Monday, April 30, 2007

Legendary

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Overgod


Overgod, an abstract shooter using Allegro, is a fast paced top down shooter. It's fun although pretty tough, and has a nice retro feel but with good modern graphics. It's one of those games you can pick up and play for 5 or 10 minutes, let off some steam, then be back to whatever it was you were doing without having lost too much time. It's available for Linux, Windows, and Macs. :-)



Cube Legends (formely known as LOZ:Cube) is a Cube mod, inspired by the Legend of Zela series of games. Since Cube is getting a bit old in the tooth and has been superceeded by Sauerbraten, somebody has stepped up to work on Cube Legends 2007 which will bring this popular Cube mod up-to-date to run on Sauerbraten.



FreeTrain has gained another developer, and progress on fixing up the codebase continues. Even better, there is an additional plugin set which contains something like 200+ plugins for FreeTrain, and in the coming weeks it is being translated as well. There's stuff like a rollercoaster plugin in there, so it should be really cool. Internationalization is the next task to be tackled, then after that it will be replacing DirectX with SDL so that the game can be ported to Linux and other platforms. :-)



Last one for today, StarShip Troopers: Last Defense development is going well. They posted a gameplay video which looks promising, and expect to have a playable release in the next week or so. However despite the obvious progress being made with the game, there is obviously a fair amount of work to do before it captures the veracity of the battles in the movie, so don't be too expectant. I hope they offer a Linux version of this Glest conversion but could find no information one way or the other.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Strategic Importance

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FreeSynd 0.2 is out! It's not yet mentioned on their site but you can get it from the project download page (Windows only, but 0.1 had a Linux version so hopefully it'll follow soon). I loved the original Syndicate (although the sequel Syndicate Wars was better). What a game that was. I can hardly wait for it to download... downloaded... playing... ok! That was a blast from the past. Only the first mission is playable but it's clear they have gotten through a lot of the harder work on this project. Future versions should be quite fun to play.



However they are using the art & media from the original - I would have thought that is of questionable legality (the game is classed as abandonware) but I can't comment properly without knowing the facts and they are not so easy to come by for a game with so little official documentation online.



Speaking of classic DOS games and open source efforts to revive them, UFO2000 no longer needs data files from the original to play it - a new fan-made set of graphics is included with UFO2000 by default. UFO: Enemy Unknown is probably one of the best games for it's time. Ever.



There's some more screenshots up on the OpenFootball website (although the rest of the website is somewhat barren). It's looking very, very cool. I can hardly wait for the first release. :-)



Dark Oberon


One of the lesser-known open source real-time strategy games is Dark Oberon. Ubuntu packages have been made for it so maybe now it'll get a bit more exposure. Dark Oberon has a fairly unique approach to graphics design - the images have been created from plasticine models giving the game a very distinctive and original look and feel. However I'm not sure that there is an AI included in the latest release as the roadmap states it has been removed, and it's reinstatement is part of an ongoing reimplementation of most parts of the game.



Speaking of free RTS games, Globulation2 alpha23 was released a week or so ago. The codebase is going to undergo a rewrite before the next release so I imagine alpha23 will be the last release for some time. Rewrites can be deadly for open source projects as a game can be in limbo for the duration of the rewrite and if the rewrite is never completed then the game often stagnates. It's happened to quite a few games over the years. Still the Globulation2 development has been steady for several years so hopefully it will not meet a similar fate.



Woo, all those games have Linux support. I was beginning to get worried I was mentioning far too many Windows only titles lately. ;-)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Beats Of Rage

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Funny how I have a quick moan about Beats of Rage yesterday only to find OpenBoR today. In fact I had mentioned OpenBoR before on this site but forgot plus these days they seem to be a little more organised. Saying that, borgeneration.com seems to have a few issues (forum down, mod links 403).



Beats of Rage is an old school arcade beat em up game, and there's various mods for it such as Double Dragon (what a game that was, eh!?). OpenBoR is an open source effort to provide a free engine compatable with Beats of Rage. I'm hopeful that OpenBoR will run with more success on my Linux laptop than the official BoR game does.



There is even an "enhanced" fork of OpenBoR found on lavalit.com. I use quotes because I can't vouch for that, it's just how I found it described on the Beats of Rage article on Wikipedia.



The BoR community seems to be pretty active, and there's lots of mods. If I had the time I would try out a few. But I don't.



Just to prove that Wikipedia isn't all that, it mentions OpenHOR - supposedly a subproject of OpenBOR that allows modders to create horizontal and vertical two dimensional aircraft shooting games... really? I think not.



Interestingly there's (crazy golf aside) no open source golf sim games. That doesn't bother me - golf is boring although Neverputt is fun (comes with Neverball). :-)



I wanna post more but I am out of time... I'll just note that I'm going to add a translation tool to the site (some cool JS hack I found on another site) among other things and that the completion of the games lists is put off for a few more days because I'm too busy with real work (had to do it some time). Ciao for now.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Super Heroic Efforts

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If you want to help the next SuperTuxKart release then be sure to check out 0.3 alpha which has been uploaded. Expect bugs but once ironed out this should be a cool game again. :-)



The lead developer of Heroes of Allacrost kindly let me know that a new version is due in the next two weeks.



Colonies


The "other" Colonization-inspired effort, now called Colonies, saw version 0.0.3 out yesterday. I'm not sure how indicative of the gameplay state that version number is e.g. I wouldn't say that OpenCity 0.0.4 reflected the state of development, I would say it was more like 20-30% complete but what would I know! Anyway I don't have time to check it out properly but I eventually found the screenshots (not in the most obvious place).



