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Games Entertainment

At Long Last: Stable Version of FreeCraft Game Engine 326

jimmcq writes: "After two years of active development the long awaited stable release of FreeCraft is available. FreeCraft is a free cross-platform real-time strategy gaming engine. It is possible to play against human opponents over LAN, internet, or against the computer. The engine can be used to build C&C, WC2, SC and AOE-like real-time strategy (RTS) games. It successfully runs under Linux, BSD, BeOS, MacOS/X, MacOS/Darwin and MS Windows. Souce code and binaries are available from SourceForge."
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At Long Last: Stable Version of FreeCraft Game Engine

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  • by Aexia ( 517457 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @04:33AM (#3590020)
    for circumventing their fun-generation process by bypassing the purchase of their products? Releasing something for free? Why they're practically thieves!
  • by geoffsmith ( 161376 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @04:34AM (#3590021) Homepage
    Let Tigert loose on that game and it would be great. FreeCiv could also use a graphic overhaul. Unfortunately geek and graphic artist do not often go hand in hand. Even if we had one graphic artist who could come up with a decent isometric tileset, it might be possibly to recycle that tileset between games like FreeCraft and FreeCiv.

    Websurfing done right! StumbleUpon [stumbleupon.com]
    • We do have some decent graphics for Freeciv. There is the Cevo tileset, which looks quite good. Head
      and shoulders above the rest.

      • > We do have some decent graphics for Freeciv. There is the Cevo tileset, which looks quite good. Head and shoulders above the rest.

        Unfortunately, the consensus is that Cevo contains copyrighted material that would be illegal to distribute with Freeciv.

    • OpenIsoTiles? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ringbarer ( 545020 )
      That sounds like a great idea. Although wouldn't games like FreeCiv and FreeCraft have a different scale, thus making it tricky to design something that works for both?

      Either way, has there been any progress towards making a Free-To-Use (Add your fave license to taste here, IANAL) tileset library?

      And if not, would anyone like one? I'm crap at programming but I can knock up some graphics for starters.
    • No ! A ascii version is all what we need !
    • There are really good graphic artists in the open source community. Just take a quick look at KDE Look [www.kde-look] and you'll see what I mean.

      Would be cool if any of these talented guys wanted to help out with a open source RTS game. Then it would surely look as good as commercial ones.

      Ciryon

    • Even if we had one graphic artist who could come up with a decent isometric tileset, it might be possibly to recycle that tileset between games like FreeCraft and FreeCiv.

      There seem to be plenty of great graphics people in the OSS world. You only need to look at kde-look.org or themes.freshmeat.net. The default icons that come with kde are quite good and BeOS had some incredible isometric icons.

      I think there are plenty of graphics people who want to participate in OSS but don't know really where to go or what to do. Nabbing some of them for FreeCiv would be a good idea, IMO.

  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday May 27, 2002 @04:36AM (#3590026) Homepage Journal
    Take a look at this screenshot [sourceforge.net] and tell me that hobbyists can't make games with as much quality and well-done graphics as the pros.
    • BTW (Score:4, Funny)

      by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Monday May 27, 2002 @04:38AM (#3590029) Homepage Journal
      Are those little faces various representations of RMS? I'm serious!
    • tell me that hobbyists can't make games with as much quality and well-done graphics as the pros.

      Um, okay. Well, I can't tell quality from a screenshot, obviously, and I won't contradict you there (mmm... Nethack...) but as for graphics, that screenshot looks about 10 years old. *shrug*

      I know graphics aren't really the measure of how good a game is, but you can't stand there and say that 'hobbyist' games have just as good graphics as professional games. Well, you can, but I won't believe you. Not without proof anyway.

      I really wish I had artistic talent enough to volunteer for some of these projects that have great gameplay etc but just need overhauling in the graphics department. But I don't, so.
      • I know graphics aren't really the measure of how good a game is, but you can't stand there and say that 'hobbyist' games have just as good graphics as professional games. Well, you can, but I won't believe you. Not without proof anyway.

        The post was sort of a softcore troll. He was being sarcastic get it. :)

        In the grand scheme of thing it's better then goatcx I guess.
    • Hobbyists can't make games with as much quality and well-done graphics as the pros.

      At least not this particular hobbyist. No offense, it's far better than what I could do, but let's not oversell things here.
    • by reachinmark ( 536719 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @05:02AM (#3590076) Homepage
      Take a look at this screenshot and tell me that hobbyists can't make games with as much quality and well-done graphics as the pros.

      I think the problem is bigger and more widespread than just this screenshot. I have never seen an open-source style game that didn't look like a pile of crap. And i'm not referring to technological quality of the graphics - open source artists are not as good as professional artists. It seems that if an artist is good enough, then they won't work for free or in their spare time - unlike programmers.

      Or is it just that the whole open-source concept breaks down when applied to things like art? Can you have 10 artists collaborating over the internet to produce a high-quality/professional looking product?

      I'd also question the ability of user interface design to succeed - not only are the graphics awkward in products like this, but they seldom have the "slick interface" present in commercial games.

      Maybe i'm shallow, but I require a minimum level of quality in the art/interface of a computer game for me to feel happy playing it. I'll be avoiding this one :)

      • Well I for one don't care about graphics if game is good, take Nethack for example.

