Quake, Meet GPL; GPL, Meet Quake

What has spiders, bubble gum, rocket launchers and camo pants? Quake 3, of course!

Tremulous is an interesting game. It's kind of a cross between a first-person-shooter and a real-time strategy game. Although the game is played in first person, and indeed, you frag the other team, you also build devices and set up bases. Unlike most other first-person-shooter games, the two races in Tremulous are drastically different. The humans are, well, humans. The aliens, however, are spider-like and tend to attack without weapons. The idea behind Tremulous is really remarkable, and the two separate races make for radically different game play.

This is another game that is simple to install on Ubuntu. All it takes is a quick:

# sudo apt-get install tremulous

If you have a different distribution, www.tremulous.net supplies a generic installer. Honestly, installing Tremulous is painless. I wish I could say the same about actually playing the game.

Tremulous is hard—really, really, really hard. Unfortunately, there is no single-player version, nor is there any support for bots. The only way to play Tremulous is against other people. Other people, as a group, all tend to be better than I am. I played for more than an hour, both as a human and as an alien, and I didn't get a single kill—not a single one.

I'm sure there are other folks who understand the game better than I do, and I know there are other people who can play the game better than I do. Sadly, Tremulous is the game I was most excited about, and the game I enjoyed the least. No matter what race I chose, or what character I chose to play, I just couldn't get the hang of playing. Figure 3 shows me dying. So does Figure 4.

Figure 3. Shawn Dying in Tremulous

Figure 4. Shawn Dying Again in Tremulous

World of Padman

The last game on the list has many similarities to the first. World of Padman has the same sort of fast-action and easy-to-learn features that make Open Arena so great. The interesting twist is that World of Padman is staged in a cartoon-like, oddly proportioned environment. All the players are tiny mouse-sized, and the “maps” are generally rooms in a house. I absolutely love the graphics, and apart from a few annoyances, it is easily the most visually appealing of the four.

Although World of Padman isn't distributed as a package for Ubuntu, the installer is very easy to use. On its Web site, www.worldofpadman.com, it even offers a live DVD version of the game. (Actually, several games are on the DVD.) Once the installer was done, I did have one small issue. It wouldn't start. When I started from the command line, I could see the game was complaining it didn't have libvorbisfile installed. After I installed it (sudo apt-get install libvorbisfile3), the game started just fine. I was a little surprised the installer didn't check for stuff like that, but all in all, it wasn't too hard to fix.

World of Padman is demanding on the video card. Even with details and resolution turned way down, I still could tell the video card was holding me back. In high-action scenes, like the one shown in Figure 5, the screen started to stutter. As the requirements mention a need for a 128MB OpenGL video card, I guess I can't complain that my 8MB shared memory video was a bit underpowered. The game was still very playable, even with my system.

Figure 5. High-Action Scene in World of Padman

This game is pure fun. The weapons range from a water-balloon launcher to a bubble-gum gun. The maps are extremely detailed and enjoyable to explore. My only real complaint is with the pictures on the main menu and on the loading screen. A game that would otherwise be perfect for young gamers quickly becomes inappropriate due to the sexually explicit cartoons. If there were a G-rated version of the game, I would install it for my kids to play and use it for the after-school gaming club at our school. Unfortunately, it's a little to risqué for such an environment.

Also, although the single-player mode isn't yet complete, World of Padman has excellent bots. If you have a poor Internet connection or poor gaming skills, it's possible to have tons of fun with a local server full of bots. Honestly though, World of Padman is easy enough that while playing on-line, I actually fared quite well. Although I really enjoyed Open Arena, I think World of Padman might be my favorite game of the bunch.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Nexuiz is not quake3-based

David Watzke's picture

Kosh: Nexuiz is not based on the Quake3 engine. It uses improved Quake1 engine called "DarkPlaces".

+1 for Nexuiz

Anonymous's picture

+1 for Nexuiz

Open Arena

Anonymous's picture

If you are an Ubuntu user you best get Open Arena from www.openareana.ws It's the current 0.8.1 version, the one supplied with Ubuntu is two versions behind the times. There are not many online servers left using the old version. Just unzip in your home directory and you are ready to frag.

Forgot the best one.

Kosh's picture

I have played all of the games you mentioned except for Padman and you forgot the best of them all - Nexiuz. The game is very easy to install, straight forward to customize , has single and multi-player games. The only issues I have had is I can not see were I can turn on the grappling hook in single player mode and I am a terrible shot. But I can move fast so watch out when I am in the capture the flag maps.


John Hardin's picture

More grep nitpicking:

glxinfo | grep -i rendering

The "-i" switch makes grep case-insensitive.

-- "Sgt. Bothari" in Urban Terror


Anonymous's picture

The pipeline
glxinfo | grep '[Rr]endering'
would have
a) captured the information you wanted from the glxinfo report,
b) been more readable to your audience,
c) accomodated both the capitalized and the lowercased word, and
c) needed no explanation about why you left off the R

Just a thought

Quake 3 Arena

David Watzke's picture

Well, I am familiar with Open Arena, Urban Terror and Tremulous and I think that even though these games are good, they just can't compete with good ol' Quake III. Also, Quake III engine under GPL is IMHO a great thing even if one isn't a game developer. Think of the compatibility, if not anything else.

-- Proud owner of Quake III Gold.