Thursday, December 31, 2009

Non RTS strategy games

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An update so quickly? Behold the Free Gamer world is coming to an end. :p


So, we mentioned some promising RTS games in the last update. OK, I forgot to mention Spring1944, but I am also a bit reluctant to mention Spring and its mods since it is such a pain in the backside to get it running correctly. :(


Back on topic... there a quite a few really great non RTS FOSS strategy games. I guess I don't really need to mention the classics to the typical reader of this blog, but Wesnoth, FreeCiv, FreeCol and UFO:AI are all very playable and good looking games! However there are others that get less attention and also some that show great promise!


Advanced strategic command


Advanced strategic command is one of those that gets relatively little news coverage, even though it is a really playable game. Granted, its graphics are pretty much the same as its big inspiration, the classic Battle Isle series, but that doesn't necessarily make them bad, right?

A new version was just released a few days ago, which finally also includes a tutorial for those new to this type of game.

Also interesting is the (German) Project: Battle Planets, which could be described as a MMOTBS based on ASC. It is not quite what you would expect from this description as most of the MMO part is done manually by human game moderators, which exchange ASC games states between players (sorry, it is a bit hard to explain exactly ;) ).

A similar game to ASC is Crimson Fields by the way, which has found its way to many mobile platforms.


Widelands


Another often neglected game is Widelands, which is obviously based on the classic game the Settlers (no not the Settlers of Catan, check Pioneers for that).




The graphics could still be improved a bit, but it is shaping up to be a very faithful and fun re-implementation of that great classic game.


Unknown Horizons


While we are at FOSS re-implementations of great games... Unknown Horizons is continuing to become a Anno1602 clone of epic proportions. ;)




It is not quite at the point where it could be described as a fully playable game yet, but you can expect it to become one relatively soon, I guess! (Another not quite playable but really promising game worth surely mentioning is FreeOrion by the way).


8Kingdoms


Last but not least, there is 8Kingdoms, which really is one of those games people don't even try after having a short glance at the screenshots. Yes, it's programmers art, albeit one that at least tried to hide it by having a plastic-like style for the figures. ;)

But if you actually try it, you will realize that even though it is a bit rough around the edges (why can't I set a custom wide-screen resolution :( ), the game play and the engine is already quite advanced.

What this game clearly needs is an artist taking over the graphical matters, and then this could quite quickly become one of those true FOSS strategy game gems!

Monday, December 28, 2009

FOSS RTS games

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Hey FreeGamers!
I know, news are a bit slow here lately, but all three of us are a bit busy with real-life issues, I guess. So if you are interested in becoming a contributor to this blog drop us a line in the forum!
We have also recently gotten some readers feedback concerning this blog entry. I have to admit that our background search was a bit short concerning the Hypertension game... and it turned out that this game is surrounded by some controversy concerning the (probably illegal) use of the original Blood art assets (which were only granted by Monolith to the Transfusion project).

Are there any good FOSS RTS?

Well that depends on what you think is good :)
We have had a small discussion in our forums which resulted in a lot of links to all sorts of FOSS RTS. So if you are looking for some obscure (often unmaintained RTS) have a look.
Overall I would say however that currently there is none that can be recommended without doubt. This might change soon however!

0-A.D. Commercial grade FOSS RTS?

We have mentioned this great project before, and especially since they have gone fully open-source earlier this year all eyes of the FOSS community are probably on this gem.
So far a consumer ready release seems to be still distant however, even though some parts of the game look quite playable already:

Development is progressing though and you can have a look at this interview with the current project leader for some background infos and nice new screenshots. Further news can be found on Moddb.com.

Upcoming Warzone2100 developments

Warzone2100 is one of the few really playable FOSS RTS games out there. There are steady improvements and sometimes you can even find someone to play online ;)
With it's Playstation 1 art assets it is quite a chore to look at however. There is light on the horizon though; A new terrain renderer was recently developed for it and is expected to be released with Version 3.0.

Let's hope this will reach us gamers ASAP!
Their forum has also some other nice upcoming features to offer. There are plans to update the GUI, with some really nice mockups.
Furthermore MaNGusT is working on new units:


And there is a nice mod project involving mechs :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

News? Yep news!

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A bit slow in the world of FOSS gaming lately, and all the forum trouble here at FreeGamer/FreeGameDev certainly didn't help.
But with the help of Ghoul and qudobup there is now a new and advanced forum (well it still needs a nice non-standard style, but functionality is there).
So go and post some FOSS gaming news in there!

Bloodfrontier Beta2

So what news are there actually? Today a new beta of Bloodfrontier has been released! It is a FPS based on Cube2: Sauerbraten, which tries to do some things a little different while still keeping it a fun FPS.



Changes you can expect include running along walls and kicking of them (Parkour like features seem a bit of a trend in gaming lately... War§ow also has a similar feature), all new secondary fire-modes and a precursor to coop campains amongst the usual new maps and graphical updates.

Tremulous 1.2 gameplay beta

Shocking news! After years of waiting there is some movement on the Tremulous 1.2 front. You can now download and update to your existing 1.1 install with which you can test the new game-play changes of the upcoming 1.2 release (when ever that might arrive).
Changes include mostly balancing fixes and some "rearrangements" in game-play.
Sadly it does not include all the nice graphical updates which have leaked from the dev team now and then.

Some news from the Nexuiz forum


No new release from Nexuiz yet, but some interesting news never the less.
There are some nice upcoming new player models (link1, link2); Something which really is the last graphical department where Nexuiz doesn't shine.
And ODE physics have been implemented into Nexuiz:



Besides these great news, there is a nice modification in the works which adds zombies and spider-bots (awesome combination if you ask me ;) ).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Forum un-down #6

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A poll/discussion was started to talk about how to handle the forum situation. Please add your two cents to the poll/discussion or comment on this blog post. :)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Quality family entertainment...

