Open Source Games: Survival of the Fittest

Open Source games are usually ran by volunteer developers in their free time, with a strict resource limit. This puts such games at a major disadvantage for gaining more players and creating a stable, solid community. Lots of forks and new projects show up, but if it doesn’t attract many players, it won’t attract many developers. Then it dies quickly. So when these games are among the most popular and/or most downloaded, they are in a very special group. Looking at sourceforge’s list of games, I only saw 4 hardcore video games that had over 5000 downloads per week. Not every game gets the majority of it’s downloads through sourceforge obviously, so here’s a quick shout out to Urban Terror, Xonotic, and Warsow; along with any other obviously popular ones I missed. Obviously a lot of developers are content with a small community, but for the sake of fun and ‘who’s doing better?’, here are those four above mentioned games.

Warzone 2100: A Real-Time Strategy(RTS) game that was published as a commercial retail release in 1999, but source & other assets were released to the public after the developer went out of business. It has very dated 3D graphics, but does have an extensive technology tree in-game; along with the possibility to find new parts for your vehicles to make your own frankenstein units. I guess that appeals to people, because this is currently the most downloaded RTS game, just over 5000 a week right now. 0 A.D is below it in 2nd place and is in alpha currently, but looks great. Over 10 factions historically accurate from 500 B.C to 500 A.D. Spartans, Romans, Persians! Very nice graphics as well. Will be interesting to see if Warzone 2100 can keep afloat with such an ambitious project nipping at it’s heels.

Assault Cube: Don’t need to describe it really, considering this is an AC website. Atop the FPS genre is this game. At under 50 MB file size, Assault Cube packs a heavy punch for it’s size. It’s modern setting is a huge advantage for the current FPS era where Call of Duty & Battlefield grab millions of sales yearly. Very low system requirements allow almost anybody with a computer to run this smoothly. An easy to use in-game map editor lets everyone create some new area to frag and splat noobs in. The game is noob friendly, and only getting more modern features with new releases. With a very nice release on it’s way in the hopefully near future, and a community striving to make the game better, it seems like Assault Cube should easily be considered one of the best open source FPS games for years to come.

Cube 2 Sauerbraten: A ridiculously fast paced arcade FPS game. It comes in at 2nd place for the FPS genre, thousands of downloads below Assault Cube. It’s map editor is stronger than AC’s, but has a bit of a steeper learning curve. For gameplay, you’ll almost always see large, open maps with insta-gib mode being played. Basically here’s the carbine from AC, one shot to kill. With the vomit inducing speed, reflexes are more important than brains in this game and mode. The quake-like arcade fps has been losing popularity for years now. Despite the high quality of Sauerbraten, it won’t be easy to grow a larger community at this point; if it’s lucky enough to keep the current flow of new players.

The Battle for Wesnoth: This Turn-Based Strategy game has been very popular for years. Over 100 different units to outsmart your opponents with. Many races, humans, elves, dwarves, trolls, mermen, etc. Good looking 2D sprites & graphics mean this game won’t ever look completely outdated. 16 single-player campaigns with different lengths and difficulties can easily give over one hundred hours of content for players. It also has fun multiplayer, in a nice in-game user friendly lobby where you can chat with other people and set up games. Then there is the in-game add-ons downloader. You can find sound packs, more campaigns, maps, and more. With a click or two, you’ll have it installed and ready to play. For turn-based strategy games, Wesnoth is basically a monopoly. There are plenty of others, but it’s just too good. It’s so good, they sell it on Google Play for a few bucks. Which they then use to pay people for new animations and things! No doubts this game will continue it’s dominance. Commercial TBS games may even fear it soon…