Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Open Source Game Clones (osgameclones.com)
576 points by polm23 on June 6, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 96 comments

Wow, my shitty C++ Rodent's Revenge remake from highschool is there too!

I will submit a PR though as I since switched from Sourceforge to Github [1] and now use the MIT license.

In any case, great work! Only suggestion I could make is maybe make an "Engine" category for projects like OpenMW?

[1] https://github.com/pierreyoda/o2r

Just a few months back I was porting your version of Rodent's Revenge to Flutter for fun. Maybe I should polish it up a bit and publish it somewhere...

That sounds awesome, please do!

Testing Flutter myself, it's great but I'm not convinced about Dart so far, for instance (de)serializing JSON is a pain.

Hah, I remember playing this game on the primary school computers but didn't know what it was called. Might I suggest adding a section to the readme explaining how to install/compile this?

I will do that!

Problem is, I switched to Rust for my side projects like 5 years ago and Open Rodent's Revenge would probably benefit from something like CMake but it's so confusing compared to Rust's Cargo.

Awesome :D I spent hours in that pushing blocks around making little forts when I was a kid

I wish there was a filter for games that are playable on their own, not just the engine, don't need the original game files.

OpenTTD is successful because it's readily available, you don't need an original copy of Transport Tycoon.

It's strange, too, how rarely the developer will just think to make an alternative asset pack to accomplish this. It doesn't have to look great! It can be eyebleeding programmer-art. But having it there means the game can be run, after installing it, without first having to load some assets into it. And that's valuable for e.g. knowing whether your setup is working.

I don't find it that strange.

Even eye bleed causing assets take some time to produce and a game may need a fair few for the result to be practically playable. When a project is small perhaps no one on the team (maybe a team of just one) has the time and/or they all hate the idea of the task and they have the original assets initially to hand anyway so the time and effort is likely better spent elsewhere. OpenTTD didn't always have its own asset sets available.

There may be a fear of greater copyright issues. The clean-room defense for clone code isn't going to work as well for graphics and sounds, because they have seen the originals and there are not many ways you can draw an inter-city-125-a-like (to use a TTD example) if you desire to maintain the same overall feel for the clone as the original.

And bad imitation art may put off more potential players than having to extract the original assets does.

> There may be a fear of greater copyright issues.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting they actually attempt to mimic the assets of the game you’re cloning. Rather, symbolize them.

If you’ve ever seen the game Baba is You, the text-tiles in that game are perfect examples of “symbolic assets” you can create to stand in for the real assets of a missing asset pack. Creating such a symbolic asset pack should be the work of five minutes.

The result will not-at-all resemble the real game; but it will also obviously be “not the way the game is intended to look”, so players won’t think that the game is just “a game with art made by programmers” like SuperTux/TuxKart/etc. It’s clearly “the game in a state where it’s missing something.” But it’s still playable in that state!

And, intriguingly, creating a fallback asset pack like this, and showing it to people by default (if just for a minute), will also get into people’s heads the idea that these assets are skinnable. So this will implicitly encourage creatives to look at how asset packs for the game are made (with your symbolic pack as an example), and maybe make one—or dozens!—of “real” packs.

Depends on the game but it's more than just the graphics, there's a lot of things like level design that can make or break a game and they're a lot harder to get right. The two games on the list I'm eager to check out are Tanks of Freedom and Hexoshi and the level design will be more important for them than the graphics.

I agree. That's why https://github.com/klaussilveira/qengine has some pretty shitty assets, and a Python-based asset generator: https://github.com/klaussilveira/qengine/tree/master/src/too...

This way, devs can run the engine with base assets and I can even add some e2e tests to make refactoring easier.

What’s the legal aspect of such kind of projects? I’m working on cloning a quite popular board game that doesn’t have any software version, but didn’t consider releasing it publicly because I assumed a huge risk of legal issues. So currently it’s only for myself and close friends ...

Disclaimer: IANAL

Trademark: if the game is trademarked, you can't re-use the name. Anything with a trademark needs to be replaced with a new name/logo that is sufficiently different as to not induce confusion in the consumer.