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So what's up in the Free Gamer world?
Hot news is that the project formerly called Portalized (featured a long time ago on FreeGamer) is now really open-source and renamed Pseudoform! It's still more of a tech-demo, but check this video out:





Or even more videos on the Pseudoform website!

More bloody family entertainment

If you are a fan of real quality entertainment and not afraid of a retro look and this might excite you:



It is an upcoming remake of Monolith Software's 1997 hit Blood! Personally I think it was by far the greatest FPS of it's time, with a wicked sense of humor... but many people were put off by its bad successor Blood2.

So what's cool about Hypertension? It's based on the updated GPL Doom engine EDGE and is coming to Win/Linus/Mac/Dreamcast and GP2X probably as a FOSS indy title. Here is a nice interview, explaining what it is all about and which features are added (f.e. live action video sequences). So if you have not played Blood, this is definitely worth the wait if you aren't afraid of the retro look. (Remark: The Blood game media was released by Monolith for use but not under an FOSS license).


EDIT: It has come to our attention that Hypertension is illegally using the Blood art assets, which were only granted for use to the Transfusion project by the original Developer.

But I need a blood transfusion NOW!

Ok ok! calm down, help is already there:



Transfusion is a great FOSS remake of Blood, too. It is based on the Dark Places engine, a much updated Quake 1 engine also used by the Nexuiz game (Which released a new version lately too). It is fully 3D and much of the media has been replaced with real models, but after finishing a more or less playable multiplayer version, development sadly stopped.



Hint: Updating it to a newer Dark Places version or turning it into a Nexuiz mod is probably not a lot of work, and the game is already a lot of fun! Personally I would love to see someone reactivate this project!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Blender Game Competition 2010

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Dear diary...ermm readers *hust*... this is my first post on this blog so please be gentle with me! I am sort of helping out now and then since qudobup is busy with other stuff. Beeing a forum regular I had to help out of course, even if I might not have the time to post that often.

Ok now to the really important stuff: Blender (everyones favorite GPL 3D modeling application) also has a build in game engine. And what would be nicer than having a nice competition for game creation?

Here is a video of one of the winners from last year (not open-source!):




So why not join in that get a chunk of the $500 prize?

Why Blender game engine (BGE)?

Wasn't the game engine always the stepchild of the project? Slow, bloated and buggy?
Well things change, and with this years open game project Yo Frankie! things have taken a leap towards greatness!
Speed has been greatly improved, physics are completely integrated and you can do great eyecandy with the OpenGL 2.0 GLSL shaders (here are some more features).
And things look even better with the upcoming Blender 2.5.

Getting started with the BGE

So what can the BGE actually do for aspiring FOSS game developers? Well it is a "game-maker" for grown-ups... so if you want to make games and not learn how to become the the next John Carmack (tm) the BGE is for you. On a low level you need no programming at all, much can be done with the "logic blocks". And for more ambitious projects the BGE is fully scriptable with Python (which is one of the easiest and most comfortable programming languages).



And did I mention that games created are completely multi platform? Linux and MacOSX ports are just one click away!
A good first step would be to head over to blenderartists.com and surf a bit on their game engine sub-forums. There you will find free (some GPL or PD even if the license is not always 100% clear) templates (f.e. FPS or network) and many great tutorials.




And most people there will freely share their .blend files with you which include all art assets, scripts and so on in neat package (open them in Blender, press "p" and the game starts). However not all of it is really licensed in a FOSS way, but at least you can use these as great tutorials. Overall one could say that this is a great way of distributing the "source" of complete FOSS games (code, art, music etc).




Other sites worth noting are GameBlender and maybe the new Blender Games. And of course for all your Blender news: Blender Nation!




So my excuses for these more game development related news... but you will find some nice games to play (done in Blender) in the many links I provided :p
But next time there will be more traditional gaming news!

Update: Some seriously nice eye candy!

This was just released and looks really nice!



Head over to the Blenderartists thread for more info (and .blend download!).
Oh and yes you are free to use it in your own projects!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beep. Bop. Updates. Racer. Critterding. PARPG. OGA.

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Sorry.



Attempts to rescue old forum files will go on until November 9, 2009, I will update you on that date or earlier. For now, there's a replacement of the FGD planet (let us know if blogs are missing)



racer
I made two videos [one, two] of the alpha-stage-but-stable sci-fi racing game racer.



I also made a video (sorry for frame rate and encoding error) of the 3d-life-form simulator critterding. Not a game, but potentially entertaining ;)



Portrait for PARPG
PARPG's team is working on a level editor. There's new art too of course. Did you notice that awesome portrait over there -> ? I'm so impressed!



Speaking of graphics, OGA has some new featured art (East RPG monsters). It too looks *smart positive adjective*. Also some neat concept art (example).



I (qubodup) will be posting less (probably for the next 3 years). Busy much :) Remember that you can informally apply to become a freegamer reporter if you like :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Forum un-down #5

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Short version: feel free & safe to use the Forum again. The old posts might or might not be added to the posts we post from now on later.



Longer version: there is still hope that the files (and posts) will be restored but of course no guarantee. Having a job doesn't help the server administration spend money on trying to restore the files.



However, I was assured, that the posts we write from now on will be preserved, even if the old posts get restored. I told otherwise in a previous post's comment before.



