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(Regarding Go read it now if you


I am quite flattered at being included in this paper... I didn't know that
Grim Fandango was the first game you knew to be using Lua!

One detail not included is that Rob Huebner, also at LucasArts at the time,
is largely responsible for it catching on with game developers so quickly.
Rob was one of the engine programmers on the game Jedi Knight, and had
already received quite a bit of notoriety for working on Descent, also a
huge hit.  Rob gave a talk at the Game Developer's Conference in San Jose,
CA (I'm unsure of the year, but I think it's 1998... will have to check)
about using scripting languages in games.  It was quite heavily attended,
probably 200 or 300 people in the room.  Rob talked at length about the
benefits but also all the complexity of writing your own language from
scratch, and went through lexing, parsing, analysis, compiling,
etc. etc. in good detail.  (JK's scripting language looked a lot like C
without loops.)

Lots of the people in the room had never taken a compiler course.  Near the
end of his talk many game programmers looked quite discouraged, realizing
that a decent scripting language was not something you could whip up
overnight, especially your first time out.  As the questions started, he
pointed out that you can take pre-existing language interpreters and get
much quicker results, specifically mentioning Lua.  He talked about Grim
and pointed me out in the audience, and I stood up and gave a brief blurb
about Lua.  Between us we said that it only took a day to embed, codebase
was clear and easy to modify, was small and fast, extensible, easy to pick
up for designers, etc. People lit up and furiously started scribbling notes
and looked really excited.  I got a few inquiries afterwards, but game
developers being who they are, most of them just went out and checked it
out on their own.  Soon enough the list was overflowing with game
programmer inquiries...

So though it's not much of an academic conference, you can say that we
"presented" about our experiences with Lua there.  If Rob hadn't mentioned
it to so many game programmers interested in the topic, it probably would
have taken a lot longer for it to catch on... I believe Rob also mentioned
it in a talk another year about his experiences embedding Java into
Vampire: The Masquerade (for Nihilistic).

There was a panel discussion about scripting languages at the GDC again
this year, and one of the people on the panel was Kevin Bruner, who was the
other engine programmer on GF.  He talked a lot about the "non-scripting"
scripting language he's using in Obi-Wan now, but also mentioned comparable
experiences with Lua on Grim.  Again, lots of interest, giving Lua good

(It should be noted that people in the audience who were trying to use Lua
were generally concerned about how to amortize the gabage collection cost
as their framerates went up, something that's come up on the list quite a
bit.  This suggests that after co-routines, putting more of garbage
collection into the meta-mechanisms might be a good way to go...)

Some of you robotics and other embedded device engineers better start
mentioning Lua at your own conferences, or pretty soon you'll hear nothing
but games games games on this list forever...  =)

Thanks again to the authors for making Lua available.  I enjoy watching it
evolve and proliferate and this is consistently one of the highest quality
mailing lists I'm on.