OilRush, a GNU/Linux native game featuring both real time strategy (RTS) and tower defense game play elements has become available for pre-order! This is the first game (of hopefully many) that will utilize the newly developed, multi-platform (GNU/Linux, Android, Playstation 3, Windows, and soon Macintosh), Unigine engine.
OilRush has been mentioned previously at Ainer.org/News when I lightheartedly speculated that 2011 may well be the year that gaming (both commercial and independent) may come to GNU/Linux in a big way.
Taking part in the pre-order provides immediate (and continual access) to beta versions of OilRush up until the final release of the game (currently scheduled for June, 2011). At present, the beta version of OilRush provides two tutorial and one tower defense Campaign missions, five Quick Game maps (which are played against enemy AI of multiple selectable difficulties), as well as Multiplayer functionality for playing over the Internet or a local network (using IP addresses). The Multiplayer maps include the same five as the Quick Games plus an additional “Tic Tac Toe” map.
After getting a feel for the game via the two tutorial and tower defense Campaigns, as well as a Quickplay map I find the RTS/tower defense description quite apt. Unlike traditional RTS’s where you can choose where to build at your discretion OilRush provides fixed platforms which can be captured and controlled by the various factions. From there the units and resources accumulate at a fixed rate depending on how many (and which types of) platforms you currently control.
Controlling the platforms provide various benefits such as unit and resource generation and many can be built-up using three types of turrets which can then be upgraded directly and also upgraded through skill trees indirectly (as can the units).
The controls and user interface (UI) are quite well done and provide for quick and precise direction of units and bases. With that said however, currently there is no way to re-map the keyboard keys from the UI if one prefers a different layout.
This can especially be a problem for users such as myself that don’t use the standard QWERTY keyboard mapping (I use Dvorak primarily). Starcraft and other games provide similar difficulty so hopefully this will be something that is addressed prior to the game’s final release (June, 2011).
Weighing in at just over 200MB the current beta definitely needs some polish on the installer prior to going final. Currently it is provided as a self-extracting .run file which must be set to allow executing file as program and then ran. This will extract the contents to a folder within the same folder as the download is currently in. From there there are two options to start the game (both .sh files). One allows for initial windowed viewing of the game and one for a full screen. Once the game is launched however, different video settings can be chosen (as can be seen from the screen shot above).
Presently, OilRush is offering the pre-order at $19.95 which seems reasonable if not a bit too low. Hopefully at this price and with some additional marketing they will be able to pick up a solid number of early adopters and then maybe raise the price once the game has gone final. Additionally they could consider offering some premium type options for people wanting to support the game with additional funds. Further, trying to sell the game through Ubuntu’s Software Center or through Amazon.com may also provide exposure to a greater audience (and thus greater returns even if they are at lower margins).
In the end, if you’re interested in RTS or tower defense type games, or if you simply wish to support an independent, commercial, GNU/Linux native game developer, I suggest seriously considering investing some of your money into this game. I have enjoyed it thus far and plan to continue playing it at my leisure.
Whether or not you’re interested in the beta, participating in the pre-order will help ensure that come launch you’ll have easy access to the final product and help show Unigine Corp. that they haven’t wasted their time on GNU/Linux as a gaming platform!