Any really dedicated Free Gamer readers may note I said that they claimed to be an open source sequel to the 1994 original, but they are explicit that this is not the case (don't know whether I was being sensationalistic or ignorant or they have changed tact - was too long ago). However they claim it's open source but I could find no source code locations



What's this? 3D Wesnoth? As an RTS? Screenshot posted by the lead Wesnoth developer... maybe he's working on something eh? We'd be so lucky. :-)



FreeOrion


There's now a roadmap for FreeOrion 0.4. I'm looking forward to the next few versions of this open source game, which is inspired by the Masters of Orion series. MOO II is one of those games that sapped up [too] many hours of my younger years. FreeOrion is very thoroughly designed and the graphics are very, very slick. When it's done, it'll be one of those FLOSS games that will be, um, simply awesome. The research UI is especially nice. Still, a few years to go before version 1.0 though.



I wish Beats of Rage (download) was open source. It doesn't run on my Linux laptop. Does it run for anyone else? It looks like fun... so no fun for me! :-(



I would post more but I gotta save at least a few things for another day. ;-)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Vega Strike Release Due In Summer

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At last, a Vega Strike update is coming in the summer. It's been long overdue. :-)



The next Ultimate Stunts release is imminent. It won't bring much in the way of features but should keep things moving forward. I like this game, it's a little different to the other racing games out there - a little more freeform and funky. (It makes sense to me.) A few more graphics, levels, and cars and it really would be a cool game, but there's only so much that 1 guy can do unless others chip in. ;-)



Pingus needs an SDL guru... well, not a guru, but somebody prepared to take the SDL port which "sort of" works and make it "really" work. I might run a little campaign now that the translated version of FreeTrain is coming together.



Speaking of FreeTrain, a Windows binary is due in the next couple of weeks. The end goal is to replace any Windows-specific code and make it cross platform but that is going to have to wait. The game lacks proper save game support (saves are done using serialization - meaning they are very fragile when it comes to new versions of the game) so that also needs working on. Still the future is starting to look rosey after nearly a year's campaign on Free Gamer to get it translated and, eventually, ported. :-)



Nexuiz

Ashes: TWC


Y'know, I haven't given Nexuiz enough of a mention on this site. This deathmatch FPS game looks beautiful. Everywhere I look I read glowing reports on how much fun it is, how well balanced the gameplay is, how good the graphics are and how well it performs even on modest hardware. Nexuiz uses the Darkplaces engine which is a highly modified Quake 1 engine. I think it is kinda cool how Darkplaces is in some ways more advanced than the Quake 3 engine - using ioq3 as a reference.



If you lurve your FPS games then you should be downloading it already.



How am I doing? Hmm... one more...



Ashes: Two Worlds Collide is inspired by Ultima VII amongst others. I'm fairly sure it's only going to be freeware, but free advanced RPGs are a pretty rare thing so this is an exciting looking project. Some gameplay movies are due in the next couple of weeks showing off the latest progress.



Ashes tries to be a complete rpg experience


An exciting prospect. I'm not sure I'm a fan of the cartoony graphics [which are a homage to Ultimate VII] but otherwise it does look pretty cool for a free game. Now if only it was open source... :-)



No music tips currently. I've made too many and forgotten what I already posted so it's put off until I instate a music tips list mainly for my own reference.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Put Your Hands Up For Free Gamer

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*Cheer* A Linux version of Those Funny Funguloids is being prepared. Stop by the OGRE forums if you fancy an early look although you will need to compile it yourself.



*Cheer* The next release of Scourge is imminent - due this weekend. Improved UI, more story, more game art, localization, bug fixes, and general Scourge love mean this should be a kicking release. (Scourge is a fave Free game of mine!) :-)



*Cheer* Also due this weekend is some real RSS abuse as I take on reinstating the Free Gamer lists in full. Social life + no home Internet + sometimes having to work == delay thus far.



OpenOutcast


*Booes* I got a bit of stick yesterday for slightly misrepresenting the fact that Crystal Space is more than just a 3D engine - whereas OGRE is just a 3D engine - so yesterday's comparison of the two was slightly unfair. No stable release for something like 3 years was a mistake by the CS team (a similar mistake being made by the Vega Strike developers) but it's good to see CS getting back into shape and hopefully this open source game engine will be the foundation of some cracking titles in the near future. Ecksdee, OpenOutcast, and Crystal Core are a selection of those in the works with Planeshift being the leading game using Crystal Space.



*Cheer* OpenTTD 0.5.1 got released. That game can be addictive although I think I'm all played out from my younger years. You need the original game [files] to play it although it is not hard to come by.



*Cheer* And I'll round things up by mentioning the Secret Maryo 0.99.6 release. I like the regular releases of this project and the graphics are starting to look really nice. A bit more work on improving the gameplay, levels, and efficiency of the engine and this will be a really, really good game. As it is, it's already a good game and if you like Mario or platform games in general then I would check it out.



*Booes* And so I return to the daily grind...



(Don't worry, the imaginary crowd won't return tomorrow! ;-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crystal Core Tech Demo

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I know what I wanted to post about yesterday... the Crystal Core tech demo! This rather sexy looking FPS is designed to showcase Crystal Space 3d engine. Crystal Space used to be the open source 3d engine of choice in it's early days, but then OGRE roared past with much better management and more frequent releases. (Developers of any project: release early, release often.) It's difficult to see CS ever getting back on level terms with OGRE but it's good to see progress. I want another Ecksdee release though!



Battle for Antargis 0.2 was rather quietly released several days ago. I've mentioned this game a few times on FG - I like it because it's fairly original i.e. not another remake and because it's inspired by a fairly unique game - Powermonger.



