Monday, July 28, 2008

Rubyweekend #2 and Blood Frontier

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Ruby

Early Monday. Pioneer rays of light touched my face like golden hair. It was then that the second Ruby weekend game programming competition came to an end.



The results are not impressive, but much more than I had anticipated. The previous Rubyweekend took place only 1.5 months ago, and the weather motivates to spend time outside the reach of game-creation-suitable input devices. Also my humble opinion is that the topic "opposites" was way too liberal.



Many games weren't finished, though are playable to some degree. Two of the submitted games had incorrect-case directories/filenames!!!! /me rages !!!!11!! Well, let's blame the weather, shall we? :D



Me and kiba wanted to create a simple rts called Playground Wars and we failed. No problem, lesson learned (don't try to make an rts in little time.) No regrets but if I'm to participate in a game creation compo this summer again, I will work for it at night so I can sleep in the sun at daytime!




I like Opposite Islands [video]. Here are all the games. You can take a look at the videos of the other contesting games. You can vote too.



DungeonFarmer is pretty freaky because it has to do with farming in a dungeon! O_o Super StarHawks Gaiden is awesomely neo-retro [video], but was submitted too late. o_O



Regarding other short-time game programming challenges: The next Ludum Dare will happen in 2 weeks and 2 days. It's more than a month until PyWeek #7.


I can't find any official PyDay site any more :(



In other news: I recorded another video of TORCS (slightly better synchronized), after finding out that there is at least one map that looks rather pretty (by my standards.)



Blood Frontier recently started interesting me very much, because it is fun to play. It has great maps and a fine, small weapon selection and it's movement style is definitely something fresh. Give the new alpha a try, it's worth it! [video] The fact that most maps are not just very, but too dark, is something I consider a problem for deathmatch games.



I'm currently reading Learn to Program, it teaches via Ruby. I like it because it takes me by the hand without making me feel stupid. Next up will be the Lua Reference Manual. When I'm done with that, hopefully Python 3000 will be ready for use and learning.



I just checked if I covered in this post everything I have to share and realized that this is about 10%. Next post soon I guess.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

TORCS = fun, Dungeon Hack = beauty

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TORCS 1.3.1



It has been a while since the last time I gave The Open Racing Car Simulator a try and this time I had unexpectedly much fun with it. Though some things are strange about it: the game generally runs smoothly, except for some rare, sporadic lags which make controls problematic for a second. There are great textures in the game but some of them are just bad (probably heritage from darker times.) I like the track's layouts but I wish there was an environment artist who would spice up TORCS' landscapes. Still, I think it's great.



There is a lack of a damage model, but it's still fun to practice an aggressive driving style sometimes. :) Oh yeah, I nearly forgot to tell you that I made a stupid little gameplay video.



I tried to compile the racing simulation from CVS and failed, but fortunately it is available in binary forms for Win/Lin/Mac and is easy to install.



One unusual aspect of the game's installer is that you can to choose to not install the unfree car models (although I don't know for sure how free the TORCS team's definition of free media is.)



Dungeon Hack landscape


Dungeon Hack, a spiritual remake of Daggerfall, will be blessed with an editor some time soon. Hopefully they will make the jump from awesome landscape generator to kick-butt role-playing game!



I also hope there will be a GNU/Linux version available soon. The only other application of which I'm eagerly waiting for a GNU/Linux port is FxGen.



Other than that, there's not much to say about Dungeon Hack. The current aim is programming and not already bother with gameplay/visual details. I think this is a good sign: they're not trying to rush things or to do everything at the same time.



You can get version Alpha build 23 of Digital Paint Paintball 2. The game is one of those, which I never figured out how to play. Problem was with the last version I tried, that I was unable to disable the too-much-for-my-gfxcard-water/reflection-effects.



