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PC Games (Games) Real Time Strategy (Games) Entertainment Games

Hobbyist 'Spring' RTS Engine Takes Shape 53

Dragon45 writes "Some interesting developments have just occurred on the hobbyist RTS game engine scene. The Swedish Yankspankers, long known within the Total Annihilation community for their professional-caliber modifications and add-ons, have released the first screenshots and videos of Spring, a 3D RTS engine under development (and under wraps) for quite some time. It works. Apparently, real-time terrain deformation (Before|After) and network play are already working. Spring HQ has more information, and needless to say, this one is definitely worth a look." The official FAQ explains: "We aim to get an early test release out quite soon (within a month or so)", and the 'About' page explains that, as an initial starting point: "TA Spring reads the [Total Annihilation data] formats directly without conversions needed."
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Hobbyist 'Spring' RTS Engine Takes Shape

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  • Hmm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FLAGGR ( 800770 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:12AM (#9988828)
    Sounds cool, and the screenshots look awsome, I just hope it isn't your standard RTS that has been defined by warcraft.... I'm gonna keep an eye on this one though, looks promising..... Oh, and it says that they haven't decided wether or not to go opensource, so maybe a little poliet encouragement from /.'ers would help? ;) It would be nice to have it OSS tho', I don't think there are any other opensource RTS's, and there is a large untapped market for MMORTS games like Mankind (the company would just have to run it better than Mankind was)
    • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eddy ( 18759 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:15AM (#9988838) Homepage Journal

      I just hope it isn't your standard RTS that has been defined by warcraft....

      RTS is "defined" by Total Annihilation, not *craft or Red Alert or any other game/series.

      • Sorry, I meant redifined. Too many RTS games have came out that are numbingly similar to WC3. In any case, you know what I meant ;)
        • WC3... redefined... in the same sentence. What are you smoking? WC3 did nothing new. It didnt copy good things other games have done. WC3 is a 3 year step backwards in RTS development in every aspect except graphics.
          • Agreed (Score:5, Interesting)

            by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @07:27AM (#9989388) Journal
            WC3 was not particularly innovative IMHO, even in the graphics department. Ground Control was waaay prettier and had better controls etc.

            Even after playing WC3 I still return to Total Annihilation and Red Alert 2, surely two of the very best RTS games. I wish developers would realise that it is the gameplay and character of a RTS game that is crucial, not the pandering to D&D nerds with 'super' characters or allowing/forcing you to view the action from about 2 feet off the ground.

            If I could change one thing about current RTS games, it would be to let me see the action from the same altitude as Total Annihilation running at 1280x1024... I want command and control, dammit, not a nice view of my soldiers faces as they get slaughtered because I am not zoomed out enough to see attacks coming. C&C Generals and WC3 were both particularly guilty of this - in Generals you can barely fit 3 buildings in one screen. In TA I could fit dozens of buildings in a screen and still know wtf was going on.
            • Re:Agreed (Score:3, Insightful)

              by KDan ( 90353 )
              Maybe a game like WC3 needs a different category than RTS. It was more RTT (real-time-tactics) than RTS, because most of the action was tactical. You could lose a solid strategic position very easily through bad tactics, which was a lot harder in a game like TA where overcoming a strong strategic position took time and sustained effort.

              All this shouldn't imply that WC3 is a bad game. It's a great game for what it offers, just not really a strategy game except in the loosest sense.

              Daniel
              • I have a friend who had to play it as a strategy game - his computer was too slow to allow him to play it tactically. His framerate was so low when he tried to interact in battles that he inevitably lost, so he just sat on the edge of the combat and gave orders.

                Turns out that strategy just doesn't work after the first two chapters - you can only win certain battles with specific interactions (or if you get extremely lucky). Hence, WC3 is a tactical sim.

                • Err, real time tactic games are the ones without resources. Sure, war3 required you to micro your guys well, but if they died, you just pump out 50 more from your barracks. Games like the myth series were tactical, you started with units, and got no more new ones for the rest of the game.

                  Both generas require strategy and tactics to win, but the genera is still RTS for warcraft style and RTT for myth style. Think of calling something tactics meaning "no resource managment".
                  • Hello hello? Linguistic freedom police is at your door mate. You better answer quickly they don't like waiting for shmilbligs. They tend to get all frumpleted up.