Ok so the ZX Spectrum turned 25 yesterday. I'm older, so I am not amused. What does amuse me is the classic spectrum games - Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy II. Those two remakes had me up until 3am last night, sadly they are Windows only. They should work in WINE though. And are not Free games, just freeware.



This strip can be enjoyed by everybody [who remembers JSWII] - Jet Set Willy Online.



Got any favourite old Speccy games you wish were remade?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blue Mondays

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Plasma Pong


Well, actually, if you're playing Plasma Pong your Monday is probably multi-coloured! What a cool looking variant on a classic game, eh? Shame it's only available for Windows & MacOS X at the moment but it works in WINE. Another shame is that it's not released under a FLOSS license. (The author wants to keep his research into fluid effects proprietry.)



A pong game that is Free and looks quite cool can be found on darkdawn.co.uk. This one is FLOSS and has a few nice particle effects.



If you like Frets on Fire, be sure to check out this thread in the Ubuntu forums which gives details on some cool improvements you can get for the game as well as some song locations.



And there's another release of FIFE, the engine which has evolved from a Fallout port to a "unique 2D RPG engine". This release takes the engine much closer to being a viable generic RPG engine. I've got a feeling we'll be seeing a game or two based on FIFE crop up in the nearish future. :-)



Barbie Seahorse Adventures. Sounds terrible, but is fun in a cute retro way. If you are a little girl. Just joking, grown men can enjoy it too. It is a former PyWeek game entrant that's been improved a bit. Like I said, retro & cute.



Quick gripe. Flash games might look good sometimes, but I rarely ever find them fun. Usually they are just poor imitations with a bit of gloss and the gameplay sucks. That's why I don't mention them. Example. Oh, and they are rarely, if ever, released under a Free license.



I swear I had some more interesting stuff to talk about but the weekend's antics have removed whatever they were from my memory. Which reminds me... music...



Today's music tip is awesome:

Atrocite - Only You (Dennis Hurwitz mix)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Don't Fret!

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There's a Frets on Fire update. I swear that game has the coolest logo. New features for this guitar-meets-DDR game include wobbly effects for long notes, combo totals, and support for left-handed players, plus the usual bug fixes.



You can now play FreeTrain. It lives! Still missing are pre-made levels, proper save game support, and tutorials, plus a few of the plugins don't work. FreeTrain is an interesting game when it comes to architecture. Almost everything is written as a plugin, trains and all. Anyway if you have a copy of VS2005 you can play it now, otherwise you'll have to wait a bit longer before binaries are created.



I somehow missed a game out yesterday in the flight combat article... Edit - added it! Carrier 2, an opengl remake of the old classic Carrier Command. It looks good and 4 years steady development means it should get better. ;-)



Also I don't think I mentioned that Egoboo Resurrection 2.3.7 got released - for Windows & Mac only at the moment though. I can't remember if I mentioned the April 1st Warzone 2.0.6 release either.



What are you waiting for? Go play them.



Music tip:

Huntemann - 2 Beloved



I don't know whether many people bother to download these tips, but this one is another really cracking track.



On a side note my list plans are coming together soon so expect RSS abuse. I also need to update a ton of articles that are missing <p> tags since I switched off auto line breaks in blogger.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Open Source Flight Combat

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Flying Guns

Thunder & Lightening

glHorizon

glHorizon 3D cockpit

Combat Simulator Project

Decopter


Hey, I'm up early - or in bed late. Anyway, I came across a few open source flight combat simulators last night and thought I'd comment on them. I thought the OS flight combat sim scene was barren, but that is definitely not the case.



The main protagonist in this FLOSS game genre is GL-117. It's been stable and polished for quite some time now. There is vaunted development on a v2 of the game, but nothing tangible to speak of. It is more an arcade game than a simulation but packs of fun nonetheless!



RedShift is inspired by GL-117, so will be another arcade flight combat game. It's early days and in the progress of a rewrite from C to C++ but the author is optimistic that he'll be able to release an update in a month or so.



Flying Guns is a WWI flight combat simulation game where you can engage as many as 100 AI planes at a time. It's intrigingly written in Java and does look very, very cool & fun... but the webstart prototype version didn't work for me. :-(



If you want something a little more futuristic then you'll be wanted to take a look at Thunder & Lightening. Development is very active lately. It takes inspiration from 80s classics like Carrier Command and Midwinter giving it an interesting single player edge, but there's still much work to do.



Another Carrier Command inspired title is Carrier 2. The graphics looks very nice but the gameplay still needs working on, so it's at a similar stage of development to Thunder & Lightening. Still both projects have been in development for years so I am optimistic they will eventually turn into excellent FLOSS games.



Back to more contemporary planes, with glHorizon which is a freeware Windows only game. Focused on the F22, some of the visuals are spectacular. No "news" for over a year on this one but I have a gut feeling there'll be updates. The full 3D cockpit looks gorgeous. I hope the author releases the game under an open source license and then it can be embraced by the FLOSS game community. :-)



Then we come to the Combat Simulator Project. This really does look gorgeous. It has been in steady development for over 5 years and aims to provide cross-platform, high-fidelity, large-scale combat scenarios. It is probably the most ambitious of all the open source combat simulation games. The game is still at the demo stage but they are well on their way to acheiving their goals. Hopefully a new version (0.6 was released in April 2006 and is Windows-only) will be out soon. Like glHorizon, it sports 3D cockpits which look pretty cool.



FlightGear will most likely never support combat but is the leading open source flight simulator game so always worth a mention - I mean, you can fly combat planes even if you can't fight with them.



