Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One little bit of roguelike, One hint of click-n-point, One tiny bit of trade and then time for some things completely different

I make heavy use of YouTube and would like to know if this is an issue. Are you unable to play back YT videos? Don't you like videos and prefer more screenshots and text? Comment at the post's bottom or email me! If you do have troubles with YT video viewing, perhaps TinyOgg might save you. :) [example]

Doryen Arena is a real-time arena roguelike-like.. You buy weapons, you select and use skills, you kill and then you die. The end. :)
Note: This video is sped up by approx. factor 3 for technical reasons and does not represent actual game speed. So-orry!

Pyromancer, by the same developer, looks more fun to me, but I have not had the chance to test it yet.

Both projects are visually rather impressive. Pretty lighting and fading and moving health numbers... Both use libtcod, which is a "fast, portable and uncomplicated API for roguelike developpers providing an advanced true color console, input, and lots of other utilities frequently used in roguelikes". Yet again by the same developer. If you find interest in such specialized libraries, librtxy, a retro vector games lib, might be interesting to you as well.

What you see above is an example of how scenery images are structured for the adventure "Beasts". According to the project's French-language wiki [EN translation] the project uses the proprietary American Girl Scouts engine.

I would be glad if someone offered to program the game using something more open, but it is great to have a good-looking adventure developed in a foss manner. The license is WTFPL.

Note: this video might spoil you the experience of exploring the game! Play it instead.

Spice Trade is a trade-travel-explore and live-a-life game with wonderful graphics and music. You take the role of a young Baghdad farmer and have a life to master. Agriculture and hard work, religion and cult, trade and travel: these are your means of progressing. Marriage, supernatural encounters, fame and money are to achieve but there is probably much more which I haven't noticed yet.

The game has a beautiful point-and-click adventure and management interface, multiple-choice dialog and map travel. Unfortunately, there are some interface issues. Often it is not clear how much you pay for a transaction. At the start you have to pay attention and not skip the first dialog (which cannot be re-shown in a game) to know what the starting options are.

Many actions, especially "work" and "sleep" are accompanied by an animation, that takes way too long. On the other hand these drawbacks enforce a calm game style and serve as punishment for boring game play. Explanation: It is most effective to work in the harbor, as you get very much silver/day, but the animation steals much real time. Farming on the other hand is hardly profitable, but the accompanying animation is very short. The conclusion is that both forms of gaining riches are boring and that instead the player should only use these forms of earning money to be able to engage in travel and trade. That is, only if you do not like the player character to have a slow and calm life of course.

There is also battle in the game (it plays a minor role) and battle is very quick, so the feel is 'right' - boring activities bore you, because you have to wait for animations to finish, dangerous action has no waiting time.

There is at least one dangerous bug in the game. I recommend you to save the game each time before you talk to the doctor. Under certain circumstances, choosing a specific dialog tree path will result in not being able to say anything or close the dialog. So save often. :)

I have trouble with the audio system of the game, my solution was to mute it and instead play the wonderful music using a media player.

Knights is a multiplayer (there is a singleplayer mode) 2D dungeon game, in which the players have to fulfill one of many possible quests. The default is: find three gems and leave the dungeon.

I have so far only tried the tutorial level and imagine it would be great fun to play against a human player. An AI enemy would be nice too. As far as I understand, there is no such thing as of now.

It has nice graphics, effective sounds, a impressive and simple but at first confusing user interface (press-hold direction keys to execute context-sensitive actions).

Also: the following command might save you some confusion: './knights -d knights_data/'. If you care about licenses, this thread reveals a little about the content's.

Qonk is a minimal invade-all-planets time-is-the-only-resource RTS. Last developer activity was nearly 1000 days ago but latest SVN is stable. Qonk is a beautiful time waster.

Cuby is a very pleasant-looking and -sounding puzzle game and it has nothing to do with lame rubik's cubes! Cuby uses the Raydium engine, which has a weird build system. This post will aid you in your quest of compiling it well, if compiling is required.

