Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Various voxel engine ramblings

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I have outed myself previously as not a big Minecraft fan, so take everything in this post with a grain of salt (as I obviously don't really understand that genre).

Anyways... recently this sub-reddit for open-source games was pointed out in our forums, and while it isn't really as lively as others (for example the Linux gaming one) it pointed out an new project called Iceball:

Pre-alpha Iceball screenshot
Seemingly made by people not happy with the recent commercialization of Ace of Spades, it's an all FOSS remake, those early development you can follow here (or on their Github page).

Now maybe the graphics are lacking on purpose (see disclaimer above), but I couldn't help to think: why for f***'s sake did they have to reinvent the wheel with their own engine instead of using for example Terasology:



Or Minetest, or the Ardorcraft API for that matter???

Ahh well, at least it made me aware that Terasology is still very much under development, and with its focus on DungeonKeeper & Dwarf-Fortress elements, it might actually become a game I would play (and doesn't make my eyes bleed :p ).

Speaking of which... the guy behind AgentKeeper released yet another nice video and graphics are constantly further improved as seen here.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

DevCorner: Blender Game Engine

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While Blender3D is one of the premier FOSS projects out there, its integral part the Blender Game Engine (BGE) is often belittled as not a serious game engine.

While the criticism is certainly not completely unfounded  and the integration of limited "non-programming" game code creation (via logic bricks) gives it a bit of a "RPG maker" image, it really is a quite interesting platform to work on it seems.
Ok, probably as of now the BGE is really more of a rapid game prototyping engine, but previous experience during the Yo, Frankie! project has actually shown that at least compared to some other well known FOSS engines, it is a serious contender (that Blender Foundation project originally started on Crystal Space, and after many problems was implemented in the BGE in a few weeks only).



So what makes it so interesting? Well for one there is the full integration with a creation tool (obviously Blender3D) so that getting your content into the game is only a matter of making it. No exporters or anything needed... it just works. Then of course there is the fully scriptability via Python, also integrated tightly. Basically you never have to exit Blender, and testing your game can be done right in the editor with one click (no compiling etc. necessary). Oh and did I mention the great physics capabilities via Bullet, also build right in?

In addition your created game will be immediately available on any platform the Blender Game player has been ported (all major desktop operating systems, with an Android port under development and a browser plugin, too). In addition you can choose to publish your game as a single .blend file, giving the users a direct access to all the source files of the game; a wet dream of any true FOSS game developer!
The tight integration with the GPLed Blender Player, has been a major source of discontent with the predominately propitiatory game developing users of the BGE however. Thus there now exists also a few options to encrypt your game and/or run it on an external engine that can be kept close source (but I will not go further into that here). 

You can find a lot of (sometimes really awesome looking: 1, 2, 3) game projects on the Blenderartists.org forum. Now as I said, most of it is sadly closed source with propitiatory artworks, but I also have the feeling that some simply don't know or care about the legal implications of their "freeware" game (which sadly shows that even many people who use a great FOSS tool, mostly care about the "free as in beer" aspect of it). 

One of the more interesting projects right now (which might or might not become a full FOSS game) can be seen in this video:



It shows the most recent work by Martinesh, who is basically BGE's resident game art guru. Two years ago we already featured previous awesome work by him, but sadly that Air Race project is by now canceled.
What he is now working on is however rather a show-case for the really nice new graphical features in the BGE which he and others are developing in the so called "candy" development branch (on his blog there are also more details and nice videos from some time ago).

Another cool recent project it the rewrite of the the logic bricks visual programming idea via nodal logic blocks called Hive.

While not completely integrated into Blender yet, you can already try it via an external editor (the created python code works fine inside Blender). There are also some tutorials and a documentation for it.
Since my programming skills also lack somewhat, I find that an interesting tool... however most likely it is rather a nice way to do some level scripting, than actually programming the real guts of a game with it.

So where can you get started with developing your own game using the BGE? Well, the blenderartists.org sub-forums are always helpful, with some nice beginners video tutorials linked here, here, here and here ;)
There are even some books available (this one in particular is quite recent, which is a plus given the fast development of Blender3D) and there is of course the official Blender documentation.
Oh and a good source of content is (besides our friends opengameart.org of course) Blender Swap (nice interview with one of the creators here).

If you have further questions please comment below or ask over at blenderartists.org!

