Last summer, the gang at Insomniac Games pulled back the curtain on PlayStation 3 R&D, attempting to the light the way of the dark and dangerous development path. It was a classy move, aimed at helping other, less fortunate developers. Today, they've one-upped themselves, announcing the Insomniac Games Nocturnal Initiative. No, it's not an exciting PlayStation Network title or the beginnings of a new franchise. This is the Game Developers Conference, after all, and the announcement is aimed squarely at software developers.
What Insomniac has decided to do was to share and distribute their own technology throughout the industry, in turn encouraging others to share their own tech. The Nocturnal Initiative is not, they stress, a game engine. There will be no snarky comments from Mark Rein about Insomniac stepping on Epic's toes as the program is designed to help game development peers avoid rewriting some of the basics.
"Rewriting libraries is a waste of time", said Andy Burke, tools group lead at Insomniac, and the gang on the software side hopes that releasing code into the wild, code that comes with a "liberal" open source license, fosters feedback and may encourage others to share their own work. That can lead to better games, they hope.
The first batch of code is now available at the Nocturnal Initiative web site, in easy to read Wiki format, for developers who are interested in the program. They may be interested to learn that this isn't just something that's been whipped up for good PR, this is code that's being used in production, used in development in titles like Ratchet & Clank Future and Resistance 2.
While the current offerings aren't necessarily specific to the PlayStation 3—PC and Xbox 360 developers may be interested in what's available—that doesn't mean the possibility of PS3 specific libraries are out of the question.
"We don't think there's anything preventing us from offering code specific to the Cell, which is already fairly open as it is," said Insomniac's Mike Acton, but the development team isn't setting anything in stone, it sounds. They certainly have plenty planned, as evidenced by their future release road map. Hopefully, game developers will find something worthwhile within.
Nocturnal Initiative [Insomniac Games]