Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Freedom is Fun

Happy festive season to all those who are celebrating, and commiserations to those who are missing out or have not been blessed with a nice Christmas period.

Many thanks to Q for being a custodian of the blog. It would surely have died long ago but for his endeavour and I deeply appreciate his ongoing efforts.

NYC in Sauer

I have a queue of interesting things... like this lovely screenshot of a NYC map for Sauerbraten that pushes the engine's performance.

There was a Christmas release of SuperTuxKart and it's full of goodies. Verison 0.6rc1 (an rc, thusly YMMV) offers (among a lot of new tracks and other improvements) improved physics with skidding, nitro, a better AI, and positional sound effects. Sounds super.

Gearhead2 is now completable as of the latest release, version 0.530, meaning that it is no longer a tech demo but a real live game. It's a futuristic / mech-based graphical roguelike and a very nice one too by all accounts.

UFO:AI Starchaser

I really liked this UFO:AI "Starchaser" interceptor (right). I'm looking forward to 2.3 which should be another impressive release for the project.

Vega Strike has had a lot of speech packs contributed in the last few weeks. To preview them you'll have to head on over to the VS forums (sorry, no direct links). I'm sure this will make the next release of the game more atmospheric. Whilst core development seems a little cool at the moment, the community contributions are as active as ever and I predict an explosive release sometime in 2009 that makes people go, "Wow, that's what open source can do." I also mined this nugget from the Ogre forums when procrastinating the other day (hellcatv is a lead VS dev, VS is prospectively getting ported to OGRE, and that thread is about a feature that looks particularly useful for transitions between space and planetscapes). Yes, that is rumour-mongering, and I'm proud of it!

Scourge is getting nicer lighting, there's a poor quality video on vimeo of it in its infancy (the effects have since improved). There was a bump with the 0.21 release, which got pulled and replaced by 0.21.1, but now that's sorted out development momentum has returned and already 0.22 looks promising.

I don't monitor nearly as many projects as I used to. Are there any other impressive screenshots you guys have seen lately? Any other projects looking promising for nice 2009 releases?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Plutocracy, Cheese Boys and Goblin Hack 1.16

Cheese Boys breaking the fourth wall
Cheese Boys is a humorous post-apocalyptic action adventure. The current two-level implementation, that features dialog and fighting already contains a lot of strange fourth wall breaking humor (although it is quite different to Fallout's.)

Goblin Hack 1.16
Goblin Hack (GH) 1.16 is now out with new features, including music by Pascal Provost and new level kinds. Apparently there even is an end game level now, which I assume 0.17% of all GH players will reach. (Ever finished Nethack? Not me. :) )

Plutocracy rev 499
Plutocracy is
a multiplayer 3D RTS game focusing on merchant trade and domination by economic means, although warfare and piracy are always an option. The game has a 1600s Caribbean theme, is played on a real globe, and aims to replicate realistic economic transactions.
I fell in love with it's graphical style, which reminds me of Populous III. I haven't had the chance to play it with anybody else and there are no bots, so I can't say anything about playability, besides the fact that it's easy to lose your units out of sight.

Friday, December 19, 2008

DccNiTghtmare 0.3, ASC 2.20

DNT: inspiration source in the shelf

DNT: post-apocalyptic santa
DccNiTghtmare (DNT), the RPG with a dyslexical title, a post-apocalyptic setting and The Sims-like graphics, is 0.3 Versions old (download here).

To my great joy, there are already three solvable quests and a bunch of collectable items. The main thing, however: humor. In your journes you can either choose the light path and install GNU/Linux on the computers you pass by or infect it with the dark force of ruinix. You can actually do this in the latest version. I like where this is going, if this open source/proprietary thing gets implemented well, the game will have completely different playing styles.

Update: 0.3.2 of DNT has been released and it runs! [video] Also check out this DNT tutorial in comic form.

Advanced Strategic Command's latest stable version is 2.2.0. Some of the changes include new terrain and object graphics and changed unit definitions. Unfortunately it won't run on my system for now, so no screens from me this time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Late nights and leftovers - Scourge 0.21

Scourge 0.21 is out. It's been optimized and stabilized considerably and now has a full 12 chapter storyline. Each release of Scourge gets closer to being a really good game - there are still a few issues that need addressing such as the character models - and that is reflected in the increasing activity of contributors. Until a year or so ago, Scourge development was mainly a 1 man effort, but 4 people put a lot of work into this release. A new model format (they are looking at [the unfortunately named] assimp for 0.22) and some better character models (think Glestimals, some JCRPG models, and a few of their own) and Scourge will offer some real immersion as well as a platform for creating new Free Software 3D isometric RPGs.

Talking about optimizations, VDrift is getting back on track after a ground-up rewrite to address key weaknesses in the codebase. Most features are now back and working better than before. I'm going to give the SVN version a go, but the vdrift-data check out takes a while. I think I started it 40 minutes ago.

