Supreme Desktop Commander: Wildman’s Mad Mod Tools

I feel kind of bad that it took Mercury to get me excited about Wildman - as opposed to, you know, Wildman.

Will Wildman cross the financial finish line before Kickstarter strikes 12 and Gas Powered Games turns back into a pumpkin? Who knows? Crazier things have happened. But, more often than not, they haven’t. That’s kinda why they’re, you know, crazy – not normal. But Wildman isn’t the only thing doing laps in GPG’s primordial ooze. As Chris Taylor told us, they’ve also got something called Project Mercury in the works. But what is it, exactly? Well, it’s been dubbed “the infinite desktop” and placed in the same lineage as Supreme Commander. Now, though, we finally get to see how it all fits together. GPG’s released a video of Project Mercury performing its most mercurial of tasks, and it actually looks really impressive. If I’m being honest, I think Mercury has me more excited than Wildman proper.

So yeah, that’s quite a potentially exciting thing. I mean, the constant connectedness of it all sounds like a godsend for modders, and – as someone who’s physically incapable of not having several thousand applications and tabs open at once – the ability to zoom out to space is just perfect. No organizational skills? No problem. Take that, MOM.

Also nice: it’s modular, so you don’t have to worry about entire programs or operations in the event of an error. Just individual aspects. Further, since it’s on the cloud, that means it’s cross-platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) and capable of instantly transferring progress across multiple machines. Admittedly, Taylor’s developed a Molyneux-esque habit of promising us the moon (while using words like, bleh, “synergy,” no less), but he’s at least got a modicum of evidence to back up his claims.

Now if Taylor and co just follow through on their promise to open up Mercury to fans and other mod-friendly games alike, this could actually make quite an impact when it comes careening into the current game development galaxy. Or at least, that’s the way I see it. I don’t make these things, though. I just write about them. Modders and game developers, what’s your take? Could Mercury be a game-changer, or have I just been blinded by the fact that I secretly want all my daily activities to be thinly veiled extensions of Supreme Commander?


  1. uh20 says:

    oh no, i believe the video is broken, or my browsers doing an uh-oh

    • Anguy says:

      Same here although my browser tries to download the .mp4 video even though i didn’t click on anything

      • Chalky says:

        Yeah, same, getting a save as window pop up instead of any sort of embedded video.

        • Core says:

          I see the video just fine (using Google Chrome). I was a bit spooked thought when it started instantly playing when I opened this news item.

          • Beanbee says:

            It’s an HTML5 element, that’s why. Chrome’s the only one that supports all three suggested video formats.

            link to

          • Hoaxfish says:

            working in firefox anyway

          • Baines says:

            Mostly works in Firefox.

            I’m running Firefox, and there are no video controls. I don’t know if it is intentional, but I certainly don’t like it. I can stop the video, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to restart it. Nor can I skip ahead or replay.

            And I also don’t like that it autoplays. I really don’t like that it autoplays.

            And it restarts if I do anything on the page, like post a comment or bring up the edit comment window, like I’m doing at the moment.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            I’ve actually got VLC installed, so I think that’s handling a lot of it. Mousing-over brings up play/pause, timeline, mute/volume slider and pop-out.

            Posting etc reloads the page, so obviously kicks off the autoplay from the start again.

    • Bilateralrope says:

      On my browser it plays automatically. Even worse I can’t pause it.

      RPS: Please explain why you have chosen to go with such a fucking supid thing as automatically playing unpausable video.

  2. Core says:

    I don’t have any idea what is happening in that video. But it sounds pretty amazing.

    • Spengbab says:

      It’s a desktop that let’s you zoom out or in, like in the Electronic Computer Video Game named Supreme Commander.

      Apparently, this man was so very impressed and overjoyed with his mouse-wheel that he, and his demure friend, went onto the Internet. Then they found that the Internet uses something called HTML. It’s all VERY magical, you see.

      So this wizard man and his lifelong companion decide to make a replacement desktop for… something, The Internet, apparently. It lets you zoom out. Or in. So that you can have a very large desktop, with apps (We used to call these “programs” or “applications” until a few years ago) open, all the time, everywhere!

