Friday, February 29, 2008

Nexuiz 2.4 has been released

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Lee Vermeulen's brainchild Nexuiz is a fast-paced first-person shooter, better comparable to Unreal Tournament than to Quake, though based on latter's engine. Release 2.4 has been available for some hours now. Time to grab a copy and freaking play it. But first, let me bore you some. (Not recommended, skip following paragraphs, you could be fragging already! Time is money! Go shoot stuff!)



Nexuiz is not just a remake of a UT or Q shooter, it contains many advanced and even some innovative features! Rockets can be destroyed by Bullets and if the timing is right, they will explode right into their shooter's face. The laser gun is the main method of movement, allowing alternative "rocket"-jumps without too much pain. Also you have the ability to make your rockets explode mid-air, which on one hand means that you don't have to aim for the ground and on the other hand allows you a combination of laser- and rocket-jumps - provided you have enough health and armor. The last two features make "capture the flag" a very fast-paced game mode.



I would tell you about the glowing balls which you can shoot and then make explode chain-reaction-wise but I think the video documents this better...



The gui of nex has been referred to as "some ugly version of Unreal Tournament" before. But this fact has apparently changed. To tell the truth I don't know yet, because for some reason I decided to first spread the happy news, before playing. Stupid. Check out the video, and check out the new homepage. Oh and by the way, the download link is here, in case you missed it.



See you on a server soon I hope... 15 minutes left to download...

Bedtime

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Tired today. Sorry for lack of details.



Daimonin (2D MMORPG) got a new website. Spiffy.



Warsow 0.42. It's a fast multiplayer FPS.



Ace video on Nexuiz, looks fancy FPS.



There's an RC out for VDrift release 2008-02-23, the "next gen" car game. (I don't quite get the notion of an RC for dated releases.



Vega Strike needs nvidia users to test before release due to an unknown number of cards affected by a buggy driver (boo for closed source).



I'm... Zzzzzz...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Develicious

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SuperTuxKart 0.4rc1 has been released. It replaces the physics engine with bullet for collisions, and subsequently is far more fun to play. Some track improvements, a new character, better AI, music, and other features. I'll be honest, I thought 0.3 was unplayable because of the terrible collisions. I had a quick go of 0.4rc1 and it's much more fun. I still think the tracks are generally lacking but the game being more fun should encourage more contributors so hopefully we'll see some good tracks contributed this year.



If you love MarioKart or just love SuperTuxKart, and have some good ideas for tracks, sketch them down and contact the STK team who are very receptive. Also they are looking for original gameplay ideas to give STK it's own identity, so contribute those too if you have any.





FreeTrain

Bloodmasters


There's been a major development with the FreeTrain project. For those who don't remember, I ran a campaign asking for help translating FreeTrain to English. It's a mature open source game but was, until last year, only available in Japanese. We got it translated, but it was very Windows/.NET dependent and porting to SDL/Mono proved tricky. With the effort stalled, I asked on the Mono mailing list if anybody might be able to help. Within a few days a Mono developer provided a patch to make FreeTrain build against Mono! It still doesn't run, but things are a lot easier already and a Mono/SDL version should run on Linux and MacOSX, which will breathe new life into the project and it's community. Looks like 2008 could be a good year for FreeTrain. :-)



The FreeTrain project is looking for able C# developers (there are plenty and not-so-many C# games) to make it rock on Mono/SDL so don't be shy if you are a C# guy. ;-)



I reported yesterday that Bloodmasters was going to be released under an open source license - well developer Pascal vd Heiden was not just true to his word but very fast to act, and it can now be found in SVN on the Sourceforge project. The game is licensed under the GPL. It's 400mb though, not for the feint hearted. Note to self: this game needs a review.



I also mentioned yesterday we have a great new theme for the FreeGameDev forums (aka Free Gamer forums). I forgot to mention that it's not yet the default skin. You need to login (registration required) and switch to 'qubodup2' to see it. Edit: Due to an admin issue the new theme is currently not working. D'oh! Third time lucky tomorrow, eh?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Community Updates

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Lots of activity amongst the FreeGameDev crowd. Qubodup has created an amazing new forum skin, so participating in the forums has never been a more pleasant experience than it is now, and he's still tweaking away. A new feature, Wikiwatch, a sort of planet for wikis, was added.



