Monday, March 31, 2008

Cruise Control

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I was close to putting some kind of melodramatic title like "the beginning of the end" but it would have been, well, melodrama so opted for something more accurate. The blog is going into cruise control. Less posts, less frequently. Some time in the next week or so the forum RSS feeds will get integrated into the blog and this will basically mean the community gets to post news here and the blog itself will be more article focused.

My part in this, other than the actual integration work, will be that any game updates I find I will now post in the Game Announcements section in the forum. People who want to make a fuss about their games can post in the Game Showcase section. Projects that need help can post in the Help Wanted section. All three threads will be the focal point of the blog frontpage.

These days there's a lot of activity in the forums and it's a better place to go for info than the blog. Also there's plenty of project-specific news to be found on the FreeGameDev planet.

So, here's the last "game update" throw of the dice from the various places I've visited in the last 2 weeks.

There's tons of action in the Apricot game blog. There's not much point in me summarizing it, there's lots of screenshots and explanations of the cool things they are implementing that should make creating 3D games using Blender much easier (relative to how easy it is now).

Teeworlds, formerly known as teewars, is now fully open source having released under a homebrew license that they wrote with consultation from some of the legal team at Fedora.

There is some really cool artwork being created for the really cool space strategy game FreeOrion, which is now at version 0.3.8 (renamed from 0.3rc8). There's more than just that one thread, but you'll have to look around a bit.

Cave 9 (freshmeat page) is a nifty looking 3d cave navigation game.

Developers are needed to port strategy game The Kings of the Dark Age to Linux. They will only make it open source if it can be ported first, and the project is current written in VB (ouch) so the port is basically a rewrite of the game in C++ or Python or anything other than VB.

Everything else I have is related to freeware games. Space Exploration dev 6 (fun little space exploration game), new Portalized video (that is just so f'ing awesome - more info on Portalized), Throw In 0.86 (kick-off inspired game in Blitzmax)

I'll finish up with a lovely video of one of the projects of the moment, JCRPG.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Navy Seals: Covert Operations

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You know you wake up sometimes and look in the mirror and GAH WHO IS THAT CREe... ah was me today. After a dab of water, some tasty scran, and the gleam is back in my eye.

Acer to make an "Open Standards" console? Intriguing.

People selling FOSS games on ebay? Scandalous - but is it illegal?

Navy Seals: Covert Ops

Y'know how people go "True Combat: Elite would be ace if it was open source" - well it appears we've always had the option of Navy Seals: Covert Operations. Just brought to our attention, this mostly-complete and apparently rather fun Quake 3 nearly-TC is struggling to keep going. I'd never heard of it before, which means their public relations policies either didn't exist exist or completely failed.

Why a nearly-TC? Well during the process of moving from mod to total conversion, the development stalled. The developers put it in a Google Code project and moved on, which is a shame because it looks like a very good game. They are, obviously, looking for developers to finish the TC.

Beta builds of F1 Spirit are available. It's an ace micro-machines-like game - but faster, and less toy-like, and actually a remake of a different, older game. Still, it's great.

Project Gamma is a 2D mech action RPG. I haven't tried it but it's Java and can be played as an applet, and source is available, so experiences in comments if you try it, please!

Hair drying... tummy rumbling... scarey Charlie retu... ruuughhh... GEURARGG UUURFUFFU BRAINS! BRRRAAAIIIIIINSSSSS!!!!....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Match of the Day

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Open Football

Open World Soccer

Open Football development has resumed lately. I downloaded from svn and compiled, and whilst it's not a game yet, it looks very nice and the author clearly knows his stuff if you see the planning and structure that is going into e.g. the animation side of things. Still, if you are a soccer fan and want an ace 3D football game then get in touch the project.

Open World Soccer, a Sensible Soccer inspired game and the successor to Yoda Soccer (which required the proprietary Blitz Basic), is also starting to take shape. Whilst not yet playable, it's not far away from a playable demo release according to the developer.

JCRPG has a new "contributionary release" which introduces a very nice UI as well as a few other world features. What has been, up until now, just a framework is now starting to morph into a game.

Not to be outdone by Teewars which has recently exploded onto the 2D deathmatch scene, the OpenLierox team have been hacking away and released 0.57_beta5. Looks like a large changelog from 0.56 so you'll have to look yourself (on the homepage), but better bot AI, lots of new smaller features, POSIX compatability and a large number of bug fixes and gameplay enhancements.

Freeware Wing Commander fan game WC Pioneer has some mouthwatering models. Free Software purists should check out Privateer Universe which is a nicer community and very active at the moment.

Friday, March 14, 2008

OpenLander, Powerball

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OpenLander (Forum Showcase) is a 3D lunar lander style game. Whilst currently more a tech demo than a game, it looks very interesting and strangely reminiscent of an old Mac or Amiga game that I just can't remember, although of course with much better graphics. It's written in Python with Soya3D, and could be the type of game to make me eat previous words about Python not being suitable for non-trivial projects.

