Posts Tagged ‘Mac Os

14
Apr
14

Artsoft games on NetBSD

R'n'D Menu Screen

R’n’D Menu Screen

Today I am looking at two games for Unix systems called Rocks’n’Diamonds (R’n’D for short) and Mirror Magic. Both were developed by Artsoft which seems to consist of one person, Holger Schemel. Both games are sort of clones of older games for much older platforms. Rock’n’Diamonds is a Boulder Dash like game that was first released in 1995 and last updated at the end of 2013. Mirror magic is very much like Deflektor, originally released in 1995 and updated until 2003. Whilst both games are based on older games they both add features to the old formula. Today I’ve built and played these under NetBSD on my SparcStation 20.

Text Box

Text Box

Being made by the same person, both games share some similarities, particularly in the art style. The menus and sprites are very colourful, they almost look like they belong at a carnival. Everything is well drawn, animated and items look like they should. Items brought over from the older games have been updated graphically, they don’t look identical to the originals but are also easily identifiable for players of the old games.

Green Goo

Green Goo

They run of the same graphics engine originally developed for R’n’D which supports X11 and SDL mainly. The X11 versions work quite well, even on exceptionally old hardware like my old SparcStation 20 which is quite impressive. They work moderately well over longer distances via SSH, but the latency and bandwidth can be a problem on slower links whilst LAN speeds works flawlessly. There is a SDL version, but the version I installed (from Macports on my macbook) seems to be significantly slower than even X over SSH. This is hopefully just something peculiar to the Macports version on Mac OSX.

Playing Via SSH

Playing Via SSH

Both also have the same sort of sound engine and from what I can experience on the Macports version they are good for what they are. I only got to test sound in R’n’D and unfortunately during game play you can get swamped with the same sounds playing repetitively. So you might enjoy your playing experience more with the sound off. Playing on NetBSD on the old Sparc machine this wasn’t an issue as sound doesn’t work there.

Mirror Magic Menu Screen

Mirror Magic Menu Screen

The game play for R’n’D is interesting in that it combines elements from games such as Boulder Dash and Sokoban, and includes most of the elements added by Supaplex and Emerald Mines to Boulder Dash. The game has three game engines that any level can use. Rocks’n’Diamonds, Supaplex and Emerald Mines. The later allowing levels from those games to be played and solved as they are in the original. I haven’t played enough of the levels to give a good impression of what they are like as a whole, but those that I have played have been fun. I did try levels from the older games and they seemed to work quite well.

Holy balls of steel!

Holy balls of steel!

Mirror Magic similarly has its roots in older games, specifically Deflektor and Mindbender. Basically there is a Laser, a bunch of mirrors, obstacles, and stuff to destroy in the levels. You need to direct the laser with the mirrors to destroy objects in the way and get the beam to the target. Usually this requires destroying all of the metal spheres in the level. You have a limited amount of fuel, and the laser can over heat if the beam hits the wrong type of object. It’s important to keep an eye on both the fuel and heat gauges as running out of fuel or over heating can sneak up on you. What I’ve played so far has been quite fun, although I was disappointed that only levels from the old games were included.

Balls busted

Balls busted

Both games have a level editor which is easy to use. The editor in R’n’Ds is quite flexible and allows users to create their own custom objects that behave differently to the stock ones. This allows people to make all sorts of different creations, one even claiming to have recreated Zelda! There are lots of different level packs available on the Artsoft website for R’n’Ds, but not really any for Mirror Magic. In either case, if you do happen to beat all the levels there is still lots of gameplay in the user created levels and building some of your own.

What Mc Duffin?

What Mc Duffin?

Despite being based on older games that are well known, I think both of these games bring something new to the table. R’n’Ds brings many more levels including user created ones and variety in game play that the original games didn’t have. Mirror Magic is a decent remake of the originals with the addition of a level editor. Both run on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, and BSD. There is even a DOS port of both although the port of R’n’Ds is a little out of date. If you like any of the old games on which these are based you might wanna give them a try.

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26
Aug
13

VegaStrike

Controls

Controls

Vega Strike is an open world space exploration, trading and combat simulator much like the classic games Elite and Elite Frontier. I originally played the 0.43 release many years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed playing it, although that version had some annoying properties such as other vessels appearing out of no where! Fortunately since then the development community has been very active and the recent releases have fixed many bugs and added new content to the game.