Cube on the iPhone? No, really. Yes, really. Video:

Talking of cube-things, in Sauerbraten land I thought this idea was a good one. The Intensity Engine is a... well, it's ambitious. I won't go into that bit. However it brings procedurally generated content to Sauerbraten and that's pretty awesome. Video:

[i]Oops, forgot to link to the [arguably more interesting] counterpart video which shows how a bit of Python generates the above.[i]

Yo Frankie! Or yo, what's the deal Frankie? I guess when something gets so much hype, the expectations are high. The screenshots look lovely. The game? Well, the BGE version (which came with 0documentation and meant I had to ask in irc how to actually start the game since the Yo Frankie website gives as much info as the 0documentation) performance was terrible and the Crystal Space version I couldn't play because 0launch* is just about the worst way of distributing a game I have ever encountered. All hype and a totally cute techdemo. Good effort though.

* As if web browsers weren't already overburdened, apparently now they should be installers for things too. I hope the next release they at least provide a tar.gz download alternative.

I'm a bit off-radar at the moment with work. Thankfully Q is filling in brilliantly. He's the next-gen Free Gamer dude because he actually does stuff like create videos rather than just linkify interesting things.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Word War vi 0.24, Daggerwind Scrolls, jClassicRPG music, Yo Frankie! download

Word War vi is now downloadable as version 0.24. I'm having an awfully great time playing it (even if it took me some months to finally get over myself and resolve some dependency problems at first). I especially like how I can use my xbox 360 controller for playing and how it's rumble function is used. Word War vi is the most high-tech retro arcade shooter you can get your hands on right now.

One super thing about it is that development and tweaking is being influenced by player criticism a lot. So for posting feedback on the game, use this thread.

Daggerwind Scrolls
Daggerwind Scrolls is a traditional 1st/3rd person CRPG dungeon crawl game written using C# for Mac OS X. Its a fan based project inspired by 'The Elder Scrolls Daggerfall', Bethesda Softworks 1994.
I haven't given it a try (and won't do as long as there are no for-*nix instructions).

I now count four bigger The Elder Scrolls-related open source projects: Daggerwind Scrolls and DungeonHack (Daggerfall-inspired game projects), OpenMW and The Crystal Scrolls (Morrowind engines).

jClassicRPG's first soundtrack was released on Jamendo. The music was composed by the project's developer and there will be many more track additions in the near future, I presume.

Yo Frankie! logo, in case you missed it ;)

Apricot (aka yofrankie) is now available for download. Is your definition of a video game "video game engine plus media"? I think Yo Frankie! shows that this is not true. :|

Should you download it? Sure, why not? Do it at least for checking out how cool it looks (if your machine can take it) and to watch the video tutorials (if you're into Blender editing at all).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Warzone 2100 Liberation Day 2008 & Interview

Happy Warzone 2100 Liberation Day! Four years ago Eidos released Warzone 2100 under the GPL (see this announcement).

Warzone 2100 GUI proposal

There has been more progress with the new texturing system, but also a GUI system is in the works (both a library called betawidget and an interface proposal) which looks quite impressive compared to the current look. And hopefully the feel will improve too - there are some small unergonomicalities with how assembling tanks currently works.

Warzone 2100 GUI proposal also
Also read this interview if you want to know more about betawidget (it has SVG support!) and future plans for the project. There's also a German translation available.

The WZ wiki has now a page that explains how people can contribute to improving the wiki. For all the MediaWiki-fetishists out here.

Speaking of MediaWiki and fetishism, there's now a LÖVE wiki. Let's see and hope it brings much use!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

OpenTTD, Simutrans, and Egoboo


OpenTTD moved a step closer to being a Free Software game with alpha releases of OpenGFX, the "[8bpp] Graphics Replacement Project". There's still a few black boxes ("features") where yet-to-be-replaced buildings should be, but it looks fairly good other than that.

OpenTTD 32bit extra zoom

Of course, this is just the low-resolution replacement that makes OpenTTD fully free, and is not to be confused with the high-resolution graphics work (see screenshot). The more detailed graphics are [unsurprisingly] less further along.

In the meantime, there is a totally Free Software transport game in Simutrans.

Simutrans Pak96 Comic

Pak96 Comic [for Simutrans] looks especially gorgeous. Clean, clear, and consistent graphics mean you can focus on gameplay rather than get distracted by artifacts or areas that are difficult to visually parse. The simplistic style has meant they have been able to rapidly create a large number of graphics with minimal deviation in style. There are different climates zones and architectures. Also it's bigger than the oft-tiny-looking standard pak64 graphics (equivalent to OpenTTD's 8bpp graphics) whilst not oversized like the pak128 (equivalent to OpenTTD's 32bpp graphics) can appear. It's a good balance for the standard resolutions today and fun to play - a better experience IMHO than standard OpenTTD or Simutrans. Download it from here.

Egoboo 2.6.8 has been released (see 2nd post in that thread for the impressive changelog). To quote the homepage on what 2.6.8 brings us:

This release includes a lot of new content, and a lot of bugs have been squashed. It is also -- Macintosh users rejoice -- finally available on all three platforms!

