I filled a recent craving for playing a sci-fi real time strategy game by re-discovering Bos Wars and playing every single player map.
image: Bos’ level of art, many screenshots indicate a much lower quality.
The game runs on low-spec computers and can be quite fast-paced. I quite enjoyed playing it in a tower-defense/tower rush style. The last release of Bos Wars has been over two years ago, but development is not frozen, the last commit was on 2012-08-09.
The three biggest issues I personally had are:
Some maps are aesthetically displeasing.
For a beginner, it’s hard to decide what map to play.
Many units and buildings don’t have voices/sounds.
The interface is confusing in regards to resource quantity.
Visual style of old maps
image: most likely the first map you play in Bos (because it’s selected by default)
To address issues 1 and 2, I hope that this blog post will help. The screenshots at the bottom show the game start screen at 1280×1024 for every of the “Start Game” single player maps. If you see a level that you’d like to play, right-click and “open” the link or image, to see the level name in the file name of the screenshot.
An in-game solution to issue 1. would be to create a map folder called “old” and move all levels in there, when the rendered ground texture clashes with the units, buildings and resources.
This suggestion might be seen as disrespectful insult to the original map makers, but having the current map selection structure is a barrier for new players, who need some guidance to get started without having to open random levels first. They are likely to assume that the first level they play is representative of the visual style of the entire game, which can be quite wrong, as you can see by the different-looking screenshots at the bottom.
Map selection screen
image: Bos Wars map selection screen
To solve issue 2 in-game, a preview of the mini-map, as it is seen with “non-revealed map” would help. This might be a non-trivial UI/in-game-rendering task if it has to work fully automatic.
In regards to issue 3, I started by contributing a patch with some voices and sounds. If you would like to help as a voice actor or by turning voice lines into soldier/pilot/driver voice/effect mixes, please feel free to comment in this blog post, if you would like to coordinate this with me and other potential contributors. Female voices are especially welcome (source).
Feedback on my patch is welcome too. Watch/listen to the video below, to see what kind of voices are missing and what kind of voices are being used multiple times in Bos Wars.
Some assorted news from the FOSS RTS thematic area.
First of all, Megagest saw another somewhat bigger release (3.7.x), and someone also made a nice cinematic for them:
Sadly no news on the planned graphical update, as the merger with GAE seems on hold, but the new version adds a lot of nice usability enhancements.
Much more active on the graphics front is 0 A.D. on the other hand. In their recent development update #9 they talk about completely switching to their new shader based renderer, and the guy behind these renderer improvements recently gave a short interview too.
The thread over at the 0 A.D. forums has a few additional details, but no significant info on the FOSS status they are aiming at in regards to their media. Never the less, it looks like it might become a RTS project to follow more closely.
Small retro-style quick news today, so that you don’t hear the crickets here on FreeGamer:
There is a new game available for the FOSS classic engine Stratagus (read up on the history of it here). It is called Aleona’s Tales:
Looks very familiar, right? Yes Grandpa!
You can download it here (only windows builds) and discuss with its creator on the Stratagus forums. Graphics are sadly a mix of various Free and non-Free licenses… but at least you get it for freeeee…
Linus Torvalds not only showed his annoyance with Nvidia but also his love towards open source games in a recent talk (goto 58m20s).
ctdabomb, an active community member, converted and license-clarified the Art Museum SuperTuxKart racing track over the time span of about one and a half months, after asking the community for support.
SuperTux, a cute platformer, needs help finishing an animated owl sprite. To the left, you can see the current placeholder graphics.
FLARE, a hack’n'slash RPG engine and game, requested translations via email, pull request or forum post.
Rich: Do you have much interaction or collaboration with any of the other Open Source gaming communities? Aviv: We’re kind of in the middle between the Indie game world and the Open Source software world. We don’t quite belong to either culture entirely. We certainly invite more projects to reach out. Perhaps we can find new ways to collaborate. We do believe that a large part of the code that we developed can be used for other projects. But at the moment we’re more focused on developing 0 A.D. to completion, and writing a lot of code and implementing a lot of features that are specific to 0 A.D., than implementing general solutions for all sorts of games.