        There's so much to do other than graphics that not one commercial game has ever done at once: perfect LOS, moral checks, "everything affects everything else", gridless engine, true ballistics for ranged weapons, tens of different materials with real characteristics for penetration, explosions, resistances and combiantions of those all, hundreds of different weapons and defenses with real differences in useabilities, smoothly changing environments like from plains to forests to hills to mountains and everything between, plants in all various sizes and attributes (edible, construction material, flammable...), huge worlds wich'd take literally weeks to travel around at once, the underwater, the underterranean, the sky and the moon and and *faints*

      • by Lars Arvestad ( 5049 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @05:52AM (#3590156) Homepage Journal
        I'd also question the ability of user interface design to succeed - not only are the graphics awkward in products like this, but they seldom have the "slick interface" present in commercial games.

        I am by no means a gamer. In fact, I rarely play computer games. But whenever I have actually sat down in front of a game, I have been utterly confused as to what I am actually seeing on the screen and how to make things happen. I have yet to see a "slick" user interface!

        I mean, standard widgets does not seem to be used, and the designers seem to prefer using unreadable fonts in order to get as much info onto screen and/or look good/cool/ethnic/timely. Also, I have not been impressed by the use of colors to help users discern what is going on.

        Am I the only one to feel this way? Or am I simply too uninformed to state my opinion? I'll admit that I have not tried a game in a couple of years, but I do look at pretty pictures on the web and in magazines once in a while.

        What I am actually trying to say is that this is an area where open source could actually make an impact. While writing a game engine is hard and designing graphics is cumbersome and requires artistic skills, hashing around different fonts, widget placements, quick keys, and views could well be possible without too much expertise.

      • by werschi ( 69587 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @05:59AM (#3590169)
        > I have never seen an open-source style game that didn't look like a pile of crap.

        What about Tuxracer? [sourceforge.net]

        OpenGL does look nice if done right.
      • by red5 ( 51324 ) <gired5&gmail,com> on Monday May 27, 2002 @06:09AM (#3590185) Homepage Journal
        I have never seen an open-source style game that didn't look like a pile of crap.

        Actualy the games that come with KDE don't look too bad. The reasion that MOST OpenSource projects lack good art is that it's usually done by one of the programmers in his spare time.
      • I'll be avoiding this one :)

        Oh, wait... You must not have heard about their 30 day money back guarantee. But you have to act right now before this offer expires.

        And, just because they really want you to try this game, they'll throw in, at no additional cost, an operating system on which to play it. And even if you decide to return the game for you full refund, they'll let you keep the operating system as a free gift, just they're way of saying 'thanks' for trying the game. So ACT NOW!
      • I have never seen an open-source style game that didn't look like a pile of crap.

        Have a look at Frozen Bubble [frozen-bubble.org] then.

        • It seems that if an artist is good enough, then they won't work for free or in their spare time - unlike programmers

        I'd guess that's because good art is instantly recognisable even by guys in suits. Good code is recognisable only by the absense of broken parts, and that's something that takes weeks of analysis or testing to prove.

        • I require a minimum level of quality in the art/interface of a computer game for me to feel happy playing it. I'll be avoiding this one

        Um, did you miss the point? The graphics are up to you. If you don't like them, you can change them. Yes, you. Not the guy standing behind you.

      • I'm an open source programmer - and I suck at designing graphics. This is why I asked other people to design logo's for me [gnump3d.org].

        Thankfully there are capable artists who are prepared to give their work away for free, (or perhaps for recognition .. who knows?).

        I have to disagree with your claim that open source games suck - picking an arbitary example Armagetron [sourceforge.net] (a 3D tron game) looks great

      • I have never seen an open-source style game that didn't look like a pile of crap... open source artists are not as good as professional artists

        Which means you haven't seen Frozen Bubble. [frozen-bubble.org] This game looks fabulous! If you had seen it, you (hopefully) wouldn't make sweeping generalizations about the artists in the open source community.

        People, if you know any artists that have some free time, ask if they would be interested in getting involved in projects like these. Having a game under your belt, even for artists, can be a great portfolio starter to get you involved in the gaming industry.
      • I think the problem is that most people are simply not good artists, and when do programmers usually talk to artists? Exactly.

        I admit it, I am not a programmer, I am not a graphic artists, but I am told I am a pretty decent writer (as a hobby mind you), so creating a background for a game wouldn't be all that hard, but even a good story without a halfway decent graphic wouldn't go anywhere (man do I miss text adventures).

        Michael
        • Check out ifarchive.org, xyzzynews.com.
        • I think maybe the problem is that programing a game is a different thing than either scratching and itch and also, you have no posible way of getting a revenue: no services to sell, no support, no nothing except the feeling that you contributed some fun to the masses.

          So it's hard to see really good games. Remember some games cost between $5 to $50 million. That's a hole lot of money. Games must be sold at a price. A realistic price. I'd love to have contributed to Loki or maybe Transmeta. I just don't play much (nowadays).
          • I think the problem is different.

            The problem is that in order to get a project like this done the people in charge would need to be the artists, not the programmers, and that is where I see the problem happen. Why? Because most programmers who donate time want to do what they like, not what might be needed.

            You can create a good game in open source if you get people involved who know what they are doing, and by that I don't mean programmers.

            Michael
            • Well, then then problem is not so different.

              "Most programmers who donate time want to do what they like, not what might be needed."

              Of course, that is a problem with part-time, volunteer open-source projects. If you are not doing something really noticeable, where everyone will remember you and thanks you, then the incentive goes down. There are exceptions, but it's not the general case.

              However, some products like the kernel, Apache, MySQL are done in a really profesional manner. They are backed up by real _money_ (not a lot, but enough). And they have specific goal. For example, MySQL exists because their "contractors" asked for a solution, not for the code. And the MySQL team believed in open-sourcing it.