It got extended beta testing and the development seems to be maturing a bit as well. Whilst previous versions have been plagued by long-standing issues, from my observers parapet it would appear they have largely been dealt with. I haven't tried it, but it looks like they have finally fully emerged from the mess that Egoboo once was and it is now a healthy project and a playable game. Congratulations especially to developer Zefz whose determination and dedication have saved the game. Anybody who tries 2.6.8, please post a comment on your experience!

P.S. I'm unable to access the forums currently :-( due to voluntary content restrictions on my Internet connection. However that, in a way, is a good thing. I'm supposed to be programming Fortress, y'see, so now I have less distractions... we'll see how it works out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dungeon crawler action-adventure: Meritous

Meritous: lots of projectiles and no shields

Through Libregamewiki, I found a game that was new for me: Meritous, a real-time dungeon crawler (like Goblin Hack) with strong arcade tendencies.

Meritous's map view
In the game you walk through rooms and fight monsters. These enemies sometimes have multiple forms (and thus need to be killed more than once). You try to avoid the projectiles they shoot at you, while charging your psi circuit, to release a circle shock wave of destruction. Sometimes there are boss fights.

When the enemies are slain, you collect the crystals that they dropped. These can be used to upgrade the speed with which your weapon charges, to decrease it's cool-down time or to strengthen your shield (yes, you have a self-recharging psi shield thingey). Other than the purchasable upgrades, there are free upgrades and permanent bonus-giving artifacts to be found in treasure chests after boss battles.

The impression of the game on me is a very positive one. It has a cyberwizard/cyberpunk style and uses color of the environment and different music to convey information: the redness of the surrounding indicates the danger (amount of enemies) and the music lets you know what part of the map you are currently in. The music palette consists of various funky and/or chill chiptunes.

Also please be warned: because of the addicting attitude of this game, I went to bed at four in the morning yesterday..

Friday, November 21, 2008

Warzone 2100's new terrain

Warzone 2100's new look

Development of new, experimental terrain renderer for Warzone 2100 has started. It blends textures depending on terrain and it looks freaking awesome. For comparison: an example of the old terrain.

Four CGTextures-textures (at 1024x1024 pixels) were kindly permitted to be used under GPL terms. But more are needed. If you happen to have some mad texturing skillz up your sleeves: Warzone 2100 needs you! You can see the current tile sets, that need replacement, here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

RPGs, Blood and Puzzles!

Fall of Imiryn r792
Annchienta is an isometric RPG engine. It is being used by the console-style RPG Fall of Imiryn (FoI), created by the same developer. The terrain is kind of 3D while everything else is good old pixel-ish sprites.

So how playable is the game? Well, it has NPCs and enemies, it has end bosses and maps and character levels and skills and spells. There is grinding and there are savepoints. Sounds complete? Oh right, story! It has story too. I don't know how much though, still have to find the right spot to catch some fish first...

EDIT: Oh, I forgot, I made a video recording of FoI, which you might or might not enjoy. Spoiler: I die.

I must admit that because of FoI I will go to bed one hour later than planned. (Is it clear that I'm trying to say that it's interesting enough to waste your time on it? Because I'm tired and not sure my phrase there is 'gettable'. O_o Moving on..)

Lavirinto 3D 0.6.2
Lavirinto 3D is now of version 0.6.2 and completely free: problematic sounds and music have been removed, sources of included library binaries are now included. There's even a WebStart version for people who are too lazy to open a downloaded file!

A reminder: Lavirinto 3D is a fun puzzle game which you should be playing right now if you haven't done so yet!

Putting Blood Frontier's new Carabine to good use
Blood Frontier! Ah, Blood Frontier, now that you have an energy weapon instead of the pistol, a new weapon called 'Carabine' and fun reflecting bullets, you're so much more unique and pleasure!

The reflecting bullets are a real joy! They are like billiard, just even more brutal! Unfortunately the effect is totally out of proportion to the current 'realistic sci-fi' feel of the game and I'm afraid it will be reduced a little or a lot. :|

You will have to get the Subversion version to join the newly added fun by the way. And if you're too lazy to check out the SVN, at least check out some of the screens I made.

Eisenstern inventory
The last jest for tonight is about the yet again awesome development going on Eisenstern-Subversion-side. (Cube2-based RPG, remember? ;) )

In the game you can now buy and sell and equip weapons and armor and spells (as items) and there are some wolves and bears around, which you can kill, so they drop money and re-spawn some minutes later. You get experience points and can level up. A new prototype map allows testing of those new functionalities.

I believe that also the first quest of the game got implemented: you can earn an apple by killing a bandit king! As always, it's so great to see the project becoming more and more of a game. Here's the screenshots link.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Open Source Game Engines Updates

OGRE 1.6.0 aka Shoggoth is the newest version of the acclaimed 3D engine. I don't understand anything that's on the changelog, but it obviously goes beyond bugfixing and tweaking. :)

There are no recent pre-compiled packages available, so the source way is the way to go, for now.

The Infinity Engine's clone GemRB had some DONEs added to it's TODO, when version 0.3.1 was released a month ago.

