Building a Retro Linux Gaming PC – Part 23: Ready, Ready, Go!

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Continued from Part 22: Happy Hacking

If you look at the commercial Linux games catalog at the turn of the millennium, among all the 3D shooters and strategy simulations being released, one glaring omission seems to have been the lack of racing games. Loki Software never ported anyone to Linux, nor did any of the other porting houses. This left a void for the free-to-play community to fill. One of the first to go out to the races was Trophywhose development started in March 2000.

The latest version of Trophy I can run from Red Hat Linux 7.3 is version 1.1.3 from before the game was ported to ClanLib 0.8 and beyond. To do this, I first had to get the ClanLib-0.6.1-fr1.i386.rpm, ClanLib-sound-0.6.1-fr1.i386.rpm and Hermes-1.3.2-fr3.i386.rpm packages from fresh rpms. Even then, the included binary that came with the 1.1.3 source tarball still wouldn’t load, since it was built against libstdc++5 which is too new.

This is the same problem I had when trying to start later versions of Cube, but since I could satisfy all the other build dependencies in this case, I was able to compile my own binary link to my older version of glibc. To do this, all I had to do was run “make clean” followed by “make” in the trophy directory. This meant I also had to install all the ClanLib and Hermes development packages, which from freshrpms came to a whopping eleven packages in total.

Even then, the game window was still labeled “Trophy 1.0.6” instead, but both the “Snake” and “Rally” tracks were present and correct, so I know I built the correct version. Beyond that, the only other glitch I encountered was that I was unable to change the color of my car using the arrow keys as the menu suggests, with the new game screen only seeming to allow me to input my name. That said, I’m also unsure what the “Hall Of Fame” is for at this point.

Trophy is a top down racer that excels at having an emphasis on using extras like vehicle combat to get ahead of your rivals. You can fire machine guns at other cars by pressing the “x” key, drop bombs with the “c” key and give yourself a turbo boost by holding down the “a” key. All of these are fueled by collectibles found scattered around the course, until you complete the fifth and final lap. The result is a strong arcade feel without being a kart racer.

The graphics are appealing if a bit compressed, and the tracks themselves are currently large 1200x1200px bitmaps created in multiple layers using the GNU Image Manipulation Program. In fact, an entire course designer’s manual was written that goes over the process of building a course, all to encourage Trophy players to create a submit their own creations. This manual can still be read from Trophy the site is hosted on SourceForge.

Work with Trophy advanced entry begins, with the latest 2.0.4 release from 2019 still dependent on the old ClanLib 1.0 SDK. But while Trophy ossified from a technical perspective over the last decade or so, the gameplay was deeply enriched starting with the 2.0.0 release. This was the first to have a championship mode as well as a shop where you can buy vehicle upgrades and new cars, finally giving the money you collect a real purpose.

With all these additions especially, Trophy reminds me a lot Mini-Car Racing as published by eGames, one of my brother’s favorite games growing up. Whether this is a coincidence or not is hard to say, as both games were first released in the same year, but both will have you running for the moon. Mini-Car Racingby the way, is also one of many older games that are far easier to get working on WINE than on modern versions of Windows today.

Looking at the TODO list included alongside Trophy shows that the similarities were planned to go even deeper than that, with the inclusion of oil slicks, rockets and jump points on the courses. All this reinforces the feeling that Trophy still has a lot of unfulfilled potential, with network-based multiplayer also being discussed at one point. There is a legacy here that would be great for someone to build on, if the right contributor was found.

Which free and open source game projects take off and which ones stand still often seem to be random, but here at least there’s always the possibility that they could be revived if they get enough interest. The same can even be said for what remains to this day my mother’s favorite PC game, a free software title that for most of the 2000s was one of the most acclaimed Linux games ever released for the platform.

Continued in Part 24: Mother Knows Best

Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

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