Friday, September 28, 2012

LinWarrior 3D September news 2012

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A word from the developer of LinWarrior 3D:

In the past weeks I've been working on some of the last changes to clean up the guts inside the mech class by moving everything to components and systems.
That includes a component for sounds that should eventually enable foot steps.
Of course some special cases still remain for later cleanup (like the jump jet light).
Some possible experiment-branch directions I see now are these:
  • Persistence (savegames dude) using sqlite
  • Reworking the Input to have events consumed by systems/components (or passing abstractions of SDL events).
  • Some relaxing modeling work and integration of some more models
  • Extending Physics to support tracked and wheeled vehicles - just talking about slanting on sloped ground by having 4 particles for wheels.
Multithreading would be possible, and easy with the system/component approach now but it isn't a top priority I think.
Easy because the execution model is working in phases, one sub-system at a time with no immediate communication between subsystems.
- hc on the forums

Monday, September 24, 2012

Twine: interactive stories builder

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Twine is a tool for creating non-linear stories that can be played in HTML. Here are some examples. It's available under GPL and runs on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

There's also a tutorial available by a game designer I follow.

Beginning this Thursday, there will be a one-week-long Virtual Game Jam in a community of gamers that are feminist, queer, disabled, people of color, transgender, poor, gay, lesbian, and others who belong to marginalized groups, as well as allies. They have an IRC channel.

I will give this tool a try at the next Berlin 8-hour Jam.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Torque 3D engine liberated

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The people behind the always very indi friendly and well renowned commercial Torque 3D engine announced a fews weeks ago that they will release the quite fully featured engine and tool-box under the very liberal and FOSS MIT license.

Well, and today they made an release announcement and opened up their repositories!

Some of you might remember the engine from the good old days of Tribes 2, but as you can see it has advanced quite a bit since then. Sadly it also lost its Linux and MacOS ports along the way, which is something the creators hope to have restored more quickly in the open-source version. Other show-stoppers on non-Windows platforms are a few remaining to be removed propitiatory qt-lib in the editor framework and so on. So if you think you can help them with either or those problems, have a look at their git repo here (click on "zip" to download you local copy).

Hmm... what does that mean for the FOSS gamer (besides some commercial game ports to Linux probably soon)? Well Torque is a really good tool-set to create new FOSS games, and they really tried to keep the entry barrier low, which is something that sadly can not be said for most other FOSS 3D engines. So in the longer run there might be some cool new games utilizing it. But for now I hope to see a fully FOSS version of this little gem soon ;)

As always... we will keep you updated with our irregular posts ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

BartK's Personal Notes about the Liberated Pixel Cup

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While we're waiting for the Liberated Pixel Cup contest results, I thought I'd take some time and post some personal thoughts about the contest in general, and what we might do better if we decide to run it again next year.  First, a disclaimer:  While several different organizations are taking part in LPC, the thoughts and opinions stated here are entirely my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the FSF, the Creative Commons, the Mozilla Foundation, or even  I am one of the people involved in running the Liberated Pixel Cup, but this blog post is not an official statement.  It's just my own ramblings. :)

First things first.  LPC was, in my opinion, an amazing success.  Since we're still in the judging process, I can't give my opinions on specific entries, but I will say that we have some really amazing ones in my opinion, and if you haven't already checked them out, I'd recommend that you do so.  One of our contestants has put together a large page of game reviews, so that's a good place to start if you're curious.

The Liberated Pixel Cup has always, in my opinion, been about the advancement of free and open source software, so one of the decisions we made very early on in the planning process was that we would require all entries to work on a system that is libre from the ground up.  That is, not only should the entries themselves be free software, they shouldn't require that any part of the system running them be closed-source or otherwise proprietary.  We caught a fair amount of flak for this decision, and I can't say I was particularly surprised, since a lot of people really love proprietary frameworks and libraries such as XNA, Flash, and others.  It's understandably frustrating if your system of choice is specifically disallowed, but think of it this way:  If someone have a Flash games competition (and there are plenty of these), people don't take offense because they aren't allowed to enter non-flash games.  It's not about the relative merits of various frameworks -- LPC is just a contest for free and open source games.  I'm pleased to say that I've spoken with at least one person who got their first experience developing games on a free platform, and has been very happy with it thus far.  I'm hoping there are others who feel the same way.  At any rate, while this decision didn't go over well with some people, it's not something that I would change in retrospect, and I can say with a fair amount of confidence that any future instance of LPC will have the same requirement.

