ET-XreaL Continues Moving Towards Better Graphics
A few days ago I wrote about major changes coming to the Urban Terror game that up until now has been a popular ioquake3-powered game that originally began as a Quake 3 mod. Urban Terror is now going to be referred to as "Urban Terror HD" and they are switching from an open-source engine to being an id Tech 3 licensee, which is sad news for those interested in open-source games/engines. While hope may be lost with Urban Terror HD, it seems the XreaL version of Enemy Territory is moving along nicely.
XreaL is an open-source game engine that Phoronix was the first to report on in April of 2009. The lead developer of XreaL claims it to be the most advanced open-source game engine. It's code is based upon the open-source id Tech 3 engine , but it's been rewritten to provide a pure GLSL (GL Shading Language) renderer, is written against the OpenGL ES 2.0 specification, emerging OpenGL 3.x support, a true 64-bit HDR rendering pipeline, shadow mapping, light interaction system, and many other visual features lacking from nearly all open-source game engines. XreaL is not up to the same level as say the Unigine engine, but it's graphics back in 2009 were great and on the same level -- if not better -- than Nexuiz, which could be considered the open-source game with the most compelling graphics capabilities.
Sadly, however, even with 19 months having passed since we first reported on XreaL, there still is not a release of this open-source multi-player first person shooter game. In fact, there hasn't been much progress towards that goal as becoming its own game, but the engine continues to progress. This has largely come down to the lack of artists being able to provide good visuals and maps for such a game while the main developer behind XreaL continues working on providing compelling graphics traits.
In August though after id Software open-sourced Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory and Return To Castle Wolfenstein, it was announced by Robert Beckebans, the lead XreaL developer, that there would be an XreaL version of Enemy Territory. Essentially this is just Enemy Territory but with much better graphics for this game that was first released over seven years ago. This seems to have become Robert's focus in recent months.
There hasn't been a lot of news about the XreaL-ized version of Enemy Territory, so this morning I was wondering if it too went the way of the original XreaL game. But when checking out the ET-XreaL Git code-base, I ended up being delighted. XreaL for Enemy Territory is still actively being developed. In fact, the last commit was merely 26 hours ago and there were quite a number of commits during the month of October.
The last progress report on ET-XreaL was in September and can be found on the SourceForge project page. Two months ago the renderer for Enemy Territory was about done, but still not ready for a general release. Sadly this is not a pure drop-in engine replacement for Enemy Territory, but to take advantage of the XreaL engine capabilities, the Enemy Territory maps need to be recompiled. As such, Robert also started work on a new map compiler called ETXMap. The ETXMap compiler supports ET-specific commands as well as Doom 3 material keywords. Additionally, it can also compile Doom 3 and Quake 4 map formats. One of the many graphics features that XreaL brings to Enemy Territory is dynamic shadows, which is shown off in the video below from last month.
It would be nice to see a release or preview build of ET-XreaL soon, but for now it's time to go build the engine from source and investigate its visual qualities!
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