Team XLink released a new version of their global gaming network (that allows you to play system-link enabled games (incl. Xbox and 360) online for free):
What's the point?
XLink Kai(info) 7.4 began a few months ago to address the following issues:
1. Internationalization - the existing Kai UI does not support many languages and character encodings.
2. Platform Independence - Linux and OS X client software is no longer feature compatible with the Windows client
3. Unified Development - numerous versions and variants of the engine and client exist creating compatibility issues and fragmented development/support.
Team XLink prides itself as a 'Global Community' of gamers. To us, this means people who speak different languages, who use different Operating Systems, and who live all over the globe should be able to connect with one another and make Team XLink their home. Our year to year userbase growth and concurrent player statistics tells us we've been making excellent strides towards our global ambitions. Still, to truly move forward with the project, we need to address infrastructure and compatibility issues so that we have a solid platform that encourages further growth. Kai 7.4 addresses these issues and provides a solid foundation for future plan that simply would not be possible with the previous versions of Kai.
So what's new?
The biggest change to Kai is somewhat invisible--the code. Kai was designed primarily as a Windows-based system with compatibility for Linux/OS X (and other *nix systems) added later through the Kaid project and numerous third-party clients. This created a rift in development where any features added to the Windows Engine and Client needed to be added to Kaid and the third-party clients needed to be updated. A small change in the Windows client required all the other clients to be updated. Updates to the Windows engine (ex: new PSP MAC addresses) required Kaid be updated. As developer interest in Kaid and the many clients waned, it has become increasingly difficult to add any new features without breaking existing compatibility for those not using Windows. To address this, Kai 7.4 uses a single codebase and non-proprietary libraries so that the same code that compiles the Windows binary also compiles under Linux, OS X, BSD, etc. This required removing all the MFC code from Kai and replacing it with platform-independent alternatives like the Boost and wxWidgets libraries. With this unified codebase, future updates and changes will be made available on all supported Operating Systems at the same time.
The most visible change found in Kai 7.4 is the Client Web UI. Instead of designing multiple User Interfaces for every supported OS and every language we decided to drawn on the strength of existing cross-platform technology: the web browser. The Kai 7.4 engine contains a small web server which serves the client to your web browser (Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer(info), etc.) and communication between the web browser and the Engine is achieved using Ajax programming. Aside from the obvious elimination of platform compatibility issues, switching to a browser-based client has some wonderful side effects:
1. Updates and additions to the client are served immediately without the need to restart the Engine.
2. The client is 'skinable' allowing users to develop and share their own customizations.
3. Kai can integrate other web technologies such as streaming audio and video.
4. Kai can be controlled using embedded systems with compatible web browsers (ex: iPhone).
5. The Kai engine can be accessed and controlled remotely via the web browser ( chat from work/school :P )
Another notable improvement found in Kai 7.4 is the support for uPnP routers. Most modern routers support uPnP allowing on-the-fly port mapping. When started behind a uPnP router, Kai just works--no port forwarding or router configuration required.
Lastly, all language has been stripped out of both the Engine and the Web UI Client and replaced with language templates. Currently, English and Japanese translations are available; however, support for Korean, Spanish, and many other languages are being added as translation becomes available through the community.
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