DIY MMO: Ryzom’s Open Sauciness

All MMOs are rubbish, blah blah blah. World of Snorecraft, blah blah blah. Well, make your own bloody MMO, then. How? With the complete source code and art assets from fantasy monster-biffing game The Saga of Ryzom. It’s had player content-building for a while, but this is extraordinary. The devs have just made the whole kit and kaboodle open source, free to use and modify for anyone. They’re continuing to run Ryzom as-is meanwhile, which is an interesting one – are the fans loyal enough to keep paying for it, or will they head off and try to create their own servers with this code?

More importantly, will anyone make a fully-fledged new MMO as a result of this uber-generous offer? Even more importantly, which one of you is going to make RPS: The MMO? Four opposing and equally useless factions, Dave Tosser as a dungeon boss, Summon Infinite Bear powers and Kieron as the troll-king – it’s so beautifully suited to it. Details and links to the Ryzom new deal below.

Here’s yer source code (or at least it will be soon), and here’s yer art assets. And below is the official word on the open source move, in case you want to do any reading between the lines. Also worth reading is the official forum thread, in which existing fans of the game express various forms of surprise, joy, disappointment and non-plussedness.

PARIS, FRANCE, May 6, 2010 — Winch Gate Properties Ltd, the developer and publisher of massively-multiplayer online science-fantasy role playing games, is proud to announce the release of the source code and artistic assets of the popular MMORPG Ryzom to the Free Software Development Community.

Developers can now access the source code of the end-user client, content creation tools and server in order to make modifications, enhancements or to create their own virtual worlds. This move marks a milestone in Ryzom’s long history and dedication to the free software movement. In order to ensure that Ryzom continues to grow and foster as a free software project, Winch Gate is now releasing Ryzom under the terms of the Free Software Foundation’s GNU Affero General Public License.

Winch Gate is also excited to provide the free software community with high quality professional artistic assets including 3D objects, animation tracks, particle effects and thousands of textures. All of the Ryzom artistic assets will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike to ensure that they and any derivative art will be available to all free software projects. These assets will be hosted in a new online repository in partnership with the Free Software Foundation.

By freeing Ryzom code, Winch Gate is transforming the MMORPG marketplace and is setting a precedent for how gaming software should evolve–in freedom. The source code released totals over two (2) million lines of source code and over 20,000 high quality textures and thousands of 3D objects.

Welcoming the news, Free Software Foundation executive director Peter Brown said, “This is a unique opportunity for the free software movement and the emerging free gaming field to accelerate the production of free games and 3D worlds. We recognize the importance of gaming and the current dominance of proprietary gaming software, so today represents a significant breakthrough from which our community can benefit.” The FSF has published more information about the scope of today’s release, and suggested ways for developers to get involved

Vianney Lecroart, Chief Technology Officer of Winch Gate says, “The Free Software community often has a difficult time finding great graphical assets that they can use in their own projects. We are sure that the thousands of textures and 3D objects we are releasing under the CC BY-SA will help a lot of Free Software projects.”

Winch Gate intends to incorporate certain code changes and enhancements into the official version of the Ryzom game. All code developed outside Winch Gate’s in-house development staff will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure quality standards, stability and security. In order to engage and foster growth in the Ryzom project, Ryzom will have a group of community managers who can manage patch submissions and feature requests. Support will continue to be given for the official Ryzom software only, with third-party projects unsupported by Winch Gate.

Initial projects will include bug fixes and porting to operating systems such as GNU/Linux and Apple Mac OS X. Timeframes for these enhancements will vary depending on the scale of the project and the project team. The level and world data associated with Ryzom will not be released as free content and their use will remain exclusive to players of the Ryzom game.

The source code and additional information will be available from the Ryzom Core Development Portal

The Ryzom’s free media assets are available from Ryzom’s Asset Repository


  1. Colthor says:

    Does it support single-player?

    • Sobric says:


      Haha filling in for Vinraith?

    • Wulf says:

      Actually, if you run your own server and don’t let it communicate outside of your local network, then yes, this could be played single-player.

    • Mr. ThreEye says:

      Short answer: yes.

      Long answer from the dev faq:

      “Here are some examples of things you could do with Ryzom:

      – Use the Ryzom source code and create new data to create your own universe.
      – Use the Ryzom source code and the graphics asset to create a parallel Ryzom universe with an entirely unique storyline.
      – Use the Ryzom graphics assets to create any other sort of game such as offline RPG, puzzle games, etc.”