Updates from AgentKeeper

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I mentioned this nice new project that appeared on our forums some time ago already, and while the promised source-code isn't available as of yet, a new and quite good looking video was recently posted:



Now as you can see, it shares quite a lot of graphics with OpenDungeons, which is not completely dead either, but there is at least some discussion to "jump ship" as AgentKeeper is progressing much quicker (with it being a University supported project).
You can follow AgentKeepers progress here if you fancy some nice dungeon management simulator ;)

P.S.: Stay tuned for an new version of Red Eclipse early next week.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Some nice screenshots...

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So it seems like it is up to me again to keep this blog alive ;)

Not too much to report though... therefore I present you Red Vs Blue Unvanquished edition:


Well at least that could be fun... anyways, as they explain in their last two weekly updates (1,2), their Demon Engine has seen quite a few graphical updated an bug fixes lately. Furthermore they highlighted an upcoming major change in game-play compared to Tremulous, as Unvanquished will be using a real resource gathering system.

Also a cool new screen comes from the "Modern Warfare" mod for 0 A.D.:

Tanks in 0 A.D.
In their WIP thread on the 0 A.D. forums they have also confirmed that the mod will be "open source" however did not specify this further. It also seems like they have plenty of good artists, but are lacking a bit on the coding side. So if you know your way around Javascript and XML hacking, give them a hand (and secretly lobby for a full FOSS release ;) ).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Open Source Handheld Console GCW-Zero: OpenDingux, Kickstarter

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GCW Zero Kicksterter is a project to create a spiritual successor to the low-cost Dingoo A320 handheld gaming console.



Thanks to SiENcE for pointing this out!

Fresh versions of Stunt Rally and Warzone2100

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Just released today, there is a new version (1.9) for Stunt Rally:

Stunt Rally 1.9
It has a few nice new features, but probably the greatest update is a major change in the car handling physics, including an "easy" mode for those of us not wishing to practice for a career as a professional rally driver ;) and the guys would like feedback in the SR forum so let them know what you think.

A big collection of (partially quite crazy) screens can be found here.

Another great release that surfaced just today is Warzone2100 version 3.1.0. It cumulates all the changes made during the last 2.5 years, however if you tested the RCs already then there isn't too much new. Most notably they mention the new and fully fixed netcode, so that "out of sync" is a thing of the past (unless you have a crappy net connection like me :( ).

Have fun playing!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Red Eclipse, STK feature in Microsoft Promo

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Hat tip to forum member TheLastProject who posted about a promotional video for a proof of concept research project called 'IllumiRoom'.  The main game shown is Red Eclipse, but SuperTuxKart also briefly appears (implicitly as the game played by a girl!) around the 0:48-50 mark.


I doubt they were actually showing an Xbox as I'm unaware of either Red Eclipse or SuperTuxKart being able to run on one.

I find it fascinating that 2 FOSS games would appear this way.  Either this is an indication of red tape avoidance (no permission required for GPL games) or a cultural shift within Microsoft - or perhaps I'm just reading too much into it.

It certainly adds some validation to the games themselves, indicating they are impressive enough to feature as part of a video by one of the world's foremost technology companies.  So hats off to the developers of both projects and also the projects that enabled them (CubeSauerbraten, TuxKart) - I like it that both games are good examples of open source in action.

GarageGames raising money to port MIT-licensed Torque3D to Linux.

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Just a quick heads up.  GarageGames is currently raising money to port their recently open sourced Torque3D engine to Linux, including editing tools.  Here's a link to their IndieGogo page.  They're using a fixed funding campaign, so you don't have to worry about losing your money if they don't reach their goal.

We could use a capable 3D engine with mature, commercial quality editing tools on Linux (yes, there are other FOSS engines that run on Linux, but what we don't have is something that comes close to Unity at the moment in terms of ease of use) -- not to mention the fact that this would open the door for people to port a lot of existing games.

If you'd like to see this happen, stop by their IndieGogo page and help them out.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Cube2: Sauerbraten Collect edition released

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After more than two years, there is a new Cube2: Sauerbraten release, called "Collect edition":



Full change-log can be found here, and the downloads are linked here.

Also keep an eye out for a new Octaforge (also Cube2 based) release, as announced here.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ur-Quan Masters HD released

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Happy new year everyone!

So today I found out about this really cool project to improve the graphics of the open-source (with freeware media) classic Ur-Quan Masters (aka Star Control 2):



Having played the SD version back in the day on my GP2X handheld (and it seems to be available for Android nowadays too ;) ), I can assure you that the game holds up very well to today's standards, with a really cool and funny story and awesome voice acting. Higher resolution graphics thus can only make it better ;)

So, NO excuses now... give it a try!