One of the best things about the Massively OP community is that our readers often point us toward MMOs that we never knew existed. So here’s our mutual discovery today of a title that’s been online since 2003 and existed entirely on the fringes of the genre ever since.
Eternal Lands is a free-to-play open source MMORPG that’s available for Windows, Android, Mac, and Linux. It has an extremely tiny download before ushering players into this 14-year-old world with multiple zones, a free-form skill system, a focus on exploring, live GM events, and a tight-knit roleplaying community. It’s reported around 170,000 downloads over its lifespan.
While the core game is free, there’s a special PK server that costs a whopping $5 to access. There are a couple of offshoots of Eternal Lands that are being developed, including a French port and a more community-focused version.
This past Saturday, we posted a column discussing open source MMORPGs — and specifically, how rare they are even after thousands of online games have been launched over the years. In providing examples, we overlooked one interesting title that might be one of the bigger open source graphical MMOs out there: PlaneShift.
PlaneShift is a multinationally developed MMORPG that’s been online since 2002 in several iterations. It may have a lot in common with other fantasy MMOs, but PlaneShift does differentiate itself with more of a focus on mysteries, exploration, death by aging, a death realm, and of course, the open source nature of the project. It is completely free to play, if that’s a consideration.
Recently we had an interesting question come in from reader and Patron Rasmus Praestholm, who asked me to do a little investigating: “What (if anything of substance) exists in the MMO field that’s not only free, but open source? The topic of open source came up briefly in a recent column, where Ryzom was noted to have gone open source at some point. But have any serious efforts actually gotten anywhere starting out as open source?”
As some graphical MMORPGs pass the two-decade mark in video game history and are being either cancelled or retired to maintenance mode, it’s an increasingly important topic when it comes to keeping these games alive. Not only that, the question of open source MMOs involves the community in continued development, with the studio handing over the keys to an aging car to see what can be done by resourceful fans.
But has anything much been done with open source projects in the realm of MMORPGs? Is this something that we should be demanding more of as online gaming starts using more accessible platforms such as SpatialOS? Let’s dig a bit into this topic and see what we turn up.