Unvanquished 0.52.1: better, freer, stronger

Here we release our first point release, 0.52.1, in the beta development cycle. Major changes are bug fixes, more free stuff, and a flatpak.

Unvanquished is a first person real time strategy game that just reached Beta status with its 0.52 release some weeks ago. As a player, you become either a soldier or an alien beast, building useful structures like mining machines, poisonous gas parasites, and earning your salary with your feats of arms or feeding yourself from your unfortunate victims to buy your big freaking gun or evolve to a deadlier form to gain the upper hand.

A human wearing a battlesuit facing a tyrant in Parpax map.
A human wearing a battlesuit facing a tyrant in Parpax map.

This 0.52.1 beta release is entirely compatible with the 0.52 beta one. You can join 0.52.1 servers with 0.52 clients or join 0.52 servers with 0.52.1 clients.

We recommend to update both servers and clients as this 0.52 version fixes graphical bugs and the newer 0.52.1 client on an older 0.52 server may still reproduce some visual bugs because it will load older 0.52 data.

Note: we also published a blog post summarizing how we dealt with recent Freenode IRC drama and the current status of our chat service.

The Unvanquished launcher is made for you

If you installed and you run the game using the launcher, it will prompt for an update.

We strongly recommend players to use the launcher. The launcher will download and update the game data with bittorrent, install and configure the game properly for you and keep it up to date. The launcher is free software as well.

The Unvanquished updater and launcher.
The Unvanquished updater and launcher.

Other downloads like the universal zip or the raw torrent are for advanced users. Using them you won’t be able to use the server list from this website to join games, nor to join games from the chat. Your operating system or unarchiver may not extract the game in a way it can work. Your operating system may prevent you to run the game if you don’t know what application translocation means.

We have seen third-party websites providing needlessly convoluted and non-reproducible instructions to run the game, even sometimes giving instructions contrary to the ones we provided in the readme shipped with the data they may break by doing so.

We have a launcher. It’s a single binary to download and run. It’s made for you. If you use Linux, the Flatpak is also a good option (see below).

Bug fixes

That’s it, we fixed a very old bug in which stray lines are drawn between game entities in some situations. The bug lived in game code; our Dæmon engine was fine.

This was one of the oldest and most noticeable bugs we fixed, along with another one making a weapon model disappear when looking at some angles, which was fixed just before the 0.52 release (and then already shipped to you players)!

We worked around an Nvidia bug affecting all Nvidia GL 3+ hardware (from Tesla hardware from 2007 to their recent GPUs) on all of their proprietary drivers (340, 390, 465…) on all operating systems (Windows, macOS, Linux…). This bug didn’t affected the same Nvidia hardware running the free open source nouveau driver, and this bug did not affected any other hardware or any other driver from any other GPU vendor.

The bug was there since forever, but was never seen before 0.52 release because it was hidden by a disabled option we turned on in 0.52, uncovering the bug at release time. The bug, affecting animated models, caused not all model surfaces to be entirely rendered on every frame, resulting in black artifacts on the model.

At the root of the bug, we noticed a computation did not produce the same result in a reproducible way when done in two different places and using the proprietary Nvidia drivers, it may be an unlucky GLSL compilation (resulting in floating point discrepancies) or an actual compiler bug. The bug was fixed by arbitrarily rewriting the code to avoid triggering this effect in the GLSL compiler.

Some people reported some graphical issues on Intel UHD. This may be a driver regression since the issue was not seen previously while testing similar hardware. This seems to not affect Intel GPUs older than UHD. If you’re affected, just use the Medium graphical preset and everything will be fine.

Some enhancements

To make modding easier, we gathered some configuration files that were previously stored in multiple DPKs into the unvanquished one, making it more comfortable to edit things without having to touch multiple packages.

We’ve set up a special web service that redirects https links to our unv:// protocol, allowing our bot to paste clickable links in chat places (like IRC or Discord). This way you can join a game just by clicking a link in the chat, when the bot announces it.

