Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

The FSF about Free Games

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I have noticed a new FSF-bulletin-article via identi.ca: The Free Game Lag by Danny Piccarillo.
The article is about the lack of FLOSS games. It neglects the theory that Free Software would be an unsuitable method for game development. Free games will evolve like any other fields of software, but currently it is low-priority, because games are not that important. Seriously, the arguments of that article are null and void, it does not take specific properties of game development into account, I want to explain my thoughts about the issue:

Some time ago I thought it would be impossible for Free Software to conquer game development. It is a lot of work involved with developing a big computer game, but there are no people having a specific commercial interest in the development of them, thus selling licenses seems to be the only possible business model (in comparison many companies are interested in the development of Linux or Apache). There will not be any RedHat or Google or whatever extensively sponsoring development of free games, nothing more than some GSOC Wesnoth projects (that is much less than big game industry). What was wrong about my thought? Game development does not necessarily need such a “business-model” to be successful. First of all we should notice that there are sophisticated Free Software game engines, XNA or similar proprietary software is not needed, there are e.g. Irrlicht, Ogre3D, Blender or Panda3D, sophisticated graphical effects, physics etc. seem not to depend on proprietary software any longer. When looking at the development of major games one may notice that there are seldomly epic new concepts, most of the time it is new content, i.e. new graphics/artwork, new story, new characters, new items, new quests etc. It is a lot of work, but: it can be done by communities. Gamers have already created huge modifications in their free time, once free games have reached a certain level including good graphics etc., there could be entirely new big communities of gamers, and because community and cooperation are integral parts of Free Software, such games would not stop growing. But currently most “serious” gamers are only recognising proprietary major games.

But of course those major 3D-shooter/RPG/strategy/…-games are not the only ones, many people are also playing so called “casual games”, they tend to be very wide spread—and proprietary. One may argue that casual gamers do not want to spend time for contributing, but I think there is enough hope they may be interested in it, too. The Gluon Project, we all know about, seems to have some very nice approaches, it is trying to build such communities for free games, which are currently not present, supported by OpenDesktop.org software (and hardware, but that is not that important). For 2D-realtime games it looks very promising. There are also some innovative approaches for turn-based games, e.g. short time ago I found out about Toss, it is a free research project combining game creation and general game playing (from AI point of view), I am sure it would be awesome if communities could be built around such a software as well (there is Zillions of Games, but it is proprietary).

When people ask you how gaming as we know it can exist in a free software world, you should open with your response with, “It can’t, but it can be better.”

That is definitely right, but there are specific properties which have to be taken into account. There are chances for free games, we should not forsake any hope just because it seems to be impossible with current business, we should hope that all those business (“big game industry”, “app development”, all using DRM etc.) will perish, although currently they seem to strengthen. Free Software and community can succeed when using entirely new methods.

PS:
What I have forgotten to write yesterday: crowd funding should be considered, too, why should ordinary gamers not pay for development instead of licenses if there are good chances that there will be some good results? That is often a good alternative to selling copies, especially unknown artists can benefit. Of course it should not be misused (that is often the case at kickstartet.com, people receive such funding and have no risks, but then they create DRMed products, sell it in the app store etc., that is strictly against the street performer protocol ;)). Btw. OpenDesktop.org supports donations.

Pacifistic SuperTux

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

PaX Tux
No, I am not writing about that guy, but about SuperTux, I think most will know about this free game:
SuperTux together with snowballs and a bomb
But what is he doing? Well, he is a pacifist and does not want to kill the snowballs, peaceful coexistence – I tried to play it without killing enemies, well, Nolok is evil, I will finally have to kill him, he kidnapped Tux’ girlfriend Penny, and of course Tux is frantic, but why should his slaves suffer? They should not die, however, I think numbing “enemies” is okay. Although that makes the game a bit more difficult, it is quite amusing. By the way: not all Microsoft- and Apple-employees and -users are evil. Unfortunately I could not prevent some suicides – bad working conditions at Nolok Inc. ;) At least I could protect some of them against their own weapons, maybe the falling block is a symbol for DRM:
SuperTux: falling Digital Rights Management block
Finally I made the level Entrance to the cave. You can find all screenshots here. You see – force is not always necessary, although I like playing Wesnoth. :D