More fiddling with Windows

March 5, 2009

VirtualBox ( version 2.1 can provide accelerated OpenGL to Windows guests. Using this, I’ve managed to get OpenLander running inside a Windows VM. Hopefully this will make it easier for me to build some .exe version of OpenLander for people on the Windows side of the fence.

It’d still be nice if somebody wanted to try this out on MacOS since I don’t own a Mac 😦

Hopper – A Psygnosis Lander Clone

February 8, 2009

A while ago another developer sent me a link to his in-development game, Hopper. Unfortunately I can’t find the original e-mail / message he sent me at the moment 😦 If he’s reading, I apologise for not getting back to him sooner – it’s still on my OpenLander “To do list”. I thought I’d post a link to the video of his game here in case anyone is interested (and perhaps would like to offer him encouragement in his development efforts!).

The game is somewhat further along than OpenLander at the moment, including AI, racing and substantially more refined graphics. Visually, it is very close to the original Psygnosis game’s style and the detail of the graphics look excellent. For me these things are something of a goal to aim for! Hopper is based, as I recall, on the excellent Ogre graphics engine and is cross platform but not Open Source, so far (as far as I’m aware).

It is my hope that both OpenLander and Hopper would be complementary projects – we seem to be going in somewhat different directions, using somewhat different tools. More 3D gravity games in the world is a definite Good Thing 😉

Happy New (Western/Chinese/Other) Year to all!

I’m still alive! Boom!

October 29, 2008

I’m making a note here, huge success…

A stack of crates thrown across the labscape by a blastwave.

A stack of crates thrown across the landscape by a blast wave.

So, firstly I’d like to announce, in case anybody was doubting that I am, in fact, still working on OpenLander.  I’ve been a bit distracted for a while by doing mapping for OpenStreetMap and my normal “day job” / research position working on virtualisation and the Linux kernel.  I found time recently to implement an improved weapon for OpenLander, which is something I’ve been meaning to tackle for a while.

The laser beam I was using before always looked a bit puny and was also pretty difficult to aim.  The way I see it there are two major problems with aiming in a 3D gravity game:

  1. perspective makes it hard to tell where you’re aiming (unless you opt for a first person view, which makes it hard to fly)
  2. you’re continually doing course corrections in order to stay in the air, which disrupts your aim

My solution to this was a weapon which did more area damage, through a shockwave.  It also made sense to choose a weapon that made better use of the physics engine.  Lasers didn’t really qualify on either score, guided missiles might be OK but what I eventually settled for was a mortar-type weapon.  I think this fits really well with the general gameplay:

  1. it does area damage so you can be less accurate
  2. shockwaves provide more interesting visuals and more interesting gameplay, since things get thrown about by them
  3. you don’t have to exactly face your target, you can point upwards and fire a bomb along an arc – this fits the flying characteristics quite well
  4. there’s lots more opportunities for interesting physics: you can lob bombs over hills, you can vary your range by changing the firing arc, you can increase range by accelerating before launching a bomb, you receive a backwards recoil impulse every time you fire which you may have to compensate for

All of these make the mortar a much more satisfying weapon than the laser.  With a translucent explosion shockwave it also looks much better even if you don’t manage to hit anything 😉  I’ve been playing around with shooting stuff and it’s pretty fun: it’s especially good hitting a bit pile of crates and watching them go flying and tumbling over each other.

I’ve put a gameplay video on YouTube that demonstrates this effect.  I’ve attempted to put this on Vimeo but they seem to be having converter problems at the moment 😦

It’s nice to have been able to do some more coding on OpenLander and feel like I’m still making progress.  Soya3D is really powerful and fun to work with, as is Python.  It’s ideal for doing spare time development where I don’t have much energy for faffing about with infrastructural things.

The latest ship

June 1, 2008

The latest ship added to the OpenLander repository was contributed by Anthony Smith of the Flyin’ Irons project. The ship’s name is “Braben” and it’s a homage to the lander design found in the early David Braben games Lander, Zarch and Virus. It’s a nice model, which Anthony managed to pump out within days of starting to learn Blender! It’s currently the default ship for the “Landing Practice” mission.

Braben ship

Braben Lander with engines firing

Windows support is coming

May 30, 2008

I’ve had a number of requests for Windows support in OpenLander. I didn’t have a Windows install handy so I’d not looked at this yet.

Since Anthony Smith came on board with his Flyin’ Irons project, Windows support has become more of an issue. Since Anthony prefers to develop under Windows, it was necessary for him to install the Soya3D for Windows port and its dependencies. At this point, I should note that the Soya3D webpage gives thanks to “Atomekk, Thomas Paviot and Dunk” for making Soya3D available for Windows – I’d like to give thanks too, since this is incredibly useful and should help to expand the audience of both OpenLander and Flyin’ Irons. Back to Anthony; his efforts culminated in his being able to run a slightly modified OpenLander stably on Windows – awesome! Anthony has of course been doing some stirling development both on OpenLander and on Flyin’ Irons, which will benefit users of both Linux and Windows. He’s a bit of a machine and has been pumping out lots of cool stuff! Big thanks to him too.

