Avaneya – More Than Just A Game

Avaneya is a science fiction FOSS game exclusively for the GNU/Linux platform.
It focuses on social justice, human rights,city building, adventure, strategy, economics and sustainability amidst a Martian planetary setting in the future.

This project was started 8 months ago by Kip and expected to be finished within 3 years.
This is a very unique game project because of several things :

1. Avaneya will be released under the GPLv3 license and the content of the game under the Creative Commons, thus making it free for all.
Kip the man who started the project is very passionate about free software, he just couldn’t go against his believes by closing his game and surrendering to the “dark side”.

2. Avaneya will be compiled exclusively for the GNU/Linux platform.
Kip doesn’t want to lock the users in chains of the non-free OS’s like Windows or MacOS, thus he won’t compile Avaneya to run on those platforms.
although because Avaneya is free software other ports might be made by other people.
This reminds me of other developers who developed AstroMenace, the GNU/Linux version is free and the source code is available under the GPLv2, but the Windows version costs money.
Funny enough that even as the source code is free none compiled a free Windows version of that game.
“Since we consider it unethical to encourage people to use non-free software, it is unlikely that the primary maintainers will undertake such an endeavour. However, it would also be unethical to deliberately design it in such a way so as to hinder porting to non-free platforms. Thus, since Avaneya will rely on portable libraries, it shouldn’t be unreasonable for someone in the community to do this if they do not share our values.

3. Avaneya will offer a new economic model, the single player campaign will be free, but in order to be able to play online at the official servers you will have to subscribe, which costs money.
Some people have tried to make a living out of FOSS games, while this is more then possible with programs and GNU/Linux distributions, with games it was always challenging.
There was one small company named “Sixth Floor Labs” which made a space shooter and offered to release it under the GPL for $39960, but the project failed because the game wasn’t better then what we already had released as FOSS, and the amount of money they asked was ridiculously high for their game.
Avaneya on the other hand will try a different approach, the game will be fully freed under the GPLv3 but the online play on the official servers will cost money via subscription.
There already were topics about this issue on some forums (can you make such model economically viable ?, what keeps the users from forming their own free server and play there ?), so it would be very interesting to see in practice.
Some who prefer not to challenge the status quo, argue that commercial free software, especially with respect to games, is not sustainable. One of the goals of the Avaneya project is to prove otherwise and we are hell bent on doing this

4. Avaneya is very wide game in terms of gameplay and might not fit into a single category like “RTS” :
The philosophy that drives Avaneya is to assist users unlearn some things, learn other things, and enjoy the process of transition.
Avaneya will combine elements of a science fiction real time strategy, adventure, and some of those of the classical city building and management genre. The setting is on the Martian surface.
The environment will aim to be rich, three dimensional, and possibly even based on real topographical data obtained from the Mars Global Surveyor’s orbital laser altimeter. NASA has provided the data into the public domain (that is, not copyrighted) and in a free format. They chose deliberately not to store it in a proprietary format in order to “ensure the long-term viability of the data”. A technical issue, however, is whether the spatial resolution will be sufficient to render it useful for Avaneya.
A major distinguishing characteristic of Avaneya with respect to traditional RTS and city building / management games is the sense of awareness the user experiences of externalities in game play.
In other games, it may be possible (even encouraged) to bulldoze large amounts of natural capital to accommodate the expansion of a city. Through the perspective of GDP, strictly an income sheet, this may appear beneficial to your society.
Viewed through the perspective of the GPI as a net balance sheet, however, one is left with a different impression of very costly ramifications. Bulldozing your natural capital would have deferred greater costs than those immediately amassed by mortgaging them into the future.
The dumbing down of our perception of reality, which is ubiquitous in the software entertainment industry, is necessary, for among other reasons, to accommodate the limitations of finite computing machinery. Nevertheless, if we tell a lie loud enough and long enough of this sort, we may eventually find ourselves strangers to the reality we were born into.
George Box once noted that all models are wrong, but some are useful. Avaneya aims to be useful.

There is a lot to be expected from Avaneya, read their FAQ for more info and stay tuned for the interview with Kip and updated on this wonderful project !

Links
Avaneya
Avaneya FAQ

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2 Comments

  1. Max April 24, 2010 10:57 pm 

    Hm, it sounds promising. We’ll have to see about that subscription based online play though. Although I prefer playing against real opponents to playing against “AI”, it might just not appeal to me, that does depend on the design of that part though. (e.g. Celetania was so unbelievably crappy that I just can’t describe how crappy it was exactly… to sum things up, it was just a browsergame with decent 3d graphics, poor gameplay, a crappy community and it was subscription based…)

  2. Me April 25, 2010 10:09 pm 

    Sounds interesting, but for some reason I fail to see success in an ambitious project made by unknown people with no prior (advertised) experience nor a game concept worth talking about, screenshots or even artwork. Text on the web site is too big, too. And no-one uses frames anymore. (What I mean is, the web site needs serious work.)

    They’re big about this “free” software thing, but the licence is not the game. Whatever that means.

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