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Sun Opens Project Darkstar To Game Developers

Sun Microsystems announced on Monday a new open-source development platform for servers designed to help massive multiplayer online game developers bring their creations to market faster.

Dubbed Project Darkstar, the Java-based software lets developers create a variety of games that can be accessed through a single-server framework. Sun has been a supporter of online and mobile gaming, chief gaming officer, Chris Melissinos said. And Project Darkstar will be an "important technology foundation in the exploding multiplayer online game marketplace."

"By open sourcing Darkstar technology, we will help enable the widest possible market for online game developers and remove their burden of having to build enterprise-grade server solutions," Melissinos said. The company is expected to release more details about the project at the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week.

One such massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORGP) developer is NCsoft, which publishes City of Heroes, City of Villains, Lineage, and Guild Wars. Chris Mayer, VP of product development for NCsoft, noted that Sun's server software helped it prototype a new online game project internally.

"The Darkstar technology team proved very supportive and we were up and running quickly. We very much appreciate Sun's initial efforts in developing the kind of server technologies needed to jump-start online projects," Mayer said.

While Sun has traditionally shied away from open-sourcing its software, the Darkstar project follows other Sun initiatives that are opening up to developers including Java itself. Darkstar should become available under a GPL license in a few months.

In addition to the release of Project Darkstar, Sun also launched a companion, Darkstar Playground. The goal is to let approved developers gain access to Sun's server resources to start developing their online games. Sign ups are going on now. The project is expected to be live at the JavaOne conference in May 2007.

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