This post attempts to share few ideas and few issues to FOSS game creation and game art while attempting to also share some solutions hit upon by game artists/developers which could lessen the development time of a game project if done right.
First of all, great news for all wikipedia fans based in India. First up was the blog post on Wikimedia blog put up last week. Then the follow-up of the same on Indian Express by Gautam John, who is part of the efforts to set up the local chapter. I just wish I could find more details about Gautam John and perhaps his blog or something.
The other good news was a post about a resource called techpedia.in. This seems to be something what many are thinking. I am disappointed though that its just a place to give abstracts, it would have been better if it had a source code hosting facility as well. The other thing which I saw lacking was a tag cloud but still a good first attempt.
The last thing was Gery Messer who had come to India and talked/shared his ideas about future of Redhat and open-source in general. I saw the talk on NDTV profit or some other channel and the talk/sharing was optimistic in nature.
What I have also been finding interesting is the mushrooming of GNU/Linux companies using some distribution or the other. For e.g. here’s Taashee which just won a award for innovation from Redhat. The case study is also interesting as its in the medical field.
Now let’s start with gaming. We shall start our journey with a beautiful observation made in In ‘The Conceptual power of On-line Video’ (page 53) in Video Vortex Reader .
In Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (1984), literary theorist Peter Brooks claims all stories are obituaries that provide pleasure by forestalling a premature death. This theory helps explain why so many great narratives are long and why they create an expansive middle as a ‘force-field of desire’, a narrative field that resists death and other kinds of premature closure. Although this dynamic is best modeled in Scheherazade’s use of storytelling
to save her life in The Arabian Nights (which Brooks uses as a narrative), it also explains the centrality of biography as a common narrative structure and the historic importance of long experimental novels like Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Though Brooks never wrote about movies, television or digital media, his theory also helps explain the pleasures of serial fiction and electronic games, particularly those in which players struggle to gain new lives for their avatar and avoid premature death at the hands of enemies. In such game narratives – as well as in serial television and game-like films (like The Matrix, Groundhog Day, Vantage Point and Run Lola Run), there is a built-in drive to extend the period of engagement within the narrative field, even if it involves compulsive repetition. While Brooks’s theory explains narrative addiction, it doesn’t illuminate the pleasures of modular on-line video, particularly the brief forms now being seen on YouTube.
Isn’t it cool when one gets to have also an observation like that. True, but so boring 😛
Anyways, there have been six game projects I have been keeping an eye on.
e. jClassicRPG and last but not the least
Before going a further, I wanna share why I like RPG’s so much. To put it simply, it is the only genre where one gets to travel extensively, perform main and sub-quests, have a casual approach to the game and maybe make friends (make-believe A.I.) on the way. I did quite a bit of MMORPG’s while starting my gaming itch. While network issues are an issue in India, the same issues are not when you are playing an RPG. Also levellling up is much more easier. Also one can trap and hunt animals and do stuff that one wouldn’t want to do in real life 😛
Of the 5 projects, apart from HoA all of them are much in WIP. HoA also has significant issues but atleast its at a playable stage (if you are in Debian, but I am getting ahead of myself) . Anyway there are some lessons from some of the games.
a. In Adonthell, they have made a standard character template given for artists to make different NPC and characters. This is good as it is/would be so much easier to make different persons NPC from a given base template. Also its much more easier to accessorize them. Also if you have a rough template, then making enemies like demons or whatever is so much easier (as scaling them, making them bigger etc. )
b. Libraries :- As can be seen in this thread the game was unplayable for some players as they didn’t have the right library. Seeing in the Ubuntu universe the library is there. What it does teach you though that some info. should be listed on the homepage of the project.
c. The third issue is related to the issue faced above. While a developer may be enthusiastic in doing original development for the game he/she also needs to have good relations with downstream as in distributions and the developers who maintain the package. Good relations add to good releases as well as possibly upstream development to the game.
d. The other interesting point to note, it may take anywhere from 6 months to a year to get the release onto the distributions. If its in a release cycle then of course its much faster but if it has to be packaged then could be a long wait. Also many a times I have seen the downstream sharing tips or telling upstream about ways to program which would make it easier for the packagers to do things. Sometimes the upstream developer/s do it and reap benefits, sometimes not.
e. This is a shot in the dark . Most of the games have a hero or an anti-hero. It would be so nice to have multiple quests and our hero taking them would shape his character. For e.g. he could either take a quest to save somebody who has been kidnapped or take a quest to kidnap somebody. This would shape his/her character . This would also enrich the game and have much better replayability. Also there could be multiple endings to the game.
f. At the very end, I have to add an interesting experiment/game done by a Mr. Doug . One can go to his site and play an HTML 5 browser-based game called plunder. This is really interesting to see. I hope others can take inspiration and we can have more games which do not need flash and hence no licenses needed (from developers perspective) and less breakage to users.