Multiplayer RPG Design

April 9th, 2008 by Crusader

Wired Magazine has an article about a Neverwinter Nights persistent world project, Arden: The World of William Shakespeare (screenshots), that was developed as part of an academic research project:

The aim was to have players explore an Elizabethan environment, interact with characters from the Bard’s plays, or just go to a tavern and wager a few farthings on card games like One-and-Thirty. Meanwhile, Castronova would further his research by studying players’ behavior. Hey nonny nonny!

Unfortunately, the PW didn’t end up being as entertaining for players as the designers hoped:

“We put Arden in front of Shakespeare experts and they loved it. We put it in front of play testers and they yawned. We’d get feedback like, ‘I talked to that Falstaff guy for a while and got a quest to go repair something. I logged out and never came back.’ Too much reading, not enough fighting. Arden II will be more of a hack-and-slash Dungeons and Dragons type of game.”

The PW eventually shut down, but you can still download the module to play yourself. They also encourage people to improve Arden on their own; unfortunately, unlike the game client, the NWN Aurora Toolset was never released natively for Linux (here’s instructions for running it with Wine though). It’s not stated if Arden II will utilize NWN1 or NWN2, which doesn’t support Linux at all.

I was going to use this as an opportunity to rant a bit about D&D Insider, an application that will allow Dungeon Masters to run sessions online, being a Windows-only product, but Wizards of the Coast did release the D20 system under the Open Gaming License a few years back. I guess one thing I’d like to see is BioWare and Wizards agreeing to open source NWN1, even if it’s a few years from now.

In the meantime, I’ve been checking on persistent world servers for NWN1 that are still extant; Hlontar Adventures and Three Towns have been standouts so far.

What existing open multiplayer RPG projects do you enjoy or look forward to?

VIA Reveals Open Driver Program

April 9th, 2008 by Crusader

VIA has issued a press release to announce a new open source driver effort from the hardware manufacturer (thanks desti):

Austin, Texas, 8 April 2008 – Today at the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit, VIA Technologies, Inc., a leading innovator of power efficient x86 processor platforms, announced a new initiative to improve support for the Open Source development community.

As the first step in this initiative, VIA will open its official VIA Linux website at this month. The site will initially host drivers, technical documentation, source code, and information regarding the VIA CN700, CX700/M, CN896 and the new VIA VX800 chipsets, with plans to add official forums and support for more products later on in the year.

Over the following months, VIA will work with the community to enable 2D, 3D and video playback acceleration to ensure the best possible Open Source experience on VIA Processor Platforms.

To further improve cooperation with the community, VIA will also adhere to a regular quarterly release schedule that is aligned with kernel changes and release of major Linux distributions. In addition, beta releases will be issued on the site as needed, and a bug report and tracking feature will also be integrated.

“This announcement is the first step in the implementation of our new initiative to better serve the needs of the Open Source community,” commented Richard Brown, Vice President of Corporate Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “We are strongly committed to improving the levels of collaboration with the community and adopting a more consistent approach across VIA Processor Platform technologies.”

“We are delighted that VIA has announced its commitment to enhance support for the Linux and Open Source community,” commented Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “This action will open up exciting new opportunities for accelerating open source innovation around VIA platforms and ultimately delivering a better user experience.”

Quake Engine Rundown

April 8th, 2008 by Crusader has posted a rundown of the various Quake engine source ports, with an emphasis on singleplayer features. The Linux compatible projects listed are:


April 8th, 2008 by Crusader

Boing Boing pointed out Penguicon, a “Science Fiction and Open Source” convention that will feature, among other events:

There’s also a few Linux guests; the convention will be held in Troy, Michigan on April 18th through the 20th.

Freeciv 2.1.3

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

The Freeciv project has released version 2.1.3 of their stellar (as in awesome, not that it’s set in space or anything – see Alpha Centauri for that) empire-building strategy game:

  • Prevent server crash during explore.
  • Improve client robustness and error logging.
  • More GTK2 client support for saving server settings, add buttons on dialogs.
  • Updated sentence fragments, plurals, text, and translations; specifically Catalan, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, German, Lithuanian, Russian, Swedish, and Turkish.

Be sure to check out the various game mods.

Screenshots: [ View ] Download: [ ]

Advanced Strategic Command 2.1.0

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

Advanced Strategic Command, a free, turn based strategy game inspired by the Battle Isle series, has a new version out; new features include:

  • New campaign: Kamor
  • Replays can be saved as MPEG4 movies
  • Building that harvest objects (e.g. forest, crystals)
  • Units may now internally produce other units
  • Some units are equipped with a self-destruct device
  • Attack bonus of terrain now also used for ranged attack

Download: [ ]

Asteroids3D 0.5.1

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

Asteroids3D is an OpenGL-based first-person game involving the destruction of asteroids. There’s also a neat slide presentation on the development of a previous iteration of the game.

Download: [ ]

Widelands Build-12

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

Build 12 of Widelands, an open source real-time strategy game inspired by the Settlers series, was announced:

  • Fully working multiplayer games
  • Improved animations and graphics
  • A first glimpse of the third tribe, the Atlantids

Screenshots: [ View ] Download: [ ]

Phoronix Test Suite 0.2, Headset Review

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

The Linux hardware site Phoronix has released a new build of their benchmarking suite:

This GPLv3 Linux benchmarking software had received a great deal of interest, but v0.1 did have a few bugs and a number of uncompleted features. Yesterday though we pushed out version 0.2 of the Phoronix Test Suite with a number of improvements, new benchmarking profiles, and other changes.