                    Daniel
      • I thought RTS was "defined" by Dune 2? Considered by most folks to be the first RTS. If you've plaid it, you'll notice that nothing has really changed between Dune 2, Warcraft, TA, C&C, and many others... Besides the better graphics and less sucky UIs. But aside that, the game is really the same.
        • Dune 2 wasn't the first, not by a long shot. It wasn't even the first on PC. The first PC RTS I remember was Modem Wars [gamespot.com], but I wouldn't be surprised if there was something earlier that might qualify as well. But even before PC titles, there was Utopia [intellivisionlives.com] for Intellivision. And there was probably something that predated that as well.

          Remember, no matter how new and innovative you think an idea is, somebody else probably thought of it before you.

      • RTS is "defined" by Total Annihilation, not *craft or Red Alert or any other game/series.

        Not one game "defines" an RTS unless it is capable of surviving holes poked by other RTS games.

        What really defines "RTS" is a set of games that show examples of how a game should be written. TA is an element of that definition, but the slightly newer games have shown that it is not the only component.

        As bad as Red Alert 2 was, it does have a part in defining an RTS - the fact that units don't stand still after th

      • afaik Dune II was the first RTS game, developed my Westwood in '92.. and they haven't changed much since.

        (Westwood also did Command&Conquer and red alert, and every *craft just cloned those)

    • If at all possible, they should run the game engine from TA with the new, 3D interface over the top. I realise this may not be possible, but it should be possible to emulate it with a very high degree of precision, because every single thing in TA was logically structured. For example, any unit could guard any other object in the game. If I set unit A to guard unit B, and B to guard C, the game could handle this with ease.

      Furthermore, the use of actual ballistics for the guns was very cool - your units had
      • Current features:

        * High resolution maps, viewable from all angles and ranges
        * Dynamic map with craters from weapon and unit explosions
        * Work with unit files from Total annihilation
        * Realistic 3D trajectories for weapons
        * Fully 3D aircombat
        * Several camera modes to suit different tastes

        Knees buckle... oooooohhhh yeeeeeaaaahhhh!

      • In the mean time, if you have been into RTS games for a relatively short period of time, I urge you to go and get hold of Total Annihilation, Red Alert 1 and Red Alert 2. You don't know what you're missing!

        Red Alert 1 is hard to manage in comparison to TA. In particular, you are only allowed construction of one item from a set of a unit type (i.e. one infantry, one vehicle and one building.) In addition, the AI player gains its strength solely from the massive buildtime advantage that the player does n

  • Hobbyist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmayle ( 200765 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:16AM (#9988839) Homepage Journal

    And hobbyist means what, exactly? Free? Open? If it hits big it'll be turned into a commercial project? The last is the one I suspect. I hate to be a zealot, but I'd be more impressed if it were open-source. I've switched to Linux for 90% of the work that I do (I work on cross-platform software development, so I occasionally have to work on windows and OS X.) As such, I only get really excited when I see exciting new developments or Linux gaming.

    To counter-balance my curmudgeonly opinions, this is probably a very good thing in the eyes of fledgeling game developers, as it shows there are paths into gaming other than the standard, so I say bravo ti the team, and (hint, hint) when are we gonna see a Linux port? (Even if it's not open source?)

    • Re:Hobbyist? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FLAGGR ( 800770 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @04:27AM (#9988863)
      I agree with you. They say on their site they haven't decided if it will be opensource or not, which i basically see as "If we hit it big, then screw open source and the GPL, but if this turns out not so great, then you can have the code". There are some things that just shouldn't be opensource, but then somethings just fit perfectly (OSes and game engines) and you can still sell a game that has opensource code, because of the maps, models etc that it contains, and still be within the legal limits of the GPL (indeed, games like quake (1,2 and soon 3), doom (1 and 2, eventually 3) and Marathon are all opensource, but you still can't play the game without the CD for the maps and stuff. (I guess you could steal it, but thats not cool, if a company supports opensource then you should support them ;)
      • Re:Hobbyist? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hal2814 ( 725639 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @12:06PM (#9992050)
        Wait just a minute here. You're criticising the Yankspankers for not GPLing his project, but then you're talking about what works as opensource and you mention a company that only GPLs older products? Why aren't Quake III and Doom 3 opensource yet? I thought that game engines "just fit perfectly" into the opensource model. It seems to me that OLDER game engines fit into this model (at least that's iD's take on it). Your argument is very valid, but your heavy mentioning of iD shows a bit of a bias on your part that's really not fair to the Yankspankers. For all we know they might GPL this engine after it gets to be the age of the Quake III engine.
        • I never said they should be released right away. Having older stuff GPL'd is fine, at least they're doing it. Most developers DONT release their game GPL after its dead and buried. Warcraft 2 would've made a great opensource game. I wasn't critisizing them for NOT doing it RIGHT away, I'm just saying that by the way the worded it, it sounds like they have no plans to release it GPL if it actually becomes anything.
    • Re:Hobbyist? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cyxxon ( 773198 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @05:46AM (#9989048) Homepage

