Issue #1 ~ July 31st, 2011
"A FreeBASIC, QBasic and QB64 games magazine"
"A FreeBASIC, QBasic and QB64 games magazine"
Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? Is it a new BASIC compiler? No! It's a new BASIC e-zine, and this specific one fully dedicated to games and game design in QBASIC and the two descendants of this compiler Ė FreeBASIC and QB64. Since at the moment and for quite some time the game development in QBASIC is pretty much dead, the main focus, and not on purpose, will be on FreeBASIC and QB64 game dev output.
You may know me as a huge fan of hobbyist game development in BASIC, which started some 10 years ago with me dabbling game design in QBASIC, later creating QBASIC Games Directory. After my QBASIC starts I switched to FreeBASIC, developed few games there and finally created another games directory, this time focused on FreeBASIC.
Above everything my constant desire is to (re)create the atmosphere of creativity that existed on the QBASIC scene around 1999./2000., and hopefully this e-zine can be another step toward that GREAT goal. Also, I think merging the creative forces of the FreeBASIC and QB64 scene on one place is a new and positive thing for both communities, and that the future can only be brighter if we support each other in all possible manners.
My mission is simple. The magazine will feature 2-3 reviews per issue, a tutorial here and there, but will mainly focus to cover all the news regarding new game releases, game dev libraries, and other game dev related news in the FreeBASIC and QB64 realm, with a goal to promote the work of game developers in our programming communities on a single and easily recognizable place.
The magazine will be a bi-monthly affair, possibly monthly if the activity in the community calls for an earlier issue (we can all hope for that). I will be the only editor and the main contributor. Contributions in the form of letters to the editor, reviews, game dev tutorials, news tips and overviews of personal game projects are more that welcomed, but the magazine will not count or depend on them, for various GOOD reasons.
All in all, I feel extremely invigorated after completing this first issue and am looking forward to compiling a new one soon. Now I pass the torch to you to start developing and releasing, for the good of all of us.
Program long and release.
With love (saying this dead serious),
~ Lachie Dazdarian (firstname.lastname@example.org)
News about the latest FB/QB64/QB games, game engines, game-dev libraries and site updates.
On July 18th rdc released a solitaire card game in FreeBASIC where you play nine holes (deals) and try to get the lowest score. It comes with neat graphics and sound/music. Download the game here.
A new version of PacMan2 is out, this time featuring 22 levels and 2 worlds, including isometric levels! Plans for full 3D levels are in development. Download the latest version here.
About a month ago Destructosoft completed the first version of his Depths of Darkness, a dungeon crawler with some classic arcade elements and interesting graphics and surprises. You can download the game here. An update with a save game feature has been announced.
Another classic game remade in QB64. Download it here (uncompiled). For the installer visit this thread: http://www.qb64.net/forum/index.php?topic=4082.0. Don't forget QB64 Space Invaders by the same author, a little earlier released and pending for an update: http://www.qb64.net/forum/index.php?topic=4082.0
Sketcz release a small and amusing QB64 joke program, a pseudo-remake of ZX Spectrum classic Advanced Lawnmower Simulator. For more info and download check the game thread here.
Since recently rdc started working on another FB project entitled Underworld, a roguelike game where you must explore the depths of a hostile dungeon to destroy an ancient evil that threatens to destroy the world. For more information visit the game website, or the developer's blog.
Galleon, the developer of QB64, began working on a MMORPG game. To check out the development visit this forum thread: http://www.qb64.net/forum/index.php?topic=3977.0
Magellan's ambitious space-themed FB roguelike continues to steadily develop. Already a huge amount of content has been added to this interesting project. Be sure to give it a test by downloading the latest demo from this page: http://code.google.com/p/rlprospector/. Definitely a project to keep an eye on.
Check out the prototype of a Super Mario-like platform game by Cyperium. It's already fun to play and shows a lot of potential. Download it here: venture_newproto.zip.
oog's continues to release new versions of his wonderful Train Simulator in FreeBASIC. Already in this prototype stage it is a fun toy, and a dream program for any railway miniature lover. If the development continues, this can turn out to be a real freeware hit. The potentials are mind-boggling. Download the latest version here (ver. 0.34), or visit the download page: http://proog.de/joomla/index.php/projekte/62-trains
John Riggle's (AKA CommanderRaven) FB version of the classic roguelike Moria continues to develop. We should soon have a release candidate of version 5.01 as announced. In the meantime you can download the last available build of this classic roguelike, updated with new graphics and music here: http://games.tcshouston.net/downloads.htm
3D is currently working on a first person point of view (Bard's Tale style) RPG. For more information about this interesting project, check out the official forum thread: http://games.freebasic.net/forum/index.php?topic=468.0
Jattenalle's great FB online game continues to develop and impress with new additions every update. Gods and Idols is a 4X persistent online multiplayer real-time strategy game based around intergalactic gods in their struggle for domination over the universe. Be sure to visit the official website: www.godsandidols.com. Latest news: new engine with light scattering!
