The following article is not about presenting every single open source game in existence, but more like selecting the best out of popular gaming categories that are really modern, enjoyable and alive as projects.
Our choice: Speed Dreams
Being a fork of TORCS, this game started its development in solid grounds. The aim was to bring a fully featured racing game that would include a wide selection of tracks and cars, while also constantly improving the physics and graphics of the game.
Version 2.0 that was released about a year ago, made this game the most complete open source racing game. Every aspect of the game is very polished, with shiny menus, nice engine sounds, weather conditions, a great selection of car skins, optically enriched tracks, realistic shadows etc. You can even play a “Career Mode” where you can compete with different car classes during multiple seasons on randomly selected tracks and against balanced random opponents, earning points in championship rankings!
The experimental SimuV3 and the aim to rework the 3D engine leaves promises for an even brighter future for this racing game.
See also: VDrift
VDrift has been under heavy development for more than 8 years and still has a lot of people working around many of its aspects trying to make it a modern and complete racing game. Although there is still work to be done, VDrift is already fantastic.
One of the things that make this game great is the aim to use real world cars and tracks. I suppose that this is one of the main reasons that this game attracted the interest of many contributors.
VDrift initially used the Vamos physics engine, but now the engine is written from scratch showing the high goals that this project has. If it was a little bit more stable and polished it would have been our choice, but still it is a magnificent open source racing game with nice graphics, 45 real tracks, 39 real vehicles, atmospheric sounds and a competitive AI!
See also: Stunt Rally
Although Stunt Rally is based on the unstable VDrift, it actually is more stable, more fun and more playable than it. The project has successfully managed to impress the world of open source racing with its last few releases and is now struggling to form a community of contributors around it.
Grass, mud, tarmac, water, bumps, cliffs, 4WD, FWD, jeeps and racing cars, Stunt Rally provides players with everything their heart may desire. The graphics are great and they constantly keep getting better with more effects and more realism added in every version. The development is very active although not many people are involved, and the game has already great looks and fantastic gameplay for the kind.
Category: First Person Shooter
Our choice: Xonotic
Based on the dead now Nexuiz, Xonotic is the gem that shines in the most overcrowded category in Linux gaming. It features all the good vulgar gameplay characteristics of Nexuiz, while trying to evolve into something even greater and more modern.
Currently in version 0.7, Xonotic offers all the classic game modes found on most FPS games and also includes some more unique in nature. The gameplay is damn fast and intense. Speed and precision are the main principles of the good Xonotic player.
As graphics are a big factor for such kind of games, Xonotic developers have invested a lot of time into supporting modern effects like bloom, dynamic lighting and shadowing, offset mapping, and high dynamic range rendering. This combined with the futuristic environment and the gameplay results in the best open source fast paced atmospheric arena shooter!
See also: Warsow
Warsow is a futuristic first person shooter with cartoonish styled graphics based on the Quake II engine. Like Xonotic, Warsow is about speed and accuracy in both the movement and the firing.
Warsow is a world of rocketlauncher-wielding pigs and lasergun-carrying cyberpunks who roam the streets in a completely aggressive manner.
The game is very competitive and aims in pure multi-player fun and e-sports mentality that has built a community that supports and extensively beta-tests the game to make sure everything is up to the task. Some of the movement physics and certain running-modes implementation have greatly affected other games of the kind. Warsow is a very well-made game and a truly unique arena shooter!
Category: Real Time Strategy
Our choice: 0 A.D.
From the moment that 0 A.D. begun development almost 10 years ago, it blew our mind with the high goals set and the abilities of its engine, Pyrogenesis. It looks amazing and it really is a very high quality open source project that has successfully built a huge community around it.
The game has succeeded in gathering the contribution of hundreds of people and now offers its own music, sounds, graphical effects, save/load game function, an advanced AI, 9 unique civilizations with their own buildings, units and special technology, and magnificently designed realistic maps with trees, animals, mountains, rivers and sea and most importantly historical accuracy!
0 A.D. may not be completely finished yet and you may encounter some performance issues that are currently being addressed for the next alpha that will be the fourteenth, but is well on the way to version 1.0 and already the best open source RTS game out there.
See also: MegaGlest
MegaGlest is a fork of Glest aiming to evolve and enrich the game with more material like new tribes with buildings and units, while also new features like the ability to play multiplayer games on-line.
This game is very stable and mature, it offers tutorials in many languages, you can play with other people on-line, or play a scenario against one of the most difficult AI opponents ever made and download new content directly from inside the game!
Although this is currently the most feature-complete and stable open source RTS game, it looses many points due to its outdated graphics. It is very amusing and challenging to play though, and the hopes are high for the next versions to come.
Our choice: FlightGear
FlightGear is one of the greatest open source projects ever. It is a sophisticated flying simulator that gives the ability to do flight dynamics research, or just fly around for pure fun. FlightGear uses realistic physic simulation and real world airplanes and terrain.
You can basically download the whole world and fly in it in real time, or fly together with other people from around the world on multiplayer. There are literally hundreds of free to download airplanes modeled after the originals using the same sounds and technical details like real engine thrust, maximum speed, ceiling height etc.
The simulator is currently on version 2.10 with 2.12 being less than a month away. Check this post for some of the exciting features expected in the next major version.
See also: Rigs of Rods
Rigs of Rods is a driving, flying and sailing simulator. It uses a soft-body physics system that simulates the flexibility and deformation of bodies, chassis and wheels under the stress they bear.