We also got a number of complaints that the contest itself was too short.  This is something that kind of surprised me, since most game coding contests (Ludum Dare, Bacon Game Jam, etc) are a weekend or a week long at most.  It has been suggested on several occasions that we make the coding contest in particular last longer.  This is an idea that I'm personally willing to entertain, but we'll probably have to do some sort of informal survey to really get a feel for how long people in general feel the competition should be.  Even though several people suggested it, it's entirely possible that a majority of participants were satisfied with the length of the contest, so we'll have to look at some real numbers before we make any decisions based on this.  (One thing we'll almost certainly do is provide a "break" of a week or two between the art and code phases of any later contests.)

All that aside, far and away the biggest problem we had with LPC was what to do about all of the different operating systems and environments people might develop their game in.  There are two big things we had to take into consideration.

  • People want to be free to choose the environment they're developing their game on.
  • People want to be confident that their game will compile and run.
Taken together:
  • People want us to standardize on the system they personally like.
This is, of course, impossible, so we were left in the difficult position of having to give people advice for writing programs that will be easy to compile and run in multiple environment, but without pushing specific operating systems or frameworks.  This caused a lot of consternation on the part of the code entrants (and also the judges -- I'll address that further down), but as far as I can tell, there isn't a great solution.  We either standardize on a certain system with certain libraries and exclude a large number of potential participants, or ask people to write their code carefully so that the judges will be able to compile it.  I don't personally regret doing it this way, and hopefully some of the specific things we learned this time around (about common problems, etc), we can pass on to people the next time we do LPC (* there are currently no official plans to run LPC again, but I'd like to see it happen, and we'll talk about that once the results are announced).

When all was said and done, we ended up with about 50 code entries.  First, a shout out to the HTML5 folks -- your stuff just worked.  Also, I have to come out and say that I've never been a big fan of Java; it's always felt really clunky to me.  LPC made me reevaluate my position on Java games.   Given a set of entries that were built in different environments, it was an immense relief when I decompressed a game archive and found a bunch of .jar files, because I knew instantly that it would just work.  So, Java folks, a shout out to you too.

The remainder of the entries were written in other languages, mostly C and C++.  Some of them compiled very easily (these tended to be the ones based on established engines and frameworks, such as FLARE), others took a few tweaks, and there are a couple I still haven't managed to compile at all.  Which brings us to judging.

Judging has been slow.  Since this is the first time we've done this, we had no idea the magnitude of the response we'd get.  This is to some extent due to several perfectly legitimate desires that work in conflict:
  • People want to be able to write their games in the environments they prefer (see above).
  • People would like the judges to take time to fairly evaluate their submissions, rather than just giving them a zero the first time they run into trouble.
  • People would like the contest results to be announced quickly.
In short: pick any two.  As it stands, the judges (myself included) are doing our best to be fair and thorough, but the downside is that the entries require a lot of attention, and, given that we have jobs and families, we can't put a full 40+ hours a week into judging, which means the results are slow.  Not only that, personal lives have a way of changing at a moment's notice, so it's very difficult to even guess how long the judging process will take.  While I'm hesitant to give any sort of estimate right now (due to the fact that mostly I'd be pulling a number out of you-know-where, plus my three previous estimates have come and gone), what I can say is that in future years, we'll likely base our estimate of when the results will be announced on the amount of time that it takes us this year.  Hopefully, if we can offer a set of suggestions to make later contest entries easier to compile (and perhaps as a result of the extra suggestions, be a bit harsher if we're unable to do so), we can make the judging process more efficient.

Anyway, that's about it -- an inside view of my personal thoughts on the Liberated Pixel Cup.  I'd be happy to answer any questions that I can, but before I do so, two things bear repeating:
  • These are my thoughts alone, and they do not represent the official thoughts of LPC or any of the organizations involved.
  • We're working on judging, and while I'm happy to provide progress updates, I can't give an estimate on when judging will be completed because I simply have no way of knowing.  We will keep at it and get them done, but it could be two weeks from now, and it could be December.