      Unless you were sarcastic; if so the answer is “no”.

    • Colthor says:

      Well, it was a joke, yeah ¬_¬

      More seriously, it’s a very generous thing to do. Especially releasing art assets as well as the source code.

  2. Sobric says:


    *monocle pops out*

    • DD says:

      I always imagine RPS readers as wearing monocles. You just confirmed my suspicion sir.

    • Phil says:

      I wear two – it makes my face look kinda scrunchy though!

      This is an incredibly positive and generous thing for the Ryzom folks to have done, although I’m worried about the impact infinite bears will have on the ecosystem.

    • jonfitt says:

      Oh, I say!

      *plop* (Monocle in brandy)

  3. Wulf says:

    Considering that Uru is going open source as well, this is all getting pretty interesting.

  4. Tei says:

    //For bussines men:
    Theres something like a movement to make MMORPG games “Free to Play”. Free as in beer. You download the game, start playing. no one ask you money, but if you want a Celestial Horse, you pay $25 for it.
    And It seems to work. It seems to work for Dungeon and Dragons Online.

    This means that you can give the game for free, to have as much players as possible, and ask money for other services you offer ( XP potions, horses, stuff).

    You don’t really need, or want, to dedicate time to make the clientside better. Or the serverside. Having some people walkin into the source code, and making it better, and adding the awesome element X, Linux, Mac and iPad support. Is a very ok thing, It make so more people can buy your Celestial Horse, and XP Potion.

    //For open source guys:
    You have a Linux, or a Mac, or a FreeBSD, or something else. Having the source code open, is good for you, since a native client can be made, and update. Maybe the 64 bits client is not good enough, some other Linux user look at the code, create a patch that fix the memory leak.

    //For indie/hobbist teams:
    You want to create a MMO, but realistically, you lack the skill to make the serverside stuff. But with your friendly modelers, and friendly coders, can extend and adapt something existing. Do you want to make a TF2 MMO where the engi can create Spider Mines? you can!.
    Reading the source code, tryiing to beat the challenge, can get better, and get experience with profesional tools. It will looks awesome on the resume.

    //For users:
    Reading the blog XYZ, I have read a comment about a very obscure “TF2 MMO”. It seems very few people play it, but is free, is a single 400MB download, and I am playing a “TF2 MMO”. The game looks nothing like TF2, but is has some ideas from TF2. I am playing it. WTF!.. Spider Mines!.. I love Spider Mines!.

    Anti-Hype comment:
    This may result on nothing, if people don’t start using it. A big % of the opensource proyects gets 0 attention. So is not sure that this will have any effect on the real world.

    • bob_d says:

      It’s an interesting idea. I think developers haven’t tried this for two reasons:
      1) MMO client/server architecture is often pretty sloppy; often just being able to see the network traffic between client and server makes it easy to cheat. If you were to release the client code, you’d have to be even more careful about how the game was set up, to avoid cheaters.
      2) Being able to see the client/server communications allows people to reverse engineer the server to some degree (to create pirate servers). Of course this is only really possible if the server processes are simple enough that people find a hacked facsimile “good enough;” a reasonably complex server system would solve that.

  5. Stodge says:

    I thought it was open sourced years ago?

    • Wulf says:

      There was a number of huge drives, they failed.

      This time, the open source nuts won.

      Hooray for them, something might actually be made out of that disaster of an MMO now. And it should, because Ryzom is unique and quite, quite lovely.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      The engine was open source from the beginning, the game proper was not.

  6. Heliocentric says:

    I wonder if an mmo would make a good platform for animats, probably no good for scientific application.

  7. Lars Westergren says:

    As a gamer I’m not excited at all about this, but as a programmer, this is a goldmine.

    • Wulf says:

      I believe Ryzom has a functioning ecology, if I remember right. That excites me. I mean, that’s something that could be lifted from Ryzom and generally spread around, because good grief, games need more realistic creatures.

      Getting charged by a wolf as a guy in plate armour got old back in the days of the IBM compatible, that it’s still happening in this era of computers is absolutely ridiculous. So that an animal ecology system for an RPG environment is becoming open source… well, that’s great. I hope people use it.

    • Lars Westergren says:


      Ooh, that does sound intriguing.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep. I looked it up to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, it seems to be just as I remember, so hooray for that!

      link to – If you’re curious!

