Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Flightgear 2.4 plus something cuddly and something fishy

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's... wait, yes, it's a plane. The quintessential FOSS flight simulator gets updated, Flightgear 2.4 (announcement) has been released.

The FlightGear development team is proud to announce the release of version 2.4.0 of its free open source flight simulation program. FlightGear 2.4.0 reflects over one and a half years of development and incorporates several new and exciting features, as well as numerous bug fixes.

The feature list in the announcement is impressive. A summary won't do the release announcement justice (although in parts it is a bit dumbed down, but that's OK, not all of us are au fait with regards to computer game development). Still, here's an attempt:

  • Realistic weather simulation, phenomena includes are fog layers that are limited in altitude, cold fronts, thermals, cloud formation in updraft winds along mountain ridges, and many, many more.
  • Enhanced graphics including highly realistic mountain surfaces, 3-dimensional cityscapes, water moves realistically and sunlight is reflected from its surface.
  • Many improved planes/models and additional cockpit systems - a choice of nearly 500 different aircraft, from historical to bleeding edge, from ultra-lights to the ultimate flying heavy metal.

Still no combat (see open source flight combat article) but I think that's probably a bit off topic for Flightgear.

The Flightgear project has reached what I call "critical mass" in that it no longer depends on a few active developers to maintain progress. A thriving contributor community outgrows the original development crew and it becomes owned by the community. Usually when a project attains critical mass, development accelerates massively. There are more people contributing to Flightgear than has ever been the case, it is flying. Pun intended.

In fact I can't think of many other FOSS games that have attained "critical mass" status. Battle for Wesnoth of course. Possibly Freeciv and OpenTTD (I wish they'd rename that). Some projects got close but never quite made it, such as Glest and Vega Strike. Others are knocking on the door, such as Pioneer, Speed Dreams, 0AD. (If I am being dozy and missing any such projects, point out in the comments!) The vast majority of projects never get close and usually only are actively developed as long as their originators / principle supporters are motivated.

What could be cuddly? Plee the Bear 0.6 has been released (announcement, forum thread). It features the first big boss. It is a very nice looking game with a lot of potential, and seems great for a younger player.

And the something fishy? Avid readers, those worth their salt, people who are true followers of the blog, those who will enter through the gates of St Peter before all others, they will know I am a big fan of Fish Fillets NG. Somebody has made a clone called, imaginatively, Fish Fillets Clone (screenshots). Whilst I don't like that it is an outright clone, I do like that it uses vector graphics. I think there's promise there.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Oh, yeah, hiiii to my Cuban female fanbase!

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