Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vega Strike 0.5.0

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After over 3 years of development since the last stable release, many major new features and contributions, and lots of patience, Vega Strike 0.5.0 has finally been released.



There's so much potential in this release. Shader support, movie support, so many active contributors, and a more settled development timeline that should see more regular releases from now onwards. Despite the length of time since the previous release (0.4.3) the project rarely was not in active development. That means that 0.5.0 is a huge update and Vega Strike is poised to return to the high esteem in which it was once held as a FOSS project.



For screenshots check out the gallery but none were recent enough for me to include them here.



Vega Strike is a really cool project and this stable release will hopefully further galvanise the development. If things continue, I have no doubts VS will turn out to be a truly stunning FOSS game. It's pretty damn good already!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Adonthell-artwork, FreeOrion Linux builds

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Adonthell's broccoli bushes.

James Nash has kept working on vegetation sprites for Adonthell's art repository (which is quite meager right now.) He is using layers for producing the images.


What you don't see is the fact that in the original image I have the outlines and surfaces separated as individual layers so I can easily re-colour them to make variations. Equally I can hide some layers such as the leaves.

This way it is much easier to manipulate the images and to create a richer variety of objects. Layered images can be seen as "source" files for flat/"compiled" bitmaps. Great to know that people actually use this editing-friendly layered-images technique for producing game art.


Good news for Linux-users! Automatically built binaries of FreeOrion's latest SVN revision are available from psitronic.de/div/FO. They will allow you to play the game without having to build it, which isn't that easy on some distributions. Best thanks to kroddn! Windows builds are also available, but they are not as fresh... Sorry dear Win-users, but I see no other way for you, but to switch to Linux ASAP. ;) Anyways, here's a gameplay video while you download:


Thursday, April 10, 2008

sil-ver-tree, arr-pee-gee

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SilverTree, buggy and ugly but stable and promising!
SilverTree RPG dead? It's forum full of porn (nsfw) spam (nsfw)? Today I got a letter from Anok (name not changed), asking about the whereabouts of SilverTree's devs and whether the project did evaporate or not, and I say "Stand back lady, I'll handle this!" ;)


Well, I have to say that the inconsistency between the google code project, the forum, the web page and the Gna! project is a bit confusing, but SilverTree seems to be pretty stable and working.


There are lots of sensible-gameplay-impossible-making bugs, but as I said, the game is stable and the major problem seems not to be the code, but rather the media. It definitely needs more 3D models and prettier textures and sounds and music. Very nice about SilverTree is how easy it is to compile it. Here's a little introduction set for ya'll:


Getting the source? Easy as pie! svn checkout http://silvertree.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ silvertree and wait. Compiling? Easy as cake! ./configure, wait, install missing libraries, ./configure again, wait, make, wait. Playing the game? Easy as brownies! src/silvertree, play. Creating new content? Easy as muffins! src/editor/silvertree-editor (for the editor to work you will need to pay extra attention to ./configure's output, for example you'll need libqt-dev) Read the README and get additional info in the SilverTree wiki


The menus aren't pretty, please help, oh 2D artists out there!

The editor is cool, it's simple and just works! I played around with it, because that was satisfying for me. Now I share my hard, hard work with you. Enjoy! =D



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Radakan is pretty

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Radakan's devs have decided to use the jME aka jMonkeyEngine, just like JCRPG does! Neat! I admit that I was expecting the project to evaporate, it just had too pretty a website and some team member was very concerned with picking the right wiki and installing a flash audio player on the site, while there was nothing of the game in sight. (I also was afraid the team would come up with some idea like "Hey, let's make our own 3D engine! Right?")


I'm glad I seem to be wrong, the first tech demo video has been uploaded. (I'm not sure if that's not just some engine-bundled terrain and model, but even if it is, what the hell! They're grappling with it! Enough proof of interest and engagement for me!) I just hope they won't let the plans for game story get in the development's way. But I might be wrong worrying about that - Radakan is a "single-player sandbox 3D RPG". Sounds like something that is free of the bug feature "storyline" and like something one can have fun with, without touching any code. Yay for spawning 1k melons mid-air and abusing rag doll physics!





La Croix Pan, some game made with AGS

I tried to find an open source 2D adventure game engine and also was given some recommendation in the last post's comments. Wintermute Engine (WME) and Adventure Game Studio (AGS) caught my attention, both are closed-source freeware. What surprised me, was that AGS has been ported to Linux and MacOSX! Thanks to .Net and Mono (the open source .Net implementation) I suppose.



SceneEdit, one of WME's tools

I visited WME's IRC channel and asked Mnemonic (the only developer, since the beginning of the project) about his views on open sourcing the engine. He said approximately "not now and not anytime soon". These are his reasons: Leading an open source project means stress, because people whine about your code. It requires work, because the code has to be put in a readable state for others. It requires even more work, because submitted patches have to be tested, to make sure that they don't 'feature' new bugs.


"Simply dumping the source on SF.net" was right out, a decision which seems logical. After all, why should you make a project open-source, if you're not able to manage foreign development to take place in it? But on the other hand: If one has not enough time for maintaining an open project, maybe "dumping" the code isn't so bad a thing? In the end it shouldn't do any harm to the project and if someone decides to fork it, it can only be good for the gene pool.


I haven't talked to anyone in the AGS team. I hope I'll get round to catching up on that.


Update: (thanks to the comments) There is only a client, no editor of AGS for linux. Also there is Adventure Game Goddess, something about being an open source adventure game engine. I don't know, read it yourself ;).

Monday, April 07, 2008

Adventures, art, design...

