Monday, March 16, 2009

Top 10 Projects To Revive

The great thing about open source is a project can never become extinct - there is always a chance of it being brought back to life either by the original authors who re-find their motivation, by new contributors who see the potential, or a mixture of both.

Here are the top 10 games, complete with cliches, I'd like to see return to the development scene and back on the road to completion.

1. Bloodmasters


This gorgeous 3D top-down action game was released as open source last year after indie developer Pascal "CodeImp" vd Heiden found he'd lost motivation to continue with the project. It's a complete game with great graphics and needs a good C# developer to pick it up, port it to Mono, and help restore the community.

2. Project Citadel


A very nice looking turn based strategy game set in World War II.

The game reached a playable state before it's development team ByteWare stopped playing the development game.

3. Windstille


This project isn't technically dead - lead developer Grumbel occasionally bumps it with more concept work - but it's definitely in hibernation and progress is frustratingly slow.

Grumbel is actively seeking writers and developers so the prospects of reviving the project are quite good - no organizational work required.

4. Emilia Pinball


Come on, who wouldn't love a great Free pinball game? Emilia Pinball is a fairly solid 3D pinball game that is playable, if a little "bare bones" in it's current form. A better table editor, some more tables, and a bit of love to the user interface and ball physics and this game would be a corker.

Hopefully one day a pinball wizard will resume improving this game and add another table or two as well as a few more features.

5. Labyrinth of Worlds


Ultimate Underworld is my favourite ever game, and this is a project to create a new game based on it the 2nd instalment of the popular series. Since these days the world of Ultima is somewhat abandoned by it's foster parent company EA, I hoped projects like this and Underworld Adventures would have gained more support.

6. Boson


The promising 3D RTS came a long way but never quite snowballed despite having nice graphics, original gameplay, and most of the hard work already done. I think the dependency on KDE libs was hurtful to attracting contributors.

It is original, playable, has a full set of units for two sides, nice graphics. It has everything going for it except momentum. Oh but to borrow a bit of enthusiasm from the Spring project, and Boson could spring back into life.

7. MyLink / MyNet


MyLink is inspired by the rather cool game UpLink. After encountering difficulties the author started from scratch with the name MyNet, but after hitting difficulties again (with motivation this time) the project got abandoned. The author is waiting for a new maintainer to step up to the plate. Until that happens, consider this project disconnected.

8. Civil


Civil is a cross-platform, turn-based, networked strategy game, which allows players to take part in scenarios set in historical battle theatres. The U.S. Civil war was the primary focus before they started losing the battle and development stopped in 2005. Written purely in Python/Pygame, there should be plenty of people able to help out.

Battle simulations, how could that fail to be fun? When development dies, that's how!

9. Slickworm


An innovative FPS where the terrain was deformable. It went through a few rewrites before the lead developer went silent. He was obviously talented and probably snapped up by a commercial company - a shame for the open source game community as it blows a big hole in the future for Slickworm; this potentially brilliant game looks like it'll never be more than a tech demo.

10. Battle for Antargis


An original game that mixes elements of strategy and role play, this project enjoyed sustained development for several years and looked very promising before development tailed off as 2008 began. Hopefully somebody will pick things up again as this is one of those projects that counters the 'open source can only copy' popular criticism.

It had another original edge to it, it was probably the first significant Ruby game project, which probably doesn't help when it comes to attracting developers.

Honorable Mentions

Here's a few that I thought also had potential:

  • SilverTree RPG

    The lead developer of Battle for Wesnoth started to make an RPG! There was joyous celebrations and wide eyed expectation as SilverTree was unleashed on the public. Then he moved on to another project and the with it so went the development activity of the RPG.

  • Mars: Land of No Mercy

    A 2D mech strategy game that could be nice if development had no slowed to a near stand still. Every now and again something seems to happen that nearly equates to activity, so it didn't quite make the list.

  • GalaxyMage

    It once looked like a great new strategy game but the developers and the website went AWOL. Enthusiasts resumed development under the moniker Galaxy Mage Redux but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere other than the archives.

  • FreePop

    This was an attempt to recreate and improve upon the iconic Populous games of the early nineties. It never quite got to a playable state before the developer declared the project dead and moved on.

  • Legacy of Magic

    Another very promising war strategy game with very nice 3D graphics that never managed to emerge from abyss of alpha releases.

  • Fuzzy Adventure

    It came about at a time when the only platform games on Linux were SuperTux and XEvil. A quick burst of activity was never turned into long term development. I suspect that Fuzzy Adventure was just SuperTux with different graphics (gameplay was nearly identical) but that's never been confirmed.

  • Reaper3D

    A space shoot-em-up, this game was neary completed before it stalled.

  • OpenParsec

    This 3D space combat game was the darling of its time but very dated now. The developers declined to open source it for several years, and by the time they did the times, and with it the community, had long since moved on.

Another games you wished were still going?

Update: some more games that would be cool to revive:

  • Dark Oberon is an original 2D isometric RTS whose graphics are created by taking images of melded plasticine models.

  • Cspop, a Crystal Space populus-inspired game (svn, no homepage) previously mentioned (twice) on Free Gamer and announced on the happypenguin forums.

  • Zugspiel, a 3D train tycoon game (forum) which never quite made it after the author became inactive.

  • FreeTrain, a 2D isometric city & rail network building game. It needs an enthusiastic C# developer (contact me directly or post in the FreeGameDev Help Offered forum if you are interested).