Sunday, July 04, 2010

MegaGlest 3.3.5 Pre-release special!

A new version of MegaGlest will be released sometime today! Once it is head over here to download it! A short changelog can be found here.

MegaGlest is a relatively recent fork of the quite well known FOSS Game Glest, which ceased development some time back. Now that Megaglest has taken up the development, things have advanced quite quickly (in contrast to the other promising Glest fork GAE) and Glest now finally has the long deserved cross platform multiplayer and a proper master-server with a games lobby! Furthermore Megaglest includes all the factions known from the Megapack before, bumping the total number up to 6.

And believe it or not, qudobup and me tried to play a round (extreme n00b alert :D ), which we recored and commented here:

All done with Free software by the way :D (MegaGlest, glc, Audacity, PiTiVi and Mumble)!

Interview with the Megaglest team

For this Megaglest special we are also lucky to had the chance to make a short interview with the two main heads behind this Glest fork.

FreeGamer: For a start, could you please give us a short introduction into your team structure and what your motivation was to fork Glest in order to make Megaglest?

titi: Well teamstructure is... I started and Softcoder joined :) I have been working on glest mods for 2 years now because I like the game and there was so little content available back then. For Megaglest I also do some programming, but Softcoder writes more of the code than me.

Softcoder: But we also have contributions from time to time from others (like the GAE team).

titi: Concerning our motivation, I think we both work on glest because our kids like it :) Right from the start my children were involved in Glest modding. For example my son made nice tileset and helped me with my first mods; especially the Indians (as in native north Americans / the editor ;) ) we made as a coop production!

Softcoder: Yes titi & family are the heart of the community! But my boys also made a number of factions. Elimnator and Tiger are big into mods, and call their mods vbros packs :)

FreeGamer: Interesting to see that FOSS game development can really work as a family hobby! Not really the typical cliche of the lonely bed-room programmer in his teens ;)
But lets move on to the next question: Glest is for sure heavily influenced by Blizzard's Warcraft3, and thus caters to a similar type of gamer. Have you though about bringing some of the popular elements from that game over to Megaglest? Examples would be hero units, and of course the later added game-play modes like DOTA and Tower Defense.

titi: I think we both don't even know Warcraft3 :) I didn't played many RTS games up to now... well I think I played something called Dune2 on the Amiga before ;) Actually I'm more a FPS player.

Softcoder: I'm not a gamer at all. But yeah, the forums are filled with people who ask for features from those games. In short we will therefore likely bring lots of features that people like from there into MG.

titi: Personally however, I don't like all this special hero feature people talk about. Things get too complicated with this, and I think these heroes kill the usual RTS fun. But there are some fun ideas we will follow for sure :) But I see Glest as its own game; I don't want to build a Warcraft clone.
Concerning DOTA, well I guess HON is much better then we can ever be :) But there are mods who do this and when they grow we will support them if it fits to the game itself. Right now we have the current RTS game type in focus, however.

FreeGamer: Ok next question: Megaglest seems to have evolved out of a number of independent factions and tile sets, so the overall game design is lacking a bit. Are there plans to take a more "tighter grip" in order to get the balancing etc. right? Or do you consider Megaglest more of a "playground" and let someone else develop a "pro-mod" for balanced multiplayer?

Softcoder: I think the answer is a challenge of the community and the age groups. Many young people are working on techs, factions, maps etc, but we might need to be more careful to keep "themes" together. So we try to only allow consistent content as part of the shipped product.

titi: Well there are the Tech and Magic factions from the original glest, but the rest was basically made by me. It is something what I called Megapack before. But I learned more while doing this and so they look a bit different :)

FreeGamer: What I actually meant was not the art style but the game balancing and game design. Are there plans to restructure the factions, maybe limit them to 3 or so to be able to get balancing right?

titi: I think the balancing is quite good! Ok, some are better some are not so good, but thats like the players. It is meant like that, good players choose bad factions bad players choose good factions. But what's good or bad depends on the map too!
But I discuss with others in the forums and hear what they say... especially beginners always say this or that faction is too good, but after a while they often come to the conclusion thats its not as they thought :p

Softcoder: I also think the base MG install has that, e.g. a core game-play with good balancing. It is the add-ons etc... that create the "playground".

titi: But for me competitive game-play is also not really the focus. I want to make a game thats fun to play, not competitive! Especially coop gaming against the computer is a big part of the fun playing MG.