The Basic Cockpit

The Basic Cockpit

The game is rendered in 3d using OpenGL acceleration. It supports many different levels of detail and shaders as well as an older rendering engine for those of us with older hardware. Most modern systems shouldn’t have any trouble getting a decent frame-rate, but on older machines it could be slow if not configured properly. Fortunately even some on board graphics and Atom based systems have been tested and have been able to run the game.

Approaching a Fighter Barracks

Approaching a Fighter Barracks

The artwork in the game is of decent quality and has been gradually replacing the older graphics from earlier releases. Additionally many new ships and other features have been added to the engine that have improved the visuals. There are however some visual aspects that could use work such as the vessel cockpits.

The sound and music in game are also quite nice, especially the music. A good professional job has been done for the most part, it just requires a bit of polish to bring everything up to the same standard.

Relay Station

Relay Station

The game is as I said inspired by the classic games Elite and it’s sequels which is reflected in the game play. You start out with a basic trading ship and some money which you can buy some cargo. So you have to start out as a trader in order to make enough money to buy a more capable ship. You can buy upgrades to make your starting ship a bit better in combat, but it’s really only sufficient to fend off pirates.

Asteroid Mining Station

Asteroid Mining Station

Eventually you’ll be able to buy a larger ship or fighter for combat duties. You’ll be able to buy a larger freighter if you want to move more or larger goods, but the downside is that the ship often is slow to maneuver and takes some time to accelerate. In buying a combat vessel you’ll be significantly faster, but won’t be able to carry much in the way of cargo. There are capital ships that are much larger, but they are extremely expensive and difficult to find.

Unfortunately there are many ships that can’t be purchased, and there are many weapons what seem unbalanced or difficult to use effectively. I’ve found the best kind of weapons to use currently are the beam weapons with auto-tracking in the mount. The development team seems to be aware of this, and it seems to be a result of many changes to the engine since 0.43 and the many new ships/weapons that have been added since.

Planets

Planets

Vega Strike being as unfinished and under development as it is, needs to be polished and balanced before reaching its full potential. Even so I’ve been playing it for some time and still found it to be quite fun. I’ve managed to accumulate a nice small fleet of ships including freighters and combat vessels, but have quite some way to go before I can take on a bigger combat job. Once you find a few lucrative trading runs, and get a basic combat ship flying you can take on any role you like within the limitations of your ships.

I’d recommend people use the latest release of the game that they can, or if you have the capability use the development version (available from subversion). This is so you can keep up with the latest data set updates and engine updates as there are constant improvements. It’s available on both Windows and Linux, I’m unsure as to whether it will work on other systems such as BSD or Mac OS.

29
Jul
13

The Battle for Wesnoth

Main Menu

Main Menu

The Battle for Wesnoth is an open source game project that had its first release back in 2003. It is a strategy game based in a fantasy world with many RPG like elements. Today I’m playing it on my Macbook running Mac OS X (Lion), but the game also works on many other platforms including Linux, Windows, and most BSD systems. I have been able to get it running on my sun UltraSPARC sunfire v440 which I have Gentoo Linux on currently.

Campaign Selection

Campaign Selection

Upon starting up the game and being greeted with the menu system, I was struck with how professional the game looks. The menus, backgrounds and graphics all appear of professional quality as soon as you see them. The menu system is easy to use, and gives you help when faced with something more complex. The music is equally epic as soon as you first hear it, bringing to mind epic battles before you’ve had a chance to fight any.

Starting area

Starting area

The game offers a tutorial mode which I highly recommend, not so much because playing is difficult, but it is a much more gentle way to get used to the way the game works. The tutorial teaches you all the basics of movement, combat, and recruiting new soldiers. I found within no time I had managed to get the hang of it, and had managed victory in the tutorial and the earlier part of a introductory campaign.

Combat

Combat

The game has many campaigns of different difficulty and length, meaning there is always a campaign to suite your skill level and amount of time available. Many members of the community have created extra content including campaigns, new resources and units all for you to enjoy in single player or multi-player. Of course if you have played through all the created content there is also the option of playing random maps, or creating new ones of your own.

Recruiting

Recruiting

In addition to the single player, hot seat, network and internet multiplayer games are all supported. Connecting and playing any of these modes is simple and easy to do. Although you need to be well prepared to play online.

Playing the game I’ve found the controls fairly easy to use and have had no trouble getting my armies to do what I want. There is however an incredible amount of depth in the stories for the campaigns and the number of stats the units can have along with their effect in battle.