We have a Flatpak

Unvanquished flatpak as seen on Flathub.
Unvanquished flatpak as seen on Flathub.

This will be appreciated by some Linux users, we now have a flatpak alongside our usual updater. A flatpak is a Linux package meant to be working across multiple distributions. The Unvanquished flatpak is now available on Flathub.

The flapak properly integrates the game with the desktop as well as the launcher.

Note: flatpaks do not store their configuration at the same place we do. While we store game configuration in ~/.local/.share/unvanquished the flatpak stores it in ~/.var/app/net.unvanquished.Unvanquished/data/unvanquished/. This can be useful to know if you want to use the flatpak and keep your configuration.

Our wiki is now free

Unvanquished wiki is free.
Unvanquished wiki is free.

You may remember that after a multi-year effort of reaching out past contributors to replace non-free licenses on our assets by free ones, we announced that our game data is now free and open source. And given our game and engine code was already free, this meant our game is now free.

At the same time, a similar effort was done to free our wiki. For some unknown reason, the default license of the wiki was a non-free license (it had a non-commercial clause that is considered non-free). We attempted to reach out every contributors of our wiki to switch to a free open source license instead.

Unfortunately, one contributor never answered our requests, and this one authored a large amount of contributions. So we had to review one by one every of his contributions to either identify it was already deleted or replaced, or to identify it wasn’t subject to copyright or that it was subject to someone else’s copyright, or to simply delete the contribution or replace them with new original contributions done by other authors agreeing with the new free and open source license.

That wiki relicensing effort lasted 5 years and 6 month… and on the 8th of June of 2021, at 04:00 UTC, we switched the wiki license to a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike one, effectively removing the non-free Non-Commercial clause. Starting with that date and time the wiki content is considered free, while older revisions may be subject to other terms.

So, our game engine is free, our game code is free, our game data is free, and now our documentation is free. 🕊

It’s time to download the game and join the party! battlesuit

4 thoughts on “Unvanquished 0.52.1: better, freer, stronger”

  1. Thank you! Xonotic and Unvanquished are top of the line open source games.

    Any chance for a snap-package for a no need to open a browser and one click install in popular Ubuntu?

    1. so, huh, my two cents on snaps. I’ve written a snap before, and the yaml files are not too bad, with documentation about as good as flatpaks. It works well enough, assuming you use Ubuntu.

      Assuming you use Ubuntu. That’s the catch. As a dev, I had issues with snapcraft (the tool that builds snap) on Debian and it didn’t work well.

      For users, while using snaps on Debian should work fine enough, but it’s not integrated in the UI so a flatpak provides a better user experience. Snaps are banned on Mint by default because https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=3906. Snaps should work on Fedora but not sure? and even if they did they would, just like on Debian, provide a better UI for flatpaks.

      Now, the Linux landscape is broader than these most mainstream distros: some people use Devuan (no systemd), some use Alpine (no glibc and no systemd) and some use NixOS (that has its own system organisation). Snap needs systemd (and it would be really hard to change that) and upstream developers are apparently not interested in alternative libc support.

      A large part of the reason the flatpak exists is that I wanted everyone to be able to run Unvanquished, especially on unusual systems like Alpine or NixOS where the installer could not work. Snaps do provide a better experience on Ubuntu, and on Ubuntu only. And Ubuntu has the well-tested installer anyway.

      So if you add the freedom issue (proprietary server), well, I don’t want to add a snap.

    2. We already have two fully working solutions for Ubuntu:

      ∙ Our launcher: https://unvanquished.net/download/
      ∙ Our Flatpak: https://github.com/flathub/net.unvanquished.Unvanquished/

      They both offer full integration with the Ubuntu desktop.

      Doing a snap would be targeting a very small niche: among the ones who want to play Unvanquished, the subset of those running Linux, the subset of those running Ubuntu, the subset of those not wanting to use the launcher, the subset of those not wanting to use Flatpak…

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