      Another point is that I do not entirey see a motivation (I do not, they obviously do) to recreate TA, even make it load TAs resources, and then not release it as open source. I mean, there already is a closed source application that can do that, namely TA itself, and if this new one stays closed source, it will not be any better in terms of "runs on new and different OSs" and all that, because it will do so only at their goodwill, just like the original TA.

      All the other open source game engines (freecraft, scummvm, ...) had the goal to make it possible for users of new or different operating systems to play some old games, what is their goal? Just learning to code an engine is fine too, sure thing. Is that it though? Am I missing something here?

    • If I had created it and spent as much time and effort as these people obviously have, I'd try to sell it too. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.
    • Re:Hobbyist? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @12:17PM (#9992179)
      Ok im one of the developpers of TASpring and our main reasons for keeping the source closed at least for the moment is

      1)Observing every other 3DTA clone they seem to all degenerate to a lot of discussion about background story and website design with very little actual coding going on. Better keep a small focused team.

      2)If we went open source we could be pretty certain that the project would get forked and since it will probably have few players anyway none of the forks might hit a critical mass.

      3)The cheating aspect, sure security through obscurity is never going to work but why make it easier.

      Oh and about getting a publishing contract for it. We would probably release the current version with source and then work on a better version to sell.
      • Re:Hobbyist? (Score:3, Informative)

        by FictionPimp ( 712802 )
        1)Observing every other 3DTA clone they seem to all degenerate to a lot of discussion about background story and website design with very little actual coding going on. Better keep a small focused team.

        Just because a project is open source, you dont have to expand a team. Just a download of the source would be all it takes to make it open source. Also, if you are honest and good at what you do, I wouldn't worry about forks.

        It all comes down to doing what is best in your minds. My only hope would be that i

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hey! Isn't the first three screenshots using the El Alamein height map and texture map from BF1942? That's the German base looking north east, is it not?

    Actually I've used these texture/heightmaps for testing purposes as well. At first I thought perhaps they'd just done a photoshop job using BF1942 engine; but it looks like it's for real. Excellent! I loved TA; especially when we had a four player game lasting several hours; it started with a one hour base building/no attack period (no Krogoth at the
  • Erm (Score:2, Funny)

    Is it just me, or are they using the BF1942 map El Alamein for the three battle screenshots?
    • s it just me, or are they using the BF1942 map El Alamein for the three battle screenshots?

      Bah! I think it's a Subtle Tribute(tm) to Dune II.

    • yes, as the website says that one map is from Terragen and one is Battlefeild 1942

  • They are not sure if it will be open source. If they open sources it right now, with the slash-dot interest, then they may have a linux client quite soon.

    Closed development - for a free game? I am not sure why they are doing this... it seems the most of thier work has been spent loading TA models and information... again, something I find a little bemusing. Of course, if it means all the models and gfx created in mods for TA will work in this, then that sounds good.

    I must say thier terrain deformation loo
  • What am I going to need to run this? 4 Cray supercomputers?
  • I do belive this [clan-sy.com] is a Krogoth [planetannihilation.com] Experimental Assault Kbot [planetannihilation.com].

    Ah, memories...

    I remember the halcyon days of my youth, stomping across the countryside, totally annihilating things in this baby. I never thought I see her again, but there she is in all her OpenGL glory!
  • by prezkennedy.org ( 786501 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @08:42AM (#9989810) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately when you get the dedicated fanboys in there doing the news for you, you miss some of the bigger picture. The TA community is much larger, and much more alive than the PlanetAnnihilation site would leave you to believe. (Why the last 3-5 topics there have all been about how that site is practically dead... and the webmaster there can't decide if he's coming or going.)

