We have many companies that open source their game engines while keeping the game content under a proprietary license. A notable example is Quake; IDs policy is to open source game engines of older games whenever a game with newer engine comes out. Soon after the release of id’s next game RAGE using the id Tech 5 engine, the id Tech 4 engine will be open sourced. Remember that id Tech 4 has been used in games as recent as Brink, so it is indeed a big gift to the Open Source community. Another impression that surrounds open source or free games is that they are bad because of poor graphics. This is the perfect example of major commercial companies winning. Gaming has little to do with graphics, but this fact has been beaten out of the heads of gamers by major game distributors constantly distracting them by gloss.
Open Source games are thus usually of the kind that focus on gameplay itself, and don’t have an overall plot or story. There are exceptions, but usually you will find more FPS, puzzle, platform, strategy etc. games than RPGs or action adventure that are driven by plot games. One example of a popular RPG that is open source would be Dink Smallwood; however that too started as a commercial game that went freeware and subsequently went open source.
Whatever one might say; there are some core benefits of open source games, they are usually, but not necessarily cross-platform, and run on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX, with many even available for mobile platforms, and game consoles, and if a game is open source, it’s almost always free.
Now here, we wanted to highlight some of the best open source games out there, and so we present to you 10 great open source games. These are fully open source, data engine and all.
This is an improved version of LinCity, a city simulation game, it is similar to commercial city simulation games such as SimCity in that it puts you in charge of building a city, with the objective of making the city sustainable. While the old version of LinCity in no longer in development LinCity-NG goes on, with the latest major release of LinCity-NG 2.0 just in 2009. In LinCity-NG you can start with an empty board, a random village or a predefined scenario, you have to manage resources for your city, such as food, water etc. and develop transportation power and other infrastructure.
Civilization was undoubtedly one of the most influential games of all time, and has led to the development of many clones. At this FreeCiv fares quite well, But it is more than a clone of Civilization like game that could work in multiplayer mode such that the developers could play with their friends. Civilization at that time did not support multiplayer gaming. FreeCiv has come a long way since its early days and recently has even launched an online version of the game that runs in the browser using the HTML5 and the canvas. This online version also is open source as well desktop version and can be run on one’s own server.
3. O A.D.
This is a relatively new real time strategy game similar to Age of Empires that focuses on history between 500 BC and 500 AD but mostly it just intends to be a fun game. The developers want to portray history accurately as far as possible unless it affects the gameplay negatively. Eventually O A.D. plans to incorporate some unusual features such as realistic ships and buildings that are modular, and can thus house other units – so you units could battle mid sea.
4. The Battle for Wesnoth
Anyone who has used Linux for a while has probably noticed this game in their repositories; the battle for wesnoth is another turn based strategy game, however one that is very different from Civilization. For one, battle of wesnoth has a fantasy theme with humans, elves, orcs and the like. Installing addons for the game is simple; it lists available add-ons in game and can download, install and load them without complications.
5. Glest / MegaGlest
Glest and its multiplayer fork MegaGlest are a 3D real time strategy game that mixes tech and magic. The game is moddable enough to be made unrecognizable as the original game. Like the Battle of Wesnoth, it can download mods and install them in-game. The game’s graphics are fully 3D and can be zoomed down up to ground level. The RTS game includes a number of scenarios of varying difficulties, and custom games, internet gaming, and LAN games as well.
Ever wanted the Mozilla team to blow up the Pidgin team? If yes, there’s something wrong with you! But that’s exactly what Warmux is all about. It stands for War of Mascots from UNIX, and is as worms like game that will have you blowing up mascots from various open source projects. The cartoon style characters and effects, its attachment to open source project, and the interesting weapon sets make for a fun game. The game also supports multiplayer, both online and on local networks making this a perfect game to play casually with friends on your collage LAN the night before the tough exam.
It is a racing simulator that focuses on realism in physics rather than in graphics. The game is still in early stages of development, but already it features dozens of tracks and cars – based on real tracks and cars – and of course realistic physics simulation. VDrift supports various gaming controllers including joysticks, gamepads and racing wheels, and force feedback is also being implemented.
It is an MMORPG that is not only free and open source, but also comes with a free and open source server component! It is somewhat unique in that it is not a discontinued game, but one that is still active while being open sources. The game is free to play online up to a decent level of 125. There are still paid subscriptions that remove this limit. Ryzom is a science fantasy game that does away with character classes and instead allows more customized characters.
Red Eclipse is the open source answer to Unreal Tournament, this multiplayer FSP features all the usual match types such as capture the flag, defend the flag, death-match, campaign, but adds some of its own innovations in the mix. For example, it features a variation of capture the flag called Bomber Ball that has you transporting a bomb to the enemy base. The game also lets you modify key variables such as the gravity, damage dealt by different weapons etc.
10. Dink Smallwood
This is an old, but incredibly fun and funny role playing game that remains popular despite being over a decade old. In fact recently it has been released for mobile devices, with Android and iPhone versions and updated HD version of the game. FreeDink is in development under the GNU project! Dink Smallwood has seen great mod making interest and today, over a dozen years since its release there are still mods being made.