Killing Mordak

Killing Mordak

Combat in particular is interesting. There are two main types, Melee and Ranged combat. Different types of units can perform one or both of these different types of combat. Interestingly if you attack someone with a ranged attack and they have no ranged capability then their unit cannot retaliate and you unit will emerge unharmed whilst theirs does not. This can also happen with Melee combat if the other unit has no melee capability.

Whilst all the attacks units have are either ranged or melee, they also can have other properties such as being magical attacks. These modifiers can change the effect of the damage, the chance to hit, and inflict poison or drain health from an opponent.

Victory!

Victory!

Units are much like characters in a role playing game, they have attack capabilities in various forms, traits that affect their stats, and they have health points and experience points. Units can level up and get upgraded down one of a few paths in an upgrade tree. There are only a few levels to upgrade to depending on the unit, I think most get to level 3 or 4. Upgrades can significantly improve a unit so this is understandable. Players need to try and hold onto their strong and experienced units longer as they are much more effective than the base units you can recruit. If you are in the middle of a campaign you can recall units from the last scenario you played to benefit from them having more experience and perhaps being higher level.

Your main avatar can recruit new units when in the main castle. This requires gold that you acquire by occupying villages. Villages will support one unit for free and earn you some gold, which can be spent on support for more units, or on recruiting more units. Villages will also provide a defense bonus and heal units stationed there. This makes villages an important asset in the game, as you need them for income and to heal your experienced and important soldiers.

Campaign story

Campaign story

The Battle for Wesnoth is very polished, it is pretty much the same or better than commercial games quality wise. I’ve not run into any bugs in the limited time I’ve been playing. Installing add-ons and getting online for internet play is seamlessly handled in the game UI itself, removing any need for manually extracting files or arranging servers. It works on a wide variety of platforms so getting a version for your system should be no problem. If you like strategy games I highly recommend it.

23
Jun
13

The Day the Earth got Mooned

The Day the Earth got Mooned is a game recently made by a youtuber that I frequently watch called JimPlaysGames, a British guy called Jim Baker. Jim has previously also made a game called Shitty Quest which was an interesting and funny adventure game with themes of what it is like to be a software developer fighting his own laziness. I played Shitty Quest and quite enjoyed the humour.

Attack!

Attack!

Jim clearly won his battle with laziness, as his new game is quite impressive. You play as the sole alien invader coming to attack Earth for no reason. Earths military forces have gathered to defend themselves, and you goal is to get to the moon, destroy the Earth forces, and deploy a “SECRET WEAPON”. The story is masterfully narrated by Jim himself, who adds some subtle humour to how the story is presented.

People who helped...

People who helped…

The graphics and art style are very simple and elegant. The sprites are nicely detailed and easy to identify, which can be important as the different enemies have very different behaviours. There is a nice particle engine which adds lovely bits of smoke and explosions to destruction to missiles and weapons. The sound is again well crafted, in particular the music has a nice pseudo retro feel that complements the graphic style and type of game.

Menu Screen

Menu Screen

There is a variety of different weapons which each have their own use, and may be upgraded during play. You can upgrade or build new weapons at any time throughout the game by going to the build screen by pressing space. You can also recharge your shields and build a spare ship which can make the game a bit easier than it would otherwise be, but given how hard it can get this is a good thing. I found the anti-matter spray could cause some slow down of the game when fully upgraded, but this usually only happens when the screen is really busy.

Weapons

Weapons

The gameplay is like an older retro shooter but different in many important aspects. You can aim your weapons so you can make better use of them without putting your ship in danger. The AI for the enemies actually aims at you with intent to destroy as opposed to the blizzard of bullets used by many of the older games. The control scheme has you use both the mouse and keyboard, and I found it was accurate when shooting and allows you to dodge the enemy effectively.

The Day the Earth got Mooned is a solid shooter with plenty of challenge. The only criticism I really have of it (and Shitty Quest as well) is that it is too short. You can complete the game in as little as half an hour to an hour. I understand that being a sole developer, Jim may not have had the time to really make the game longer and may have  spent time polishing the game as opposed to lengthening it. The game is multi-platform as it is written in Java (using LidGDX) so it will run on pretty much anything including Linux, Windows and Mac OSX. The game is free, so there’s little reason not to give it a go, you can find it on his website www.jimmakesgames.com.

06
Nov
12

Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress is under development by Bay 12 Games, which is made up of the two brothers Zach and Tarn Adams. They started development of the game back in 2002, and are still developing the game today. Despite it’s state of development it is very playable and very fun!