I'm sure you are curious about whether the forum software is responsible for the data loss. It is not. It was me, not bothering to check whether the posts get saved in the database or not. The default behavior is to save to files, saving to db would have to be enabled.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Forum down #4

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8 Oct, UTC+1:

22:27 < ghouly> freegamedev wiki backup restored : http://ghoulsblade.schattenkind.net/freegamedev/wiki

22:28 < dmj728> ghouly...are the message bodies back?

22:28 < ghouly> not yet, we'll work on that this weekend



PS: For all your game development forum communication needs I recommend this list for the moment.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Forum down #3

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So a 'backup' forum is free for use again, while we wait for filesystem recovery results (the download of the fs has finished so 'repairs' begin now)..



Meanwhile jClassicRPG created a new forum. Make your choice ;)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Forum down #2

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Permission to panic given.



We didn't lose the databse, but it might be that we lost the files. Unfortunately the messages of the forum are saved as files. Check this out (but don't post) to see how a 'full' forum without messages looks like.



So this is the 'message-only backup' I was talking about in previous post.



We still might be lucky and the filesystem can be recovered. It's 400GB big and it takes a week to download that, so expect having to wait...



Waiting is the magical word here.



:(



I'm very unhappy about the forum and how not having it around might affect the community members and especially the projects that use it as part of their infrastructure..

Forum down

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Due to a filesystem error (apparently) the FreeGameDev forum is down. The post data (MySQL table) is safe and will be likely restored in a day or two. It's not clear yet if file attachments can be restored. We will keep you updated.


You can use this phpBB forum as a short-term temporary solution.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Open source 3D RPG updates

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There has been some activity in the most prominent free (as in freedom) software 3D role-playing games DungeonHack, jClassicRPG and Radakan.



DungeonHack





Green, water and village in DungeonHack [more]

DungeonHack (DH) 0.10 has been released in form of win&lin 32bit biaries and a few commits later I was able to compile the game on my 64bit Arch Linux machine. It is the first release of DH that does not rely on non-free libraries.



I played the game for the first time and I was positively surprised. Not only can I move around in the nice-looking (endless) landscape but also fight, cast magic, pick up items, enter houses and dungeons as well as talk to npcs. Physics also work (see barrels video below). On the downside: the current code is crash-happy and there is little content: In toto three houses, two dungeons, two enemy types, two items, one non-player character, one spell).




Zombie roasting á la DH

The next DH aim is to create a typical RPG village, add some inventory and status GUI and to write a dialog system (the current one runs on boxes). Maybe you feel like giving them a programmer's or artist's hand at achieving one of these or other goals? Then enter the DH chatroom and/or forum (which I find one of the most entertaining floss game forums to read).






When test-playing DH, it appears weird to me that enemies' bodies disappear when eliminated and wish they would drop and also drop loot, which I could then collect into the (also not yet accessible) inventory. When playing the latest release or watching the videos, is there something you feel is missing?



jClassicRPG




Shrine and road in jClassicRPG

There has been much activity lately in jClassicRPG's Subversion repository. There are texture-roads now, the map not only shows terrain type any more but also infrastructure (roads and settlements). Shrines and Igloo buildings appear in the game world and a yeti creature has been added to the game's repertoire.






Usability has increased a lot through mouse menu integration and addition of buttons for map, character status etc. Though the drop-down menus don't act as the ones most of us are probably used to, the GUI-usage learning curve has dropped a lot. I especially like the tool-tip system, which shows usage instructions for the different controls or details about fields in the map. If only the font was better readable...



If you would like to help jClassicRPG grow, I can think of at least one Blender-modelling task: give attack animations to this gorilla. Apart from that you can find ways to help on this page and in this thread. And if you're hardcore, also read the TODO! (Search for "[ ]") :D







What I would like to see in jClassicRPG are cloth/armor items and a menu for equipping my party members with them. (EDIT: already there - left click character portraits.) Also the shiny flowers scream to me "pick me" and I hope that will be a gameplay option some day. Can you think of content or features that would enrich the game?



Radakan




Panda3D integration in Radakan

Radakan's developer announced a while ago, that the 3D view of the game will be postponed and a text/GUI interface would be developed first. Now Panda3D, a fun, BSD-licensed, python-powered game engine is being integrated.



What Radakan's developers could use help with now is exporting their already available media [.7z archive] and some media from OpenGameArt to the Panda3d .egg format. Instructions here (press "next" multiple times to see instructions for various 3D applications).





Radakan's 'behavior' editor
I do not care too much for the 3D part of the game (at least not yet). I would prefer the engine to be more stable, so I could try out the quest and add some detail to it using the behavior editor. What do you think? Is implementing 3D worth the time or would you rather prefer the gui/text-based framework to get developed further?



Off-topic



A little hint if you ever feel like making a gameplay video yourself: I prepared the videos for this post (and other posts) using glc to record and mencoder to encode. Sometimes (for non-OpenGL games) I use recordmydesktop to record. Feel free to ask in the comments or forum if I can help you with making videos.



Another little hint: If you are unable to use YouTube but curious about the videos and can play back mp4 files (vlc and mplayer can handle them), use youtube-dl to download videos for off-line playback.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

NAEV 0.4.0 review

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NAEV Items [more shots]

NAEV 0.4.0 is out, a game of the space trading and combat simulator genre, inspired by the non-free Escape Velocity. Win32/lin32/lin64/mac binaries are available here.



The new version has parts of the user interface changed and is better accessible, for example through in-game gui keybind editing. Three aspects of NAEV show that usability is a priority: 1) the tutorial is informative without overwhelming too much 2) most combats can be evaded through the run away-tactic (this might be unintended, but definitely liked by me). 3) The automatic jump system, that allows consecutive jumps to systems without having to manually repeat standard maneuvers gives much relief to the player.