      So yea, I’m extremely cynical about what this very enthousiastic man is trying to accomplish. It looks like a great fun tool, but it’ll all depend on who’s going to adopt it. Though I’m sure there’s people that would LOVE to have Facebook use this platform so they can have all their facebookfarms and birds and walls and whatnot open all the time.

      • P.Funk says:

        I think you’re underestimating the value of this kind of evolution of the desktop environment. Any time you see those sci fi movies where they try and demonstrate the kind of evolved interactive user space, like in Minority Report or Iron Man, this is exactly the kind of thing they’re basically alluding to, whether they knew about it or not.

        Imagine what this kind of thing can do for the UI of a game, or a workspace for a developer, professional or just community mod.

        Im excited by the idea because I’ve often felt like the way we interact with computers is awfully limited and clumsy. I mean, do you remember how not so long ago we used web browsing WITHOUT tabs. How did nobody invent the tab for as long as they did?

        This could be pretty big.

      • Baines says:

        The big thing isn’t really the “infinite” zoom of the desktop. That’s actually kind of minor, but it happens to be something that is easily shown off. The big things are that it is a browser-based interface for files and programs running on a separate server, and the idea of linking component programs.

        Because everything is running elsewhere, you don’t have to download or install the programs you use. You have access to your “desktop” no matter what PC you use.

        He’s pushing the idea that you don’t have to shut down your programs, but that is a bit iffier. In his vision, you can leave everything running, because your machine is really just streaming the desktop view. (The infinite deskstop is a vehicle for that, as you don’t have to close programs for space or to free up CPU.) In reality, servers can only handle so much themselves. He also pushes the idea that you don’t have to save your files, because you can just leave the programs running. That is also an iffy idea. He also pushes the idea of multiple people working on a single project without the issues found in current systems, but that is iffy simply due to a lack of details.

        The visual idea of the desktop is interesting. It, combined with the component-based programs, could work well with anything that uses a lot of little pieces or windows. Things like graphics programs (both 2D and 3D) or game level editors (as shown)… But programs would have to be written for that component system.

  3. Kaira- says:

    Curse you autoplaying video, you scared the hell out of me.

  4. Hunchback says:

    It’s interesting to know that a game-dev company is actually toying around with other tech as well.

    As for the utility of the project, i guess the no-saving, always online/on-the-cloud etc is a good thing. The Endless Space (oops, sorry) feature is not all that fascinating to me, there’s always alt-tab *shrug*. However, as with all other online-only apps and stuff, the major problem is the very foundation of the thing – you have to be online. I guess nowadays we are online on average 99% of the time, but still i also guess someone people like to take their laptop in the woods and do some modding or something.

    • P.Funk says:

      Well the thing is I imagine that if it becomes a proper “thing” it won’t have to be online. There’s no reason it would have to be. If its just a tool you can use then you could install it on your machine and set it up how you want it to be. If you’re using some proprietary version of this hosted by a company for their game or whatever, then yea you would need to be online I suppose if thats how they set it up.

      I think people need to stop thinking about software like its held by a gatekeeper of DRM or licensing rights, IP etc, but that its just a tool, like coding.

      I look at this from a Linux user’s perspective more than anything. When I first started using Linux after being a Windows person I realized how shackled the average desktop user was by the illusion of conformity. WIndows hides from you the true power of the platform. In linux you can use it like windows or devolve into the console and have as much power as you’re knowledge of the code is.

      I look at this not as a product, but as an idea that they’re doing the ground work for. In the end the real value for this would be as something you can build to your own specifications.

      Also your comment on alt-tabbing I think is a case of being somewhat conditioned to think a certain way. The way we perceive things is built on how we live. Breaking that pattern is weird, but the thing is most people when they start with “amateur” pursuits in something like say art, might be content at the kitchen table or some small study desk in their room, but real artists want big desk space and probably want their desk cocked to a particular angle.

      If you consider desktops to literally be like a real desk, Alt Tabbing just means when you want to look at another book you put the one you have under neath the one you’re reading now. But if you want to refer between them, if your desk cannot have both sitting on it at the same time then its kind of clumsy. Alt tabbing is only really good for focusing on one or two things at once. Before this idea of the limitless desktop with zooming you could only solve this with a bigger resolution which is basically just like having a bigger desk.

