Friday, March 07, 2008

Alien Arena 2008 and Planeshift 0.400

Hot on the heels of the rather amazing Nexuiz 2.4 release is this years main release of Alien Arena. Alien Arena 2008, or Alien Arena 7.0, or Alien Arena 2008 7.0, however you term it, brings a lot of improvements and new features to a game quickly gaining popularity.

Alien Arena 2008 also offers a change to it's overall theme, moving towards a slightler darker, more serious tone, while still retaining a good bit of it's retro style, creating an interesting marriage between classic and modern sci-fi. This resulted in completely new player models, many new weapon models and textures, and seventeen, yes, seventeen new levels! The transformation is nothing short of remarkable.

There are major improvements in weapon effects, per-pixel lighting, texture resolution, and resource usage, as well as the addition of a cross platform server browser, FUSE. Weapons have been tweaked for better balance, and movement has been enhanced with the addition of dodging abilities. Alien Arena 2008 will run on Windows and Linux, and the OSX/Mac port will be released in one week.

The changes are significant enough that it's considered a different game to Alien Arena 2007. The goal is to "create the perfect marriage between Quake and Unreal Tournament, between retro sci-fi and futuristic tech, and between casual gamer and advanced expert, and wrap it up in a package with quality that could rival that of commercial games". Whilst I haven't played it, from the screenshots and general feedback, it looks like they are well on their way to fulfilling that goal.

Looks spiffy although the trailer doesn't really compare to the Nexuiz trailer - any comments on the differences in gameplay between the two would be welcome.

Hrm, what else.

Planeshift 0.400 "Steel Blue" is out (changelog). Lots of new features, nice semi open source but really freeware project. If you like fantasy RPG / MMO and don't care so much about total software Freedom, check it out. Here's a fanmade trailer for it.


Anonymous said...

Yeeeee. The text in that Planeshift trailer makes me cringe. It's like they just copied down phrases off the backs of a dozen different crap fantasy novel octologies, threw all the cliches into a hat, and started pulling them out and sticking them onto the video every minute or so. Ouch, my brain.
Still, other than that, the trailer's not bad.

Anonymous said...

You do know that the term "Open Source" with respect to software has a definition? This definition applies to the licensing terms to a computer program and its related source code. The licensing terms of the Planeshift program meet that definition and therefore is completely Open Source.

Anonymous said...

I've always had a problem with Planeshift. I've tried to play it may times, and it still fails to be an adequate MMORPG game. I see no network improvement (you can see lag in the video), for one, and it's confusing and slow as hell.

I really hope the Planeshift changes direction, but I have yet to see anything I would consider "improvement."

Anonymous said...

You do know that the term "Open Source" with respect to software has a definition?

Snottiness noted. Yes, we are passingly familiar with the concept here at Freegamer.

The licensing terms of the Planeshift program meet that definition and therefore is completely Open Source.

Engine, yes. Media, no. Therefore, as far as we're concerned around here, the game called "Planeshift" is merely freeware.

This link is a little dated, but gives a view into some of the attitudes among the project leaders:

Anonymous said...

Alian Arena is awesome!
But why is Planeshift Proprietary yet the source code released under the GPL?


Anonymous said...

I love the concept of Planeshift. I believe it's the single most advanced open source game ever, and the challenge they are facing is amazing (I'm talking about trying to create an MMORPG that is more an RPG than MMO or Hack&Slash), and I've been trying each and every release since 0.2.x times, but they simply failed to buy me.

I know I should have play more, spend more time in game etc., but the initial feeling is just plainly wrong. The learning curve is way to high. You enter the game and it feels like an unfriendly environment from the beginning.

I'm pretty sure everyone who gets beyond that stage is happy member of Planeshift family, but I'd love them to work more on the initial feeling rather than shadows and new spells.

I believe that if they would measure the user retention they loose most users in first 10-20 minutes of the first play rather than advanced users who miss another spell to be added.

What's wrong? My initial feelings with each release are:

- Movement. The character is moving so slow that it takes out a joy when you're trying to get somewhere.
- Story plot. I have no idea what to do at the beginning, they should learn from LOTRO or The Witcher for example. Just get me into some action with tips on how to do things, let me tie with the plot and then slowly give me freedom to decide what to do next.
- HUD - initially 1/5 of the screen in 1280x1024 resolution is taken by UI elements that are dark signs on dark background, hardly readable and way too big. I see a lot of empty ones that I can't use, but they waste my UI area making it harder to spot and memorize the important basic buttons
- Things To Do - 0.4 is another release which I log into, and I don't know what to do. I can move around some empty space with buildings that I cannot enter, I see 3 NPC's who can sell me something but I have no money and that's all. No tips, no guides, no plot. I can walk around, get bored and turn off.