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      It’s much less impressive in game.
      Trust me I played it for a few months after it was resurrected in 2009.

  8. Sarlix says:

    LFG Tosser Dungeon /w me for invite.

  9. damien says:

    ryzom’s indie-made (granted, through many devs at this point, spread over a decade) and run (also through a number of publishers), open ended, true-sandbox approach to hybrid fantasy / science-fiction MMO gaming with a very strong community heavily focused on lore-based, role-playing play-styles building up all sorts of player written story arcs always struck me as a set of things the RPS readership would adore.

    and yet getting people to play ryzom is almost always harder than getting people to play eve.

    • Wulf says:

      I’d be more than willing to try it, because I remember some beautiful sights in that game, and I want to wander around and see them again. Ryzom was a game that was alien and exotically beautiful, with the kind of aesthetics I so often praise Uru for.

      The thing is though, it’s not like Uru, it’s one of those games that takes a long time commitment, and that’s something I rarely give to an MMO. Usually, the carrot-on-a-stick that would have me devoting the time is the offer of a non-human race. This is why I return time and again to Champions Online. Robots, werewolves, werebears, fish-people, frog-people, and even roboraptors… and combinations of all of those!

      One of the things that disappointed me about Ryzom was that even though the world is incredibly alien, all the races were very, very human in appearance. I might be remembering that wrong so I’m going to go and look real quick.

      link to – That confirmed my fears. The Korai might be worth a look, but it’s just a bit of a let-down, really. They crafted an amazingly alien world and then plonked humas down in it, what a shame. Still, the beautiful world itself will have me showing up for a little while once the first, major free (or free-ish) server has been organised.

    • damien says:

      i’ve never really cared much about what races or whatever end up looking like in MMOs, simply because 99% of the time your camera is behind them. it doesn’t really take anything away from the game (or put much into the game) if my character looks human, cat-like or anything else.

      and the only times you ever really get a good look at anyone else’s character’s faces are in crowds or whatever, and i’m usually too annoyed by the lag there (and trying to get away from them as a result) to be very interested in what they look like.

    • Wulf says:


      I can’t really expect you to understand because it’s a very psychological thing for me, we’re two very different persons with two different minds. I play games for escapism primarily, and therefore I’m turned off by anything that’s too generic, too real world. And first and foremost I want to represent my own share of uniqueness within a world that contains other people, I’d like to show them what my mind is like, and for that reason I wish more games had the customisation of Champions Online.

      I find it depressing when something constricts and lessens my enjoyment of escapism like that. It’s all about abstracts, I suppose. If a game contains nothing but incredibly generic humans engaging in the wholesale slaughter of creatures, well, that just hits a little too close to reality for my taste. I prefer to skew away from reality and opt for something a little more imaginative, since it’s always just as nice to escape from the visual representation of humanity for a while as it is to escape from the real world.

      The question that might make you understand, perhaps, is: why don’t all of our game worlds just act as a perfect (or as near to as is possible) replica of Earth, and locations on Earth? No super powers, no magicks, no dimensional travel, no impossible science, no spaceships, no towering superstructures which we jump from, no impossible creatures at all, no acting the hero, and generally nothing that doesn’t exist within our real world. If you can say you want to hang on to any one of those in a game, then you understand my predicament, whether you realise or not, you just enjoy it in a different way.

      I mean, you glaze over magic effects in combat, you never really have a good look at what people are travelling on, so… no space ships, no magical mounts, no magicks, and now you’re beginning to understand, I think, reading this. It’s less that you are visually aware of them all the time, but more simply that they are there. I find it saddening and genuinely depressing to think that we could be apathetic about the more fantastic parts of our imagination, these things are special, and they shouldn’t be cast aside or lost.

      Just as I tend to lose interesting races in a game, and I feel the game becomes less fantastic and less abstracted from reality as a result, I’m sure that there are things that you would be disappointed at the loss of if games became more normal. Not that you ever really noticed it, but you’d be sad if it was gone.

  10. Wulf says:

    For those wondering about how this game looks: link to

    That’s why I keep going on about how beautiful the world is, because it really still is.

    • Wulf says:

      This is good, too: link to

      Lots of life in that one. Plenty more on YouTube, too, but those two are the most interesting.

      Okay, I’m done with YT links for now. >.>

  11. Leelad says:

    Actually very awesome.