<update> Palomino is another less-combat oriented flight simulator, but looks great none-the-less. Given they showcase fighter jets, I'm hopeful combat will eventually get added to Palomino. <update/>



There are a few older titles that are no longer developed but once showed promise. Vertigo looks like some of the flight sims I used to play in the early 90s - nostalgic. ACM is another retro freeware flight combat game. The windows version is no longer available - I don't know why but that makes me smile. BFRIS is abandonware and I can only find the Windows version to download, but it has an interesting claim to fame:



First game to ship with Windows 95/98/NT *and* Linux binaries on the same CD out of the box. (from Moby Games)


The helicopter combat simulation scene is less healthy. There's Eagles that looks surprisingly good considering it's 10 years old - it looks like it uses a voxel based renderer, something I've not seen in a long time. Decopter also looks really promising but no updates since 2003 give little reason to hope. So it looks like you are stuck with the rather non-combat related Search & Rescue which is a bit more of a playable game than the other two but, as I say, not at all combat oriented.



If you are after a flight combat fix, look no further than GL-117. However there is plenty more to look forward to, so keep an eye on the scene, especially Thunder & Lightening and the Combat Simulator Project.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

SST:LD

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Somebody is taking the Glest engine and turning it into a game based on Starship Troopers, the bloodiest goriest movie ever to be certified as suitable for viewing by 15 year olds in the UK.



StarShip Troopers:
Last Defense


StarShip Troopers: Last Defense is in it's infancy but they are making steady progress and it would be nice to finally have an open source answer to Starcraft. Building on the Glest engine shows off one of the powers of Free Software. :-)



FreeTrain is now playable. If you have VS2005 you can grab SVN and run it. There are a few more issues to be addressed before any builds are posted, related to features not working that should be and a rather sharp learning curve that needs addressing with a few nice tutorial levels, but it's getting there!



Simutrans continues to close in on it's 1.0 release with version 0.99.10 - I always like a release early, release often strategy and the Simutrans releases epitomise that philosophy.



I had more to talk about but I'm in a rush and forgot, plus I'm doing somebody else's dissertation proposal for them because, well, guys are an easy target for girls.



Music tip:

Groove Armada - Get Down



(Yay, music tips are back... and this one is awesome.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Freespace2 Total Conversions

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Freespace 2 is a commercial 3D space action game, created by Volition inc, whose engine has been made available as Free Software.



This has enabled several total conversions of the game, 3 in particular, to be made into standalone games.



WC Saga



First up there is Wing Commander Saga, (obviously) set in the ever-popular Wing Commander universe. There is no Linux version yet but it's in the works, so you'll need a Mac or Windows (or WINE?) to play it at the moment.



The Babylon Project is (obviously) set in the Babylon 5 universe. It seems to be Windows only for the moment. :-(



Finally, the recently announced BattleStar Galactica - Beyond the Red Line, set in (you guessed it) the Battlestar Galactica universe, which does have a Linux version (yay!) although you may need a few tricks to be able to play it in Linux.



There is another TC called Inferno that is fairly popular amongst FS2 fans, but it's existence is a little less clear. There is:




There may be more as currently, some projects are on "back burner" to try and get some of the other projects released. There is a Star Wars mod, as well as a few others, but it is unclear which ones are TC or not as it's all for internal access only. For those interested in looking further, check out HLP Forums > Hosted Projects.



This post was really just a fleshed out version of an email sent to me by Joshua Richards - thanks Joshua!



No music tip today. Not slept for a while and in no mood to choose anything with a pounding beat.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Power Of Sauer

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Anything is possible



Sauer Platformer


So yesterday I'm perusing the Sauerbraten forums and came across this wonderful new map [see right]. The creativity! :-)



But, more seriously, check out the following screenshot of SauerMod, described as:



Gameplay Extensions for Sauerbraten, including Bots and Enhancements to the FPS, as well as a new Side Scrolling Platformer.


Kewl. Although I wish they'd finish Eisenstern. *twiddles thumbs*



In other Free FPS news, the action oriented game Warsow is closing in on a new release, 0.3, which should bring a lot of improvements to the game. If you want to get a feel for the game without playing it, there's a community gameplay movie showing off the various jumping tricks you can pull off in Warsow. Get the HD version from their forum or stream it in a lower resolution.



Does anybody remember PPRacer? It was supposed to be the Free Software successor to the formerly-Free Tux Racer. Development of PPRacer stagnated, planetpenguin.de died (where PPRacer development was hosted), and the project seemed doomed. However some Ubuntu forum members are trying to revive things and have put a site up on www.planetpenguinracer.com although it's just a forum at the moment. The power of Free Software, the revival of a game. :-D



The FreeTrain translation effort progresses. Expect a release, soon. The first release will be Windows only but the medium-term goal is to port it to SDL. Any C#/SDL wizards are welcomed with open arms to the project so join in if you can!



Finally I will be getting the Internet at home again. That means I'll be able to properly finish up the lists. Woohoo! The excitement of going through hundreds of game websites etc. What can I say, I'm underwhelmed.



Music tip:

Buzzy Trent - Groove On The Line



I'm outta here...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Am A Passenger

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I'm in a rush today - back to proper Free Gamer business as usual next week - so just a quick one.



The old school GTA games may be available as freeware, but purists will be happy to see Passenger, an open source game which shares many gameplay elements with the newer GTA games. Based on the Spectrum classic Turbo Esprit, the idea is to hunt down and kill terrorists rather than indulge mindless gangster oriented mayhem. The fact that you may cause carnage en-route is moot. :-)



Check out S.W.I.N.E., a 3D RTS by indie developers StormRegion. It's freeware and Windows-only but it looks really cool! Get some WINE ready. ;-)



Another Windows-only freeware game called Chaos, has a demo available (gameplay video). A game based on molecular simulation - if that's not original then I don't know what is! I am in direct contact with the author so will try to talk him into making it available under a Free license (think Linux port) so we'll see where that dicussion goes.



