Sunday, June 30, 2013

Data Dealer, an interesting project to fund!

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The the last Kickstarter game project we featured was sadly not successful and with only 11 days to go it doesn't look too good for Data Dealer either. But this HTML5 and CC-by-SA licensed game project comes with a pretty cool idea and is quite playable already.

It centers around the idea that services like Facebook & Google really arn't in the business of bringing you a good service (aka "If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold") and makes a ironic game out of that.

Here is game-play trailer to give you an better idea:

Or try the current demo on their webpage.

Now of course as we have all recently learned (or at least got confirmation about), the reality is even more twisted than just the private business side of things. But over the revelations of the mass surveillance by the NSA & Co., we should still not forget that all those big internet companies arn't victims by far either.

P.S.: My best wishes go out to Mr. Snowden! You are a hero of our generation.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unvanquished summer tournament

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Given the often quite small online communities around FOSS games, one has to become creative on how to keep players and attract new ones. Regular tournaments are one of those good ideas, albeit one that is a lot of work organizing.
One of the games that is still struggling to attract a stable player base is Unvanquished, even though the game is based on Tremulous and thus quite well developed game-play wise.

Don't hide from the Aliens
However for those complaining about it being the "same old" just with fancy graphics, they have implemented an all new resource and base building system, which will be also used in the tournament! To quote them:
Your tactics may need to change to compensate for this, but you can always test out the new gameplay on our development server beforehand, as well as by attending and observing our weekly development games on Saturdays. An explanation of the differences between our gameplay and the classic Tremulous variety will be explained in a helpful guide that we will provide to you shortly. Most notably, camping is no longer a desirable tactic, and map control is the new focus.
They said "no more camping" !"§$%&/!!!
So where can you learn more about this tournament? Well follow the previous link ;) The event will begin in the middle of July, with the first matches held on the weekend of Friday, July 19th through Sunday, July 21st.But if you manage to pass those rounds, you will have to plan for some matches on the following weekend too.
Registration starts on the 1st of July and you will need at least 3 other people on your team. I would naturally suggest a FreeGamer team, however due to my current bad internet connection, it is sadly not possible for me to join. But I hope some of the matches will be recored so that we can cover them here on the blog too :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

DevCorner: Underapprechiated game engines

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In my never ending search for a FOSS game engine that is usable for game modding with out having to reinvent the wheel (nor requiring to be a C++ code master) & having decent tools for content creation (because I am spoiled and think that is a minimum requirement for a game engine) I have become quite disillusioned lately. That is because *spoiler alert* sadly there is none so far... but a few are close luckily.

The usual contenders for 3D action games are your mixed assortment of idTech based engines, most notably ioQuake3. There are a few upcoming contenders like Unvanquished's Daemon engine (which is a mix of ET:Wolf, ioQuake3 and Xreal) and a yet to emerge idTech4 based champion (my uninformed guess is that it will be dhewm3). But all of them lack a decent game-play scripting function.
On the other side of the idTech spectrum, there is the idTech1 based granddaddy DarkPlaces, which while having advanced to an quite impressive feature set, suffers a quite a bit from its nut-bolted & mostly undocumented client side add-on on the already a bit arcane script language QuakeC.

Interestingly the idTech2 based engines get little attention though. I have highlighted a few nice game projects based in it in the past, but it is probably due to the fact that each project is hacking on their own engine fork, that none has gained prominence as a game engine on it's own. But feature wise the engines behind AlienArena, Overdose and Warsow are probably the most advanced.
The last one of these, has been probably the most overlooked, with the game itself not exactly open-source friendly and the engine being developed more or less behind closed doors. It seems however that this has changed now, although given recent project news it is unclear what made them change their approach. But an all new version of it is now on Github with the main developer mentioning a few really nice changes here. Let's hope it isn't just a "source-drop" of a dying project, as after digging into it a bit (the documentation is really fragmented and lacking) I have to say that it includes a few really awesome features not commonly seen in other FOSS engines:
Besides being really performant, it is fully scriptable and has some quite unique multiplayer features like awards, friendlists and persistent game statistics. It also seems to make good process in having easy to edit GLSL shaders, which I have realized is a much rarer feature than I originally thought. Last but not least it has a really modern looking and fully scriptable menu and HUD.

Ah and before I move on to non-idTech based engines I should mention Engoo for those looking for a modernized software rendering engine based on idTech1 (there was some controversy over it, so I am trying to show some support for its further development here).

Ok, that covered, what are some maybe under appreciated non-idTech 3D engines?
First of all I should probably mention the well known ones for the sake of completeness: Cube2, Ogre3D and the new big player Torque3D. All of which are IMHO still failing to provide a good platform for easy game creation (mainly due, following the same order: in-fexibility & lack of scripting; huge mess of independent parts & bad toolchain; lack of Linux port & buggy and overly complicated toolchain).

One of the shining but lesser known examples of trying to improve the status quo is the jMoneky3 engine. Even though it is still a bit bare-bone (e.g. lacking game frameworks) the nicely integrated SDK and the great new node based GLSL shader editor keeps on attracting my attention. Similary the BlenderGameEngine sure has a few great advantages due to its tight integration. Sadly it seems to be the unliked stepchild of the Blender3D project though, which some quite serious limitations and awesome additions like the candy branch never reaching the the main release.

