Tag Archives: Open Source

Haven Reviews: Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Haven Reviews: Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe

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Open Transport Tycoon, is a ported and improved version of a very old management game. Unlike most such games there is a goal and that is to have the most of everything when the year 2050 has passed. The only way to lose is to file bankruptcy, which can be quite hard indeed.

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In order to start a business all one have to do is to connect a route from something that produce materials, that can be refined into goods. Such as building a railway from a forest onto a sawmill.
Or transporting people between places, everything else is just variations on the formula. However there is a lot more to it than that. Such as the ever so fun multiplayer mode.

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Anyhow I figured out some really fun ways to spice things up. Buying up land in front of someone establishing a railway. A bit costly but it will prevent that player from claiming a good spot.

Raising land under someones boat and watch the ensuing fireball.

But a really really devious one that is very hard to notice, is when someone have trucks going to and from a depot. By building the tiniest railway ever, its about six squares in total. The locomotive will go so fast, it fails to stop at the railroad crossing. Causing the car to get run through by a speeding train. Replacing the car with a pile of ash and a mushroom like explosion. Even more satisfying when your friend fails to notice it.

All is not well in the garden though. The screen will quickly be overrun by pannels and information. Not to mention the horrible scaling text and interface, whihc was made for a different time. In hte options menu the interface can be scaled a little, but it is still very annoying. THe same goes for the blue text at the bottom.

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Aside from that, there is also a fair share of accidents that can occur, such as fires, planes crashing and Xcom blowing up a ufo on your railroad. Trains also have the habit of colliding when more than one runs on the same track, when the signals fail.

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In Tycoon, trains can be use in exceedingly complicated and weird ways, due to the signals. Which is a meta game all of its own. After all at some point, there will be so much money in play that insane things can be built.

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Drawing a line from A to B with a train running on is the icing on the cake. Town that litter the map for example have some personality and limits on what they accept being built. Naturally there are a lot of ways to manipulate the town it self, such as setting up commute. Transportation causes them to expand greatly.

Transport Tycoon graphics are made up of nice and clean isometric sprites. With several environmental themes to pick from, such as the candy land one. A real eyesore, but fun non the less. Meanwhile in game music are composed of loud chip-tunes. With a big variety of styles to pick from.

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Not to mention the scenario editor that’s a vital part of the experience. There are many, many devious maps, but most of them try to recreate real world locations. These can be downloaded directly from the various games menus, along with various AI and a bucket load of custom game settings. Which makes this a lovely cocktail for the grand price of free. Regardless of how fun I find Ottd it’s still a timesink.

.Njål Sand

Haven Review: Warzone 2100

Warzone 2100

Why is a doomed future always a featureless desert with murder machines? The world has ended and a bunch of survivors found an abandoned army base and made the place their home. After dealing with some local raiders, they came in direct conflict with something called the “Paradigm”; more war happened.

The future is brown and desolate
The future is brown and desolate

Warzone 2100 is a strategy game where war is a battle of research and resources, a veritable arms race. Machine gun research leads to rotating turrets, and that research leads to the option of making rotating canons. These can be combined with various chassis and turrets. This is the crux of the game play. Researched parts are assembled by the player into whatever configuration is needed and available at the time. This includes heavy cannons, which are not a very good thing to put on a squishy hover-tank. However, laser guns and artillery work great.

The sheer amount of weaponry, upgrades and research is simply staggering. This in turn means that matches can go on for ages. It all depends on the path each player takes, and the strategy used. It can turn into a pretty cool case of bouncing artillery shells back and forth due to various countermeasures. It was one of the first games that introduced the concept of units getting experience in combat, giving them an extra edge if they survive long enough. Luckily this experience can be transferred to other newer, shinier units.

War is noisy, brutal and not very flashy!
War is noisy, brutal and not very flashy!

After some time, those pesky all old units will become obsolete, rusted buckets of bolts. Back in the day I played this on a Playstation demo disc and the most interesting thing was the ability to manually navigate units with the controller. This is extremely helpful, since the path-finding is atrocious. Incidentally, this is also the biggest downfall to an otherwise great game; that and the horrid timer on each mission. Luckily there are cheats to disable these.

The other feature that set the game apart from other strategy games is in the way the campaign is set up. Each area has a main base and a limited map. As events occur, the map expands. Eventually you have to put units into a drop ship and ferry them to the next combat area. This makes the main base a staging point, which might be attacked during or after a mission.

Watch giant armies duke it out!
Watch giant armies duke it out!

Haven Review: Warzone 2100

Aside from a Playstation version, a PC version also exists, and dedicated people still play it. The game keeps up to date with newer Windows releases. However no one has yet had it in their mind to remake the game with better path-finding and more refined graphics. Most of the game is brown. The soundtrack is quite good and composed of several very long tracks which are most enjoyable outside the game itself. Personally I find the title very enjoyable, even though the path-finding is terrible. But by now you already know this.

