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I must admit, even though I will be 50 years old next March I still like down time playing games. Over the past several years I have enjoyed playing games that run natively on my Mandriva GNU/Linux system. I wrote an article earlier this year with some of my thoughts on the matter of gaming on GNU/Linux: GNU/Linux and Commercial Game Developers.
One of the games I play for a while, stop playing, and keep coming back to is the trading and battle space simulator Vega Strike. Most of us in IT know the truism that no software is ever “finished”. Vega Strike is no exception to this truism. It has been under continual development over several years and is currently at stable version 0.5.0 which is “half way” to the eventual goal “The project goal is, at version 1.0, is to be a generic space simulator.” stated on the Vega Strike – About Vega Strike page.
Since Vega Strike is still a work in progress there are some rough edges one will have to live with. For example there is a known bug in the 0.5.0 release where one can get one’s ship “stuck” in an asteroid dock. There is a way out of the problem, but it involves editing the save game file. For the new player this can be a daunting game stopper unless she is comfortable hacking on a plain text save game file. There are people willing to help with this on the Vega Strike forums. However, as the game is still in development the bug is known and will be fixed, eventually. Another bug I seem to have hit myself, literally, is a fault with the auto-pilot, faster than light speed, light-weight high speed ships, and planets. Basically, when exploring the huge Vega Strike universe in a small, fast ship I find I can slam my speedy little ship into a planet in a new sector at somewhere near the speed of light as the auto-pilot is trying to slow down the ship when nearing the large mass of the planet. While this makes a beautiful fireball, it is not the desired effect. So, when I explore I use a slower, heavier ship now.
Regardless of the bugs Vega Strike is fun to play. One can play as an explorer / trader and work to make all the different races and factions like one. Or one can pick a race and/or faction for which one does patrol and bounty missions while making the enemies of that race and/or faction loathe one. Or one can be a pirate, and make ALL the races and factions hate one. I recommend the pirate route only to those who have a bit of experience in the game. Otherwise, one will become quickly frustrated as all the other races and factions begin attacking one’s pirate self on sight. One fun aspect is the fact that the AI ships can and will attack one another based on faction relationships. This can result in some spectacular space battles that the player can sit back and enjoy watching or join in and help one side or another.
Why do I occasionally stop playing Vega Strike? My primary reason is that development of games being what it is, new features can make one’s hardware struggle to keep up. At least twice in the past eight years Vega Strike has grown past my hardware’s ability to run it well. Since it is a 3D space game, the game engine must keep up with a lot of information in three dimensional space. As game physics and graphics progress and become more complex this requires more processing power from the CPU and the GPU. It also requires a bit of RAM. The 0.5.0 version of the game is just a bit more game than my previous PC could handle. Now that I have built a new PC with an AMD Phenom Quad-core @ 2.6GHz, 4GB of RAM (using 3GB with 32-bit kernel) and an nVidia based EVGA e-GeForce 7200 GS PCI-E graphics board with 512MB RAM, I am trying Vega Strike again. I have found it is at least as fun to play as I remember from past experience. Plus with my new hardware the game runs quite smoothly.
Where does one obtain Vega Strike? There are releases of Vega Strike for GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, Apple OS X and Microsoft based systems. On GNU/Linux one should check one’s distribution repositories for the game. On FreeBSD one can find the game in the ports tree. Of course one can always go to the Vega Strike – Downloads page and get the latest stable release there. I highly recommend perusing the on-line manual at the Vega Strike Wiki before playing the game. Specifically one will want to see the Manual:Keyboard layout page.
Have you played Vega Strike? Please feel free to comment on your experience below.
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