FreedroidRPG 0.11rc1 town's new look


FreedroidRPG 0.11rc1 has lots of new features:

  • Level changes and additions
  • Weapon additions and balancing
  • Programs (spells) balancing and a new skill
  • New music!
  • Engine improvements (for example performance)
  • Editor improvements (for example undo/redo functions)

I need to find some time for checking out that editor thingey!





CatchemRPG detail

CatchemRPG is supposed to become a Pokemon games-like game.

Can't say I'm very interested, but the sprites do like rather nice (wonder where they are from. RPGMaker XP?) Also it's written in Java, so you don't loose much time giving it a shot.



PS: Apricot aka Yo Frankie! (sight) would very much like you to animate a character for them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back from dusmania, right to RubyWeekend...

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Surt's goblin

Surt contributed the first model to OpenDungeons (and it looks good!) The model also was quickly incorporated by Timong into jClassicRPG.



Meanwhile, JackyJ (creator of the cool 3D platform-marble and physics game irrlamb) released the first version of Choria, which seems to be a parody of MMORPGs. It reminds me of the funny (though unfree) Progress Quest.



Word War vi has reached release 0.19! Controls are fine now and the side-scrolling arcade is lots of fun to play. It might be the first game with Xbox 360 controller rumble effects on Linux!



RubyWeekend #2 is happening this weekend. I'll be helping kiba with art stuffs. It's gonna be fuun! As you might have figured, the rules are to use ruby inside the time span of the weekend to create a game. :)



The 3D Ultima Online client remake Iris 2 scored first price (best project) at dusmania (german indie games ...party :) ).




Part of the dusmania was a overnight games creation competition. Our result (made with LÖVE) is lalalove (working title), a game inspired by Lost Garden's Celestial Music. Basically you connect stars, asteroids and planets, to create musical compositions. The current state isn't polished but playable and fun for some seconds. We're definitely going to make it kick ass!



Also: No more game videos on Vimeo allowed. Not sure if they permit videos of games you did yourself.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Game & engine news cluster

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Nebula from FreeOrion


So let's see... what's going on in the open source gaming world today?



On the forum of FreeOrion are a bunch of awesome looking nebulae. Nice desktop backgrounds and even nicer galaxy view backgrounds!



I started a small smiley making competition for LÖVE. You can win a copy of a print version of my favorite web comic!





OpenDungeons (to be renamed) has been started and a forum was created on the FreeGameDev.net forums. "Another Dungeon Keeper clone!" you say? Well, the thing is that Dungeon Digger's development kind of stagnated... And the other thing is that Dungeon Keeper is/was pretty awesome...



So far, the game features a simple level editor (which I slightly fell in love with already - just think of the possibilities!) and some neat monsters are preparing for their way into the project's CVS!



There have been multiple (mostly bugfixing) releases of the action platform game Blob Wars : Blob And Conquer. But I have two problems with the game: 1. The controls are explosively sensitive and I was so far unable to overcome the first platform sequence in the first level. 2. The turning speed of my character is depending on the distance between bob and the camera, so when bob is standing back to a wall, it will be impossible to aim because the turning speed will be 40 degrees per 1 point mouse movement...



This apparently will not change:

Please note: the camera is not going to get much better than this. Minor niggles, etc. can be ironed out, but a full blown, intelligent and dynamic camera, as found in many multi million dollar budget games is not going to happen.

You can take a look at the first level of the game and at my issues with it in this gameplay video.



Also let me tell you that I appreciate very much, how Parallel Realities gave Blob Wars : Metal Blob Solid a nice story and setting, and made it a fun to play game. So I'm not giving up on the 3d platform/shooter just yet!



I just found out that ja2-stracciatella, is based on the unfree (although open) Jagged Alliance 2 source code. :( Thanks to Lightkey of Holarse (de) for giving me the license link!



FIFE's map editor


FIFE 2008.1 has been released! The flexible, isometric 2d game engine has seen many changes: It is now licensed under the LGPL (GPL before), dependencies have been removed (no more tinyxml), it features a small example game and muuuuuuch moooooooore.