Here is the page where the current version of the game can be acquired for free. Open source is awesome like that, and same goes for dedicated fans whom keep the game running on new systems.
http://wz2100.net/

Disclaimer: We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Njål H Sand

Tech Editorial: Where is Linux going with Gaming?

TuxYears ago, Microsoft decided that Windows would be the gaming platform. Currently if you own a gaming PC, it’s probably running Windows. There’s a lot of historical and technological discussion to be held over this fact that has held in the PC gaming community for countless years.

Really you could say it all began with Microsoft having a jealousy of the old timer consoles like Sega Genesis. They were running all sorts of neat games in the day. DOS did have games as well of course, but there was a fundamental difference. Look at today, if you make a game for the X-box 360, you know it’s going to run on X-box 360 hardware. If you write a game for PC however, there’s all sorts different types of hardware you could encounter. Nowadays encountering different types of hardware isn’t as problematic. In many languages such as Java, a programmer really has to think little of it. Even someone who writes their games in a lower lever language like C++ can for the most part avoid trouble with today’s fancy development libraries and engines. Back during the times of DOS though, developers had to do more of their own work ensuring that their games ran on different machines.

I mentioned libraries minimizing this issue, and a library was exactly what Microsoft created. DirectX was born at this time to give game developers a way to write games that could be built for Windows and be distributed. DirectX was especially important for Windows because it was an OS that enforced more rules than DOS, using resources to keep a more cooperative system. DirectX was designed so that game developers could still eek that performance they wanted.

  How this ties in with this article though, is the fact that DirectX was unsurprisingly only made for Windows. To this day it only runs on Windows, and not on Linux or Mac. There is a noble counterpart however (sort of).

OpenGL is a cross-platform rendering library, it in short runs on anything provided you use it compliantly. It doesn’t make sense to compare it directly to DirectX, as OpenGL is soley a graphics library, while DirectX encompasses things needed for a game in general. You’re better off comparing OpenGL and Direct3D.

You can make OpenGL today run on Windows, Linux, iOS, Android. Hell you could write OpenGL code for the Dreamcast still. The only catch being you have to interface it properly with the platform in question. There are however plenty of libraries nowadays that run with OpenGL and handle these kind of details for you.

The thing is, OpenGL and Direct3D have been competing for years, and there hasn’t been a victor. I say we should want OpenGL to come out on top, but it hasn’t. There’s already a lot of games and game engines written with Direct3D. It won’t just step out of the picture suddenly.

  There is plenty you can learn about the long standing conflict between OpenGL and Direct3D, but I feel it’d be out of the scope of this article to go too far in depth. So I’ll summarize below.

  Many games are written specifically for Windows (use DirectX) and cannot be simply ported to Linux (Don’t use OpenGL or know how to communicate with hardware on Linux). This means that either the game just doesn’t work, or you have to have software such as Wine to use it. Wine is always getting better, but in the end it’s a work around to an application not being able to run native to Linux.

  With the past somewhat explained, let’s talk about now and the future, and the implications of Linux becoming a key player in the gaming world.

  First of all, there’s nothing about Linux itself that makes it a poor platform for games. As a matter of fact, there are a few really nice pros with Linux, some obvious, some not so obvious.

  One that’s great and not known to all, is the fact that Linux distributions tend to be lightweight, some more so than others. The minimum amount of RAM you might need for a game could very well be lower on Ubuntu than on Windows 7.

  Secondly, and obviously, Linux is totally free. This is a no brainer, but I really must point this out. It’s an entire OS for free, Windows can cost a lot depending on which version you’re getting. So maybe in the future you could spend that money not on Windows, but for more RAM, or a better GPU, etc.

  Third point, games do have potential to run better within Linux. Now, I don’t want to get misleading here. Some games today run better on Linux, while some better on Windows. There can be all sorts of reasoning behind this. All in all though, because of the lesser overhead with Linux, there is potential for greater performance. We’ve seen examples with some of Valve’s AAA titles running superbly on Ubuntu, even better than Windows. The catch is some video cards don’t have the best driver support in comparison to Windows, and the games that do run well on Linux are very likely to be running on OpenGL, not Direct3D.

  Now, I just mentioned Valve, let’s talk about Valve. It’s no secret Gabe Newell decided Linux needed some love. It’s also no secret that Valve has actually created their own distro of Linux, creatively titled Steam OS. Valve promised to make their own games run on Linux, and they were serious about it. I was very happy when I switched out of Windows to (you guessed it) and found that I could still play Dota 2 just fine. Some of my favorite titles such as Mount and Blade: Warband also still worked. There are games being released with builds for Linux on Steam, and the number of these games are increasing. Valve is playing a huge role in Linux gaming, what I really believe is the needed push to make Linux gaming dreams come true.