              Anyway, I wouldn't mind paying for games or WHATEVER, as long as buying the source and able to modify it as i see fit.

              There must be some way to broaden the appeal of open-source games.
      • I was about to point to GLTron as a good free game with great graphics, but then I realized those graphics were already designed by professionals when Tron was made.
      • I think the reason why you dont see many "open source" artists is that programmers generally make much more money. It's ok for them to give away their time because the paychecks are there anyway.

        most artists on the other hand, find it hard to make ends meet, and so find it hard to "give away" the stuff that is barely bringing in the bread anyway.

        In any case, how many hardcore artists read slashdot and even know there's a need for art in any particular open source effort?
      • How about Tigert [gimp.org] ? I know for sure that he's great artists and not just "freesoftware doodler". (I work in same company that he used to). Not to mention my companys (java)games (allright, not "opensource" but "free to to play") which look really nice for that certain genre. (Note, tigert didnt do the graphics there)

        The thing is, its really easy to claim to be "artist" because you can clain "artistic freedom". But it takes a real master to please the crowd with your work. And ofcourse, its so easy to start up "doodling" in the new gimp canvas... And because of this, real good artists are hard to find.

        But if you really want the proof that there are really good artists that are donating their work freely, check pretty much any pc/amiga demo..

        More and more im thinking (and writing this), its just matter of channeling the efforts. Most really good artists want to do their own work and not put their efforts in some games because it might restrict their freedom. Same thing happens pretty much with coders. Or have you seen OSS coders to post "Looking for project to work with, any project will do!!" messages ? No, if they/we have an itch, it will get scratched.

    • by Jorrit ( 19549 )
      Also check out the art work at http://www.planeshift.it
      This is an Open Source game. It is still in the early stages of development (just released their second tech demo a week ago) but the artwork is really very good IMHO.

      Greetings,
    • Yeah, it seems like back in the days of Ultima VI, or maybe VII. But I quess the beauty will come, if the engine proves good.
  • Oh dear. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 27, 2002 @04:47AM (#3590050)
    Let's face it, this makes the original Warcraft look good.
  • Can't wait, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @04:49AM (#3590053)
    I can't wait to see what is produced with this, but I really hope we don't start seeing a bunch of Warcraft/C&C/Starcraft clones (sadly, I know we will).

    I'd much rather see something fresh and new, with its own identity. A whole new game with its own units, storyline, game world, and so forth.

    Otherwise, people trying out some human/orc game called "FanCraft" will just note how it looks like a lame ripoff of Warcraft and go back to Battle.net. But if there's something new and innovative, there would be a reason to stay and play it, and you might just have a "killer app" on your hands.
    • by Drakin ( 415182 )
      Exaclly... I'm hopeing someone manages to put together a good game that has more focus on strategy than "Build and swarm"... difficult to do, but, it should be possible.
      • I'm hopeing someone manages to put together a good game that has more focus on strategy than "Build and swarm"

        Yes, and then they could call it "Warcraft II", the game this was modeled after. Granted, it IS possible to build and swarm in WC2, but if you try that strategy in the company of good players, you will be crushed. A really good game will permit the elementary strategies, and they will work, but will be balanced ever so slightly to the strategical side such that a player who chooses a more complicated strategy and executes it correctly will always defeat the elementary strategy.

        That was the whole reason I liked and played WC2. The balance was tipped in just such a manner. The learning curve was low, but the potential for complex strategy interaction was high.
    • by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @05:14AM (#3590092) Homepage Journal
      I'd much rather see something fresh and new, with its own identity. A whole new game with its own units, storyline, game world, and so forth.

      Sounds good. What have you come up with?
      • Why not have a game where the object is not to GAIN territory and resources, but to lose them? Seriously. Say you start out with a certain amount of infrastructure - weapons, territory, energy plants, etc. - which will allow you to do all the standard RTS things. But all this pollutes horribly, or maybe it's radioactive, so it's slowly killing your side. But if you unilaterally disarm, the other side will destroy the uber-structure you need to keep from being destroyed in order to win the game. So the object becomes to build the smallest possible army you can to accomplish the job at hand - killing the other guy - and then destroying your own base as fast as you can. In other words, this makes huge armies and unit-hoarding counterproductive.

        What do you think?
    • While I also like the idea of having a fresh and new idea, I don't think that should in any way block a project like this. Warcraft and Starcraft are still fun games, and there's no reason at all why there shouldn't be a high quality free engine to make them.

      Just because something isn't new and exciting doesn't mean it's not fun. FPS's are essentially Wolf3D rehashed over and over again, but they are still fun for many people. Computer RPG's like Baldur's Gate are rehashes of old tabletop gaming systems, but they're still fun. And yes, even ancient games like chess still manage to be very worthwhile, even though they're neither fresh or new.

      I'm personally hoping that someone decides to be really bold and take a lot of the original ideas for Warcraft III that got scrapped and make a game that includes them. RPG and adventure elements in an FPS would be a very good thing, and now some great tools are out there to do it.
    • Yes, it's true that a fresh, new game could be produced with an engine like this, and that would be a great thing. But...


      A WarCraft clone could be very cool. With the added ability to hack the source and add your own content to the game, it would be awesome. Ultra-customizable games - that might also be a killer app.
    • My favorite way to play AOE with my friends is with High resources, but disallowing (by agreement) any economy--that means no mining, no chopping, no farming, no relics. So you start out with enough for one small army and a tiny city, and you have to fight with that.

      It makes your spending very careful! Instead of "build the biggest things you can" you get a lot of milage out of cheap units. And you're damn careful to let units live so you can regenerate them back in the TC/Castle.