There are two different modes of play, fortress and adventurer mode. In fortress mode you manage a group of dwarves creating their own city/outpost. You have to manage the problems that come with survival in some of the hostile terrain, and manage to make good with which to trade. Adventurer mode is a lot like games such as hack and rogue, but expanded to fit the dynamically created worlds and complex simulation within the game.

The game follows many of the traditions of rogue, one of the first dungeon crawling games that became very popular. It has ASCII art style graphics and user interface with minimal sound much like rogue. Dwarf Fortress takes a new spin on perma-death in that when your fort is destroyed or adventurer killed, the world in which they exists continues and you can play again exploring your abandoned fortress, or seeing the consequences of your adventurers actions.

I personally play fortress mode the most, and have found it very addictive! The first challenge is setting up your initial fort and getting enough food and water for your growing population. This can be difficult depending on the environment that you chose to begin with. Some locations may be lacking particular materials, you need to find ways to cope with this at least until a trade caravan arrives with the supplies you desperately need.

The supplies aren’t free however, you have to have something of worth to trade in order to buy these supplies. You’d normally do this by crafting objects in your workshops to sell. The easiest material to come by is stone usually, and will be the first thing you use for craft work that you will trade.

As your population grows you need to afford them some more comfortable quarters. If you dwarves start becoming too unhappy they will throw a tantrum and start slapping people and destroying furniture or buildings. This can lead to something called a tantrum spiral where by everyone eventually dies because they are all too busy slapping each other! It can be very comical at times.

Once your city/outpost gets big enough, other civilizations will start to send raiding parties and will siege your fort stopping all trade. You have to have a good secure entrance that you can close off so they don’t come into your fort and kill everyone. You can achieve this with a variety of different methods, such as flooding the entry way, or having a drawbridge. You can arm your dwarves and have them fight back, but I’ve found this seldom works against a large siege force.

I prefer to construct large machines to trap enemies either drowning them, capturing them in a cage, or squishing them under a stone. Machines can be large, complex, and are generally powered by water wheels. In one of my forts I created large storage containers of water so I could flood areas and enemies very quickly with water under pressure. It proved to be quite effective at blocking an entrance and even drowning a few enemies. This required the use of many screw pumps powered by water wheels to lift the water up high enough.

There isn’t a winning condition in the game, so eventually every fortress will fail for some reason or another. Losing can be quite fun surprisingly as many funny things often happen leading up to the collapse of a fort. I’ve often accidentally dug out a section and flooded my entire fort. Once I hit an aquifer and couldn’t dig bellow the first level of my fort.

The graphics being in the ASCII style (it’s code page 437) can be difficult to understand at first, but become more intuitive the more you play. The user interface is good for the basics but can be a bit of a learning curve especially when it’s dealing with some of the more complicated parts of the game. The only sound in the game is some guitar music which is nice, but can be a bit repetitive. You can turn the sound off and play your own music however as sound is not an important part of the game.

Dwarf Fortress is very much a geek game at it’s heart, it has such a great depth of game play that no one game will ever be the same. The learning curve is incredibly steep, but you will be rewarded. If you’re not a fan of the ASCII style graphics there are options in the form of graphics/tile sets that will make the game a lot easier for inexperienced players. There are also many articles and other information available on the Dwarf Fortress wiki.

22
Oct
12

Blob Wars: Metal Blob Solid on Mac OS

Today’s post marks one year of me writing this blog! I was planning on doing a in depth bit about an open source game called The Battle for Wesnoth, but unfortunately I couldn’t get it working in time, I had installed it via Macports on my macbook and assumed that it would work, I won’t make that mistake again!

Instead I’m going to write about a platform game called Blob Wars: Metal Blob Solid. The name is an obvious reference to the metal gear series which is popular on many consoles (and early versions on many old computers) but the name is the largest part the two share in common. Blob wars is an action platform game, written by a group of guys that call themselves Parallel Realities, beginning in 2004. The game is open source and is available for all the major operating systems including Linux, Windows and Mac OS. Today I was running it on Mac OS.

The basic premise of the game is simple. There is a peace loving world where the blobs lived which is now being attacked by some aliens which strangely look very similar to the blobs. In the early stages of the game we don’t know why they are being attacked or indeed who is the mastermind behind it.

