Friday, August 31, 2007

Common Media Project and loads more

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The first major community effort is coming out of the FreeGameDev community. It has been identified that the major weakness in creating quality looking Free games is the lack of Free art - either hard to find or just non-existent. So, we will be creating the first Common Media Project. As yet untitled and unorganised, it will be an effort to create a set of quality artwork for a specific genre - the fantasy genre is looking like the choice of the involved artists - that will be hosted in an easy to find / use place so that Free game developers can easily use this common media to create the basis of their own game before branching off in their own artistic direction once they attract contributors. Games like Scourge, JCRPG, Xarvh, 8 Kingdoms, and the many other open source fantasy/medieval games out there.



Speaking of new projects, FIFEngine and Zero Projekt have announced that they will collaborate to create a commercial quality techdemo (i.e. mini-game) that will showcase FIFEngine as a platform. More on this tomorrow.



The guys attempting to revive the Tux Racer / Planet Penguin Racer project under the new moniker Extreme Tux Racer are, despite not meeting their own scheduled expectations, keeping at it. They have a spiffy new logo!





Well, well, what have we here... the inaugral release of Silver Tree, brainchild of Battle for Wesnoth creator Dave White. Given the "resources" he has at his disposal - some of the core Wesnoth developers and artists are also set to contribute to Silver Tree - this really has to be a project to watch. Still, it's early days for this 3D RPG and it's hybrid real-time and turn-based gameplay. I couldn't get it to compile (admittedly not trying to hard) so I'll wait a bit.



I wonder if Silver Tree signals the "end" of Wesnoth development - in that it has gotten as far as it can really get as a game, besides bugfixes, new campaigns etc - as the core team are essentially moving on.



I see Auteria on the game tome. Not Free but freeware, YA3DMMORPG. (Yet Another...) 'Nuff said. (The name makes me think 'autism'... nothing to do with the quality of the game, just the the name.)



An up-to-date Linux port of Egoboo Resurrection is almost a reality. It is buildable although there's a few reported issues. It looks like a public SVN is going to be made available, good news for the project, so helping out with development should be easier. The lead developer Zefz has been working hard on it in an unintentionally private manner.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oh no more updates

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The latest Sauerbraten release is now available from getdeb, and since I have a new spiffy laptop I thought I'd give it a try. The RPG levels are pretty awesome to look at - now maybe I'm not quite up to date on the latest commercial offerings but compared to recent popular commercial games like Enemy Territory and Half Life 2, a well designed Sauerbraten level looks very nice indeed. The grass and water shaders look lucious.




Freeciv 2.1beta6 SDL


I wanted to take screenshots of Sauer but it seems to have a few problems - occasional hangs, dumping me back into low-res X - and I'm too busy to resolve them. So somebody asked for a few Freeciv SDL screenshots, which I oblige.



Irrlamb 0.0.5 is out, introducing springs and other new features. The Linux binary won't work out-of-the-box on Ubuntu Gutsy :-( so I haven't tried it, but it seems to be shaping up nicely. Window and Ubuntu Feisty binaries are provided.



There's also a new Thunder 'n' Lightning release. This action / flight combat project is becoming a much more playable game; performance enhancements, more graphical effects, and more deadly enemies. It is available as an autopackage - so should be easy to install for Linux users, and there's a Windows binary too. I'm a big advocate of using autopackage for games because it makes it easier for people to play your FOSS game.



I'm not posting videos on Free Gamer at the moment because, well, they don't work with Gnash and I'm not too fussed about setting up the proprietry Flash package. Gnash does claim to be compatable enough to play YouTube videos but sadly not on my machine.



There's also more talk going on relating to a consolidated Free game art effort in the comments of previous posts - at some point I'll be less lazy and summarize it all. One of the guys is designing a website for it and it will be the first official www.freegamedev.net project.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Freeciv 2.1beta6 Grips

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Since I'm a bit tight on time today I'm just going to post a few gripes I have with Freeciv 2.1beta6. Don't get me wrong, I think this is shaping up to be a really, really nice game, but the SDL interface has some very annoying usability issues to address.



