The turn-based strategy game Wesnoth, notable for being easy to add content to and being open source as well as being a fairly polished game, has received a very nice update that I will detail below. Before you ask, no, they still haven’t atoned for angering the Random Number God.
First up, the Whiteboard system. What this does is let you create plans you can share with allies in multiplayer games, and lets you visualize recruitment, movement, attacks, and what have you. Basically it lets you be less ambiguous in what needs to be done to win, and it’s a really nice system that more turn-based games need to work on. Master this, your allies will love you for it.
Also, there are new terrain types, and currently-existing ones have been completely redrawn from scratch, making the game look far more beautiful than it already did. The original graphics of Wesnoth weren’t anything to scoff at, but these new ones are just fantastic. Several units have also received a bit of a facelift to make the battlefield look more stylish than it previously was, and adds two new tracks and remakes another. There are also new generic portraits added to the game. Examples of terrain changes include new colors on water, waterfalls being automatically placed on chasms, wave animations on sand, tropical ocean, snowy human cities, and better transitions of visuals overall.
In terms of in-game content, a new 13-scenario campaign called Dead Water has you play as a Merman who is, in true fantasy fashion, the heir to the throne repelling invaders. Both Mermen and the undead have great advantages in the water, making for a very interesting combination of bitter enemies. Many of the existing campaigns have also received updates and tweaks to fix small problems and add new content to them for an overall better gameplay experience. The new multiplayer maps also make great use of the new terrain types, and as before, the existing ones have also been tweaked for balance while including the new features.
In balance, bats are now less effective at protecting villages and have only one random trait, EXP requirements on some classes were reduced, dwarves have reduced physical resistance, and many others have been tweaked in some way.
In terms of the game engine, the lighting system has been changed to allow better flexibility, and for features like keeping caves dark during the day and so on. There have also been several user interface changes for clarity and convenience for the player. A very welcome change indeed. The game now includes translations for more languages, further expanding accessibility in the international community.
Now, onto the parts developers will care about. There are now persistant variables for the game, that allows addon authors to save data to a player’s user data directory. In addition, the Lua capabilities of Wesnoth has also been given a significant overhaul to give developers much higher degree of flexibility. The terrain palette also has a nice expansion along with new structures to allow map makers to make more stylish maps, which for me is a very welcome change since I love making maps.
All of these are very welcome changes to the game, you can see the page for yourself here along with the very extensive changelog which is far too long to detail in a single article. In fact, the difference between 1.8 and 1.10 covers a fifth of the entire file.
I still wish they’d do something about the random number issue, a smaller range of numbers running on a bell curve would be a welcome change to the game, as would a “Hurry up!!” button in multiplayer that forces a time limit on a player who just wont move his ass. You know who I’m talking about.