0 A.D., the open source RTS game for Windows, Linux and OS X, has been a long time in the making -- more than a decade, in fact. But even when I first covered it two years ago, I knew it was something special. As perhaps the only open source game with a truly professional agenda, it stood out in an ecosystem where few development teams have the patience to undertake such a major project with the intent of giving away the final product for free. As a result, the game exhibited a potential to reshape parts of the open source channel by proving top-quality games are not something commercial developers alone are capable of creating.
New Alpha ReleaseIf 0 A.D. was impressive two years ago, it's now unquestionably stunning in its current form. Alpha 7 of the game, codenamed Geronium, was released the weekend of Sept. 17, 2011, bringing with it a host of enhancements including a new "civilization," even more incredible artwork and music and sound that could easily hold their own against the work of any commercial game development house.
Here's a look at the game in action on Ubuntu 11.04:
That screencast comes courtesy of my i3 processor and Sandy Bridge graphics card, which is to say the game runs perfectly smoothly even on budget hardware.
The audio features, which I couldn't embed into the screencast for want of an audio framework on Ubuntu that actually works, can be sampled here. They're worth a listen.
Even without sound, however, the game's maturity and sophistication are clear. This is truly professional quality work, by open source volunteers. It has the potential to become a raving success story of the open source world on the order of Firefox and Open/LibreOffice, the two great poster children of the open source movement.
The Final Stretch0 A.D. is almost ready for primetime. But its development team has issued a call for contributions to help turn the final corner:
We are seeking contributors in programming, art, sound, web design, taking YouTube videos and more. These roles on the 0 A.D. development team are great if you want to brush up on your skills and update your portfolio, if you're seeking a project for school with real-life applications, or if you care about the cause of free culture and software and are willing to work pro bono with a group of dedicated volunteers from all over the world.After a long wait, it looks like 0 A.D. in playable form is just about here. When it finally arrives, I just may have to forgo all of my responsibilities and pretend I'm 14 years old again with nothing stopping me from playing RTS games all day long.
Interested? Please register on our forums and start a new topic introducing yourself in the applications and contributions forum following these instructions.