Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ivan Another Go

Ivan another go... Ivan... I want... get it? Sigh.

Anyway, Iter Vehemens ad Necem (Ivan) is a simple graphical roguelike. It's fiendishly hard, which is encapsulated by the translation of the name, "a Violent Road to Death."

The graphics look, at first glance, very basic. With first impressions counting for an awful lot in this shallow society of ours, many people will probably turn away before even trying out the game. However, the simplicity of the graphics allows for some really nice touches that screenshots just don't portray. Characters bleed, metals shine, dogs drool, and it makes it surprisingly immersive.

This fella is in trouble

How did he get this far?

One of the major differences between Ivan and traditional roguelikes is the body system it employs. You can lose limbs, Gods can remake them out of various materials - to be told you have been given a new arm made of banana flesh is amusing to say the least.

Make no mistake about it though, this game is hard. You will meet many violent deaths. However the challenge is part of what makes this game so addictive. You are always intrigued by what you will find that little bit further into the game - although I doubt I will ever finish it so finishing it isn't even a motivation to play!

One of the things I have yet to master is genies... how do you make meaningful wishes? I always end up being given something crap! When I ask for arcanite armor why do I get hardened leather? But all those little frustrations make you come back for more.

I have lost a lot of time recently to a game I would not normally have played. I, like many of you, glanced at the screenshots and thought, "looks rubbish." True geeks don't need graphics, but I'm not a true geek and I really do not enjoy nor will never play ascii art games again. But this is not ascii art, and in this rough looking piece of coal you will find an absolute diamond. Play, and enjoy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Driving Force

The driving game FOSS scene is quite healthy. With actively developed games like VDrift, SuperTuxKart and Ultmiate Stunts, and relatively complete games like ManiaDrive, Stunt Playground, and Torcs, there's quite a decent choice. But there is always room for more! :-)

Motorsport aims to become the most "realistic simulation of wheeled vehicles". It's been going since 2003 so there's a lot of development history and it looks like it's got a bright future with several consistent developers moving it forward. It is unclear whether this will end up as a racing game or a stunts game or maybe just a generic driving game, but it looks fascinating and has lofty goals.

Stunts 2005 is a fan remake of the classic Stunts game from yester-year. To be fair, a lot of the FOSS driving games seem to take inspiration from Stunts aka 4D Sports Driving. Anyway, Stunts 2005 comes with it's own level editor but development seems to have halted after the initial release. Since I can't play it here I can't make any observation on how complete the game is.

Also worth noting is that the SuperTuxKart guys are working on another release that will include updated AI among other things, although updated physics I think are being pushed back to a subsequent release.

Blah blah blah holiday. :-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Back From The Dead

A nice suprise today with major updates to two games that I'd have expected to fall into the common void of obscurity that engulfs most inactive FOSS games.

Open Outcast made their inaugral release, the culmination of 3 years of work on the project. So go grab their first tech demo and see what all the fuss is about. :-)

Also it seems Crown & Cutlass is veering back on course; there's a [fairly new] developer blog showing plenty of development activity. They are busy rewriting the game, taking into account the usual lessons learnt when programming significant software like a game, so hopefully this visible activity will result in an update for us to marvel at and enjoy.

Finally there's the 1.1.0 release of Lincity-NG, which doesn't seem to have major changes but should bring with it the usual incremental improvements FOSS game updates enjoy.

Back to my holiday. :-)

Monday, February 19, 2007

New Freeciv Beta

Freeciv 2.1 beta3 is ready (changelog summary). I'm on holiday in Vietnam at the moment so won't be able to play it for a few weeks., but I'm sure it's a good release.

Also yesterday Blender 2.43 was released with a very impressive list of new features. Now FOSS game developers no longer have an excuse to have rubbish art in their games. ;-)

Anyway, back to my holiday, Ciao!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Digging Deep

Well, well... my prayers are being answered. There is an open source Dungeon Keeper clone inspired game. Dungeon Digger has just 1 week ago had it's inaugral release. The author seems really eager (as happens during the inception of most OSS games) but the progress has been rapid enough to already attract a small community so hopefully it will reach a critical mass of developers if it gets enough attention.

Still there is a lot to do before it is a playable game but patience is a virtue. Thanks go to Ben Schram for pointing me in the direction of Dungeon Digger.

One game that I enjoyed toying with this week was the Ghouls & Ghosts Remake (that's a Freshmeat link on purpose). It brought back memories of nights spent sleeping over at friends houses as a kid and racing through Super Nintendo titles. However it is currently fiendishly hard. I'd like to see a bit of game balancing and also usage of Scale2x or another similar technique for improving the [resolution of the] graphics.

One last thing. The other day I mentioned a Geometry Wars clone, Xwars. By coincidence I came across another Geometry Wars clone, this time for Linux, called Grid Wars 2. On the website is the notice:

Sorry folks... I've had to remove the link to the download. Email from BizarreCreations:

"We're beginning to feel the effects of the Geometry Wars clones on our sales via Microsoft now and are beginning a process to begin to more robustly protect our copyright and intellectual property.

Therefore, I'd like to ask you in an amicable fashion to stop infringing our IP and pull the game 'Grid Wars' from the internet for download.

I hope you understand and are able to do this without us having to take further steps."

Grossly unfair. In other words, a corporation has made a simple enough game for a volunteer to copy and is objecting to the dent this volunteer creation is making in their sick profit margins. You know what, I fucking hate that. I respect commercial titles that have a lot of effort put into them, but if this is a precedent then it's going to threaten the position most FOSS games which are often inspired by a commercial title. And if people can clone a commercial title in their spare time, I do not respect that a significant effort (or at least a significant intelligent effort - get enough monkeys typing and you will rewrite the works of Shakespeare) has been put into that commercial title.

Here we have somebody reverse engineering a game - is that not what cloning a game is? - and he is muscled out by a company afraid that their cash cow is going to get creamed. The power of money. It outweighs the purpose of law.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Not Much Happening

No, I haven't ignored Free Gamer, I just haven't really come across much interesting. It's like all the interesting projects crawled under some rocks and went into hibernation. I guess post-Christmas everybody is busy with work and parking fines so need to take a break from creating free games for us to play. Bastards. ;-)

I could just keep going on about Foo x.y release etc but really that's what the Game Tome is for.

I need to sit down and do some reviews I guess...

XWars is kinda fun. Windows only though. :( A drink with that? :)

I really wish the Freeciv team would release another 2.1 beta. It's been so long since the last one.

I'll try and think of something more creative for the next post to Free Gamer, instead of some random whining.

Now my cup of tea is cold. [cartman] GOD DAMN IT! [/cartman] :P

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