Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sitting on my Toadstool

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I came across an interesting Ubuntu forum thread the other day - where I posted this on May 26th 2006:

This thread has inspired me to do something:

Fascinating. It's come a long way since then! :-)

The big news of today is probably the Secret Maryo Chronicles 1.0 release. It's an intriguing project and is gaining some very nice vector-based graphics. I'm still not convinced they have replaced all the ripped graphics and sounds that were in the previous version (0.99.7) nor addressed the gameplay defficiencies I felt were present - the feel of the game wasn't quite right - there is no acceleration, you are either running or not running, making it hard to control the character. It is still an ongoing project and importantly it's a playable game with a fair amount of levels and decent graphics so is worth checking out. It's definitely close to being an open source game that makes people go, "Oooh, nice!" ;-)

Finity Flight II is an open source overhead 2D shooter which several episodes to play and is available for both Linux and Windows. I gave it a shot - it had nice graphics but the gameplay was mystifying to me. I struggled to shoot or be shot unless I was stationary. All artwork and code is available under GPL. It's intriguing and the author has obviously put a lot of effort into it, and has a few other games available.

AlphaShooter is a sci-fi first person shooter. Whilst it may never become a fully fledged game in it's own right, the author has put it online and continues to work on it it the hope that it will be useful as an example on how to get started in computer graphics and games development.

Back to the shadows to plot the expansion of my Free Gamer empire... ;-)

Monday, July 30, 2007

New Look

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You may or may not have noticed - depending on whether you have had your morning coffee or not - that Free Gamer has a new look! Thanks go to Iwan 'qudobup' Gabovitch for a sterling contribution. It gives the site it's own identity and he has come up with a cool fg logo and smart little icons. Anyway I love it, so thanks Iwan. In the spirit of open source he has made his work available as public domain.

Only a short one today as I'm short on time and energy after sorting this out...


Dungeon Craft

There's a new release of JCRPG. Whilst it's still a long way from being a game, it is looking very nice and a few people have started to contribute models. If development pace keeps up of this 3D classic RPG framework I think we can expect some interesting games to the not-too-distant future coming from this project.

Whilst reading the comments on the JCRPG blog, somebody brought up another Dungeon Master inspired game...

Dungeon Craft:

is an effort to develop an RPG and editor that mimics SSI's Forgotten Realms Unlimited Adventures (FRUA). This project began back in 1995 as an effort to learn more about Windows/DirectX programming.

It's Windows only :-( but has been in development for over 12 years and is still active! (That's impressive on it's own!) It looks quite nice. I wonder if there is any future scope to move it towards cross-platform technology like OpenGL?

Also the new FG forums [next in line for a makeover] have somewhat recovered since that rather annoying freeforums.org crash & data loss. Back to half the number of users and 25% of posts in just under a week which is quite good considering the [currently relatively small] size of the community. Do encourage your open source gaming contemporaries to join in - it would be good to have a central place for open source game [development] discussion outside the noise of larger sites that this guy describes, I think accurately, as ironically lonely places. Certainly there are many Free Software game projects that are very difficult to find - just like Dungeon Craft - because of the noise that accompanies a site the size of Sourceforge.

Anyway, back to normal tomorrow... hope you like the new look as much as I do!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Battle Tanks and RPG

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Battle Tanks

Battle Tanks is, "a funny battle on your desk.". Choose one of three vehicles and eliminate your enemy using an arsenal of weapons. Original cartoon-like graphics and cool music, "fun and dynamic," and it has different network modes for deathmatch and cooperative style gameplay. I don't believe it has a single player version, yet. The game is open source and available for Linux (source) and Windows. It's a relatively new game (sf.net project was registered in 2006) so there are still some teething issues it seems.

Adonthell, a longstanding open source console RPG engine has seen it's first update in a couple of years - version 0.4.0 alpha 1. The previous version, 0.3.5, is packaged with a small game called Wastes Edge which is one of the few completable open source games with a storyline and is available for every OS known to man. Whilst the new 'development' version doesn't come packaged with a game, it's good to see a project with nearly 10 years of history is not yet ready to be buried by the sands of time.

The developer of Damnation of the Gods (screenshots) has been in touch. When I mentioned this game last time, a commenter pointed out it hadn't been updated in 2 years. Well, the author of DotG dropped me an email:

I am the developer of DotG - And believe me - did I get a boost from
seeing your post on the freegamer blog!

The problem with DotG right now is the graphics - When I did begin coding on DotG I did it using graphics from the Dungeon Master Java project ... So I put together something - and released (with permission from the graphics artists). Later I got a mail which said something to effect that I couldn't use the graphics any longer (or at least parts of it). Now (quite some time later I started coding again - had completely forgotten about that "small" detail ;) - And then I remembered... However I haven't checked on which parts I can use, and which I cannot - So I think - perhaps it is better to start from scratch and try to get ahold of graphics-artists that can imagine releasing stuff for DotG under an completely open license...

