While open source software in general can be considered a huge success - most of the internet runs on it - games in particular were never really its strong suit. Sure, most classic card or board games like Solitaire, Chess, Go or Mahjongg have been implemented as open source apps and can for example be found in many linux distributions.
But what about modern, innovative games? Well, there’s Super Tux Kart a 3D racing game, Secret Maryo Chronicles - similarities with a certain italian plumber are completely coincidental - and the real time strategy game Warzone 2100. I’ll let you decide if you consider them on-par with contemporary commercial games.
But there’s one game that, at least in my opinion, can take on the for-profit competition and that is Battle for Wesnoth.
This turn-based strategy game takes you to the magical world of Wesnoth, which is inhabited by all the factions we know from other fantasy universes: Humans, Orcs, Dwarfes, Elves, Dragons, Undead and many more.
The basic principle is simple: You recruit units in your keep and move them turn for turn across the map to fight one or more opponents. Recruiting units costs money and so does their upkeep. The more units you have the more money you need each turn. To increase your income you need to control as many of the villages scattered throughout the map as possible. Units gain experience and can “evolve” into stronger units as the game progresses. In the campaigns you can carry your experienced warriors over to the next scenario. It is this RPG aspect that makes the game highly addictive.
The game comes with a number of single player campaigns and once you’re done with them you can look through the never ending catalogue of fan created stories to play. Or you can take on your friends or other players in multiplayer.
So what is it that this game has, that other open source games lack? Art.
Instead of being just a project run by a bunch of programmers, the Wesnoth community also consist of a large number of musicians, writers and sound and graphic designers. The 2D graphics are a joy to look at, most of the stories are well written and exciting. And just listen to the main theme:
There’s a whole soundtrack that will accompany you throughout the game which could just as well be part of a commercial product.
So where can I play it?
Battle for Wesnoth is now available for Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS and Android. You can find instructions on how to get it on the website.
But the really exciting news is: Wesnoth will be coming to Steam. The team have successfully completed their campaign on (the now discontinued) Steam Greenlight. After a long process of almost two years they have now come out and said that the game will become available on Steam on April 13th 2018. (Ok, they say it’s a “tentative” release date.) I’m excited to see how this game will perform when measured with the heavyweights of the gaming industry.
Now what are you waiting for? Go play!