Updated: November 15, 2010
How about making your own games? Sounds good. The only problem is that you probably need a ton of resources to get started, including the uncanny ability to write code. Luckily, it does not have to be that way. There are several projects that aim to bridge the gap between the end user and the realm of coding boredom. One such project is Syntensity.
Syntensity is a multiplayer 3D game engine, which lets you create all kinds of multiplayer games in an easy, interactive manner. Syntensity is based on Cube 2, which means lots of flexibility and easy portability, plus relatively decent graphics and low system requirements. The project has been developed entirely in Linux. And today, I'll give you a short, honest review of this project, including its ups and downs. We'll see what Syntensity can do, see what kind of games are available, talk about the graphics and gameplay, focus on some bugs and errors, and discuss the future development. After me, fellas.
If you use Playdeb, for instance, you'll find Syntensity in the repo. Just install and power up. At first, the software may seem a little confusing. Because of its nature, Syntensity does not let you play straight out. You need to connect to the game portal and then choose the right game.
Once you connect to the game lobby, you'll be able to choose among several game rooms, each running a different game, created using the Syntensity game engine. The game will show up on big TV screen-like menus. Just run into the one you want to play and start enjoying yourself.
For people new to the shooting genre, there's a simple tutorial that should help you get familiar with the game commands. It's fairly simple, but you might want to run through the 10-minute intro, just to get the hang of the basic concepts. Syntensity is very much like any Quake-like game, simple and fast.
Once you're ready, go to your desired game screen.
At the moment, Syntensity features a small number of games, including a simple first person shooter and a racer game. The first person shooter revolves around one-on-one duels in a cave-like map, with defense cannon, ramps and passageways. Not that exciting, I have to admit. The graphics is reasonable, but nothing you haven't seen elsewhere. In fact, most modern shooters look much better than Syntensity, however the game engine can run even on very old and feeble machines.
The racer is more fun. You have an obstacle course to run, with lava traps, turbo boost and wild jumps, which are kind of neat, although your car looks like a stunted replica of something taken from Carmageddon, so you might not be too excited about it. Still, as a proof of concept and light entertainment, Syntensity will do just fine.
The project seems like a nice idea, the question is, will it take off any time soon? The website does not inspire much confidence. Plus, I've encountered quite a few bugs while experimenting, including somewhat confusing messages about missing files and edit mode. Then, I had difficulties connecting to the game lobby, too.
Syntensity could become a browser-like alternative to dedicated single installations. However, to best the competition, the project needs exposure, it needs extra enthusiasm, a much sexier website, a wider variety of games, fewer bugs, and a rich community of gamers. Comparing to, say Urban Terror, which has hundreds of servers online, plus thousands of players, Syntensity is way behind with a few lobbies, some of which do not work, and a handful of gamers at any given moment.
Despite the average graphics and a simple, linear gameplay, Syntensity has a potential to grow into a useful, popular project. For now, at the very least, it's fun to test and explore. And there's no denying the unique approach to the idea of universal gaming.
Hopefully, the developers are still committed and will try to take their project to the next level. If you're interesting in trying out Syntensity, setup the Playdeb repo, install the package and see for yourself. Syntensity may not be ready for the masses now, but it could be. Furthermore, if you're a gaming enthusiast, you may want to get involved in the project and contribute your own ideas and games.
My recommendation: Give it a whirl. Grade: 6.5/10.