Dusted's Wizznic! was introduced at our forums. It is a nice small puzzle game, a clone of Puzznic for Gp2X Wiz, Linux and Win. Contributors should be able to add levels and themes easily.

If you like this game's visual or controls style, you have to check out Dusted's other games: SDL-Ball and OldSkoolGravityGame.

Ethanon is a quite amazing 2D (I repeat, 2D) game engine in development. No Linux version yet but porting will become a priority sooner or later. You can discuss the engine in this thread or on their google group.

Blockling is a puzzle game with cute pixel art gfx and retro sounds. "You are a young blockling who must stack blocks to reach the exit in successive levels!"

Monday, March 29, 2010

Weaver: Magic FPS, OpenArena 0.8.5, Evidyon, Code Summers and web findings


Weaver [introduction] is an objective-based ("invade checkpoints") team fps with a simple gesture sequence spell casting system. It uses the XreaL engine and is currently in an early development stage. Maps are under construction and a few spells are in place. Code is GPL-licensed, "Media will aim to use Creative Commons licenses."
Weaver concept art

Weaver's current spellcasting interface (Goethe's color wheel [1] ;) )

The level work I was able to witness is impressive. TRaK is the designer, which explains it.

Strolling in bow_block of Weaver - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh5NQ1iT3Gg

Weaver's introduction includes a simple game design document. Compilation instructions are located here, communication happens over forum and IRC.

OpenArena 0.8.5

OpenArena has a new website look and a new patch release. It provides new or improved weapon effects, player skins, menu UI (video, compare to old), icons...
OA 0.8.1 icons

OA 0.8.5 icons

...and maps. For example:
OA 0.8.5 Botmatch DM on am_underworks2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIrzGKL3zcg

Even though OpenArena is supposed to be a freely licensed Quake3 clone (with an anime theme) it also adds new weapons and game modes. I recently tested some of them, for example the Overload game mode, in which you have to destroy the enemy's base crystal:
OA 0.8.5 Overload on ps9ctf - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1Cpfldgsso


The Evidyon MMORPG's developer expressed their interest for making the game run on Linux and finds it to be relatively simple task. More info in this thread.

Don't have much to add to that. I'm glad to hear that it's possible and I hope that somebody will want to take such a programming job. Here's the latest gameplay video of the game to make completing this task more desirable: :)

Evidyon Town Guards - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpWcCH6Td0Q

Google and Ruby Summers of Code

Battle for Wesnoth, Blender, Crystal Space, FreedroidRPG, Thousand Parsec, Tux4Kids and WorldForge take part in GoogleStudentsOpenCash.

EDIT: I was just informed, that NeL will share WorldForge's GSoC permission.

By accident (I wanted to get on the Rigs of Rods IRC channel but found myself on a ruby one) I discovered the existence of the RubyStudentsOpenCash. Any FOSS game projects besides Rubygame that could benefit from this? :)

And.. some websites

Blendswap, the new blender file sharing site will probably use CC0, BY and BY-SA as available licenses [2] and that makes me glad..

I discovered SampleSwap (via this post), which has a CC-licensed music category. It is impossible to filter by license (non-free CC flavors are supported), but at least it is easy to identify it, if you care about the terms. It uses yahoo's handy proprietary flash audio player and lists individual tracks instead of the ancient album-model that Jamendo chose. This makes it much nicer to browse for me.

Last bit of info: GameBoom is a site that wants to bring foss games to the people. It tries to do so not by covering only foss games but by allowing gratis games, while promoting the free as in freedom ones.

They are looking for bloggers/game reviewers, so if you are not on a strict foss diet, maybe there's a game you would like to introduce over there? Always remember though, that guest posts are welcome on this blog as well. ;) Just contact us via forum, irc or email (I'm sure you'll be able to find the links up there :) ).