OpenMW, an OGRE-based engine for TES3's game data, is now 0.5-versioned. Considering that the project started in this year's june, this number is quite impressive! Does this mean that we will have a final version of OpenMW by the start of 2009's summer? :D

However, animations, interaction and user interface are not yet implemented. Also: check out these videos that show the progress of the engine so far.

cocos2d-iphone is yet another LGPL-ed game framework and you can probably guess the platform it's designed for :). However, freedom freaks will argue that free software can not exist on an iPhone.

Ignoring all that, I find the Video presentation of the engine very spiffy. It demonstrates all the features in a more entertaining way than the raw text listing over here.

The Kambi VRML game engine now contains a demo of Precomputed Radiance Transfer. It has something to do with real-time lighting I think.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eye of the Tiger

I shall be brief, for I am in my briefs, and briefly available to briefly brief you.

Warzone2100 2.1rc1 - the first release to include the original game sound track. Read the announcement and the changelog for more details.

It's like Command and Conquer. Except it's good. See video:

Rising up... mmmmm mmmm... took my time took my chances... aaaah ooo... just a man and his will to survive... nmmmm mmmmm... its the Eye of the Tiger!" Gotta love that track.

There's a new development release of Oolite, the elite-inspired game. Version 1.72 (announcement, changelog) has been a while coming and, as such, contains a long list of fixes. Looks pretty stable to me but *shrugs* not my project.

FreeCol 0.8.0alpha3 - fixes a few bugs, they say.

Vacuum Magic is R-Type style 2D side scrolling shoot 'em up action, and all Free Software. The game topic is a little off beat but the gameplay is pretty neat and there's plenty of levels to play. Check out the video:

Open Octane, announced in the forums, aims to be a fast paced car combat game where you can destroy most things in the game world. You can see the car crashing through trees and fences in the demo below:

It reminds me of another open source game that I can't remember right now as it's late and I have other things to do. I'm sure I'll remember later or somebody will post in the comments the game I'm thinking of...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

LordsAWar! 0.1.3, OpenArena 0.8.1, Commander Stalin 0.9.3

LordsAWar! 0.1.3

LordsAWar! reached an (unstable) 0.1.3 release. After installing some game-uncommon libraries and compiling for half an hour, I expected to move some units around for some turns and stop playing from being bored. But actually, I enjoyed the simple game rules.

LordsAWar! has decent graphics and good music. I like very much that the game cares about the player by providing a 'restore crashed game' button. The game did crash once, but think I shouldn't have started it together with an other app from the same command line and then moved the game window while it was generating a level... :) Actually LordsAWar! makes a stable impression.

The only thing that confused me in some situations is the path finding. Units would walk in a zig-zag pattern instead of straight lines. I think this might be because vertical/horizontal and diagonal movement is equally expensive and that the behavior is not a bug.

After the absence of an official OpenArena release for a while, 0.8.1 was recently uploaded. It weights one map more (+3-2) compared to 0.8.0 and features a new hit sound (one of the most important parts of any Quake-related game).

Commander Stalin 0.9.3

Commander Stalin's latest version, 0.9.3, was released for Windows and Linux systems. It's a RTS that appears to just replace most of Bos Wars' media. There is no single-player campaign unfortunately.

Today I understood what the game's Stalin-theme might be all about: a parody of Red Alert! However, I feel discomfort with the media of the game: for Charles II's sake, half of this CD's audio tracks is distributed with the game! (Yes, someone owns the exclusive copyright on these re-mastered communist songs.)

I agree that the music fits the theme, but such practice is not legal. Nor is it very original.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

On Scourge AI and Widelands


A quick one today. Firstly, I forgot to mention Widelands yesterday. A new version, a release candidate for build13, is available for download. The changelog is immense, so it should be large improvement over build12 which, for me, felt a little unpolished. Some of the highlights of build13 are:

  • More stable multiplayer

  • FPS regulation for less CPU usage

  • Improved economy routing

  • Many new sounds

  • Many new graphics and animations especially for the Atlanteans

  • Balancing work for all tribes

Not to harp on too much about Scourge, but I find the recent AI updates fairly fascinating. Developer lordtoran describes the effect of the change to a decision matrix from the crude system that used to be in place before:

Creatures that can't reach a location behave a lot more intelligent now: For example, if a monster can't reach you because you are surrounded by other monsters, it will loiter a bit and then throw a damaging spell or heal someone. When one of your attackers falls, it will engage in melee if there is enough space. I find it quite fascinating how the creatures have a "life of their own" just by using a simple decision matrix.

That sounds better than a lot of commercial game AI - which in general is notoriously bad considering the resources that go into some titles.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Morning After The Night Before

Something important happened last night. Something transformational. Qubodup designed a new forum logo.


For those that don't follow the planet, which is titled "news" in the link bars ^^, there have been some great game updates lately.

Vega Strike ship: MK32

This update on Vega Strike is a great read with some screenshots of the many gorgeous new models that have gone into the game. They also have a new gallery system since the old one was fairy broken after the Sourceforge web hosting service updates.

