Although this is a well known issue and has been said countless times before, I’ll say it again: games are not the strong point on Linux. Still, there are several very good projects out there, but the choices are pretty limited. The same is the situation in the case of real-time strategy games. There is a lot of fuss around projects like 0 AD or Oil Rush, a promising, yet closed-source RTS game. However, even though these get more attention lately, let’s not forget the other good choices out there, and one of them is the game I’m going to talk about in this article, namely, MegaGlest, and more exactly about the latest version released by the team behind it, which was put up yesterday.
MegaGlest is a free, open-source real-time strategy game set in a medieval fantasy universe, based on a 3D engine, with support for single player, multi player, and mods. It’s available on Linux, Windows, and, starting with this release, also OS X.
New in 3.6.0
The list of changes that come with the 3.6.0 version is rather long, including AI improvements, making it play smarter and to respond more quickly, 15 supported languages, OS X support, server mode allowing to host dedicated game servers, in-game team switching and pausing of network games. In addition to these, improvements have been made to the multi-player chat, mod menu, options for game modifications and total conversions, extended scripting support, balancing Romans faction gameplay, music presentation, low food indication, multi-player game configuration and automatic router configuration.
The minimum system requirements are:
- dual-core CPU with at least 1.5 GHz per CPU
- 1 GB RAM
- audio card with OpenAL support
- graphics card with OpenGL support
The first thing which stroke me when starting it was its interface, which somehow resembles the one found in games like WarCraft III. This may be only me, but it really gave me a comfortable feeling.
The interface is pretty intuitive, and all the configuration options are easy to find. MegaGlest offers a very wide range of configuration options, including video (screen resolution, fullscreen or windowed mode, effects), sound (music, game sound), keyboard (various keyboard shortcuts, including possibility to take screenshots). Screenshots are saved inside the ~/.megaglest/screens directory.
MegaGlest comes with a good number of maps, and more can be installed via the mods menu. Default factions include Egyptian, Indian, Magic, Norsemen, Persian, Romans or “Tech”. Single player offers 3 tutorials based on difficulty, 20 scenarios aimed from beginner to advanced, and the usual custom game mode.
The in-game camera allows to zoom in/out, rotate and change 3D view.
The game code is licensed under the GPLv2 and the game data uses the Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, making it completely free to use and distribute.
However, there was a downside I could catch, and that’s the impossibility to save the game. From the MegaGlest wiki: “MegaGlest does not currently support this feature, though the Glest Advanced Engine is able to save and load games.” This may not be so important for online games, but it’s a feature which should be available. Hope it will be implemented soon.
MegaGlest offers a nicely packaged installation binary which you can download from the official homepage (direct link here). Save the .run file to a location of your choice, then make sure to give it executable permissions (e.g. open a terminal, go to the directory where you saved it and type chmod 755 chmod 755 MegaGlest-Installer-3.6.0_i386_linux.run or right-click the file in your file browser and mark the executable tickbox). To install it just double-click the .run file or run it in the terminal, e.g. ./chmod 755 MegaGlest-Installer-3.6.0_i386_linux.run. The installation kit is only 223 MB in size.
You will also need libopenal to run it. To install it in Ubuntu this would be sudo apt-get install libopenal1.
MegaGlest allows you to install it with user permissions, so you can run it without root privileges and install it inside your home directory or any other folder where you have writing permissions.
To run it, go inside the megaglest directory and double-click the start_megaglest binary, or in a terminal run it as ./start_megaglest.
To put it short: great game! Except for the game saving issue, MegaGlest has everything you would expect from a 3D RTS: single player via custom games and tutorials, good multi player (LAN and Internet, open games are available online at any time), addictive gameplay, a great deal of factions and maps, decent number of mods to choose and install directly in-game, good support for configuration. Overall, I am impressed with it, and this new release makes no exception. If you are looking for a strategy game on Linux, give MegaGlest a try, it surely deserves it.