Wildfire Games, an international group of volunteer game developers, proudly announces the release of “0 A.D. Alpha 11 Kronos“, the eleventh alpha version of 0 A.D., a free, open-source game of ancient warfare. This alpha features new Celtic factions, many improvements to the graphics, functional gates, a new sound system, improved AI and more!
Top new gameplay features in this release:
- New Celtic Factions: Britons and Gauls will now replace the generic Celtic faction. Each faction features some unique characteristics, along with shared Celtic units and buildings:
- The Britons have chariots, longswordsmen and powerful melee soldiers. Their special building is the kennel, which can train war dogs. These are both inexpensive and great for hunting and combat. Also, their heroes include Boudicca, queen of the Iceni, who led a revolt against the Roman Empire.
- As experts of metalworking, the Gauls have heavy swordsmen and heavy cavalry. Special building: The Rotary Mill, which is available in Town Phase, and is set to increase the food production of nearby farms in mid- and late-game. (This feature has not been implemented yet.) One of the Gauls’ heroes is Vercingetorix, chieftain of the Arverni tribe and enemy of Julius Caesar.
- New AI script: Aegis Bot – Combining the best of two AI scripts, qBot and Marilyn,Aegis Bot is the toughest AI implemented to date in 0 A.D. It gathers resources efficiently and quickly spends them on training powerful military units. Also, it can discern when it is being attacked by a dangerous army and when it isn’t, and then react appropriately to each case. What’s more, Aegis Bot’s flexible design sets the stage for exciting future AI improvements.
- Gates – Wall segments of certain widths can be converted into gates. Once placed, gates can be either locked or unlocked: Locked gates prevent all units from passing, whereas unlocked gates are normally closed, but open automatically when your own units are nearby. Handle open gates with care, though, because your enemies can pass through them too!
- New sound system – Fixes several bugs, supports Mac OS X, and sets a solid framework for future sound features.
- Shared LOS among allies – You can see whatever parts of the map your allies have explored and vice versa.
- Graphics improvements:
To increase the game’s realism, several post-processing effects and mapping enhancements have been implemented in 0 A.D.’s 3D graphics, using OpenGL Shading Language (GLSL). These will be disabled by default in Alpha 11 Kronos, since they are experimental and we don’t yet know which hardware best supports which options, but can be switched on by changing settings in the user config file:
- Ambient Occlusion (AO) – Simulates a measure of how much each part of the model is illuminated by indirect sunlight. This effect darkens parts that are harder for ambient sunlight to reach, such as the areas inside arches (1-2, 4-5).
- Normal mapping – A technique used to accentuate the lighting of bumps and dents in a 3D model, and add details without using more polygons, which would slow down the game. This effect is easy to notice on the bricks and floor tiles of buildings, and in some terrains (3b).
- Parallax mapping – Enhances normal mapping, further increasing the “bumpiness” of surfaces, such as roof tiles, without adding polygons.
- Specularity – Some terrains and parts of buildings are now shiny, such as snow and the gold rings on the columns of the Roman temple.
- Trees in the game now sway gently in the wind.
New art assets: Updated Celtic Broch fortress (7-8); Two scaffold props (9); Hellenic docks, theatron, gymnasion and fortress (10-11); Several sets of rocks (12-13); New Hellenic civilization centers (From left to right: Athenians, Spartans, Macedonians; 14); Macedonian & Spartan siege rams with animations; Roman quinquereme animations; New technology icons.
The Atlas scenario editor and Random Map Scripts:
- Heightmap importing – Import an image file and Atlas will transform it into a 3d map, automatically rendering darker parts of the image as lower parts on the map.
- Random maps – Seven new maps are available: Pyrenean Sierra, Oasis, Northern Lights, Lorraine Plain, Sahel Watering Holes, Gear and Unknown. Also, some improvements were made to existing maps, such as Fortress, to make them prettier and more playable.
Music and sound:
- Three new tracks – “Helen Leaves Sparta” (Spartans), “Rise of Macedon” (Macedonians), “Harvest Festival” (Athenians).
- Several revisited tracks – “Forging a City-State” (better bouzouki), “Celtic Pride” (total remake), “Honor Bound” (live trumpet added), “You are Victorious!” (live trumpet added), “Dried Tears” (total remake, plus live trumpet added). (Thanks, Avior Rokah!)
- All the other pieces of the score (19 tracks overall) have been re-mixed and re-mastered to a uniform sound quality and volume.
- New female citizen acknowledgment voices in ancient Greek, with phrases such asTi esti? (“What is it?”) and eisbalomen (“I will attack!”).
User interface and other features:
- Game setup and score screen changes – During match setup, small screenshots of the maps are available; The game summary screen includes player names, a market tab with trade and bartering data, and the map name and size (Thanks, hapsky!).
- Queued rally points – Use shift to place a sequence of rally points for new units to walk to, or to provide a series of tasks to do in order, such as constructing a set of buildings.
- New, more realistic ranged attack – Ranged units, such as archers, now miss their targets some of the time.
- Team & private multiplayer chat – Restrict messages to your allies (“/team”), to your enemies (“/enemy”), to a particular player (type “/msg” followed by the player’s name) – or just chat with everyone at once (“/all”).
- Other in-game changes – Hotkey to display all healthbars; Progress in technologies being researched is shown in the top right corner of the screen; Shallows represented on minimap; Improved wall system.
- Cheats – Entering “i want pizza” into the chat box adds 1000 food to your inventory, “bring my axe” adds the same amount of wood, “your money or your life” adds metal and “i see a mountain here” adds stone; “jame jam” reveals the map, “the hive master” maxes out your population, and more.
- Increased support for OpenBSD and improvements to our build system (Thanks, anthonyjbentley!).
Although we have made a great deal of progress, there are still many things left to implement and fix in 0 A.D. Here is a partial list (full list here):
- Lag – The game does not run as fast as we would like because of several reasons, mainly pertaining AI and pathfinding. The problem worsens in these conditions: (1) When there are many units on the map, (2) On island maps and (3) With multiple AI players.
- Visual glitches or textures not loaded – Sometimes this is a driver problem. Please make sure you have the latest drivers for your graphics card.
- Missing animations – Some units glide around or don’t drop to the ground when killed. This is a work in progress.
- Sound problems – We have implemented a new sound system in Alpha 11 and it still has several bugs. We intend to fix them in future alphas.
- Errors and crashes – Unfortunately, these can happen for many possible reasons, and a closer look is needed to determine the source of the problem.
We are seeking contributors in programming, art, sound, documentation and more. Programmers are especially welcome and can get started immediately.
These roles on the 0 A.D. development team are great if you want to brush up on your skills and update your portfolio, if you’re seeking a project for school with real-life applications, or if you care about the cause of free culture and software and are willing to work pro bono with a group of dedicated volunteers from all over the world.
Interested? Log onto #0ad-dev on QuakeNet on IRC and meet the developers. Also, you are invited to register on our forums and start participating!