Meanwhile, I felt that I ought to look into making OpenLander / Flyin’ Irons easier to install on Windows for our potential users. We don’t really want them to have to install Soya3D and its dependencies themselves. To this end, I dug out the ancient Windows XP Pro install CD that came with my PC and installed it in a VirtualBox virtual machine. Using this, I’ve been experimenting with py2exe and Nullsoft Scriptable Installer System. Py2exe is an Open Source plugin to Python’s distutils makes it easy to bundle up a Python application with all its dependencies (including a Python interpreter, Python modules and dlls) so that it all lives in one directory and can be run on a Windows system without any installation of the application or its dependencies. NSIS, also Open Source makes it easy to create proper installers for Windows applications. Currently I’m using it to build a .exe that contains a compressed copy of all the OpenLander dependencies and runs without any manual installation or unpacking (the example scripts for this on the py2exe wiki made this easy!). My VirtualBox system has served well for packaging but due to a lack of 3D acceleration in the virtual machine I’m not able to actually run OpenLander there.

Both Anthony and I have now had OpenLander running on Windows from a single exe file!. There are some bugs in the package that make it crash sometimes when built in this way but I don’t think any of those should be difficult to “iron out” (no pun intended there, honest Anthony!). Anyhow, this looks like good progress for both projects. Things are certainly progressing faster in many ways now that there are two of us working on related stuff.

Anyhow, the upshot of all this is, thanks to the help of Anthony, a couple of my friends (thank you to Clare and Roger for testing the Windows exe on real hardware), py2exe and NSIS, the next preview release of OpenLander (and the upcoming first preview release of Flyin’ Irons) should be available for both Linux (through the old tarball mechanism for now) and Windows (through the all-in-one exe).

It’d be really nice to have someone volunteer to test / package these games on MacOS (hint, hint!).

Introducing Flyin’ Irons

May 26, 2008

Anthony Smith has recently been working on a new game called Flyin’ Irons, based on the 3D gravity game engine of OpenLander. The gameplay and graphics will have a different feel to OpenLander, focused on time trial and competitive racing of … flying steam irons. It sounds like the kind of crazy game concept that could be incredibly addictive! Anthony has recently started a Flyin’ Irons Development Blog to keep the world-at-large updated on his progress. Scoot over there now for a teaser screenshot!

He’s already done some quality work on the OpenLander project, including some code, bugfixing existing ship models and the contribution of a whole new ship model 🙂 I’m working with him to ensure that the OpenLander engine provides all the things that Flyin’ Irons needs. This is also continuing to push forward the development of OpenLander – the projects are complimentary and I intend to keep focusing on OpenLander, whilst Anthony devotes most of his time to Flyin’ Irons.

Anthony also built the Disintegrator, the most powerful rubber band gun ever constructed by human science.

Sound support coming your way…

May 20, 2008

I’ve just pushed changes to the OpenLander repository on that enable support for sound. The build script will now download a copy of the openlander-media repository, which contains the audio files.

The two audio files currently available are a simple thruster sound effect and some background music for the game levels. The track is Ambiphonic by Zeropage. Originally found via Jamendo. Editing work to make a loop of the track was done by Qubodup. Qubodup found this track for me originally and added it to an OpenLander preview video he’d uploaded for me. Big thanks to Qubodup for finding the track, pointing it out to me and making loops I could use!

The Ambiphonic loop is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Game sound effects (just the thruster for now) should have 3D sound, thanks to Soya3D’s use of OpenAL.

Are you watching OpenLander TV?

April 14, 2008

I always try and post links to my videos on this blog.  For anyone who is interested, though, there’s also the YouTube OpenLander Channel and the Vimeo OpenLander Channel.  These both provide feeds of the videos directly.  The Vimeo channel has a particularly nice featureset and also offers its own RSS feed.

I’m quite pleased with some of the features I’ve been working on recently.  Once I’ve got things polished up and looking nice, I’ll try and post some new videos to demonstrate how things are coming along.

State of play…

April 14, 2008

Well, how are things going…?

I’ve got new models on the way, I’m learning about texturing in Blender so I can make the world look a bit nicer.  There’s support in my private tree for engine sound effects and background music (as found for me by qubodup) but I’ve not quite decided how to package up the music yet.  I think I’ll probably supply the music files as a separate repository – both to keep the licensing situation simple and to put the large music files all in one place.  Joypad controls work too; personally, I think the mouse is probably optimal but it’s still fun to fly using analogue sticks sometimes.
There’s getting to be a fair amount of potential mission content in there now, so once I’ve polished off a few more things I’ll hopefully be able to construct some more interesting playable missions.  Before that happens, though, I intend to roll another preview release, including as much of the stuff I’ve described above as possible.

Although I’ve had to attend to “real work” recently, things are still moving and the game is getting closer all the time to a proper release.

Mysterious shadow…

April 12, 2008

Well, here’s a picture of a mysterious shadow that I captured tonight.  What could it be…?

A Pod lander hovers near a very large, mysterious shadow!

I’m not showing the object itself because it hasn’t been textured properly and looks really bad 😉  Once I’ve fixed that, I’ll post better pictures for all to see.  Suffice to say that this new vehicle will participate in some interesting mission scenarios.