Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ultra Fickle Overtones

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UFO:AI


There's beta installers for Linux and Windows for the popular open source game UFO:AI. The changelog for version 2.2 is impressive. The download link is a bit hard to get to - a ploy to stop too many players mistakenly downloading the beta when they didn't realise it might have bugs. Anyway, grab it here, and help them make UFO:AI 2.2 a great release. :-)



There was an interesting comment on the observation I made regarding the version number of LordsAWar:



0.0.3 for the lordsawar version doesn't mean 3% done. The game has most aspects of Warlords 2 implemented, where as freelords only has a few.


Well why version 0.0.3 then? Ok, I admit, version numbers are probably one of the least important aspects of game design. But, come on, really, if your game has lots of features and close to what you consider "1.0" for your game, then label is as such. People who are casually looking for a game to play will see 0.0.3 and think, "not even alpha." They won't play it. Players are fickle like that.



Version numbers imply the amount of progress towards the author's vision of the game. To me, 1.0 is the original vision and past that are evolutions of that vision.




JCRPG


Speaking of vision, I'll also give a quick mention to JCRPG whose author seems to be relentless in his efforts to bring a quality classic RPG framework with all the modern trimmings. Some of his trees are not to far off being life-like in quality. If somebody had the drive to start making a game based on his work so far, thereby pushing things even further, we could see some amazingly atmospheric games.



My brother alluded to an interesting point when commenting on the state of modern gaming. FPS games are monotonous, they are rarely atmospheric. It's just the same sprint shoot sprint cycle except with different weapons and backdrops. The gaming genre has become boring as the limitations of games have eroded away. Complete freedom to move often has the undesired consequence of making the world less interesting as there is no longer a challenge to navigating it - just find the next gap and run through it, all guns blazing. CRPGs used to be mazey, claustrophoic ordeals where you constantly had to plan to avoid getting into too many consecutive battles as monsters were quite fatal. The game worlds were not massive, but they were hard. The gaming industry seems to have forgotten that an enclosed but well defined world is more intriguing than a a massive open one which just looks pretty and has no substance.



Maybe I'm wrong, I haven't played many commercial games in the last 5 or 6 years, but when I have it reinfoces the above feeling. Just a thought.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Return of the Jedi Gamer

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WWWWhaaaat?! 3 days since I last posted? Disgraceful.



Oh well, trying and make this one interesting I guess! ;-)




Blood Frontier


Blood Frontier, a single player FPS using the Sauerbraten engine, has seen it's first alpha release become available for download. As it's a Sauer mod, it works on all major platforms. It aims to provide an atmospheric single player experience with depth, one of the major missing open source genres. The game development will be open source but I don't think there's anything in SVN yet as the main author doesn't know how to use SVN - but that'll change.



I think games will start emerging from the Sauer stables now the engine has matured a bit. There are thousands of game modders out there producing content for free for commercial titles, and I think Sauer could attract a lot of those if the community makes a lot of noise about it. Of course, it's not perfect, but community projects can be improved and cater to the community, so it's a powerful platform for creating Free games.




Vega Wars


Let's start with the first screenshots of Vega Wars - a marriage between Vega Strike and Vega Wars. Whilst these are simply Star Wars models in-game, creating a decent amount of game content is one of the most time consuming aspects of mod-creation (and Vega Wars is a mod) so it's good to see that part being made significantly quicker by gaining access to the vast majority of required models, all of which are of considerable quality in both detail and accuracy.



Speaking of Vega Strike, development is very active at the moment and there's only a few minor things left to do before the next major release. There are still a lot of improvements to be made to the game but the combination of active development and an active community will see to that. Hopefully from no onwards releases will be more frequent and less signficant.



There's another Egoboo Resurrection release. Version 2.4.3 is another impressive update and if it keeps going Egoboo may actually be better than it's predecessor. Saying that, it looks like SoulFu is becoming fully open source with talk of a Sourceforge project appearing in the near future to manage development. Egoboo is still only distributed as source and a Windows binary, but the source version should (I'm told) compile on Linux although a few graphical glitches still remain.