      I think all of these Craft games focus too much on peons and resources.
    • I can be reasonably happy with a starcraft clone with a clean unit AI/unit command (programmatical) interface (as opposed to original's evil script language -which actually works on strategy level.) I dislike tactical combat depended on reflexes (specifically I hate microing magic users) but with the original SC there is no other way. If you are slow with manipulating units, you have to have a big strategic advantage to stand a chance.

      I would like to have more intelligent units, so that I can concentrate on the war, rather than battles. Even with still dumb units, tactical burden may be lessened a lot. With current SC one can't give units times orders ("wait 2 seconds, then attack"), suspended orders ("nuke when orange trigger happens) conditional orders ("if you see 6-12 mutas, flee to base. Otherwise fight.") build armies (group commands follow an "and" type relationship, rather than an "or" type) or explicitly define paths (stacked waypoints are not a good way) Such a clone would allow me to write such interface extensions and perhaps some AI enhancements. I guess most of strategy types will prefer that to the original (provided a nice BNet alternative exists) perhaps including you.

    • > ...I really hope we don't start seeing a bunch of Warcraft/C&C/Starcraft clones...

      The purpose of making Freecraft (note the name? it wants to be one of the *crafts) was to clone Warcraft 2, then later C&C and Starcraft and AOE and so on. The people behind it are good programmers, and so are lazy (? [everything2.com]). Instead of writing a seperate engine for each game, they wrote one engine that could power all the games. It can be used for other games, ones people make up on their own, but its primary purpose is to clone the major RTS games.

      Personally, I'd much rather play a free version of C&C, and be able to play with anyone, on any platform, regardless of whether they own the original game, in high-res goodness, instead of fighting Windows or WINE to show the modem I have on IRQ 6, COM 7 to an old DOS game who has (well, had) to support it directly.

      (sorry 'bout the rant... I'm really looking forward to the C&C clone, as you may've picked up)
  • Yay! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @05:09AM (#3590084) Homepage Journal
    Now that Slashdot has given the page a lot of attention (and after the page recovers from Slashdotting), the prospects of volunteer artists for the games' graphics have improved!
  • I wonder if they'll take the old patch I had for flying peasants?
  • by krmt ( 91422 ) <.therefrmhere. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Monday May 27, 2002 @05:18AM (#3590098) Homepage
    I remember the first time I tried out this project around its infancy. Of course, at that time it barely worked and you couldn't do much with it, but it was promising.

    Now that the engine is all done, things like better sounds and graphics can be turned to. That said, this project has come very far. For all those comments bashing on the graphics, while it might not look like it, there have been many improvements in the art since the project first began. The splash screen and menu screens are good examples of this that really shocked me when I loaded it up again recently (it was packaged for Debian about a month or two ago).

    All those of you who are naysayers on the art really would do well to consider how far the project has come so far. I'd be surprised if they couldn't recruit some artists to help do some major cleanup on the game, seeing as the code is essentially complete now. If there's one thing that's true about open source, it's that a project might be horrible at first, but once it gets momentum going it reaches a high level of quality in time. Have patience, and you'll see this happen here.
  • license (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cyborch ( 524661 )

    I would have like to have it released under the LGPL license so I could use it w/o GPL'ing my game.Would the LGPL license not be more appropriate for a library of this kind?

    AFAIK I cannot write a game, which is not GPL'ed and uses a GPL'ed library. Is that not so? In order for me to release a game that is (for example) free to use on top of an open source OS but costs money if used on a proprietary OS (read: windows users should pay - the rest of us should go free!)

    I could convince my employer to start making a game that is free for non-windows users, but I would be unable to convince him to go ahead and make a totally free game - he wants to earn some money off it (and could still be convinced to ignore the OSS users).

    So, for this to be usable for me I would like to have a less restrictive license on this project

    • If you want to make a game make one, just don't expect people to help you for nothing.

      If you want to build on their GPL software project, accept the fact that you are working on a GPLd product.

      Don't bitch and whine that you're not getting something for nothing.
    • The developers wrote it, it's their intellectual property. I think they should be allowed to impose whatever conditions they like on people who wish to take advantage of their hard work.

      If you want to make money out of this, I'll point out that for the average Windows user it is a long way from having the source code to having a compiled and running binary. Just obtaining a working dev environment for Windows is not cheap.
    • Re:license (Score:3, Funny)

      by kubrick ( 27291 )
      I would have like to have it released under the LGPL license so I could use it w/o GPL'ing my game.

      "For those concerned about the 'virality' of the GPL, a suggestion: Write Your Own Damn Code."

  • souce code? (Score:2, Funny)

    by zozzi ( 576178 )
    [snip] The engine can be used to build C&C, WC2, SC and AOE-like real-time strategy (RTS) games. It successfully runs under Linux, BSD, BeOS, MacOS/X, MacOS/ Darwin and MS Windows. Souce code and binaries are available from

    Souce code? Yum yum!

  • I'm a big fan of Blizzard games, so I've been keeping an eye on the Freecraft project for a while. However, while many people have already noted that the graphics need work, IMHO bad quality sound and music are an even bigger problem.

    The first thing most players will notice upon starting the game is the IMHO pretty cheesy MIDI music in the background. If there's no good music, leave the background music out completely, or give the user an option to point the game at some MP3s..

    That said, are there any musicians willing to help the open source cause? Musicians are far less common than good Gimp artists.