The changelog also lists better-looking visuals as well as new sounds and music tracks. As a bonus, all the art in the game is licensed under Debian-friendly licenses. [license.txt: audio, visuals]



Gameplay



Wingmen fighters in action

In NAEV the player starts with a small trading ship and needs to earn money to buy new vessels and equipment. Trading or patrolling missions are the key to income. Though I'm no fan of playing lots of similar missions in a row, I did feel satisfaction, when discovering the most effective way to earn money with them: play patrolling missions and a lot of them at the same time.



Along with the repetitive, generated tasks, there are some original missions of different difficulties that allow the plot to progress and/or provide alternative methods of earning credits. They alone are reason enough to give NAEV a spin. The developers want to include more and more story missions, so contact them via IRC or mailing list if you're up to some sci-fi 'quest' writing! :)



A third (or is it fourth?) method of increasing wealth is observing prices and buying where prices are low and selling where products are expensive. However, there is not much of an economical simulation implemented in NAEV yet, so I wouldn't recommend this path for now.



Yet another battle
Scout ships, fighters and battle-cruisers are available in the shipyards of NAEV, different kinds of energy and missile weapons can be bought, various upgrades can be installed. The brainless method of costlier=better didn't work for me, I had to balance the effects and firepower against speed an maneuverability. Running away is more enjoyable to me than fighting and waiting ten seconds for my ship to turn.



The coolest item in the game is the fighter bay. It allows to host small allied ships in your cruiser. After 'shooting' them into space, they will attack enemies and can be controlled with a few simple commands. Place two is occupied by the afterburners, which will give a temporary speed boost at the price of having the view shaken.



Interviews



Next, two questions for the current top 5 NAEV contributors (and two extra ones for the lead dev):




Q1: What is your role in NAEV development?


bobbens: I am the lead developer of naev.



Deiz: I do a bit of everything, as required.



Done graphics, sound, missions, etc., but most of my time has been spent on making the sprites look nice and getting the game to a fairly balanced state.



For sound I mostly hunted things down and vocoded a few sounds to get the results I wanted. For graphics, most of the ship models are sourced from Vega Strike, many of the outfit graphics are based on models by Joss that I've heavily hacked up.



brtzsnr: I coded a couple of features that NEAV lacked (one of them is the faction disks), now I'm working on 3d-models and sometimes I fix bugs. I wish I had the time to implement more complex features.



stephank: I wrote some code to save configuration. It was unable to at the time.



BTAxis: I've provided some game content (two missions and half a dozen systems so far). That is the extent of my active role in NAEV's development. However, I also occasionally put forward proposals for new or improved game mechanics on the project mailing list, and if I can make them convincing enough and/or talk bobbens into seeing things my way, they may one day find their way into the actual game. I enjoy doing that. Thinking up game mechanics, making them work in my head and fitting them into a bigger picture is fun for me.



Q2: What do you want the game to become in the future?


bobbens: I want the game to be as good as the memories of my childhood playing original EV made it to be.



Deiz: Ultimately I'd like to see NAEV be appealing to a broader audience. At present if you're not somewhat familiar with the Escape Velocity/Elite/Freelancer/etc genre there's not too much to grab your attention.



brtzsnr: I hope NAEV to become more RPG-like (have a crew with different skills tree, say one engineer, one pilot, one commander, etc). Also I want more non-linear/intricate stories.



stephank: I played a lot of Escape Velocity, so that's why I got interested in NAEV. It looks and feels a lot like EV right now, but it looks like the (active) developers are mixing in interesting features from other games in the same genre, and even innovating. I would like them to surprise me, more so than me influencing them. :)



BTAxis: I already mentioned the proposals I wrote up. They're essentially the answer to this question, or at least they're the story so far. But if I'd have to explain it in two words, I'd say that I want naev to be a space exploration game that offers a high degree of interactivity while at the same time providing and engrossing and believable world for the player. That is not an easy goal to meet. Most space games that I know of sacrifice one aspect to pursue another, and in the end NAEV may have to as well. But at this point in time, I believe it's doable, and I hope to be part of making it happen. [For more information check out the proposals on NAEV's mailing list]



Q3: What made you start the project?


bobbens: I started the project about 6 years ago by myself when I realized that there was no game like EV (which I had played extremely intensively as a kid) on linux. EV also had major gameplay flaws that should have been worked around.



Since I had no projects at the time I started out with the ambitious NAEV, which over the years has slowly been taking shape and was released recently (one year ago) to the general public.



As of 0.4.0 I'm starting to be pretty impressed by the results.



Q4: What do you think of Star Control II (The Ur-Quan Masters) as an example of a EV-like GNU/Linux game?


bobbens: I only played Star Control II after someone mentioned it to me about 6 months ago. It does seem to have a lot of EV features, but it seems to lose a bit the fast paced-ness of EV and customizeability of the ships. However it does have other great features that EV lacks like the zooming in systems and the dialog use.



It's good to find good features in other games and use them for inspiration in NAEV, it's evolved enough that it no longer is an EV clone. It also takes from all over while trying to keep itself unique.




Latest NAEV gameplay video



Friday, September 11, 2009

OpenMW interview with Nicolay Korslund

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Early OpenMW GUI implementation

OpenMW is a re-implementation of the (non-free) TES3 Morrowind game engine, written in the D programming language. The engine makes use of OGRE and other open source libraries, features an own scripting language called "Monster" and the latest release has the version number 0.6.



Out of curiosity, I asked Nicolay Korslund (the lead developer) one year ago what his motivation for writing OpenMW was. Later I decided to ask some more and now you can finally read the interview, in which Nicolay tells us about Git, OpenMW's development and whether or not to expect original games as a result of the OpenMW project.