Copyright: all the source code is rewritten so there is no copyright there. The game assets like textures and levels are under copyright and needs to be re-created from scratch as well. Or require the player to own the original game and provide an import method. A lot of Doom engines for example would require you to provide the WAD files.

Patents: this might be more tricky to work around. Patents protect algorithms and methods of production which might be integral to the game. I am not aware of games who are protected by patents.

These are the 3 legal pillars of legal protection

> Copyright: all the source code is rewritten so there is no copyright there.

...there is no copyright infringement. You own copyright on the things you create (or your employer does when hired by them to do such work.) You infringe others' copyright by using their work in a way that they didn't approve (or goes against how the law says you can use their work.)

By creating your own implementation of $THING, you now hold copyright in your implementation. This does not alleviate the patent and trademark concerns.

I'm just so happy that someone actually mentioned the laws and at least vaguely alluded what each one does instead of just saying something like how "IP" laws (I don't like this term) forbid copying and they're therefore all pretty much equivalent.

> Patents: this might be more tricky to work around. Patents protect algorithms and methods of production which might be integral to the game. I am not aware of games who are protected by patents.

Given how much money is in the games industry as a whole it is kind of weird actually that we haven’t seen any publicly known patent trolling targeting game development studios yet.

Perhaps they haven’t been targeted. Perhaps they’ve paid up in silence. Or perhaps it has happened and the public knows — it’s just that I haven’t heard of it.

I think the issue here is that basically all of the wealthy game companies are constantly copying game mechanics from each other that if any of them tried to start litigating over similar games, the whole thing would explode in their face.

Hence why when PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds tried to sue Epic, they did it in South Korea.

Also, FWIW, I found this online: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/273935/Texas_court_affir...

(admittedly, that ruling makes sense, game mechanics would need to be patented, not something you copyright)

Patent trolls is in general a company whose only reason to exist is to buy our register simple, general patents and sue other companies. There is usually no other business that can explode in their face. That is one of the most dangerous aspect of them.

You can't patent software.


You might be able to in some places but in Europe they will laugh at you if you try and get your software patented.

This has been the situation for a long time, so things like the Amazon 1 click patent are freak occurrences rather than the norm.

> The game assets like textures and levels are under copyright and needs to be re-created from scratch as well.

Not so fast. It's very likely that a court would find that they are derivative works, and are therefore protected.

IANAL, but based on my reading this is my opinion. Consider the release and success of the mobile game `Words With Friends`. Not only did it largely clone the scrabble experience, but it completely dominated the mobile game space for a time. I found a Quora[1] question which gives some details about the legal relationship between Scrabble(Hasbro) and WWF while researching the topic.

Short version, can they sue you? Yes, just like anyone in the US can sue anyone else for whatever reasons valid or not. In Hasbro v Scrabulous, Hasbro dropped the suit given that they were losing and Scrabulous had run out of money. Had they continued the suit they would have had a judgement on the record regarding the legality of cloning the game experience and possibly been ordered to pay legal costs had they actually lost. As it happened they didn't need to win because they just buried their competitor with legal fees.

[1]: https://www.quora.com/Did-Scrabble-sue-Words-with-Friends-Wh...

> Scrabulous had run out of money ...buried their competitor with legal fees.

that's pretty fucked. I wonder if there's any lending mechanism which would front the legal fees, and then recoupe it back from the judgement (if won).

It seems that the method of burying a competitor with a suite that lacks real merit would only work if the fees become unpayable. So closing this loophole would fix the problem!

Could be interesting to see a service or company who's sole purpose is to fight lawsuits aimed at its members. Or in other words, lawsuit insurance for the common person/small business.

Maybe then this sort of behaviour would stop, as large companies would realise any attempt at legal action on spurious/questionable grounds would result in a battle with billion dollar opposition, and their intended target not paying them a penny regardless.

> that's pretty fucked. I wonder if there's any lending mechanism which would front the legal fees, and then recoupe it back from the judgement (if won).

If your lawyer thinks you have a strong case, they will work for you for free, in exchange for a share of the bounty.

Unfortunately, you can't always tell if you have a strong case.

> If your lawyer thinks you have a strong case, they will work for you for free, in exchange for a share of the bounty.

