Sunday, October 26, 2008

Brain Workshop 4.1, Epoch and an 'Open Source' vaporware console

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Release 4.1 of Brain Workshop introduces some GUI tweaks and a new sound theme (piano notes instead of spoken letters). I finally gave it a try and was able to record sound via recordmydesktop with the help of this config guide.



The rules of the game are: watch and listen and press one button if the same field becomes active as it was n (a number) rounds before or if the same sound appears as it was n rounds before. I'll definitely 'play' this brain-trainer some more. :)





Are you into web-based strategy games? Epoch is an sci-fi/space type one. Development started in 2002 and it is open source.



According to this forum post, Epoch's team is now working on an OGRE-based 3D game with the same setting, but it might take some years.



You might have heard about the "open source", GNU/Linux-based, 250$ EVO Smart Console. Lol. 100% vaporware.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Names, Games, and 150k Wardrobes

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Unnamed Game


This as-yet-unnamed side scrolling game project looks awesome. It's open source, art and all, up on Sourceforge in SVN. You can see how beautiful it looks. I guess somebody (what, me?) should encourage them to package up a playable release. For now, it's labelled 'sawk' here on FG - the acronym for it's SF.net listing "Sidescrolling Action With Kid".



Theme Park Builder 3D is an ambitious effort to make a detailed Free Software theme park game. Which sounds great. Not so great is their web presence which centres around the TPB3D.net forum. Only you must register for before you can view it, which makes just casually looking at the development effort basically inconvenient, not to mention how hard it is to peruse. Forums do not good homepages make. They also have a wiki and their sourceforge project which tpb3d.com directs to. The forum refuses to let me back in (complaining that 'freegamer' has non-alphanumeric characters?) after I registered and pointed out this problem. So until things change I'm probably not going to be able to give an update on any TPB3D progress. They do seemed to have designed a lot of flat rides (youtubes) but no roller coasters yet, and certainly nothing close to a playable game. Still, a good one for theme park or Theme Park (I loved that game) enthusiasts.




Bloodmasters


Hey, Windows guys, go download Bloodmasters. Fast, furious fun. It's Free Software and C#. Hey Linux dudes and dudettes, go find some Mono expert to get it ported. I should mention this game more...



Tim "mithro" Ansell from the Thousand Parsec project got in touch recently:



...It is a framework (and games) for
building turn based space empire games. You can find out more at
http://www.thousandparsec.net/

We have recently been part of the Google Summer of Code and have written
up an announcement about the success of the project. You can find that
announcement here -
http://www.thousandparsec.net/tp/news.php/2008-10-16-1400...


In a follow up email he goes on to say:



At the moment I am actively trying to get more people to actually play
Thousand Parsec games. The lack of players is reducing the motivation to
do releases and fix bugs (instead of tinkering with some random
feature). It also means that the quality and quantity of our output can
be quite low.



Thousand Parsec


The thing is, TP is introduced (by him, by the TP website) as a game framework. As a player looking for a game to play, a framework is not that interesting to me. You can play TP, so it is a game, but I think they have a perception problem. For example, Freeciv is a game and a framework. But it's a game first, and then when you get drawn in, you see all the different tilesets and mods. TP needs to sort out it's image and have a default game that is presented first if they want to catch more players. People looking for a framework will find it just as easily.



Qubodup wants to switch off blogger comments - we got some spam lately - and simply have a link to the forum after each post. Opinions welcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Eying Eisenstern And Eye Candy

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I had a few links collecting that I wanted to get off my chest. Nothing is worse than having a folder full of old links that would have been interesting, but are now out of date. That's a lie, I accidentally drank off-milk this morning - that was worse. Still, I'm digressing!