The interview




Q1: What is your motivation for writing OpenMW?


Initially the project was started a few years ago (somewhere around 2004-2005, don't remember exactly), out from desire to improve a game I loved and from frustration with bugs and issues that made it less fun than it could be. Having been a programmer for about a decade, I felt that most of the bugs were unnecessary and could easily have been fixed if Bethesda has devoted the resources to it. I started getting that curious 'I could do this better myself' feeling, that you sometimes get when you've been doing a craft for years and aren't satisfied with someone elses work. (Not that I think Bethesdas coding is shoddy in any way, they're a company with limited resources like any company, and sometimes you just don't have the money to improve thing ad infinitum even though you would like to.)



To keep up (or even start) a big project such as OpenMW, though, you'll usually need more than just one big motivation to drive you and keep you going. For example, I knew from the outset that this project was something that others would get excited about, and that's a big motivating factor. The amount of positive feedback I've gotten on OpenMW since release has been pretty stunning, and it really helps to know that what you're making will affect others in a positive way. I had always wanted to contribute to open source software, but so far hadn't found any project I burned for, and none of my own projects ever made it to the point of release.



Another motivation you'll need of course is the joy of working on it - it's a hobby after all. I love programming, I love improving things, and I love reverse engineering file formats. Thee big pluses when you're doing a reimplementation. It also forces you to learn new skills - I've always wanted to learn more game development, such as using a 'modern' 3D engine, but I never had any real motivation to do it before I started OpenMW. On top of all that I had just fell in love with the D programming language, which blew me away to the point of abandoning C++ literally over night. D had (and still has, to some degree) a desperate need for more attention getting projects, and I wanted to help with that. I knew there would be challenges with using such a new language, but I was determined to show that none of them were show stoppers.



Q2: Are other people involved in OpenMW or Monster?


Yes, quite a few really. I started a mailing list for OpenMW about a year ago, after initially getting very positive feedback on the project. The list now counts over 130 members, and even more pay attention to the project through various forums. Only a very small fraction of those have contributed code of course, but many contribute other things like testing, knowledge about the file formats/mods, or simply through feedback and ideas. For Monster I've intentionally run a somewhat lower profile, but there are a few of early-adopter-type developers who are using it in their own engines. If things go as planned though, the two projects will become much more intertwined in the future, and I hope that Monster can contribute a lot to OpenMW (and make my job as lead developer a lot easier.)



Q3: How did you find those people? Or was it them who found you?


I've done very little 'advertising' for my projects - I think I posted about OpenMW on exactly one forum (the OGRE forum), the rest took care of itself. I had to create the mailing list simply because I couldn't keep track of all the individual conversations any longer.



Q4: Are you going to make OpenMW usable with non-Morrowind content, so that new games can base on it? If yes, will you make such a game?


It's very possible that the project will spawn an engine that's usable for other games, but we don't have any specific plans for that right now. Although we are on friendly terms with another project that uses much of the same technology, called DungeonHack. It's very likely that our two engines will share some code in the future.



Even though we're not working on making a generic game engine, it will likely be possible to make much more extensive Total Conversion mods for OpenMW than for the original Morrowind engine. And the scripting features we're planning will let you bend the rules to the point where you would probably not consider it to be the same game anymore. Personally however I have very little talent for game creation (except for the coding part), so I don't think I'll be behind any of those mods myself.



Q5: You've picked OGRE as OpenMW's 3D engine. What about the alternatives (Irrlicht, jMonkeyEngine, Crystal Space, writing an own 3D engine...)?


I think probably all those (and many others) would have been good choices, except the last one. Writing a new engine and getting it to a point where it could compete with OGRE et al. would have taken years, and IMO it's usually a complete waste of time unless you're doing something really unique with it. There are so many good and free off-the-shelf alternatives out there (too many already...), and if you need some feature that they don't provide you can usually add it in yourself in 1/100th of the time it takes you to write a new engine from scratch.



Q6: You recently switched to Git from SVN. What motivated the switch?


Popular demand :) But after trying out Git (and taking the time to understand how it works), I fell completely in love with it myself. SVN is now ancient technology as far as I'm concerned. And with git-svn, Git is even a better Subversion client that Subversion is. However since it's so easy to integrate the two, we are keeping the SVN repositories on-line for the foreseeable future, and existing SVN users don't really need to change anything. I know it takes a real geek to obsess this much over a version control system, but that's how it is :)




More development information



You can find some technical details about OpenMW's codebase on its ohloh page.



Latest OpenMW video



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pink Pony 1.2.1

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Pink Pony 1.2.1

I wanted to write about Pink Pony for a long time, but never came around to it. It's a Tron-like racing game and features hearts, ponies (also ai-controlled ones), graphic shaders and split-screen multiplayer support. Your aim is to collect hearts and to not run into your foes' trails. Last pony standing wins!


Download it for Win32 or as an easy-to-compile source tarball.


Unfortunately, the game does not support older graphics cards. If you are capable and willing to add legacy support, you can find the source repository here. If you have ideas for more features, please post them (or just comment this blog article).



Pink Pony development was not a one-man ride: While the game concept and code is by ginkgo, tornado created the pony model and textured it, then Skorpio added animation to the pony. A sky render by brisingre is used in the game and I contributed two textures to it. Edit: I forgot to add that MCMic programmed the AI and that Renich's music is used.


I believe that Pink Pony now is the best child-friendly open source game, regarding visuals and gameplay. Most free software games friendly for kids I know try to be education software. Then again, maybe I should give Tux Racer another try.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just a small puzzle game update: Zaz 0.2.6

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Zaz 0.2.6

Zaz is a puzzle game, a 'clonespiration' of Zuma, one of PopCap's notorious proprietary (casual) games. You are confronted with a stream of differently colored balls and have to put three of the same type next to each other to destroy them. There are power-ups, you're under time pressure, you have to aim, that's fun actually.