Unfortunately if you are being sued winning just means you don't own anyone money. It is a separate thing to collect lawyers fees from the other party.

I truly wish there was some sort of legal money parity rule, so the burden of paying for the case in terms of lawyers and court costs was shared by both sides in proportion to their available assets.

in the US maybe, but in many other countries repayment of legal fees is at the discretion of the judge i think?

Legal expenses insurance is a thing. I live in germany, they are very common here.

I think as long as you're only copying the mechanics, and not the artwork or name you're usually fine.

edit: The "legal aspects" section of this wikipedia article mention a case in 2012 that may have changed that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_clone

If you're referring to the 2012 case of EA vs Zynga, it doesn't look to me like it established different jurisprudence. The artwork in that screenshot comparison looks very obviously copied. For copyright, copying something doesn't mean that you have to copy it verbatim without modification, as derivative works where you take the original and modify it slightly can still infringe upon the copyright holder's rights.

This is why projects like Freedoom or Hedgewars recreate all game assets to make them look quite different. Just making minor changes that make it obvious that the original artwork was used as a guideline is not enough of a defense against an accusation of infringement.

What is a defense, however, is when copyright infringement is not willful. If you and I happen to make the same artwork but we can prove that neither of us looked at each other's work and the similarity is just a coincidence, then it's unlikely that we can claim copyright infringement.

Game clones are in a legal gray area. Note that you do NOT have to copy source code in order to infringe copyright: the relevant legal criterion is "substantial similarity". In Atari v. Philips, the court ruled that K.C. Munchkin, a Pac-Man-like game, was similar enough to Pac-Man to infringe because both involved a gobbler eating dots while being chased by ghost monsters -- despite different designs and colors being used for the gobbler and monsters, a different maze layout, different rules, and of course no code in common.

Note again that if you clone Tetris, YOU WILL BE SUED and you will probably lose. Tetris is the most vigorously defended game IP in the world, by a company that, like Oracle, is mostly legal department, and judges have ruled that the shapes of the tetrominoes, the manner in which they spin and fall, and the dimensions of the game board are all copyrightable game elements.

There are numerous examples of Tetris clones out there that have not been targeted by the IP holders.

Such as Tetrinet [1] which was novel for its time, being a multiplayer game. Oh, wait. (It even worked in Wine and there was a Gtk Linux port of it called gtetrinet.)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TetriNET

That takes me back! gtetrinet was the first program I reported a security-bug in, which eventually lead to the first Debian security advisory I can take credit for:


And of course I only started poking around because it was a game I played very very often in the office at the time.


Looks like their current strategy is to collect a few heads (e.g., Xio) and post them on pikes outside the village gates pour décourager les autres. They may not be able to nail everybody, but you run substantial risk of being targeted.

Which one? BoardGameArena has quite a bit of them already (to name's a few: Carcasonne, Terra Mystica, 7 Wonders, Seasons, Race for the Galaxy, Through the Ages, Puerto Rico) and they have nearly 100 more licenses available over BGA Studio that still require developers to make (here's a few: The Castles of Burgundy, Galaxy Trucker, For Sale, Santorini, Myrmes).

I don't know how they acquire theses licenses, but if they did, maybe you can too and if you can't, maybe they already have it made, or needs a developer to implement it (which can be you!).

Minor Nitpick: Xonotic isn't a clone of Nexuiz, Nexuiz was the original name of the project until the project originator sold the name and rights. This caused the community to fork the project from the last stable version and continue development with the new name, Xonotic. Today Xonotic has a small but passionate community whereas Nexuiz languishes in obscurity.

I didn't know the "real" nexuiz still survived! It was cool to me because I didn't get to enjoy the unreal tournament days and had some interesting maps.

You can find Xonotic @ http://www.xonotic.org/ It's still very fun and progress on development has continued.

It would be great to have these listed on the right and permanently linked (like StackOverFlow). We could crowd source submissions that are resubmits.

I'd like to do something like this eventually. But how would the crowd sourcing work? There needs to be a way to weed out the ones that aren't actually the same story.

"Trusted users"? Voting on links?

Trusted users submit links. Other trusted users can vote up/down. Push them towards bottom, color code, etc. if ratio is not great. Have a few people review and finalize?