(You can always tell I'm rushing when I mention lots of freeware as I don't have time to research Free games. Since I'm rushing, no music tip today either! What a slacker!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

FreeTrain in English now runs

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It's been nearly a year since I first posted up a request for volunteers to get FreeTrain (original Japanese homepage) up and running.



Many thanks to Daniel Markstedt who has stepped up and not only translated the game but managed to get it running as well! A little bit more work is involved in getting it to a stage where we can provide binaries but the hard stuff is done.



If you want to know what all the excitement is about, check out this gargantuan screenshot of FreeTrain in action. How cool is that? :-)



In order to disambiguate this version of FreeTrain from the original, it needs a new name. FreeTrain-En and FreeTrain International are already taken. Daniel gives his opinion:




I was thinking of something in the lines of "FreeTrain Universal" or maybe "FreeTrain - Free Edition" ('freed' from its linguistic/geographic and platform restraints.) =)


Can anybody come up with something for us?



In the rumour mill, apparently the Privateer Gemini Gold 1.02 release is imminent. Lots of updated graphics (notably the bases and UI which were low-res in 1.01 but redone hi-res for 1.02) and lots of bugfixes and play balancing should polish off this game nicely.



Also a new Scourge! release draws closer. Improved UI, lots of bug fixes, and some nice new artwork should make this game much more fun to play.



I need to get back to work. No headphones lately so no music tips at the moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Padman Roadmap and Urban Terror

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In a brief follow up (time constraints) to the Q3 TCs post, there's some news on a couple projects.



The guys behind the recently released World of Padman have talked about the future of the project whilst thanking people for the positive initial feedback:



This first version is not supposed to be the final one. There are some things we want to implement in future versions like the missing singleplayer. Well, we only plan to integrate a simple SP, fighting against the bots throught the maps, but want to tell a story by adding some nice comic strips and videos. Known bugs will be fixed too and some new features are also on our list. Have we already mentioned a new map pack by ENTE, which might be available within 2 or 3 days?


And I missed out the mod Urban Terror. Although this is more freeware than Free due to some restrictions on the game content, it is still a cool looking TC for Q3 and worth checking out if you are into your contemporary war-fests.



Lastly the game FlowFlowMania got another quickfire release as the author keeps up his initial momentum. Now it supports skins and has some more levels so is starting to evolve into a nice little game!



That's it for today, sorry. :-(

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Blues

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Not much happening really, then again I have been offline for X days.



I'm in the process of inputting the Free Game list into OpenOffice.org Base (Access equivalent). Then I'll be able to do lots more fun things to the game lists, not to mention no more hand-typing hundreds of html tags.



I'm back-dating this post to the 9th (it's the 10th really) because I can and because it's something-AM. And [the real reason] I'll probably post stuff later when I get bored trying to do my urgent work that has me in my office at 2:30am in the morning.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Interview: Ingo Ruhnke aka Grumbel

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In the first of a new wave of Free Gamer content, Ingo Ruhnke aka Grumbel and one of the most prolific open source game developers around has kindly taken the time to do an interview.



Please note that Ingo's first language is not English, and I've not modified his answers in any way other than to sanitize links. I have made a few notes on his answers at the end of the interview. Many thanks to Ingo for taking time to answer my questions, especially in so much detail - much more than I could have hoped for! :-)



Just in case you left your brain at home today, the questions are bold and prefaced with a Q - and the answers, er, not bold with no Q.




Q. In my best Cilla Black accent, "What's yer name an' where d'ya come from?"


My Name is Ingo Ruhnke in the real world, on IRC and web forums I use to call myself Grumbel. I am coming from good old Germany from a town called Bielefeld:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bielefeld_Conspiracy



Q. And what do you do for a living?


I am going to end my studies soon, not yet sure what I will do after that, I thought a bit about turning into the independent game business, but not sure if I will actually do it in the end.



Q. What is your favourite open source game(s)?


Adonthell, since it happens to be one of the very few open source games that actually has story, characters and dialog, it also happens to have the best music of any open source games rivaling even that of many commercial titles. The gameplay of the game is very basic, but story, characters and stuff are just so good that its simply not an issue. Its not the longest game around, but the most interesting one.



Q. What is your favourite commercial game(s)?


That would be Another World and The Longest Journey.



Another World because it was and still is absolutely revolutionary in so many aspects. Its a very short game, but one that basically never repeats, every moment in it is uniq, the story, even so told without a word is absolutely stunning and the polygon based 2D graphic was something very different then everything else at its time. Its a game that simply lacks what makes video games look like video games and instead turns them into an interactive experience. And as if that wouldn't be already enough, its also a game that got created from start to finish by only a single person.



The Longest Journey on the other side is much more a classical adventure game, but one of the best. It improved on what LucasArts did in terms of interface and added an epic sci-fi/fantasy story into the mix like there is no other. I like games that feature interesting characters and worlds and The Longest Journey simply has tons of both.



Q. What games do you play at the moment, FLOSS or commercial?


At the moment not much, I don't yet own any of the next generation
consoles (still waiting for a price cut on the XBox360) and there
simply aren't much more games coming out for the current generation.
So I am kind of stuck there. My PC also happens to be not in the shape
any more for commercial PC games and that Vista Beta I am running
beside my Linux isn't exactly in the best shape either. However I
recently replayed AstroBoy Omega factor on the GBA, since thats my
favorite game for that machine and I also plan to have a deeper look
into my linux version of X2 soon.



In terms of FLOSS I don't really play much of those at all, I enjoyed
Adonthell a lot, had some fun with Neverball, but beside that I am not
interesting in most of the games



Q. What open source games have you worked on, preferrably in chronological order?


Lets see if I can get that figured out without forgetting anything:



In the very beginning I did some C64 Basic and QBasic applications,
most playable was a simple clone of that motorcycle game of the Tron
movie, another thing was a labyrinth/dungeon game, but that never went
anywhere and didn't got finished. All that stuff is available on the
net, but not very interesting for most people I guess:



pingus.seul.org/~grumbel/...qbasic.html



After those I moved on to C++ and coded Retriever, it was meant to be
an adventure game and written under DOS with DJGPP and Allegro, it
never went beyond a little demo in which you could walk through a few
screen, but I am currently recycling a few of the concepts for
Windstille.



pingus.seul.org/~grumbel/...-retriever.png



Closely after Retriever came Vect, a simple vector graphics editor,
that might be used to create the graphics for Retriever. Its kind of
usable, but not exactly very confortable, it again was coded primary
for DOS with DJGPP and Allegro.



pingus.seul.org/~grumbel/...-vect2.png

pingus.seul.org/~grumbel/...-vect.png



Then I moved onto Linux and switched from Allegro to ClanLib, my first
game then happens to be Pingus, a rather straight forward Lemmings clone with penguins, its
quite playable, but to this day not exactly finished.



http://pingus.seul.org/



Sometimes after that I did a tiny little bit work on TuxRacer, nothing
big, just a script for Gimp to make level creation a bit easier, a few
levels and a few bug reports.



The next game that I wrote from scratch was Feuerkraft, it was
somewhat inspired by the old Amiga game Firepower, but not a direct
clone, it has plenty of influence from games such as GTA and Operation
Flashpoint, as with most of my stuff, I never really finished it.



http://www.nongnu.org/feuerkraft/

Feuerkraft on video.google.com



Sometimes in between I did start Advent, which was basically a rewrite
from Retriever. I was trying to give it a proper scripting interface
and make it properly extensible, which Retriever really wasn't. One of
the results was Cosmos, a little demo game build on top of the engine,
due to library and binary incompatibilities it however might no longer
be playable today:



http://www.seul.org/~grumbel/tmp/advent.new/



Then came Freecraft aka Stratagus, a real time strategy engine along
the lines of Warcraft2. Its again a project where I didn't really
contribute much and only joined in rather late. For most part I simply
organize the rename from Freecraft to Stratagus that was needed after
the cease and desist letter from Blizzard, I picked up the bits and
pieces, did a new webpage and some stuff like that. I didn't ever
touch the engine itself.



http://www.stratagus.org/



In the follow up of the Stratagus rename came Robovasion, it was meant
as a little demo game to show that Stratagus can be used for other
games beside Warcraft2. While the basic design got quite finished, it
never got properly implemented due to some missing core features in
Stratagus. Since in the meantime there followed other games that made
use of Stratagus as an engine there soon was no longer a need for
Robovasion, so it never got finished.



http://www.nongnu.org/robovasion/



Construo is again a project I started myself and did most of the
coding. Its a simple particle+spring engine/editor, the game doesn't
have any goals, its more like LEGO bricks where you can just toy
around with and build your own stuff. Its one of the few games I did
that ever become fully playable, its not 100% feature complete, but
what it does, it does quite well:



http://www.nongnu.org/construo/



Sometime after that came Windstille, it started as a little recreation
of Turrican style gameplay, but soon moved on to became something very
different. A little demo with Turrican style gameplay was however
released:



Windstille on video.google.com



netPanzer was kind of interesting, one day I got a email of one of the
original creators who asked me if I had some use for the code in
Feuerkraft, since Feuerkraft was a 2D action game, not a stratagey one
I declined. Since the netPanzer project didn't went anyway after a
year I contacted them again if they still want to do anything with the
code, they agreed that it would be ok to OpenSource it and so I build
a little webpage and announced it on happypenguin.org. Soon after the
announcement was done some people picked it up and ported it to Linux,
I again didn't really touch much of the code, but simply did a bit
organisation here and there.

http://netpanzer.berlios.de



A while after that Happypenguin GoTM was born, it was a project meant
to pick every month a open source game and improve some key aspects
of it. We started with SuperTux and joined an already ongoing effort
to bring the old SuperTux into a clean shape. I did most of the
graphics, some code and around half of the levels of the reborn
SuperTux Milestone1.



http://www.happypenguin.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1243

http://supertux.lethargik.org



After SuperTux was done, some people moved on to TuxKart, we didn't
manage to turn it into a playable game and had to fork it due to some
issues, but plenty of new graphics got done and some unfinished
improvements where done. A while after the SuperTuxKart code was
picked up by some other people and the project is quite alive know
gain:



http://supertuxkart.berlios.de/



Then GotM picked LinCity and we gave that game some new graphics and
user interface, I modeled most of the 3D buildings, while other people
worked on the code and interface graphics. The project got mostly
finished, however I still consider it a failure since one of the key
problems wasn't addressed, namely the game still misses a proper
tutorial and some game elements just don't make any sense.



Windstille also got picked up by GotM, while we didn't manage a
release, it got a large over vault and its the game that I am
currently still working on. Beside from that I am also a little bit
working on getting SuperTux Milestone2 done.



Q. Of the above, do you have a favourite?


Construo is probably my best game that nobody knows about, its plain
and simple and actually fun to play, while many of the other projects
never went that far and got stuck somewhere earlier. It happens to be
the only of my games that I can actually enjoy playing. Beside from
that there is also Windstille, since that game is in some part based
on Retriever and I am kind of working on it for like 10 years I have
grown pretty attached to it.