So - the code is out there (GPL'd), but i have no graphics that can go
with it (Just minor stuffs). What I would like to do now is get graphics for my project (prefferable GPL'd) and release all of DotG under GPL or similar license. (I am a Debian user nowadays.. ;)

Dungeon Master Java is another DM clone available from the forums on www.dungeon-master.com - which has a few other free complete DM clones there although they don't seem to be open source.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New Forums Available

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With many thanks to ghoulsblade and hagish of SFZ fame, there is a new Free Gamer forum. :-)

Unfortunately there is no way to transfer to old database over and even if it was possible the majority of useful content was posted during the period of data loss (anything after June 30th). However, lessons learned, this new forum should be more responsive (freeforums.org was slow), have better uptime (freeforums.org was frequently down) and is far more customizable (i.e. expect a FG theme in the near future etc).

Parallel Universe

There's a new release of Privateer Gemini Gold. Bug fixes and some improved artwork prompted the team to release 1.02a just a month after 1.02 - release early, release often so this is a good thing in my book. I'm not sure if they have addressed the reported high difficulty level of the game though. If you find PGG too difficult, check out Privateer Remake and/or Parallel Universe.

Or wait for the new Vega Strike release which is coming in August. It's looking sumptuous.

JCRPG development is still at a good pace. To get an idea of the feel of this old fashioned RPG engine, the author posted a video:

JCRPG in action

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New TA:Sring Release

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Star Wars: TA

Spring 1944

TA:Spring 0.75b2 is out (a few days after 0.75b1). These are the first releases under a new lead since the previous stable versions. TA:Spring is a spectacular 3D RTS based largely upon Total Annihilation, although these days you do not need TA to play Spring. It has a very healthy mod scene with some amazing looking mods.

One such mod is Star Wars: TA. It is, unsurprisingly, set in the Star Wars universe. It looks like the realisation of every 1970s kid's dream - commanding your own army of stormtroopers annihilating those rebel scum. (Yes, The Empire Strikes Back was by far the best of Star Wars movie. You are wrong if you disagree.)

Another exciting mod is Spring 1944 which looks really promising but is yet to be officially released so I don't know if you can play it yet. So this screenshot will have to do.

Do you like old school (NES) Zelda RPG and do you not really care about uber graphics? Monster should be good fun for you.

Worldforge keep up their steady progress. It will be interesting if all the years of work ever culminate in a playable game for this ambitious project. It's all about RPG and expansive 3D worlds.

Speaking of 3D RPG... the MMORPG Planeshift got updated as well. It still looks nice, it still has non-free media. Last time I played it was a while ago (it was a bit boring then - I ran around a town for 30 minutes then gave up) and it looks pretty sweet these days.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Forums Moving

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The forums are moving - I'll come back to that after a few game snippets.

8 Kingdoms 1.1.0 has been released, with bug fixes and minor improvements over the previous stable release (release notes). They have yet to update their website but the new version is on the download page. 8 Kingdoms is an open source 3D TBS game with nice graphics, and can be downloaded for Linux and Windows.

Dave, the author of Battle for Wesnoth, is making a new 3D RPG game with the working name Sliver Tree. It is very early days but Dave has an unusual position in the open source game development world - he has a lot of artistic resources at his disposal. If he really pushes this game, Wesnoth contributors (of which there are many) will back it with artwork, so it is going to be an interesting one to watch. Also I like Dave's approach of keeping games simple. He resisted many calls to add lots of features to Wesnoth which may have taken away from the pure simplicity of the game.

So, back to the forum issue.

Our benevolent hosts freeforums.org have lost 3 weeks worth of data. I could stomach the copious service interruptions with this free service, but losing data is just out of order. They gave a bunch of techincal excuses but the reality is that the service they provided was a long way short of what they offered, and to lose 3 weeks of data like that just smacks of incompetence. They frequently afflicted us with downtime, each time with some excuse of how this downtime would lead to a better and more reliable service, but each time it was the same. Before you shout, "but it was free!" let me remind you they offer this free service to get a large community to whom they can offer paid services i.e. freeforums.org is a shoehorn into the hosting market for the people behind it. Ironically I was considering upgrading to a paid-for service with them to get better uptime and a few more features but do you think I want to pay to rely on them now? No, this was disgusting.

So now I'm sorting out new forums - will be done by tomorrow. Since another "feature" of freeforums.org is the inability to get your own backups or dumps, the new forums will have to be started from scratch. However with about 70 registered users and over 600 posts in only a few months despite the patchy service, I am convinced they serve a need for the free software games community so it was not a wasted effort and a good lesson for the new forums.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

SuperTuxKart 0.3.0

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Well let's start with the fact that despite the complete lack of any announcement whatsoever and no update to the website, SuperTuxKart 0.3.0 is available for download and has been since the 5th July. Well, I'm doing the announcement for them it seems. ;-)

This Super Mario Kart inspired game is available on all popular OSes - Linux, Linux PPC, Mac OSX, and Windows. There's quite a few new features in this release that is a massive improvement over version 0.2:

  • Highscore lists

  • Shortcut detection

  • Improved AI

  • Fullscreen support

  • New track: the island

  • New kart: hexley

  • New penalty: bomb

  • MacOSX support

  • OpenAL and ogg-vorbis support

  • Two new Grand Prixs

  • Improved user interface

I've no idea why it hasn't been announced anywhere. Thanks to the commenter who point out the fact it is available after I complained yesterday about it not being released yet. (Comments are helpful!)

Vega Strike development news - 0.4.4 has been branched. Expect a new version in August once a bit of bug squashing and play balancing has been finished on that branch.

There's also an update on the Dungeon Digger website. With development restarted hopefully this game will become playable soon. I loved the old Dungeon Keeper games so I'm quite eager for this project to make progress. :-)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Counting the Days

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I dunno what happened yesterday. A combination of not-much-happening and being-very-busy I guess.

I wish SuperTuxKart 0.3 would come out, and FreeCiv 2.1, and SuperTux 0.4, and a bunch of other games that are close to release but just are taking ages to get over their respective hurdles.

Promisingly there's quite a bit of movement on the Pingus revival. People are working on an SDL port for it and it's mostly back to it's previously released state of the Lemmings-like game. The number of interested contributors bodes well for future development which may see a decent level editor among other cute features. For more information the best place is probably the Pingus forum.

Development of Mars: Land of No Mercy continues at a steady pace. There's plenty of new graphics going into the next version of the game which may also be playable in a tech demo kinda way. I was trying to post a sceenshot to give readers an idea of what the game is going to be like, but my current location has such a poor net connection that it can't upload to blogger. Anyway, the game is 2D isometric mech turn-based strategy.

Pi Armada, a Wing Commander Armada clone, has a new project lead. His first priority is to make it work on Linux and Macs since currently Pi Armada only runs on Windows. Since it uses Python/Pygame and Vega Strike, all of which are cross platform, porting shouldn't be too tricky. It's quite impressive how games are based on the VS engine.

Anyway, I'm going to go back to day dreaming. May I return with more newsworthy content tomorrow... ? ;-)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Busy Gamer

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PR: Parallel Universe

Too busy to post properly today. :-(

More information on the latter two tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Last Remaining Air Carrier

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Last Remaining

Last Remaining is a 3D FPS RPG in the same vein as Deus Ex. The idea is to have an engrossing storyline where the player must take whatever action is necessary to get to the bottom of the mystery. The game is written in Java with JMonkeyEngine and first version was uploaded yesterday. Intriguing and definitely one to watch. :-)

The author is the same guy behind Passenger and Nuclear Graveyard, and has a devblog on his various game programming endeavours.

A previous release of Nuclear Graveyard had managed to become corrupted when uploaded, a fact which - much to the author's dismay - nobody reported for nearly 2 months despite over 100 downloads. Anyway, if you were one of those people who downloaded the game and (benefit of the doubt) was unable to get it working then now would be a good time to try again!

He is also moving Passenger from JOGL to jMonkeyEngine (which uses JOGL) which should make subsequent development of the game easier. Anybody who things Java is slow and rubbish for games may want to check out the jME showcase page.

Air Carrier

It turns out that at least one of the games on that showcase page is open source! Air Carrier looks like a splendid 3D aerial combat game. It aims to support single and multiplayer, with gameplay based around plane to plane dogfighting, and strategic use of airborne carriers.

Another notable open source project using jME is Java Classic RPG - the development of which is continuing at a nice pace.

All of these games mentioned today should support all major operating systems (at least Lin, Mac, Win plus anything else supported by JOGL) as they are written in Java - and Java is portable, right? ;-)

There is another good article over at Liberty Gaming that discusses stratagies for expanding Free gaming. He mentions Project Open which I need to really follow through on. Also I hope FG and the FG forums somewhat contribute towards making open source games more accessible, that's the intention anyhow.

I did have something else to mention but I'll save it for tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2007

FreeOrion and Global Conflict Blue

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Global Conflict Blue

Global Conflict Blue is a:"

a real-time 3D naval and air warfare simulation game similar to Fleet Command and Harpoon. The goal is a scalable single player and multiplayer game that can handle scenarios ranging from simple engagements playable in 30 minutes to massive campaigns contested over weeks.