      Alt tabbing is hardly ideal when you get down to it, just like using a web browser without tabs was before we got them.

      Like just skip to 9 minutes in, pause it and look at the screen. Thats pretty cool looking. Thats way better than alt tabbing for anything, even just random browsing. If I were a chef I could call that “Deconstructed”. :P

      • Hunchback says:

        You might be missing the whole point, or maybe it’s me. If i got it right, it’s all about HTML5 and having the same experience everywhere you are, without saving or anything, collaborating on multiple projects etc… Basically an online OS of sorts.
        Also, seen how it’s HTML5, you can’t just “install” it, i mean, it defeats the purpose. You can build the same thing using offline technology, even better stuff, but it just won’t be online. That’s why they are using HTML5 and “web-tech” as they call it. Oh yeah, and then there’s also the part where everything is actually running online, not on your PC. Once again, if you get an offline version it will be pointless.

        As for alt-tab, windows, being used to stuff – Some things are the way they are, because they’ve been tested and proved good. Ofcourse having the option to just zoom out your desktop, rather than just alt-tabbing can be a good thing. It won’t be AMAZING though, since the act to zoom in and out is somewhat cumbersome, even when using mouse scrolls. Then actually finding what you are looking for when you are zoomed out, especially if you have tons of stuff running around, unless they also add some sort of a taskbar. Which then also defeats the purpose since if you have to click through taskbar items you might as well just run all that in the usual way, minimizing stuff etc.

        But once again, the whole thing doesn’t seem to be centered on that, it’s about being online, running on the cloud, and having the option to connect different “apps” or modules together, making them work together. It’s a standard feature of modern developing, only this time it’s brought to the end user in the form of modules that can communicate and understand eachother and together build “custom apps”.

        • P.Funk says:

          I think you miss the point that the concept isn’t just about being online. Remember he talks about using this for Wildman, a game that will have singleplayer functionality. If its just a webcode based OS then it has to function on your computer as much as it functions on the cloud.

          Think about dropbox. Its something that links people together for easy filesharing, but its still something that exists on my computer too. Just because his pitch focuses on cloud sharing structures doesn’t mitigate the conceptual flexibility for a single user environment. The reason he focused on the cloud idea is because he was filtering the idea, for the moment, through a game developer type of pitch. He was talking about group projects, both for professionals and for mod communities. This is a particular target audience, but it doesn’t in essence mitigate any flexible application for single user purposes.

          Just look at how he’s got that video playing on the side. Do you think that if in the final version when someone plays a video in the envrionment that it’ll override everyone’s view? No, in fact as a development portal its impossibly chaotic if everyone has to share the environment. While the cloud might create a kind of shared “warehouse” workspace for the purposes of the project’s continuity, it doesn’t change the fact that lots of this stuff is going to exist on the single user’s machine. He will customize his own interface, he will manipulate the desktop.

          Think about the new SimCity game. Do you really think that just because they’re making it so that all save games go into the cloud that you can’t just rewrite that game to have a local save game function? There’s nothing inherent to a piece of code that limits its functionality just because one of the flexibility features includes cloud sharing.

          Remember he isn’t just pitching this as a developer thing, he’s talking about using it for a game itself, as a host for the game. I’m not sure how that’ll turn out because he did his talk today on the developer aspect of things, but part of the idea I’m pretty sure is how its going to be a flexible tool for people to model their own projects around. Just because firefox or Opera are web browsers doesn’t mean they don’t have utility when my internet connection goes. If you have media player plug ins for a browser, or a PDF reader plugin you can use your web browser for those purposes without ever accessing the internet.

          The focus doesn’t mitigate the promise. Just look at what Uber is promising with Planetary Annihilation. They’re talking about having something that might end up looking a bit like this, with custom window functions in the UI for you to be able to create a personalized system for monitoring your multiple bases on multiple planets etc. I wouldn’t get too hung up on the cloud stuff, and since the main guys there also did SupCom they’re doing that zoom function as well. You know, forest for the trees etc.