You are a blob wearing a bandana tasked with completing various objectives to try and save the blobs home world. Along the way you will have to also rescue various blobs that were missing in action from previous battles in the area. Fortunately there are a variety of guns and items to help you accomplish these tasks.

Game play wise the controls work well, and the guns are effective at what they are designed to do. Killing the enemies in a level seems to be optional with the exception of bosses. So the main meat of the game comes in finding the MIAs and finishing the objectives required for each level. This basically means exploring as much as possible until the level is done.

The guns are interesting and most are easy to use. I found the grenades were the most difficult to use taking down aerial targets or something higher than me. The enemies are all fairly similar in the early game being mostly green blobs and flying robots, the number does diversify as the game goes on.

The graphics are nice, but in some places seem to be a bit fuzzy or not quite match up with a nearby surface.  This isn’t too distracting, and could be because of the technology that was available when they first worked on the game. It just didn’t help the aesthetics of the levels. The sprites are very colourful and let you recognize whats happening quickly, the doesn’t appear to be much animation except in the form of lots of particles from explosions and blood when enemies die.

Sound is good as well, but again isn’t as polished as commercial games. The volume across sound effects didn’t seem consistent and there was no music that I was aware of to add to the atmosphere of the game.

Blob wars is an excellent open source game that is fun to play, and does not require you to invest huge amounts of time. It isn’t quite as polished as a commercial game, but obviously you can’t expect that from a small team of developers not doing it for a living. A lot of thought has been put into the levels and game play and it shows, if you like a good action platformer then you should give this one a go.

09
Oct
12

FTL:Faster Than Light

One of the reasons I’ve been slow to update recently is because I’ve become addicted to a new game I bought on steam called FTL: Faster than Light. The game puts you in command of a star ship which has information important to the “federation”. You are being chased by a rebel fleet which will try to kill you if they catch you.

The game is focused on controlling what you use the limited power available from your reactor for. For instance you can decide how much power to allocate to weapons and shields. There are a variety of enemies that you will face in your journey and many strategies you can use. Teleporters (transporters for trek fans) allow you to board an enemy ship and attempt to kill the crew or destroy a subsystem. Unfortunately the enemies can also do the same to you which often results in losing crew members or subsystems.

There are a variety of different weapons available, each useful in different configurations and situations. Lasers have infinite ammunition, but can also have a long recharge time. They are often good for knocking down the shields or dealing moderate amounts of damage. The downside is that the shields have often recharged before you can fire them again.

Missiles and bombs ignore the shields entirely and are useful for destroying subsystems such as the shields faster. The downside is that they require ammunition which is often scarce in game. The recharge time varies with some being short and others quite long.

Beams are like the standard laser weapons in that they do not require ammunition, and have long recharge times. The way they damage an enemy ship works differently. You draw a line on the enemy ship to tell it where to fire and the Beam will follow the line for the duration it lasts for damaging rooms it hits. Beams can’t knock the shields down of a ship but can pierce them and do damage if the beam is strong enough to get through. In practice there are only a few beams that are capable of getting through shields at all.

Drones are a separate sub system of their own and have many uses. Attack drones fly around the enemy ship and try to attack it with whatever type of weapon they have (usually beam or laser). They often fire faster than a weapon mount on a ship. Defence drones circle your own ship and shoot down incoming projectiles. The base drone shoots missiles and boarding drones, but the advanced one will even shoot down enemy laser blasts. Finally there are drones for repairing your ship and repelling boarders, I’ve found these ones to be very useful.  The hull repair drone was enough to help me beat the final boss.

You sort of have to do the best you can with the equipment you can manage to get, as often it is very difficult to find exactly what you want. You can buy upgrades with scrap you collect to the various systems of your ship in order to increase the ability or capacity of it. Choosing the right system to upgrade is essential, but you can’t go wrong with upgrading shields or engines. I’ve found it’s a good idea to always have some scrap just in case I come across a store with a good weapon.

FTL is very much a rogue like in the sense that death is often inevitable as you often run into bad luck. This doesn’t detract from the game and actually makes me consider my decisions much more carefully. Victory against the final boss is fairly rare even when playing on easy. To encourage you to keep playing there are ships you can unlock by following certain quest paths in game. The game map and quests are randomly generated each time so each play-through is quite different. Each time I play I find something new to try and am currently trying to unlock all the achievements and ships. I guess I’ll probably tire of it eventually when I’ve unlocked everything, but for the price FTL was a bargain for many many hours of entertainment.




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