I know that many of you, when reading the title, will say that I’m asking a stupid question, or maybe just trolling and try to get attention to my blog. Also, as a FOSS defendant, I should not ask such question, knowing how much open source games are there, also I want to make it clear that I’m not blaming the open source game developers, but let’s face it: In video games, FOSS is not much of a player !
Good games exists, like Frets On Fire, or Nexuiz, but they are far from being competitors to commercial games. Most of open source games are good to play with friends, to have fun, but there is two things that are missing: Excellent graphics and a Good story !
So, the first point is visual experience, and if you played games like Half Life², Quake 4, Crysis, then you know what I mean ! Each new commercial big game push the limits a little bit further, with new graphics engines and new astonishing effects, with more and more realistic rendering. Also, gamers expect games to take full advantage of their machines. Can open source engines achieve such results… even on Linux, and with OpenGL… ? Sure they can ! And for those how don’t know, PS3 uses OpenGL, and the graphics are just wonderful !
Of course not all Open Source graphical engines are of the same quality, with some promising ones like XreaL, but even this engine is far from what recent engines deliver, like Crytek 2 and others.
Now, I’m sure most of you will say “Hey ! The XYZ engine has all the features you talk about !”, and here comes another problem: Modeling and Mapping ! Even if some engines offers possibilities for excellent graphic rendering, they are under-used, because games rely not only on technical stuff like graphics and physics engines, but also on 3D models and maps. Well, even if the majority of open source games uses good maps and games environment, when it comes to 3D Models, well, many of them are just… ugly ! I don’t need to say a lot about this, just take a look at most of open source games, compare with commercial games and judge by your self !
Now I come to the second point: Good Story ! Many gamers, so do I, acknowledge that only graphics doesn’t make a good game, to have a good gaming experience, we need immersion, a well written scenario, with a plot, characters, places and scenes to remember. This is what makes us remember games we played when we were kids, this is also what makes us play old games again and again and I still play Duke Nukem 3D since 1997 !
Now, if we take a look at open source games… well, 99% of them are e-sport FPS games, with many Unreal-Like games, Quake Arena-Like games. So, where are single player games, single player FPS, single player horror and survival games, single player action/adventure games ?! In my opinion, this is a bigger issue then not having good graphics.
The partial exception to this is open source strategy and RTS games, where single player campaigns are good enough, examples include Bos Wars and The Battle For Wesnoth. Also, there’s the platform game Yo Frankie! by the Blender Institute.
Finally, the last problem faced by open source games is the lack of advertising, we need to be looking for open source games to find them, and this must change, open source games need some advertising and needs to get reviewed on major video games websites.
Well, I repeat that I’m not against Open Source games, also, what I wrote doesn’t mean that open source games are bad or not worth playing, but, this are the facts that holds open source games from being a real competitor to commercial ones, like Linux is in the OS market or Firefox in the web browsers market.
This situation needs some serious work and solutions, and this will be the subject of my next post, until then your comments and suggestions are welcome !