Sunday, June 29, 2008

Shadow game prototyping challange, FreedroidRPG lifesigns, recording GNU/Linux games with glc

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Shadow & light mock-up, thrown together by Danc

Daniel Cook of Lost Garden started a shadow and light based game prototype challenge. Lost Garden is probably the best thing to read related to gaming. If you would like to participate via an open source project, feel free to gather a team on the FreeGameDev.net forums!



There's some activity surrounding FreedroidRPG. The students Kaisa Anttila, Markku Väisänen and Sami Mylly wrote an usability study of the game and it's editor. The criticism is very general and there are no direct solutions provided. The documents are supposed to serve interested developers in helping improving FreedroidRPG.


Version 0.11 of the game is scheduled for... soon? Anyways, for now the 0.11 pre-release candidate is available.





Video of Slune, made with glc


glc is now my tool of choice when it comes to recording game videos on GNU/Linux systems. It is faster than xvidcap, istanbul or gtk-recordMyDesktop and is also the only app that manages to records audio on my machine. It's also easy to install! (Hints: cat /proc/cpuinfo to find out what flags to use, O2 is written with an uppercase o, if you don't know where to install to install it to /usr/ and also execute the install script as root.) Using it is easy too! Just run glc-capture game-name and press Shift+F8 to start/stop recording. There is even a script provided, which will convert the glc files to mp4 (attention, non-free), the preferred format of Vimeo. If you know how to use ffmpeg to create an Theora/OGG video, you can probably export to that format instead.



glc is great! I want you to use it! I've used it a lot already. It is to my knowledge the first Linux direct rendering capturing tool that does not suck! If you have any trouble whatsoever with it, you're invited to ask for help in this thread. (There's also #glc on irc.freenode.net.)



Edit: Many thanks to Pyry for writing glc and making me aware of it!



Speaking of game videos, I discovered some game-exclusive video hosting services! GameVee even supports OGG/Theora!



One more thing: Apricot is looking for animators!

Friday, June 27, 2008

DNT & XUT

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Today I gave DccNiTghtmare a try. I learned about the project on the LGT.

DccNiTghtmare (aka DNT) is a project to make a Free (as in free speech) 3D single player RPG in a sarcastic post-apocalyptical world. Any suggestions are welcome, just put them at our forum.

How convenient! I'm a big fan of apocalyptic settings, single-player games, sarcasm, free software and projects that encourage participation!





DccNiTghtmare

First impressions after starting: Weird music, strange resolutions limitation, interesting races (Headbanger, Strange Autistic, Mutant Human Cricket, Human Llama).



The controls are contumacious and the graphics engine is either slow or unstable (it either crashes or slows down to unplayable speed when I exit the first area.) This means that I can't say much about playability. The clown care seems right though. So if you're into bizarre humor, you should get DNT, just to be able to read the race/class descriptions.



XUT screenshot detail

DNT is a project by DNTeam, "a group of developers and artists involved on creating free (as in libre, livre) games projects." Another game they're working on is XUT, a Button football game. It looks like fun, but there is no release yet. Unfortunately it is under "not so active development."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Apricot ripens, NO just is and Warsow wants $

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Winning a game of NO


NO is a fun little puzzle game [video]. It is built on top of LÖVE, which is fairly easy to have for Win and Lin users. Mac builders wanted!



I found a list of open source games for the Mobile Edition of Java. About 25 puzzle/arcade titles, mostly GPL'ed.



The Apricot project is ripening with great speed! Further additions to blender have been made and videos of a playable prototype recorded and uploaded. The plan to unleash "real Open Source power" by opening Apricot's code repository has unfortunately not been fulfilled yet.



The opinion exists, that a game will be less fun for people who were able to play a development version of it. I don't think this problem is a big one and believe that simply because of the necessity for compiling, most people will wait for an official release.