What *really* makes me interested in this release, is the inclusion of a map editor! I unfortunately haven't been able to compile FIFE (apparently due to an error in the unstable Debian sid distribution), so as soon as I install Arch Linux, I'll be bombarding you with mapping videos again!



FIFE Is no Fallout Emulator btw!



Nice render for OpenAnno
Speaking of FIFE: OpenAnno 2008.0 was completed (the game uses FIFE as an engine.) There have been some art and code and documentation additions. And new teammates also! :) OpenAnno will be represented at a german indy game dev meeting that I'll be visiting this weekend.



This just in: Simutrans 100.0 (r1867) has been released! Last time I checked it, the game was a Transport Tycoon Deluxe clone with pretty graphics and a deadly/unfair AI.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Apricot's aim, Battle Tanks and FreeCol map editing

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Frank and mushroom from Apricot



There was a change of focus in the Apricot project: From create full functional industry quality game prototype to create a full functional level in the Crystal Space engine, focused on visual quality, speed and character-environment interactions and create several levels in the Blender Game Engine, focused on artistic quality and game play prototyping.



Now this may sound worrying, as "some levels" are only one of many parts of "a game". And to be honest, I am a bit worried that the project will not prove the "you can make awesome open source games" theory, and instead be a demonstration of how nice-looking things made with Blender can be.



The apricot team members come from Blender and Crystal Space backgrounds, which means that they are likely to be most interested in visuals. So perhaps my expectation of "an awesome game" was wrong and should have been "an awesome looking game" (which is actually the only thing able to make the industry pay attention to Blender and Crystal Space. ) Nobody cares about story and depth and such after all, right?



However, the svn repository will be opened this weekend and who knows? Maybe with some community help, the project will reach a higher level of what is now intended before it's deadline of 31, July?





FreeCol map editor

FreeCol 0.8.0-alpha has been released. It features displaying of settlement names, soft unit movement and main menu music.



FreeCol and it's editor are both written in Java, which saved me some compilation minutes. The map editor is pretty simple and unproblematic to use.



Battle Tanks 0.8-rc1 has been shipped! Capture the flag! Team deathmatch! Internet play! The few existing servers are empty though, so why don't ya go and fill them up? Get it here in Windows-binary or source flavor! The team asks for feedback, which is pretty common with open source projects and might be even superfluous to tell, but it always gives me a good feeling when teams ask for criticism on their products.



In case you have never before seen Battle Tanks in action, I recorded a video of AI-aided defend-the-base-style cooperative gameplay.



Battle Tanks' maps can be edited via Tiled, as demonstrated below. The editor is a general-purpose tile-based map editor written in Java, which means that it's cross-platform and relatively easy to run. It's feature-rich but also pretty simple to use : there are layers and you draw tiles on them. Effective! It resembles RPG Maker in some ways, but as a map editor it is far more advanced.


Item placement in Battle Tanks is being done via a specialized, also pretty simple editor, which has no documentation as far as I can tell and which tends to crash a lot.



Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Radakan's WorldTool and the importance of game content creation tools

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Today I finally gave WorldTool (release 3) a try, which is a map editor for Radakan. To use the tool, one has to download it, extract it and then run java -Djava.library.path=. -jar WorldTool.jar.



The tool allows you to create a map and to raise and lower the terrain and paint textures on it via brushes. You can place objects on it, which will automatically be at the correct height relative to the ground.



It is fun to play around with (though not for too long, as the art asset is tiny and I don't know how to import additional media and because all I can do is make a map, not walk with a character on it or place items or monsters. - Mind you, the editor is in an early stage.)


While using it, I got the thought that if such tools were developed enough to be able to produce content to truly enrich games, their ease of use would attract many potential contributers and could turn a player into a contributor. Even if the advanced features (like creating characters with dialog options) would be more complicated, the simple things would be easy to do, which means that there will be motivation enough to learn how to do the more complicated work.