Eisenstern


Significantly better than off-milk, is the activity burst on the new Eisenstern development effort. Basically the lead Sauer devs, who had been creating Eisenstern as a side project from their work on Sauerbraten, have turned it over to the community. The community has regrouped using Sourceforge and now (with 24 registered team members) it is one of the most active projects on the whole of Sourceforge. Using the rapid collaborative level creation abilities of Sauerbraten as well as all the other features that hard work has delivered over the years, I predict good things for Eisenstern - to finally fulfil that void of a good Free Software single player first person role playing game. Or, if you love acronym overload, a FOSS SP FPS RPG. Or FSFR if you love acronym acronyms. I'm digressing again... it's a bad habit!



The Apricot Project is coming to the final stages of it's effort, and thus the game Yo Frankie! nears it's official release. It looks really, really good. The graphics are fantastic and the gameplay looks fun too. Here's the video:





Blender 2.48 just got released, and it includes many improvements contributed by the Apricot Project during it's development of Yo Frankie!. (That '!' messes with my grammar, but I'll resist the temptation to digress.) It looks like a real boost to the Blender Game Engine as a platform for creating games:



Blender 2.48 includes all the work done on the Blender Game Engine and the Apricot Open Game "Yo Frankie!", with much better functioning game logic editing, character animation, and Blender Material based real-time shaders. And as last minute surprise a Bullet physics update with Softbody support.


Warzone2100 2.1-beta5 came out at the end of September, but I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. Well \o/ it just got mentioned here! Erm, but, back on topic, WZ 2.1 is approaching "super stableness" which is always a good thing. Check it out if you love your 3D future war RTS games and open source. :-)



And to round off, lately there have been some awesome contributions to Vega Strike. There's some real eye candy to be had here. This alien space base or this massive space ship are two intimidatingly beautiful examples. There's plenty more to be found. (Disclaimer: I may have posted some of this before, I'm a big fan of the project.)



Spread the word! • diggfsdaily

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Open Source Survives Financial Meltdown

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There's a few juicy updates to several great Free Software game projects over the last few days. I'm feeling too lazy to grab screenshots though. You'll just have to peruse yourself if you find something interesting.



We'll start with TA:Spring 0.77b3 - Linux and Windows binaries are up for download - with the comment, "After some people have stated that we should release more early and often*, we give you 0.77b3 here." I downloaded and installed it using the generic Linux installer - worked without a hitch - and it looks fan-bloody-tastic. Still, the state of licensing of some of the content is a little unclear - I don't feel reassured that I'm playing a totally Free game although I'm certain some of the mods are Free Software. That doesn't bother me like it might some of the purists out there.



OpenLieroX 0.57_beta8 arrived. Worms and blood and chaotic 2D action. It's a pixel dream.



Open City 0.0.6 beta can be found on Sourceforge. There's no release notice yet on the website but there's plenty of features in it. Open City is a largely unknown open source 3D city building game. It really deserves more attention than it gets IMHO. The fundamental gameplay foundations are already in place and it's a more in-depth game than Lincity[-NG] or Micropolis (aka Sim City classic), but lacks the polish and stability required to make it attract a larger playing community. Every release is a step closer!



Ok, hrm, how about two new [to Free Gamer] projects?



LBA Prequel (project) is a fan-made effort to create a Free game based on the Little Big Adventure universe, a prequel to the original games. The franchise is officially discontinued so unofficial intervention is required. They are taking the work of two previous projects - which partially reverse engineered the original games to create cross platform engines to play them - to create an engine capable of playing the original titles and the game LBA Prequel is essentially a total conversion that uses this engine.



Epic of Thalia is an RPG of the non-MMO variety. Woohoo! MMO has become the new shell suit, for those of us that don't like MMOs. Alas, I digress. The game is in early stages of development and the website is cryptic until you realise you have to click on the 'navigation' button. What is good is that they have an active source repository** and a few concept releases already, which is more than many aspiring projects make. The Epic of Thalia team is, like all good open source projects, looking for contributors.



* I firmly believe it is true: "release early, release often" is the mantra of a successful open source project.



** It's Darcs. Which reminds me of a new DRCS I saw called Fossil - it's an integrated RCS, Wiki, and bug tracking system. Think git meets trac. Anybody tried it yet?



