If you thought the Linux gaming world consisted of nethack, pp-racer, BZFlag, and well... fortune, you were wrong. Here's some next-gen Linux games that'll definitely make some waves:
I used to be fairly into Total Annihilation back in the day. It was one of the last real-time strategy games that I really spent a lot of time with. Well, someone has created a fully 3D RTS engine who's current goal is to run the content from Total Annihilation. In other words, it's a 3D remake of TA, but it also has the capability to run brand-new content and serve as an engine for new RTS games. The first major release of the Linux port was made a few weeks ago, so be sure to give it a whirl!
Just look at these screenshots.
- The Official TA Spring Website
- TA Spring at the Linux Game Tomb
- TA Spring Download Page (get the source from here)
- The Linux Data tarball for TA Spring (need this too)
GalaxyMage is a turn-based 3D tactical RPG
Why does it rock?
- It's developing quickly yet it already feels polished.
- It's got a cool and unique genre.
- From the development team: "Our goal is to make GalaxyMage a game that is relatively simple to pick up and play"
- The lead developer knows what he's doing. (eg. He originally used place-holder art from Wesnoth for the units until things got off the ground a bit - good call - and also the scope of the game doesn't seem too large - another good call.)
Sauerbraten is the next-generation Cube engine/game. It features some funky realtime geometry editing, single and multiplayer action, and a pretty big user community. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the game so far, but the engine can do some neat things and I'm optimistic that the community will give this next-gen game some next-gen gameplay.
Here, have some screenshots.
Ecksdee is a futuristic racing game that's kinda reminiscent of Wipeout. It's very early in development but is already one to keep an eye on because it's using a pre-built game engine (Crystal Space), which means it has a better chance of progressing quicker. In general, using an engine such as Crystal Space allows developers to focus more on content rather than spending tons of time building an engine of their own. Also, Ecksdee is unique because it uses Nvidia's Cg shading language, so expect some pretty good eye-candy in the future.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there was a Quake II mod called "Gloom". It was based around a simple concept: An alien team and a human team duked it out in a map and have to destroy each others' bases. However appealing this may have sounded though, Gloom never experienced massive popularity because of it's incredibly steep and frustrating learning curve. Several elements of the gameplay make it very difficult for newcomers to play, and on top of that, there's hundreds of maps to learn. Gloom is still played today, but only by a relatively small group of dedicated players. (That being said, there's people playing the game 24/7.)
Now, fast forward to 2005. An incredibly talented (and well organized) team of developers releases a Quake 3 mod titled "Tremulous". It's based on the same Aliens vs. Humans/base building concept, but in every area where Gloom failed, Tremulous succeeds. To start, the game is much easier to tackle for newcomers. The mod ships with the right number of maps, and they're all extremely polished and well balanced. There's dozens of really cool features such as the Human team's jetpack (which you'd never think they could make work balance-wise, but they did), the Aliens' ability to walk on walls, and so on. For a few months after its release, the Tremulous community grew and grew, but unfortunately never reached critical mass and eventually started to diminish. It was truely a shame to watch, as Tremulous is an incredibly solid mod.
Fortunately, with the release of the Quake 3 source code, Tremulous is going to be re-released as a standalone game, with numerous fixes and enhancements. This is great news for Linux gamers because the community is going to get an extremely unique and enjoyable team-based FPS for free. You really have to play the game to know what I'm talking about though - There isn't a single free Linux FPS out there with as much polish as this game. Watch for it.
- The Official Tremulous Website
- The Tremulous Manual (check out the pics of the guns and classes...)
- The Official Gloom Website
(Under the category of other Quake 3 mods turned standalone is Navy Seals: Covert Ops, which is another pretty good mod, and will be a great alternative to True Combat: Elite, which is the only free popular realism FPS for Linux right now.)
Automanic is a "vehicular deathmatch game", similar to Twisted Metal. It's another title that uses Crystal Space, along with the Open Dynamics Engine (ODE), which provides it with nice vehicle physics. ODE will also hopefully help speed development on this title, as more time can be spent on developing gameplay features and less on building a physics engine. You can find some work-in-progress screenshots over here.
If there's one thing that should be clear, it's that modern, open source, next-generation games are beginning to emerge onto the Linux desktop. The graphics in these games these games is coming back up to par with commercial titles, and exciting new open-source game engines are allowing development to proceed at an incredible pace. It's an exciting time for open-source gaming on Linux, and the rest of 2006 should bring us even more excitement.