Less talking, more youtube:

Anybody remember that old Mac (or Amiga) game that looks similar to this? Update: Thanks to reader Michael Reed who points out the 1988 Amiga classic Virus - that's the one!


Powerball (Ogre Showcase) is an, "arcade game where you have the roll a ball into the target. Sounds simple? Yeah, now the cool facts: Items like beamers, Coins, switches, you can control it by holding a Chessboard at the bottom of your Webcam (even in Linux)." That last bit about a chessboard/webcam combo sounds great. The only non-cool bit about the project is that the media content is not under a Free license and hence not hosted on SF. Hopefully that'll change in the future.

FreeTrain is getting somewhere now. The author of SdlDotNet and Tao.SDL has taken up work on the project and is kicking ass. FreeTrain coming to a Linux/Mono platform near you Real Soon (tm)!

Update 1: Too early in the morning... had to publish this 5 times! No title, spelling errors, layout problems. Somebody must've watered down my coffee! -- Charlie

Update 2: Oh my... it's not OpenLancer, it's OpenLander. Maybe I should just go back to bed? -- Charlie

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

New Features and Python Programmer Required

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In case you didn't notice, there's a bunch of flags under the title of the post. As pretty as they are, they are not window dressing, no no, they allow you to read Free Gamer in different languages. I have an army of monkeys in my house tapping away on imported laptops and every now and again they succeed in translating Free Gamer so I decided to put the fruits of their labour online. (Thanks to Qubodup for this!)


SuperTuxKart now has it's own category in the FreeGameDev forums. Hopefully this will help the game's community and development as STK 0.4 shows a lot of potential.

The forums have been more successful than I ever expected. 200+ users, 5000+ posts, 500+ topics, and amazing hosts. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come and the community will burgeon from here on in.

TK-RemiX is looking for Python programmers. It is a 2D isometric action game using the maturing engine FIFE. The reason I'm pushing this here is they have some awesome graphics already (scroll down) and plenty of media contributors and this could quickly become a cool game but for their lack of a Python programmer. Now I have come to understand that Python programmers are really common in the world because Python is apparently really easy. So this imbalance, a project with lots of great artwork but nobody to put it into action, is not something we can allow to continue, is it? So let's find somebody capable of turning this project into a game!

Hellloooo! Available Python Programmers!!! ARE YOU OUT THERE?!?!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wesnoth Battling Onwards

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Battle for Wesnoth

Well the big release of the weekend is Battle for Wesnoth 1.4 (changelog). Not too much to say about this game that hasn't been said hundreds of times before. It's simply the best open source game project going. Hundreds of contributors, graphics rivalling contemporary commercial 2D games. Over version 1.2, Battle for Wesnoth 1.4 brings 7 new campaigns, major UI improvements, major multiplayer improvements, many improved graphics (the portraits are stunning) and many bug and balance fixes.

Wesnoth is so popular that the response to this release seems to have overwhelmed parts of their website. The wiki and forums are unable to cope.

I'm wondering where they will draw the line with this project though. The main developer has since moved on to SilverTreeRPG. Obviously they could keep adding campaigns, refining the graphics etc, but surely at some point you want to say "this is it, this is the final v1 of Wesnoth" and look at making v2 which is a significantly different game (be it improved or different storyline or whatever). They surely just can't keep on evolving this version because then, well, it seems to be a bit of a waste of resources that could be used to create a different version. Once a game is complete, development is of diminishing returns. Sure, you can make it a bit shinier, but it's of much less value to the game playing community who [I think] would rather see major strides made on a new game rather than the same game have relatively small improvements.

OpenFracas 0.4 (currently just for Linux and Windows), "a free, open-source game that is similar to Risk." There's more gameplay features than in standard Risk, and it's also well done, so check it out if you like that kind of strategy game.

SuperTuxKart 0.4 is now up for download. No screenshots of 0.4 on the website, although it looks the same as 0.3 for the most part.

Space Exploration v5 - a fun little 2D space exploration and trading game. This version greatly enhances the UI, but I think the Java detractors will love this version because it's very very slow. I suspect the author isn't too experienced on Java graphics programming and as he learns more it will speed up greatly. Anybody who believes Java is slow should try out the rather spiffilicous JCRPG which not only looks beautiful but is very fast too. A bit of perseverance and Java "force" is all that's needed.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Alien Arena 2008 and Planeshift 0.400

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Hot on the heels of the rather amazing Nexuiz 2.4 release is this years main release of Alien Arena. Alien Arena 2008, or Alien Arena 7.0, or Alien Arena 2008 7.0, however you term it, brings a lot of improvements and new features to a game quickly gaining popularity.

Alien Arena 2008 also offers a change to it's overall theme, moving towards a slightler darker, more serious tone, while still retaining a good bit of it's retro style, creating an interesting marriage between classic and modern sci-fi. This resulted in completely new player models, many new weapon models and textures, and seventeen, yes, seventeen new levels! The transformation is nothing short of remarkable.