Scourge gets plenty of planet-time these days with a (now 7 week strong) weekly update. Over the last few months there's been an AI overhaul, lots of optimization and leak fixing, an item model/artwork overhaul, and lots of miscellaneous small improvements to the game. Short of a nice animation system and character model pipeline (most of the character models are assorted free[ware] md3 models) the game is looking very good indeed. Once better support for animated models (probably using assimp and obj/md5) is tackled, Scourge will be a very strong project indeed and hopefully a few adventure RPG game projects will appear, using Scourge as their base/engine.

Hedgewars 0.9.7 is out. The video is so reminiscent of classic Worms gameplay, it's uncanny. If you swapped the hedgehogs for worms, I wouldn't have known the difference. It looks great and has much stronger multiplayer support in the new version. The artillery clone scene is probably one of the strongest open source game genres with strong competition between Hedgewars, Wormux, Scorched3D and (the more action oriented) Teeworlds, among others.


I was impressed by CGMadness, which has smooth graphics and potentially good gameplay. It like Trackballs but has a nicer feel which is difficult to really quantify. Intriguingly there is CGPortals which promises to take CGMadness and add portals to it - that should be an interesting combination although I didn't try out the early versions.

The number of projects that extend Sauerbraten seems to be growing all the time. From the cubedev blog (another listed on the planet) I came across the Plexus project which looks to take Sauer and turn it into a more flexible game system. They've already implemented a much nicer mouse handling system and the ability to import Dwarf Fortress maps, and more. "Socket level control of Sauerbraten" sounds especially useful, giving developers the freedom to control Sauerbraten from their programming language of choice.

The planet and the forum are great for the FOSS gaming scene as it means that the community can communicate much better with the world around it. It's bad for this blog though because I don't feel the need to post much, but that's good for me since posting used to take up way too much time. These days it's much easier to post too.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Shared open source game media

Free Art Search shared media map

Free Art Search, the svn/cvs/git media tracking application developed by hagish and ghoulsblade, now has an overview over the data that is shared between different projects.

I find this tool very exciting! It shows how open sourcing media does help projects and if it was more detailed, one could see what media-demand exists.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brain Workshop 4.1, Epoch and an 'Open Source' vaporware console

Release 4.1 of Brain Workshop introduces some GUI tweaks and a new sound theme (piano notes instead of spoken letters). I finally gave it a try and was able to record sound via recordmydesktop with the help of this config guide.

The rules of the game are: watch and listen and press one button if the same field becomes active as it was n (a number) rounds before or if the same sound appears as it was n rounds before. I'll definitely 'play' this brain-trainer some more. :)

Are you into web-based strategy games? Epoch is an sci-fi/space type one. Development started in 2002 and it is open source.

According to this forum post, Epoch's team is now working on an OGRE-based 3D game with the same setting, but it might take some years.

You might have heard about the "open source", GNU/Linux-based, 250$ EVO Smart Console. Lol. 100% vaporware.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Names, Games, and 150k Wardrobes

Unnamed Game

This as-yet-unnamed side scrolling game project looks awesome. It's open source, art and all, up on Sourceforge in SVN. You can see how beautiful it looks. I guess somebody (what, me?) should encourage them to package up a playable release. For now, it's labelled 'sawk' here on FG - the acronym for it's SF.net listing "Sidescrolling Action With Kid".

Theme Park Builder 3D is an ambitious effort to make a detailed Free Software theme park game. Which sounds great. Not so great is their web presence which centres around the TPB3D.net forum. Only you must register for before you can view it, which makes just casually looking at the development effort basically inconvenient, not to mention how hard it is to peruse. Forums do not good homepages make. They also have a wiki and their sourceforge project which tpb3d.com directs to. The forum refuses to let me back in (complaining that 'freegamer' has non-alphanumeric characters?) after I registered and pointed out this problem. So until things change I'm probably not going to be able to give an update on any TPB3D progress. They do seemed to have designed a lot of flat rides (youtubes) but no roller coasters yet, and certainly nothing close to a playable game. Still, a good one for theme park or Theme Park (I loved that game) enthusiasts.


Hey, Windows guys, go download Bloodmasters. Fast, furious fun. It's Free Software and C#. Hey Linux dudes and dudettes, go find some Mono expert to get it ported. I should mention this game more...

Tim "mithro" Ansell from the Thousand Parsec project got in touch recently:

...It is a framework (and games) for
building turn based space empire games. You can find out more at

We have recently been part of the Google Summer of Code and have written
up an announcement about the success of the project. You can find that
announcement here -

In a follow up email he goes on to say:

At the moment I am actively trying to get more people to actually play
Thousand Parsec games. The lack of players is reducing the motivation to
do releases and fix bugs (instead of tinkering with some random
feature). It also means that the quality and quantity of our output can
be quite low.

Thousand Parsec

The thing is, TP is introduced (by him, by the TP website) as a game framework. As a player looking for a game to play, a framework is not that interesting to me. You can play TP, so it is a game, but I think they have a perception problem. For example, Freeciv is a game and a framework. But it's a game first, and then when you get drawn in, you see all the different tilesets and mods. TP needs to sort out it's image and have a default game that is presented first if they want to catch more players. People looking for a framework will find it just as easily.