It's only available for Windows but it's open source and a lot of it is written in Python so that can change. Intriguingly it has been adapted by the Thai Navy for for training purposes although sadly they haven't made their changes availalbe to the wider public.

There's a Linux binary of FreeOrion available for download here. I'm not sure whether it's the latest stable version or latest from SVN but it should provide an opportunity for people who hadn't previously played the game to get an idea of what it is about. It is confirmed as working on an i386 Unbuntu Feisty system.

Development of FreeOrion continues at the same steady pace it has done for several years, which is promising. Some nice new graphics and features are coming. It's a well designed and well thought out game that will have a lot of depth and longevity when fully realised.


Scourge development continues steadily as well. The next release of this RPG game game will feature outdoor environments and traps. If a couple more people would contribute to Scourge it could rapidly become an absolutely amazing open source RPG, so hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later. It is starting to look pretty good though, as you can see in this screenshot.

It is sometimes a slight shame that some projects get very laden with contributors - to the point that much effort is discarded because of the high standards of other contributions - whilst the developers of other projects slug it out with only token help.

Finally, as expected FreeCol 0.7.0 got released on Friday. :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Outlaws on Interstates

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A little bit late today, but that's ok because tomorrow is Sunday, a Holy day, a day of rest, so I don't have to post. :-D

Eek, where to start?

Tilt-n-Roll is an innovative open source project that uses the tilting mechanism in modern laptops to recreate the classic wooden labyrinth experience. GPL, runs on Lin, Mac, and Win. What more could you ask for?

Version 1.4 of the semi-open source 3D RPG game SoulFu is available for download from Aaron Bishop's homepage. The page only lists .exe downloads but I'm sure Linux versions will appear in the official forums sooner rather than later.

SoulFu minivid

Soul Fu creator Aaron has responsed to the general querying of his "unique" distribution methods for the game:

I wanted to make a good game, and I do want people to improve it -- I simply don't have the time or desire to do it myself. Getting millions and millions of people to play the game is a goal, but SoulFu is a lot of things... It's a little experiment in creative marketing, an object lesson in morality, a nice résumé, and a tool for would-be game makers. I personally think SoulFu is more fun than most games you'd buy in the store -- they sell the sizzle, not the steak. And it has the potential to be much more, especially if you get a couple of friends together...

The game has a lot of interest and support. If, from the get go, he'd released it as open source, set up merchandising with cafepress and added Google ads to his sites, he'd be making more money than he is now and SoulFu would have many more people contributing to it and helping him market it.

So, yesterday I commented on how similar Automanic and Interstate Outlaws were. The main author of IO dropped me an email:

Just letting you know whats going on with Automanic, as you seem to be hanging out for it. I'm the guy that was working on it, but I've since dropped Automanic, and am now coding Interstate Outlaws. That's probably why they seemed similar to you :) You should try IO, i think it is better than Automanic was, and is probably similar to what Automanic 0.3 or maybe 0.4 would have been.


After posting I did think to myself this could be the case but was busy with other stuff so didn't go back and post a note saying as such. Still, not much to say other than, "Common Sense 1 - 0 Charlie". That and Interstate Outlaws is a way cooler name than Automanic. ;-)

Java Classic RPG project has another snapshot release, showing off day-night cycles and lots of foilage. It's starting to look quite cool although a long way off being an actual game, but every step is a step closer. :-)

Also version 2.2.0 of Bygfoot Football Manager has been released. Not much change from the 2.1.x releases other than stability and translations. I still don't like the UI but haven't had time to work on my own creation yet... *evil grin* soon, my children, soon...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Interstate Outlaws

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Interstate Outlaws

Interstate Outlaws is a 3D vehicle deathmatch game based on the 2 Interstate games released by Activision. Developed using Crystal Space, they announced their first public release which shows a lot of promise. It is available for Linux and Windows.

It reminds me a little bit of Automanic which is also a 3D vehicle deathmatch game based on the Interstate games and developed using Crystal Space. Automanic development seems to have stalled for the time being though. :-(

There's rumblings of development resuming on Dungeon Digger, the Dungeon Keeper inspired project. Good. I was getting concerned that it was another early, promising project to bite the hard reality dust.

FreeCol 0.7.0 is supposed to be out today. Also SuperTuxKart 3.0 was branched a week ago in svn so must be imminent too. Both should have Windows and Linux releases possibly with Mac releases to follow later.

*twiddles thumbs impatiently*

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ascii 3D

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New VS Models :-)

Tower - a rogue-like with a difference. The art is ascii, but it's rendered in 3D. Interesting...