There are major improvements in weapon effects, per-pixel lighting, texture resolution, and resource usage, as well as the addition of a cross platform server browser, FUSE. Weapons have been tweaked for better balance, and movement has been enhanced with the addition of dodging abilities. Alien Arena 2008 will run on Windows and Linux, and the OSX/Mac port will be released in one week.

The changes are significant enough that it's considered a different game to Alien Arena 2007. The goal is to "create the perfect marriage between Quake and Unreal Tournament, between retro sci-fi and futuristic tech, and between casual gamer and advanced expert, and wrap it up in a package with quality that could rival that of commercial games". Whilst I haven't played it, from the screenshots and general feedback, it looks like they are well on their way to fulfilling that goal.

Looks spiffy although the trailer doesn't really compare to the Nexuiz trailer - any comments on the differences in gameplay between the two would be welcome.

Hrm, what else.

Planeshift 0.400 "Steel Blue" is out (changelog). Lots of new features, nice semi open source but really freeware project. If you like fantasy RPG / MMO and don't care so much about total software Freedom, check it out. Here's a fanmade trailer for it.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Screenshots are for wimps

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Glest 3.1.2 has been released (changelog, linux). Fixes, minor improvements, good to see some sustained activity for the project and hopefully it keeps on going like this.

SuperTuxKart 0.4 is being packaged as we speak. Eventually (although not yet as of time of writing) they'll be up on Sourceforge. It goes from being quite a naff game (STK 0.3 was basically TuxKart with better graphics, and TuxKart has some serious gameplay flaws) to being really quite a good game. Now it is a bit of polish and some better tracks away from being a great game. I suggest you try it out, the improvement is massive, and if 0.5 brings the same level of improvements as this release, then STK 0.5 will be a very good game indeed.

There's a bit of competition around the corner though. Platinum Arts Sandbox 2.1 was released. This is a sandbox game aimed at kids and this version contains a kart racing mode so kids can build their tracks in the very easy Sauer environment (PAS is a Sauer derivative) and then race on them all without the game without specialist tools or knowledge.

Speaking of Sauerbraten, here's some videos showing how basic world editing works.

Word War vi (that's vi as in vi vs emacs as opposed to VI as in 4 6 (d'oh! dang roman numerals...)) is a side scrolling shooter which is, well, kinda geeky but also kinda fun. (Did you spend a few secs thinking "World War IV" too?)

Finally, the Secret Maryo Chronicles project is looking for a new name to get away from copyright trademark issues with the Mario franchise. I'm sure all good ideas are welcome.

In case you didn't guess from the title, there's no screenshots in the post. I'm too busy to do it today! Edit: Ok, thought I'd post this Word War iv vi video since it's kinda cool:

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Bos Wars and Globulation2

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Bos Wars 2.5 has been released. Beautiful particle explosions are the highlight. I couldn't find screenshots of this online yet. I downloaded and had a very brief go. It seems to be the standard RTS fare, reminiscent of the classic C&C games. I'm not sure whether I just completely missed it, but the game lacks a story element, something that personally I really look for in this type of game. Bos Wars itself isn't sufficiently spectacular or innovative that it can be just a multiplayer RTS and attract a lot of plaudits.

Also the project does not have a web forum. When I spoke to the devs about this, they were adamant that a forum would just be inactive and hence make the project look inactive, and that they preferred just irc / mailing lists. My opinion is that a forum is an ideal place for players to talk about a game and report bugs or make low level contributions (guides, screenshots, feature requests). Now that Bos Wars is close to being a complete game, a forum could be a great place to foster a community which might otherwise look at the spartan web page and otherwise move onto other things. At the moment it, glancing at the website gives the impression of a game deep in development rather than one that is relatively feature complete.

Globulation2 0.9.2 is also available for download (changelog). Globulation2, like Boswars, also now has a particle engine although they are using it more for smoke/damage effects. There is also plenty of stability, optimization, and networking improvements in this release. A new feature of the 0.9.x releases is a much improved AI called Nicowar. Whilst looking for information on changes I spotted that they now have a full time programmer working on the game. It should be interesting to see where it goes. However, I do have one reservation.

I like the gameplay ideas behind Globulation - but one thing makes it a hard game to like. The globs. I mean, really, what were they thinking. Globs are so... bland... uninteresting, impossible to relate to. As a game theme they inspire no passion, have no character, which in turn grates against all the good aspect of the game to make it look and feel dull. There's 101 things they could have chosen (medieval or fantasy theme, aliens, plants, animals, fictional creatures, robots, whatever) and they went and created the dullest thing I could possibly think of. Little blobs of nothing. A re-skinning of that game could massively increase it's appeal. You may think that's a harsh comment, but part of the fun of games is escapism, and if you can't relate to the game in any way, it greatly reduces the appeal.

This sounds like quite a negative post but it's not. Black is the new white. Seriously though, these are both very promising games with some very well done elements and those two issues aside (Bos Wars story, Glob2 theme) the projects have a lot going for them and if you like RTS games then I strongly urge you try both of these and if possible contribute too.

When it comes to a 2D RTS, what do you look for? Which is your favourite of the open source RTS games? Comments welcome.