The game has nice music and good sounds, though I couldn't find author information on any of the game data. EDIT: Ha, I looked in the source directory, but not on the menu screen! So gfx & sound is by Remigiusz Dybka (who also programmed the game) and I guess it's GPL3-ed. The music tracks are (remixed?) CC-BY-NC-SA Nine Inch Nails music.


What I'm *very* much impressed with is that the game has a in-game menu to create a recording of a game you played! It even captures audio! Usually I use glc for recording video/audio in OpenGL games.


When you record a game using Zaz' internal recorder, it creates a Vorbis/Theora .ogv file. Only problem is that you can't do anything while the recording process (you have to watch the replay, while it records and can't even switch to another window) See an example video that I recorded below.




PS: Since I'm a big wuss when it comes to playing puzzle games in which you have to aim games, I have a wish for Zaz (besides nice background images :) ) and that is to have an indicator, what ball will be affected by me pressing or releasing the mouse button. I don't like aligning the Grappling hook with the balls. :|

Monday, August 17, 2009

Snippets and whippets

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Complete Annihilation


Apparently the Spring mod Complete Annihilation is rather good, although it's about to be renamed and not quite fully free of its ties to the original Total Annihilation content. The goal is to be totally Free. And it's pretty complete(ish) as a game already. There's lots of lovely screenshots.



Glest Advanced Engine 0.2.12 got released. They also got a Sourceforge project for GAE.


Q3Rally


Fun racing games are always, er, fun. Well, in demand as well. So maybe Q3Rally can strike a chord with the Free gaming public? Apparently the original Quake Rally was the best Quake mod ever, although it was never completed and all that is left of it is Quake Rally: Leftovers. There's plenty of maps and cars and it is billed as a mod for OpenArena so should be totally Free. \o/



Here's a promotional video for Q3Rally that makes it look rather ooo aaah:





Dark Phear, a classic Phantasy Star-like RPG, as reported in the Ubuntu forums. Go there for links, screenshots, and more information.



Oolite, the Elite cloney-but-better game, is getting purty with shaders it seems.




The Privateer Gemini Gold team have been fairly quiet but work is ongoing and the next version will contain much better videos / graphics to make it even more immersive. Some of it can be seen on their youtube channel although the videos are currently just very short showcases.

Monday, August 10, 2009

An example of why a license matters

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Simutrans


OpenTTD OpenGFX

Why is OpenTTD now in Fedora 10/11 but Simutrans is not? The former has been only playable with Free media since some time this year - and the media is still incomplete - whereas the latter has been Free for years now? Is it because somebody requested it?



Digging (and by digging I mean Googling) to some it seems that Simutrans media is unclearly licensed. Download the official (currently r102) version of Simutrans and it comes with two licenses - one copy of the 'artistic license' and a 'copyright notice' that states:



"Simutrans may not be sold or modified in any way without
written permission by the author.


Which license applies to which part of the game? I guess you can make assumptions but it really should be clearer. The artistic license applies to the source, the custom NC / no modification license to the media. OpenTTD is about to get many 1000s more players by being in big distributions. Simutrans is going to continue in its role of shadowing OpenTTD by being the transport tycoon game that hardly anybody knows about and it is somewhat self inflicted.



Do you want your Free game to be played by as many people as possible? License it clearly and explicitly, and push for inclusion in mainstream distributions. And don't use a custom, restrictive license. Go with something that is compatible with mainstream distributions like a creative commons license.



Friday, August 07, 2009

Update 379

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Todays date is 07/08/09 if you're not a silly yank (m/d/y wha'?) and it made me think about how long the blog has been going. 379 posts... quite a lot! It's been a while since I started doing this blog. Who knows how far it'll go before life moves on, eh?



I originally started out to make a place that documented all the worthwhile Free software game projects. I stumbled a bit along the way - the original version of the blog (for those who don't remember) had a nice list down the side. Now we just have this broken old page that is too much of a PITA to edit and update. Hopefully one day I'll find the time and energy to sort it out properly.



Without a good central resource* of worthwhile projects, it can be easy for things to get lost in the Internet haze. People complain about a lack of polished FOSS games but there's more out there than you realise, even if some are still in active development. Then there's those that probably fell by the wayside because they just failed to penetrate the public view.



Update: as commentor Bram points out, Libregamewiki is a pretty decent resource, although not ideal - it misses comments, ratings, tagging, features to make it easier to get straight to the content you are looking for.



Update2: there is also the list of Complete open source games on the FreeGameDev wiki, but this omits many projects that are very promising and playable.



Shotgun Debugger is a fun, polished, top down GTA-style action game. It's well done, although I didn't get too far, because I'm a busy bee y'know.



People often lament the lack of FOSS single player 3D RPGs. Arbarlith II happens to be one of those although I haven't played it so have no idea how well done or how deep or how long the game is. It looks interesting though!



Lips of Suna is a very ambitious MORPG (not typo). If beautiful graphics and destructible voxel terrain don't appeal to you, then the developer focusing on gameplay must be applauded.




Grumbel's Mech


Linwarrior 3D is a mech warrior game that's been in slow and steady development since 1999. The mech models are a bit low detail, but it is a playable game. The website is one ad-ridden atrocity with no recent information on it, and no screenshots of the later versions other than some mosaic.



Qubodup put together a video of it.



I wonder if they know of and could make use of Grumbel's mech model and his other FreeMech concepts?