The devblog for Vega Strike is full of activity. People are sorting out new artwork, replacing the frail sound server, and implementing lots of other improvements to the game. It seems that school is oout and summer is in, so the developers are rallying to make a superb new release of VS a reality in the next month or two.

The up and coming space game Stress Free Zone is seeing lots of development activity. They are working on implementing the ability to walk around your ship. Since your ship is modular this involves generating the ship internals as well as just modelling them. Whilst a lot of the art is placeholder work, the concepts are really cool and I can't wait for that game to get a few more features, a bigger community, and blossom into the awesome game it's threatening to become. I really like the ideas behind SFZ - like reducing things such as trading grind and focusing on keeping the gameplay interesting and fun.

Over at happypenguin.org (which I can barely reach at the moment) they are running a poll about the demise of the platformer. They should check out SauerMod that, among other things, turns Sauerbraten into a platform game. "Other things" includes AI bots, kart racing, and other enhancements to Sauer. Speaking of Sauerbraten, it looks rather lovely these days, as evidenced by this trailer:

Sauerbraten Trailer

A few people commented that they prefer other video hosts to YouTube. Well the choice of video host is not mine - it's up to people who post videos for their games, and I'm not going to be downloading and reuploading gameplay videos every time I want to embed one here so it's hobson's choice there. However I will try and link them each time from no onwards as well as just embedding them. Thanks for the handy feedback! :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Con Kolivas releases last ever -ck patchset

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A bit of a FG special here and a slightly different topic for FG, but still very pertinent to open source development.

Today saw the last ever release of the -ck kernel patchset.

Anybody who ever tried ricing their Gentoo in order to attain half-decent audio/visual perforance, or knows much about kernel patchsets, will no doubt be aware of the -ck kernel patchset. It is a patchset for the Linux kernel that is aimed at providing an optimal desktop experience. It made my old machines usable with Gentoo Linux back in 2001-2003 before I switched to Ubuntu and gave up hope of my old machines ever being able to handle more than one sizeable task at a time. Con took a problem, solved it, but because he wasn't well integrated in Linux kernel development his solution never got the proper attention it deserved.

The two main features of Con's patchset are his Staircase Deadline scheduler and Swap Prefetch. The kernel scheduler decides what processes get access to your computer's CPU and when you are low on memory the kernel pushes inactive applications into swap. In real terms this means that your music lags when you load up OpenOffice.org and Firefox takes 20s to respond to your first click if you didn't switch your PC off last night. In real terms the -ck patchset means no lagging music when you use other applications, and your Linux desktop does not take ages to become responsive if you haven't used it for a while. Basically Con took the rather rubbish default Linux scheduling and swapping logic and threw them out the window. And he has been working on these for years - at least since Linux 2.6.1.

So why is today seeing the last release of -ck? Well, Con has been effectively cast aside by the kernel development process. Justifiably feeling offended, and subsequently lost his desire to keep maintaining a bunch of features that could never get merged into mainline.

When somebody close to Linus runs off and implements their own scheduler, it takes less than 3 months to become integrated into mainline. People will debate back and forth the technical merits of CFS (by Ingo Molnar) and SD (by Con Kolivas) but the reality is that both solutions are good but only SD is very well tested and refined. CFS is still new and raw. It came down to "who you know" and Ingo has his hand on the kernel tree so his solution gets way more contact with the right people and hence is now fast-tracked into Linux as the default scheduler. I don't think the technical merits of either had anything to do with choosing between them. SD was not written by a highly-ranked kernel developer, CFS was. It's just ridiculous that it has taken so many years to get to a stage where the default kernel scheduler is Not Crap (tm).

Understandably completely disillusioned that his efforts are now going to be nothing more than a historic catalyst, Con will no longer maintain this patchset. It is almost redundant now anyway since CFS makes the SD pointless as a patch. Logically concluding that the same would happen with his other major kernel patches, Con is issuing calls to "merge or delete" them because why should he put in years of dedication just for his work to be disregarded for a more junior solution. At last some of it looks like it is going in - notably swap prefetch - but it's a shame that sometimes it takes such extreme measures for decent features to be properly considered. Once Linux 2.6.23 ships, by default Linux desktops will no longer be afflicted by applications taking double-digit times to wake up on an idle machine.

Contributing to open source projects has it's benefits and it's downsides. One of the downsides is that significant contributions can be ignored by upstream and with a project the size of the Linux kernel there is no way you can realistically fork it. Indeed, in smaller projects people will put forward valid contributions that are rejected due to fear of the original author having to maintain something they did not write or create. Not every good line of code will become part of the project it is intended for. One of the true arts of open source project management is striking the right balance between accepting contributions and minimizing the problems they may cause, but it will always be a case that some bad stuff gets in whilst some good stuff gets lost. It happens to games - check out all the OpenTTD contributions many of which were great but never got merged.

