BYOND is both a gaming engine and a gaming community. It is a complete system to create, play, and publish games. You can use BYOND to create single-player games, but it really shines in the development of multi-player games. We designed the programming language behind BYOND games-- DM -- to handle multi-player interaction in a way such that the developer need not maintain the complex networking infrastructure. For example, the following is the entire DM code for a bare-bones chat program:
mob/verb/Say(message as text) world << "[usr] says: [message]"
That's it, really!
For a more in-depth look at DM and the construction of a BYOND game, consult the BYOND Whitepaper. For a comprehensive walkthrough, take a look at the DM Guide. For an up-to-date list of the most helpful resources, tutorials, and code samples check out the BYOND Resource Repository and the DM Snippet Directory. And if you still haven't found what you're looking for, visit the active BYOND Forums and take advantage of the 10+ years of posts and thousands of user contributions!
We won't lie to you and tell you that it's easy to write a game, because it's not; anything worth playing is going to take lots of time designing and programming, and this is just as true for BYOND as it is for any development system. That said, we have gone to great lengths to eliminate many of the aggravating aspects involved in game creation, and specifically multi-player game-creation. This includes technical items (which you can review in the aforementioned Whitepaper), as well as also marketing features.
When your game is ready to be played by the rest of the world, all you need to do is host it through the software. This will display a byond:// url that you can display on a website for potential players to click. Anyone who has BYOND installed will be able to jump right into your game!
You can take this a step further by creating a "hub" entry for your game. This is listing on the BYOND website that uniquely links to your game through a name-based url. Whenever your game is hosted, the hub page will display a link to the game, a listing of current players, a discussion area, and various other cool perks. If you wish to distribute your game so that others may host or play it on their own, you can do that through the hub as well. You can even use integrated features to sell copies of your game or otherwise engage in game-related commerce. Think of a hub as a an interactive website just for your game-- so you don't have to build one yourself! To learn more about this exciting process in excrutiating detail, read the Beginners' Guide to Publishing BYOND Games.
The BYOND software is, and always will be, 100% free. We made this decision very early on, because we wouldn't want developers creating games with a restricted player base. Users generally login to BYOND games through a BYOND Account (also 100% free), which sets a default name and gender and tracks medals and statistics, although you can make your game not require them. We want your games to be a success, because that means we're doing something right!
That said, we do need to eat! If you want to contribute to the project, consider purchasing a BYOND Membership for yourself or a friend. Membership gives some perks but it is mostly intended as a show of support. We hope you believe in this software and community as much as we do.
Now go get programming!