Linux gaming has acquired bigger dimensions lately, after the active involvement of well known commercial games developing studios and other independent efforts, but we should not forget to support the great selection of open source games that Gnome users can enjoy!
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 was released this April, making 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 a bright future for this racing game.
See also: VDrift
VDrift has been under heavy development for more than 7 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!
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 0.6, Xonotic offers all the classic game modes found on most FPS games and also includes some unique. 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: Smokin’ Guns
Smokin’ Guns is a first person game inspired by Western movies. It is based on Quake III and offers pure multiplayer fun for the nostalgic gamers.
You can play duel and bank robbery modes, use historically accurate weapons, buy more using money that you get from killing opponents and go Akimbo mode using two different weapons at the same time.
This game brings the true atmosphere of a Western movie through the music, sounds, maps, realistic weapons, gameplay details like the inability to heal etc. A truly wonderful game that could only use some better graphics to enslave our hearts completely.
Category: Real Time Strategy
Our choice: 0 A.D.
From the moment that 0 A.D. begun development 9 years ago, it blew our mind with the high goals set and the abilities of Pyrogenesis engine. It looks amazing and it really is a very high quality open source project that has already 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, 11 unique civilizations with their own buildings, units and special technology, and magnificently designed realistic maps with trees, animals, mountains, rivers and sea.
This is also the only RTS game that aims to be historically accurate! It may not be completely finished yet and you may encounter some performance issues while playing, but it is already the best open source RTS way to waste some free time.
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 versus one of the most difficult AI opponents ever made, and download new content directly from inside the game!
Although this is currently the most “complete” open source RTS game, it looses many points due to its outdated graphics. It is very amusing and challenging to play though, and I hope that the graphics will improve from now on.
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, and 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 2.8 that brought shadows among other things and surely has a very bright future ahead it!
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, 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. This year we saw the introduction of trains, submarines and motorcycles! There are many additional maps and vehicles to download and enrich this sandbox simulator. You’ll never get bored playing Rigs of Rods!
Category: MMO RPG
Our choice: Second Life
Second Life is a partly open source online 3D virtual world imagined, created, and owned by its Residents that offers a platform for communication, business, education, and organizational development to anyone who wants to try it.
You can meet and talk to other people, visit places flying, join religious groups, own land, buy a house, create objects, make deals with other players, buy things using real money like clothes, or furniture etc. You can do almost anything you would do if you had a second life!
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. There are no time limits or additional constraints.
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 both trying to find out more about the aliens.
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 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.