The most important thing from such a saga is that people learn from it. Will Linux kernel patch inclusion policies change? I doubt it, but open source is open development - other people can look at this and use it as a basis for making their own contribution acceptance policies. Basically you do not want to lose contributors as talented and dedicated as Con Kolivas.

This article is dedicated to you Con. You improved my Linux experience and that of many others. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Thunder'n'Lightning and iteam

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Good news today. Not only did I finally succeed in getting to name a What the Duck strip, but there's a new Thunder and Lightning release. There are some sweeet new features, focused around AI and an aircraft carrier as well as purty graphical enhancements as you can tell from yonder youtube video below. Also the game is now available as an autopackage making it easier to install for Lusers everywhere, as well as Wusers (!?).

That's the first time I've embedded a youtube video on this blog. Should I do it more regularly? I've avoided it in the past but I quite liked that one.

iteam progress

The iteam project is making rapid progress. Only incepted about a month ago they have made tangible progress. Whilst you still can only get this Gunbound-inspired game via SVN for the time being, it surely can't be long before an actual release should they keep up this kind of momentum.

I'd never heard of Gunbound before I came across iteam. Showing my age a bit... bring back the Spectrums and the Amigas I say! Still looks like a Worms clone to me. Although true gamers would say Scorched Earth, right? :-D

Back on topic, and some more evidence of their progress:

Ok, from never having posted a youtube video to doing it twice in 1 post. Niiice. But damn that music is catchy...

The FreeCol is releasing version 0.7.0 of their Colonization-inspired game on Friday if their roadmap is anything to go by. No point talking more about it until!

"Daaa daa da... duuu duu du..." :-)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Simutrans and Open Arena and Irrlamb

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Open Arena

now with bloom

Simutrans, one of the major open source rail games, gets an update with version 0.99.13 - bug fixes and optimizations are the topic of the day here and with large speed ups for vehicle routing and map scrolling the game should have a nicer feel.

Open Arena ends an 8 month barren spell of releases with 0.7.0 which comes with 10 new player models and 26 new maps. Open Arena looked like a struggling project a year ago but now it is thriving and a worthy Free replacement for the proprietary Quake 3 content.

Irrlamb 0.0.4 is now available, with a bunch of new features for this 3D abstract action / puzzle game. There are binaries for Linux and Windows. I love the regular updatse to this project. :-)

Rumour mill... Angels Fall First demo may be out soon. Check out the trailer. Sumptuous. FG Note: I should try and interview that guy!

Regular readers may know that I'm not big on posting web games (this is an open source games blog after all) but I found this one rather stylish. I bizzarely encountered it on a blog about room escape games that I found whilst cleaning up my bookmarks. I don't think there's a worse genre of game than room escape games. Every time I play one I end up feeling suicidal. Well, ok, not that bad but I can't see how somebody can enjoy just clicking randomly until something lands in your inventory and eventually you can leave a room - it's like focusing the worst aspect of adventure games. Who would repeatedly subject themselves to such torture?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Remorse - a Phenomenal Game

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When looking at stuff like the Ubuntu forums, full of I-love-my-Windows-games posters crying about how WINE and Cedega don't run World of Warcraft perfectly, it's very easy to glance at something and dismiss it as commercial. Fortunately, I gave this thread a second look.

Remorse demo

Remorse is the first game project by Phenomena Games, a group of enthusiasts who have created the Existence 2.0 engine which supports all kinds of fancy things (shaders, physics etc). There are some impressive screenshots and videos - the motionblur effect video is delicious.

Remorse is primarily going to be a single player game, good news in the FPS genre that is swamped with deathmatch games. Anyway, they seem to have a few people working on it and hopefully a bit of exposure might get them a few more contributors. It looks like it has lots of potential.

I mentioned Project Open a few days ago, a place to consolidate efforts to get copyright holders to release abandonware / freeware titles under an open source license. There's a fascinating thread on Hardwar by forum member andrew. It transpires that when the UK company that owned the copryrights became insolvent, the copyright passed onto The Crown - sadly not the Queen of England but the formal entity that covers the land. Anyway, it's good to see him making progress.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Privateer Parallel Universe

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Parallel Universe, a modification of Privateer Remake, has gotten itself a rather smart website and community forums. There's a good bit of work going on over there and the feedback on PU is generally pretty good. Definitely worth a look for space game fans. It is also part of a rather complex development scene based around Privateer & Wing Commander games. I'll get back to that in a bit.

A couple of Ubuntu users have posted their first serious effort at a game, Slingshot. It's a fairly simple 2D affair, take it in turns to shoot at each other, your shots being affected by the gravity pulls of planets.

