by Frazer Kline
Modern Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) offer exceptional
gaming capabilities, and have contributed to the trend of astonishing
leaps in graphics fidelity. There is not a year that has
gone by without a game being released that makes significant advances
in technical graphics wizardry. Computer graphics have
been advancing at a staggering pace. At the current rate
of progress, in the next 10 years it may not be possible
to distinguish computer graphics from reality.
Personally, these developments do not overly interest me. I
find little fascination playing games that focus so much on the visuals
they neglect the essential elements. Too often the storyline and game
play has been compromised for visual quality. Most of my favourite
games are somewhat deficient in the graphics department. Gameplay is
always king in my eyes.
Linux has an excellent library of free games many of which are
released under an open source license. The vast majority of these games
are aesthetically pleasing. Popular games often have full motion video,
vector graphics, 3D graphics, realistic 3D rendering, animation,
texturing, a physics engine, and much more. Early computer games did
not have these graphic techniques. The earliest video games were text
games or text-based games that used text characters rather than vector
or bitmapped graphics.
Text-based games often receive little coverage in the
Linux press. However, there are some real ASCII gems out there waiting
to be explored which are immensely addictive and great fun to
The idiom 'don't judge a book by its cover' can be extended to
'don't judge a computer game by its graphics'. Whilst the games
featured in this article have extremely basic graphics, they have many
redeeming qualities beyond evoking fond memories of the early days of
There are no fancy graphics here, just great gameplay coupled
with the urge of always having just one more play.
The first game in this roundup is UnNetHack, a fork of
NetHack, originally based on the hugely popular roguelike game NetHack.
NetHack was first released in 1987, and is considered by many gamers to
of the best gaming experiences the computing world offers.
UnNetHack adds a number of enhancements to NetHack, such as
additional monsters, more levels, a few new objects, additional
dangers, more challenging gameplay, and most
importantly more entertainment than vanilla NetHack. It offers a
tutorial to help new players get started.
Be warned, UnNetHack is fiendishly addictive.
Empire is a simulation of a full-scale war between two
computer and you. Naturally, there is only room for one, so the object
of the game is to destroy the other. The computer plays by the same
rules that you do.
This game is the ancestor of all the multiplayer 4X
simulations out there, including Civilization and Master of
Orion. The classic game from the 1980s uses text mode graphical output,
drawing your units, cities and the world in color. Commands are issued
using the keyboard.
The world on which the game takes place is a square rectangle
land, and water. Cities are used to build armies, planes, and ships
which can move across the world destroying enemy pieces, exploring, and
capturing more cities. The objective of the game is to destroy all the
enemy pieces, and capture all the cities.
The game starts by assigning you one city and the computer one
Cities can produce new pieces. Every city that you own produces more
pieces for you according to the cost of the desired piece. The typical
play of the game is to issue the Automove command until you decide to
do something special. During movement in each round, the player is
prompted to move each piece that does not otherwise have an assigned
Intricacy is an addictive, open source, networked, video
puzzle game. It is written in Haskell, using the Curses and SDL
Intricacy runs directly from the command-line, and provides a
turn-based, abstract puzzle game where the players need to pick locks,
simply by coordinating a couple of tools in order to manipulate the
lock’s mechanism. Constructing and solving difficult puzzles within
certain strict design constraints is both challenging and good fun.
The catch is that you will be able to pick locks that are
designed by other players. It has multi-platform support, with binaries
for both Linux and Windows.
XorCurses is a puzzle game set inside a series of mazes. It is
remake of XOR by Astral Software, a game published in 1987 and
released on the popular home computers of the day including the
Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST, and Amiga. XOR is a pure puzzle
game with no random or arcade elements.
In some respects, XorCurses is a regression from the
graphics of the old 8 bit computers as it uses even more simplistic
graphics, with coloured ASCII characters instead of pixel based
XorCurses attempts to faithfully recreate that game for
Linux, with particular attention placed on the behaviour of the
objects within the original game.
