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.