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New art for Adonthell

There has been slight activity on Adonthell's mailing list: James Nash, an artist of the team, announced some new art to be soon added. Good thing too, considering the graphical quality of the engine demo game "Waste's Edge" (I'm only 120% sure, but "Adonthell" is the name of the engine and "Waste's Edge" is the title of the small adventure game that often gets served as "Adonthell".)



Waste's Edge, in case you forgot how... classic it looks

Adonthell 0.4.0 alpha 2 has been released half a month ago, luckily with build instructions, the INSTALL file directed me to them and I was actually able to build it. Unfortunately it seems to be an engine-only release - I don't see any demo to execute. FIFE (which by the way recently switched to the LGPL) at least includes it's tropical island tech demo.



Speaking of adventures/RPGs and their engines, Steve commented on the open source adventure games situation. Compared to RTS or FPS, the situation is: "there aren't any." At least not of the point-and-click kind of type. Steve says the reason is that making adventure games isn't fun - since the story/surprise/suspension of your work won't work on you.



There is however the Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine, an apparently simple-to use visual interactive fiction engine. It sure is and all and the engine's logo is the obligatory girl entangled by a tentacle monster python snake, but I'd rather prefer a decent point-and-click engine and community. I simply am a sucker for more interactivity and less text and more animations and less relationship novels and more (audible) speech and less *blush* in adventure games. It's great to see that the open source gamedev community appears to be useful for lots of prepubescent girls though!



Back on the adventure games issue: Tranberry proposed, that instead of creating games, game developers should create game frameworks for non-developers. O_o Of course it makes sense from the perspective, that it's no fun to know the story of the game for the game programmer, but on the other hand someone will have to know the whole story and won't be able to play the game as a player, this way or another. I think he's correct though that the role of the game designer should be separated from the role of the programmer for great justice better game quality. Excluding some naturals I guess.



BTW: Tranberry is the guy, who created the friggin-awesome looking current style for the JCRPG blog (see old style for comparison.)



Ulroth Axe, one of the kick-ass awesome models from OpenFrag

Again back to the game design issue: Creating the story and assembling the game's code and media should be done in a specific order. I am the fan of the "functionality-first, story-second"-method. OpenFrag's dev team is walking such a way at the moment, as I was told on #openfrag yesterday. In the beginning of the project, there were discussions about the story, but it became too complicated and now they concentrate on getting the orcs and swords and the slaughtering and bloodsheds to work and will worry about story later! Awesome!



Metropolis game menu

PS: Something seems to be happening regarding Micropolis' port to *nix systems... But I'm not sure what. I can start the game menu, but fail to actually play it. See screen.


Where are my buildings?

PPS: Anonymous just told me to deactivate NumLock, which helped :) But I am unable to see anything besides the map. O_o


PPPS: Gah, all the info is in the comments, if you want it. ^^

Sunday, April 06, 2008

And a happy new year...

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Bad timing, I know, but better now than waiting until next Christmas! It's a cute snake-like game, RUDI. Source code under GPL, media probably under some non-commercial license. It runs in wine-0.9.58-473-g1eba09b (but without sound for me). Perhaps it can even be compiled for Linux.


One strange thing about the game is the Readme file:


[...] The compiled version of RUDI v0.1 is freeware, but the source of RUDI v0.1 is GPL licensed. You
are not allowed to use any elements of the software (neither the compiled nor the source version)
for any commercial purposes including contest submissions. [...]

I suppose by "Elements" the developer means "media" because it is of course not legal to prohibit commercial use of GPL-software. I'll try to find out. Enjoy the annoyingly movie-trailer-like video!


Friday, April 04, 2008

Real-time 3D graphics scene graph framework engine toolset

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Hi, I'm qubodup; not the regular guy. As you see, I can post here too. We had a discussion about making Free Gamer a collaborative blog a long time ago, so maybe some of you feel like writing big-time? Especially now that Charlie is more busy with life? :)


Another while ago, a related idea came up: Creating a non-English subforum. Here it is and if we're lucky, it might be(come) useful some day!


Among other things, I spent a heap of time on trying to un-messify our free engines list - the result so far is the Work In Progress 3D engines list, please comment which features you think are important for the categorization of real-time 3D graphics libraries (aka. engines ^^) After all, one could say, I create these wiki pages for you. So go ahead and give me instructions.


I visited many IRC channels for getting information about the engines and I learned a bit about them too. For example the PySoy project, (which was formerly based on Soya 3D but was rewritten four times since then) will release a Firefox extension, which will allow you to play 3D games inside the browser window. The idea comes from one of last year's GSoC students, who was involved with the PySoy project. Easy installation is the one pro I see in this idea. At the same time: easy distribution, though we'll have to wait and see to know if it is fast enough for playing.


By the way: PySoy is licensed under the AGPL which is used to enforce copyleft on server software, obviously it aims to be a multiplayer engine and possibly a MMOsomething engine too.. Just imagine: A MMORPG written in Python using the PySoy engine, and all the servers and clients run Ubuntu as their operating system.


Speaking of massive multiplayer online games, if you're in a forum, where you are encouraged to post game ideas or ask for game dev help, you will notice the high percentage of MMO... posts. GameDev.Net has a solution for this: All MMO.. projects are to put [MMO] in the thread title, kind of like [DO NOT READ] for the haters.


I found the following video when browsing the 3D engines' web sites. This clip is more than half a year old, was made for the G3D engine and is in my opinion quite a good promotion video. What really impresses me, is how the video emphasizes the importance of documentation (by just listing it as one pros of the engine).



PS: I was quite surprised, when I red the comments to Charlie's last post. In contrary to the commenting folks, I interpreted his writing as a declaration of a down-phase.


Didn't you notice how there are many many many posts for some time and then nearly none for a while and then again many? Yes, good times and bad times. I don't think Charlie said he 'quit'. He can't hide from his hobbies forever. ^^ I see it more like this: