Monday, August 27, 2007

Revival of the fittest - sourcing art

Pingus 0.7.0 is available for download. With revival work complete, Pingus now uses SDL and comes with lovel anti-aliased fonts. There's no new levels yet but with development seemingly back on track hopefully the level editor will return and some good levelsets will get contributed. It has a lot of potential as a game because the Lemmings series kinda, well, was more fun when it was 2D. If enough level makers could get together, I'd love to see a release inspired by "Oh no! More Lemmings" which was my favourite of the series and also incredibly challenging.

Another game with a major update is Egoboo Resurrection. There is a new fully working music system and major graphic enchancements - antialasing, shading, dithering and prespective correction all supported. (A long list of buzz words there.) Most importantly the lead developer Zefz is trying to get the game in SVN so others can contribute more easily and, speaking of contributions, somebody is already having a crack at porting it to Linux. At the moment it's only available as a Linux download but "watch this space". Well, not that precise space as that'll only ever say "watch this space". But in a more abstract sense I will hopefully be able to report a Linux port in the near future. ;-)

My post the other day, "Free this free that O_o" (catchy title eh?) sparked a lot of debate about the need for consolidation of Free Software game development efforts. You can read it there so I won't repeat it all, but one comment did make me think and it is something I had thought about in the past as well - there is a tremendous amount of artistic and game design talent poured into making mods for commercial games. Whilst this comes good if the engine subsequently becomes open source (think Tremulous, World of Padman, and other iD game mods) there are many more examples where the game engine remains closed source. Take Air Buccaneers for example. It's a jaw dropping mod for UT2004. What a shame it will only ever be a mod for a commercial game. Could these mods be a source of art if we proactively approach projects asking them to make their efforts Freely available? Maybe it could just work...

One of the productive conversations spawned by the above debate was the notion of a common media project. Take a target genre - Ben (the thread poster) suggested fantasy - and develop a set of decent media for it that games can use as a base before branching out in their own artistic direction. I think it's a great idea.

Also there was a desire for a good quality Free art portal - there are already several efforts but they seem to just fail to capture the niche, to become that place that people say, "Hey, this is a great resource for good Free art!" Is a new one needed? A new idea, a new design? Or maybe just identify the best efforts and back them unequivocably to get the word out there? This is also something Ben touched on... it'll be interesting to see where it goes. There's already a lot of information collecting in the Game Media Creation section of the Free Game Dev forums.

One thing is for sure - the forums at have proved there is a need for a consolidated Free game development community that was not previously being filled and there is a desire to provide a nexus where Free game developers can work together instead of in their disjoint and often isolated worlds that currently populate the open source game universe.