Bart K

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shorts: FreeOrion 0.4.1 and Xonotic Vehicle Gameplay

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image: Moving a fleet around in FreeOrion

video: FreeOrion testplay (best viewed at 720p HD)

FreeOrion 0.4.1 has been released a month ago. There still is no manual ship combat mode and there is a certain sluggishness regarding GUI responsiveness but the beautiful audio and graphics and consistent writing are definitely worth a try.

You can check out a preview of current 3d ship combat tech demo in this video (7m30s in).


Unsealed Trial 2 - Xonotic1233544-00
image: Sniping a Hovercraft on Unsealed Trial 2 in Xonotic (more screens)

I have been playing Xonotic on the [MoN] Vehicle Gameplay server and quite enjoying it lately. Just recently, a first version of Unsealed Trial 2 (screenshots) has been released there.

Some helpful vote commands:
vcall timelimit 600 (for when the time is draining too quickly)
vcall gotomap unseal (for when you realize that Unsealed Trial is the only playable map ;) )

If you'd like to record your own videos, all you need to know is on Xonotic's Democapture wiki page.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friday, September 07, 2012

Simple & Quick GPLed Java Tower Defense Game

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image: screenshot

Just a simple, smooth and stable tower defense game by david kamphausen (godrin) & marc giersch (undermink).


  • Quite fast-paced, no boring waiting time.


  • Drag-and-drop building placement sometimes fiddly.
  • Effect of upgrades not clear.

Download .jar:
Run via: java -jar defend-desktop-0.3.jar

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Get 0.A.D For Free! (Historical RTS Real Time Strategy Role Playing Strategy War Combat Game)

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Popular cover boxes for 0 A.D. on eBay

0 A.D. is an epic free and open source real-time strategy game.

Download 0 A.D. For Free Here
Download for Mac OS X and Linux.

You don't have to pay for 0 A.D. These downloads are completely legal.

About this post

As explained in a recent news post by the 0 A.D. team, You Do Not Need to Buy 0 A.D. on eBay.

It would be ideal if the teams behind open source projects would have people working on selling the game in an ethical way that would support their work and the people working on the project.

Ethical would for example mean that it would be clearly stated that the game can be downloaded for free, what kind of physical box to expect (if at all, I remember that SuperTuxKart would often be sold as a "digital download" product) and laying out the distribution of income transparently. This would turn the purchase into a donation (whether that is an acceptable word to describe it needs to be checked with eBay terms) and there are likely to still be buyers that don't have the skills or time to read the text or double-check the freeware status of the game or only look at the screenshots.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Intergalactic news (new Red Eclipse version)

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Somewhat related to the previous blog post (don't forget to vote to give a VR kit to the Cube2 developers), I can bring you the news that you can now download a new release (1.3 Galactic Edition) of Red Eclipse. By the words of the developers this is mostly a bugfix release:

This release sees a semi-stabilisation of the gameplay in favour of implementing a variety of bugfixes and user requests. We've removed some old cruft and implemented a few new game types to replace them, like coop (humans fight high powered bots), and king-of-the-hill (control and defend one flag). Due to the popularity of the impulse/parkour system we have introduced a new "impulse vaulting", where you can hold down your parkour key to "vault" over low obstacles, making it that much easier to navigate around busy levels.
But you can read up on the full changelog in the release thread on our forums. Oh and maybe you can help them out and create a new teaser video for their website?

On our forums I was also recently reminded of a Red Eclipse based mod called MekArcade (see more infos on their Moddb site), which as you can guess adds Mechs to the game.
Some MekArcade mechs
Information is otherwise relatively sparse (I couldn't find any word on their media license for example... but given RE's CC-By-SA licensing scheme I hope they sticked to the same), but they plan to release a first version relatively soon (Maybe they waited for the RE 1.3 release?).
The screenshots released so far look quite nice also and first released video gives off a Mechwarrior like vibe too, so I guess I am looking forward to their first release ;)