  5. JackDandy says:


    • SandmanXC says:


    • Zombat says:

      I’m disappointed that the article wasn’t about Derek Smart, or the fourth battlecrusier game that returns to its roots and lets you walk about your battlecruiser (which has disappeared from 3000ad’s website so I guess it got canned)
      I’m also disappointed to find that the comments aren’t full of references to Derek Smart’s DESKTOP COMMANDER!!, which was the first thing I thought of when I saw the title.

  6. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    I hope their scattershot ambition results in multiple awesome products that make them piles of loot, rather than multiple incomplete projects abandoned when they run out of money and have to live in cardboard boxes and warm their hands by the light of their dying dreams.

    • f1x says:

      And from my expirience, dying dreams won’t last long as fuel, winter is coming.. or ending, with this climate change is hard to tell.

    • Sam says:

      The good news is that the company is in a very solid financial situation. So is well positioned to deal with the inevitable setbacks and delays caused by developing and using new technologies as part of their core work.

      I’m very cynical, sorry. It just looks like they’ve made a the map editor for their game in HTML5 for some reason, and are putting this forward as a great advancement of the art.
      Splitting the map editor into multiple “apps” that can be maintained separately just sounds like basic good practice in software engineering, but put into different words. Having 3d rendering in a web-based environment stopped being exciting and started being normal several years ago. I just don’t know what’s meant to be exciting about it, other than his own enthusiasm.

  7. Victuz says:

    That’s probably one of those things that wouldn’t be allowed just because of the server hogging that would happen but…

    Am I the only person that as soon as they started showing a 3d render and all that stuff went “PUT BLENDER IN IT RIGHT NOW AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!”?
    I mean if I can work with blender on my crappy old computer, actually render stuff and not lag out when I put an object with more than 1k polygons (yeah I know my computer makes me sad) in an environment that’s pretty much crash proof… I’m set!


  8. Reapy says:

    I feel like html 5 / canvas, native client etc etc tech I don’t understand. It is like the web is on a run away and people want your browser to be your operating system. Is that canvas window in a way basically another java vm?

    Who does the heavy lifting of the rendering? Is it your own pc’s gpu/cpu? Is it a cloud based and they stream to you as per onlive? Obviously the storage is on ‘the cloud’ which is basically just servers somewhere. Who is paying for these servers, a company with not enough money they have to ask the public for it? Is that where I want to put all my hard mod work.

    And hey, bonus, if you pay now, you can WRITE OUR CODE FOR US!!!! AWESOOMMEEE!!!

  9. cpugeek13 says:

    Man, I really want to support these guys, but I just think the design of this game is flawed. Its basically an rts without depth, an rpg without a story, and a moba without teammates. Sure, the setting is novel, but the gameplay sounds boring as hell.

  10. BloonerNL says:

    If you are like me and hate Quicktime, feel free to click here:
    link to
    then select File->Save As.

    That will download the mp4 for you to watch on VLC like a normal person.

  11. H-Hour says:

    I think I don’t get it. Is this anything more than a desktop in the cloud?

  12. Mario Figueiredo says:

    It’s always interesting to see someone working on new UIs for productive environments and I hope more of it gets done by others. It’s been always my belief that the next big desktop environment paradigm shift will result from independent research, and not from any of the OS manufacturers, who have demonstrated already (I’m looking at you Microsoft) they no longer possess the creative energy to move our productivity forward.

    That said, there’s quite a few things that I didn’t like about this HTML 5 Canvas gimmick. First of all, being cloud-based isn’t really a feature when you are aiming at the modding community. Resources aren’t always what we would like them to be and cloud storage the likes of which could hold all the necessary modding tools (often including complete drawing and 3d modelling applications), assets and all the WIP is very expensive and out of reach of most modders.

    Second, cloud storage limits the modder application reach. It’s well understood that many of the tools a modder requires (particularly when working with graphics) are unlicensed copies due to their prohibitive prices. It’s a serious risk to put such applications on the cloud.

    Third, intra and inter application data transfer can be considerable, requiring a very good internet connection, also limiting the interest of this tool for modders who still can’t benefit from anything above modest ADSL connections.


    The Infinite Desktop (I’m guessing with the capitals) shows many of the same problems that plague the modern desktop environments. A real UI paradigm shift will have to let go of many of the usual interface elements and come up with new ones. Not try to reapply the same old concepts in a different way. It’s no good to say “look you can zoom in and out of the desktop” and expect to see an evolution in that. It’s not. In fact it’s not even the first time I’ve seen it being done. And regardless those ideas still failed to take a foothold.