EDIT: Remember GameJolt, another games-thing, where open source games are given attention.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SCOURGE2: first steps

SCOURGE2 development has started. It uses jME and LWJGL. Easy portability is the promise (low-level-of-detail SCOURGE2 version on Android anyone?).

All you can do in the latest Subversion revision is walk around on an island:
SCOURGE2 early alpha - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3go1axCwCoI

One great thing about SCOURGE2: it's not called S.C.O.U.R.G.E.2! ;)

I took this opportunity to record some S.C.O.U.R.G.E. gameplay. The first fight starts at ⅔ of the video.
Scourge gameplay (downloadable if you login on Viddler.)

I like the game very much: many items, many fights, not too hard, leveling, skills and missions. I did not progress far, but as far as I got it appeared to be a solid slash-and-hack RPG!

At my first attempts of playing the game I was confused by having a vast amount of hire-able NPCs and items lying around in the game start area and I had troubles finding out how to get started with the action (get a mission and bash some monsters), so there is a slight entry hurdle.

Another problem is that the mouse-to-game-objects interaction of S.C.O.U.R.G.E. is very sludgy: I find it hard to aim at items and enemies, often I'm not sure if my next click will cause my character to move or to attack, often the cursor is above an object but the object is not highlighted. Camera control is also a bit painful, the rotation speed is overly sensitive and in battle, the camera jumps instantly to active characters instead of a quick but smooth sliding camera movement. I of course hope that transporting content and gameplay to the new engine will be trivial and that the new engine will bring smooth controls.

To those more experienced with the game: how far did you get in the storyline? How far *can* you progress?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Xonotic - Nexuiz the Free

The first piece of news is that console Nexuiz will be re-written from scratch, because some coders decided against giving permission for a proprietary port (Slashdot , interview). This means no code contributions to Nexuiz.

Secondly, Nexuiz has been forked under the name Xonotic. Because philosophy, because management, because change.

I can't complain! Git repository instead of Subversion, no more tikiwiki (I hope) finally a feed for news (has been added to our Planet)! Open management and content enhancements are on the list of plans and promises, perhaps a little too much even, which led to the creation of a critical thread on our forums.

I have had the pleasure to test the warpzone/visible-portal feature (which is available in Nexuiz' SVN as well):

youtube-dl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb4zk-31sVU

Currently, instructions to get Xonotic (using git) are here. Compilation is easy and right now the game starts using "./all run -nexuiz".

If you want to get involved, get on their forums and/or get on their IRC! The website is still in development, a public wiki is in the works.

So what do you think about the fork? I understand the "divided we are weaker" point, but console Nexuiz has caused much confusion and a new project (Xonotic) seems like a clear cut and new hope™. Also.. "Xonotic" sounds slightly better than "Nexuiz" in my most humble ears. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How Nexuiz did not become proprietary or: "Silly names in Games"

Some company will use LordHavoc's DarkPlaces engine (DPE) to publish a game on some game console(s). The development team includes "a number of Nexuiz developers, and previous Quake1 community developers". Nexuiz is a (or rather "the") FOSS FPS that uses DPE.

As far as I can tell, no assets of Nexuiz will be used. On the other hand, the soundtrack playing on the console-DPE-game homepage sounds like a remix of a Nexuiz track. I will just assume that the composer agreed to this and that the same might happen to other high-quality Nexuiz content and that it will all be legal. Lee Vermeulen (Nexuiz' lead developer) is no license-n00b after all. Also, the console game will be using Nexuiz' gameplay, which I assume means "game modes", "movement/physics" and "weapon functions/balancing".

There is one problem though: this console game has the name "Nexuiz" (please call it "console Nexuiz") and its homepage is nexuiz.com.

Why did the developers have to pass the name? Heck I don't know. Perhaps they thought every Nexuix player with a console would want to buy console Nexuiz if they gave it that name. Perhaps they wanted to use the resulting confusion to make the name known. Perhaps they just couldn't come up with a good name (very common problem you know). I can very well imagine that it will only be a development name and that the release version will be called something like Nexuiz: Frag of the Unknown. or maybe there won't be any "Nexuiz" in the final version of console Nexuiz.

