Saturday, June 28, 2014

May the source be with you

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I'm a big advocate of the phrase, "Release Early, Release Often." I think it is by far the best way to keep or gain community interest in a project.

Of course, that simple phrase doesn't quite sum up what you actually must do - simply uploading a release and announcing it on your mailing list is unlikely to attract interest. For example, who knew about Lincity-NG 2.9beta in lieu of the intended Lincity-NG 3.0?

Lincity-NG is in a bit of a mini-crisis. A victim of the shutdown of the Berlios developer services, all the web material is in a bit of a mess. Its home page is now on fedorahosted.org but still links back to the defunct Berlios page. There are entries on Google Code and Github that are up to date with the source, as well as an imported Sourceforge project* which is the only place you can currently find the beta, however all are unofficial / back up for now.

(* Not to be confused with this redundant redundant project)

Another game project which suffered was Battles of Antargis. It has re-emerged on Github and development seems to have resumed with C++ replacing the Ruby bits which previously encumbered the game. For a web presence, you have to use the Internet archive for its old Berlios page or external sites e.g. the LGBD entry or on Libregamewiki.

Battles of Antargis
It's not just Berlios that throws a spanner in people's works. Sourceforge has setback the oft-setback Extreme Tux Racer by closing down their hosted apps. The main communication medium was phpBB but now it is completely gone. They did manage to get an updated 0.6.0 release online before this, at least.

Since there doesn't appear to be any project communication channel for ETR, I have contacted them suggesting a FreeGameDev forum.

Speaking of FGD forums, there's plenty of activity amongst the projects there. Stunt Rally continues to gain more strings to its bow. Sci-fi hovercrafts! That ought to be interesting. Despite being one of the prettiest open source games and incredibly put together almost by one person, CryHam - well, not quite; it took VDrift's physics and Ogre3D's jazz - the project doesn't seem to get the attention it deserves.

Sci-fi overcrafts now in Stunty Rally
You can browse the tracks online. Check out this fun looking track with pyramids and chasms galore.

Another project gaining momentum is OpenDungeons. It's had its ups and downs, but seems to have gotten its footing now with regular test releases and several active contributors. The new website is coming along, but more importantly so is the game as especially Yohann Ferreira aka Bertram (of Valyria Tear fame) has come in and steadied the ship. I look forward to seeing creatures like this golem trudging dark, damp and dangerous dungeon corridors.

Of course the reality of open source game development is that it is not an overnight job. It takes years of perseverance to realise the goals of many projects. Over the course of that time, occasionally the rug may get pulled from under you. You just have to be prepared to dust yourself off, get up, and keep going.

Or you could just call it quits.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

OpenRA also has a new release

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OpenRA is a Free Software recreation of the famed Command & Conquer engine, and it aims to support and enhance all Westwood games originally built upon it, namely Tiberian Dawn, Red Alert, and Dune 2000. However, unlike most engine remakes, OpenRA isn't a simple 1:1 recreation with a little streamlining here and there, as the project also aims to optimize and rebalance the gameplay for purposes of online multiplayer. The project has recently released the latest stable version, fixing a lot of bugs and adding plenty of new features, as seen on the following release trailer:




Interestingly enough, in order to play all the games supported by OpenRA, you are not forced to own an original copy of any, given that all three ones were released gratis a few years ago. Though the package comes without any of this data, it immediately invites the player to download it from the project's own repositories, thus making all the games readily available to play.

The campaign mode is still not fully supported by OpenRA, with only some missions available for playing and no cinematics support at all, but we can only hope this will change in the future. In the meantime, you're free to enjoy all the supported games in skirmish mode, or play online against friends. So here's to the OpenRA team, and keep up the good work.

Code license: GPLv3
Assets license: Free-as-in-beer (available gratis, but still subject to copyright, as the C&C franchise is still intellectual property currently owned by EA)

Monday, June 23, 2014

YSoccer out of Beta

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Since football is all the rage right now - unless you are hiding under a rock then you can't have escaped the World Cup - then a little bit of football game news seems appropriate!

The game formerly known as Yoda Soccer has left beta and been unleashed upon the classic pixel soccer game world as YSoccer.

YSoccer version 14

If you never played Sensible Soccer, then you may not yet get what the fuss is all about - if that's the case then you should download it and give it a try!

Sadly football games are a little under served in the open source game community. Bygfoot and Eat the Whistle are quite playable, if a little raw. Project Football is almost a game. Open Football and Open World Soccer never quite got off the ground.

Project Football looked great but was last updated 4 years ago

YSoccer stands out amongst them and deserves a bit more attention than it probably gets.

EDIT: I feel I was a little unfair to Open World Soccer. If you download 0.5 (the most recent release, from 2010) you can see it is quite close to being a playable game. It is by the same guys as YSoccer and was originally an attempt to get away from the proprietary language that YSoccer is written in. You could even say it was intended to be a full port of YSoccer from Blitzmax to C++ (the author suggests so).

Saturday, June 14, 2014

OpenXcom hits 1.0

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We have previously mentioned OpenXcom on several occasions before, but now the massive UFO: Enemy Unknown engine reimplementation project finally hit the long-awaited 1.0 mark, and they decided to celebrate by releasing this lovely trailer that sums up quite well the insane amount of detail and improvement put into the project over the course of 4 years. I'll let it do justice by itself, but not without thanking all the contributors for raising one of the most acclaimed DOS-era strategy classics from the stagnating swamps of buggy unsupported legacy releases and platform incompatibility.




On a final note, the engine is, of course, free-as-in-freedom, though it relies on original game data of proprietary nature. You can download OpenXcom here, and buy an affordable digital copy of the original game on Steam, or somewhere around the web.

Code License: GPLv3
Assets License: Relies on original proprietary data files. All new original art assets included in the OXC package available under CC-BY-SA

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Vote now on Linux Game Awards for the PotM July 2014

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You know the drill ;)

Project of the Month July 2014


For those a bit slow: yes you can vote for multiple projects... So lets share the love a bit and not only focus on a single title (you know which one I mean).

Otherwise: If you have great ideas how the award could be made even better than it already is (yes we know, this time the nominations are a bit random), comment below.