New Projects - Fresh from the Labs
Ah, now for a bit of nostalgia. If your idea of vintage gaming is a Nintendo 64, you probably won't have a clue what I'm talking about. But, for those who are from the era of at least the 286, you no doubt will remember such classics as Commander Keen, Jetpack and, of course, Duke Nukum. If you're thinking Duke Nukum 3D, then think again. That was a remake of this! This was back in the days of the 2-D platformer, and when Commander Keen was king, this came along as a sort of Team America version—rude, crude and supposedly violent (but very tame by today's standards).
With these old classics fading into obscurity and requiring a lengthy explanation from wizened geeks like myself, enter Freenukum, a restorative Linux version on which to waste more office hours. An authentic reconstruction, Freenukum makes use of (and requires for the moment) the original level files to bring back the same feel of this classic platformer.
The actual program installation is a very straightforward affair, with various binaries available or source code. The source is quite minimal, requiring only the usual:
$ ./configure $ make
And, as root or sudo:
# make install
Compilation took only a few seconds on my system, and the configure script didn't give me any complaints.
With the compilation out of the way, you still have one more step before you can run the game. Freenukum currently requires the original level files to run, so you need to get a copy of the original from somewhere. Either the shareware version or the full version will work, so Google around and find a host that suits you. Of course, there are abandonware sites, but we aren't encouraging that sort of thing.
Once you have downloaded the original, copy the game's files into the directory ~/.freenukum/data (if you're a bit stuck here and using a graphical file manager, turn on Show Hidden Files). If it's not there, simply create the directories, and everything should be tickety-boo. If you're pedantic about keeping a tight system, a lot of those files aren't needed, but this game was made back in the day of the 286, so the game isn't exactly big. I just copied the whole game.
Once all that's out of the way, to run it, enter the following command:
Once you're in the main menu, press the S key to start a new game. Left and right arrow keys control your directional movement, and the up arrow key is used to activate things such as platforms, switches and so on. The left Ctrl key is for jumping; the left Alt key is for shooting, and that's pretty much it—things were simple back in those days! Check the man page for further info on which items do what and further info on the game itself (type man freenukum at the console).
At its current state, some things aren't implemented in the menu yet, such as instructions or the high-score table, so you'll definitely need that man page. Even so, Freenukum still is in a pretty solid state, and it's very playable. Project author Wolfgang Silbermayr made me promise I'd mention that he's looking for some graphic and level designers to help make some original level files to include with the game by default. Once this happens, it'd be great to see Freenukum included in distro repositories.
A shareware download is available at www.3drealms.com/duke1/index.html.
Projects at a Glance
I'm going on a petrol head stint this month and have picked up three cool looking projects for you fellow gas guzzlers.
For any ECU tweakers out there with Subaru-colored pajamas, Japanese Drift videos and a Colin McRae embroidered duvet, this is the program for you. Mega Tunix is “...the only tuning software for UNIX- (and now Win32-) class operating systems that supports all existing megasquirt firmwares”. MegaSquirt is apparently “an open-source EFI controller for internal combustion engines, comprised of embedded software, tuning software and various build and deployment tools”. For those readers who are still following me, the MegaTunix developers claim to have the most complete and accurate ECU interrogation of any project out there. The latest versions have been redesigned to be extensible further to support new firmware variants, and the GUI is broken down into lovely little tabs. Neat.
Vamos is a very young project concentrating on being “an automotive simulation framework with an emphasis on thorough physical modeling and good C++ design. Vamos includes a real-time, first-person, 3-D driving application”. It also includes a number of cool real-world locations, with tracks such as Germany's Nurburgring and Japan's Suzuka Circuit, among others. However, this won't be a major draw card of authenticity just yet, as the graphics are still at a level comparable to a 286, and the cars resemble something more like what Postman Pat would drive. As a result, the project's author is inviting anyone to contribute to the effort. Still, it looks promising, especially as parts of its code are being borrowed from another project.
Powered by the just-mentioned Vamos engine, “VDrift is a cross-platform, open-source driving simulation made with drift racing in mind”, and it's currently available for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X and Windows (Cygwin). Although the game is in an early development stage, it is supposed to be very playable and quite feature-packed, with 19 tracks (including the Nordschleife track), 28 cars, AI players, “very realistic physics” and a (simple) multiplayer network mode. Initial screenshots look a little rudimentary at times, but seriously sweet at others. I look forward to playing this one and hope to have an in-depth view of both Vamos and VDrift over the coming months.
John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.