Rigs of Rods main power is the ground vehicle simulation where you will find all types of different vehicles from tractors, buses and transport trucks, to pick ups and ordinary or racing cars. All vehicles are designed after the originals with accurate attributes and driving characteristics.
This is an ever evolving game that has a big community of contributors around it. Last year we saw the introduction of trains, submarines and motorcycles and this year we are monitoring the development of the next major version (0.4) that will bring massive improvements! There are many additional maps and vehicles to download and enrich this sandbox simulator, so you’ll never get bored playing Rigs of Rods!
Category: MMO RPG
Our choice: Lips of Suna
In the not so crowded world of open source MMO RPGs, Lips of Suna is the leading project. The game takes place in the chaotic dungeons of Suna where the five intelligent races of the world descend to the dungeons with their goal to save the world from a conclusive disaster.
In your journey to the depths of the dungeons, you will, among other things, have to fight creatures of different varieties, solve quests, explore new places, and craft custom items. Luckily, you don’t need to do all this alone since you can crawl the dungeons with your friends.
The latest 0.6 version brought a new graphics engine based on the amazing Ogre and a much better user interface, but you can’t see those in the following video.
See also: PlaneShift
PlaneShift is a Role Playing Game immersed into a 3D virtual fantasy world which is fully free to play. Fully free means you will have no surprises of premium content which will limit your gameplay or unbalance the game. There are no limitations in skills, ranks, abilities, items you can gain with your free account.
One aim of the game is to explore all the available areas and to learn knowledge about the world by speaking with the NPCs who provide hints and tips on how to proceed and unlock areas, items and powers. You can trade, chat, fight, explore, use magic or weapons and evolve your character into something better.
PlaneShift is not yet considered “finished”, but I am sure the RPG lovers will find it very interesting. Maybe the most truly free to play RPG out there!
Category: Turn Based Strategy
Our choice: UFO: Alien Invasion
UFO: Alien Invasion is a turn based strategy game that is heavily inspired (if not the evolution of) X-COM. It features unique artwork and music and offers a perfect atmosphere of danger and tension to the player.
The story is that in 2084 aliens attack Earth and you are in control of an elite team that will try to defend the alien attack, while trying at the same to find out more about the aliens origin and technology through scientific research.
This game offers amazing strategic depth and requires the careful and logical planning of every attack, defense, base building, research funding etc. Fighting is conducted through a turn based system where you control your squad using the move or attack points of every unit in a square map. There are many different weapons to use, and as you progress more things become available through technological research.
If you played X-COM as a child and you have some free time now, you should definitely give this game a try!
See also: Battle for Wesnoth
Battle for Wesnoth is a classic and very popular turn based strategy with a fantasy setting. It is under development for many years and is considered to be one of the most mature open source games. The game offers cross compatible multiplayer and amazing campaigns to loose your mind in.
Build up a great army, gradually turning raw recruits into hardened veterans. In later games, recall your toughest warriors and form a deadly host against whom none can stand! Choose units from a large pool of specialists, and hand-pick a force with the right strengths to fight well on different terrains against all manner of opposition.
See also: Hedgewars
Hedgewars is the best open source Worms clone. The game is very actively developed and is managing to expand the gameplay possibilities of the kind greatly through new modes and amazing new weapons that expanding the fun beyond any limits!
Hedgewars is a turn based strategy, artillery, action and comedy game, featuring the antics of pink hedgehogs with attitude as they battle from the depths of hell to the depths of space. As commander, it’s your job to assemble your crack team of hedgehog soldiers and bring the war to your enemy.
When we’re talking about addiction, we’re talking about Hedgewars! The game will amaze you with how easy to play and hard to master it is, the multiplayer lobbies are always full and waiting for you and the gameplay constantly forms a sweet layer of well meant anxiety inside your heart. This game is just awesome!
Our choice: Poker TH
Poker is the king of card games and Poker TH is the king of open source card games being the most complete solution for poker and Linux lovers.
Poker TH allows players to enjoy the popular Texas Hold’em variation of Poker either locally against computer opponents, or on the network against human opponents for the honor of it and not for money. There are online rankings and regular events to keep the fire burning.
Poker TH has reached version 1.0 after years of development and is currently very stable, light, customizable and configurable. If you like playing cards, there is no better open source game than this one!
Category: Economy Sims
Our choice: OpenTTD
OpenTTD is a clone of the popular Microprose game named “Transport Tycoon Deluxe”. It attempts to mimic the original game as closely as possible while extending it with new features.
OpenTTD may look outdated and its graphics actually are, but don’t forget that this is a remake of an old game that doesn’t need to look cool to be enjoyable after all.
The depth of the game and the level of players’ involution to all things related to transportation of goods from one place to another will reward anyone who will spend his/her time proportional. Managing and planning goods production and efficient distribution is crucial in this economy based game.
See also: Unknown Horizons
Unknown Horizons is a game still under heavy development, but very promising and already playable and enjoyable. It is inspired by the Anno city building series and is the best of its kind in the open source world.
Unknown Horizons is about establishing a small settlement in a virgin island, mine/harvest goods, distribute them successfully and grow technologically and socially. It sounds simple but it isn’t as you will have to count in many economic and social factors that play their special role for the game.
The only reason this game isn’t my choice is the fact that it still has a lot of work to be done in order to be playable for more than a weekend. It is great but it is just too “shallow” for now. It definitely will blow our minds and our free time when the next few versions will be available.