The basic premise of Xor is to roam around a series of mazes
collecting all of the blue masks and then finding the exit. You
have two player-shields to aid you and you can use either one at any
time and switch between them. The first few levels are easy to
progress, but the rest are progressively harder to solve. A
challenging and difficult puzzle game that will keep you engaged for
Goblin Hack is an open source roguelike OpenGL-based
smooth-scrolling ASCII graphics game. The game is inspired by the likes
of NetHack, but faster with fewer keys.
Goblin Hack has a simple interface that appears to appeal to
players of all ages, and fires their imagination in today's world of
Players can choose one of several classes before being thrown
into the first floor of a randomized, ongoing dungeon.
Curse of War is a fast-paced real time strategy game
released under an open source license. It is implemented using C and
ncurses. There is also an SDL version available.
The core game mechanics turns out to be quite close to
WWI-WWII type of warfare, however, there is no explicit reference to
any historical period.
Unlike most real time strategy games, in Curse of War players
do not control units, but instead they concentrate on
high-level strategic planning: Building infrastructure, securing
resources, and moving armies.
A multiplayer mode is available. Computer opponents differ in
personality, and it affects the way they fight.
Brogue is an open source Roguelike game for Mac OS X, Windows,
Linux, iOS and Android.
Brogue is a direct descendant of Rogue, a dungeon
crawling video game first developed by Michael Toy and Glenn Wichman
around 1980. Unlike other popular modern roguelikes, Brogue favors
simplicity over complexity, while trying to ensure that the
interactions between components are interesting and varied.
Your goal is to travel to the 26th subterranean floor of the
dungeon, retrieve the Amulet of Yendor and return with it to the
surface. For the truly skillful who desire further challenge, depths
below 26 contain three lumenstones each, items which confer an
increased score upon victory.
Brogue is a challenging game, but still great fun to play. Try
not to be disheartened by the difficulty of the game; with
some application, Brogue will become very addictive.
DiabloRL is a roguelike "unmake" of the popular Blizzard game
Diablo 1 classic RPG to a turn-based ASCII roguelike.
The game was created for the 7 Day Roguelike Competition, but
has since been expanded with magic items, spells, more classes and
levels, as well as fast travelling to known locations, and high scores.
DiabloRL gives you a choice of classes, the Warrior, Rogue, or
Sorcerer. Each of these has different starting and maximum stats, as
well as completely different play styles.
- Website: diablo.chaosforge.org
- Authors: Kornel Kisielewicz, Chris Johnson and Mel'nikova
- License: GNU GPL
- Version Number: 0.5.0
Cataclysm is an open source post-apocalyptic roguelike, set in
the countryside of fictional New England after a devastating plague of
monsters and zombies.
It is a continuation of Whale's original Cataclysm, which expands it
with numerous new creatures, buildings, gameplay mechanics and many
While some have described it as a "zombie game", there's far
more to Cataclysm than that. Struggle to survive in
a harsh, persistent, procedurally generated world. Scavenge the
remnants of a dead civilization for for food, equipment, or, if you're
lucky, a vehicle with a full tank of gas to get you the hell out of
Dodge. Fight to defeat or escape from a wide variety of powerful
monstrosities, from zombies to giant insects to killer robots and
things far stranger and deadlier, and against the others like yourself,
that want what you have...
Cataclysm is very different from most roguelikes in many ways.
Rather than being set in a vertical, linear dungeon, it is set in an
unbounded, 3D world. This means that exploration plays a much bigger
role than in most roguelikes, and the game is much less linear. As the
map is so huge, it is actually completely persistant between games. If
you die, and start a new character, your new game will be set in the
same game world as your last. Like in many roguelikes, you will be able
to loot the dead bodies of previous characters; unlike most roguelikes,
also be able to retrace their steps completely, and any dramatic
changes made to the world will persist into your next game.
- Website: en.cataclysmdda.com
- Authors: Kevin Granade
- License: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
- Version Number: 0.C
Last Updated Sunday, April 19 2015 @ 06:12 AM EDT