Birth of the Empires space TBS game (open source)

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Malvoisin
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Birth of the Empires space TBS game (open source)

Post by Malvoisin » March 3rd, 2010, 6:14 pm

I recently downloaded Wesnoth and played it a while, must say, a very clean game, makes fun, maybe first map from first campaign could be a tidbit smaller but well, since both games live in the same genre I thought it'd be interesting to hear what Wesnoth players think about our turn-based strategy game Birth of the Empires. It takes things a little different, for example battles aren't fought out during turn but between turns and the focus in BotE lies a bit more on building and upgrading structures on your planets and a bit less on moving around exploring stuff which is done a little slower than in Wesnoth, from my experience so far.

Well, I'd describe BotE as a 4X game much in the tradition of Microprose classics like Master of Orion 2 and ST:TNG Birth of the Federation where the name is partly derived from. The game plays on a 2D galactic map with 30x20 sectors and features 6 main races, 4 of them playable in single- or multiplayer mode, the others managed by an AI adjustable in difficulty.

Overall goal of each match is to lead your empire from the beginning stages of space flight to becoming a galactic power among various alien races competing with you. The player can set up diplomatic and trade relationships, intel activities like espionage and sabotage, and fleets to defend yourself or attack the enemy in order to gain access to rich planets and resources. Planetary invasions and ship combat are auto-resolved by a complex combat simulator calculating a "true" 3D battle without graphical display yet.

The whole project and the game of course are non-commercial (with a wild mixture of different licenses, virtually every file in the package has a different license ;), but all have in common that we can have them in our non-commercial game as lowest common denominator so to speak). Currently it runs under all Windows versions from XP on to Windows 7 (Windows 2000 seems to work too) and Linux using latest WINE builds. Mac OS is not supported natively unfortunately due to usage of Microsoft MFC libraries for GUI (instead of Qt for example). But as Jetrel says, you can run WINE on intel macs or boot the mac into windows as any intel mac also can or launch VMWare or Parallels.

The game is (fully self-)programmed in C++ and MFC 8 for the GUI, open source repository is located at http://bote.codeplex.com.

Things still to be implemented are a ST:Birth of the Federation-style 3D tactical combat engine, campaigns and scenarios, random events like Supernovae or all kinds of spatial anomalies, writing the AI for planetary invasions and troop management, galaxy creation parameters like different galaxy shapes or map sizes, a technology databank or encyclopedia to look up tech requirements for certain buildings and ships, a start menu screen with a GUI for bote.ini settings file, UI menu graphics for the last two remaining un-skinned playable major empires, an english translation for the manual and an in-game tutorial mode.


Last but not least two screenshots of the latest Alpha 5.1 (v0.71) build and a link to download it:

Coalition player: View of an early large Xibren fleet:
Image

Rotharian player: Diplomacy screen:
Image


Game download page can be found here (multi-language installer; chosen installer language determines game language much like in Wesnoth)
We currently do not have an english website, the german one (with google autotranslation included) is here: http://www.birth-of-the-empires.de

Some hints on gameplay and controls since there's no tutorial mode (yet):
  • The top menu bar opens up when moving mouse above the turn end button, there you can save your game and open in-game chat or see credits.
  • At first start, the exe creates a bote.ini file at installation folder (sometimes at documents and settings folder, you need to have write permissions in Windows on these folders) where you can set difficulty levels and sound volume and other things.
  • Difficulty levels are: BABY, EASY, NORMAL, HARD and IMPOSSIBLE (capital letters are important, file content is case-sensitive).
  • Scrolling on map works with pressed-down left mouse button.
  • Switching systems in buildmenu gets easier when you use your extra mouse buttons or left and right cursors.

As far as tactical 3d combat is concerned, possibly we can take use of a OGRE C++ coded engine currently made by the folks over at Freeorion, another open-source project, who are doing a great job developing it as you can see in a mock-up art and a modified-version screenshot here:
mock-up art:
Image
modified engine screenshot:
Image

If not, there's still the current un-skinned and un-animated 2d combat simulator that we already have:
Image


Hope you enjoy playing it (it has quite some depth to offer gameplay-wise) and acquire a taste for it so to speak ;). Like I said, feedback's welcome.
Last edited by Malvoisin on March 8th, 2010, 12:51 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by artisticdude » March 3rd, 2010, 6:27 pm

This looks awesome! Can it run on mac os x? :hmm:
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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by Malvoisin » March 3rd, 2010, 6:30 pm

Mac is not supported, I'm sorry. The only way I could think of would be to install Linux on Mac and run it via WINE or use CrossOver Mac (but I'm really not much familiar with the Mac unfortunately).

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by artisticdude » March 3rd, 2010, 6:37 pm

Pity. :( Sometimes mac has it's downfalls... the gaming world in general being one of them, though thankfully Wesnoth runs on macs. :wink: From what I've seen this looks like an awesome game, I'm really liking it. A while back I had windows installed via VMware fusion, but since I upgraded to Snow Leopard, VMware's gone haywire, and I haven't yet seen any updates for it...
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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by Malvoisin » March 3rd, 2010, 6:58 pm

thx. yeah, the design decision 6 years ago to take (win-only) MFC libraries for our GUI instead of Qt, was not the best in the aftermath. Back then it was the easiest one to go with and our chief programmer was just starting to get into coding along with his university study. Guess a parallel linux installation remains the only way..