House on the Hill is a text-based adventure game in the works by rdc. The development seems to be on and off, but it features a rather cool story so we hope the project won't get canceled. There is a download avaliable featuring only the title screen here: http://games.freebasic.net/forum/index.php?topic=487.0
Halifax is working on a FB RPG project using RPGMaker graphics since 2009. with breaks, but it was recently updated. For more information visit this thread: http://games.freebasic.net/forum/index.php?topic=356.0
nespa recently released an Irrlicht Wrapper for FreeBasic entitled Clady3D, and continues to develop it. More info here: http://www.freebasic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=18162
N3xtD is a 3D engine by TMyke with wrappers for several languages, including FreeBASIC. For more information check the official website: www.n3xt-d.org
Chipmunk wrapper for FreeBASIC continues to be maintained. Thanks to Oz for his great effort on that. Thread to follow: http://www.freebasic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16476
Frank Dodd continues to maintain his FB wrapper for Irrlicht. Links to follow: http://www.freebasic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3584, www.frankdodd.screaming.net
Download the lastest version of FreeBASIC (last update June 1st) here: http://www.freebasic.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17813
A fully deserved mention because of his wonderful effort on Train Simulator (version 0.34), a highly potential project that we all will continue to watch.
John Riggle is active in the FreeBASIC game development scene since around 2010., mostly delivering old text-based BASIC games from his childhood, late 70ties, early 80ties, in new clothes. One of these entries is Sea Battle 2.0., a remake of an HP Basic text-based game by Vincent Erickson, now ported to FreeBASIC and featuring graphics, sound and music and updated interface.
Sea Battle is a submarine turn-based strategy game. The game is played on a 21x21 map and the objective is to destroy a preset number of enemy ships while avoiding sea monsters and mines in the process. The original was a purely text-based game with a symbolic ASCII-characters drawn map.
John Riggle took the original code and basically rewritten it, adding small enhancements and bugs fixes, leaving the original concept relatively intact, but improved where needed. On the top of that he added new mouse-controlled interface, well picked and animated stock-images, as well as cool speech messages and suitable background humming which perfectly creates the atmosphere of being in a submarine.
The game opens with a nice title screen accompanied with a cool background music. You can setup the game in a rather extensive options menu, or start a new one. Before each new game you can setup the difficulty by choosing one of the 4 preset difficulty levels, or manually adjust the 4 game parameters.
Each round pits you against a preset number of enemy ships that you need to destroy using torpedoes, rockets or sabotage. Each turn you can pick an action, from moving, firing torpedoes, changing depth or using the sonar. The movement can be done in 8 directions (a square-based map) using power (100 units of power for one square), and the power is limited. During your mission you need to avoid mines and sea monsters and to replenish your supplies you must dock with the headquarters, differently positioned depending on the difficulty. If damaged one can change depth with various effects.
Overall, a simple game, yet offering versatile and immersing gameplay. The rounds are perfectly timed, not being terribly short or terribly long and cumbersome, making it a perfect game for relaxing after a hard days work. Perhaps it lacks some sort of campaign mode or scoring so you can compete against yourself or others. In this form itís a single-round based game, for better or worse. Lacks depth, but is quite fun nevertheless.
Despite this oversight, the game illustrates perfectly how remakes/updates of old (pre-90ties) games should be done. How enhancements should be placed and why they are beneficial.
Anyway, I can warmly recommend this FreeBASIC title. Definitely worth playing at least once.
In a month or so there will be full 5 years since the release of Lynn's Legacy. Beside being a reminder of the speeding pass of time, it also reminds us how much our FreeBASIC game development scene stagnated in the meantime. In my opinion, Lynn's Legacy still remains the best FreeBASIC game and that says many things.
