This Page Updated:
Sun Feb 08, 1998
Page 1: The Promise of Cross-platform Gaming
By: Evan Jones
Java is a name that almost everyone has heard, due to the massive marketing efforts of Sun Microsystems, the company that created it. Java was created to control small electronic devices such as television set-top boxes. During its development the creators realized that it had far more potential. At its most basic level, Java is a programming language, based upon the very popular C++ language.
So what makes Java different from C++? The answer is that a program written in Java can be run on any type of computer, from a lowly cell phone to a high powered workstation. Sun calls it "write once, run anywhere", and it has people very excited. Many thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours are spent porting software from one computer platform to another. Porting is the process where programmers convert a piece of software that runs on one platform, such as Microsoft Windows, to run on another platform, such as Apple Macintosh. It is a long process that requires programmers knowledgeable with both platforms to manually convert the program, line by line. With Java, none of this is necessary. A Java program can be run on Windows machine, Macintosh, Unix, or even on small handheld computers, with no work required by the programmer.
Now the gaming industry is getting in on the Java boat, with many development companies looking at what uses Java might have in their projects. Before we look at that specifically, let's explain a little about how it actually works.
Wired Special Report: Java