    The systems behind MMO’s have always interested me. to be able to play with something stable and legal is very exciting. Really get an idea to what it’s like to run an MMO play with balance and what not.

    I can’t code but I can compile!!

  12. patton says:

    This is amazing. Just amazing.
    Damn. Now I wish I could code.
    Well, I really hope people will make for example, a Singleplayer RPG out of this, or maybe sword fighting action game. Max Payne with swords.

  13. DMJ says:

    It’s like giving out free aircraft carriers. Everyone will queue up to get one, but hardly anyone has the expertise and will to actually use one properly.

    • Wulf says:

      There are a large number of quite professionally run instances of server emulators that would prove otherwise, not sure why this would be any different, it just might be a rocky start, that’s all.

  14. logizomechanophobe says:

    I think this could be really amazing.

    Now my imagination is running wild. If all games were open source, then how many more amazing games would there be? Wonder if game makers and peddlers could still earn a profit, if so?

  15. Bassism says:

    As Wulf was previously gushing on about, the world is really quite lovely, and the working ecology makes for a world that actually feels like a world. Ryzom is probably the most interesting MMO to wander around and explore, imo. You can actually just watch some beastly creatures take out a pack of leaf eating pansies.

    That, plus the netcode, plus a bunch of other little bits and pieces should be interesting to anybody interested in coding any sort of rpg or open world, online or not.

    It’d also be interesting to see somebody take the code and set up something free largely based around it. I would certainly pay that a visit.

  16. AllenJB says:

    I think this is an extremely interesting development, especially if Ryzom plans to continue as a commercial game.

    There’s obviously the coder in me who wants to set up a local copy of Ryzom and study how it works, just because I can.

    Then there’s also the MMORPG player in me. If anyone can set up and run their own parallel Ryzom world, what are the original devs going to do to keep the players paying for their world? Storyline and roleplay. It’ll be what an MMO should be – concentrating on creating an immersive, ever changing world with lots of fun, interactive storyline events (and I’m not talking about “kill 10 rats” interactive).

  17. jonfitt says:

    I’d be interested in seeing the guts, but I wonder how well it’s documented? That’ll be the kicker. Unless there are some clever peeps who can chop it up into useful pieces.

  18. ulix says:

    Very, very awesome.

    Played this one for a trial and even paid a month back in the day. The skill-mechanics were very cool and genuinly unique, letting you create your own skills quite freely.

    Good game. Will play certainly again soon, when I can see whats coming out of this decision.

  19. Kirrus says:

    Talked to some open source folks about this. So far, they’re skeptical, they’ve picked out various bits in the release that hints it might not be a full code release. We’ll see soon enough I guess.

  20. Kirrus says:

    Sorry, double posting. This was linked by BBC Tech blogs:
    link to

  21. bill says:

    The art assests is the big thing for me. Games that go open source rarely include the art assets, and that’s why so many games made on open-sourced engines look so home made.

    this creates a huge resource of high quality art assets that can be used in loads of projects. Time to load up Unity…..

  22. No-one says:

    Has it ever occured to you some people simply don’t like MMO’s? As in, don’t like things above 32-64 players?

  23. Axel says:

    Very interesting, but unclear (to me) idea: P2P game and released game codes, game asserts in Max format, NEL Max exporter (also with the source codes)… Probably, I am missing something. At the first glance that looks like a “parallel” existence, not like in Second Life, where it is possible to incorporate custom made models and animations into the MMO. Does Ryzom NEL game engine contain such features? It is obviously not that easy (e.g. for a single person) to use the released materials (codes, models, etc.) for creating a game from the scratch. Moreover, without clever restrictions (I am talking about restrictions in Ryzom) it could be a real mess: SL genre is very different from action (PvP, PK) MMORPG.

  24. Mike says:

    I have made one its called world of warcraft that i worked on for 5 years

    all mmorpgs are rubbish

    now , your childish moronic artcle just got SHAT on

  25. Matt says:

    The last thing we need is more low quality, low population MMOGs.
    Hope all the good, creative developers can get together and make something worth playing.

  26. slessman says:

    Well, I for one think that the possibilities are endless. I mean, you could essentially take the coding from Ryzom and make it any type of game you want. I think that the inclusion of graphic art and 3D objects is a nice touch as well. I mean, it sure beats having to generate these things on your own.