Q. What attracted you to developing & contributing to open source
games rather than selling your efforts as shareware or commercial
titles?


Rather simple: Money means trouble, no money means a smooth ride. If I
open source it I don't have to care about advertising, publishers and
whatever, I can simply concentrate on the game and do whatever I like
instead of trying to figure out what would actually sell. Open Source
also gives the freedom to recycle bits and pieces from other project
much easier. Its also much easier to accept contributions when no
money is involved.



That said, all this is of course only true as long as you don't need
the money and do it in your spare time, when you actually want to make
a living out of writing games Open Source doesn't seem to be much of a
good choice.



Q. From your experiences, what would you say are the best tips for
making a successful open source game?


I think the by far two most important things are this:



Figure out what exactly you want to do before announcing the game to
the public. Sounds simple, but many Open Source games completly fail
on that, people tweak around an engine for month and years without
anybody having a clue where the whole game is actually going. So they
never really go anywhere with their project, but just running around
in circles forever.



Don't expect anybody else to help you, be prepared to do everything
yourself. When you do a Open Source game you won't magically get
contributions, you might get none at all, so you shouldn't depend on
them to get the job done, but instead be prepared to do everything
yourself.



Q. What are the things to avoid, the things that make FLOSS game
development fail?


One simple rule would be to not start a new project, ever. Try to join
one of the already ongoing Open Source projects, if you don't see them
going anywhere, hijack them and give them some direction. A goalless
project can often be very easily turned into a different direction, it
just requires that you actually know exactly where you want to be
going.



Another thing: Don't aim to low. Of course you shouldn't try to do
Doom3 when you don't have a clue about 3D programming, but there
simply isn't a need for yet another Tetris clone, we have by far
enough of that. If you try something new, try to actually make
something new, don't just recreate something for which there already
exist dozens of recreations.



Q. If you could take one abandoned FLOSS game and restore it's
development (excluding your own titles!) which would it be?

Liquidwar, that game has a pretty cool concept, but rather ugly
interface and graphics, it could definitvly need some additional
polish and improvements.



My favorite Adonthell also needs a new release, it has been going
forward very slowly in the last years and could definitvly need a
solid push.



Q. What are your future game development plans and which of your
games do you hope to see come to fruition in the near future?


I currently do a lot of work on Windstille, a lot of which actually
isn't even very relevant to the game itself (i.e. history, ship
design, etc.). I am more or less trying to create a little universe
instead of just what I would need for a simple 2D action adventure.
If I ever get done with Windstille itself, I probably turn some of
that additional material into a game of its own. One thing I always
wanted to do was a realistic mech simulation, kind of an Operation
Flashpoint in space type of game. However knowing that such a game
would require a loooonnnggg time I prefer to stick for the moment with
my simple 2D game in the Windstille universe, since even that is
already hard enough of a thing to get done.




Interview Notes



Thursday, April 05, 2007

Quake3 Total Conversions

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It's really great when a company like iD Software release their game engines under a Free license. It means all the hard work by modders (the vast majority of community game development goes into modding commercial games) can be made available to everybody and not just owners of the game. It also means they can improve the engine to suit their games. So, without further ado, here's a few really cool total conversions of Quake 3...



Western Quake 3 is a wild west TC. Accurately simulated classic weapons, new music, obviously models and maps, and various gameplay tweaks mean it should be quite an interesting experience. Still in beta but a new release is imminent.



Urban Terror made a release on April 1st. It's a Counter-Strike-like game. 'Nuff said.



Tremulous, one of the original FPS RTS combo games, recently celebrated the 1 year anniverisary of their 1.1 release - the first standalone version of the game and the one that really got people talking. Since then there has never been a moment when somebody was not playing the game. They posted an interesting graph depicting play activity. A new release (1.2) is imminent.



Bid For Power is a rather cool looking Dragonball Z TC for Quake 3. Unfortunately they only have a Windows version at the moment.



Spiderman: Dynamic Forces looks cool. Sadly they got sent a cease & desist order by Marvel. Fans making games is wrong, apparently?



World of Padman is a Toy Story-like game, whose inaugral release was on April 1st as well. It's no joke either! In fact, it's a rather fun game. :-)



If only other game engines were released as Free Software, then mods like Air Buccaneers (Unreal Tournament 2004 TC) could become standalone free/Free games too.



Are there any other interesting Q3 TCs not mentioned here? I did a little digging (I'm a bit busy today) but came up with not-much.



Music tip:

Absolut feat. V-Tunes - Boxrocker

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Some Classic Game Remakes

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I came across the Hardwar project the other day, a contemporary remake of the classic game. No visible progress but plenty of ambition and a cute website. We shall see if it gets anywhere.



A remake that has made some good progress is Game of Bases, putting a modern spin on a Commodore 64 classic Flash Attack. Control 4 tanks, protect your base, and take out your opponents.



I mentioned FlowFlowMania the other day, a Pipe Mania remake. Since then there have been a few updates - 0.5 was announced on Freshmeat although not on the FlowFlowMania site at the time of writing.



Gno3dtet



Blockout was the original 3D tetris. Gno3Dtet (aka 3D Tetris) is a remake that looks very similar to the original in terms of the tile graphics.



Beware, for I have known more than one person be addicted to that game to the point it adversely affected their degrees!



Not a remake, nor open source, but the Flash adventure game "The Terrific Menace of the Invaders from Audio Galaxy" (I'm not typing that again!) is reminiscent of the Lucasarts classic Day of the Tentacle (these days playable using ScummVM). It is, of course, free to play.



