 1, 2012, Hamish Wilson launched a petition to protest the inclusion of LIMBO in the Humble Indie Bundle V as a non-native binary via CrossOver, which got over 500 signatories within the first twenty days, and received the recognition of the Bundle staff; though unfortunately this did not prevent later and greater grievances, such as the Windows-only and DRM locked Humble THQ Bundle, which proved trend setting for other big developers to release bundles without any compromises. LIMBO did however eventually receive a native port in June 2014.

Hamish Wilson continues to be a prominent face on Gaming on Linux, contributing in-depth game reviews as well as serving as a general editor, as well as a Phoronix forum member, and continues his communication and attempts to aid Maxim Bardin of Linux Gaming News; he also maintains Desura, Humble Store, GoG.com and itch.io accounts.

Roles[edit]

Piga Software is ran as a cooperative and all formal members have a right to one vote should a disagreement be raised. It is presently non-profit.

All positions are held at the behest of the others and no one member has absolute power, though the BDFL is granted emergency veto.

New members can be formalized only with the will of all other members after review, as they are then granted their own right to one vote.

In addition, Piga is always open to suggestions, comments and ideas by the greater public. Meritocracy is also unofficially imposed through democratic will.

Official Staff:[edit]

Benevolent Dictator for Life: Hamish Paul Wilson

Technical Director: Graham Lawrence Wilson

Webmaster: Graham Lawrence Wilson

Developers: Hamish Paul Wilson, Graham Lawrence Wilson

Administrators: Hamish Paul Wilson, Graham Lawrence Wilson

Others:[edit]

We would like to thank:

Multimedia Contractor: Malcolm Wilson Multimedia

Random Assistance: Iain William Duane Wilson (klingoncowboy4)

Programming Assistance (Gambas Genie): Christian Picon (cpicon92)

Tiling Engine Inspiration: Gödel (Linux Basic Forums)

Testers and Help: Steve "sholzy" Holzfaster, Tomasz "tommyline" Kolodziejczyk, and Quincunxian (White Island Software and GambasForum)

Contractee (Donut Quest): Brogo Webcomic

One-time Partner Project (Free Empires): Extreme Tux Racer

Current Hosts: icculus.org, Miraheze

Piga Software Theme[edit]

The Piga Software Theme is a short instrumental track similar to a jingle. It is the official theme track of Piga Software and was composed by Malcolm Wilson Multimedia. It was written as a MIDI file in Anvil Studio in 2004 and is available as a MIDI and OGG Vorbis file.

Download: OGG Vorbis, MIDI