Qubodup wants to switch off blogger comments - we got some spam lately - and simply have a link to the forum after each post. Opinions welcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eying Eisenstern And Eye Candy

I had a few links collecting that I wanted to get off my chest. Nothing is worse than having a folder full of old links that would have been interesting, but are now out of date. That's a lie, I accidentally drank off-milk this morning - that was worse. Still, I'm digressing!


Significantly better than off-milk, is the activity burst on the new Eisenstern development effort. Basically the lead Sauer devs, who had been creating Eisenstern as a side project from their work on Sauerbraten, have turned it over to the community. The community has regrouped using Sourceforge and now (with 24 registered team members) it is one of the most active projects on the whole of Sourceforge. Using the rapid collaborative level creation abilities of Sauerbraten as well as all the other features that hard work has delivered over the years, I predict good things for Eisenstern - to finally fulfil that void of a good Free Software single player first person role playing game. Or, if you love acronym overload, a FOSS SP FPS RPG. Or FSFR if you love acronym acronyms. I'm digressing again... it's a bad habit!

The Apricot Project is coming to the final stages of it's effort, and thus the game Yo Frankie! nears it's official release. It looks really, really good. The graphics are fantastic and the gameplay looks fun too. Here's the video:

Blender 2.48 just got released, and it includes many improvements contributed by the Apricot Project during it's development of Yo Frankie!. (That '!' messes with my grammar, but I'll resist the temptation to digress.) It looks like a real boost to the Blender Game Engine as a platform for creating games:

Blender 2.48 includes all the work done on the Blender Game Engine and the Apricot Open Game "Yo Frankie!", with much better functioning game logic editing, character animation, and Blender Material based real-time shaders. And as last minute surprise a Bullet physics update with Softbody support.

Warzone2100 2.1-beta5 came out at the end of September, but I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. Well \o/ it just got mentioned here! Erm, but, back on topic, WZ 2.1 is approaching "super stableness" which is always a good thing. Check it out if you love your 3D future war RTS games and open source. :-)

And to round off, lately there have been some awesome contributions to Vega Strike. There's some real eye candy to be had here. This alien space base or this massive space ship are two intimidatingly beautiful examples. There's plenty more to be found. (Disclaimer: I may have posted some of this before, I'm a big fan of the project.)

Spread the word! • diggfsdaily

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Open Source Survives Financial Meltdown

There's a few juicy updates to several great Free Software game projects over the last few days. I'm feeling too lazy to grab screenshots though. You'll just have to peruse yourself if you find something interesting.

We'll start with TA:Spring 0.77b3 - Linux and Windows binaries are up for download - with the comment, "After some people have stated that we should release more early and often*, we give you 0.77b3 here." I downloaded and installed it using the generic Linux installer - worked without a hitch - and it looks fan-bloody-tastic. Still, the state of licensing of some of the content is a little unclear - I don't feel reassured that I'm playing a totally Free game although I'm certain some of the mods are Free Software. That doesn't bother me like it might some of the purists out there.

OpenLieroX 0.57_beta8 arrived. Worms and blood and chaotic 2D action. It's a pixel dream.

Open City 0.0.6 beta can be found on Sourceforge. There's no release notice yet on the website but there's plenty of features in it. Open City is a largely unknown open source 3D city building game. It really deserves more attention than it gets IMHO. The fundamental gameplay foundations are already in place and it's a more in-depth game than Lincity[-NG] or Micropolis (aka Sim City classic), but lacks the polish and stability required to make it attract a larger playing community. Every release is a step closer!

Ok, hrm, how about two new [to Free Gamer] projects?

LBA Prequel (project) is a fan-made effort to create a Free game based on the Little Big Adventure universe, a prequel to the original games. The franchise is officially discontinued so unofficial intervention is required. They are taking the work of two previous projects - which partially reverse engineered the original games to create cross platform engines to play them - to create an engine capable of playing the original titles and the game LBA Prequel is essentially a total conversion that uses this engine.

Epic of Thalia is an RPG of the non-MMO variety. Woohoo! MMO has become the new shell suit, for those of us that don't like MMOs. Alas, I digress. The game is in early stages of development and the website is cryptic until you realise you have to click on the 'navigation' button. What is good is that they have an active source repository** and a few concept releases already, which is more than many aspiring projects make. The Epic of Thalia team is, like all good open source projects, looking for contributors.

* I firmly believe it is true: "release early, release often" is the mantra of a successful open source project.

** It's Darcs. Which reminds me of a new DRCS I saw called Fossil - it's an integrated RCS, Wiki, and bug tracking system. Think git meets trac. Anybody tried it yet?