Now I just need to improve the blog (include announcements rss, update links, generally nicer layout) and FreeGameDev is go. 5.... 4.... 3... etc. ;-)



In terms of game news, it's gone a bit quiet, fortunately for me.




Glest with shadows

Bloodmasters


Glest got shadows. Purty. :-)



The OpenClou! team have put up their first model concepts, as seen on the Sourceforge project. Lovely!



Bloodmasters will soon be open source. It's a 3D top-down arcade shooter with plenty of blood. Will report on it more when it is. Yay for me. :-D



I wanted to put a screenshot up but Blogger is being lame... will put it up later. Edit: Done!



Bridge Builder 2006 is now available for Linux from here. It's only freeware (it'll be "eventually open source"). I spoke with the authors briefly so I'll strong arm them into believing. I'm sure I can think of a suitable way to coerce them into accepting Free Software is best. ;-)



For purists, there's still Construo and Bridge Constructor but the former isn't really a game and the latter is way behind in features, and both are somewhat abandoned.



Is your game violent in Rambo-esque proportions? Well you can label it with a suitable rating. Check out TIGRS and PEGI. Discuss in the forums here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Best Way To Play

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Here's a good tip on how to get extra performance in Linux. It's on the Ubuntu forums but is essentially an X.org trick.



Battle for Wesnoth 1.4rc1 (aka 1.3.18) is out - good preview of what is close to becoming the next stable release.



FreeOrion 0.3.8 is out. Another steady iteration that lays the groundwork for easier AI development.



NERO 2.0 released. This is currently freeware however the next version will be open source (2.0 uses Torque) which will make it a very interesting Free Software project indeed. "Neuro-Evolving Robotic Operatives, or NERO for short, is a unique computer game that lets you play with adapting intelligent agents hands-on. Evolve your own robot army by tuning their artificial brains for challenging tasks, then pit them against your friends' teams in online competitions!"



Project TTNA is a project, "to create a free (as in open source), crossplatform 3d game." What a delightfully simple goal. They are writing their own game engine, which seems a little superfluous given the myriad of Freely available game engines. Anyway, there's a long way to go with TTNA but the goal was so endearing, I just had to mention it.



Open Source representatives in mod-of-the-year awards 2007 on MODDB. It's one of those annoying pages that tries to make you watch a video you probably don't want to watch. Press 'next' (beneath the video) a couple of times to get to the results. Tremulous (#5), World of Padman (#4), and Warsow (#4) are the open source representatives while BSG: Beyond the Red Line (#1) is a standalone freeware game that uses the freespace2 source code project. Quite a domination and vindication that open source engines make a big difference to mods that would otherwise struggle to survive the changing times.



Two popular open source games that have gone a while without a release are close to release - Vega Strike 0.5.0 and Scourge 0.20 are imminent.



A quick thanks to everybody who submitted information for todays post, in comments and emails and the forum. This is probably the first time that most of the information was provided by others and I'm just putting it in a post. Perhaps one day Free Gamer can be evolved to be more community-driven but for now it's good to have people feed information because it means I can post even if I don't have much time to look things up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Developing Games Takes Time

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Zero Projekt


FIFE is starting to come of age. Although their tech-demo collaboration ended after a dispute between the two parties, Zero Project have continued their efforts and have settled on FIFE for their game project which has so far been two years in the making. To celebrate their second birthday they've put up an array of WIP screenshots. FIFE got a nice new layout for it's wiki too.



The Castle 0.8.1 has been released. "The Castle is a first-person shooter game in a dark fantasy setting. Your main weapon is a sword, so the fight is mostly short-range. Three main levels are included, packed with creatures, items, and sounds. The game engine is based on VRML, OpenGL, OpenAL, and all shadows are done by the shadow volumes approach." Interesting but not quite there yet.



Remember the classic game Theme Park (it started off the whole dang 'Theme X' genre)? Followed by the Rollercoaster Tycoon series (1-3)? Well these guys do and they are aiming to recreate, in open source glory, the ultimate theme park game. Theme Park Builder 3D just got it's inaugural source release.



Speaking of projects to create 'the ultimate of their genre', Transport Empire has come back to life. Started by members of the Transport Tycoon community, it had languished for years in the depths of design documents and decision making. Well last year somebody decided enough was enough, grabbed the bull by the horns and started coding - basically throwing the overbearing bureaucracy out of the window. Code is available from SVN and can now be compiled on Linux (for the brave only at the moment). It'll be interesting to see where that one goes in 2008.



Last but not least, one of my favourite projects GemRB released a new version, 0.3.0 and now you can [mostly] play through a bunch of Infinity Engine games (i.e. the Baldur's Gate series). Hopefully somebody will start creating a Free game that uses GemRB. :-)



On to a freeware game, The Silver Lining (a massive fan effort to make a top quality freeware game based on the King's Quest series) have a journal update where they show how they build up the 3D scenes used in the game. It's both pretty and interesting and shows just how much effort is involved for just a single aspect of the game. It's a Windows only game but I guess that's becoming less of a problem these days.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Glest 3.1 invaded by aliens

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Glest: Alien Invasion

Gearhead2

Chromium BSU


Hot on the heels of Glest 3.0 is... Glest 3.1! Great to see the rejuvenated development of a poster Free Software game. This version continues to add multiplayer features such as in-game chat. Oh, and a new menu background. Eye candy! :-)



The mod scene for Glest has also never been healthier. The latest mod to show up (although currently just a WIP) is Glest: Alien Invasion. Pictures speak etc - see the images.



In the grand scheme of things, websites aren't that important. Or are they? Gearhead2 is a mech-based rogue-like. Maybe you like the sound of a [mech-based] rogue-like. To everybody else, the term 'rogue-like' tends to mean 'no graphics', so when you visit a web page like the homepage of Gearhead2, combined with the knowledge of it being a rogue-like, I bet the vast majority of people go no further. It looks awful, the screenshots link doesn't work, and because in the lay visitor's mind the game isn't graphical, it's game over already.



The shame of it is, Gearhead2 looks like a really promising game. It has a 3D version with a snazzy UI (it's predecessor Gearhead does not). Mechs are cool. There is a well supported forum. Somebody needs to just delete every bit of HTML on that Gearhead2 homepage and put up something 1. functional (i.e. working links) and 2. web layout !circa 1998.



Last but not least for today, Chromium BSU, the frantic top-down shooter, is under new maintainership. The Debian maintainer of the game has access to the Sourceforge project for Chromium BSU so will be applying patches that have been collecting for a few years in the various distros. Whether it'll see further development of the game is unlikely but it's good to avoid the usual bitrot of forgotten projects. Also I noticed the sequel project Chromium BSU 2: Second Strike, but despite there being source in SVN, it didn't really get off the ground.



In Internet-lameness news, I can't believe my Portalized exclusive barely made a dent on digg. I mean, utter rubbish which is merely a Portal influence gets 1000s of diggs. How come a [possibly open source] improvement on Portal's game dynamics not even break double-digits? I mean, I got more damn "diggs"* on FSDaily! The Internet won't do what I want. It's officially lame. Want to correct this ludicrous aberration? Go forth and DIGG!



* Is digg a new verb? What would you call it on FSDaily? FSDailied? :-?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Times of War

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Warzone 2100 2.1-beta1 is out, with plenty of new features (changelog). Internationalized, improved/additional AI, 64-bit support, in-game video options, and multi-turret support are the picks of the bunch.



"Additionally there are many parts of the game that have been completely or partially rewritten. So old bugs may have been made completely irrelevant and new ones most certainly have been introduced. So new bug reports are most certainly very welcome, even [for] bugs that where present in 2.0.x already. Any suggestions are welcome as well of course."



You'll have to compile the beta yourself. Here's a slightly out of date youtube showing what the fuss is about:






LordsAWar

Freelords


LordsAWar 0.0.8 is also available to download. The LordsAWar homepage is a bit spartan. It's a continuation of the C++ version of FreeLords, which has since been rewritten in Java and recently released 0.0.2 of the Java version. The games are not going their different ways graphically with many new tiles and other artwork added in recent LordsAWar releases, which has a top-down view. FreeLords is now isometric. This is what is good about Free Software. From one project, we now have two; after the original author changed direction, others could continue the initial effort.