Speaking of long running projects, the Combat Simulator Project seems quite active at the moment (look at the project page and forums). Love planes? Love fighter planes? Get involved.



Knights (or Amiga Knights if happypenguin.org is to be believed) is a 2 player action/quest game. It looks fun, I might try to play it with my son some time.




Crimson Space


Crimson Space is a very interesting looking Elite-style 3D space trading game. Sadly development seems to have ceased circa 2002, but not before the developer implemented the ability to enter the atmosphere of planets and skim the oceans. This is the first time I encountered this game and purely by chance (linked as a 'similar project' on a Sourceforge project of mine). It's a shame development stopped and you have to wonder, if it had the kind of buzz Vega Strike has enjoyed, where it might be now had development been ongoing.



If I ever do a sequel to the Top 10 Projects To Revive (I'm collecting another list) then Crimson Space is sure to be in it.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Clonk open sourced and Free Gamer ceil(foss games)

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Clonk


Clonk got open sourced! Welcome OpenClonk. Clonky! It seems to be the indie game fashion at the moment what with 0AD and all. What is Clonk?



Clonk is a multiplayer-action-tactic-skill game. It is often referred to as a mixture of The Settlers and Worms.


So, the Clonk developers open sourced it, but since backwards compatability is a big problem for them, they ditched all Clonk content and are asking the community to contribute new game content. Judging by the forum, the community looks very active, it's a case of 'watch this space' I guess.





The above video is the "Clonk Rage" trailer. I got the impression this is what has been open sourced although I'm not sure how of the levels/content came with it, if at all. Perhaps somebody could check out the source and see where it is up to?



Anyhoo... so, Ceil... round up... get it?



Despite the lack of Free Gamer activity, the FOSS game scene is as active as ever.



Some new releases that should have been mentioned earlier:





I probably should make more of a fuss over Yo Frankie! than I do - it does look absolutely stunning as you can see in the following video - and it could yet become an important starting platform for creating other types Free games using it's materials and gameplay as a foundation:





Well, so, that's some stuff we already knew about, but what about some things we don't?



Skyscraper: A first-person 3D virtual building simulator. Perhaps not a game. I report, you decide.



Wesnoth + Bloodbowl + a blender = Wesbowl! It's early days (0.1 alpha) but good to see somebody having a bash.



Grandwing is a game being developed to be similar in gameplay to the game Spyro the Dragon.



And world's worst website award goes to... *drumroll* ...ok, I'm not going to say its the worst, but the site for YSFlight (an open source flight sim) has to be a contender.



Toodlepip!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Interview: Stephen Carlyle-Smith aka Me_Programmer

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In the second Free Gamer interview - over 2 years since the first with grumbel - serial Free game developer Steven Carlyle-Smith (UK) aka Me_Programmer Games aka Steve16384 was kind enough to take the time to reply in detail to my questions about his development activities.



Steve has created a plethora of Free games over the years. Whilst they have struggled to gain mindshare - usually he moves on at speed to new projects before completing others - there's a lot of content to peruse and I thought his experiences were more than worth tapping for advise to budding game developers. He has created all his games with little or no community help other than occasionally reusing resources from other projects. He also maintains blog on his development efforts which is often witty.



You can ask questions / get support / give feedback for Steve's games in the new FreeGameDev forum for Me_Programmer Games. There you can also find an exhaustive list of his playable game projects, including several not mentioned here.



He is also responsible for coding/creating the site Online Game Planner - which he uses to host his projects - which is a fairly new portal for organizing multiplayer gaming sessions.



The game that originally got my attention was Laser Tactics - previously called Nuclear Graveyard, which he talks about later in the interview. So, without further ado...



The Interview




Q. Please introduce yourself...


I'm a 30-something professional applications programmer, amateur games programmer, married with one child and another on the way.



Q. What do you do for a living?


I work for a small company writing software for businesses. Everything from web applications, social networking sites, VB apps, web filters, stock control software, networking tools, and the odd game. Whatever people will pay for!



Q. What notable games have you created?


I don't think any qualify as notable -- editor is impressed with the humility, some of the games are good they just haven't hit the right public spot yet! -- but these are probably my best:-



Xenogeddon (home)





This is a simple FPS based on Space Hulk, but I'm very pleased at how the graphics turned out. I didn't do any of the models, but overall it captures the Space Hulk imagary quite well. It is small and simple however, and needs a lot more scenery and features adding to keep the player's interest.





Laser Tactics (home)





The less said about the graphics the better, but this is my attempt at making a pseudo-realtime verson of Laser Squad and have tried to recreate the original graphics in 3D. It uses what I think is a unique system where both side's "action points" are replenished in real time which can make for interesting gameplay. I'm also particularly pleased with the AI as well. The overall presentation could do with a damn good polishing though.





Island Commander (home)





This is my most recent game and I'm still working on it, but it's fully playable and I enjoy playing it. I've always liked strategy games, and this one is a simple RTS/RTT where the player builds units and then watches them do battle. I'm interested in games where you only have indirect control. I've got loads of ideas yet to implement, like different races, more unit types, and maybe a better name!



Q. Of your game projects, which is your favourite?


At the moment it's Island Commander, because it's my newest and I still enjoy playing it. I'm probably most proud of Xenogeddon though, in that if someone asked me to show them one of my games, that would be the one.



Q. Excluding your own, what is your favourite open source game?


I don't spend that much time playing games, but the one I used to play the most is Tremulous, probably because it's multi-player with a big player-base. I'm crap at it though.



Q. What games do you play at the moment, FLOSS or commercial?


Definitely FLOSS, as I haven't bought a game since X-Com for the Amiga! My home PC isn't up to playing modern games and I don't have time anyway. I'd much rather be programming games than playing them. When I do play games, it's usually simple but addictive Flash-type games. And if they're very simple, I then have a go at writing my own version.