An example of a story-based single-player game with an open Subversion repository is Rastullahs Lockenpracht, a TDE-based 3D RPG. I haven't tried it so far because the last time it caught my attention, compiling code was a large burden for me. Now I won't try it as it appears to be depending on non-free Nvidia and Fmod libraries.





It seems that the Apricot team has the same problems that I have when recording with recordMyDesktop: The recorded field doesn't fit the selected window, which results in capturing of unwanted space above and below the targeted window.



Warsow's developers started accepting donations. They want to use it for making participation in an own LAN party cheaper. I'm becoming more and more uncertain about the ultimate goal of the project. Is it profit? A fun game? An elitist community? Being popular? PS: What I'm talking about here is the "ultimate master plan" - which I'm certain every open source project secretly has. ;)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

CivCool, TremFuture, WineOne, WarzoneFree

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If you have had problems viewing this blog via Internet Explorer, you should not have these problems any more. Many thanks to intelperfectionist for pointing out that css-related issue that we had!



FreeCiv, it's sooo pretty (you knew that already, I know...)


I recently learned to enjoy FreeCiv very much. It's pretty and fun. It also has a (fairly) new release called Mr. 2.1.5.



FreeCol 0.7.4 has been released.



Tremulous 1.2? Visit this page to read how you can help making the next release a reality. By playing!



The latest version of LÖVE is now 0.3.1 and a bugfix is coming soon. I can now say with complete confidence that this yet another project is an awesome one. It has style. Check out their forum community. These guys are cool. As you easily can tell, I'm still blinded by LÖVE's stylishness. Oh. And here is a terrible video of some engine demos!



OpenFracas (0.5) now has music and sound.



After 15 years of development, Wine reached version 1.0. Wine is not a windows emulator.



Remember Mars - Land of No Mercy? I at least twice mourned it's death. It seems that the game likes to revive a lot. Animations seem to be the aim at the moment.




PS!!!: Warzone 2100's music and videos are now licensed under the GPL! I am so excited! Warzone 2100 is a great game that long ago was a proprietary one. The real-time strategy game is much fun, though I felt that long gameplay was dull without music and that the story wasn't very touchable without videos. Joy!!! I also discovered the Warzone 2200 project. It appears to be aiming for improving the game engine.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

RubyWeekend, but also PyDay

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Yesterday the first RubyWeekend ended, which is a two and a half days Ruby game creation competition. The topic was "Pirates Versus Zombies!"



Seven contributions were made: kiba's digital piracy parody The CopyPirate [video], atiaxi's tbs Port Town [video], satoshi's console-based footracer [video], jlnr's ZombieSoccarrr [video], ippa's Zombie Horde [video], jacius' Election Year: Zombies vs. Pirates! [video] and trejs' Caribbean Onslaught.



The submitted code had to be released under an OSI-approved license and all media under one of the Creative Commons licenses (alternatively public domain for both.)



The contest is being hosted on the forums of Rubygame, which is a SDL-based Ruby media library. Most submissions are based on it, some use Gosu.



Ninjapix, probably PyDay #2's winner
Another competition ended on Saturday: PyDay #2 - a rather fresh 24-hours Python game making contest and the smaller brother of Ludum Dare, which is the granddaughter of PyWeek.



You can download an archive (.7z) of all contributions. Or pick them individually. Or just watch some of them.



I also seriously recommend two out of the three PyDay #1 games. They're in the video at the end of this post.



While some games turn out terribly (it will be either less than ugly graphics or inhuman controls), gems tend to appear on such contests. I love the idea of brain-storm programming, even though results are likely to be buggy and incomplete, the important thing is that a playable model of a game exists. It allows to see the potential for fun.



Port Town

For example I enjoy playing Port Town much more than I should. It's a game based on boring random numbers, where you get a random number of units and position them in a part of the town, where they fight and win randomly. The tiny detail that zombies will convert humans to their own kind is what makes the game shine for me. Also the zombies start on the graveyard and the pirates start on a ship. It makes so much sense! I see a lot of potential in this minimal Risk-like strategy game. It only needs a bit more complexity and then a bit more graphics.