EDIT: Just got emailed that Platinum Arts Sandbox 2.2.4 is out. The project is an attempt to make a version of Sauerbraten that's more kid-friendly and oriented around cooperative content. Lots of new features and there's been work on a Kid Friendly RPG (brainstorming) for it too, check out Cabzilla:



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Introducing: Quake2World

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Quake2World skeleton pointing grenade launcher at you

Recently, I became friends with an open source first-person shooter: Quake2World (q2w). As the name indicates, it uses an idTech2-based engine and currently aims to have Quake 2's mechanics.



Although development seems to be centered around graphical features at the moment, the game is sexy and fun. There are no bots so far and only a minimal selection of servers, so you'll have to ask for some company on #quetoo@freenode, which is the community's home.



The project is looking for code and content contributors. The current policy is to allow content licensed under GPL/CC-licenses/Zlib/MIT/WTFPL (although I believe that some of the included content is not compatible with any of these).



Tuesday, October 07, 2008

jClassicRPG's and Howitzer Skirmish's donation histories

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While the the tank simulator game Howitzer Skirmish is 300 USD (222 EUR) away from being GPLed, jClassicRPG's developer is getting a donation-funded 42 USD ATi card to fix some ATi-specific problems.



I made a pretty graphic of the donations sum for Howitzer Skirmish over time.







The diagram definitely contains wrong data because of the following two reasons:

  1. Some modern websites have the fetish of using "5 months ago" dates (only some elite sites provide exact dates additionally or simply stick with normal date format where appropriate, it seems)

  2. microPledge is not able to accept two donations from the same person at different points in time. If you donate twice, the first donation will get the sum added to it

Here's the link to the pd-licensed diagram source.



In jClassicRPG's case, it took five hours to reach 130% of the wanted ammount. Timong stated on his blog that the fundraising was an experiment, to show that donation-driven development is possible.



Well, it is. Though maybe not enough to cover the expenses of a non-minimalistic lifestyle.



I hope Howitzer Skrimish will get the 300 USD. And that the possible troubles of microPledge won't destroy the donation progress so far. Now give me money, that's what I want! *sings*



PS: In case you think that Howitzer Skirmish looks like a tech demo and less like a game or in case you weren't content with Stormbaan Coureur; Bram made following statement on the comment section of this post:


once I release my source code, and the community considers it to be a tech demo and not a game, then there will be no pay out. Everybody keeps their money, and Howitzer Skirmish and its data will be GPL.




PPS: What would you pay for? Kiba brought that interesting question up in our forums and I'd love to get more replies to that.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hero of Allacrost 0.2.2, Teeworlds 0.4.3, GamePwned

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Hero of Allacrost 0.2.2 has been released and now needs a new home! It is house-trained and can be picked up 24/7 from it's SourceForge shelter.



One can now enter buildings (in a pleasant no-transition way) and an editor is now included. I gave the editor a try.



My first thought was: "What a waste of energy! Why did they not incorporate Tiled, as for example Battle Tanks did?" But then I remembered that my last encounter with the general purpose Java editor. It showed me that instead of being able to completely rely on Tiled, a team would have to create an extra tool for tasks that go beyond map editing. At least a team of non-Java programmers (Allacrost is in C++ and Lua).



Allacrost's editor will go beyond tiles. When it's finished, it will also be a character, skills and inventory editor and will support integration of music/sounds.




Greg Cannon blocking the view on STK ;)

GamePwned is a freeware and open source games blog. A video-review of VDrift and SuperTuxKart was recently posted on it. (The third one, HoverRace, has a weird license). Reminds me of the time when freeware titles were often mentioned on Free Gamer. Mid-1980s IIRC.



I wonder if Sauce The Game is ever going to happen again...



Teewars Teeworlds 0.4.3


Teewars Teeworlds 0.4.3 is out and some of the changes indicate a wide player base: auto team balance and anti-spam fixes. I gave the game a try a minute ago and the fun and prettiness and cuteness are there! Unfortunately I'm no fan of grapple hooks.



Teewars' Teeworlds' license is a bugger though. Instead of "please don't sell this game" is says "you have to include a hello world app if you want to sell this game".