EDIT: Just got emailed that Platinum Arts Sandbox 2.2.4 is out. The project is an attempt to make a version of Sauerbraten that's more kid-friendly and oriented around cooperative content. Lots of new features and there's been work on a Kid Friendly RPG (brainstorming) for it too, check out Cabzilla:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Introducing: Quake2World

Quake2World skeleton pointing grenade launcher at you

Recently, I became friends with an open source first-person shooter: Quake2World (q2w). As the name indicates, it uses an idTech2-based engine and currently aims to have Quake 2's mechanics.

Although development seems to be centered around graphical features at the moment, the game is sexy and fun. There are no bots so far and only a minimal selection of servers, so you'll have to ask for some company on #quetoo@freenode, which is the community's home.

The project is looking for code and content contributors. The current policy is to allow content licensed under GPL/CC-licenses/Zlib/MIT/WTFPL (although I believe that some of the included content is not compatible with any of these).

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

jClassicRPG's and Howitzer Skirmish's donation histories

While the the tank simulator game Howitzer Skirmish is 300 USD (222 EUR) away from being GPLed, jClassicRPG's developer is getting a donation-funded 42 USD ATi card to fix some ATi-specific problems.

I made a pretty graphic of the donations sum for Howitzer Skirmish over time.

The diagram definitely contains wrong data because of the following two reasons:

  1. Some modern websites have the fetish of using "5 months ago" dates (only some elite sites provide exact dates additionally or simply stick with normal date format where appropriate, it seems)

  2. microPledge is not able to accept two donations from the same person at different points in time. If you donate twice, the first donation will get the sum added to it

Here's the link to the pd-licensed diagram source.

In jClassicRPG's case, it took five hours to reach 130% of the wanted ammount. Timong stated on his blog that the fundraising was an experiment, to show that donation-driven development is possible.

Well, it is. Though maybe not enough to cover the expenses of a non-minimalistic lifestyle.

I hope Howitzer Skrimish will get the 300 USD. And that the possible troubles of microPledge won't destroy the donation progress so far. Now give me money, that's what I want! *sings*

PS: In case you think that Howitzer Skirmish looks like a tech demo and less like a game or in case you weren't content with Stormbaan Coureur; Bram made following statement on the comment section of this post:

once I release my source code, and the community considers it to be a tech demo and not a game, then there will be no pay out. Everybody keeps their money, and Howitzer Skirmish and its data will be GPL.

PPS: What would you pay for? Kiba brought that interesting question up in our forums and I'd love to get more replies to that.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hero of Allacrost 0.2.2, Teeworlds 0.4.3, GamePwned

Hero of Allacrost 0.2.2 has been released and now needs a new home! It is house-trained and can be picked up 24/7 from it's SourceForge shelter.

One can now enter buildings (in a pleasant no-transition way) and an editor is now included. I gave the editor a try.

My first thought was: "What a waste of energy! Why did they not incorporate Tiled, as for example Battle Tanks did?" But then I remembered that my last encounter with the general purpose Java editor. It showed me that instead of being able to completely rely on Tiled, a team would have to create an extra tool for tasks that go beyond map editing. At least a team of non-Java programmers (Allacrost is in C++ and Lua).

Allacrost's editor will go beyond tiles. When it's finished, it will also be a character, skills and inventory editor and will support integration of music/sounds.

Greg Cannon blocking the view on STK ;)

GamePwned is a freeware and open source games blog. A video-review of VDrift and SuperTuxKart was recently posted on it. (The third one, HoverRace, has a weird license). Reminds me of the time when freeware titles were often mentioned on Free Gamer. Mid-1980s IIRC.

I wonder if Sauce The Game is ever going to happen again...

Teewars Teeworlds 0.4.3

Teewars Teeworlds 0.4.3 is out and some of the changes indicate a wide player base: auto team balance and anti-spam fixes. I gave the game a try a minute ago and the fun and prettiness and cuteness are there! Unfortunately I'm no fan of grapple hooks.

Teewars' Teeworlds' license is a bugger though. Instead of "please don't sell this game" is says "you have to include a hello world app if you want to sell this game".

On the other hand, ladies and gentlemen: the bikeshed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lavirinto 3D 0.6.0, Balazar 3 0.1, OpenAnno 2008.1, Pandora 2008 ordering deadline

Lavirinto 3D 0.6.0

Lavirinto 3D brings Zen wisdom, Pipes and Pac-Man together. It's a 3D version of the game Zenji [video].

The colorful levels and friendly music made me quite enjoy the stay and I even finished all campaigns. I noticed only one rudeness of the game: if you loose all your lives, you have to re-play all the levels of the campaign. :|

The game is written in Java (using lwjgl) and thus runs on every machine with a Java runtime environment installed. Just use the .sh or .bat script! The code is GPL and most of the media too. Some sounds were taken from Soundsnap, which is an non-free resource, and will be replaced soon.

Four people were involved in the creation: One lead designer, developer and visual artist, one assistant texture artist, one assistant developer and one musician. I think the end product is handsome.

Balazar 3, 2D version

Balazar 3 was released. It's a room-based slash and hack game, with some nice graphics in both 2D and 3D mode. It also supports multiplayer games.