It already is, click the "past" link

A Warcraft 3 world editor clone would be really good for game innovation. If someone was willing to start up a project like that, I would definitely help fund development.

Blizzard’s world editing tools helped players innovate new genres like the MOBA but its restrictive IP terms killed innovation dead in its tracks.

All Blizzard does now is make reskin of old game(but excellent games) and release classic version of MMO’s.

What happened to the company?

Vivendi Games bought them in the late 90s and started trading long-term quality for results. Blizzard North, Diablo creators, were laid off due to slow development of D3 in 2005. Insiders say that the culture shifted slowly towards business and away from caring about games per se. Blizzard's big thing was that they'd innovate and build without fear of costs, famously canceling numerous games (Titan, eg) with no ROI because they felt it just wasn't right.

In 2008, Activision bought Vivendi and took Blizzard along with them. For a while now we've just been seeing the long-term effects of those shorter-term profitability policies. It's sad, but it kind of happened a long time ago.

For what it's worth, Blizzard still seems to be doing the build-half-a-game-then-cancel it thing.


A Battlefield-like Starcraft FPS pitting you as a Terran marine against a Zerg invasion?

That would have been cool.

People say the same about WoW. After WotLK (2008-2010 era being WotLK) it went downhill.

ArenaNet/NCSoft's Guild Wars 2 consists of former Blizzard employees. Then there's Max Schaefer's Runic Games with Torchlight (2). They went poof a while ago though.

Blizzard/Activision are still very profitable (record this year), yet what they come up with is Diablo mobile (reskin by a Chinese company, of the infamous quote "don't you guys have phones?"), and fired a lot of employees.

Blizzard will release a remaster of WC3 at 31 Dec 2019.

They send a C&D to the platform which hosted bnetd an open source battle.net clone (IIRC Sourceforge).

All of their games run well in Wine. Heck, I played WC3 in 2005 in Wine.

Wow, highly agree with having an OSS editor like that.

Non OSS, there's Dota 2 map editor (which spawned the amazing Auto Chess which Valve is working on an official version now http://blog.dota2.com/2019/05/dota-auto-chess/), W3 is coming out remastered now and old W3 still exist.

I'll actually try to prototype something like that. Interesting idea.

man, i miss blizzard north.

the company was co-opted some time after d2 LoD and everything has been downhill since then.

Nice to see this list. I'm the original author of both ScummVM and OpenTTD. Feel free to ask me anything :)

Wow, that's quite impressive! I love playing old sierra games on ScummVM. Don't really have any questions, just wanted to say thanks :)

How did you manage to get free assets for OpenTTD? It's a barrier for including many of the listed games in, say, Debian.

All the assets were recreated by various designers/people. In the early days it depended on the original game's resources.

These aren't all clones. Many of them are just playable versions of games that have had their source code released. IMO a clone refers to a new implementation, but a lot of these are just modified and re-released versions of the actual game.

Also some of them aren't clones at all as I understand the term. The "similar" tag covers this, I guess. "Playable" also seems to have a pretty nebulous meaning. The absence of "playable" certainly does not mean "not playable."

the term clone has been used that way a lot even commercially just pointing to game mechanics and other game elements. i do believe what this list is showing is probably more in line with the term clone though where it is basically a copy but their own assets or the original assets(you had to buy the game and thus have the assets) but their own engine which is less common but to name a couple openmw, and gemrb.

Shout out to CorsixTH making theme hospital wonderful to play.

CorsixTH is indeed a great piece of work. For the fans of the game, some of the original Theme Hospital people released a successor called Twopoint Hospital, available on Steam.

Thanks! We are always looking for contributors too.

OpenTTD and OpenRCT are obvious amazing ones.

How complete is the OpenRCT?

Very complete. I've not noticed any deficiencies at all. They added a lot of features too: https://github.com/OpenRCT2/OpenRCT2/wiki/Changes-to-origina...

If you're a fan of the original games, I can't think of any reason to not play them using OpenRCT2.

I'll check it out, thank you! :)

This list should be ranked by popularity of such games. It would make it much more useful.

