Open Empires: 0 A.D. Is An Open Source Historical RTS

The landscape of PC gaming is littered with bright ideas and good intentions: both of those things seem true of 0 A.D. Wildfire Games have take the popular template of Age Of Empires-style historical RTS, and made an open-source project out of it. You can see the fruit of their labours in a series of videos – linked below – or, hell, you can download the alpha and play it (Windows, OSX, Linux). Wildfire are so keen on getting people involved to create mods and variants – or to help with the main game – that they’ve even gone and posted a how-to guide on how to engage with their programming plans. Commendable.

Listen to that guy’s voice! Sexy.


  1. skyturnedred says:

    I really hope you can zoom a bit further away. Or even to a full tactical view, Supreme Commander style. That game really spoiled me.

    Other than that, this seems like a great idea and I hope we get to see some cool stuff from the community.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      That’s actually a fairly good distance for the view. Some RTS games I’ve played are a lot worse. C&C4 had a terribly zoomed in view you couldn’t do anything about.

    • Chaosed0 says:

      If you want the feature, grab some C++ manuals and program it yourself!

      Alternatively, make some friends that are programmers.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Unfortunately, sinking into a codebase this extensive is kind of a big time investment, even if they’ve tried to document it better than usual.

        The complexity of nontrivial software continues to be a thorn in the open source theory of “patch it yourself”, because there’s just so much wind-up time.

        • Snakejuice says:

          I’d dare say it wouldn’t be that hard to find the variable for max camera distance and change it, you probabaly wouldn’t even need to know the language it’s written it, just some basic general programming.

          • beetle says:

            that’s pretty optimistic… expecting strangers’ code to conform to your expectations is usually a recipe for disappointment

          • drivebyhobo says:

            Yeah. Expanding the camera distance in company of heroes causes LODing issues.

          • FriendlyFire says:

            Then you realize that the camera height isn’t actually set as a value, you need to modify the view matrix calculations.

            Then you realize that the game does a basic culling pass using the old height value, and so objects would not get drawn on the sides.

            Then you realize the Z-far value was tightly bound and there’s clipping on the ground.

            Then you… Get my point? It’s not because it seems trivial that it is. Granted, it could be, but you can’t assume that.

          • Snakejuice says:

            Ok you are all right so let me rephrase that! It would not be very hard to try. :)

    • Jeru says:

      This is not obvious, but you can scroll out further by disabling the limit in the developer overlay (Alt+D).

    • ribobura osserotto says:

      You can zoom out, quite a distance, but 0AD is a more of an Age of Empire games. If you want something like SupCom try SpringRTS, the free software bastard child of Total Annihilation.

  2. gschmidl says:

    “Year zero does not exist in the Anno Domini system usually used to number years in the Gregorian calendar and in its predecessor, the Julian calendar.”

  3. Fattsanta says:

    This looks fantastic, people should also take note of the Age of Empires: Age of Kings fan made expansion on the way for December,

    Check that shit out, link to

    • Tams80 says:

      Thanks! I notice that Wildfire games are involved it that to some degree as well.

      • Jeru says:

        It looks like a great project, which has incorporated art assets from a previous Wildfire Games project named Rome at War, which was a mod of AoK.

        (I am from Wildfire Games.)

    • Magnusm1 says:


  4. H-Hour says:

    One of the few really successful open-source projects and probably the most beautiful of any open-source game out there. Getting quality visual content like that in the open-source world is unfortunately exceptional.

    • Snakejuice says:

      Yeah there’s lots of coders doing the open source, not as many artists tho.

  5. Brise Bonbons says:

    I was just musing that I’d love to dig into an old-style Age of Empires RTS. How fortuitous!

    And I agree it’s unusual to see an open source or community driven game with good art direction and cohesive design. I shall give this a play at earliest convenience!

  6. gravity_spoon says:

    Brings back sweet memories from AoE 2: Age of Kings days

  7. Gap Gen says:

    Well this looks to be the spiff.

  8. cpt_freakout says:


  9. luukdeman111 says:

    o wow… I’ve checked this game out back when it was in alpha 3 I believe…. It has improved impressively!

  10. Tams80 says:

    I LOVE Age of Empires. It was among one of the first games I played and the first online game I played. I was very sad when Ensemble Studios closed. This looks a lot like it, which is fantastic and better than Age of Empires Online (which is not bad, but far from its pedigree).

    Now if Wildfire incorporate bits from Rise of Nations (another sad loss), it would be great. Most importantly though, I hope it has the ability to place units on walls, like in Stronghold. Oh and sea walls/palisade, which stupidly removed in AoEII with a patch.

  11. LionsPhil says:

    Hunh. Wasn’t expecting to see this on RPS yet; it’s been around a while (obviously at lesser stages of development) but didn’t think it’d hit any particularly major milestone of late.

  12. Kaira- says:

    If you are interested in following the happenings in the world of open source video games, I would recommend the Free Gamer blog. It doesn’t update that often but I find it still quite nice.

  13. omicron1 says:

    Mon dieu – you finally posted it! After just two impatient emails and a half-year wait!

    These guys deserve the mention – it would be incredibly sad if the project failed due to a lack of attention, especially since they represent the sole current chance of replacing Ensemble’s late, great series. That said, things are a bit janky at present; it seems wiser to me to focus on, say, making the moment-to-moment gameplay flow better than just on building new factions and hero units.

    • MrLebanon says:

      Well that’s what a beta is for!

      Alpha = adding as much features and fancy things to the point the game breaks, rolling back slightly, and doing it again

      Beta = features all finalized from alpha, now to stomp out all bugs.

      we shouldn’t expect anything more than more features and factions worked on until the beta

  14. Andy_Panthro says:

    I played (and blogged about) the Alpha 8 version back in January, and have been following it for longer than that. It looks really good, and certainly scratches that Age of Empires itch.

  15. Keyrock says:

    I’ve “played” this when it was at Alpha 10. it’s pretty impressive for a free game, but still has a long way to go before it’s truly playable.

  16. yhancik says:

    I thought it was by the guy of Wildfire Worlds. This is confusing :p

  17. John Connor says:

    That marching noise is annoying as hell.

  18. poisonborz says:

    This looks to be awesome. I hope I’m seeing it right, and in the beginning of the second video, you can see that you can command combat units to perform worker duties. This is something I longed for in an RTS for a long time. It’s much more realistic: if the situation required it, soldiers dug trenches and collected materials just like any other commoner in history. The rule of one “working class” unit was always an unrealistic and stupid penalty in almost every past RTS game.

    The next best thing would be if working combat units would suffer penalty, like loss of morale, veteran units could even leave command…