Free Software Gaming

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Free software gaming refers to the playing of video games that are free software.

History of Free Software Gaming[edit]

This Section is Incomplete, Piga Software Appreciates All Additions

"We even developed a chess game, GNU Chess, because a complete [free] system needs games too." - Richard M. Stallman

Just as in most other forms software, free software was an unconscious occurrence during the creation of early computer games. Particularity for earlier UNIX games. These are mostly recreations of arcade games or text adventure games (such as the BSD Games). Game fan communities such as the MODder community do share some aspects of free software, such as sharing the MODs across community sites, sometimes with free to use media made for the modification.

In 1999, id Software released the source code of the Doom engine under the GNU General Public License. Doom had already been released under a less free software oriented license earlier in 1997, as well as Wolfenstein 3D. id continued to release the engine source code for Quake, Quake II, and Quake III Arena. The id tech 4 engine has also been said to eventually be released as free software. These releases have sparked an expansion in free software gaming as they have lead to titles such as Nexuiz, OpenArena, Tremulous, and World of Padman. The company's move has also inspired others to port games to free software operating systems such as Epic Games (Unreal series) and CroTeam (Serious Sam series).

Many companies have also risen and fallen for porting commercial Windows games to free software operating systems, most notably the former Loki Entertainment Software (Civilization: Call to Power, Soldier of Fortune, Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, etc), which also created many free software tools for game creation such as the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL). Another entry is Hyperion Entertainment, although created by admirers of AmigaOS, they have ported many titles to free software operating systems such as Shogo: Mobile Armour Division, Gorky 17, and sIn. Linux Game Publishing is a firm that publishes computer games for the free GNU/Linux system either made deliberately for it or ported by others, it has also ported some titles itself. Some contractors, most famously Ryan "Icculus" Gordon work to bring titles to free software operating systems. Icculus has ported such titles as the Unreal Tournament, Serious Sam, and Postal series and most recently Prey. His website also hosts largely gaming related free software projects.

Over the years various free software utilities have been created to run games (and utilities) from other platforms on free software operating systems. These include WINE which allows for Microsoft Windows programs to run and DOSBox which is a DOS emulator that is primarily geared towards gaming. Other less known ones offer compatibility with other systems such as Macintosh OS X.

There are many distributions of free software operating systems (mostly GNU/Linux) made specifically for gaming and some major free software operating systems such as Fedora and Mandriva GNU/Linux have specific game oriented versions or as Fedora calls them "spins". Most free software operating systems have games available. Both the KDE and GNOME desktop free software desktop environments have game packages containing a wide variety of games (including, but certainly not limited to, the classic games that come with Windows), from puzzles, to arcade, and even some strategy. Some games have recreations from both teams, allowing you to chose your favourite implementation.

Piga Software was founded to create free software games (as "Piga Entertainment"). Though the scope of Piga later expanded include all software, the organization is still primarily a free software game developer, aiming at strategy, history, and action games. For games being developed/released by Piga Software see: Category:Games. Some of the most notable include Alexei: Part IX and Windys, though the group is best known for the Free Empires project.

Notable Free Software Games[edit]

OpenArena and ioquake3 Engine[edit]

OpenArena is Quake III Arena directive that is entirety free software. It has since grown into a game in its own right but still offers similar fast action first-person carnage to Quake III. The site does warn about the game's violence and that some female characters wear "next to nothing." The game has a differing theme with some typical military styled characters, to fantasy, to anime. The ioquake3 engine that powers OpenArena is also used by the, varyingly licensed, first-person shooter games Tremulus (free), Smokin' Guns (freeware but free leaning), Urban Terror (freeware), and World of Padman (freeware) among others.


Nexuiz, Xonotic and DarkPlaces Engine[edit]

Nexuiz is a arena-type first-person shooter powered by the DarkPlaces engine (a fork of the Quake engine) and is made to be like a traditional Quake deathmatch though we find it much like Unreal Tournament. The DarkPlaces engine is also used by '<span class="plainlinks"><span style="color:black;font-weight:normal;text-decoration:none!important;background:none!important; text-decoration:none;">psychics</span></span>' ('<span class="plainlinks"><span style="color:black;font-weight:normal;text-decoration:none!important;background:none!important; text-decoration:none;">psychic reading</span></span>'-remake), WarQraft, and Qpen Quartz. Recently internal controversy and alleged stagnation has lead to the creation of the Xonotic fork of Nexuiz which aims to advance the game's multimedia and play.


FreeDoom, Blasphemer and Open Quartz[edit]

Free content multimedia and levels for the now free software Doom, Heretic and Quake first-person shooter engines/games.


Cube and Sauerbraten[edit]

Three dimensional first-person shooter engine projects that offer four games. Cube is an action game similar to Doom and Quake where the player fights monsters through complex labyrinths in different game modes (the story is "You kill stuff. The end."). AssaultCube is a a game built on the Cube engine that features realistic military themes and deathmatch/arena oriented gameplay. Sauerbraten is the sequel engine and game to Cube offering similar game play and styles. Eisenstern is a 3D role playing game project being built with the Sauerbraten engine. The engines are known for their easy modifiability (which can be done in-game) and their ability to render outdoor environments. Some of the multimedia in the included fan made maps included are proprietary and are being used under fair use so watch to make sure of what is free content.


NetHack and Vulture's Eye[edit]

NetHack is a classic Unix fantasy role-playing game that is available with ASCII and modern graphics through projects like Vulture's Eye and Falcon's Eye before that.