Here is Vermeulen's news post about console Nexuiz (did you know that every news page that has no atom/rss feed sucks?). The essence of the post is this:
  1. Nexuiz development will continue
  2. Console Nexuiz' assets will not be open source
  3. Console Nexuiz' code improvements will be open source
  4. Nexuiz' developers ("Alientrap") will receive royalties if console Nexuiz creates profit. It is not yet clear who will get what percentage but Alientrap intends to be transparent about it.
Here is the announcement by the company behind the console Nexuiz and a long discussion. (The company's name is illfonic, but that hardly matters.)
Here is a blog post that provides much more information about console Nexuiz.

No more console Nexuiz talk below this line.

I noticed a nice feature of the Nexuiz 2.5.2 release announcement:
Some of the biggest changes are:
  • New gamemode: CTS (get from A to B). With map "CyberParcour01" by sev, and a nexrun map "Piece o' cake" by FruitieX
  • Aggressor and stormkeep retextured by FruitieX
  • Tutorial map by FruitieX
  • TraK4-mit and TraK5 texturepacks by TraK
  • New HUD by FruitieX and -z-
  • New Scoreboard style by terencehill
  • Weapon accuracy statistics by Dib (ALT key by default)
  • Rocket guidance by holding down the primary fire button (seeker removed)
  • Level Of Detail on all playermodels
  • Video settings only show the allowed resolutions reported by your OS
  • (not availible in AGL)
  • Motion blur and damage blur by Samual
Did you notice it? I'm talking about the names behind each feature item. It makes new versions so much more personal. Well, a little bit. What I really would like to have as attribution/credits features is having a game mode where author name, license name and optional short description flow above each asset in a map while playing it.. I know, crazy talk.. Or something like Half-Life 2's developer's commentary?... ah, a man can dream..

Ok, back to Nexuiz. "Tutorial map"? Well! This can only be disappointing, right? :D *watches video*

Well, that wasn't too bad! Even a bit entertaining! I was expecting some text-only hour-long explanation how to press the arrow keys for movement. Yay for voice acting! Yay for expecting player to know the basics! Yay Nexuiz tutorial!

One could enhance the tutorial by making audio tracks skip, when the player has succeeded in reaching the goal described in the current audio track. Also I'm curious what kind of sarcastic comments will result from death/suicide/failure (if at all possible).

Monday, March 15, 2010

First PARPG Techdemo

PARPG ("Post-Apocalyptic Role Playing Game") Techdemo 1 is out:
You can walk around, talk to other characters, change to different (placeholder) maps, listen to background audio tracks and play around with the settings.
There is a little more: container items and basic inventory functions work as well. Battle, quests, character development and interactive map objects (locks and traps?) are what is missing from allowing to implement a loaded rpg.

Another piece of news is that the project manager, barra, is leaving his position. The best place to discuss PARPG's management's future is their IRC. You can also read more about barra's stepping down in this IndieRPGs article or this PARPG announcement.

Of course the project is seeking a new manager to take over the management tasks. We shall hope for a brave and experienced sir or lady to claim that throne. (Did I mention that the decision-making process is rather democratic in PARPG?)

The developers are restless of course and are working on the plan for the next tech demo! Read this proposal of features and participate in its discussion!

Yet another piece of news: you can now listen to all game audio tracks on this page. (So far only one has been featured in gameplay videos). My current favorite is Timong's "Depths 1":

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

FlightGear eyecandy release (2.0)

The flight simulator FlightGear now has pretty clouds and lighting. I have not had the chance of giving the new release a try, so I decided to create a little gallery of the best-looking shots from the 2.0 gallery.

Looks neat. But following video looks even better!

(youtube-dl link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4oMOFnD6bw )

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