I'm so excited that it's that time of year again. The Linux Game Jam 2018 is poised to be the biggest and most exciting jam we've done as a community (admittedly, we've only done one other, but still).
If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can watch my previous announcement video. This year, the game jam is all about versatile verbs, actions in game that allow the player to be expressive in their play.
As of the release of this video, there are still 5 days left to complete your work, and I wanted to help you guys along with your projects by highlighting 4 open source tools that can help you in your journey!
Before we get started with this list, I made a list last year featuring a few other tools that might help you. You can check that one out too.
Blender is a GPL-licensed 3D modeling tool developed by the Blender Foundation. It's capable of a huge number of things, from the aforementioned 3D modeling, to animation, physics simulation, functioning as a game engine, to even video editing. Blender does a lot. It's a great tool to work with--though the interface can seem a bit... obtuse at times.
If you need some way to make polygons look pretty, Blender is my go-to choice.
Krita is a fabulous GPL-licensed tool for working with rasterized graphics. It's got all the stuff you need; a variety of built-in brush presets, multi-layered editing, and even graphics tablet support. My WACOM tablet work great with Krita; pressure sensitivity, brush direction, and button mapping are all supported.
It's also a good choice for 2D animation (though you'll need a newer version than what's available in Ubuntu's repositories).
Krita is my choice for hand-drawn pixels perfection.
I got a bit of flack last year for recommending VS Code, mostly because it's a Microsoft product. And hey, while VS Code is free software, if you don't trust Microsoft... fair enough!
A bunch of you guys recommended Atom in the comments. It's an IDE developed by GitHub and it's MIT Licensed. I dig it! It's got some great features. Version control, syntax checking for multiple languages built in by default, even a spell checker which is awesome...
If you're looking for a new IDE, Atom is a great choice!
Last year, a few people used MonoGame in their submissions. MonoGame is a MS-PL-licensed framework that a few of my favorite games were created in. FEZ, Bastion, and Transistor just to name a few. MonoGame has a bunch of unique traits that I think make it an interesting choice for game development. First, it's cross-platform, second, there's a decently-sized community, and third the documentation seems robust.
Alright, so that's my list for this year's game development tools.
I’ve come to expect a bit of… shall we say… derision from media outlets and your garden variety PC gamers when it comes to anything Linux. So I wasn’t surprised to see headlines reporting on the removal of Steam Machines from the Steam navigation menu.
But what I didn’t expect was to see Valve respond. Hi, I’m Gardiner, the Linux Gamer, and let’s talk about this.
“While it's true Steam Machines aren't exactly flying off the shelves, our reasons for striving towards a competitive and open gaming platform haven't significantly changed. We're still working hard on making Linux operating systems a great place for gaming and applications. We think it will ultimately result in a better experience for developers and customers alike, including those not on Steam.”
I would say that that’s a pretty interesting comment. Valve is working on making Linux a great operating system for gaming and applications because... why? Well, they believe that it will result in a better experience for everyone, not just their customers. And hell yeah! That’s true and it’s refreshing to hear from Valve, especially when they can be pretty quiet and slow moving. I’m filled with warm tinglies all over after reading that.
The post goes on to say…
“Through the Steam Machine initiative, we've learned quite a bit about the state of the Linux ecosystem for real-world game developers out there. We've taken a lot of feedback and have been heads-down on addressing the shortcomings we observed.”
I’d say there’s evidence to back that up. Valve have released both a beta and a stable version of SteamOS so far this year. And for a project that many proclaimed dead three years ago, that’s a rather healthy showing, I’d say.
“We think an important part of that effort is our ongoing investment in making Vulkan a competitive and well-supported graphics API, as well as making sure it has first-class support on Linux platforms...”
“We also have other Linux initiatives in the pipe that we're not quite ready to talk about yet; SteamOS will continue to be our medium to deliver these improvements to our customers, and we think they will ultimately benefit the Linux ecosystem at large.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but personally, I’m quite interested in what Valve are up to. Especially when it comes to the “other Linux initiatives” he was talking about. If you haven’t seen it, I made a video speculating about what Valve are up to.