I've mentioned Egoboo Resurrection a few times - a continuation of the classic game Egoboo. I've not really mentioned that it's only released for Windows despite the original predominantly being a Linux game. It just comes down to a lack of Linux based contributors. However there's another "branch" called Egoboo 2.x which has binaries for Mac OS X and Windows. I'm sure eventually a Linux guy will pop up and help out but until then it seems us Lusers are a bit stuck when it comes to getting an Egoboo fix. I guess there is always SoulFu. Anyway, to encourage contributors one of the Egoboo Resurrection devs posted a development bundle which comes with game editing tools as well as the source.

There's now a Mac OS X binary up for the latest Warzone 2100 release, 2.0.7. Good day for Mac users, eh? :-)

Back to PU and a bit about the scene which PU comes from, and it's all a bit complex, rotating around the Vega Strike engine. Some of the VS devs (herein called the 'devs') made Privateer Remake. This got noticed by the Wing Commander nuts at crius.net (herein called the 'canons') who are dedicated to their cause. Some less fierce but equally obsessed WC fans (herein called the 'non-canons') at the same time started forming Wing Commander Universe, a super-mod that encompassed all things WC, a lot of which started making it's way into PR. Unhappy at the way PR was not completely true to the original Privateer, the canons - with help from the devs - created Privateer Gemini Gold, a fork of PR. The canons publicly denounce WCU. The non-canons decided that not only was the limitations imposed on gameplay in PGG not conducive to a fun game, but they did not go far enough, so created Parallel Universe, something even less true to it's WC heritage that embraces fun over accuracy.

So you now have a triangle of groups - the devs with VS and PR, the canons with PGG who gets help from the devs, the non-canons with WCU and PU who collaborate with the devs on PR. It's quite an interesting thing to follow. It's quite a caustic atmosphere between the canons and the non-canons. At the end of the day, not everybody can always get along, and the canons are abrasive at best, with questionable forum policies and immature moderation the last time I encountered them.

Anyway, my point was that PGG is the most well known of all the projects. However, feedback isn't that great on the latest release 1.02 which new players are finding incredibly hard with a high starting difficulty. The PU team could flank PGG in terms of community by being a more fun game to play so attracting more players and contributors. And there's PR in the middle that will no doubt continue to, well, be in the middle.

I hope I got that all correct. Whilst it was a stormy path to the projects we have today, I think each project serves a niche and they can coexist harmoneously. It may even turn out to be one of those situations where the existance of one is what spurs on the other - Yin and Yang etc. :-)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bos Wars and Glest with ATI

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There's a preview version of Bos Wars 2.4, an RTS in the style of Red Alert, available for download for Linux and Windows (and should compile on other OSes). This version introduces...

"a completely new rate-based economy. Energy is produced by power plants and magma by magma pumps. Building also consume resources continously instead of requiring an upfront payment.

It sounds interesting. Bos Wars development is very active although the majority of developer communication happens on irc instead of the mailing list, which can make it look - to the casual onlooker - as if not much is happening. They could probably do with a devblog too!

Freedroid RPG

FreedroidRPG 0.10.2 final got released as well - well, renamed from 0.10.2rc4, whichever way you prefer to call it. One thing I didn't mention yesterday was that I really like FreedroidRPG's graphics. They are very distinctive and quite good. :-)

The SuperTuxKart 0.3.0 release is tantalisingly imminent. Announcement will be any day now, perhaps over the weekend? A lovely new island track and Hexley the platypus character are two highlights of a significant improvement over the previous version. This game has a lot of potential, so hopefully this release will get a few more people interested in helping out with the development.

Speaking of project communities, Glest, the rather well done 3D fantasy RTS, has quite an active one despite the seeming inactivity of the main developers. This guy has released a final version of his Indian faction for the game. The faction has involved, including learning, some 500 hours of work so is worth checking out. Another guy has a blog dedicated to Glest and there's more WIP factions happening in the Glest forums. Admittedly some of these fan efforts are more enthusiastic than they are well executed, but everybody starts somewhere so good luck to them. ;-)

On a side note, if you are a Linux user with an ATI graphics card and have problems running Glest, this tip might help out.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New Vega Strike in August

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Typical. I stop monitoring Vega Strike for a week or so and everything starts happening. They get a new website, a devblog, and one of the developers commits to an August update for the game to bring the latest developments to players not prepared to dabble in SVN.

Vega Strike has never been a dead project, nor an inactive one, something the lack of a release since 2003 has betrayed for a game purportedly "in development". I think the devblog is an excellent compromise between showing activity and spamming the news page with not-newsworthy items.

VS is an strong example of the growing pains experienced by a popular open source project and how managing releases and resources should be considered as much a task as development itself. I would put the lack of releases down to a failure to manage contributions, but I think they have turned the corner with this.

