Sunday, March 02, 2008

Bos Wars and Globulation2

Bos Wars 2.5 has been released. Beautiful particle explosions are the highlight. I couldn't find screenshots of this online yet. I downloaded and had a very brief go. It seems to be the standard RTS fare, reminiscent of the classic C&C games. I'm not sure whether I just completely missed it, but the game lacks a story element, something that personally I really look for in this type of game. Bos Wars itself isn't sufficiently spectacular or innovative that it can be just a multiplayer RTS and attract a lot of plaudits.



Also the project does not have a web forum. When I spoke to the devs about this, they were adamant that a forum would just be inactive and hence make the project look inactive, and that they preferred just irc / mailing lists. My opinion is that a forum is an ideal place for players to talk about a game and report bugs or make low level contributions (guides, screenshots, feature requests). Now that Bos Wars is close to being a complete game, a forum could be a great place to foster a community which might otherwise look at the spartan web page and otherwise move onto other things. At the moment it, glancing at the website gives the impression of a game deep in development rather than one that is relatively feature complete.



Globulation2 0.9.2 is also available for download (changelog). Globulation2, like Boswars, also now has a particle engine although they are using it more for smoke/damage effects. There is also plenty of stability, optimization, and networking improvements in this release. A new feature of the 0.9.x releases is a much improved AI called Nicowar. Whilst looking for information on changes I spotted that they now have a full time programmer working on the game. It should be interesting to see where it goes. However, I do have one reservation.



I like the gameplay ideas behind Globulation - but one thing makes it a hard game to like. The globs. I mean, really, what were they thinking. Globs are so... bland... uninteresting, impossible to relate to. As a game theme they inspire no passion, have no character, which in turn grates against all the good aspect of the game to make it look and feel dull. There's 101 things they could have chosen (medieval or fantasy theme, aliens, plants, animals, fictional creatures, robots, whatever) and they went and created the dullest thing I could possibly think of. Little blobs of nothing. A re-skinning of that game could massively increase it's appeal. You may think that's a harsh comment, but part of the fun of games is escapism, and if you can't relate to the game in any way, it greatly reduces the appeal.



This sounds like quite a negative post but it's not. Black is the new white. Seriously though, these are both very promising games with some very well done elements and those two issues aside (Bos Wars story, Glob2 theme) the projects have a lot going for them and if you like RTS games then I strongly urge you try both of these and if possible contribute too.



When it comes to a 2D RTS, what do you look for? Which is your favourite of the open source RTS games? Comments welcome.

9 comments:

  1. I try to imagine Globs like weird alien-like creatures ...it kind of helps.

    But what would really hit the spot is if the graphic-wise they would be these cool abstract aliens (think glowing, probably blue themed) and not just some blobby blob.

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  2. I have to say, I prefer the blobs to robots, or any theme where the gameplay simply wouldn't make sense (medieval or fantasy theme? plants? How would that make any sense at all? How does one 'relate' to the concept of a swarm of knights any more than a swarm of blobs?) The blobs in fact are a fairly decent theme, and are much better than the graphics of many OSS game projects - at least they are relatively consistent in style, unlike, say, those from Vulture's Eye, or even Freeciv in some cases.

    If they were to opt for a redesign, I would hope that they would stick with a decently abstract theme instead of choosing to switch to any other for ease of recognition instead of homogeneity and allowing suspension of disbelief.

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  3. I personally vote for keeping Globs as they are. Pretty good for younger children that should not yet watch the standard RTS kill-em-all with lots of blood and such..

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  4. I happen to really like the theme for glob2. I like not feeling any sentiment for the globs so I can recklessly throw them at the enemy or on suicidal missions.

    About the only sentiment I feel when playing is, "NOOOOOOOOOO! NOT MY lvl3 racetrack!!! AAAAAAAH!"

    Glob2 is by far my favorite rts both OSS and commercial. It's focus is on gameplay instead of the theme. Thus it can't rely on a theme to make people enjoy playing it. There is an incredible amount of strategy in the game that I haven't found anywhere else.

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  5. I agree with the forum point, games like torcs really really needs one.

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  6. Anonymous8:35 pm

    I like the blobs, too :)
    Would say that, if a change should be done, it should not be ordinary medieval or sci-fi-stuff but something about social animals, like bees or ants :) maybe meercats would be nice, too.

    boswars seems to be technicaly quite mature, but the graphics are really really really really ugly. Not the buildings, but especially the whole environment-stuff like grass, trees, lava-holes and additionaly the foottroops and all the symbols in the sidebar. The neon-colored waylines look awfull, too.
    Translations are incomplete, what ends in a mixture of english and german for me. I will see, if i can help :)
    Also missing are protective buildings and researching. Most RTS have implemented quite to much researching and dependencies. That can end up in a total dependency-hell and be quite frustrating (see glest: building a building, just to be abled to research a building, then build that building, that enables you to build a building, that enables you to research a dragon)
    Bos Wars not having any researching or dependencies is the other extreme and I'm not sure if this is good or not.
    So, to the last and for me most important critic about boswars: ingame-info. They have tooltips, but give only very basic info. For beginners, it would be nice to have an explanation about the buildings or soldiers they are building, not only stats. the upper panel is crypric. How should i know, what something like ð +34-18934 20/20 ł +40-9999999 0/20 meens?
    If one gets the concept, it's totally easy to understand and because of the lack of dependencies also easy to play, but such an easy concept should also be easy to teach INGAME.
    So, hopefully, boswars will not only implement new features but polish the things i've mentioned. It could get a very good game :) Did I mention, that the graphics are ugly? They are!

    Widelands could get a good rts, too, but currently, the development is rather chaotic. The last release was months ago and their roadmaps still includes bugs, that should be fixed till build11 (the last release). Build 12 is mentioned, but no goals are written down.
    The campaign-system is not only incomplete and buggy, but all the long messages, that you recieve while playing them are totally frustrating. Sometimes you have to read 30 lines of uninteresting story, before you see your new objectives and sometimes those are not even discribed. then you visit the objectives-menu to see that you have missed about anything.

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  7. What do you think about this game?: http://wowrl.sourceforge.net/

    Its 3D, i know, but the graphics are awesome! (unfortunately, they are using WOW data)

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  8. There's a Bos Wars forum waiting to be used at http://www.onlinegameplanner.co.uk/ForumPage.cls?gameid=97
    (though it's mainly for discussing the games that are played, rather than dev).

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  9. (The URL above seems to be truncated, but it works if you copy/paste all of it).

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lol, spam.