Friday, July 11, 2008

Apricot's aim, Battle Tanks and FreeCol map editing

Frank and mushroom from Apricot

There was a change of focus in the Apricot project: From create full functional industry quality game prototype to create a full functional level in the Crystal Space engine, focused on visual quality, speed and character-environment interactions and create several levels in the Blender Game Engine, focused on artistic quality and game play prototyping.

Now this may sound worrying, as "some levels" are only one of many parts of "a game". And to be honest, I am a bit worried that the project will not prove the "you can make awesome open source games" theory, and instead be a demonstration of how nice-looking things made with Blender can be.

The apricot team members come from Blender and Crystal Space backgrounds, which means that they are likely to be most interested in visuals. So perhaps my expectation of "an awesome game" was wrong and should have been "an awesome looking game" (which is actually the only thing able to make the industry pay attention to Blender and Crystal Space. ) Nobody cares about story and depth and such after all, right?

However, the svn repository will be opened this weekend and who knows? Maybe with some community help, the project will reach a higher level of what is now intended before it's deadline of 31, July?

FreeCol map editor

FreeCol 0.8.0-alpha has been released. It features displaying of settlement names, soft unit movement and main menu music.

FreeCol and it's editor are both written in Java, which saved me some compilation minutes. The map editor is pretty simple and unproblematic to use.

Battle Tanks 0.8-rc1 has been shipped! Capture the flag! Team deathmatch! Internet play! The few existing servers are empty though, so why don't ya go and fill them up? Get it here in Windows-binary or source flavor! The team asks for feedback, which is pretty common with open source projects and might be even superfluous to tell, but it always gives me a good feeling when teams ask for criticism on their products.

In case you have never before seen Battle Tanks in action, I recorded a video of AI-aided defend-the-base-style cooperative gameplay.

Battle Tanks' maps can be edited via Tiled, as demonstrated below. The editor is a general-purpose tile-based map editor written in Java, which means that it's cross-platform and relatively easy to run. It's feature-rich but also pretty simple to use : there are layers and you draw tiles on them. Effective! It resembles RPG Maker in some ways, but as a map editor it is far more advanced.

Item placement in Battle Tanks is being done via a specialized, also pretty simple editor, which has no documentation as far as I can tell and which tends to crash a lot.