Shadow of the Beast 3D



Remember Shadow of the Beast? I loved that game, and the follow up (Shadow of the Beast II, of course). Somebody started remaking it in 3D! Sadly it doesn't seem to be headed anywhere (last updated 2 years ago) but I live in hope.



(Y'know, I swear I'd mentioned that last one before but Google says I haven't and I'm not reading 100 posts to see if I did!)



I'll finish off with a Super Mario remake. Since the Secret Maryo developers only provide source packages for Linux, I created some Secret Maryo 0.99.5 packages for Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (might work on Dapper Drake). Enjoy!



Music tip:

Franke, Neumann - Criss Source (Titan Remix)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Beyond The Red Line

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Welcome to post number 100 on Free Gamer. Slowly I am finding out how to push blogger to it's limits. The list is starting to look much better, now that the layout is getting there. The tedious work of populating it with real information is looming. Once that is done, several more mini-lists will sprout up.



Anyway, back to the daily grind of talking about Free Software games. It's a hard knock life, it is. ;-)



Starting with Freeciv, which saw 2.1beta4 released (download) over the weekend. (Not sure how I missed that yesterday.) It fixes many crashes so hopefully should be a lot more stable than 2.1beta3 which, in my experience, was fairly ropey. Initial feedback seems to be pretty good.



I created some Ubuntu packages for Freeciv-2.1beta4. I felt like doing a good deed for the day, or something like that.



Beyond The Red Line



Battlestar Galactica: Beyond The Red Line is a game being developed by fans for fans of the series and is based on a modified version of the open sourced Freespace2 engine. It looks fantastic! They just released a demo of their work so far.



Since it is a total conversion (i.e. not a mod) you do not need the origianl Freespace2 game [media] to play, making this game Free! Another cool 3D arcade space shooter joins the mix. Awesome. :-)



I've not mentioned Open City for a while. This 3D Sim City inspired title is slowly taking shape. The last release was showing a lot of promise and I'm hopeful the next release (thriftily labelled 0.0.5) should have all the essential elements of a city management game.



Iris2



Another game that saw a release over the weekend was Iris2. This is a complete rewrite using the OGRE 3D engine. It looks very tasty indeed. Whilst you do need the original Ultima Online files, you can download a trial version for free and use it to play unlimited on free shards as it only locks you out of official shards (shards being servers).



Music tip:

Rooster & Peralta - Pornokopia (Kobbe & Leeds mix)



PS. Please comment on the new list format. Good feedback early on means less work later on fixing it!

Monday, April 02, 2007

UFO:AI 2.1

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UFO:AI 2.1 was released (changelog, download) yesterday.



This is turning into an incredible game. It takes the best elements of the original UFO games and builds on them with contemporary technologies to produce what really has to be one of the leading - if not the best - open source games available. If you want to see how cool it looks, just go over to their screenshot gallery.



Importantly this version adds the foundations for a storyline. So subsequent releases will include a story to compliment the gameplay. Awesome! :-)



3D RPG game Scourge has seen quite a lot of development since it's last version. Notably, the game has been localized and translated to Italian, and the UI is being overhauled with a completely new inventory screen that is more traditional i.e. similar to games like Diablo.



With those new features and lots of bugs fixed, hopefully a new release will follow soon.



The 3D post-apocolyptic RTS Warzone 2100 Resurrection team snook out a 2.0.6 release (changelog, download, screenshots) at the weekend as well. It is mainly bug fixes, but shows that they are working away at improving the game - which these days is also another really good open source game.



Another small release for Those Funny Funguloids. It is still Windows only but, GPL and all, hopefully a Linux version will be out soon.



And I came across Memonix the other day, published by Viewizard of Astromenace fame. It is a polished game for kids that is freeware on Linux. It's really good fun for those young'uns. And me. :-)



In oher news, I'm happy because there's a whole year before we have to suffer the next April foolish idiots day. ;-)



Music tip:

RLP & Wise - On Your Side (Electro mix)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

My Favourite Day Of The Year

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Well, not really, I never enjoy reading rubbish people try to make up to be funny. Honestly, if I want a laugh, I'll go to a comedy store. Anyhow...



World of Padman. 3D, Toy Story esque setting and freeware. It's a deathmatch game but comes with bots, it runs on Linux and Windows, looks fantastic, and even has a promo trailer. Released today, surely this is not an April Fool's as it is too elaborate. Or maybe it is just a promotion for a commercial game, released as freeware for today only? Who knows. This is why I don't like April 1st. Anyway, download it and see. It's not open source though.



I've been whining about a lack of good platform games, but I found a few on GetDeb.



The Goonies



I came across The Goonies just after posting on Friday. It's a remake of a classic NES game, but with better graphics and sound. It's quite tricky to play but a good time waster.



Then I tried to play Magicor which looks fun, but it crashed on my Feisty Fawn setup. There's a tip for getting it to run in the comments on GetDeb but I only just saw that now.



Looking at the list though, there's quite a few platform games. There's Nikwi, which I've mentioned before. There's Secret Maryo which is enjoying sustained development and increasingly nice graphics. Of course we have SuperTux, and there's Fuzzy Adventure which was looking promising although development seems to have stagnated. Still, my point is there's options.



Since it's a Sunday and I'm feeling lazy, I'm just going to give a general non-electro music tip. (I'm too partied out to listen to electro right now.)



So... music tip: Goldfrapp



Lastly a few people have commented to me directly that the games list is a bit broken. I know it is. I'm slowly fixing it and restoring it to it's former glory, but even better. Only I can't do it offline because I'm not that clued up on how Blogger works, so I have to fiddle with it live.



All I'll say is that I have grand plans [or delusions of grandure] for turning this into an award winning blog. So I either just made a glamourous prediction or made myself look foolish. Who cares? ;-)