5 addicting open source games

June 3, 2009 at 11:18 pm 12 comments

There are lots of games in the world of open source, which means lots of cheap fun. Well, sort of. Many of these games aren’t complete enough to be playable, others have been abandoned, and some just aren’t very fun. But there are many good open source games, and out of these a few are just amazing. So amazing, in fact, that you just might get addicted.

I’m pretty new to open source games, but here are 5 of those rare, addiction-inducing open source games that I’ve found, in no particular order. All of these games are available for Windows, Linux, and MacOSX. Fun for everyone! If you want to keep up with what goes on in open source gaming, be sure to check out the excellent blog Free Gamer.

Frets on Fire X

First up is Frets on Fire X (a.k.a. FoFiX), a music game similar to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and a pretty darn good one too. If you have Guitar Hero or Rock Band you can load those songs into FoFiX, but even better is the fact that you can get thousands of custom songs, charted by players. Don’t have a guitar to plug into your computer? That’s ok, you can hold your keyboard guitar-style and play with the keyboard! (But an actual guitar is easier, especially on the harder songs.) FoFiX is based on the regular Frets on Fire but adds lots of features. Custom songs can be found in the wiki. You’ll also want to get a nicer theme, here.

Frets on Fire X with the Modern Grunge theme.

{FoFiX with the Modern Grunge theme}

Battle for Wesnoth

This was the first open source game I really liked. Ah, the memories. Battle for Wesnoth is a turn-based strategy game with some RPG elements mixed in. Unlike most turn-based strategy games, you don’t have to spend hours learning the rules. It’s easy to learn, but surprisingly hard to master. There are several great single player campaigns, as well as online play. The 2d artwork and music are excellent. That’s the power of open source, right there.

It has mages with lightning powers. 'Nuff said.

{it has mages with lightning powers, 'nuff said}

The Ur-Quan Masters

The Ur-Quan Masters, or UQM for short, is a port of the old game Star Control II. It’s hard to categorize this one… Wikipedia says it’s a sci-fi action RPG, so I’ll go with that. In a nutshell, you’re the captain of a starship and your goal is to liberate the galaxy from its evil alien overlords. There are so many interesting things to do, so many stories to uncover, and so many funny things to see that you’ll get sucked into the game with no hope of escape until the galaxy is saved. Although the single player story mode is the main part of UQM, there’s also the option of playing online battles.

You'll meet some *interesting* characters in UQM.

{you'll meet some *interesting* characters throughout your journeys}


If you like hectic first-person shooters, Nexuiz is your game. It started out as a Quake mod, but now it’s a standalone game. Plenty of weapons, lots of maps, lots of blood, online play… everything that’s necessary for total pwnage. There’s also a single player mode with bots, so you can learn your way around the game without being humiliated in public. 🙂

{Big guns and explosions!}

{big guns and explosions!}

UFO: Alien Invasion

Here’s another turn-based strategy game, but this time on the tactical level. In UFO: Alien Invasion’s single player campaign, aliens are attacking Earth, and your job is to lead a team of soldiers in battles against the aliens. As you fight more aliens, you can research new technology and build more bases around the world. You might notice some missing features… yes, it’s still a work in progress, but a great game nonetheless. There’s also online play.

{Killing those pesky aliens.}

{taking care of those pesky aliens}


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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. plop  |  June 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    And Nethack for teh win !! 🙂

  • […] 5 addicting open source games There are lots of games in the world of open source, which means lots of cheap fun. Well, sort of. Many of these games aren’t complete enough to be playable, others have been abandoned, and some just aren’t very fun. But there are many good open source games, and out of these a few are just amazing. So amazing, in fact, that you just might get addicted. […]

  • 3. Yonah  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Nexuiz? Please. Quake 1 style deathmatch was awesome back in 1998, but it’s not 1998 anymore. The animation in Nexuiz is so bad the characters legs do not move when they are firing. It’s like watching the “Ice Capades”. Improved graphics, neutered gameplay. In fact, “Neutered” would have been a more fitting title.

    • 4. fipi  |  June 9, 2009 at 4:17 am

      Nexuiz is pretty fun to me. Yes, there are much better games than Nexuiz, but unlike commercial games it is free. If you’re saying there’s a better open source FPS game, please share!

  • 5. KikiFUNstyle  |  June 8, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Urban Terror, I’m a addict :-))

  • 6. Deceth  |  June 8, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Great list, found it on Twitter! 😉

    For an honorable mention, add Battle City to the list! You can click my name for link to the site. It’s GPL, source code available on GitHub.

    I’d love to say more, but since I’m a developer for the game, I may be biased. So check it out and decide for yourself!


    • 7. fipi  |  June 9, 2009 at 4:26 am

      Hi Deceth, thanks for the feedback. I tried Battle City but there was no one online. 😦 Looks cool though, seems to have an interesting blend of strategy and action. I’ll be sure to try it again.

      • 8. Deceth  |  June 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

        Hey fipi, thanks for trying it out, I appreciate it! The game was in closed development for a long time, I’m hoping now that it’s open source we’ll be able to slowly attract more players. There is no offline mode, its all multiplayer online, so yeah, it’s definitely more fun with others online! Otherwise all you can do is build, but not attack!

        We’ve seen 10-12 players online at the same time several times, it made for some crazy action! If we can find a way to maintain that, I think it’s really fun. I worry about the learning curve being a bit too hard for new players sometimes, but I guess we’ll see.

        Anyways, thanks again for checking it out and for the feedback.


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