Both games share the goal of creating a modern Warlords style of game.



Anyway, it's a sunny day, no time for computer games!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tactics with lasers and lite space

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Laser Tactics is the new name for Nuclear Graveyard. It's a turn based 3D squad tactics game, originally a remake of Laser Squad in 3D that has since transcended the initial goal of being a remake. The author is fairly frustrated at the lack of interest in the game because it doesn't fit the standard mold. If you want to try something a bit tactical and a bit different to the usual FPS or strategy style of game.



There were quite a few links in the last post with little description of them.




OpenFracas

Pathman

Asteroid Wars


OpenFracas is like an advanced version of Risk. What it actually is, is a rebirth of the game Fracas which was open sourced but is writtin in VB6, which is frankly a bit of a rubbish language for anything other than win32 forms.



There's a new development release of Oolite (announcement + Mac, Linux, Windows), the 3D space flight adventure game. I'd seen in many places concern that Oolite development was dead, so this is a delightful reminder that it is still going. It's definitely an underrated game, given the stature of Elite in gaming history and how much Oolite improves upon the original concept. The 1.70 release was actually at the start of December 2007 but, as is the case with many open source projects, it went beneath the radar for a while.



The OpenTTD community are putting together a basic free release for the low-res verison of OpenTTD so it can be included in Linux distros etc. Good to know that the game will no longer require non-free media. Anyhow, anybody interested in getting involved can find all the relevant info in the Graphics Replacement wiki page.



And finally two cool looking new Free games.



Pathman is, "a 3D first/third person re-interpretation of Namco's popular 1980's arcade hit Pac-Man, arguably the most popular computer game of all time." Not much more to say other than check it out if that sounds like your cup of tea.



Also cool looking, but unfortunately missing any kind of project page or cross-platform availability (Windows only) is Asteroid Wars, a snazzy take on another classic game. Perhaps somebody can convince the author to register over at Sourceforge and maybe somebody can make it run in Linux.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Be a Busy Bee

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Well... I have a big list of stuff to write about, so, I'll cheat.



Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V



Game updates





Thats more Free gaming news that you can shake a fist at...



If you don't want to follow the links to find out stuff for yourself, don't worry as I'll revisit the interesting bits in the next few days.

Stop the press: Portalized - "open source Portal"

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Ok, this is the sh*t. Not only that, word has it, this is going to be open source. Of course, this is what some guy who reads some forum has emailed me, and I'm being completely sensational by posting it on an open source blog, but the youtubes are so cool that I can't help myself. Update: as confirmed in a comment by nullsquared [the author], he is currently undecided over whether to go with a freeware or open source license.



MasterNave emails, "Just got a tip from a coder friend of mine, about portalized, an open source portal engine, based on ogre3d. Apparently, 0.5 will be public."



So, the scene is set. Ready to blow your mind?





Ooo er that's kind of mad.



Update: the next video deserves a bit of explanation - it demonstrates scalable portals where the world is a different size through the portal. That is, if you go through the portal the world gets bigger/smaller, or if you pass an object through the portal that object gets bigger/smaller. Very neat.





Here's a Google video that, "Shows off the gravity that will be used in Portalized. Every physical object will have it's own gravity, and it can be anything (not just +x -x +y -y +z -z as shown in the demo)."





It's great to see somebody innovating. I know that the portal concept itself isn't exactly original, but ideas like the scalable portals and variable gravity per object are showing that nullsquared really has some come up with many innovations that portals are just part of.



I can't really find a homepage for the project. There are threads like this one (that contains a Windows development build) scattered across several forums but no official homepage yet, it seems. Nor can I verify the claim that this will be open source. Anyway, whatever happens, it looks great and it's cool to see a single guy using good Free Software tools to create amazing things.



