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.

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