  • If you run it in windowed mode, you can't resize the game by resizing the window. The game display logic should be independent of the resolution, an absraction that many games fail to make.

  • Auto-scrolling is annoying. It is especially annoying when playing in windowed mode when you are often moving the mouse cursor in and out of the game window. It would be better to scroll when pressing the right-mouse-button since the RMB is already used for manual movement.

  • There is no UI to save/load games in the SDL client. A work around is to open a chat dialog and use the /save and /load commands.

  • Freeciv dialogs have a red X with the tooltip "Cancel" to close them. Not only is 'cancel' a horrible word - implies losing any changes but it simply leaves the dialog - it is also innaccurate. "Close Dialog" is better. A better icon may be the circular arrow commonly used to represent returning to a previous screen.

  • There's no option to undo changes in a city dialog. Combine this with the "Cancel" situation and you have a very confusing UI.

  • If you click on a group of units, a unit selection dialog pops up. If you the do an action with already-selected unit and the dialog does not close itself.

  • I could see no obvious way to end the turn with the mouse - annoying for a mouse-driven game. After being told there is, I looked a bit harder. It's an icon on the minimap panel, alongside various information icons. Hardly obvious - in a heavilty iconified UI like Freeciv SDL is aspiring to be, placing is important. They need to think a bit harder about this one. I would have placed it somewhere at the top near where the year is displayed since the turn and the game year are strongly associated and importantly you won't be clicking on it by accident if it is up there (something easy to do currently as a small icon placed amongst a bunch of other small icons).


There are many positives to this Freeciv update, too many to mention. Lovely graphics, much more stable, classic-yet-balanced Civ gameplay. Freeciv 2.1 is going to be a showcase Free Software game.



I also downloaded the 0.7.0 release of Pingus. It's shaping up nicely although some of the sounds fail to capture the cuteness of Lemmings. It was solid though.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Revival of the fittest - sourcing art

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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 www.freegamedev.net 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.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Freeciv 2.1beta6 Now Out!

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A new beta of the upcoming Freeciv 2.1 has been released. The last major beta - beta4 - was nearly 5 months ago. There was a beta5 (uploaded a few days ago) but it was not announced due to some serious bugs. Anyway, beta6 is now available from the Freeciv FTP server. Whilst it is currently only up there as a tarball, a Windows and Mac binaries won't be far behind and I'm sure packages for the Linux distribution of your choice will pop up in the relevant places e.g. getdeb for Ubuntu.



The main changes since beta4 are numerous bug and stability fixes. Freeciv 2.1beta4 was a bit prone to crashing unexpectedly - beta6 should be in much better shape. There isn't yet a NEWS page up for beta6 but since beta6 is just beta5 with a few critical fixes, the beta5 NEWS page gives you a good idea of what changed since beta4.



Anyway I'll compile it a bit later if a .deb hasn't appeared by then. I think Freeciv 2.1 is going to be one of the best open source games to point people to - nice graphics, established codebase, well balanced gameplay. So if I don't post tomorrow, you know why. ;-)



I also stumbled upon the Free Sound Project yesterday. It's a collection of creative commons licensed sounds - but sounds only, no music, which is what sets it apart from other sites which tend to be overwhelmed with music. I also came across Gimp Users, a site with some excellent and up-to-date Gimp tutorials. More links like those, to help budding game makers, can be found in our Game Media Creation section of the www.freegamedev.net forums - so join in there where a good Free Software game community is burgeoning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Smashing

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Cannon Smash


Last night I downloaded and played Cannon Smash. I was quite impressed - the ball movement is good, the gameplay fast and fluid. The graphics, although quite simple, are quite nice as well when in motion.