FreeGamer: Ok lets move on: With the current release focusing on getting the multiplayer working correctly (and hopefully getting a big enough online player-base), what are your future plans regarding the single-player part? Do you plan on implementing a campaign editor in the already much improved level editor?

titi: Well for me the next focus are graphical improvements. We need better terrain splatting (made by the gfx card), more lights and so on. And we will start to put in lots of new features once we proofed to be stable in multiplayer :)

Softcoder: I think its hard to answer! There are TONS of great ideas in the community, we will talk with our community and see what things are most desired. My focus is more for making my boys happy :) We want MG to be 'mega-fun'!

FreeGamer: Ok so what about editing & modding? Right now the units are rather limited in their special abilities. Do you think stuff like (air) transporters, non attack magic spells, stealth mode etc. (insert other cool units features from Starcraft/Warcraft) could be easily implemented? Or is that already possible with scripting, but not done yet?

titi: I wrote so many wiki entries , made so many forum posts to let people know how to mod glest, I think its quite easy now. The special unit abilities not implemented yet however, but when we think it is fun we will think how hard it is to do and then we do it :)

Softcoder: We plan to add many things like this, but slowly so that we don't lose stability and keep people happy. One example... we added better network play, masterserver AND cross platform play all in this last round of beta! That was TOO MUCH! But things will get done (faster if we have more help) just at its proper pace.

FreeGamer: We already had some remarks on the technical side of things, but lets get back to that again: The Glest engine sure looks a bit dated by today's standards... do you have plans to upgrade the graphics engine to support shaders and such?

Softcoder: Yikes! We agree with you! But I think we have to give hats off to Martino and the rest of the original Glest team that a game written in 2005 still is acceptable today!

titi: We need more speed and many of these features will bring us better speed and better graphics, since the GPU will do alot of the work.

FreeGamer: Ok, but to extent that: with normalmaps and such it often looks more realistic in style. Do you want to go more in that art direction, or stay with a more comic style?

titi: Normal maps are not the main priority, there are other more needed features. And normal maps need new textures, and that is really a lot of work :) So for now we are looking into things that can be done with mostly code which is easier to do.

FreeGamer: So but what weight would you give the development focus right now... more towards improving graphics, or more toward extending game-play?

titi: Both :) But we try to make small steps.

Softcoder: Game development is totally new for me (and Linux programming is fairly new), so priority also depends on how long it takes to learn and do it right! MG is my first graphics code ever, and also and my first Linux open source project.

titi: It is all new for us, no one of us did something like this before. I even learned C++ in the beginning of this year for this project! Same with php, the masterserver is the first thing I ever wrote in php.

FreeGamer: Well I think it turned out pretty well so far never the less :) I think this concludes our short interview. Thank you very much for answering our questions! Ahh, last but not least: Do you have anything you want to tell your players and/or our blog readers?

Softcoder: Yes, our #1 goal for MegaGlest is 'FUN'!

titi: Please come and play MegaGlest ;)

A short introduction into Glest modding

(Mega)Glest has an incredibly easy modding setup. Almost everything in the game can be easily changed with simple XML files, and the 2D map editor is very easy to grasp. Especially with the recent usability improvements in Megaglest (and included Linux editor binaries) it is possible to create a simple but nice map in a matter of minutes!

Edit: I was made aware that those editor improvements come mostly from the GAE project. Very good additions!

(Ok this was not done in minutes :p It's one of the new 8 player maps that come with MegaGlest)

But luckily all these editing features are also very well documented in the Glest wiki.

Last but not least, all single-player and co-op scenarios can be fully scripted right in the XML files with lua, a pretty powerful yet easy scripting language commonly used in computer games. Sadly it is not possible to create full singleplayer campaigns yet, but lets hope that gets added soon too!

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