Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ultra Fickle Overtones


There's beta installers for Linux and Windows for the popular open source game UFO:AI. The changelog for version 2.2 is impressive. The download link is a bit hard to get to - a ploy to stop too many players mistakenly downloading the beta when they didn't realise it might have bugs. Anyway, grab it here, and help them make UFO:AI 2.2 a great release. :-)

There was an interesting comment on the observation I made regarding the version number of LordsAWar:

0.0.3 for the lordsawar version doesn't mean 3% done. The game has most aspects of Warlords 2 implemented, where as freelords only has a few.

Well why version 0.0.3 then? Ok, I admit, version numbers are probably one of the least important aspects of game design. But, come on, really, if your game has lots of features and close to what you consider "1.0" for your game, then label is as such. People who are casually looking for a game to play will see 0.0.3 and think, "not even alpha." They won't play it. Players are fickle like that.

Version numbers imply the amount of progress towards the author's vision of the game. To me, 1.0 is the original vision and past that are evolutions of that vision.


Speaking of vision, I'll also give a quick mention to JCRPG whose author seems to be relentless in his efforts to bring a quality classic RPG framework with all the modern trimmings. Some of his trees are not to far off being life-like in quality. If somebody had the drive to start making a game based on his work so far, thereby pushing things even further, we could see some amazingly atmospheric games.

My brother alluded to an interesting point when commenting on the state of modern gaming. FPS games are monotonous, they are rarely atmospheric. It's just the same sprint shoot sprint cycle except with different weapons and backdrops. The gaming genre has become boring as the limitations of games have eroded away. Complete freedom to move often has the undesired consequence of making the world less interesting as there is no longer a challenge to navigating it - just find the next gap and run through it, all guns blazing. CRPGs used to be mazey, claustrophoic ordeals where you constantly had to plan to avoid getting into too many consecutive battles as monsters were quite fatal. The game worlds were not massive, but they were hard. The gaming industry seems to have forgotten that an enclosed but well defined world is more intriguing than a a massive open one which just looks pretty and has no substance.

Maybe I'm wrong, I haven't played many commercial games in the last 5 or 6 years, but when I have it reinfoces the above feeling. Just a thought.