Sunday, April 29, 2012

Open Source Textures

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OpenGameArt's texture section just received an update. There now is a category tree and files from texture packs are also available as single nodes (pages/description/downloads).

You can see some discussion about the new features on the official announcement's comments.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Arx Libertatis 1.0 "Bloody Gobblers!" released!

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Arx Fatalis - Libertatis Feb 2012 git Status 11
Walking in the underground city hub in Arx Libertatis
Arx Fatalis - Libertatis Feb 2012 git Status 12
Looking up magic recipes and managing inventory while a vision enhancement is active in Arx Libertatis

Arx Libertatis 1.0 has been released. We already wrote about the engine a month and a half ago but this is the first official, stable release of the GPL-licensed engine for the proprietary first-person cave RPG Arx Fatalis.

But being able to play the proprietary game is not the end of the development. There are plans for future milestones, for example a Qt-based modern game editor and support for modern shaders. I look forward to it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tesseract, Cube2 next-gen'd

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A FOSS gaming engine stalwart made a major leap forward today. Sauerbraten/cube 2, everyone's favorite octree, in-game editing game engine has finally implemented modern dynamic lighting, making its innovative mapping system a lot more intuitive and easy to use, as well as allowing for all kinds of new game play. Tesseract loses the backwards compatibility of Cube 2 in order to take full advantage of modern gfx cards.

Personally, I'm looking forward to games that utilize to implement destructible terrain, and the inevitable Minecraft clones that come with it. So go out coders, and create!

You can find the sourcecode on Github here

EDIT: Well, that was quick! Hirato from Sandbox / Redeclipse pointed out this day/night cycle made with the new code: 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Las Barricadas CC-by-SA boardgame & Kickstarter

View/Write Comments read right, a board-game on FreeGamer :p
Playable completely without the aid of a computer or similar device. But hey... it's a game and libre licensed, so it is not really that OT.

So this ominously named "Black Flag Games" collective has recently jumped on the Kickstarter hype and seems to have quite successfully financed their game by it (but you can still donate to the cause). Currently they are at $5,932 of their $3,500 goal with 22 days to go.

I noticed it because they already started releasing graphics on OGA under the CC-by-SA license as promised:

Personally I am looking forward to this, as I actually proposed something quite similar in my long running "game design brain-fart" thread. Luckily for them I released these ideas into the public domain... otherwise I would be sooo suing their a**es off :p

P.S.: viva la revolución... errr I for one welcome our new Kickstarter overlords!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Trigger Rally Online Edition Open Sourced on GitHub

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Trigger Rally Online Edition race start on a sand track with green trees and an animated checkpoint ahead.

Trigger Rally Online Edition [github] is a WebGL racing game based on the concept of Trigger Rally. It has a more detailed car model than the classical game, however I am not sure about the game data license. It features replays too!

The project was created by the lead coder of the original/classical Trigger Rally version.

By the way: if you are interested in helping me to sort out missing license-clear graphics and sounds for the classical Trigger Rally, I created a thread on OpenGameArt for that purpose.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Big corrections round-up post (and TA contest)

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So... you might have followed the lengthy discussion in the comment section of this blog entry of mine from last week... if you didn't don't worry you didn't miss anything important :p

However I was corrected in quite a few things (besides all the disagreements), so I though it would be good to post a sort of "counter statement" to clear up some recent mess-ups by me:

First of all, the developers from Q2W informed us that in fact most (but not all) of their art assets are CC-by-SA or GPL, which is great. They have also released a Linux installer now, so feel free to check it out if you are gaming on this platform (like me). Oh and I have also updated the video to a newer one, in case you didn't notice yet.

Also, and I am to be honest quite surprised by this, OverDose does in fact have an open source-code repository since some time now, where you can download the source to the engine and some of the cool in-house tools they have developed. No clearly visible notice on the website about this however :-/ Even on the wiki they have no link to it I think.

Ah, and I was also informed that UFO:AI has now released an Linux version of the mentioned 2.4 RC.

Otherwise? Stunt-Rally does indeed have a player-collision option, which I somehow missed... but at least I am not the only one who feels that the physics are a bit off :p

Last but not least, and that is the only real news in this post:
The rather early in development steam-punk themed MMORPG Tempest in the Aether are hosting an art contest in collaboration with OGA too (to celebrate their first release). A bit of a pity that it will probably be somewhat overlooked due to the big OGA contest mentioned in Bart's previous post, but maybe you want to contribute to this game as well.

P.S.: Criticize me all you want, and I am open to corrections as you can see, but don't expect me become a "proper" journalist! After all this is the "splatter zone" :p

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Announcing the Liberated Pixel Cup!

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I'm excited to announce that is will be teaming up this summer with the Free Software Foundation and the Creative Commons for a big summer games contest, the Liberated Pixel Cup!

The TL;DR version is that the Liberated Pixel Cup will take place in two phases.  The first phase will be the art phase, in which artists will be asked to submit pixel art that matches an existing body of professional quality art that we're building specifically for the contest.  The second phase will be the programming phase, the object of which will be to create a game using the pre-made assets along with the assets created by contestants during the art phase.  A longer overview (as well as the official rules page) can be found on the website.