For an excellent example of good resource management, look at the Battle for Wesnoth project. I'll also note it is easy to look in and criticise, but far harder to apply good practise to your own projects.

There's a Windows SDK available for the FreeOrion project to encourage developers who use Windows. I think this is another good practise, making it more than easy to get started with the source code. I would go as far as to say that the indimidating factor of downloading and using various development tools is probably as big a barrier than knowing how to program. You can learn programming basics from looking at source code and following the logic, but it's meaningless if you can't make a change and see what effect that has.

Other blog watch:

  • There's another description of a game idea over at lostgarden.com although this time it's just a description and not a challenge to create the game (no graphics provided).
  • There's the fourth part of an overview of Linux games here, this part covers MMORPGs and lists at least four open source games.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Oh No More Pingus!

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I'm happy today. No, not just because Arsenal signed a quality striker, but also because it looks like a Pingus revival is on the cards. :-)

The game has been mostly ported to SDL but the SDL port is unplayable. The stable version depends on the aged and not well supported Clanlib 0.6 and it seems there is not enough interest or expertise in upgrading Pingus to Clanlib 0.8 which was released earlier this year. Anyway, a few people have expressed interest in working on the codebase so we can only hope that interest can be turned into tangible progress.

JCRPG continues to get new features, now featuring day and night cycles among other things. If that project keeps up the current development pace we'll have a tidy game come out of the JCRPG framework before the end of the year.

Orbiter. A mature 3D project for contemporary space flight simulation. No explosions.

Snowball is an interesting looking platform game. No development for two years but perhaps it does not need it? Next development is "on ice" - I'm going to inquire to see if that is still the case.

I'm running a little experiment in the FG forums. I've set up Project Open - a place to organise efforts for open sourcing games that would benefit from it, essentially freeware and abandonware games. I'm not going to make much of it until I've managed to successfully encourage somebody to open up their game, but the idea was not mine so it is obvious that there is a desire for this.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The return of Freedroid RPG

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Good morning to open source game enthusiasts and any normal people reading. I feel a bit refreshed after getting back to the Internet having spent nearly 48 hours offline. I know, I nearly died, the withdrawl symptoms were horrendous, but it's ok as I am back online now and have been for nearly 12 hours.

So a few things today. Freedroid RPG development has become really active and a string of new releases has occurred in the last couple of weeks. It is a cross platform isometric RPG game similar to Baldur's Gate Diablo only, instead of swords and scantily clad heroines, you have cattle prods and robotic penguins. It's good to see development pick up and they are focusing on making development easier and fixing bugs, so it's looking like a bright future for the game. The latest release is available for Linux and Windows.

Another game that shows off some of the originality that you can find in indie and open source game projects is Which Way Is Up. A platform game with cute-but-not-bad retro graphics, you have to reach a lever which, when activated, rotates the game world. It's quite an intriguing concept and I'm interested in how much mileage can be gotten out of it. There's lots of interesting touches, like enemies that jump when you jump, making for some tough gameplay. It's a lot of fun and development is ongoing. Written using PyGame, it's available for basically any OS that can run Python.

Project Diaspora is a 2D MMORPG space game. I haven't researched it much but it looks like it used to be a commercial game that was shut down a couple of years ago and some fans (or the original developers?) have gotten the (deceased?) company to release the game code under the GPL and set up their own server. Anyway, most game information and screenshots can be found on the Nightsoft.net forums that seem to be especially for Project Diaspora. You can play it on both Linux and Windows.

Busy day today since I was AFK all weekend! Warsow 0.31 is out. I like the project description on Freshmeat:

Warsow is a standalone, eSports-oriented FPS game. It is based on Qfusion, an advanced modification of the Quake 2 engine. It features fast-paced gameplay focused on trix (trick jumps) and art of movement. War§ow features a complete power-up system, including weak and strong fire mode for each weapon in all "normal" gametypes as well as Warshell (battle shield) and Warshock (quad damage) for team-based gametypes. Its cartoonish graphics use cel shading with a style that is similar but not identical to Manga.

I haven't been able to load happypenguin.org since I got back. That site has been up and down like a yo yo lately. Oh well, people have Free Gamer to read so that's ok. ;-)

Seriously though, I'm thinking of procuring a domain name (as suggested in the FG forums) and then possibly migrating the lists to a host outside of Blogger - probably a sourceforge.net project. I'm wary that having the lists on Blogger will mess up RSS and that maintaining the lists in HTML is just not scaling. If I move the lists (not the blog, the blog stays) to Sourceforge, then I can use a proper database and have user ratings and comments etc. Saying that, all this talk of game lists is a bit weak when I've left them in a mess for the last couple of months but, hey, I'm a busy guy. :-)