    Just in case you didn't know about the "active" community, these are better places to visit:

    http://tadesigners.com/
    http://tauniverse.com/

    And then there is always IRC for a potential game (newbies will be utterly whipped) on www.tauniverse.com:6667
  • A similar war game Boson [eu.org] is open source, playable, though not completely done.
  • by way2slo ( 151122 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2004 @11:48AM (#9991867) Journal
    A 3-D graphics TA port was bound to happen. The original game is THAT good. All it needs is a graphics update and it would be the best RTS on the market. Everyone should take a look at the two videos, here [clan-sy.com], before you start comparing it to WarCraft. Even StarCraft, which came out years after TA and is WarCraft's superior, was still not as good as TA.

    I still don't see why everyone thinks WC is some kind of RTS benchmark. Don't get me wrong. It is fun, but limited. Warlords Battlecry is a superior fantasy RTS. Check out the latest release here [warlordsbattlecry3.com]. Believe me, if you give it a try you won't go back to WC.

    I just hope this team can "pull it off".

    • Starcraft came out approximately 6 months after TA. Starcraft's strengths were the completely disparate races available to play. TA's two factions were very similar from the beginning. What TA (Cavedog) did right was keep supplying new units and leave the game open enough to modify.
    • I haven't played the original, or Warlords Battlecry 3, but Warlords Battlecry 2 seemed really flawed.

      The single player campaign was really fun and compelling. But multiplayer, which is what gives RTS's staying power, IMO, was just screwed up. The persistent hero was impossible to balance. There were twelve races - which is two many to balance at all. Cosmetically none of the units looked nearly as good as StarCraft (never mind warcraft 3). Not even any of the heros had as much personality as a singl
    • All it needs is a graphics update and it would be the best RTS on the market.

      Don't count on it. If a person writes his own RTS from scratch with beautiful 3D graphics, a highly polished interface, and great game balance, it would overcome TA. While the game may have had those three elements at the time it was released, the other RTSs have managed to overcome TA in one aspect (and therefore poked holes.)

      For its time, 3D graphics were impressive. TAK surpassed that but required a powerful computer t

    • Warcraft 2 was a benchmark. Maybe just for me. My first RTS games I ever saw were Dune 2 and the original warcraft. I eagerly awaited warcraft 2 to come out. I played it, it was great, but put it down after a while.

      Then I found this program called kali (10024 --5 digit newb). It let you play ipx games over tcp/ip. Kali + war 2 = about 3 years of my life gone. This was the first time I saw an online service for a game and got online to talk with people. The game was freaken awesome against other people. C
  • The screenshots are nice; and i'm looking forward to try this one.

    On other topic; am i the only one who considers Dune 2 the best RTS ever?
    • Wasn't Dune2 the first RTS? In any case the inability to select multiple units made the latter stages tedious when massed forces were required. Still a great game, but not as good as TA. Pity TA:Kingdoms sucked so hard.
      • Like my cowardly anonymous friend said, Herzog Zwei (http://www.the-underdogs.org/game.php?name=Herzo g +Zwei [the-underdogs.org]) is commonly refered as the first "real" RTS game. It was released for the Sega Genesis; i never played it, but quite a few friends of mine did and remeber it as being quite good.

        Dune 2, on the other hand, is the first RTS i remember seeing for the PC, and in it's time it was not only quite good, but there was nothing else like it. It has aged well (just like TA), for me atleast, and runs perf
        • I remember dune 2 coming out and it just blowing me away. I sucked so hard at it (was really young) and couldn't get very far without using trainers. The first time I saw a sandworm swallow up my guys crossing the desert scared the crap out of me.

          I think they eventually remade the game with better graphics, didnt they? Either way, was a great first rts. I took more of a liking to warcraft though, simply because I like the whole sword and magic thing better then sci fi.
  • I'm definitely not feeling the graphics. The content they're loading is old and sad, and the terrain engine isn't using any of the techniques that really make terrain look sweet.

    Has anyone taken a look at upcoming RTS games such as Dawn of War, or even just terrain engine demos, to see where the graphics are going? Props to the team, but in all seriousness the graphic engine isn't anything to lose your mind over.

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