Open Source Games

I’m interested in reviewing games that are open source. I understand that there is a decent number of games out there on IFDB, etc, that have been declared open source by their authors as well as the old classics that are traditionally assumed to be open source. For example, the source code is of course available for many different ports of Adventure and Dungeon.

I might want to review Dungeon or Adventure, but first I want to understand if they are technically open source and whether or not they can be considered open source projects in the same way as other open source games such as Battle for Wesnoth, Endless Sky, 0 AD, or AssaultCube.

Are there any open source IF games that are open source projects like those various FOSS graphical games are?

If not, I might still be interested in reviewing games that were made by individual authors who officially licensed their games as open source and distributed the source code, if they are good and notable.


There are lots of instances of games with published source code, but if you’re looking for things formally released under something the Open Source Initiative counts as an open source license, I think you’ll find very little. Here’s two.


Welcome back, Paul!

I don’t know whether you’ve got in mind especially projects which have an active development community in the way that those bigger open source projects have.

But going by official license alone, here are two relevant lists of games on IFDB:


Thanks, Zed, I followed along from the GitLab repo to Eric’s website, where he clarifies:

I wrote to Don asking permission to release 2.5 under 2-clause BSD; he replied on 15 May 2017 giving both permission and encouragement.

That’s exactly what I wanted to know.

I think I’ll give Adventure a good solid play through and review it, pointing to this sanctioned repository for this Adventure 2.5 as the official FOSS project.

I’m wondering whether I should bother trying to actually play the game from the repo, though. For reviewing purposes, I’ll certainly have to summarize the history of different versions with different maximum scores, and I’ll have to point out that it’s far easier to simply download one of those from the IFDB page. The most common one of those is the Inform adaption from Graham Nelson in 1994. But this version must be older than the Adventure 2.5 that Eric Raymond used for the project that Don Woods sanctioned in 2017.

So we have a situation where the most common and most accessible version is not the sanctioned FOSS project version. I’m not sure which of those I should allow other people believe to be the “mainstream” version.

You’re talking about a game that was being freely distributed and modified among users a decade before the first open-source license was conceived. So it’s not going to fit into modern conventions. By any meaningful reckoning, the “current” “official” release of Adventure-350 is the Fortran source and its direct C port.

ESR’s BSD-licensed version is an admirable impulse, but it’s also a wee baby newcomer to the scene.


Others here will have better answers than me on which games you might look at.
But this is just to say that the term Open Source is entirely inadequate as a qualifier.
It’s very important to understand what the licence allows you to do (share, modify, etc).

If you haven’t already, maybe worth a look at all the Creative Commons licences, and how they differ. That might give an idea of the subtleties involved in sharing and reusing other peoples work.

Looking forward to your reviews though, they’re always welcome :slightly_smiling_face:

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