I guess I should take a few paragraphs on this article to explain my stance on crowd-funded game projects. I’ve always been turned off by most Kickstarter game projects for a very simple reason: after personally inquiring a plethora of developers on their stance for Open-Source and Free Software, I was generally met with negative replies, half-baked excuses, bitter retorts or complete silence.
Now, although I recognize it is every developer’s right to pick the license and the conditions for the usage of their own work, it strikes me as a very odd attitude for people engaging into crowd funding projects to be so unwilling to provide any other warranties to their prospective backers and future customers other than “we will make this happen if you give us enough money”. From this point, let’s make something clear: pledging on a crowd-funded game project isn’t exactly the same thing as buying a video game. From the backers’ part it’s an investment and a risk. It’s about depositing your faith on other peoples’ words, in hopes they will eventually deliver what they promised. When you buy a game, be it good or bad, you at least know that you’re dealing with a finished product. When you pledge on a crowd-funded project, completion is only a possibility regardless of the campaign’s success.
So, in my personal opinion, I’ve always thought crowd-funded game projects should strive to provide the level of trust they request from their backers. In this case, that means allowing people to have access to the game’s source code under a permissive / Free Software license, preferably starting right at the end of the campaign. Why? Simply because that allows for a tighter control of what’s going on in the development backstage, and will allow every contributor to provide better feedback on the work being done. Raw engine code also gives backers something that can eventually be picked up and used for other personal purposes, if the project happens to fail for some reason.
With that said, let’s talk a little about this project, which is, after all, what lead me to write this post. Asylum is the brainchild of Agustin Cordes, the Argentinian developer behind Scratches, a horror game that managed to get some degree of attention way back in 2006. The project aims to create a Lovecraftian-inspired horror point-and-click adventure game that will focus on an intense and immersive atmosphere, followed closely by engaging storytelling. From the trailer and screenshots provided so far, it seems like a rather professional endeavour, but for me the most pleasant surprise, was that the developer’s in-house engine, Dagon, will be Free and Open-Source. On top of that, Cordes himself actually took the time to explain why he believes the engine should be free, and how such a decision aims not only to help preserve Asylum for future generations, but also to empower other indie developers by providing an open platform anyone will be free to use.
Since there is no information available about specific licensing on the project page, I actually went on to ask the developer about which specific license was being used for the Dagon engine:
Me: Hello. I have one question regarding Dagon. You already stated it’s going to be free and open source, but exactly under which software license are you going to release it? Agustin Cordes: Hi! We’re currently using CDDL but I’m expecting to re-license with the more popular MPL 2.0 very soon. Cheers! Me: Fair enough. Do I have your permission to quote this conversation in a news blog about Free Software gaming? Agustin Cordes: Absolutely! 🙂
“MPL” referring of course to the Mozilla Public License, which despite not being a strong copyleft license, it is both Free Software and GPL compatible. So perhaps Dagon can motivate a new generation of graphic adventure lovers to innovate upon the work started by Asylum. We can only hope future Kickstarter projects and indie developers adopt a similar perspective on Open-Source development.
With little less than a few days to go (I’m ashamed to say I only heard about this project very recently), Asylum is already fully funded, but if you still wish to contribute to this genuinely FLOSS project, or simply purchase the game for a special price, you still have a chance. Extra funding goals have already been set, and some additional rewards may also seem worthy to you.
The source for Asylum’s engine, Dagon, can already be found here, currently licensed under CDDL (Thanks to Evropi for pointing this out).
SkyRiot is a 2D flying shooting platform action game for Android devices. Fly a hoverboard and use an assortment of weaponry as you, an anarchist, single-handedly wage war against a totalitarian regime. Full 360-degree aiming along with total freedom of movement will keep you glued to your device for many hours as you blast your way across over 10 game maps.
First, after 12 years of development, SuperTuxKart is a candidate for the March project of the month at Sourceforge. This is a huge honor and a significant boost for the project, so please vote for us here.
Second, last month we were featured in Microsoft’s IllumiRoom demo alongside Red Eclipse (another FOSS game) and Halo. For those who are interested, you can find the video in the last post. It’s the second time STK has been featured in an unexpected place. The game has previously appeared in an episode of the show Friday Night Lights. The episode was critical of drug use and videogames, so downloads for the game probably didn’t go up. I am not entirely sure why they chose a kart racer game over, let’s say, postal 3, but licensing issues are likely to have played a prominent role in their decision. STK’s permissive licenses mean, companies don’t need to contact us before using it in media.
To try these new features out by compiling the latest source code from sourceforge page. Links are located at the bottom of the page.
Bubblegum: The Bubble gum powerup currently can be dropped by a player to create a track obstacle. While not finalized, there is an idea to make it more useful by including a second phase to this particular powerup. The first phase occurs when the player activates the gum, it expands into a pink force-field which protects the player from enemy attacks for 15 seconds. If the player is hit by a weapon while the force-field is up, the shield is destroyed, and bubble gum shrapnel will hit any players within a certain proximity blinding them for a couple seconds. It will also leave a smear on the ground which if hit, will cause a moderate decrease in the players speed.
The second phase happens if the fifteen seconds pass without the shield being destroyed. It shrinks back down and the player can then drop it on the ground like in the current version of the game.
The new icon
This is a level Samuncle is currently working on.
Konqi’s new kart:
Here’s what will likely be the final version of Konqi’s new kart. It now includes pedals and a steering wheel. It’s looking good.