The main problem with this game, and what would be a good mini-project for a budding developer, is the controls. Currently you use the LMB to hit backhands, the RMB to hit forehands, and a slew of keys to target a point on the other side of the table. It's unwieldy - it takes a while to get used to hitting the correct mouse button and at the same time varying the destination of the ball - but, once mastered, it's not even skillful. All you need to know are the far corners (1 and 7) and to be able to time your forehand (RMB). The controls are complex enough to confuse, but once understood are not powerful enough to realistically model table tennis. It's a shame because the ball physics and presentation are really good.



I think it an autochoice of forehand/backhand (depending upon which target is closest to the path of the ball) and instead have the mouse buttons instead represent types of shot - LMB topshin, RMB slice. Aiming should be done by lateral mouse movement whilst a mouse button is depressed. Slice variance should be done by movement of the mouse forwards or backwards whilst a button is depressed. Foot movement should be done by mouse movement whilst no buttons are pressed. That describes a set of controls that would require skill to truly master and offer a massive variation on gameplay that fairly well describes the game of table tennis. The only aspect not covered, really, is shot depth.



Add some better player models, perhaps characters of some sort instead of faceless manikins, more variation on the degrees of skill of AI opponents, and a tournament mode, and Cannon Smash would be a superb Free Software game. As it is, it's just a good Free Software game. :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Free this free that O_o

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Linux users can now get their hands on the latest version of FreeOrion, the turn-based space stategy project inspired by Master of Orion games, without having to compile it themselves. See this thread for details. It worked well for me, although the game is not easy to figure out and is incomplete - I couldn't work out how to do too much. However for fans of the genre the project is definitely worth following and I'm sure the FO guys would be glad of any extra help.



There's murmours over at the FreeTrain project - tangible progress on an SDL port is evident. One of the developers posted a screenshot with a basic UI much closer to the original A-Train games. Moving to SDL is the major hurdle for making FreeTrain run on Linux - currently it uses .NET and DirectX so can only be run on Windows. Forunately the project is moving towards Mono and SDL. :-)



Er, what else is happening? Not too much...



There's an opinion article on Linux Lookup discussing the problems with Linux/FOSS game development. On the face of things, the author seems to be spot on, but if you think about it properly I think he has completely missed the real problem with FOSS game development. It's not about lack of talent, artistic or otherwise. Or lack of good environments, or lack of anything for that matter. The single biggest problem with FOSS game development is the lack of consolidation. Duplicated effort, too many projects chasing similar goals, too many people solving already-solved problems. If we could harness just 25% of the wasted effort in FOSS game development we could produce some very high quality games. That has to be the community goal, to help eachother to help eachother because whilst competition is healthy, teamwork is powerful.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Sauerbraten Release

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Sauerbraten has a new release with 2007-08-19 "Summer Edition". There's tons of new small features although nothing really stands out - but perhaps that's me just being ignorant of some jargon in the changelog. What does stand out is the absurdly impatient community reaction to the release. Read the linked thread to see what I mean.




OpenLieroX


I came across a fork of LieroX, itself a Liero-clone, in the Gentoo forums where the team seem to be posting news updates. OpenLieroX is a real-time, brutal, excessive Worms-clone with lots of levels and mods. Interesting. :-)



OpenLieroX is available for Windows and Mac OS X from Sourceforge, although it seems Linux users will have to compile it or wait for distro support.



One of the lesser-known open source Elite-inspired games is Elite Strike (a Vega Strike mod). After a period of relative inactivity, development has resumed. Whilst the game has a long way to go to catch up with the likes of Oolite, it's good to see the game isn't dead. Elite Strike aims to have more detailed models and graphics than Oolite.



I started a new blog called "The Free Desktop" as I wanted to post articles on things Free Software but not gaming. Somehow I got linked on the popular site Linux Today. I only mention it because, amusingly, people were accusing me of being on the payroll of Microsoft and/or Opera because I criticised Firefox. Then I see people swearing at the Sauer devs for not immediately posting Mac binaries. How wonderfully irrational people can be.