    For one, the Infinite Desktop really could do a better job if it treated every element in its canvas as a discreet entity. I don’t want to zoom (in our out) everything on my desktop. But I will definitely want to make zoom changes to individual “windows”. Being able to zoom everything could be delegated to a keyboard+mouse combination.

    Second, lines connecting individual applications (or different windows from the same application) are useless and distracting additions. It may look interesting at first, but it’s immediately evident they become useless when our friend moves the 3D rendering window and the lines is forced to be moved behind a couple of other opened windows. Suddenly that line lost all its context and you can’t see at a glance where is the other connection point.

    I don’t see a point in connecting windows with lines. Seems a whole lot of unnecessary fluff. If the is a reason to connect two applications the same command can still be given and there doesn’t need to be any persistent visual clue. Do not treat your users as idiots. They know what they are doing and they know how to organize their windows, their work and especially their workflow. They don’t require this type of feedback. If a user at some point needs clarification on its desktop applications connection mesh, they should fire a tool that gives them that feedback with the advantage it can include a whole lot more information.


    The whole idea didn’t really appeal to me. There’s very little gains in terms of screen real-estate and the whole operation of the desktop environment seems to be centered merely on its ability to zoom in or out. This is not practical because for most of the work, zoom levels need to remain at 100% or more, making the rest of the infinite environment inaccessible. Also it doesn’t really bring anything significantly new to such existing alternatives as Alt+Tab or virtual desktops.

    The cloud is not a selling point. And Chris Taylor excited and slightly childish introduction on the video almost made me give him a condescending smile. It reveals how little he apparently understands it. He’s not the first to try to sell the cloud as an application storage medium. Many of them much better qualified to make it happen. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon… Still, all of them kept on failing to bring this to reality. The cloud is awkward, expensive, requires an internet connection, comes with it’s own legal lingo that is meant to protect the company offering the service more than the customer data, his privacy and security. It has been also reported as untrustworthy on occasion.

    If Chris Taylor wants to present us with a real UI paradigm shift, he needs to come up with something better than an HTML 5 Canvas gimmick.

    • P.Funk says:

      “I don’t see a point in connecting windows with lines. Seems a whole lot of unnecessary fluff. If the is a reason to connect two applications the same command can still be given and there doesn’t need to be any persistent visual clue. Do not treat your users as idiots.”
      For the obvious need to see whats connected at a glance? I imagine a mature version of the environment would involve a “hide visual cues” option, as any product similar to this would.

      Overall I like some of your thinking, but you have that cynical dismissive air that I’m all too familiar with from other internet ports of call. I know very much that when I tell you that your attitude makes me not want to give much credence to your point of view you’ll give me a little smile and say you never cared what I thought in the first place.

      I smell a lot of personal preference creeping into your commentary and that itself somewhat makes me shrug off a lot of your views. I see the potential, if only as a starting point. Infinite desktop space where I can then create macros to skip to predetermined focal points. Create custom keys and gestures to navigate the environment as I design it. I like its abstract flair. I also don’t think that cloud storage is a must, but its an attractive feature for development, if you want to go that way. I don’t suppose when he was writing this code at home in bed that he wasn’t just saving everything to his own computer.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        “Overall I like some of your thinking, but you have that cynical dismissive air that I’m all too familiar with from other internet ports of call. I know very much that when I tell you that your attitude makes me not want to give much credence to your point of view you’ll give me a little smile and say you never cared what I thought in the first place.”

        I’m sorry, but who are you!?

        Do you really read that much into other people’s comments. Can you read my palm? What my future will be like? You strike me as an intelligent person from other discussions we had. But that high horse you ride is really a show stopper most of the time. I have trouble reaching to you.

        You are right. I cannot discuss it with you. Not when you accuse an honest opinion as being cynically dismissive and public denounce you shrug at what I took so much time to put on a comment box (as asked by the article author) because you somehow stuck in your head it’s wrong for me to have a personal preference when asked about what is my personal preference.

        Please go troll someone else.