    • Yeah, great music is more addictive than cool graphics, although it is much more difficult to produce. Why not use musical works that are already in the public domain? I am sure that I could make a lot of good loopable MIDIs extracted from Bach's "Art of Fugue". Of course, I would love to submit my own loopable MIDIs, but I have always felt that there is already so much stuff that is perfect for gaming. Baroque music is great because it doesn't require a strict instrumentation, and is therefore very "cross-platform". Portability is an art whether it is in computers or music.

      I am definitely going to look more into this.
      • Part of the problem is that MIDI music generally sucks for gaming. Not everyone has a kick-ass wavetable synthesizer on their card, or a driver with software wavetable turned on.

        Sure MP3/Ogg music is too big or too hard to produce.. but whatever happened to using good ol' Amiga-style MOD music in games? MODs are similar in theory to MIDIs, except that they contain wavetable information in the file, so they always sound about the same on any system. They've been popular in the demoscene for quite a while, and even games like Unreal Tournament use MODs for their soundtrack.

        • I think that we wouldn't have such diffulty if the MIDI standard were more discrete. I would like to see a new draft that defines patches by aural primitives rather than by instrument. Look at how game developers deal with video. Games use visual primitives all the time, and it seems to have worked pretty well. If OpenGL were designed like MIDI, you would have to draw all of the monsters out of trees and rocks, and the weapons would never look the same.

          MOD could be used as a decent default until the standard is adopted, kinda like Quake's software rendering. You could even texture aural primitives just like in video. I don't mean like soundfonts, but more like envelopes, reverb, and other meaningful effects.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    1) _Graphics_. They need better graphics! Why do 98% of opensource game projects look far worse than Sim City and Castles on my 1980s Amiga? Programmers tend to have very poor graphic & ui design skills - they shouldn't have to do this work when there are so many wonderful art designers out there.
    2) Co-ordination. There is too much chaos out there. There is no kernel.org or kde.org as such (ok, I know there are a few good newssites, but it isn't the same).
    3) To co-op Mac users. Cross platform Linux/Mac OSX games are needed to bring the art design crowd. These guys more often than not don't use Linux. It isn't that they don't want to help out, just they are out of the loop.
    4) To increase production and be taken seriously. Linux needs games more than 15 different webbrowsers to bring more users. More opensource games for the platform will also make commercial companies take it far more seriously for releasing their own games on it. It is a ton harder to get programmer interest for a oss game project than anything else, I've tried and couldn't catch anyones attention so had to dump the project.
    5) To have clearly structured and well designed games. I think most projects have been more about the joy of programming (nothing worng with that!, but) than the endgame.
    6) To aim higher. Most game projects are making things of the scale seen in the commercial game industry in the early/mid 1990s. Projects of the scale and quality of games from at least several years later is needed. 5 big projects is better than 100 small ones which make yet another version of tic tac toe.

    I think there needs to be some kind of opensource games initiative. And one which is taken seriously. There are too many dead sites like http://opengames.sourceforge.net unfortunately.
    • We do need more graphic artists, but I have to make a comment about #3:

      YES! YES! YES!

      See, here's the thing. The Mac could have been a great gaming platform; a lot of developer houses wanted to do Power Mac work in the beginning. As it is, we get good games, but not enough of them. The game world is still Windows-based, and probably will be for quite some time to come.

      The situation is this: the Mac needs these games as badly as the Linux world does.

      I also agree with #6 though I might point out that some of these games don't even reach that high...
      /Brian
  • Worldforge (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 27, 2002 @07:11AM (#3590248)
    Another similar project maybe worth notice is Worldforge [worldforge.org]. Also some [worldforge.org] of their screenshots [worldforge.org] seem to have quite cool graphics.
  • Graphics... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shade, The ( 252176 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @07:38AM (#3590282) Homepage
    Many people here seem to be commenting on the graphics of the screenshots. Um... hello? This is a game engine - a device for driving games. Just because you don't like the test graphics doesn't mean that it's a bad program. Furthermore, there are quite a few Opensource games with good graphics, like Vegastrike [sourceforge.net] or Race [sourceforge.net] or Armagetron [sourceforge.net] to name three.
    • Re:Graphics... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @10:07AM (#3590600) Homepage
      • Many people here seem to be commenting on the graphics of the screenshots. Um... hello? This is a game engine

      OK, let's comment on the engine. It's not a "game" engine, it's a "Warcraft 2" engine. A cursory glance at the many hardcoded rules, behaviours, actions, messages and object types verifies this. There's nowhere (that I can see) to add behaviour hooks; you have to expand or modify the code. Modifying it to act as a DuneII or Starcraft clone, for example, would be a substantial rewrite. That means that when people add and submit their own rulesets and object types, the code base will bloat and/or fork.

      A far better long term solution would have been a thin and generic object handling and UI framework, with plugins for UI, object behaviour and world rules. OK, I know the goal always was to produce a Warcraft clone, but in that case, the developers shouldn't claim that it's a generic RTS engine, because it simply isn't.

      All that said, it's a well organised and very readable and clean piece of code. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in learning the basics of how to write a game. But keep in mind what was done wrong: too much integration of engine and behaviour (leading to lots of special cases for what should be generic behaviour, see the network "Send..." code, and the enumerated missile types), and (IMHO) loads of "object" manipulation in C, when C++ would have been more efficient.

      Oh, and please remember to use a Unicode string table and not hardwired ASCII English strings. You'll save yourself a hell of a lot of trouble in the long run, especially if you get Deutsch translations done early on. German tends to be rather long winded, and doesn't abbrev. well. ;-)

      • It's not a "game" engine, it's a "Warcraft 2" engine. A cursory glance at the many hardcoded rules, behaviours, actions, messages and object types verifies this. There's nowhere (that I can see) to add behaviour hooks; you have to expand or modify the code. Modifying it to act as a DuneII or Starcraft clone, for example, would be a substantial rewrite.