As a Free Software developer or advocate, we expose ourselves directly to the vocal minority of critical end users - so one of the best things to learn is not to be insulted by anything they say. Reacting only makes them happy and you stressed. It doesn't matter what some ignorant fool says as long as you stay calm and true to your principles. Such people will quickly disappear in Internet anonymity. Their comments are often worthless and not worth responding to. Next time somebody slams your game, remember that many others enjoyed your efforts and they are the people you should focus on.

Friday, August 17, 2007

79 - my birth year and something else

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Air Carrier


The rather sumptious looking Air Carrier project - a 3D aerial combat game written in Java - has put up an install guide. Basically you need to get it from CVS at the moment and run it from Eclipse. So, if you don't like CVS and Eclipse, er, you are out of luck for the moment.



There's been a bunch of testing releases for TA3D as it approaches version 0.4.0 in style. Large parts of the codebase seem to have been rewritten and many bugs fixed. TA3D is an engine to play Total Annihilation but with better graphics and AI, so you need the original TA to play TA3D.



TA3D obviously shares a lot in common with TA:Spring, however there are some important differences. Firstly, TA3D is Linux centric - whilst there is a Windows version, it is developed on and released primarily for Linux. Also TA:Spring includes modifications to the gameplay and does not make use of some TA files like maps, facts which don't sit well with the TA3D author, so TA3D definitely has a niche.




Pok3D


One of my friends is a poker nut. He was playing away on a Windows machine near me, so I thought I would showcase the power of Free Software on my shiney new laptop with it's 3D capabilities... Pok3D here we come!



aptitude install python-poker3d

-----8<-----8<-----8<-----8<-----

0 packages upgraded, 79 newly installed, 0 to remove


What!? 79 new packages!? Ok, I run Ubuntu so I already have a plethora of Python-centric stuff installed. I also have several games installed so the common game packages too are already installed. This was listing MySQL, web frameworks, and all sorts of other things as Pok3D dependencies. That's ridiculous... why the hell does a poker client require MySQL? If you want to use data locally use a simple embeddable database like sqlite. Anyway, needless to say, despite having lots of HD space and the automatic package management powers of apt, call me old fashioned but I wasn't installing that much stuff for one game. All I could think was, "bloat."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Releases on the Horizon

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Well what would you know. There actually was plenty happening yesterday just I wasn't looking in the right places...



The assualt course racing game Sturmbahnfahrer has been renamed for reasons of political correctness. The new name is Stormbaan Coureur (dutch for "assault course racer") and there is a new release, version 1.5, which has save points, a half pipe, turntables, brakelights and more. It is currently only available as a source download, but hopefully that'll change soon. Whilst the game is aimed at Linux, it uses PLIB and ODE so is theoretically compilable on anything those two support (which is all major platforms).




Crashtest


Stormbaan Coureur is also the basis for another game - crashtest, the education crash test simulator for Linux. Interesting... :-)



There's also a new version of the Atomic Tanks. It's a worms clone and the project makes regular releases. Good stuff.



There's a lovely long post on the Vega Strike devblog from the project leader: version 0.5.0 looks a little closer! Basically the summer has given several core developers time to smash through bugs in SVN, implement some smart new features, and create an improved universe to roam about in. The only word of caution is that it seems VS SVN needs lots of memory. Hopefully they can slim that down a little prior to release.



There's an update in denial of project death on the Ecksdee wiki. It's been a while since the last release of this Wipeout-style futuristic racing game. There's been lots of development activity so hopefully that will result in a playable release in the near future.



And probably the best bit of news for the day - Freeciv 2.1beta6 is going to be out in the next few days. They built a 2.1beta5 release but it had a fatal flaw in it so announcements were shelved and a beta6 release is planned once the problems are ironed out. I look forward to it! :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bored Gamer

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There's very little of note happening. I should use the opportunity to work on some more interesting content for Free Gamer (fixed lists? awards? etc) but instead I have a new laptop (shiney!) and so will spend time fiddling with it.



Want to know what the Linux Game Tome looked like 10 years ago?



Where is FreeCiv 2.1? Patience is a virtue, but an updated beta would be nice. I'm contemplating checking out latest SVN to see where it's up to.