I haven't given much thought to game-specific editors before, but I will take a closer look at the ones I can find and figure out where their limitations are and if there are any faults with them and write my findings here. Please tell me if you know of any such tools (besides the ones for SilverTreeRPG, Sauerbraten, SuperTuxKart and FreedroidRPG that is. ;) )


In not so dashing news: you can vote for Apricot's official name now. The suggestions are kind of cute ("point blank frank", "frankie’s reign of terror") but I really would prefer "Apricot". Do you like the name "Bick Buck Bunny"? I don't too much..

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Good Morning Free Gamer

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Well it's been a while since I chipped in. Q has been doing a fantastic job, I'm sure you will agree, of keeping us up to date with the Free gaming news. I've just been way too busy lately and it's great to see that I can disappear and things keep ticking. Hopefully in the future others will join us in our mission to conquer enlighten the world.



Blood Frontier, the mod to make Sauerbraten look serious, has it's next demo release tomorrow. You may or may not notice a lovely new website. I'm sure Q will follow up on this after the release.




Boarman in JCRPG

Woman by Grumbel


There's also been tons of progress on JCRPG which is looking more and more impressive. There's a fully animated boarman, contributed by artist Zphr, who has almost completed a boarman mage as well. Both are released under an open source license (CC by SA, I think).



There's a gorgeous new portait image contributed by Grumbel. Whilst JCRPG and Scourge have picked it up, this and his other portaits are available under an open source license (CC-by-SA or GPL3) and you can find out more information, lavish praise, or even make requests (!) in this topic in the FreeGameDev forums.



In other fantasy-game news, DungeonHack progress continues and they finally have the project in SVN (direct link) so interested people can check out their progress which is apparently pretty good. It's a Daggerfall-inspired game, which can only be a good thing.



Did you know FreeOrion will soon have 3D combat? Check out this topic on the Ogre forums for some preview screenshots. In the meantime, they released 0.3.10 with the usual raft of bug fixes and minor improvements. Downloads are available, from different places, for Linux and Windows.




The White Chamber


Studio Trophis have released the source for their very lovely looking game The White Chamber. It's an anime themed 2D point and click horror adventure game. It requires the WinterMute engine and I'm not sure whether that's Free Software although it seems the source is available but under no specific license EDIT: - it's not open source at all. The White Chamber source is at the bottom of the Studio Trophis downloads page. It looks like it's all Windows-only =( but I could be wrong.



A while back I made some hullabaloo about Portalized, a perhaps-to-be-open-source better-than-Portal engine. Well, the guy working on it (who, by the way, is only 16 - shame on us all who are older and less productive than him) now has a blog with some interesting commentary on his efforts as well as some gorgeous screenshots. It doesn't look like it'll be open source any time soon but I don't think he's ruled it out either, and now he has help so it'll be worth watching. Version 0.1 is on the way, so there's something to look forward to.



Well, hopefully that satisfies your Free game news needs for another day or so...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Playing the first Apricot demo

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The first playable demo of Apricot has been released! I am able to play it! (with low low low quality settings - Hint: disable shaders.) You have to get a recent "Apricot" Blender build from GraphicAll, then download this .blend file, open it with said Blender build and press "p". That's it! Sorry for spamming the blog with news related to that project lately, I think it's interesting... :)



Edit: An unofficial OpenArena 0.8.0 pre-release was posted. Testing it is encouraged, so that the official release can become a great one. I must admit that two months ago I thought that OA was probably the ugliest of the interesting games with QuakeI/II/III-engine roots. Now I know that it's getting prettier and prettier every now and then with new maps and models.


The GearHead 1/2 homepage has been updated a while ago. It now looks pretty pretty and has a sexy RSS feed. The GearHead games are Roguelike titles (which I find not that cool) involving Mechs (which I find cool) of the Japanese kind (meh). Totally unrelated: a webcomic based on the games' setting has started.


PS: In case you are interested in using glc as a game recording tool on GNU/Linux systems, this Arch Linux newsletter contains some usage hints for the cool application.