        Yeah, and Linux wasn't originally intended to be portable to non-386; decent code that works is the key, the rest can follow.

      • A cursory glance at the many hardcoded rules, behaviours, actions, messages and object types verifies this.

        I read through the source a few months ago, and I agree. It was poorly designed if the intent is to be a general game engine, since the object behaviors and interactions are so specificly hardcoded into the code. If the object type is named peasant or peon, let it build a new structure. That's by no means general, and if you wanted to whip up a similar style game where knights can build their own blacksmith, then you wouldn't just be able to edit the character and building data files, you'd have to hack away at the source.

        But I have faith in the future potential for FreeCraft, and I invoke the Torvalds Defense, "It works," as proof of its potential. One of the best platforms to develop a project from is a working example. It's much much easier to modify a working WC2 clone into a general game engine than it is to develop a general game engine from scratch.

        It's just that now we know that no matter what happens, it isn't vaporware. It's a project with promise and a atable release that needs talented people to work on it.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @07:54AM (#3590307) Homepage

    It's 2D, it doesn't run under WinXP, it's buggy (sound keeps switching itself on, units keep disappearing), it's missing features that appeared in commercial RTS's years ago (unit queueing, and fullscreen. Hello, FULLSCREEN?).

    I wrote a comparable engine using DOS4GW/allegro back in 1995, and canned it because it was obsolete back then. Seven years later, I'm not seeing any great improvements, nor any incentive to bring my commercial games development skills to this project.

    This is a neat hobby project, and probably a great learning experience for the dev team, but that's about as far as it's going. I showed it to my (non-OS) coworkers and they laughed their collective asses off. One guy asked me if it was a GBA emulator, and if so, how come it sucked so much compared to Advance Wars [gameboy.com], and I really had no answer for him.

    Look, don't get me wrong. I'm an open source developer, and I support good open source project when I see them (like the Demeter terrain engine [terrainengine.com]), but if it looks like a turkey, and walks like a turkey, and sounds like a turkey, then it is a turkey, and all the cross platform compatibility in the world (except for WinXP, of course) won't turn it in to an engine that anyone other than the development team would really choose to use.

    Two final thoughts:

    • Writing a full game that people actually choose to play is damn hard, and it's getting harder every year as expectations rise. Trying to clone a full commercial game is egotistical folly. Try something like Advance Wars, which is twice as much fun with half of the features.
    • Better yet, stop living in the past. Aim a couple of years into the future (high polygon 3D) otherwise you'll lose another player or developer every time the Upgrade Fairy pays someone a visit.
    • Runs under XP, the autho says it is unsupported, but it works, so basically he won't even acknowledge help for confessed XP users, but it runs fine.

      Unit queuing is not there, but hell, neither did warcraft, and they are trying to recreate the feel of warcraft, not invent a wholly new game engine. I'm sure there is a more interesting game engine somehwere if you want more modern RTS features.

      Fullscreen is a problem, but a tip is here:
      change line 154 in sdl.c from:
      (VideoFullScreen ? SDL_FULLSCREEN : 0));
      to
      SDL_FULLSCREEN);
      and you will always have fullscreen. There is probably somewhere where that setting can be toggled, but it isn't documented well..

    • by Jorrit ( 19549 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @09:39AM (#3590504) Homepage
      Even though I am the project manager of a 3D Engine (Crystal Space) I strongly object towards your critique that it is 'only a 2D game'. Good games are NOT made by graphics. Good games are made by content, storylines, addictiveness, ... Good graphics are nice and certainly a very big plus but NOT essential. And 3D graphics are certainly not essential either. Some games are simply not suitable for 3D.

      I still play Nethack (and I consider it one of the best games ever) and it is only ASCII (not even 2D).

      Games don't have to be 3D to be good.

      Greetings,
        • I strongly object towards your critique that it is 'only a 2D game'. Good games are NOT made by graphics.

        As implied by my praise of Advance Wars for the GBA. Please do me the courtesy of reading the whole post before replying. Incidentally, I also nethack, but that doesn't mean that I'll kid myself that Joe Player will downgrade from decent 3D or even good isometric graphics to something that looks like a refugee from the Commodore 64.

        Compare for example, Stronghold [godgames.com], a pure 2D/isometric RTS that nearly made me mess my pants when I realised that it could handle hundreds of units, with archery volleys that looked (to me, a reenactment combat archer) absolutely flawless. Contrast with Freecraft's "PointToPoint" missiles, and see how far they have to go to catch up with the commercial standard of six months ago.

        Yes, I know that I'm praising graphics and not gameplay, but in this the two go hand in hand. The tiny and painfully obviously tiled and flat world of Freecraft looks painfully primitive in comparison. I'd play Freecraft, but only if I had no other choice. I'm not going to contribute to it, because I think that it's stuck in the past, and it can't be saved bar a major rewrite, which isn't going to happen now that it's been released as stable.

      • "Games don't have to be 3D to be good."

        No, but they do need to be well designed to be good, and from messing with Freecraft, I have to agree with the orignal poster that it has serious problems.

        While I certianly don't feel that a game needs to be 3d, or even graphical for taht matter, ot be good it DOES need to have a good look, feel adn interface in whatever it's chosen medium is. Zork is good, despite being text, because it does text WELL. It is intiutuive to speak to (if a bit pickey at times) and the story and descriptions are good. It really feels like an interactive novel, and the text medium feels appropriate.

        FreeCraft is just, well, ugly and clunky, and it has nothing to do with being 2d. There are lots of great, modern, 2d games out there. Baldur's Gate 2 and Civ 3 are my current favourites. The thing is, they both look good, and they both have good interfaces.

        When you get right down to it, FreeCraft is ugly. This doesn't mean that it lacks graphical eyecandy, it means it's ugly, pure and simple. It is valid to make a game that uses simple icons and represeantsations instead of detailed graphics. I believe Army Men is a current title that does that. However this is not what FreeCraft does. It just has ugly 2d graphics that want to look Warcraftish, but don't.

        There is no justification for this either. The reason older games used to have poorish quality graphics was due to system limitations. You could only work in 320x200 with 256 colours, so you had to make sacrafices. This really isn't true anymore, I have spare parts from old systems I don't even use any more that can easily handle 800x600 at full 32-bit colour.

        For a good example of what's I'm talking about, look at the interface panel. It is hideous. The background is horrable, if that's the best texture they can do, they should just go with no texture at all. The font is hideous too. It looks all wrong, they are doing a drop shadow, but in white not black, which just looks wrong to us (it's a shadow, supposed to be dark). The layout is also rather poor, clumping objects together. I'm no graphic artist, but I could do a much better job on the interface panel with the slight amount of arts training I have.

        What it really comes down to is that no matter what visual theme you pick for a game, it needs to look good. If you want to do a 2d overhead or iso game, fine, but you need to take the time to make it look good. Now maybe you can't, because you don't have the talent, that's fine we all have our skills and weaknesses. However in that case you need to try and find someone who does, and who can help you, and not try and make up excuses for why poor graphics are ok. Or just do the game in a non-graphical medium. Like you said, NetHack kicks and it's all ASCII (I guess it's kinda graphics, but not really).

        This is important to OSS projects as well because people DO judge based on appearence. This just screams amature. Now you could ahve a really great technical engine and fun game under there, but the graphics are going to scare people off because they are so childish. It's just the way humans are, look are just about teh first thing we judge on, and often people have trouble getting past that. Espically gamers.
      • At the core of gaming is pleasure, and visual pleasure is one component of the game. I will agree with the observation that 3D is not the end-all and be-all of either game-design or even compelling visual aesthetics, and can in fact interfere with it, for the same reasons that abstract expressionism or cubism would probably be ill-served by photo-realistic technique. A lot of primitive, by today's standards, video games are still visually compelling - like Tempest, Pac-Man and even the original Space-War.

        But the graphics in FreeCiv are just bad. No blame - it's an engine, ultimately, and he calls for real designers to sign up and make it pretty. I'm sure that it can and will be improved. But let's not pretend that the deficiency isn't there.

    • Ummm, you can pry pac-man and puzzle bobble from my cold dead hands... Only after you do that can you tell me that 2D games are in the past, infact thank god for the Mame team.

      People have this misconception that somehow 2D is old.. It's just a dimension, doesn't mean you can't make fun games in 2D. IMHO 3D is overrated simply because there isn't a game yet with the amount of detail you can get with 2D; at least not without extensive amounts of work and hardware; simply 3D just isn't there yet. It's being primarily used in the FPS arena, and thats where the innovation is being made ala J. Carmack. However, I think most people like a good game, 2D, 3D, reality, hop skotch, rockpaperscissors or whatever it doesn't matter.

      Writing a full game that people actually choose to play is damn hard, and it's getting harder every year as expectations rise.

      Someone take the engine throw in some graphics and think of a cool story line. If it's fun and challenging; you've made a game that will be played, it's that simple; don't let the above sway you, it's hard to get a good idea for a game; it's not hard to write a good game that will be played.

      For the commercial gaming industry, gamers, old, new or whatever don't really want a game they can be beat in a couple of hours. What the fuck happened to the all night gaming of Mario trying to save the princess. That shit took weeks, the right timing and alot of fucking deduction. It provided a good, wholesome, quality game where you actually had to think sometimes. Can we get some more of those?
  • "I'm sorry, but the word 'craft' is a licensed subsidiary of Vivendi Universal, Inc. Please go directly to legal hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, and please, please please don't call a lawyer, ok?"
    • Close, and a pretty good guess considering most Slashdotters know nothing about trademark law except that it suppresses their fanfic.

      Calling a RTS game "FreeCraft" is very likely to confuse users into thinking that this is a Blizzard-created free version of WarCraft, akin to what Id has done with some of its old games. If users are likely to be confused, there's a trademark violation. That's what trademark does--prevent consumers from being misled by product names (with a secondary effect of preventing business from cashing in on the good name of a competitor).

      This doesn't mean that they own the word; they can't successfully sue someone's crafts store, and they probably can't even win against non-entertainment software (i.e., if they haven't filed an ITU for business software, and you create a publishing program called PageCraft, too bad for them.)

      It's different from Freeciv in that Blizzard/Vivendi have an entire line of games in the -Craft series, whereas "Civ," as far as I'm aware, isn't even trademarked, and has its own unique situation due to Avalon Hill's game. If I talked about a hypothetical game "TankCraft," you'd already have an idea about who published the game and what it would look/play like.
  • by W2k ( 540424 ) <wilhelm DOT svenselius AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 27, 2002 @09:36AM (#3590498) Homepage Journal
    This looked like a cool little project, shitty graphics nonwithstanding, but then I read (in the FAQ [sourceforge.net]):

    Q: Why is Windows XP not supported?
    A: Because I decided it. I do not support any product, that forces anybody to register it. Please read the FreeCraft (GPL) license [sourceforge.net] and visit www.boycottxp.com (down) [boycottxp.com] and more boycott [arachnoid.com].

