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./widelands: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

I installed libSDL_ttf-2.0-dev, which fixed that, but then I got several other errors before I could get it to start. I had to install and libsdl-gfx1.2-4 before it worked, but Widelands relies heavily on SDL (as do many other games), so you might as well install all of the SDL libraries while you're there.

Usage Once you're in the game, the first thing you should do is head to the Single Player mode, and choose Campaign to start, as there's a good tutorial, which you will need. While the levels are loading, hints are given to you for when you get in the game, speeding up the learning process.

Controls are with the mouse and keyboard. The mouse is used for choosing various actions on-screen, and the keyboard's arrow keys let you move the camera around the world. Left-clicking on an insignificant piece of map brings up a menu for all of the basic in-game options. Right-clicking on something usually gets rid of it.

From here on, the game is far too complex to explain in this amount of space, but it's well worth checking out the documentation and help screens for further information. Once you've finished the intro campaign, check out the game's large collection of single-and multiplayer maps. You get a choice of multiple races, including Barbarians, Empire and Atlanteans, coupled with the ability to play against the computer or against other humans (or a close approximation). It also comes with a background story to the game, and if you spend your Saturday nights playing World of Warcraft instead of going to the pub, I'm sure you'll find it very interesting.

Delve into this game, and there's much that lies beneath the surface. It has simple things that please, like how the in-game menus are very sophisticated and solid, with none of the bugginess you get in many amateur games. But, it's the complete reversal of hyperspeed in its gameplay that I really love. I always want to get back to building my base when playing most RTS games, but I'm constantly drawn away by fire fights. This game lets you keep building, and places serious emphasis on how you do it.

The Web site also has add-ons, such as maps, music and other tribes, along with an editor, artwork and more, so check it out. Ultimately, Widelands is a breath of fresh air in an extremely stale genre, whose roots ironically stem from way back in the past in RTS history. Whether you're chasing a fix of that original Settlers feel or just want a different direction in RTS, this game is well worth a look.

Moonlight|3D—3-D Image Modeling

This last project looks really cool and impressed me, but I'm afraid documentation is nonexistent, so hopefully some of you folks at home can help these guys out. According to the Freshmeat page:

Moonlight|3D is a modeling and animation tool for three-dimensional art. It currently supports mesh-based modeling. It's a redesign of Moonlight Atelier, formed after Moonlight Atelier/Creator died in 1999/2000. Rendering is done through pluggable back ends. It currently supports Sunflow, with support for RenderMan and others in planning.

Some great results from someone who actually knows how to use Moonlight|3D.

The Web site sheds further light on the project, which states one of its goals as: "In order to speed up the progress of our development efforts, we open up the project to the general public, and we hope to attract the support of many developers and users, bringing the project forward faster."

Installation In terms of require ments, the only thing I needed to install to get Moonlight running was Java, so thankfully, the dependencies are fairly minimal. As for choices of packages at the Web site, there's a nightly build available as a binary or the latest source code (I ran with the binary). Grab the latest, extract it to a local folder, and open a terminal in the new folder. Then, enter the command:

Provided you have everything installed, it now should start. Once you're inside, I'm sorry, I really can't be of much help. There are the usual windows in a 3-D editor for height, width, depth and a 3-D view, and on the left are quick selection panes for objects, such as boxes, cones, spheres and so on (actually, the pane on the left has access to just about everything you need—it's pretty cool). Scouting about, a number of cool functions really jumped out at me, like multiple preview modes; changeable light, camera sources and positions; and most important, the ability to make your own animations. If only I could find a way to use them.

This project really does look pretty cool, and it seems to be a decent alternative to programs like Blender, but there honestly is no documentation. All links to documentation lead to a page saying the documentation doesn't exist yet and provides a link to the on-line forums. The forums also happen to have very little that's of use to someone without any prior knowledge of the interface, and I assume all those already on the forum are users of the original Moonlight Atelier. Nevertheless, the project does look interesting and seems to be quite stable. I look forward to seeing what happens with this project once some documentation is in place.■

John Knight is a 24-year-old, drumming- and climbing-obsessed maniac from the world's most isolated city—Perth, Western Australia. He can usually be found either buried in an Audacity screen or thrashing a kick-drum beyond recognition.

Brewing something fresh, innovative or mind-bending? Send e-mail to [email protected].

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