New Peripheral Support: Wiimote
Funto is working on adding wiimote support via the open source library “wiiuse” https://github.com/rpavlik/wiiuse. After 3 years it’s finally coming together. Wiimotes now work on Linux and Windows (if you compile from the latest svn). It is not working on OS X yet, but Auria is buying a wiimote to try to get it working on her Mac. There are also some issues with tuning and steering that need to be worked out and we have not integrated support for motionplus, because only the external version was working. So wiimotes with motionplus built in will not work (older models will). We may add the motionplus functionality in later and we always appreciate help.
Auria is developing a gameplay tutorials covering the core gameplay elements for new players. The tutorial takes place on a modified version of the track “Hacienda” and the player takes a single lap around the track. During the lap the game pauses periodically to explains things like how to control the kart, obtaining and using weapons and powerups, how to use nitro boosters and the skidding feature.
New WIP Game Mode: Soccer
Soccer mode is one of our developer funto’s, pet projects. It’s a multiplayer game mode where two teams fight to push an oversized soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal. There is a test level derived from the Stadium arena. Currently, obstacles have been removed, but map makers could always re-add them. It’s WIP, and the scoring system is not currently implemented and the system for making team’s is still a WIP.
– Sparking particles now emit from the kart’s wheel’s while drifting. It’s a welcomed addition. You can also compare Konqi’s old kart (below) to the new one (above).
– Characters can now wear customizable hats. We’d love to see what people can make
Seemingly made by people not happy with the recent commercialization of Ace of Spades, it’s an all FOSS remake, those early development you can follow here (or on their Github page).
Now maybe the graphics are lacking on purpose (see disclaimer above), but I couldn’t help to think: why for f***’s sake did they have to reinvent the wheel with their own engine instead of using for example Terasology:
Ahh well, at least it made me aware that Terasology is still very much under development, and with its focus on DungeonKeeper & Dwarf-Fortress elements, it might actually become a game I would play (and doesn’t make my eyes bleed :p ).
Speaking of which… the guy behind AgentKeeper released yet another nice video and graphics are constantly further improved as seen here.
While the criticism is certainly not completely unfounded and the integration of limited “non-programming” game code creation (via logic bricks) gives it a bit of a “RPG maker” image, it really is a quite interesting platform to work on it seems. Ok, probably as of now the BGE is really more of a rapid game prototyping engine, but previous experience during the Yo, Frankie! project has actually shown that at least compared to some other well known FOSS engines, it is a serious contender (that Blender Foundation project originally started on Crystal Space, and after many problems was implemented in the BGE in a few weeks only).
So what makes it so interesting? Well for one there is the full integration with a creation tool (obviously Blender3D) so that getting your content into the game is only a matter of making it. No exporters or anything needed… it just works. Then of course there is the fully scriptability via Python, also integrated tightly. Basically you never have to exit Blender, and testing your game can be done right in the editor with one click (no compiling etc. necessary). Oh and did I mention the great physics capabilities via Bullet, also build right in?
In addition your created game will be immediately available on any platform the Blender Game player has been ported (all major desktop operating systems, with an Android port under development and a browser plugin, too). In addition you can choose to publish your game as a single .blend file, giving the users a direct access to all the source files of the game; a wet dream of any true FOSS game developer! The tight integration with the GPLed Blender Player, has been a major source of discontent with the predominately propitiatory game developing users of the BGE however. Thus there now exists also a few options to encrypt your game and/or run it on an external engine that can be kept close source (but I will not go further into that here).
You can find a lot of (sometimes really awesome looking: 1, 2, 3) game projects on the Blenderartists.org forum. Now as I said, most of it is sadly closed source with propitiatory artworks, but I also have the feeling that some simply don’t know or care about the legal implications of their “freeware” game (which sadly shows that even many people who use a great FOSS tool, mostly care about the “free as in beer” aspect of it).
One of the more interesting projects right now (which might or might not become a full FOSS game) can be seen in this video:
It shows the most recent work by Martinesh, who is basically BGE’s resident game art guru. Two years ago we already featured previous awesome work by him, but sadly that Air Race project is by now canceled. What he is now working on is however rather a show-case for the really nice new graphical features in the BGE which he and others are developing in the so called “candy” development branch (on his blog there are also more details and nice videos from some time ago).
Another cool recent project it the rewrite of the the logic bricks visual programming idea via nodal logic blocks called Hive.
While not completely integrated into Blender yet, you can already try it via an external editor (the created python code works fine inside Blender). There are also some tutorials and a documentation for it. Since my programming skills also lack somewhat, I find that an interesting tool… however most likely it is rather a nice way to do some level scripting, than actually programming the real guts of a game with it.
I mentioned this nice new project that appeared on our forums some time ago already, and while the promised source-code isn’t available as of yet, a new and quite good looking video was recently posted:
Now as you can see, it shares quite a lot of graphics with OpenDungeons, which is not completely dead either, but there is at least some discussion to “jump ship” as AgentKeeper is progressing much quicker (with it being a University supported project). You can follow AgentKeepers progress here if you fancy some nice dungeon management simulator 😉
It has a few nice new features, but probably the greatest update is a major change in the car handling physics, including an “easy” mode for those of us not wishing to practice for a career as a professional rally driver 😉 and the guys would like feedback in the SR forum so let them know what you think.
A big collection of (partially quite crazy) screens can be found here.
Another great release that surfaced just today is Warzone2100 version 3.1.0. It cumulates all the changes made during the last 2.5 years, however if you tested the RCs already then there isn’t too much new. Most notably they mention the new and fully fixed netcode, so that “out of sync” is a thing of the past (unless you have a crappy net connection like me 🙁 ).
Having played the SD version back in the day on my GP2X handheld (and it seems to be available for Android nowadays too 😉 ), I can assure you that the game holds up very well to today’s standards, with a really cool and funny story and awesome voice acting. Higher resolution graphics thus can only make it better 😉