Play and learn
Got time to kill? Here's eight open source games that will teach, even as they entertain
Open-source games are not only free to play but their code is free to use and study as well. This makes them a great teaching tool if you want to learn how to program a game.
What does open-source mean?
Most commercial games frown on modifications and hide the code of their game, so it cannot be modified or recreated or recompiled. However, open-source games are the opposite. The developers not only give you compiled versions of the game, you can also download the entire code, to make your versions or even to learn how games are made. In the spirit of open source, most of these games are available on multiple platforms, including Linux and Windows.
Super Tux Kart
Kart racing is always fun and Super tux kart is a good mix of some of the most popular ones. Sure, the proprietary characters you love in other games are not present here, but this one still embodies the heart. You can play on your own or against friends. Several racing modes include Grand Prix and battle similar to what Mario Kart offers. The controls on the keyboard are weird, so play this with a controller instead.
If you wanted to be a transport tycoon this is your chance. Open TTD is a clone of the popular game Transport Tycoon Deluxe and it looks and operates like the original. It is a strategy game where you have to build the transport system for the entire map. The game has surpassed some of the original restrictions allowing you to generate world maps and create complicated transport systems with relative ease.
If you like strategy games along the lines of Age of Empires, you will love 0 A.D. The game requires you to build a thriving city and defeat all the enemies on a map to claim victory. Like AOE, this game has a lot of historical factions, each with their own set of perks and advantages. You will be competing with others for resources and landmass. Despite being a free open-source game, there is huge attention to detail and infinite replayability, which makes it stand out.
Warsow is a first-person shooter that is heavily influenced by Quake 3. The game is fast-paced and has many of the same options that can be used to tweak the game to your liking. It even has a similar set of weapons. You can use it to start your server, where friends can connect and play or you can take the fight to the online servers where you can challenge players from around the globe. You can even play it at home with bots whose skill levels can be tweaked to match your level.
Alien Arena is another Quake 3 inspired game that features fast-paced first-person action. The game is darker compared to Warsow and at times, this can be a problem because everything in the game seems to have been given the same treatment. However, the maps in the game are good and present several opportunities to play as you'd like to. Like Warsow, you can play this one online as well as with opponents from around the world.
Command and Conquer Red Alert also has its clone with Open RA. The project has not only recreated the classic real-time strategy game, but it has also taken several steps to modernise it. Along with recreations of the original, the game also gives you access to mods, including Dune 2000, Tiberian Sun, Tiberian dawn and some other custom mods made by people from the community. Not to mention, this one includes online multiplayer, so you can play this with other fans of the Command and Conquer series.
FreeCiv is a clone of the popular game Civilization. So, if you have played that game before, you should feel at home with this one. FreeCiv is a turn-based strategy where you have to make sure your civilization stands the test of time and ends up being the best civilization ever. There are multiple paths to this goal and, in the end, it is up to you to figure how to reach there. The open-source version supports up to 500 players and you can play with friends over the internet or on LAN.
Flightgear is a hardcore flight simulator. This thing is not mucking around; the default Cessna included in the game comes with a full instrument panel and you have to know what you are doing. I had to watch a step by step instructional video just to take off. The controls as with any flight simulator are complicated and having a joystick on hand would be an advantage. You can download additional maps, aircraft and other stuff. This, of course, is nowhere near the brilliance of Microsoft Flight Simulator, but for a free game, it isn't bad.
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