Thursday, February 24, 2011

When three became two - Glests Uniting!

So, to all those familiar with the Glest project...

Not familiar? Glest is a popular 3D RTS that wowed the Free gaming scene with it's high quality graphics and polished gameplay back when it was released in 2006.

...it has evolved into 3 distinct codebases, with differing features:

  • Glest
    The original Glest, which is barely developed any more and suffers from significant issues that will likely never get addressed, and lacks many features compared to the continuations.
  • Glest: Advanced Engine aka GlestAE
    A community-led continuation of Glest by adding features and rewriting significant portions of the Glest codebase.
  • Mega Glest
    With frustrations growing about the lack of stability of early GlestAE work, and the length of time between releases, a prolific modder started to add key features such as improved multiplayer, a 'mega pack' of mods (which inspired the name), and port useful changes back from GlestAE - the result was MegaGlest.

For some good videas of both forks, go to player UltiFD's youtube channel.

My impression of the different development approaches for MegaGlest and GlestAE is that MegaGlest development is driven by a "whatever works" mentality to make rapid improvements and bring more features to players. GlestAE development seems to be based on a much longer term outlook, with most work being fairly significant in nature and few basic improvements.

Where are they now

Both MegaGlest and GlestAE have remained much lower profile than perhaps the efforts of the developers have deserved. Whilst Glest remains popular, and enjoys many downloads due to high Internet profile, there is no mention of MegaGlest and GlestAE on the homepage and only people diving into the forum will discover them.

Lacking features and stability, players who fall away after trying Glest may have stuck around if they encounter MegaGlest or GlestAE, but they are unlikely to ever try them. Hopefully this will change now MegaGlest has an amazing website and will start to gain an Internet profile of its own.

Another issue is the increasing amount of time spent porting improvements between the two forks.

A further issue is that, since GlestAE has features that MegaGlest doesn't (and, to a lesser degree, vice versa), there is an increasing divergence in the modding communities.

Glest forms to join forces?

Well, the story may yet have a happy ending. After a brutal conflict, with bloodshed, riots, toppled dictators, eathquakes and... wait, I'm looking at the wrong screen...

After much pressing by Internet trolls and well wishers, it seems that a joining of efforts is in the offing.

Even if the efforts do merge, they may still remain separate entities. Reading through the post, there's talk of official liasons between the projects and all sorts. It seems a bit more complicated than you might expect.

There's even a distant hope that the resultant efforts of the GlestAE/MegaGlest merger may result in Glest 4.0 if the community finally takes over the now-abandoned Glest project.

In Other Glest News

Glest forks (MegaGlest, at leasT) now can have cliffs! This opens up a lot of possibilities when it comes to map design and gives the game a bit of vertical depth, making it look cooler (in my opinion - and I am incredibly cool).

Somebody with a peculiar middle name is making a fully-3D Glest-inspired game called GlestNG - it will use Glest assets but otherwise be completed written from scratch using Ogre3D. Will it ever become playable? Who knows, but it's intriguing nonetheless. So just when two forks merge, another project arises to take the spare seat. Hah!

A completely cool mod Annex Conquer The World (moddb) has been teasingly dangled in front of us, with acclaims already including: "Easily the best Glest mod since the original Magitech!!"

Let's hope it gets released as Free software! ;-)

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