Another example is The CopyPirate, which is no fun to play at all for me, but which has a cool scenario. You're a pirate, who has to steal some music and escape to the intertubes while avoiding the RIAA's Zombies! How awesome is that? I hope this scenario will find it's way into a decent satirical game someday.



There is one problem with short time game contests' results though: documentation. I think it's a big deal, as many contest contributors won't be willing to spend any more time on their quickie creations while being the ones who understand the game's code best. (The reasons will be "The source is sooooo dirty!!", "I would, but I got this totally awesome idea for my next game!", "I'll rewrite it instead, rly!!", "I don't care if you like it, I don't!", "I'm lazy!" and "I can only work under pressure!") But at least the small size of the games protects against total unsuitability for further development by others.



I'm looking forward to PyHour. Less is more!



PyDay #1 games (the third one is the coolest!).


[Edit] This just in: Sauerbraten has the new release "CTF Edition" for Lin/Win/Osx. There's a changelog. I've noticed following new things: pretty weapons (which have been in the code repository a long time now), new maps, new capture the flag game mode. New models too I think. Fun!



Sauerbraten CTF Edition

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Hex Tower Defence and Java vector tools

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HexTD close view
Hex Tower Defence is a Java-powered tower defense game inspired by the unfree, flash-based VectorTD.



You can play it inside the browser or grab hold of the code and install/compile it with the help of these instructions.



Gazelle desktop
HexTD uses the SVG Salamander Java vector library. It's author is Mark McKay, who is also working on an animation suite, which supports Scalable Vector Graphics: Gazelle.
Gazelle is a movie editor that makes it easy for you to create short keyframed animations on your computer.

There are some tutorial videos available. I look forward to playing around with Gazelle, as I'm very interested in using SVGs to create (animated) game media or to even use them directly in games.



HexTD gameplay (likely to be found boring ;) - also there's no sound by default)

Friday, June 13, 2008

krank - a little casual game

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krank snake, stone, links and anchors

krank is a game of dexterity, being somewhere between Breakout and billiard, where the aim of each level is to shove floating stones towards compatible static stones. You control a short chain of stones with your mouse to achieve that.



While the game's visual and audible aural style is as simple as the rules are, there is no shortage of variety. Different level layouts provide enough challenge and different gameplay elements (the interactions between different types of floating stones with different types of static stones) are introduced at a reasonable paste. If you find the hardness curve too flat or simply don't like one level: the game permits you to skip one level ahead the last finished one.



Another important aspect, which keeps me playing, is the variety of look and sound. Each level has it's own pretty background and there are different sound themes, which give a subtle but very effective feedback of what is happening on the game field.



Thorsten Kohnhorst is the programmer behind krank. He created some other games, which I will introduce in the future. Michael Abbing is the game's sound designer. Nine others contributed to the game's level designs.

The game was written in python and packages are available for Mac OS X, Windows and Ubuntu (thanks to Vadi for the latter!) On other systems you will have to make a little fix to play it. The code and media appears to be in the public domain.



If you ever enjoyed a puzzle, billiard, golf or an arcade game before, you definitely should give it a try. Especially with it being so easy to start playing (see package links above.) By the way: I haven't seen a game menu integrated so well in a game since the unfree Psychonauts! The only feature I'm missing is a save function.



Update: Łukasz Krotowski submitted a patch, which makes the game auto-save on GNU/Linux systems. Now I just have to learn how to use patches. ^^



Have a look at the gameplay in the video below but I must warn you that the sound effects (which I am unable to capture) are an important element of the game and that the video (especially with it's visual quality) is a bad representative of the actual game.




krank gameplay video - pardon the lack of sounds :(

Friday, June 06, 2008

FreeOrion 0.3.9 and SuperTuxKart 0.5

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FreeOrion star map detail

Cheer, for a new release of the awesomely pretty FreeOrion has seen the light! This time both Windows and GNU/Linux builds are provided. Here are the features:
  • New and updated art (tech icons, nebulae, map stars, etc.)

