Projects I’m Looking Forward To – 0 A.D. …

Projects I’m Looking Forward To – 0 A.D. after the break…

Projects I’m Looking Forward To – 0 A.D. …

I’m old enough to have been with the Internet during it’s modern rise – No, not back when it was DARPANET or in the era of elephant-sized floppy disks but back when it was still text-based just before the browser “Mosaic” made the Internet what it is today. Therefore, I would like to think that I’ve, at least, had the opportunity to witness all the major events on the Internet although one can never have enough time in the day to witness everything on the Internet.

In the earlier days of the Internet, content generation in the form of free gaming was at a premium. “Mods” (an abbreviation for “modification”) for existing games were often as close as one could get when it came to “free gaming stuff.” Internet 1.0 was renown for having “Abandonware,” commercial computer programs from a bygone era (read: before 1995) from companies that had either gone out of business or simply didn’t care about programs written for outdated computers. The modern-day Internet has since ramped up it’s content generation to make “Abandonware” an obsolete concept – There are now commercial avenues to acquire older games and all of the pseudo-legal arguments for Abandonware have since subsided. Older game connoisseurs will always find avenues to collect older games and the obscure means to play them (modern-day PC computers are notorious for not being able to handle games meant for older operating systems) but, nowadays, these older games are no longer the “only game in town” or, more appropriately, “the only games on the Internet.”

The lure of playing a game for free in my youth led me to follow many different game projects during the Internet’s rise and it’s many stages of development. Yet, very quickly, one realizes a fundamental truth about free game development – For every game that is successfully developed on the Internet, several dozen never make it past a pretty screenshot and a few blog entries. The Internet is positively littered with the broken dreams of thousands of mods and games that never went past the “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” stage. Someone who was competent in Quake 1 level design briefly collaborated with someone decent enough in Quake 1 scripting for a level or two, a monster or two, even a screenshot and GUI (Graphical User Interface), but never enough for an actual mod, be it in Half-Life 1, Quake 1, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, Crysis… The list is endless.

I’ve always been fascinated by those projects that have persevered the most even when their luster has faded with newer games competing against them with their more modern graphics. Games naturally take years to complete, sometimes many years even for a dedicated for-profit game developer studio. Therefore, it is rare for a small band of seemingly independent, for-free game developers find the time and dedication to hammer out a game that they’ll never make any money off of or not even receive their “15 minutes of fame” when it finally reaches version 1.0.

“0 A.D.” is a strategy game that, depending upon whom you ask, started development anywhere from 2000 to 2003. The game was being developed privately by “Wildfire Games” but turned open source in 2009. Becoming “open source” is often ‘lingo’ in the game development world for “dead” as in “cancelled.” Yet, surprisingly, “0 A.D.” has thrived relatively well in the open source community and has a considerable chance of being completed.

“0 A.D.” attempts to be a more realistic strategy game that features the major empires during… Well, the time of 0 A.D.. Factions include the Romans, Celts and the Persians (the empire, not the cats or the rugs). Currently, the game is at “Alpha 10” – Not a beta but, apparently, enough ‘game’ is there to at least poke around and play a pseudo-game or two with it. Make no mistake, though – This game is apparently more “Total Annihilation” then “Civilization” in it’s goals.

I am thrilled that “0 A.D.” looks as though it will be completed – A thriving forum and fan base ensures that, at the very least, more sophisticated alpha versions are to come and… Who knows? Could we see a beta release within a year or two? One must wonder just how far along they are to becoming “feature complete” at this stage.

It is human nature to root for the underdog when someone has no loyalties to either side for we intrinsically always feel that we are the underdogs – We always have to persevere in the face of constant challenges, sudden obstacles, crippling compromises and insufferable delays to reach our goals in life. When we see independent game developers experience those same types of events when attempting to complete a game as ambitious as “0 A.D.,” one can not help but root for them to succeed if only to give the rest of us some hope that we might, someday, complete our own goals in life, whatever they may be.

I sincerely hope that “0 A.D.” reaches a version 1.0 stage. The game has had a long journey, having started during the era when the Internet was filled with the hopes and promises of young game developers wanting to stand out and be noticed, only for a majority of them not having the leadership, resources or skills to succeed in fulfilling their vision. Should “0 A.D.” actually succeed in releasing a version 1.0, it will have graduated from a time when few such projects ever succeeded and that will be an accomplish that everyone involved with “0 A.D.” ought to celebrate. I hope that someday I get to write about their success because, for their effort, the developers of “0 A.D.” deserve far more then the 15 minutes of fame that they have worked so hard to achieve.

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