Battle for Wesnoth[edit]

A well known free software fantasy turn-based strategy game with lots of advanced game play, multimedia and campaigns.


BOS Wars and Stratagus Engine[edit]

BOS Wars is a free software real-time strategy game where future humans wage war against each other. Its engine Stratagus is also being used to make many other real-time strategy games such as Battle for Mandicor, Commander Stalin and the Warcraft II reversed engineered engine port: Wargus. Another, though separably coded, popular free software real time strategy game is Globulation II which attempts to reduce the amount of micromanagement in the genre. See also: "Real Time Strategy Games".


Micropolis, LinCity and OpenCity[edit]

Micropolis is a simulation game derived from the, now free software, classic SimCity. LinCity is an earlier free software clone of SimCity. In these games the player becomes the mayor of their own town and guide its construction, build up civic services and prepare for natural disasters. The original LinCity features simple two-dimensional graphics but LinCity-NG offers the same game play only with more complex multimedia. There is also another similar game called OpenCity which is more 3D-oriented.


FreeCiv and FreeCol[edit]

FreeCiv is a free software game inspired by Sid Meir's Civilization and Civilization II with some minor elements from Civilization III as well as many new ideas. The player leads nations from humble beginnings in the ancient age and all the way through to the space age whilst conquering rival empires along the way. The game is based on authentic history although some playable civilizations are based on notable fiction and fantasy. A similar game called FreeCol is a free software game inspired by Sid Meir's Colonization and it begins in the year 1492 CE where the player controls some European settlers towards the New World. From there the player must build the new colony with some home assistance, face the locals and rival Europeans and eventually fight for independence.


0 A.D.[edit]

0 A.D. is a free software historical real-time strategy game set around the turn of the date system from BC/BCE to AD/CE. Originally starting its life as an attempted mod for Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings it is now a fully free strategy game on top of its own advanced 3D engine called Pyrogenesis. The game allows you to play various civilizations from Europe, North Africa and the Near East from the time period set. Although similar in idea to Free Empires it is considered by us to be suitably different given its more limited temporal scope, design divergences from Age of Empires and its true 3D engine. That said the recent alphas are most encouraging.


Neverball and Neverputt[edit]

Both games are physics based sports games built atop a common three-dimensional engine. Neverball features the player controlling a soccer ball-like sphere around a maze by contorting and rotating the map and using physics to collect coins then exit the level - without falling off the edge of the world. Neverputt takes the physics basis from Neverball and turns it into a miniature golf game where the player puts a golf ball across a map and tries to get it into the hole without it flying off of the map. They were started by Robert Kooima and are a fellow projects to ourselves.



A famously violent and controversial free software action platform game. Souls cast down from Earth and denied from Heaven fight in an arena for their eternal role in Hell; including robots, beasts, eccentrics and demons. The source code is available though the project is currently abandoned and the GNU/Linux version could use a upgrade from the Microsoft Windows version.



X-Moto is a motorcycle game where the player controls a bike and must collect all the strawberries and touch the flower to win. It is highley customizable, levels can even be drawn out in InkScape, and comes with a wide variety of user made maps. It is a clone of Elastomania which in turn was a clone of the DOS game Action SuperCross.


Dave Gnukem[edit]

A free software action platform game based on the seminal Duke Nukem from Apogge.


WarMUX and Hedgewars[edit]

WarMUX is a free software team action platform game based on Worms and previously called Wormux. Command a team of cartoon free software mascots as they fight other teams using a variety of wacky weapons on a variety of surreal maps. Hedgewars is another free software Worms clone offering its own unique styles.


SuperTux and Secret Maryo Chronicles[edit]

SuperTux is a popular puzzle platform game based on Super Mario Bros starring the Linux kernel mascot Tux and featuring his quest to save his girlfriend Penny. Secret Maryo Chronicles is another free Mario-clone that is closer to the original; which has raised some legal concerns.


Frozen Bubble[edit]

Frozen Bubble is a wildly popular (being the winner of the Linux Journal Reader's Choice Award in gaming for several years) free software puzzle game originally based on Puzzle Bobble. It comprises of 100 levels and it has a map editor that allows you to a make and view additional levels as well as split-screen competitive multiplayer. The goal of the game is to fire same colour bubbles at the ones stacked above in the hope of destroying the upper pile before it is compressed onto the player's (a penguin styled after the Linux kernel mascot Tux) igloo.



A free software game mimicking Mario Kart staring the Linux kernel mascot Tux and a cast of other wacky characters with an arcade-style theme. The game play involves the player driving a kart race car from a forward facing third person point of view across -elaborate 3D levels. It is an enhanced version of the earlier game TuxKart by Steve and Oliver Baker originally started by the Linux Game Tome "Game of the Month" team.



A two-dimensional side scrolling puzzle free software game inspired by Lemmings. Human environmental destruction forces a group of penguins (based on the Linux kernel mascot Tux) out of Antarctica and into the larger world to try and save their home. The game involves the player leading the group and allowing them to survive their mission. The project was founded by Ingo "Grumbel" Ruhnke who has also worked on SuperTux among others.


Extreme Tux Racer[edit]

A fork of Tux Racer that continues from the last Tux Racer source release, as well as PlanetPenguin Racer, and remains updated. The goal of the game is to lead Tux the Linux kernel mascot down a snow covered hill littered with various obstacles and reach the finish line whilst collecting fish as a bonus. The game shows some rather impressive 3D graphics. It is also a partner project of Free Empires.


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