Time to take the two Free Gamer hounds for a walk, lest they start eating my feet in nervous desparation.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Extreme Tux Racer

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Extreme Tux Racer


The team over at Extreme Tux Racer - the latest fork to take on the Tux Racer continuation mantle - have made their inaugral release. It's still a bedding-in period with no real major updates other than a new campaign (cup?) but hopefully it will signal the start of a new lease of life for development of a popular open source franchise.



FreeLords, the project cloning Warlords, have made their first release since changing to Java as their programming language of choice. No more dependencies (except Java, of course), automatic portability, and the promise of network play, all bode well for the future but this snapshot release isn't playable yet. However it seems their time machine works well since these announcements are from 2008 - if they have a time machine then this game is sure to succeed.



LordsAWar, a fork of discontinued FreeLords C++ codebase, has hit version 0.0.3. Whilst that sounds very small I think it's not really a reflection on the completeness (implying 3%) as the C++ FreeLords was in development for years and I think this project is just trying to gain some early momentum.



The Secret Maryo project is keeping up it's good progress with another release. Version 1.1 sees the game make more steps to being a platform game worthy of the Mario moniker that it emulates.



The OpenTyrian project came up on the freegamedev.net forums. Tyrian is an old DOS game, a vertical scrolling shooter. Those games used to be so much fun - most games did in those days. Anyway, before I digress, this is just a port of the game to C/SDL. You need the original game to play it :-( but, since it's available on most abandonware sites, that shouldn't be hard to find.



Also I note Free Gamer made its debut on Slashdot, more about that tomorrow. No, it's not so significant that it gets its own post, it just caused me to think about something I wanted to express i.e. when the first iteration of this paragraph was longer than the rest of the post put together, it became obvious it needed its own space. ;-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

FreeCol update

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FreeCol


A game update of interest (not been many lately) - FreeCol 0.7.2. Not too much else of interest going on. A few months ago I would have spent some time digging up unusual games or extra development information. Or write some interview questions or something. My time however is very limited at the moment.



I have a few Free game commitments and I really want to focus on creating Fortress. It's been a long time coming but I'm now at a stage where I want to contribute to a game as well as making copious amounts of net noise.



As such perhaps it is time to make this a more public blog - have some people contribute to it. Make it more community-based.



I'm thinking about it...



The other thing I need to do is organise things a little for the www.freegamedev.net (forums current here) community. A few simple tasks and things would be able to run without me but I've been too busy to sort that stuff out.



Anybody got some free spare time? I couldn't find any low cost spare time on ebay.



Hrmm... there's a thought... auctioning off your spare time on ebay... :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Not Dead

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Nope, I'm not dead, just caught up in doing real work so time has been at a premium lately.




Eat the Whistle


Also not dead is arcade football game Eat the Whistle. They have migrated to SVN as they build up to a new release. 'They' could mean just 'he' or just 'her' as I'm not quite sure how many people are working on EtW but the good news is it is being worked on. It's a fun game to play but suffered from being very buggy so hopefully this release will bring it a new lease of stable life.



What has been dead has been my Freshmeat inbox - no notable game releases for a while apart from Widelands, Bub Brothers, ja2-stracciatella, Wormux, and Xarvh. And those are just the ones on the Game Tome. Still, like I say, Freshmeat has been quiet. ;-)



Xarvh is not linked because it has been renamed to Everborn. It's a turn-based multiplayer fantasy strategy game, with real-time battles, born as a clone of Simtex's Master of Magic. In case you didn't know.




Star Wars Warlords


The other news centres around Vega Strike being close to release with massive SVN updates making it much faster to load/play. Also the Star Wars mod for VS, imaginatively named Vega Wars, had some very good news in that it has access to a slew of Star Wars models from the Star Wars Warlords project (a mod for Homeworld 2) that simply need converting to a format VS supports - which means a playable release of that project before the end of the year is quite realistic possibility. A Free Software game featuring some of these models is an exciting prospect!