Q. How did you get into games programming?


Way back in 1984, my dad bought a ZX Spectrum, and the book "First Steps with your Spectrum" to go with it. Ever since then I've been programming, for the Spectrum, Amiga and then PC. I like to think my games have improved since then.



Q. What are your best games programming tips?


Re-use your own code as often as possible. Have something playable as quickly as possible. And use descriptive var/function names. I don't agree with people who dislike verbose var/function names; if you're sharing code with others (or coming back to your own project after a 6 month gap) you need as much description as possible. With tools like code-completion, long names aren't a problem.



Q. What draws you to open source, what is your Free software philosophy?


I particularly like the way that we all provide each other with programming help and actual source code, which enables everyone to learn and produce software much faster than they would be able to otherwise. It's a shame that in the corporate world, when somebody learns something, it's top secret and usually patented. Just think how advanced technology (not just software) might be if everyone shared their knowledge and skills with everyone else.



Q. What are the things to avoid, the things that make FLOSS game
development fail?


The biggest problem is not getting something playable as quickly as possible. Whether its a one-man project or bigger, people soon get bored of discussing and planning everything to death. You need to show yourself and everyone that you are actually doing something practical that is actually possible and progress is being made. There are a million "Status: 1-Planning" projects on Sourceforge as a testament to this.



Q. If you could take one abandoned FLOSS game and restore it's
development (excluding your own titles!) which would it be?


I don't really know any off the top of my head. I sometimes browse Sourceforge to see if there's anything I can help with, but I usually end up with ideas and inspiration to write a game of my own! Unfortunately, trying to understand someone else's source code and designs (especially the larger ones) is often harder than just writing my own project.



Q. What are your future game development plans and which of your games
do you hope to see come to fruition in the near future?


My dream is to have a game (and more importantly, a community) as popular as, say, Starcraft. This is my ultimate (and obviously unattainable) ambition, but if one of my games can get a thousandth of the popularity of that, then I'll be more than pleased!




Steve's Other Game Projects



You can ask questions / get support / give feedback for Steve's games in the new FreeGameDev forum for Me_Programmer Games. There you can also find an exhaustive list of his playable game projects, including several not mentioned here.




Danger Man




HoloRacer


Danger Man (home)


This is my contribution to the saturated market of platformers. It's reasonably complete, but requires more levels designing and it's own set of graphics. It has a few good features though, like different weapons.



Metal Glove Solid (home)


This is a playable but limited version of Gauntlet. The advantage of having this in my repotoire is that if I want to make any other top-down 2D game, I can just start with this. I do that with a lot of my games, meaning I can usually knock something up very quickly. I just need to improve the graphics and create more levels.



HoloRacer (home)


I'm quite pleased with this one, and I sometimes go back and have a quick game. I just wanted to write the fastest racer that I could, and it was my first game using OpenGL. It's deliberately quite simple (in gameplay and graphics) but fun in short bursts. I seem to remember that when I uploaded it to Sourceforge, it got about 200 downloads on the first day. They'v trailed off a bit since then!



Realtime Chaos (home)


This is a remake of "Chaos - The Battle of Wizards" for the Spectrum, where wizards do battle with various spells, but converted into an RTS. I've written countless version of Chaos over the years, but this is by far the least-worst. The only drawback is that it has no AI, so you need at least one other player and a LAN to play a game.



Simwar (home)


This is an RTS in the style of C&C. It's quite simple, and also multi-player/LAN only, but is designed to be quick and fun to play. It has some features like proper line-of-sight (unlike just fog-of-war), so you can only see the enemy if you have a clear view. Prizes for guessing which game the soldier sprites came from!



GTA-MUD (home)


As the name says, this is a MUD. I liked the contemporary setting of GTA, and thought a MUD in the same setting would be a good idea, where you could do anything in a modern-day realistic setting rather than either medeival fantasy or futuristic. It's quite small, but gets about 5 logins a day. It's also quite "adult" in some sections, just like GTA.



Online Game Planner (home)


This is a website I produced. I think this was inspired by me trying to get more players on at the same time on GTA-MUD. The premise is simple - you select an online games that you play, and then organise a session by date and time. Everyone else who has also marked that game as one they play then gets informed of the date and time, so everyone plays the game at the same time. It also hosta a few of my simple applet games. I think I should rename it "MultiplayerGamePlanner".



The Last Word



I'd really like to see Steve polish some of his older games a bit more and be more astute with advertising them. Some of them are very hard to come by unless you go through his blog, so posting announcements/showcase/help-wanted threads in the appropriate forums (starting with the FreeGameDev forums) should increase their visibility.



Xenogeddon looks full of potential and it'd be good to see what people make of it. I don't have functional 3D so couldn't try it myself yet.



Metal Glove Solid could become a popular game if he worked on performance (it was unplayably slow on my graphically-unaccelerated 2ghz laptop) as well as used the better graphics available in the Gauntlet Resurrection thread from the FreeGameDev ideas forum.



There's a lot of projects that he didn't mention because he feels they're not complete enough, e.g. this Shadowfire remake. It makes me curious to know if there's a complete list of Steve's projects anywhere! See update!



Sometimes the life of a Free game developer can feel a bit lonely because of the lack of exposure. Hopefully some of you will go away and try his games and, even if you don't end up playing them for long, at least give some decent feedback so he can work to make them better and increase player retention.



Update: Steve has posted a complete list in the forum. Two games he has made that he didn't mention in the interview but are worthwhile projects are Passenger and Last Remaining. I think he needs a bit of modelling help to really realise the potential of Last Remaining.