  • Gassy substance on the map to give galaxies shape

  • Reworked drag-and-drop design screen

  • New ship parts

  • Python AI interface improvements

  • Minor UI improvements

  • Bug fixes

Check out the Roadmap to see what to expect from future releases!




FreeOrion icon art

OpenGL will be required in coming versions (currently it's semi-required). While I know that there are people who have old machines and countries where it's non-trivial to get reasonably fast hardware, I can't say that I blame anyone for using hardware acceleration and even making it a requirement. I think it's rather the job of Libraries to allow programming games which make use of OpenGL and will automatically disable effects and use software rendering when no acceleration is available.




SuperTuxKart 0.5

SuperTuxKart 0.5 has been released. Along with new and improved tracks, a new game mode, some new music and translations have been added (German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Swedish). Mac/Lin/Win binaries are available.




track-editor

I only realized SuperTuxKart's activity after their forum was created on the FreeGameDev forums. One example is the creation of the tile-based track-editor by Baskervil. There's also interest in making SuperTuxKart switch accessible.
A switch is an assistive technology device which replaces the use of a mouse, keyboard, controller or joystick which severely physically or cognitive disabled may find difficult to use.


In other news: New versions of Alien Arena, Everborn, LordsAWar and Blob Wars : Blob and Conquer. My compliments to nath for being very report-active on LGT. :)

Monday, June 02, 2008

News salad

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In case you're one of those who use youtube as a music player, now you can use it to listen to Wesnoth music.



The one-year-old, made-for-university, one-man game project Heroes of Wesnoth has a new release. There's not much to see yet and it's not the first and certainly not the last HoMM clone but I wish it the best of luck. Whatever it will turn out to be, at least it will have great Battle for Wesnoth art. :)

Last post I told you about Ardentryst. There's a mute gameplay video, I recommend you to take a look at what the game is like as I see some freshness in it.



Bear Factory

A new version of the young platform game Plee The Bear has been released. The code has been cleaned and some images were added. It also features the new level editor called "Bear Factory". The next release has been promised for end of June. I think the level editor will make this project much more interesting, especially for game developers of other platform games.



l-echo, an open source clone of the abstract puzzle game Echochrome, is now 0.1.0 versions old. I haven't given it a try yet. I will. Because it does look very nifty.





tank simulator game

The 1000 USD expensive tank simulator game is stuck at 52.8% of it's financial goal. I think sooner or later some generous comrades will throw their pennies in.



No sign of apricot opening it's repository yet, but in a recent video some features of apricot's blender branch are shown off: object snapping and shadow map baking. These improvements are supposed to ease game/level-design and are likely to find their way into the main blender branch sooner or later. You can get pre-built blender builds of all kinds and colors on GraphicAll.



There's also this YA2DGE LÖVE. What is impressive about it is the homepage's look and it's realistic roadmap. A clean look and decent sense of humor sure are a good way to catch my attention. LÖVE made me find Face Me and Scream. Thanks, LÖVE.



Oh by the way, have you noticed the blog's new look? :) Let us know what you think.





"We already got headless lizards"

PS: (How could I forget?) jClassicalRPG has had it's first birthday! Paul aka Timong delivered a grand speech! (Worth reading!) The project is in "urgent need of 3d Mythic Monsters!!" though!



I also want to thank everyone posting to our game announcements forum! I wasn't expecting to provide news for more than 3-5 games today but then took a second look in said location..



PPS: OpenArena 0.7.7 for hardcore bug fixing is in the house!



PeeEss: Charlie just mentioned that I forgot to serve the news of Glest's new website and new 3.2 alpha 1 patch, which finally features scripted maps aka missions! Yehaw!