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Enjoy old RTS classics with OpenRA!

June 9th 2020

Since the weekend was all Command & Conquer mania with the excellent Remastered version, I checked out OpenRA today. I haven't done this for years now.

OpenRA is an open-source engine for the C&C games and Red Alert, plus Dune II, under the GPLv3 license. It's completely free, and since the original games were released as freeware years ago, the game will install the assetts you need to enjoy the game. OpenRA is in development since 2007! Probably one of oldest, actively developed open-source game project.

I was pleasantly surprised that so many distro has packages for it. While SlackBuilds has package, it's not the newest, so I used the AppImage from OpenRA.net. You make it executable and run the AppImage. It starts up imidiatelly. Any kind of save and data is in your ~/.config/openra directory.

The games are running flawlessly, and everything is available except music and movies, but if you have the original CDs then you can install them from it (just choose advanced install, instead of quick at installation). Pretty much ideal playing it on older machines. As I don't have the original medium, I couldn't test the movies and music, however what I saw, you have an in-game jukebox.

It has tons of options, like keyboard shortcuts, changing how to handle units with mouse, zooming and other stuff. There is also multiplayer, which I don't know how active is, and I haven't tried it yet. Honestly so much work went into this project in the past 10+ years, you need to check out the game itself to discover them.

If you have some free time for nostalgia, and you don't have the money for C&C Remastered, I highly recommend you to check it out. OpenRA is available for Linux, Windows, OS X and FreeBSD too. The game is in active development, the latest stable version is from a month ago.

If you are interested in the development of OpenRA, check out the community and forum pages. I think this one of the power of free software, that can help preserve games and other types of software. I think the success and the longevitiy of OpenRA was one of the reason EA went with C&C Remastered, and since it turned out so well, we may see the seqeuels remastered. I hope in the long run we get a new C&C game some time in the future.

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