I played SuperTuxKart 0.3.0 a bit. Lots of potential but still rough around the edges. Some very dodgy collision detection, very annoying instant deceleration if you go slightly off the road, and only 1 really decent track (island) plus a couple of OK ones. Most of the tracks, IMHO, are not worth including.



There's an interesting list grumbel's grumbles; things grumbel thinks are wrong with SuperTux. I think he's spot on with most of them, he's an astute game programmer (Free Gamer interview) and fixing most of what he says would make SuperTux a very, very nice game.



The www.freegamedev.net forums (still need to rebrand them - still looks like the Free Gamer forums) are doing well at our new host after the [old host] freeforums.org data loss forced us to start over - nearly 50 users and nearly 500 posts in a few weeks. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come with the Free Software game development community consolidating it's efforts and improving on the fractured nature that afflicts Free game development. There's a lot of duplicated effort, lots of good small projects that don't get recognised and don't make it, and projects missing artists and projects missing programmers that could work together better. Hopefully www.freegamedev.net can serve as a place to solve these kind of problems.

Bored Gamer

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There's very little of note happening. I should use the opportunity to work on some more interesting content for Free Gamer (fixed lists? awards? etc) but instead I have a new laptop (shiney!) and so will spend time fiddling with it.



Want to know what the Linux Game Tome looked like 10 years ago?



Where is FreeCiv 2.1? Patience is a virtue, but an updated beta would be nice. I'm contemplating checking out latest SVN to see where it's up to.



I played SuperTuxKart 0.3.0 a bit. Lots of potential but still rough around the edges. Some very dodgy collision detection, very annoying instant deceleration if you go slightly off the road, and only 1 really decent track (island) plus a couple of OK ones. Most of the tracks, IMHO, are not worth including.



There's an interesting list grumbel's grumbles; things grumbel thinks are wrong with SuperTux. I think he's spot on with most of them, he's an astute game programmer (Free Gamer interview) and fixing most of what he says would make SuperTux a very, very nice game.



The www.freegamedev.net forums (still need to rebrand them - still looks like the Free Gamer forums) are doing well at our new host after the [old host] freeforums.org data loss forced us to start over - nearly 50 users and nearly 500 posts in a few weeks. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come with the Free Software game development community consolidating it's efforts and improving on the fractured nature that afflicts Free game development. There's a lot of duplicated effort, lots of good small projects that don't get recognised and don't make it, and projects missing artists and projects missing programmers that could work together better. Hopefully www.freegamedev.net can serve as a place to solve these kind of problems.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bos Wars and Egoboo

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There's a new Bos Wars release - version 2.4 comes with a new resource system and a new tutorial (presumably to reflect the new resource system). These days Bos Wars is the flagship game using Stratagus, the 2D isometric RTS engine that powers Wargus and the lesser developed Stargus.



Tutorials are good. If you want a good player retention rate for your game, code a tutorial. I can't stress enough how effective that is - most players are lazy. Take me for instance. I'm busy, if I play a game I want near instantaneous enjoyment. If I don't know what's going on I will quit a game within 30s. Many FOSS games I install are uninstalled very quickly - not because I don't like them, but because I don't have the desire to learn them on my own. (Note, I do not play commercial games at all.)



Good news for Egoboo! It gains SDL_mixer support - Egoboo now music and improved sound support. They still don't have somebody producing Linux builds though, which is a shame because Egoboo could have a good following again if it were more accessible on Linux. Still, Windows binaries are available.



The latest Egoboo version is 2.3.9 - released last week but since it's only announced (that I know of) in their forums it's hard to come by. The Egoboo community have added a lot to it over the years, and the game has quite a lot of content and depth if you get into it. It just needs marketing better and a Linux build.





Egoboo "World Map"



There's also a new Cultivation release. I like this project, it's an innovative game design and I like seeing that development is still ongoing, although this version doesn't bring much other than bug fixes and new sounds.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Testing Testing Testing

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200 posts to this blog now. :-)




Pingus


Pingus revival efforts are looking for bug testers. That means we can expect a new Pingus release soon, and even sooner if you head over there and help test it.



