Explore open source games Glest and FreeCol

Edmond Woychowsky says Glest and FreeCol are well written, fun, and show some of the possibilities of open source games.

Mention the phrase open source and, odds are, the thing that pops into most peoples' minds is usually Linux or possibly OpenOffice; or, a developer might think of the Mono project or an artistic type will think of GIMP. While all of those are good examples of open source, there is more to life than work; occasionally, you need to capture a city or throw a fireball or two just to relax.

For the last several months, I have been wasting a vast amount of time (although I told my wife it's research) on two games that I found on SourceForge: Glest and FreeCol.

Glest is a real-time strategy game along the lines of Age of Mythology or Rise of Nations, with a definite fantasy slant. In its default configuration, Glest has two paths (or tech trees, as they are called in the game): magic and technology. The magic faction allows the player to create battlemages and drake riders, while the tech faction has swordsmen and the very steampunk ornithopter. Play consists of gathering resources, gold, wood, and rock, while producing food, buildings, and units, as well as researching new technologies or magics. The purpose of this is to avoid getting wiped out by one of the computer-controlled players, or human players, if you're playing online. In a few short months, I have become rather adept at being destroyed.


FreeCol is a turned-based strategy game, which is somewhat like Civilization, where one or more players seek to colonize the "New World," or for Harry Harrison fans, "Same old world, different place." FreeCol's images aren't as sharp and polished Glest's, but it offers something different -- the ability to build a civilization in an unexplored land. When starting, you have the choice to play as Dutch, English, French, or Spanish, with a single ship, a hand full of colonists, and a soldier. Your goal is to found a colony and eventually declare independence. Needless to say, I've been slapped down in every imaginable way.


The appeal of these well-written games (beyond the fact that they're free) is that both are outright fun. There is something emotionally appealing in being outright evil and wiping out another civilization or capturing a city and making it your own. Both of these games seemed to be designed to appeal to one's inner evil overlord. Having minions willing die for you definitely rocks!

If you've only visited SourceForge for work-related software, you might consider checking out the site's games. If you have visited SourceForge for games, which titles do you recommend? Let us know in the discussion.

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