I will probably come to an agreement with some other FreeGameDev forum members on posting here so that, should I forget or lose a limb, somebody else can step in and take on the mantle of bringing you all the fascinating Free Software game news. :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Briskly Brief

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I'm really quite strapped for time right now so again this is brief.



Stargus, the Stratagus-based project to get native Starcraft on Linux, is close to release. If the screenshots are anything to go by then Stargus will be pretty playable with this release.



The latest Freedroid RPG release looks nice. The project seemed to have stalled earlier in the year but there's lots of contributors these days which is nice to see.



Want to make games but not a programmer? Maybe Mokoi Gaming is for you. The project is in it's infancy but it's already usable although the documentation is a little sparse. Still, it all seems well done so a bit of user feedback I'm sure will be warmly received.



Tennix now has SVG graphics. A very concise concept is turning into a nice little game to while away the occasional onset of boredom.



Also another simple game shaping up nicely is Qonk, with 5-minute galactic conquest gameplay.



No screenshots. No time to find any. :-(



Edit: also the FIFE developers are celebrating their project's 2nd birthday. Always a good milestone to have had 2 years ongoing development.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nuxified and Cluenet FOSS Game Tournament

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The forums are NOT down, they are still up here:
http://freegamer.schattenkind.net/



I'm moving admin of the freegamedev.net domain over to tuxfamily.org so it can be more useful than a simple redirect. [watch this space!]



On top of that, if your Free Software game project includes non-Free art then you need to be careful. Why? Because this could happen to you. Sure it's a setback that the Warsow team will recover from, but by using an appopriate license or agreeing terms this situation could be avoided.



For instance I'm accepting some non-Free contributions to a project of mine but I made sure the author agreed the graphics had irrevocable usage rights for the project. So he can't rip his graphics out if he has a change of heart.



Anyway, the whole purpose of creating games is to play them, right? Well, Nuxified and Cluesoft have come together to put together a tournament using solely Free Software games. They haven't yet chosen the exact games for the tournament so contribute your opinion if you want to be playing your favourite game if you want to take part.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fill This Space

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Hrm... *eyes shift left then right* ...something's wrong - I don't know what to write about.



I could start with that ATI/AMD releasing ATI GPU specs and committing to helping out the open source drivers, but everybody else is doing that and to be honest - whilst game related and good news for ATI (who were close to being written off as a half-decent provider of hardware for anybody intending to run Linux which is actually quite a lot of people) it's not overly relevant to open source games which tend to be, wel, not so demanding on our GPUs.



Oh, if you read that first here, either you are a really dedicated Free Gamer reader and checked FG first thing after sleeping for 16 hours having slept so long because you spent the entire day ready the FG archives, or you have your head in the sand when it comes to technical news... ;-)



I tried out Interstate Outlaws, the Carmageddon-ish game that is the successor to [the now defunct project] Automanic. It comes with an auto-update feature, which is kinda refreshing. Normally one must do this things manually or wait for your distro to do it. Given how out of date most games in Ubuntu are (and Ubuntu is pretty cutting edge by most distro standards) this is a welcome feature. Only it doesn't really work - but the game is 0.1.x still so bumps are to be expected. Still, the cars looked really cool before the game prevented me driving them. :-D



What's more interesting is that they have created an intro movie for Interstate Outlaws. You can see it on YouTube or wait for them to include a full quality version in the game.



You can now play Wormux online! More instructions here.



Hrm... what else... nothing not mentioned recently in other posts so I'll keep it short and sweet today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

How Original

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I really shouldn't be posting right now because I have a million more important things to do but I love you guys so...



There's a preview version of Vega Strike 0.5.0 up for download for Intel Mac users. The VS devs need some feedback on most notably sound due to porting issues. Users of other platforms will have to use subversion for the time being but Windows users don't need to compile as there's a .exe in subversion.