Also looking for testers is iteam, the Gunbound/Worms clone. Test packages are avaialabe for Windows and Ubuntu. Links and compilation instructions can be found in the Ubuntu forums thread where the game concept was originally incepted.



There's another snapshot release of JCRPG too, which has very lovely foilage lately. Now a few modellers have started contributing to the project so in the next few weeks hopefully we'll see a bit more gameplay development and perhaps the beginnings of the first game to use JCRPG which itself is a framework project for creating classic RPGs.



Somebody commented on yesterday's article that perhaps the Flightgear team should be avoiding the version number 0.9.11 given that the game is a flight sim. What do you think?

Friday, August 10, 2007

www.freegamedev.net

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I registered the domain name www.freegamedev.net yesterday. Initially it will just point to the Free Gamer forums, but I want to evolve that into a proper Free Software game development community with useful features e.g.:



  • announce.freegamedev.net - a really easy way for people to announce Free games in a single location. No accounts, no web forms, just email to e.g. announce@freegamedev.net and (pending moderator approval) it'll appear.

  • planet.freegamdev.net - a place where Free game development blogs are syndicated.

  • forums.freegamedev.net, wiki.freegamedev.net etc


Simple ways to help consolidate the Free gaming community will be the order of the day - none of this "let's implement a super redundant multi-layered workflow based CMS with tightly integrated thingymajigs" that will never happen because we are all busy people. KISS. Anyway, the forums are a good place for organisation.




Flightgear


A new Flightgear snapshot - 0.9.11pre1 - is available but it's source only. There's been a lot of updates since the last release over a year ago:



A gigantic number of new aircraft, new features, enhancements to existing models, and bugfixes were added.


Oooooo! :-)



I read a review of the previous release that commented on how good Flightgear was as a simulator, noting that - whilst it doesn't qutie have the graphical panache - it has several features not found in other commercial flight simulators like sloped runways. There are also different physics models, a massive number of planes and scenarios available. It's a very high quality open source project.



There's also a new version out of the interesting platform game DangerMan. The author notes he failed to playtest the previous version so a whole host of important bug fixes mean this release should be a better experience. The premise for the game sounds interesting:



Dangerman is an old-school platformer with modern features like line-of-sight and physics.


Anyway, let me know of any thoughts or ideas you have for www.freegamedev.net as I want it to be a community project, not a Free Gamer one. ;-)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ultimate Stunts

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Did you miss me? ... Tough luck, I'm back! ;-)




Ultimate Stunts Editor


Ultimate Stunts 0.7.2 is out with an improved and integrated track editor, a new car, and a few other minor improvements. I like this project, even if it isn't the best or most complete amongst the Free car games out there, it just has a nice vibe about it.



On the topic of car games, The TORCS guys are running a robot championship. If you think you can write a nice racing robot AI and win the prestigious TORCS Endurance World Championship 2007 then sign up and get involved! More details are on the TORCS website.



Whilst checking for [sadly no meaningful] updates to the Combat Simulator Project, I came across Delta3D (although I'm not sure if CSP uses it). There seem to be a few fairly well featured but not-so-well-known open source 3D game engines out there. Somebody brought up Sylphis3D in the FG forums. JCRPG and Air Carrier use jMonkeyEngine. Are there any other good but lesser-known open source 3D engines out there?

Monday, August 06, 2007

SoulFu 1.5 "Niceware"

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There's a new release of SoulFu. Whilst the source still comes under a funny license that many would not consider true open source, I believe any restrictions previously placed in the game are now removed. Downloads are up for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.



If you like the game concept but feel strongly about the source code license then the main alternative has to be Egoboo Resurrection - ironically also originally developed by Aaron and no surprise given the graphical similarities. [Edit - a better link, thanks Jacky. Also worth noting is that Egoboo Resurrection is currently available only for Windows although it should be compilable for Linux.]