I've been running for just over three years now, and I'm incredibly excited because this marks the first official recognition we've received from the FSF and the CC.  It's particularly awesome because it'sa massive boost for OGA's goal -- that is, bringing artists and coders together to make awesome games!

So, spread the word, donate to the cause (donations will be used to add to the already impressive base art set, and fund contest prize money), and above all, join us and take part in the contest!

Bart K.

P. S.  I'd like to offer a special thank you to Chris Webber (aka paroneayea) from the Creative Commons, who conceived this idea and made it happen.  You rock. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stunt-Rally 1.5 Multiplayer

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We are getting a lot of nice mails from developers lately... not sure yet if I am annoyed by the spam or pleased that I don't have to do any research of my own :p
These must be the benefits of real journalists who always get these nice offers from lobbying firms to write fair and balanced articles for them (yeah, I included some social commentary in this blog!).

So... what was in my spam folder lately? Stunt-Rally got an version 1.5 release (changelog here) which a prominent new feature: multiplayer!

You can find a small guide to set up a multiplayer game here. Not sure if player collision is also implemented... it would be cool however ;)

In general I really think the physics are too bouncy however... not sure if that hits the nail, but something feels off about them. Also... "LOD popping" trees is soo last century :p

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Big idTech 2 round-up post

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Hello fans ;) Today we get back to the main business of this blog: gaming news!

And of course my favorite genre: FPS (forevar!)... specifically everything related to the Quake2 engine (idTech2).

The reason is that we got a nice mail from the developers of Quake2World, which I had not really on my radar as still under development. But now they released a public beta, which I have not tried yet as there isn't a Linux download (yet).

But judging from the pictures and videos, I am was quite sure that DFSG standards are not fulfilled... and they know and don't care (very short sighted... but well).

So that is why I decided that they don't deserve a news post all by themselves :p

Low and behold... an update on all Q2 based games that *are* on my radar:

AlienArena is preparing for a new release with a reloaded trailer and some update one engine improvements:

Ya3dag, also released a new version recently and I still think its cool in-game editing features should be picked up by some other idTech2 engines. Can't be that hard to port...
Especially for UFO:AI it might be a nice way to modify missions. Speaking of which... they are also preparing a new version 2.4 and released an RC (changelog) recently. Again no Linux download, so I am skipping it for now. They have however almost reached full FOSS status of their sound-effects... at least that is what they say, the graphic they posted says CC-sampling plus though, which is AFAIK not FOSS compatible :(

Now to the games that don't show any real visible progress: War§ow is just posting stupid stuff interesting trivia on their blog. However I don't consider the long awaited 0.7 release vapourware yet.
Another matter in the vapourware category is OverDose though... in development since what feels like at least a decade, and still no release anywhere near (which is also their excuse why they don't share their nice engine improvements or for that matter any source-code all together >:( ). However they recently posted a lengthy news on Moddb in what seems to be an attempt to jump on the current "Kickstarter" bandwagon. Think what you want of that... but they are for sure not getting any of my cash before there isn't a engine-source release...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Why Free Culture could be Good for the Games Business

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Today I'd like to talk about how free culture can be (perhaps counter-intuitively) good for the commercial games business.  I'm using Dungeons & Dragons (and its recent and highly successful fork, Pathfinder) as a concrete example of what I'm talking about, but there's no reason this couldn't also apply to computer games as well.

I've been a Dungeons & Dragons geek for 20 years now, pretty much since I was introduced to it my freshman year of high school.  Back in my high school days, D&D was in its second edition and the internet was in its infancy.  Dungeons and Dragons was owned by a litigious beast of a company called TSR, which was well known for sending nastygrams every time someone put up a web page with any fan-created D&D content.  This was particularly ironic, since the whole idea behind Dungeons & Dragons was that they threw some rule books at you and then told you to create your own content with them.

In the late 1990s, for a variety of reasons (no doubt including its poor treatment of its customers), TSR was in financial trouble and was bought out by Wizards of the Coast.  As any follower of a games company knows, it's always a bit scary when another company acquires a company that you like.  Usually it turns out to be a bad thing, because the company doing the acquiring is invariably bigger and generally cares less about the actual quality of the product and more about monetizing it (think of all the studios EA has bought up and ruined).  In this particular case, our worries were unfounded; the acquisition of TSR by WOTC actually resulted in a huge cultural change for D&D...

Enter the Open Game License, a share-alike license for table-top roleplaying game content, and the hands down the single best thing ever to happen to Dungeons & Dragons.  Shortly after they purchased TSR, Wizards of the Coast released the 3rd edition of D&D under this license, which opened D&D not only to fan expansion but also to commercial development.  In fact, after the OGL, the most frequent complaint I heard about D&D is that the popularity OGL-licensed content made the d20 system (which was the underlying system that 3rd edition D&D was built on top of) made it too difficult to compete with.  3rd edition introduced the idea of a System Reference Document, which was a body of content that was free-as-in-speech and included the basic information necessary to play and the game.  Mind you, 3rd Edition had its issues, but it was easy to play, learn, and (most of all) build on top of, which resulted in a massive wealth of content, both commercial and player-created.