        • P.Funk says:

          I’m not taking a high horse, I’m saying you seem to dismiss so much of the concept through what appears to be YOUR preference for UI when thats not really what empowers a concept. Preference isn’t the limiter, its the basis for how broad you can judge something’s potential appeal to be.

          I think your comment about how apparently visual ties between windows is somehow a “dumbing down” is also, simplistic and overly critical, so that immediately puts me into a perspective that judges your comments to be… possibly overly critical. That you can’t see any value in zoom for the purposes of space management, effectively allowing you to use a desk space thats much larger than one that could otherwise be easily managed, makes me question how willing you are to engage in giving this concept a fair assessment.

          I think you just said “meh” and have a very articulate way of saying so. I’m sorry if you take that personally, but I think you need to look up “troll” because I’d hardly call this trolling, just… I guess offensive to someone who puts care and effort into their comments.

          I see plenty of exciting value in what he’s presenting, not just in whats materially visible, but in what it could become. As a platform for further exploitation it offers far more potential than what most mod tools I’ve ever seen offer. I’ve often played games like Homeworld and Supreme Commander and wondered why so little of that scaled information management was never used elsewhere. Proposed, but as yet undemo’d, concepts for how PA is going to tackle the multi-planet information load posits something that could very easily dove tail into this kind of platform.

          Whether this kickstarter succeeds or not, I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of this.

          Also, if you think I was just being a dick, let me boil what I was saying into something less easily misunderstood: “I think you’re letting your preferences and attitudes blind you to what is a potentially exciting idea.” I guess I was wrong that you wouldn’t be offended. Oh well, its always fun to watch someone get bent out of shape on the interborgs.

          • Mario Figueiredo says:

            Fine. I’ll take the bait:

            “I’m saying you seem to dismiss so much of the concept through what appears to be YOUR preference for UI when thats not really what empowers a concept.”

            And you are, of course, wrong. It’s what you think that was. Not what I thought. I presented arguments for why I find this not that interesting. Curiously enough you were the one who said you found this interesting but didn’t actually try to argue why. Defend your opinions.

            “I think your comment about how apparently visual ties between windows is somehow a “dumbing down” is also, simplistic and overly critical, so that immediately puts me into a perspective that judges your comments to be… possibly overly critical.”

            That’s your problem really. Stop being so judgmental and tackle instead the actual ideas being discussed. That’s how an healthy debate can be had.

            ” That you can’t see any value in zoom for the purposes of space management, effectively allowing you to use a desk space thats much larger than one that could otherwise be easily managed, makes me question how willing you are to engage in giving this concept a fair assessment.”

            I actually said why I find the zoom feature of little value. But you seem to have again ignored the argument and instead judged an opinion on some mental picture you make of the person you are reading about. It’s really sad. Let me say it again.

            The zoom feature has little value because for most cases one wants to work at a 100% or more resolution. Constantly zooming in and out and panning the desktop to access other areas of it seems more work than the current Alt+tab and virtual desktop alternatives of the traditional desktop we have today.

            “I see plenty of exciting value in what he’s presenting, not just in whats materially visible, but in what it could become. As a platform for further exploitation it offers far more potential than what most mod tools I’ve ever seen offer. I’ve often played games like Homeworld and Supreme Commander and wondered why so little of that scaled information management was never used elsewhere. Proposed, but as yet undemo’d, concepts for how PA is going to tackle the multi-planet information load posits something that could very easily dove tail into this kind of platform.”

            It’s amazing that your whole argument is a constant stream of blanket and clearly fake statements that can be resumed as “I think there is value in this, because.”

            The really annoying bit about this whole argument with you is really the fact you don’t add nothing to this discussion. I don’t know why you like it, you don’t try to counter my arguments, you don’t present ideas for why this would be nice… you just choose to annoy me.

    • Baines says:

      I can see a few reasons behind connecting the windows with lines.

      First, it is a visual aid for people who are learning the system. It isn’t treating your users like idiots.

      Second, it can prevent confusion when you are running two or more copies of the same app. What if I were running two copies of the level editor, working on two separate levels at the same time, and I wanted to compare one to the other? With the visual connections, I can put parts of the two projects side by side without risking the confusion of dealing with unmarked free floating windows.