Not being able to figure out how to install the latest Soya3D version, I only tested the 2D version. So far it feels very prototype-like: no plot, no quests, few enemy types. But the existing graphics look nice and most feature seem implemented. A little more work and it could become a nice time waster.

OpenAnno 2008.1 settlement

The real-time/city building strategy game OpenAnno was finally release [video] on October the first. You can download this first milestone for 32/64 bit GNU/Linux systems and 32 bit Windows systems.

I was hesitant to try it, fearing it would come not even close to it's role model Anno 1602 but when I tested it, I began to feel the fun of building the settlement and I wanted to build (not-yet implemented whoopsie) lumberjacks to build more houses to rise the population count so I could finally have (not yet existent) masons who would get stone from the (hopefully soon existing) mountains, so I would be able to improve the paths to pretty and speedy stone roads...

For a tech demo: nice! Of course the controls are not as nice as they probably will be but I'm eagerly waiting for the next release now! One thing though: the absence of mountains causes agoraphobia in me..

Detail of older Pandora concept render

In case you feel like pre-ordering the Pandora handheld GNU/Linux console: you have one more day. Next chance will be in 2009. The price range is 330-380 USD / 260 EUR / 200 GBP depending on what continent you order it on.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

OpenArena, CG Textures and BurningWell.Org

OpenArena 0.8.0 recently got unreleased, because the project administrator decided that some included textures by TRaK were not legally GPL-licensed.

Free as in freedom CG Textures? No. :(

So why do the CG Textures-based textures seem GPL-incompatible? Well, Marcel, CG Textures' administrator, wrote at least twice, that the textures on his website cannot be re-licensed under a free content license. Also the CG Textures license clearly states, that re-distribution of the textures and of derivate versions in texture form is prohibited.

The right to re-distribute is one of the pillars, on which free software, open source and free works stand. But it is not simple dogmatism which makes me agree with these definitions. When I create a piece of media for use in games, then I want to give others the ability to change it as easily as possible, so it fits their need. Because of this, it is vital that I am allowed to provide the source (the most raw/least edited form of the media) to them. This is not possible in the case of CG Textures. :(

However, TRaK has a permission to release his resulting textures under the GPL if he follows some conditions in creating these textures (which he did). These conditions only apply to TRaK, so the resulting textures are indeed free. Still his work is not to be included in OpenArena. I don't understand why.

A new community member named titi recently asked for a free texture reference image host and some of us recommended the public domain image gallery BurningWell.Org to him. He started uploading lots of files to it and even got permission to re-structure the gallery to optimize it for textures!

Hagish decided to set up a torrent tracker and to create a torrent of BurningWells' textures for easier downloading and for backup.

Although gallery, the system used by BurningWell.Org, might not be optimal for textures and although torrents are not perfect for sharing data that gets new additions frequently: there seems to be a bright future for free as in fancy pants freedom textures. :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Colonel Mustard with the pipe in the study

Mystery semi-solved. Whilst the domain appears gone, the Open Racer forum and wiki are still online although just a bit (a really big bit) harder to find. Oh and it's still not open source, which is kinda lame.

Meanwhile check out a racing game that is good and exists and Free Software. Like TORCS (solid game, upcoming 1.3.1 release), or Ultimate Stunts (freeform driving fun), or VDrift (potential amazing). There are a few others, but I'd recommend those 3 first. What's your favourite Free Software driving game?

Curiously, also, Open Racer was the name of a dead fork of Tux Racer, which now lives on as Extreme Tux Racer, which itself was a fork of PlanetPenguin Racer, also a dead fork Tux Racer. Fork that. You may be forgiven for thinking that the Tux Racer project is cursed, but fortunately the ETR guys are doing a bit better and the game has landed in Ubuntu. A new physics implementation is in progress, and 0.5 should be around sooner rather than later. See developer discussions for more details.

Leadgolem's Inventory Concept

Scourge Outdoors

Ilya's Inventory Concept

Scourge development has been a hive of activity lately. There's proposals on a new inventory system, lots of optimizating, and in general the game is looking very cool. Does anybody know much about animation systems? Think having a human model and dynamically overlaying parts of armour or clothing and how that would all tie together with animations etc in 3D. If you know about that, contact the Scourge team as they are looking for advice.

There's been a lot of nice new features added to Scourge this year - outdoor areas, cutscenes, new storyline, graphical enhancements galore, and lots of cool models of armour etc. The one bit limitation at the moment is the limitation in model format support, especially character models - currently just md3 is supported. The whole armour-character combination could be a compelling enough reason to see a move to a better format. I like the project a lot and hope to see a few more contributors when such limitations are overcome.

Tikiwiki does suck though. Usability nightmare.

On a related note, Scourge contributor Ilya created a lovely 2d inventory system which won't be used in Scourge but is really nice. Screenshot on the right, more information and images here. If you have an alternative project please suggest because it'd be a shame to see such lovely pixel art go to waste.

Development of netPanzer has been active lately and the current developer is looking for input on the development direction. If you have any affinity for the project, it would be a good time to chime in! Me? I'd love to see single player. I downloaded it... multiplayer only... off. That's a cold and simple truth.

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