Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mix 'Em Together - Then You've Got Something

Well, fuck. The GDC has come and gone, and there's not an awful lot to say. Both keynotes I mentioned being interested in last week turned out to be reiterations of what we already been told so far. All in all, it was a real lackluster year for the GDC. So, forget that - I'm not going to rehash the same info you've been reading all week. Two of my current favorite games in the open source scene - Sauerbraten and GalaxyMage - got updates this week. Read on for details.

The latest release of Sauerbraten has two main features. The first - the addition of the Grenade Launcher - finally has me understanding what the whole "Physics Edition" business was in the last release. Although the projectile it fires doesn't exactly look like you would expect it to, it does act how you would expect it to. It's definitely a fun weapon to play around with, especially bouncing grenades around corners, but I have noticed that, at times, there is quite a distinct "skating on ice" effect when the grenade is moving across the floor. I'm sure this will be taken care of in a future release.

The title of this release is "Shader Edition", which gives you a pretty good idea of what the other major new feature in Sauerbraten is. This one, of course, doesn't have any effects on game balance or anything else besides the visual aspect of the game, so I can't really say I feel too strongly about it. Your weapons, as well as the various powerups and various static meshes peppered throughout the levels are all shiny now - that's it. I've noticed that mesh heavy maps take a performance hit from the new shader effects, so it's something mappers are going to have to take into consideration.

GalaxyMage basically has one major update for this release - Network play. Sadly, this mode isn't fully implemented yet. When selecting multiplayer you get a nice unfriendly screen asking you to input the IP address of the server you want to connect to. I've talked about this before, and my opinion on the matter hasn't changed any since the last time I mentioned it. I have good faith that the GalaxyMage team will pick up the slack and tack on a server browser some time in the near future.

Even if they do, I doubt I'll ever experience GalaxyMage's multiplayer mode. In my eyes, this type of turn-based strategy-RPG gameplay just doesn't seem to work in the online world. I'm sure this is an area where opinion vary wildly, but I just can't see it. At the moment, all the multiplayer mode means to me is that I had to install Twisted.

Well folks, that's it for this week. I've no idea what's coming down the pike for next week, so we'll just see what happens between now and then.


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