The article goes on to delineate the new features; Phoronix also recently reviewed the Razer Piranha gaming headset.

Download: [ ]

Publishing Indie Games

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

Ron Carmel of 2D Boy, developers of the upcoming Linux game World of Goo, has posted an opinion piece at GameSetWatch about publishing a self-funded title that may be of interest to some Linux projects out there:

I think of publishing as getting the game from the development environment onto players’ screens (and, of course, collecting some money along the way). In the last few months we’ve been talking to a lot of people at various companies about the best way to do that for World of Goo, and in the process I’ve developed a bit of a personal world view around it.

Open Transport Tycoon 0.6.0

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

The OpenTTD team has released version 0.6.0 of their Transport Tycoon Deluxe clone (thanks Game Tome):

  • newhouses
  • newindustries
  • signals and diagonal tracks under bridges
  • trams
  • autoslope
  • oneway roads
  • half tile slopes
  • drive through road stops
  • group management of vehicles

Screenshots: [ View ] Download: [ ]

Mesa 3D 7.0.3

April 7th, 2008 by Crusader

Version 7.0.3 of the Mesa 3D Graphics Library, an open-source implementation of the OpenGL spec, is available; changes include many bugfixes.

Download: [ ]

Whatcha Been Playin?

April 5th, 2008 by Crusader


My list:

Wine 0.9.59

April 5th, 2008 by Marv

Wine, the free implementation of Windows on Unix, has been updated to version 0.9.59. The new items and features in this release include the following:

  • Improved support for the .NET framework.
  • Better services handling through a separate services.exe process.
  • Support for ATI fragment shader.
  • Better support for http proxies.
  • Window management fixes.
  • Pre-compiled fonts are now available in the source tree.
  • Lots of bug fixes.

Download: [ Wine 0.9.59 ]

Battlestar Returns

April 4th, 2008 by Crusader

Since Battlestar Galactica returns to television in the US tonight, I figured it was worth pointing out this project again: Beyond the Red Line is a BSG-inspired space combat simulation which utilizes the FreeSpace 2 source code and has the following features:

  • Entirely stand-alone, Freespace 2 not required
  • Accurately detailed high-resolution ship models
  • High quality, originally engineered audio
  • Authentic, original in-game soundtrack, in addition to pieces by Bear McCreary and Richard Gibbs
  • Original characters and voice acting
  • A three mission single player campaign depicting never-before-seen events, interwoven with and true to the series’ storyline
  • Head online and go head-to-head with your friends—and foes—in intense multiplayer missions including Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, and others
  • Exciting Viper combat with authentic weaponry and flight controls

Only a demo has been released to date, but work on the project continues.

Beyond the Red Line Beyond the Red Line

Download: [ ]

Savage 2 Miscellany

April 4th, 2008 by Crusader

Now that the hybrid genre game Savage 2: A Tortured Soul has been released for Linux, here are a few more items of note:

  • A field guide to the game, which lists class and combat information.
  •’s review concludes “developer S2 Games comes closer to balancing the player commander formula than anyone else”.
  • IGN’s review says “Savage 2 is an enjoyable game that offers a satisfying alternative to the genre-bound tunnel vision of most other games”.
  • There’s a Savage 2 Clan League if you like competitive play; an example video of a clan match is up at Youtube.

Phoronix Test Suite

April 4th, 2008 by Crusader

The Linux hardware site Phoronix has released their benchmarking tools for general use:

The Phoronix Test Suite is a testing and benchmarking platform for carrying out Linux benchmarks and layered on top of that are XML-based benchmarking profiles that contain the work specific to each test. With this initial release, we are including a simple set of benchmarks that provide some immediate testing, but these tests can be easily extended.

The article describes how to use the tool suite in detail; they’ve also setup to support the release.

Download: [ ]

House of Mirrors

April 4th, 2008 by Crusader

House of Mirrors is a Java-based Chromatron-inspired puzzle game that revolves around reflecting laser beams.

Download: [ ]

Skulltag 0.97D

April 4th, 2008 by Crusader

Skulltag version 97D has been released. Skulltag is a DOOM engine source port that adds new multiplayer game modes, such as CTF, to the classic first-person shooter:

Amongst other things, the more interesting features are Linux OpenGL support, an update to ZDoom SVN revision 622 and GZDoom 1.0.29, full Heretic support, and limited Hexen and Strife support.

Unfortunately, Skulltag uses the Doom Source License, and has a dependency (FMOD) which makes it a pain to run on 64-bit Linux for me. If you’re looking for a GPL’ed alternative, the Odamex project looks promising.

Download: [ ]

Pygame 1.8.0

April 4th, 2008 by Crusader

Pygame, a set of Python modules for game development, is now at version 1.8.0:

  • pygame.mask for collision masks
  • pygame.scrap for clipboard support
  • new and improved sprite groups
  • blending support for filling and blitting surfaces
  • saving surfaces as jpeg and png
  • buffer access for Surface and Sound objects
  • numpy support for pygame.surfarray and pygame.pixelarray

Download: [ ]

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