    This is pure idiocy. Firstly, shutting out XP users from FreeCraft will not make people ditch XP, it will make them ditch FreeCraft (and any game which uses it). Thus, game developers who use FreeCraft will undoubtably want to remove the XP block, and if that's not possible for some reason, many will choose another engine. There are a LOT of XP users, and a lot of people who will be upgrading to XP from 95/98/Me/2000 soon. Shutting them all out is stupid, stupid, stupid, no matter what you personally think about Microsoft or Windows XP as an OS.

    Second, while I have not personally seen the source of FreeCraft, I doubt that what's keeping the engine from working with XP is hard to fix (it works under Win2000!) - I wouldn't be suprised if there's just a bit that says "if( bWindowsXP ) Crash();" at the beginning. Isn't the FreeCraft team just lowering itself to Microsoft's level (remember how early versions of Windows purposefully wouldn't work on DR-DOS?) by doing this?

    Anyway, let's hope that for some future release, the FreeCraft team stop with this silliness and more importantly, stop discriminating against the thousands of people who have chosen to use Windows XP - or, maybe more commonly, had it pre-installed on a new computer.
    • Besides, restricting the users of a program based on which OS they use goes against the spirit of the FSF - you are not allowed to restrict users or uses of the program based on the intended use - you cannot be GPL and still say "you cannot use this to develop weapons", and you cannot say "you cannot use this under WindowsXP."

      It is a bad decision by the authors of the program. It won't make people ditch WinXP, it WILL restrict the distribution of the game. It goes against the ideal of freedom in coding.

      This is not the way, people. Don't talk down to Windows users, don't call them lusers, don't snigger when they get the fourth virus infection this week. That doesn't win "hearts and minds". Show them the cool games they can get legally, show them the alternative mail clients that are secure, show them the other browsers. Show them, nicely, that they have a choice.
    • From other posts I've seen here, it looks like XP actually works, but is unsupported. I can completely understand the author's reasons for this choice.

    • I'm playing it right now on this laptop that runs XP. Everything seems to work fine. It's not as if it's doing anything really tricky after all.

      *shrug*
    • This is pure idiocy. Firstly, shutting out XP users from FreeCraft will not make people ditch XP, it will make them ditch FreeCraft (and any game which uses it).

      How come no body ever says this about games that come out for Windows-Only? "X won't make users ditch Linux, it will make them ditch X." Strangely enough, most people still use Linux, and simply by having a dual boot.

      And furthermore, they're saying they don't *support* Windows XP. E.g. They will not answer questions about XP, etc, etc. My cable internet provider says the same thing about Linux. It isn't supported. Doesn't mean it won't work. They just won't help you with it. But strangely enough `dhcpcd eth0` still works fine. Go figure.
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @10:21AM (#3590636) Journal
    Some are complaining that the game is not good looking or 3D, doesn't run on XP and that there is no OSX source:

    1.It's GPL'ed, which means that nothing is stopping you from *making* it run under XP. This is of course theoretical and ignores some of the difficulties, such as GCC incompatibilities under XP, but theoretically, you could make this work with MSVC++
    2.Since it has Linux (and I presume *BSD) source, it means that porting it to OSX, while not trivial, won't be the end of the earth.
    3.As many have mentioned, the graphics in the screenshots look bad. This says practically nothing about the developers, who are not graphics artists, and a lot about the consumer mentality of the general public that is gladly willing to use a game if it is free, but are less inclined to accept a different level of quality even if they don't pay for it.
    4.At the same time, such comments about the quality of the graphics should not be met with disdain by OSS developers. The general public is very unforgiving and will match OSS products with their commercial competitors, no matter what! While I should point out that anyone can change the graphics of this game, it should serve as notice to OSS developers to place a lot of emphasis on presentation. Apple doesn't do well for nothing.
    5.To those who claim that this game is in the past, not high-tech enough etc, I should point out that the popularity of a game is not as dependant on it'stechnology as some may think. There is a commercial game on OSX called Escape Velocity Nova that is a simple 2D space adventure game, but is extremely popular. The game depends on it's playability, not on it's technology. The GBA is another example. I have a feeling that a lot of especially PC commercial game developers, have the idea that their game will only be successful if the technology is cutting edge (vis the post further down from the commercial game developer). I beg to differ. High tech FPS/RPS/RTS games have the immense difficulty in gaining acceptance in the gaming market for thesimple reason that there is very little real difference in the games and in the heat of the competition content and a good story get lost by the wayside. I think that a game can be very successful if the story is enticing and the game has depth. I personally think that the lack of Riven type games (which were extremely popular) or at least the fact that very few developers even bothered to try to take this genre further is a good clue in where the game market is weak.
    6.As a lot of gamers know, the ability to mod or expand a game is one of the most important features in a game gaining success. Very many fans like to tinker with their games. Think about it. Expandable games that were/are popular -UnReal/Quake/HalfLife/Homeworld/Myth/EVNova etc.
    7.Don't forget that tetris is still popular, as is online backgammon etc.
  • No MacOSX support (Score:3, Informative)

    by boyko ( 575916 ) on Monday May 27, 2002 @01:09PM (#3591175)
    Sorry to hear it, but there doesn't actually seem to be any MacOSX support - I can't find a download. And I'm not technically inclined enough to compile.

    However, if it got ported over, I'd seriously consider throwing my graph-artist skills over to the program. Brian.

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