Want to know what OpenTTD will look like when the new graphics are ready? Well there's some interesting screenshots in the Ubuntu forums. I know this guy has riled the OpenTTD community by posting work there that they don't approve of. Issues to do with language barriers and badly put-together mockups / inserted graphics. Still, it seemed a bit harsh to me but for some reason he doesn't understand English. Anyway, this babble is digressing too much.



Globulation2 and Bos Wars got updates. Hopefully C&C being released as freeware won't dent the efforts of the developers of those games by taking players away from their communities.



I hate Westwood and the C&C series. Why? It's the most unoriginal piece of crap. Ever played Dune II? Awesome game for it's time, truly awesome. So awesome that the entire C&C series was just a rehash of it. I was so disgusted when I played Dune III, over 10 years after Dune II, the gameplay was pretty much identical and even the same gameplay / stupid AI bugs still existed. You could still select units, click on the floor, and watch whilst a few enemy units systematically wiped them out and your units continued to attack nothing. I vowed never to play a C&C game again after that - it's just the same but with shinier graphics. This probably isn't the first, and probably won't be the last time I mention this. I still remember watching a video of one of the game designers talking about how "original" Dune III was and feeling sick to my stomach that I helped line their pockets with gold. Dune II was original. Dune III had nothing original about it - it's not like 3D graphics were even a new phenomena. The evolution between Dune II, through the C&C series, to Dune III, was purely superficial, which for a multi-million-dollar franchise was pretty poor going if you ask me.



Never fear, open source is here! FOSS games are often original, contrary to what many people think. Originality goes beyond the conceptual. Originality is about project direction, about improving gameplay. Free games may often be reimplementations but they usually take a proactive approach to addressing gameplay and game balancing issues. You can be sure that the same AI bugs that afflicted the initial versions of Freeciv 10+ years ago have been addressed in the upcoming Freeciv 2.1 - which already has patches for the issues I mentioned the other day.



Hey, how topical is this. Whilst searching for a Dune III link (unable to find one easily - obviously a completely unremarkable game unlike it's predecessor) I came across two active Dune II remakes; Dune II: The Sleeper Has Awakened, which was only updated on the 3rd of September, and Dune II: The Maker, updated in August with gallery additions even yesterday. Intriguing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'm baaaaaaaaack!

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Whenever I have an extended FG absence (nearly 4 days this time!) it always makes me feel like shouting "I'm back" in the style of that guy from Independence Day. Maybe in a past life I had my dignity taken away from me by rectally-fascinated aliens? Who knows, but now it's out of my system I doubt I'll think it again.



So... since it's "tomorrow" now, I'll point people in the direction of a comment by FIFE developer mvbaracuda who corrects my "commercial quality techdemo" description of the upcoming joint venture between FIFE and Zero Projekt. So if you are interested in making adventure games then investigate further.




Paintown


Paintown is an old school beat-em-up like Double Dragon. It's been in development all year and has an installer for Windows and source download for other platforms (Linux only, I think, but not checked it thoroughly) and looks like a fun game.



I tried out Vega Strike which looks nice although I think these kind of space exploration games need a storyline to get people involved. Since it doesn't have one, there's no initial purpose to the game (other than make money I guess) so I didn't spend too long playing. The latest VS is only available from subversion but it's shaping up nicely so a release should come soon - before the end of the month, I reckon. The big news is the addition of shader support so it's going to look very pretty, in addition to tons of gameplay balancing and bug fixes.



I also tried out JCRPG which is turning into a very nice little game engine. The graphics are great and if the same determination and attention to detail is paid to the rest of the JCRPG goals then we will have something really special on our hands. There is a download available if you want to check it out - it's Java so you can, er, run it anywhere. That's what they say. ;-)



Fortress may be a long way away from anything releasable but, well, castles are cool. So check out the development blog for pictures of two contributed castles. I'm personally involved in the project so it's exciting for me and if those artistic efforts are a measure of what the game will look like, it's going to look absolutely awesome.