Scorched 3D is a modernization of the classic DOS game Scorched Earth. It’s a simple turn-based artillery game and a real-time strategy game in which players can counter each other’s weapons with creative accessories, shields, and tactics.
Game play is easy: jump into your tank, aim the turret, adjust the power and trajectory, select a weapon, and shoot. Weapons and accessories lend themselves to different tactics depending on the situation and opposition. After each round you can buy new weapons and accessories with the prize money you won during the round, or keep the money to gain interest. Weapon choice and money management play large parts in game strategy.
Gavin Camp, the game’s developer, used to play Scorched Earth with a group of friends at university. He rediscovered it years later on a boring airplane flight, and began thinking about creating a modern take on it, with 3-D graphics, but true to the original feel.
Camp originally built the application in 2003 using Microsoft Visual C++. “At the time it seemed easier than its competitors, and Scorched 3D was only a Windows application so it was a good fit. A short while after the original conception, I changed the game from Windows-only to be cross-platform, which necessitated the use of OpenGL for the graphics and some other helper libraries to aid porting. Scorched 3D now uses many third-party libraries, including SDL, SDL_net, wxWidgets, and OpenAL. I’ve also implemented a Unix-style make system bootstrapped from the Visual Studio project files. I still do the majority of the coding using MSVC Express, mainly for historical reasons.”
Camp made the game open source for several reasons. “At the time, I felt that there weren’t many good source code examples of a fully fledged game (perhaps I just didn’t look hard enough!). Open source games either seemed to reach an early stage and die off, or were re-released fully featured but without source code, to make some money off them. The open source community actually made things easier at times too, not so much through code submissions but through a general interest and support that tends to keep you going.”
Camp works hard at growing the community for the game, not only by announcing new releases on SourceForge.net and freshmeat, but also going to “as many websites as I can find and pimping my software. Being cross-platform opens up large numbers of Linux distros, and I try and get Scorched 3D into as many distros as possible. I think a lot of interest came from people that knew and remembered the original game and like me wanted an updated version.”
The game is still under development, Camp says. “In future online versions we hope to have more game/user community integration. Accounts will be shared across all game servers and the stats/forum/chat web site. Players will be able to track other players (friends) and will accumulate stats and achievements regardless of the server they play on. Generally we also hope to take the engine forward to support the ever-evolving modding community. I hope to make a major release every six months or so, but often that is delayed by a lack of available time. During the early period of a project I really recommend releasing frequently to keep up community interest and involvement – it’s that that keeps you going.”
Camp appreciates player input on the general look and feel of the game. “It would be nice to move from a functional game interface to something more ‘gamey.’ It’s something that we are improving over time with help from the current community, but I am no artist and help is always welcome.” The best way to get in touch is through the project’s forums.