On the other hand, ladies and gentlemen: the bikeshed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Lavirinto 3D 0.6.0, Balazar 3 0.1, OpenAnno 2008.1, Pandora 2008 ordering deadline

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Lavirinto 3D 0.6.0


Lavirinto 3D brings Zen wisdom, Pipes and Pac-Man together. It's a 3D version of the game Zenji [video].



The colorful levels and friendly music made me quite enjoy the stay and I even finished all campaigns. I noticed only one rudeness of the game: if you loose all your lives, you have to re-play all the levels of the campaign. :|



The game is written in Java (using lwjgl) and thus runs on every machine with a Java runtime environment installed. Just use the .sh or .bat script! The code is GPL and most of the media too. Some sounds were taken from Soundsnap, which is an non-free resource, and will be replaced soon.



Four people were involved in the creation: One lead designer, developer and visual artist, one assistant texture artist, one assistant developer and one musician. I think the end product is handsome.



Balazar 3, 2D version


Balazar 3 was released. It's a room-based slash and hack game, with some nice graphics in both 2D and 3D mode. It also supports multiplayer games.



Not being able to figure out how to install the latest Soya3D version, I only tested the 2D version. So far it feels very prototype-like: no plot, no quests, few enemy types. But the existing graphics look nice and most feature seem implemented. A little more work and it could become a nice time waster.



OpenAnno 2008.1 settlement


The real-time/city building strategy game OpenAnno was finally release [video] on October the first. You can download this first milestone for 32/64 bit GNU/Linux systems and 32 bit Windows systems.



I was hesitant to try it, fearing it would come not even close to it's role model Anno 1602 but when I tested it, I began to feel the fun of building the settlement and I wanted to build (not-yet implemented whoopsie) lumberjacks to build more houses to rise the population count so I could finally have (not yet existent) masons who would get stone from the (hopefully soon existing) mountains, so I would be able to improve the paths to pretty and speedy stone roads...



For a tech demo: nice! Of course the controls are not as nice as they probably will be but I'm eagerly waiting for the next release now! One thing though: the absence of mountains causes agoraphobia in me..



Detail of older Pandora concept render


In case you feel like pre-ordering the Pandora handheld GNU/Linux console: you have one more day. Next chance will be in 2009. The price range is 330-380 USD / 260 EUR / 200 GBP depending on what continent you order it on.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

OpenArena, CG Textures and BurningWell.Org

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OpenArena 0.8.0 recently got unreleased, because the project administrator decided that some included textures by TRaK were not legally GPL-licensed.



Free as in freedom CG Textures? No. :(

So why do the CG Textures-based textures seem GPL-incompatible? Well, Marcel, CG Textures' administrator, wrote at least twice, that the textures on his website cannot be re-licensed under a free content license. Also the CG Textures license clearly states, that re-distribution of the textures and of derivate versions in texture form is prohibited.



The right to re-distribute is one of the pillars, on which free software, open source and free works stand. But it is not simple dogmatism which makes me agree with these definitions. When I create a piece of media for use in games, then I want to give others the ability to change it as easily as possible, so it fits their need. Because of this, it is vital that I am allowed to provide the source (the most raw/least edited form of the media) to them. This is not possible in the case of CG Textures. :(



However, TRaK has a permission to release his resulting textures under the GPL if he follows some conditions in creating these textures (which he did). These conditions only apply to TRaK, so the resulting textures are indeed free. Still his work is not to be included in OpenArena. I don't understand why.



A new community member named titi recently asked for a free texture reference image host and some of us recommended the public domain image gallery BurningWell.Org to him. He started uploading lots of files to it and even got permission to re-structure the gallery to optimize it for textures!



Hagish decided to set up a torrent tracker and to create a torrent of BurningWells' textures for easier downloading and for backup.



Although gallery, the system used by BurningWell.Org, might not be optimal for textures and although torrents are not perfect for sharing data that gets new additions frequently: there seems to be a bright future for free as in fancy pants freedom textures. :)