I'm not pointing fingers at anyone. I'm only expressing here some of the hopes I had back then (2006) about the FreeBASIC game dev scene. Hopes of a strong scene dedicated to retro design forming and flourishing, like the one that existed around 1999 and 2000 on the QBASIC scene, but this did not happen. Too many boundaries were pushed, too many new libraries and possibilities introduced, explored, tested, improved. The FreeBASIC compiler grew. It had to grew. So most of us had to dedicate to that. On the other hand, when it stopped to grow, many felt lost and had an illusion of being trapped in a dying language, instead of perceiving the vast new possibilities it offered compared to QBASIC. I really do believe that FreeBASIC offers everything that a hobbyist game designer wants and needs to develop for Windows and Linux today. But here comes another problem. The rise of commercial retro game development for mobile devices, which I think really damaged the entire freeware game dev scene for personal computers, including our scene. Too many talented people saw the legit opportunity to earn money on doing something they love and nobody can blame them. Even our own Josiah Tobin ended up developing games for iPhone. Others just felt less compelled and motivated to develop retro stuff for free and personal computers while there was a market where they could do it for cash. In the end they didn't develop anything. In an odd way, it hampered their creative desire. But that's just my own speculation. I might be completely off.
The fact is, after the glory first few years of FreeBASIC we just lost our steam. But perhaps we shouldn't linger on the passed time and wonder about the reasons for this much. We should however remember and examine the best of our works in the past and with them in mind try to restart that fire in us that made making games of Lynn's Legacy level of quality a fun and rewarding experience, a mindset we lost with time due the reasons mentioned above.
So let's get back to Lynn's Legacy and see why it is still the best in FB game production.
Lynn's Legacy remains the pinnacle of FreeBASIC game development, but it also remains an almost flawless freeware game in technical aspects.
For those who never played it (shame on you!), Lynn's Legacy is a The Legend of Zelda-style action-adventure game, featuring screen by screen movement, a quite large world to explore, and a very though-out and developing story, set in a fantasy-like world with space opera elements. The game was developed by Josiah Tobin and cha0s.
When the game was released everyone had to recognize the production values, despite the design being helmed by mere two men. Josiah Tobin delivered excellent graphics and sound/music, both admirable in quality and quantity. The graphics do lose some of the quality toward the end, but mostly in design value, which I ascribe to lack of inspiration due the game size. They are also not great in my opinion, but I'm only mentioning this to recognize the fact that they leave space for improvements. I do, however, rather like the style Josiah adopted with the Lynn's Legacy graphics, a style quite few disliked in the community due several uncommon choices, like characters not featuring visible eyes. To me, on the contrary, this gives the game a unique look, something I quite appreciate.
The game also features great sound effects and quite good original music. No complaints there, except that it perhaps lacked at least one more memorable music track. Everything sounds very good and accompanies the game action well, but doesnít really stick into mind. Still, original music in freeware games is not found that often, so compliments on compositions are due.
The very game engine by cha0s is flawless and makes playing Lynnís Legacy a very enjoyable and smooth experience, glitches free. Well, the problem of Lynn not being animated while pushing blocks appeared and remained in the last version, but thatís about it.
Where Lynnís Legacy shines the most and still remains unmatched in the FreeBASIC game design history is with its size, variety of content and developing story. Lynnís Legacy offers at least 8-10 hours of play time, much more if playing slower and with emphasis on exploration. This play time is not filled with repetitive battles like in some many console-style QBasic RPGs, but with excellently paced progressive discovery of new content, featuring a huge overworld and 8 dungeons to explore. Very little repetition of content in any sense is present throughout the game.
As well as the other game aspects, the gameplay was extremely well balanced and constructed in the first chapter (the game is separated into chapters), and somehow loss the expected increase of the difficulty as you progressed further. It still remained challenging and fun to play till the end. Just not as fun as in the beginning.
As I said in my original review, I think a game the half size of Lynn's Legacy would be a much more compact and rounded product than Lynn's Legacy ended up being with its final scope, but even with all these flaws it succeeds in being an excellent game, large, deep, challenging, fun, interesting and worthy of high regard. No doubt about that.
An example for all FB game developers, present and future, and a mandatory "reading" for anyone attempting to develop retro games in FreeBASIC.
One problem remains with Lynnís Legacy and modern computers (it was a problem in 2006 already, but ignored by developers), and that's its 320x200 resolution which canít be run full screen on most monitors today, something a Scale2X option would fix easily. I do hope cha0s can find motivation to add this option and release an update on the game.
That would be it for the first issue. Took me a whole weekend to compile, but I'm more than pleased and happy with the result.
I already have ideas for the next issue, but don't hesitate to email me, send me suggestions or your own contributions (reviews, tutorials, project overviews). Just have in mind that everything won't be included by default. You will definitely get a reply if your work is rejected and the reasons will be clearly stated. But hopefully, everyone who decides to contribute will do so with coherently compiled stuff and not with some 5 minute gibberish.
Expect the next issue around the beginning of October.
Thank you for reading and future support.
~ Lachie (email@example.com)