Unfortunately, the days of Wizards of the Coast were ultimately shortlived, as they were purchased by the toy and games giant Hasbro in 1999.  I have no information from inside the company, but from the outside it would certainly seem that the culture of WOTC changed for the worse shortly thereafter, with nearly annual layoffs, generally around every Christmas.  After Hasbro acquired Wizards, they released Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, which was essentially a more expensive re-release of 3.0 with some balance issues fixed, that ultimately felt like a $100 errata pack.  3.5 was successful as well, but there was no denying the general sense of disappointment gamers felt; it could have been a lot more than it was, and the differences weren't really substantive enough to justify the hefty price tag.

I'm going to digress for a moment and talk about tabletop roleplaying games in general.  One thing that seems to happen in the tabletop world is that a new edition of a game will be released, then add-on content will be released for the new edition until eventually the add-ons become so numerous that they're impossible for someone who is GMing the game to keep track of all of them.  Eventually, players feel that their needs and wants have been met by the existing content, and no longer feel the need to purchase more; at that point, the games company will go back, examine the limitations of their current system, and create a new one, starting the process anew.

D&D 3.5 had reached this level of saturation when WOTC/Hasbro put out 4th edition.  By far (in my opinion) the most distressing change between 3.5 and 4.0 was the gutting of the Open Game Licence and the creation of the Game System License.  4th edition had its own system reference document, but it was pathetic (PDF warning) in comparison to the 3rd edition one, and included nothing in the way of useful content.  4th edition also included a number of system changes under the hood, which aren't the subject of this blog post.  While I don't want to start a big flamewar about which rule system is better (that's been done to death), it is objectively true that a lot of people who were happy with 3rd edition felt that 4th edition had departed too far from the rules and style of play that they were used to, and continued to play 3.5 as a consequence.

At this point, any good capitalist will tell you that if there's an existing, un-served customer base that wants to be served, then it in your financial best interest to serve them.  A company founded in 2002 called Paizo Publishing, which had been successfully releasing add-ons for 3.0/3.5 (among other things) decided to pick up the OGL licensed D&D 3.x content and expand on it, and the Pathfinder system was born.  Pathfinder, which like its predecessor, has a complete System Reference Document, which is particularly notable in that it's much more complete than the original 3.x SRD.  (As an aside, if you're interested, you can find the official version here, and a highly usable web version here.  They provide more than enough information to play the complete game, including all the official expansions, for free).

The release of Pathfinder, while based on D&D 3.5, did far more than just address game balance issues -- it also added quite a lot of content that made the game more fun to play in general.  As a consequence, Pathfinder has cut into WOTC's revenue, bringing in customers that may have otherwise bought into D&D 4.  (As an aside, I feel a lot more disappointed in the 3.5 update to 3.0 now that I know what it could have been.  Seeing how far Paizo took Pathfinder and how much they added makes WOTC/Hasbro's little 3.0->3.5 update feel like even more of a money grab.)

Now that I've established this background information, I'll finally get to my point: if you don't think about it very hard, you may assume that, since the OGL content has clearly lost WOTC/Hasbro money, it's a bad idea commercially.  And from their eyes, it probably is.  What most people don't consider, though, is that releasing an open system has allowed someone else to step in and turn what would have been a stagnant product line into a commercial success.  Any talk from commercial publishers about how free culture is bad for business is utterly uninformed and missing the point of free culture -- what they mean to say is that free culture is bad for companies like them that aren't able to recognize what their customers want.

For companies like Paizo, free culture has created an opportunity for commercial success, and they've managed to monetize their product without removing it from the commons.  And, should Paizo ever undergo an unfortunate change of management and decide not to release any more OGL products, another commercial entity could pick up where they left off and continue to make money by giving customers what they want.

The lesson to be learned here is this:  the next time you hear someone suggest that free culture is somehow anti-business or bad for the economy, point out to them that it's only bad for stagnant businesses that feel the need to compete by keeping the market closed, rather than releasing content that their customers want.  And there's absolutely no reason this can't apply to video games as well.

Peace out,

Bart Kelsey

P.S.  In case you didn't see it above, here is the complete and unabridged Pathfinder System Reference Document, which contains all of the official Pathfinder content, including add-ons, and is completely playable on its own.  If you like it, buy their books.  They're excellent. :)

P.P.S  Here is a shameless plug for my Pathfinder blog, with all OGC content. :)

Sunday, April 01, 2012

April Snippets

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Reaction 1.0 Beta is an Action Quake 2-like based on ioq3 with "freeware" BY-NC-SA assets.

A list of open source Minecraft-style games was recently shared in a Reddit thread.

219 bytes tron is:
<body id=b onkeyup=e=event onload=
><canvas id=c>

Swallow for browser-based games , as introduced in a AltDevBlogADay post, is:

  • A directory scanner which packages files into a single JSON file
  • A small part of your build chain