Then there are the still very much alive big names of the past: Irrlicht and Crystal Space. I am not exactly sure why those never quite reached the required mass to become the engines of choice, but I guess the license mess around Irrklang (and other non free but more or less required addons) and the CS Yo Frankie disaster might have to do with it. But at least Crystal Space was accepted as a hosting organization for this year's GSoC again, so they must be doing something right.

Last but not least, I would like to give a mention to a relatively new contender: Octaforge, which has supplied a steady stream of updated betas lately. The interesting things about Octaforge is that it takes all the good things from Cube2 and combines it with a much updated renderer (Tesseract) and full lua script support. But sadly it isn't quite there yet, and the move to a scripting language required the removal of all the nice game-code that it inherited from Cube2.

As closing remarks I have to admit that this article was rather lopsided towards FPS game engines (and more general purpose ones). Of course there are many great other game engines in the FOSS sphere that focus on RTS or (MMO)RPG games etc. I do however feel that many of the grievances voiced here probably apply there too, but maybe it isn't quite as frustrating there as in the FPS genre.
But if you have some better insights into those type of engines feel free to comment below!

tl;dr: the author (as an old school modder) is frustrated that after all these years there still isn't an FOSS FPS engine that can be modded as comfortably as the Half-Life2 engine or UDK. Don't miss the new qfusion stuff though.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lost Sky Tactical J-RPG [PyGame]

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Lost Sky is a PyGame-based Tactical J-RPG that runs on Linux, OS X and Windows.

To play on a system that has mercurial and pygame installed, run:

hg clone
cd lost-sky-project-public/Story\ of\ a\ Lost\ Sky/
chmod +x

Lost Sky screenshots

Story of a Lost Sky is a Turn Based Strategy RPG with gameplay that is similar to Fire Emblem. Units are placed on a tile map and each side takes turns moving and attacking. Outside the battle map, the player is able to customize their characters and equip new spells and traits.
This project was discovered by seeing a link banner on Valyria Tear's blog. Yay networking!

Code License: New BSD
Content License: Various: PD, CC-BY 3.0, CC-Sampling+ (non-free), Unknown

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Xonotic 0.7 released

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After an agonizingly long wait, I am happy to report that a new official release of the premier FOSS arena FPS Xonotic is available to the masses.

Here is a nice (but slightly older) game-play video for those not having played Xonotic yet:

Changes are quite extensive compared to the last official release... most notably an extensive update the the CTF mode, some neat additional features for competitive gaming and an assortment of great new maps.

New maps in Xonotic 0.7

On the technical side of things, the engine DarkPlaces got quite a few performance improvements (mainly due to the fact that the creator now works at Valve software and thus has direct access to Nvidia's and AMD's graphics hardware divisions) and that an all new script compiler is now in use. That it runs on SDL 2.0 might also increase it's usability a lot for some.
There are also finally an animation bending feature for the player-models and creation of new characters has never been easier now that the iqm format is used.

You can comment on this release over at the Xonotic forum release announcement thread (or of course here in our comment section).

Also check out these two still under heavy development mods for xonotic:
  • Overkill is a mod that attempts to combine the best of minsta gameplay and TDM/CTF. It also has some nice vector shaded new weapons and player models.
  • DotC is an DOTA like but in 1st person view type of mod.
Last but not least, the awesome all new level editor for quake based games, Trenchbroom is making great advances and should soon allow easy mapping for Xonotic out of the box.

P.S.: If you have a really fast Android device, you can also try to run Xonotic on it via this newly fixed DarkPlaces port. Just don't expect to be able to compete online with touchscreen input :p

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

DevCorner: Liberate some great Blender game art!

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UPDATE: First set of files has been released (license CC0) and on my advise he added some stretch goals:

  • 600$ > 3 game ready Enemies! (models, sfx, animations, effects)

  • 650$ > Dynamic optimized lighting system! (rich dynamic lighting with low resource usage )

  • 750$ > 4 new weapons!(model, texture, sound)

  • 850$ > Triple the amount of the actual props! (interactive objects,explosibles, new walls, doors windows etc.)

  • 900$ > New player model (model, textures)

Currently it is standing at 530$ and there are 22 days to go, so chances are we will see some more nice stuff out of this.
Way too many closed-source game projects never see the light of the day, and their code and assets are forever lost. Now at least one developer thought he could at least make a few bucks by liberating this content under the CC0 license:

There is some seriously nice stuff in that pack, and the 500 US $ he is asking for on his indigogo page is a bargain for it.

At the time of writing this, 200$ have been already pledged, so with your contribution it should be easy going to reach the goal. Update: 515$ contributed, thanks to everyone! Maybe the guy should think about strechgoals ;)

But I sure wish more developers of failed projects would release their assets like this.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Hedgewars 0.9.19 released

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Everyone's favorite clone of worm-warfare, Hedgewars recently got a rather big new release as one of the developers pointed out to us by email.

One of the new level themes for Hedgewars 0.9.19

The changes are quite extensive, so instead of failing to summarize them here, check out the above linked quite extensive original release announcement.

You can also have a look at this fan-made trailer if you enjoy cheezy stuff ;)