It’s worth mentioning at this point that Linux is a collaborative effort. Thousands of people from so many companies all over the world contribute to the Linux kernel in order to make it better and more versatile. The interesting thing about Valve contributing to and pushing Linux forward is their motivation. They are one of a small group of companies who believe in Linux as an end-user experience and that push it as such. That’s something I find commendable.
Now I did reach out to Pierre-Loup (the author of the post) for further comment and unfortunately he wasn’t available to give an interview at the moment.
But I want to know what you think? Have you read the entire post? Are you satisfied with SteamOS’ progress? Leave me a comment and let me know.
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Whoa, what’s that?! It's that time of the year already? Yep, The Linux Game Jam 2018 is upon us and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’ve spent the last few months thinking about The Linux Game Jam and how we can improve the experience for everyone participating this year and I think I’ve come up with something fun.
Last year we didn’t have a theme and many participants said they wanted one. So for this year’s jam, we’re gonna keep it loose, but still have a theme. That theme is, “versatile verbs.”
What does that mean? Well, the concept is simple. If your character can jump, then he should be able to jump in many different ways. Tapping the jump button results in a short jump, while holding results in a higher jump.
But it also means that different mechanics can interact with each other in various ways. For example: jumping while crouched could mean doing a backflip, or with enough forward momentum, it could lead to a longjump. Obviously I’m borrowing a lot of my inspirations here from Super Mario games…
For more on this subject, I highly recommend you go check out Mark Brown’s Game Maker’s Toolkit. That’s where I first heard this term and he does a great job of explaining it. There’s a video about versatile verbs as a card and down in the description.
Now for the details… the jam starts THIS FRIDAY MORNING (April 6th) and the jam ends 11:59:59 Saturday the 14th eastern standard time.
You get a full 8 days to work on your submission. This time, submissions will be ranked by the judges… that’s right, this year we have some judges. How it works is as follows:
It’s pretty simple: The guest judges will have the opportunity to play your games and then we will have a group discussion about which games stood out to us. It’s pretty exciting, especially since we’ll be having Bryan Lunduke, Wendell from Level1, and Cassidy from ElementaryOS as guest judges. I’ve also invited a few other people to be judges and I’m waiting to hear back from them.
So everyone who joins the jam, whether you submit something or not, will be able to vote on which games they like the best. I’ll be playing games for the whole week and I’ll be streaming over on twitch.tv/xondak, so make sure you head over there to watch and participate. Once the jam ends, the judges and I will have a roundtable discussion about the games that stood out to us, and the judges will pick their own top 10s. There are no losers, by any means… as I’m sure that each judge will have their own unique list of games they liked. I’ll then try to interview the people or teams that submitted the best content.
Alright… So let’s talk about the rules:
Be as creative as you can be. Think outside the box, redefine the word 'versatile.'
Your game’s programming should be done within the time frame of this jam.
You can use any engine. Your own custom built one (developed outside the jam) is allowed.
Your game must be submitted to the official Itch.io game jam page before the end of the day April 14th (EST).
Your game must have a Linux build.
Your game's Itch page should have:
A brief summary of your mechanics.
Clear instructions on installation, dependency requirements, and how to run the game.
The judges are going to be trying (perhaps as many as) 50 games and we don’t have time to troubleshoot them all.
Your game must use assets that you created or that are freely licensed
That includes music, sound effects, fonts, all of it.
While you can use freely licensed sprites, I’d encourage using original sprites. If you’re really not that creative, you can find an artist in the community tab to work with.
You’re allowed to work in teams. Head over to the community section of the Jam’s page and look for people who want to team up.
You get exactly one bonus point if your game is open source and developed with open source tools.
Cool. So now we’re cooking. Check out the link to the official itch page down in the description, join the community and team up! If you are an artist with no coding skills, let people know you want to help! The same goes for coders with no artistic persuasion.
I can’t wait to see what you guys make and here’s to another year of Linux Gaming!!