Star Ruler was a 4X space strategy game where ships could be as big as planets, and carry weapons that could punch holes in suns. Its 2015 sequel, Star Ruler 2 flew under our radar, but was a slightly more coherent, traditional game, while still offering conflict on a truly daft scale. Developers Blind Mind Studios have been inactive for a while now, but this week they kindly made Star Ruler 2 (and its expansion, Wake Of The Heralds) open source. Better still: Everything but the music is included, so if you build it yourself, it’s entirely free.
Assembling your own copy of Star Ruler 2 isn’t as complex as it sounds. The GitHub page for the game includes full instructions on what to do, starting with (for Windows, at least) downloading and installing Visual Studio 2017. While the self-assembled, free version of the game misses out on the music and Steam achievements, everything else is fully functional, including multiplayer, fully cross-compatible with people playing the Steam and GOG releases.
Star Ruler 2’s community (including modders) is small, but this release seems to have woken them up somewhat. The GitHub page for the game makes nods to both the Steam forum community for the game, and a Discord server for Rising Stars, one of the larger Star Ruler 2 mod projects, which can be found on Mod DB here. While Star Ruler 2’s mod scene hasn’t been very active in recent months, the release of the source code will hopefully open up some new doors. The Rising Stars Discord seems pretty lively right now, for sure.
It’s a pity more games don’t go this route. If it’s not making money for the studio, and things can be repacked without much legal wrangling for the developers, an open source release provides a great foothold for new developers wanting to poke around the guts of something big. It’s passing knowledge down to an entire generation of new developers, and we’re all smarter for it in the end.