It's really a problem of many open source projects. They did so many things right, the hardest things like the terrain, continuous universe, ecosystem, etc. but they failed to make the entrance pleasure. :/

Connor said...

I love nexiuz and i play in multiplayer, but i can't get past the first level, it always repeats it's self. What should i do to pass it?

Anonymous said...

No, it looks like people around here don't know the meaning of "Open Source". See for the definiton. Only the software is subject to the rules, not the game content.

Richard Stallman himself said that the way to make a business with FreeSoftware is to sell services for your programs, and in the case of games sell content.

Having the game content under a different licence does not make the game proprietary, as you can still use the engin with your own content (See game released as OSS by Id Softwre like Quake I, II, III).

As I saw this kind of slamming against Planeshift on other forums and blog, it looks that there is a bunch (or only one) of people that are angry with the Planeshift moderators for being kicked out. MMOG games are like that, they channel strong emotions.

Free Gamer said...

I'm sorry, it just isn't as simple as you make it out to be.

To start with, open source does apply to artwork - no matter what you say. There are hundreds of artists creating game media under an open source license. Artwork has source which is the format of the editor it was created in.

If you can not take a piece of software and modify it and distribute that, then the software is not Free Software. You should brush up on the software freedoms.

Going by the 4 essential software freedoms, only the Planeshift engine is Free Software. The game is not Free Software, but freeware. 2 of the 3 key parts of the game - the media and the game rules (which are defined in files licensed under the Planeshift license) are not Free Software.

When people talk about open source they mean Free Software, not some "check the small print" tenuous open source nonsense like Planeshift throws at you.

There are other issues. Artistic (and code) contributors have to hand over rights to their work to the Planeshift project, which is hardly in the spirit of open source.

Btw, Quake 1/2/3 are not open source, but iD tech 1/2/3 are. The engines are not the games. You don't see the Quake games available anywhere as legal downloads do you? But you see open source games based on the Quake engines.

Before throwing around accusations of a lack of understanding, please make sure your statements are totally waterproof and that you understand all the matters yourself. Planeshift is an open source engine with closed source development model and closed source artwork.

I mean, you seem so adament that Planeshift is 100% open source, but this is the end user license stipulation:

"2. You may not copy, modify, publish, transmit, sell, participate in the transfer or sale or reproduce, create Derivative Works from, distribute, perform, display or in any way exploit any of the Material released under this License unless expressly permitted by the Atomic Blue."

That's about as anti- open source as you can get.

ThatJerk said...

Charlie nails it there. Planeshift is an open-source engine, and freeware game. That may be good. It just is not a open-source _game_.

Ionflux said...

I suppose there is no problem with the PlaneShift licensing scheme as far as players are concerned. But there clearly is one (a big one, too) for contributors.

Which makes the project somewhat uninteresting from a free game developer perspective, I guess. ;)

Anonymous said...

acid_head: Nobody ever said that the OSI's definition is the right one. If we take the word, open source can mean anything where you can take a look at the pre-compiled code.

Anonymous said...

I was refereing to the fact that it was said on the blog, and repeated in the comments, that the software is not free (as in freedom), and this is wrong. We can not use our own definition of freedom and openness when we talk to other people, we have to use a common definition. And the definitions I'm using comes from the people that created these concepts.
You may argue that games released under GPL with content released under GPL are not free because they do not allow modifications and redistribution without giving also the source. Some would say only BSD lincence is really free. But this would be wrong because we know what GPL stands for and we know that free people have rights and obligations (we have freedom, not irresponsability).
Coming back to Planeshift, it would be correct to say that it's free software with the engine released as GPL, but that the game content is released under another source (and this does not contradict with the free software principles).
GPL was not made to cover artwork or documentation. Some people release artwork and documentation under GPL, some under a more appropriate CC licenses. It doesn't mean that all free software MUST be like this (especialy games, where the artwork is a component that requires a huge amount of work, and gives the game visual identity).
Lets meake it clear I do not say that I would encourage Planeshift release the game like this (you are right about the obstacles faced by someone that wants to contribute art), but I would not slam them and call them "semi open source" and threatening to "total software Freedom" (whatever that means; I know what you want it to mean, but it's not formulated correctly).

acid_head (name/url posting doesn't work)

Anonymous said...

"it would be correct to say that it's free software with the engine released as GPL, but that the game content is released under another license"


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