Of course, Portalized won't come with the polished content that is part of the Portal game, but if he does open up this project then that's what you guys - the "community" - can provide, right? :-)



He does mention in a few places that the next version, 0.5, is going to be the first beta release. If anybody has any information on whether this will indeed be open source then please comment. I may (or may not) get in touch to ask nullsquared myself. Update: see the comments.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Games, Games, and Free Software

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Goonies

F1 Spirit

Road Fighter

Daimonin


A good open source platform game that never gets a mention is The Goonies: 20th Anniversary Edition. This game is a remake of the classic NES / Master System version by Konami. The same team is also responsible two rather fun arcade top-down racing games, F1 Spirit and Road Fighter, which are also remakes. I'm not sure what the source license is for these (ack, there goes my Free Software credibility) but you can get the source and the games compile / run on the 3 major platforms (y'know, Lin/Win/Mac).



There's not-so-recent updates to Daimonin, the 2D isometric fantasy MMORPG that seems to play second fiddle to the likes of Eternal Lands and Planeshift due to it not coming with the fancy 3D 3Dness. I mean, everybody wants 3D, and those who don't play nethack. So there's no room for anything else. Especially not something as addictive as Daimonin. I'm not going near that game again, I barely escaped the first time! Anyhow, it's up to version 0.9.7.1 which means something to somebody, somewhere.



Egoboo has been travelling, but after several years finally returned home to egoboo.sourceforge.net where it's open source adventure originally started. Development is highly active, with lead developer Zefz having dragged it kick and screaming back from the depths of stagnancy. (My god, that's actually a valid [ab]use of the word... I mean, I typed it as a joke, and the spell checker didn't cry.)



Entropy found via the Ubuntu forums, is... I'll use their words, "Entropy is an open source game project the likes of which you have never seen. With what is currently a small team of modelers, texture artists, and programmers, development on Entropy (which just finished the final stages of design) is... brand new and revolutionary, in both its spirit and style of gameplay. Entropy will be a structured mix of First Person Shooter combat, with vehicles of all sorts, combined with Real Time Strategy, with a few Role Playing elements thrown in. However, the most important aspect of Entropy is that it is entirely online and immersive, almost every character in game will be an actual player."



Sounds very interesting. However, I believe their ambition far outweighs their ability to deliver on it, something I expressed. However, they are 'veterans'. Whether being veteran means 1 guy can program a commercial grade game in 2 years when programming Gods (think John Carmack) don't do that, well, who am I to be a party pooper. Still, I hope they succeed.



All I'll say is that, unless you have fairly modest requirements, programming your own engine from scrach is absolute madness with the likes of Ogre3D (and the plethora of other options) at your fingertips. (Note: we need to make a page for these on the FreeGameDev wiki.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

D2X-XL free media project

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FIFE, the Fallout-like engine project, have made their first release of 2008, and put up a video of the tech demo that comes with the engine. Lots of new features, lots of progress, hopefully we'll see some exciting FIFE powered games coming along this year!





D2X-XL is an spanky implementation of the engine for Descent 1/2, both very popular commercial games in their time. It adds lots of improvements, but the games themselves are proprietary and look a bit dated. So the D2X-XL guys are looking for people to contribute to a free D2X-XL media project. It's a good opportunity to create an awesome free game because the ships and designs from the Descent genre of games doesn't tend to be very complex, meaning it is easy to tackle on or two models without having to animate and skeletalize and add moles and skin pores and all the other daftness that seems to accompany character modelling lately. Back on topic, and they have some ships and textures and a few levels already, and of course the game engine is rocking and far exceeds the original Descent engines. There's massive potential there. I wonder if they should go and look at other space game projects like Vega Strike to see if there's any suitable models/textures they can borrow...




OpenFrag Orc


OpenFrag is a project to create a commercial grade FPS. They also are champions of the OpenCDS project, which is an open source Steam clone; content distribution software. Looks interesting although a long way to go still for OpenFrag if the screenshots are anything to go by.



Another effort to create commercial grade material is Radakan, this time in the form of a single player 3D RPG. Again, it has a long way to go. Actually I mentioned this before but there's no harm occasionally repeating these things. (My oh my, wasn't that linked post lyrical!)



I need a bath. It's been at least a week and even the FG hounds are starting to turn their noses up at me.