Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ultra Fickle Overtones


There's beta installers for Linux and Windows for the popular open source game UFO:AI. The changelog for version 2.2 is impressive. The download link is a bit hard to get to - a ploy to stop too many players mistakenly downloading the beta when they didn't realise it might have bugs. Anyway, grab it here, and help them make UFO:AI 2.2 a great release. :-)

There was an interesting comment on the observation I made regarding the version number of LordsAWar:

0.0.3 for the lordsawar version doesn't mean 3% done. The game has most aspects of Warlords 2 implemented, where as freelords only has a few.

Well why version 0.0.3 then? Ok, I admit, version numbers are probably one of the least important aspects of game design. But, come on, really, if your game has lots of features and close to what you consider "1.0" for your game, then label is as such. People who are casually looking for a game to play will see 0.0.3 and think, "not even alpha." They won't play it. Players are fickle like that.

Version numbers imply the amount of progress towards the author's vision of the game. To me, 1.0 is the original vision and past that are evolutions of that vision.


Speaking of vision, I'll also give a quick mention to JCRPG whose author seems to be relentless in his efforts to bring a quality classic RPG framework with all the modern trimmings. Some of his trees are not to far off being life-like in quality. If somebody had the drive to start making a game based on his work so far, thereby pushing things even further, we could see some amazingly atmospheric games.

My brother alluded to an interesting point when commenting on the state of modern gaming. FPS games are monotonous, they are rarely atmospheric. It's just the same sprint shoot sprint cycle except with different weapons and backdrops. The gaming genre has become boring as the limitations of games have eroded away. Complete freedom to move often has the undesired consequence of making the world less interesting as there is no longer a challenge to navigating it - just find the next gap and run through it, all guns blazing. CRPGs used to be mazey, claustrophoic ordeals where you constantly had to plan to avoid getting into too many consecutive battles as monsters were quite fatal. The game worlds were not massive, but they were hard. The gaming industry seems to have forgotten that an enclosed but well defined world is more intriguing than a a massive open one which just looks pretty and has no substance.

Maybe I'm wrong, I haven't played many commercial games in the last 5 or 6 years, but when I have it reinfoces the above feeling. Just a thought.


qubodup said...

"My brother alluded to an interesting point when commenting on the state of modern gaming. FPS games are monotonous, they are rarely atmospheric. It's just the same sprint shoot sprint cycle except with different weapons and backdrops."

HL is atmospheric. (Not Episode 1 though, HLE1 is a fucking relationship game with no interactivity "Good work, Gordon!")

qubodup said...

PS: I was talking about half life 2 and HL2 episode 1, althought part one was pretty ok to

Anonymous said...

FPS don't have to be boring, especially when you play team vs. team, not everybody vs. everybody. They get more tactical.

Anonymous said...

OMG JCRPG is looking awesome.

Also, re: "The gaming genre has become boring as the limitations of games have eroded away."

This is so spot on. I think one of the things to remember is that a game, from dice games to card games to hopscotch to video games, is all about putting artificial restrictions on the things you can do. Its the limitations that make a game a game, and a well thought out set of limitations (rules) make for a great game, much more than do great graphics and sound (though I'd like some of that too).

jule said...

I completely agree with the version numbers. One of the major comments I hear about Linux from ignarant fools, is, "Linux sux, cuz none of it's programs are at 1.0". I have to debunk this myth, and let them know that we in the linux community just don't look at version numbers in the same way. I think that it is part of a larger problem, which is the lack of management in projects. Every project should have a defined roadmap with goals, and when those goals are reached, one can tack a veriosn number on it. Look at wine for example, i beleive the current version is 0.9.45 how far are they going to go until 1.0? Where is it defined what 1.0 will be? I can't find it anywhere. If i wanted to contribute I would have no idea what to start working on to achive their goals. A good example now is pidgin, which uses trac to keep track of a tidy roadmap. I believe this is something every FOSS-project should use, since it will make it easier for people to contribute, and will help everybody in project-management.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is excellent, but can I make one suggestions - that you cover more genres? Free open source games don't have to be fully-features FPS's (with no atmos ;) ) or in-depth strategy games. Anything that's open source should qualify, as long as it's fun and at least slightly original (i.e. not another Sodoku clone). I know you cover a lot already, but barely two days go by without another update about JCRPG or UFO:AI (both of which are great by the way!) which most people have probably got already. I think we're in danger of pushing loads of obscure but good open-source games out the way in favour of a few "famous" ones.

Keep up the great work though.

PS - The LordsAWar link doesn't seem to work. The one from a few days ago does though.

Radiated_Snake said...

Charlie, you could write sometimes about ufo2000 to? 3 Sep was released new beta version (0.7.1086) and no info on your blog. Game got lack of players, not many site write about it. You could made some review like for space simulators games, etc.?

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