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by catwhowalksbyhimself » March 3rd, 2010, 10:42 pm

Huh, a freeware game based on Birth of the Federation? I shall have to try it out.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by Malvoisin » March 4th, 2010, 6:23 am

yep, there were several attempts in the past at recreating or following that ten year-old game in style, two of them still existing, BotE and Star Trek Supremacy. BotF was that kind of LAN game that was always fun to spend the weekends on with your friends at that time.

btw. BotE is also open-source. Non-blank code lines have well-exceeded the 50k landmark so there is much to eat up here for anyone wanting to read it but there's a complete documentation (unfortunately in german language only).
Well, the game actually was never meant to go public much, because at the beginning it used Star Trek content (most images and stuff were directly taken out of BotF) and was intended as an inofficial fan successor to BotF with the aim of amending many troubling issues with BotF like the memory lag and the bad AI. Only 4 years after, we decided the game needs a self-made and self-"collected" content and replaced each and every copyrighted/un-usable file with ones we were allowed to use.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by Jetrel » March 4th, 2010, 8:40 am

Malvoisin wrote: Guess a parallel linux installation remains the only way..
No, intel macs can run WINE natively.

Or:

Just boot the mac into windows (any intel mac can).

Or:

Launch either parallels or VMWare, and run it without having to reboot.
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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by Telaron » March 4th, 2010, 11:30 am

I downloaded WINE, but there was no actual program in the download. :|
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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by Malvoisin » March 4th, 2010, 11:39 am

hm, there are several tutorials on how to setup WINE on any linux distribution or on the mac like the one here: http://davidbaumgold.com/tutorials/wine-mac/

After the environment is set-up, you should be able to call the installer and install the program.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game (open source)

Post by Blarumyrran » March 5th, 2010, 10:26 pm

This certainly looks really pretty for a foss game!

Now some slightly offensive slightly off-topic rant. The game looks really complicated. I open the game, and I see hundreds of info windows and spreadsheets, and I click stuff semi-randomly and I have really no idea what is going on. And really that doesn't go just for this, but for almost all spacey games. I played moo1 when I was small, and that never gave me the feeling of being overwhelmed by the massive information on the screen - but almost all later games in the genre do. Maybe it's just me.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game (open source)

Post by catwhowalksbyhimself » March 6th, 2010, 12:52 am

Most 4x games are VERY complicated. That's part of what makes them fun, balancing so many interacting decisions and intricate things. The original MOO was relatively simple for a game of that genre.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game (open source)

Post by StandYourGround » March 6th, 2010, 2:14 am

I'm not really all that interested in the game itself, but just for the fun of it I am configuring WINE on my Mac just to see how well it works. I'll report back to let you know what happens.

EDIT: That was fast. I got it installed and running, but it wouldn't load much. My Terminal chirped out reams of errors relating to PNG support not working.
I will now resume lurking silently.

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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game

Post by ancestral » March 6th, 2010, 5:54 am

Jetrel wrote:
Malvoisin wrote: Guess a parallel linux installation remains the only way..
No, intel macs can run WINE natively.
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Re: Birth of the Empires space TBS game (open source)

Post by Malvoisin » March 6th, 2010, 6:12 am

Seems to be a bug with MacPorts: http://trac.macports.org/ticket/23683
Here an older thread from 2006 where the problem was also arising: http://kenno.wordpress.com/2006/04/20/c ... -mac-os-x/

There should be a way to fix this, possibly with this Darwine if there's a difference, I don't know..


As for the overcomplication issue, well, it's easier when you use the pareto-approach, i.e. concentrate on a few major "tasks" and ignore for example the trade, diplomacy and intel menu at the beginning cause you don't have anyone to trade, espionage or make treaties with right at game start. When doing so, you will only have to assign orders and routes to your ships, perhaps reassign research percentages and build a series of structures at your home planet (hint: cheap one-turn research facilities and buying expensive colony ships). That's pretty much all you need to care about for the first ~10 turns.
That's btw. where a tutorial mode would come in handy to tell the player that he's at the wrong menu(s) when he's clicking around and slowly starts to get overwhelmed by it ;). Also it could tell you the difference between inner and outer trading because there is one exception to the "non-trading"-rule I posed above and that is inner-systems resource trading which is done by laying resource routes between your colonies. This is done via Systems->Trade menu. A tooltip should pop-up once the player gets to build a titanium-dependant structure on one of his colonies not having titanium mines or workers assigned to existing mines, i.e. lack the needed resource to build the structure. Then you need a resource route preferrably from your home planet - which has quite an amount of titanium right from the start - to the colony in question.

And then, once you've come to meet other races, you can get acquired to the diplomacy menu (still neglecting intel and trade since you need trade agreement via diplomacy first and intel is kind of unnecessary since you don't have enough intel facilities and output to do successful espionage and sabotage missions except you really go for the intel strategy right from the start but that's a rather complicated strategy I wouldn't recommend to beginners). So doing it all step-by-step and with the admittedly not-so-verbose-yet feedback of the program itself, it should be feasible to get into playing without becoming overwhelmed by options that only later-on become important and (hopefully) interesting to make use of.
Last edited by Malvoisin on March 6th, 2010, 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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