      Third, if the system really is component based, with a bunch of little black box apps, then you don’t automatically have a connection between them when you spawn the new component windows. You aren’t spawning a Wildman level viewer from inside the Wildman level editor, you are spawning a viewer and afterwards associating it with a running instance of the Wildman level editor. And if the user is going to manually connect them, then you might as well have some visual indication. Lines aren’t perfect, but other solutions aren’t perfect either. (For example, you could use different colored borders. But there are only so many distinct border colors, and part of the gimmick of the desktop is to have as many unconnected apps running as you might want.)

  13. Bilateralrope says:

    Automatically playing video: Fucking annoying
    Automatically playing video: Fucking worse
    Can’t be paused: Why the fuck should I keep reading RPS if you do things this fucking annoying ?

  14. pupsikaso says:

    Please, no more auto-playing quicktime videos…

    • Josh W says:

      If your using firefox, you might want to consider activating click to play.
      You can do this by going to about:config and setting plugins.click_to_play to true by right clicking it and hitting toggle. Can be a serious potch with other websites though.

  15. Saul says:

    I agree with Nathan – this is far more interesting to me than the game. Chris – can’t we Kickstart this instead? Then I will give you my money.

  16. zoombapup says:

    To give a bit of a developer perspective on this, I think its “interesting” as a demo, but honestly anyone who has really tried has probably found that high performance 3D such as that seen in games simply isn’t possible in the browser yet (native that is, you can make plugins and such). WebGL for example simply isn’t up to snuff for games development yet.

    Interestingly Insomniac did a presentation at GDC where they showed their internal level building tools and those were running in a browser with a plugin + javascript based interface.

    The reality is that while web based UI’s and data storage are really cool and have loads of great frameworks, the bigger problem is that they simply don’t have enough performance for editing worlds where you have tens of thousands of possible active entities (enemies, vehicles or whatever). They DO however work really well for 2D tile-based games and especially for editing frameworks.

    So I think my problem is that while his vision of this is potentially interesting as a proof of concept, we still aren’t in a position where the available technologies are reliably performant. 3D Videogames just have too much data to manage.

    Frankly web-tech is far in advance of game tools in terms of frameworks and such to build UI with. I’d love to build a more web-based UI for my game, but the reality is that 3D games really do require so much power that having a slow framework in the way is not going to work.

    But time will really move this kind of thing forward. I would suspect that 3-5 years for something like this to really work in a native browser manner.

    Incidentally, I think the guy who wrote LOVE had a sort of similar live edit system in place, without the web stuff.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Do note that you usually don’t have a full rendering of the game when modding it. The HTML canvas can indeed hold all of what we’ve seen on that video and then some more. The purpose of the tool is to present modders with a different UI and workflow. Not to actually run or develop games.

  17. Bart Stewart says:

    I saw three things here: cloud-based application state, virtual canvas, and (maybe) application interoperability.

    I’d like to hear some technical specifics on the intended — or potential — ways that the combination of these things could be used.

    Is “Mercury” meant to be a specialized tool for game modders, and teams of modders? If so, then what are the goals for integration among code management tools (compilers, profilers, Perforce, etc.), art asset tools (Blender, Maya, etc), and project management tools (JIRA, Bugzilla, MS Office, etc.)?

    Is it meant to be a desktop metaphor replacement for gamers and power users? If so, then is the cloud optional? What is the architecture for generalized application interoperability? Could I (if I wanted) dump Solitaire state into Excel, or tweak a .bat file and see in real-time whether the configuration works to launch a Java app, or display the Wikipedia page for each song that starts playing in Windows Media Player or iTunes, and so on? How would this play with DRM-protected software (including but not limited to games)?

    Would something like Mercury ever work as a mass-market desktop replacement for the general PC-using public? If it were close, what other features would it need? How could something like that be marketed?

    On balance, I think I see some potential as a replacement desktop metaphor for advanced PC users. I’m hesitant about the cloud part — who hosts the data? how much data can they handle? what security exists? — but I agree it could be useful for people who want to share their data with each other.

    I’m much more interested in the virtual canvas + app interoperability combination, and I hope we’ll hear more details about that possibility soon.

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