Also the FreeOrion team snuck out another release - 0.3.1-rc6 - a couple of weeks ago. It's an explore, expand, exterminate [is that correct] kind of space strategy game with a very nice user interface and designed for a deep gameplay experience. I don't recall seeing this release announced anywhere. Also, it seems a strangely large update from 0.3.1rc5:



This release has many UI improvements, new art, bug fixes, and various minor and medium-scale backend changes. Notable major changes are the long-awaited OpenAL sound system (removing a non-free dependency) and Python AI scripting that can be modified without needing to rebuild FreeOrion itself.


Meh, who am I to argue but really, that's surely worthy of a 0.3.2 label at least!? Anyway, the game is available as a Windows installer but Linux users must compile from source.



Finally a quick note on the Open Football project. On the wiki is a small update saying that the game should be at a playable demo state before Christmas this year. Great news for a fantastic looking project. :-)

Friday, August 03, 2007

More on CSPop

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A while ago I mentioned cspop, a 3D populus clone. Whilst the game itself hasn't yet gotten a website - the author is waiting until it's playable before really marketing it - there has been progress:





CSPop


Work is still going on on the project, it is quite advanced already, but still some work on ui and some finishes on logic are needed to consider it playable.


Anyway I have a couple of EXCLUSIVE screenshots - to be seen nowhere else on the web. (Oh yeah, I make blogging sound more like magazine writing every day!) This is a very exciting looking project and I'm hopeful that it'll be "out there" sooner rather than later.



The daring can grab it from SVN. You'll need Crystal Space and CEL too. :-)



Speaking of exciting projects linked to Crystal Space, there's more details on Project Apricot following a CS conference last month. Project Apricot is going to be a high profile effort to create an open source game using Blender and Crystal Space.



Pingus revival efforts seem to have made some headway but there's still a few tasks left to do before it gets "re-released" as a more manageable project i.e. no new features yet but [supposedly] more maintainable code so less chance of it stagnating again and a greater likelihood of new features / levels in the future.



Something like that. ;-)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Peragro Tempus

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With the time I've spent sorting out the site I've had less time to stay in touch with general open source game developments, so slow news at the moment.



The author of Passenger and Nuclear Graveyard seems to be making headway on his latest project, Last Remaining:



I've just added some more hardened enemies to Last Remaining, and some more serious firepower. I don't want the game to become just another FPS, as the story is quite important, but it won't do any harm to have a bit of action in the middle of it!


He uploaded a version to Sourceforge on 25th July with 3 levels and the aforementioned hardened enemies. He's also looking for modellers. I will note that his games seem to lack a little graphical atmosphere due to using only simple lighting techniques, but I think this is something he is trying to address in Last Remaining.




JCRPG trees


I mention it a lot, but JCRPG is a nice regularly* updated** blog/project and his latest addition, billboard trees, look absolutely fantastic.



All the trees are billboarded. This means that the foliage is given by screen facing squares. But the further the tree is the less and bigger squares the foliage will be on. The furthest tree has only one foliage square.


I would like to see some more on this - trees / foilage are something that a lot of games really fail to get right but Paul (the JCRPG author) has put a lot of effort into it and other open source games would do well to copy or reuse his efforts.




PS or PT castle


Finally, I came across Peragro Tempus, what looks like an open source MMORPG in the making. Details are a little sketchy on the website but it looks very nice. It has the usual open source infrastructure - public SVN, wiki, mailing lists - and uses Crystal Space.



I came across it via this forum thread in the forums for the Planeshift project, and it seems to have a few modellers who used to contribute to popular MMORPG. I wasn't sure whether this castle was destined for Planeshift or Peragro Tempus but it's impressive nonetheless!



One of the main objections people have with contributing art to Planeshift is that you have to give the Planeshift project copyright over the art and it is kept under a closed license. This doesn't sit well with open source advocates or many potential contributors, and I get the impression was one of the motivations behind forming the Peragro Tempus project.



* BIG
** HINT