Would be great to have a platform-support filter (at least for Android/iOS/Windows/Mac/Linux)

I strongly recommend OpenTTD and OpenMW. They surpass the original games, in my opinion.

Rttr is a solid settlers 2 clone,

And not to forget, endless sky is a great escape velocity alike.

Very nice curated list! Its going to be an ever ongoing battle to keep it accurate. Something like this would be great on Wikipedia or collaboratively editable in some other way, or allowing forks on say GitHub.

I took a look at one of the FOSS clones for Ace of Spades, and elation turned to horror when I glanced at the "Recommended" Requirements[0]:

- 3GHz quad-core processor

- GPU: 1GB or more VRAM

- GPU (NVIDIA): GeForce GTX 680

Really, guys? You took a game that had a reputation of "Runs on your grandma's rig!" and turned it into that monstrosity, while somehow still keeping the same low-res polygon models? For what? Photorealistic water effects and lens flare?

[0] http://openspades.yvt.jp/

It's really pretty, runs really smoothly (especially on OSes not previously supported by AoS), and those requirements really aren't that high (minimum Intel HD 3000 with 512MB VRAM + 1GHz dual core processor, that's basically any computer this decade).

If you still need to play using the original launcher, you can do that here https://www.buildandshoot.com/download/.

Additionally, if you don't love the models, feel free to switch them out. There are plenty of pak files available for download across the web, the first to appear in my search result list was https://gamebanana.com/skins/137550.

> Recommended

Who wouldn't "Recommend" something decent? The minimum is HD Graphics 3000 still.

GTX 680 is kind of a "grandma's rig" card at this point. It's from 2012.

You can still play Ace of Spades or make you own fork without post-process effects if you want. No need to get angry at some people who decided to make a prettier fork.

You can still run the original client.

Its a fun game (I personally find the "tower of babel" game modes the most enjoyable), although it is a bit of a wild-west these days without much moderation/administration and a lot of trolling/racism.

I'd recommend it, just ignore the chat.

You can play using a "minimum" requirement PC as well. Out of all the things getting heavier, some remake opting in to better visuals is not the one you should be calling a "monstrocity".

Some open source clones are great, "Bust A Move" on the SNES is fun, but the open source clone "Frozen Bubble", come one who has not spent hours with that game......

Hey cool! I made one of these too. If anyone is interested in minesweeper: https://minesweeper.zone/

And the GitHub:


Doesn't work well on Mobile unfortunately, but it's pretty good for killing time in desktop (if I do say so myself)

I understand the meaning of the "playable" tag. I know for sure that Minetest and Oolite are 100% playable, and yet they don't have the tag?

You should send a pull request.


My mind was cast back to "LEMINGS", an amusingly named clone for the Acorn Archimedes. Don't know the license status.


Some amusing messages if you run `strings` on the binary:


Is the filter doing an OR instead of an AND?

Search term: Playable Language: TypeScript

Returns more than just %Playable% TypeScript games.

Not too useful in its current form as it freely mixes third-party engines with actual free games.

I believe 0 A.D. is missing in the list https://play0ad.com/

EDIT: ah sorry, it's there. But really nice Age of Empires / Empire Earth mix up / clone. :)

This was useful for scrolling through and rediscovering old classics like Abuse and Stars! Its amazing that so many old games are under if not active development being reimplemented.

I wonder if ioquake3 qualifies as a 'clone'. I mean, isn't it based on the original source code?

Nevertheless, it is a nice list of open source games with quite a few old friends :-)

Is there anything close to Rock Band or Guitar Hero?

Another one that works great but is little known is Guitarrero. It has a website[1] and it is open-source as well[2]. When I still played Guitar Hero clones, it was the one with the best performances.

[1] http://playguitarrero.online.fr/index.php?en

[2] https://github.com/fontaromain/Guitarrero

Frets on Fire X (https://fofix.github.io/) is one. And I guess the original Frets on Fire.

Edit: Clone Hero looks more recent/active. However I'm not sure it's open source. https://clonehero.net

Clone Hero appears to be the most active. Made in Unity, nice.

Rocksmith is good too, but more serious

Great list! I was surprised to see that wesnoth is not tagged as playable though!

The number of games on this list surprised me. Kudos to all these developers!

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact