Game Engine Recreations and Source Ports

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Sometimes a full system emulator is overkill. This is especially true when a developer only wants to get one game (or a number of games that use the same engine) working. In that case, reimplementing that game alone would save more time than implementing the platform it runs on. These kinds of projects are common when abandonware has large communities; when the original developer has disbanded and can no longer support or update it, an effort is then made to get it running natively on newer versions of-- and/or entirely different-- operating systems and platforms.

  • When the developer only has a binary to work with (and not the source code), they recreate the engine rather than port it, hence the term game engine recreations (or alternatively game engine re-implementations). How the developers go about this process depends on their philosophy; they may opt to decompile the original executable and have their own program rely on the original until all of its functions have been remade, at which point the original binary is no longer needed. Alternatively, they can be remade based on a clean room design, in which the project implements the abstract features without having to disassemble the original, going by how components are expected to be used rather than how the game uses them. Some engines come about simply because they were inspired by the original game, and the programmer felt confident enough that no reverse engineering was necessary to make an engine that does the same thing.
  • In rare cases, games are released as open-source by the publishers themselves, allowing developers to perform a source port of the code. This skips the step of figuring out how the game works. The most common example that's often used is id Software's release of Doom in 1997. It led to so many ports being released that the community began to joke about what devices haven't gotten it running yet.

Some projects are implemented in ways that the original developer did not intend; for example, for a platform other than which publishers marketed it for. And they're not just limited to game engines either; Webamp is a JavaScript application that reimplements Winamp in the web browser. These projects are almost always open-source which also allows new programmers to fix bugs that could have been difficult to track down during development (alternatively, the bugs may be emulated to allow old mods to continue to safely exploit them). When most of the effort is on programming, the project will usually require the original game's assets (such as files in the installation directory or ROMs) until those ever get remade. This lets the developers claim they aren't infringing the game's copyrights since the player must obtain the original to use it; if the game is still being sold, this could allow the publisher to even earn revenue from the project.

For the sake of brevity, most of these projects often refer to themselves under some variety of fan remakes. The External links section has lists for a number of known and available projects.

Multi game engine[edit]

Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Active Recommended Supported game(s)
Action-adventure (3rd-person)
OpenTomb Windows Linux macOS Git Tomb Raider 1-5
OpenLara[N 1] Windows Linux macOS Android Linux ARM Nintendo 3DS Git ~ Tomb Raider 1-4
Adventure
ResidualVM Multi-platform 0.3.1 3D adventure games (Grim Fandango, Escape from Monkey Island & Myst III: Exile)
ScummVM Multi-platform 2.2.0 Adventure games (LucasArts, Sierra, Activision, Humongous & more. Over 250 games.)
FPS
BuildGDX Windows Linux macOS Website Blood, Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Powerslave/Exhumed, Redneck Rampage, Redneck Rampage Rides Again, Witchaven, Witchaven II, TekWar, Legend of the Seven Paladins
URDE Windows Linux macOS Git (WIP) Metroid Prime 1-3 (GC)
XLEngine Windows Linux 0.1.0 Star Wars: Dark Forces, Daggerfall.
Later: Outlaws, Blood, Shadow Warrior.
ZDoom Windows Linux macOS 2.81 [N 2] Doom I-II, Final Doom, Heretic, Hexen: Beyond Heretic, Chex Quest I-III, Strife: Quest for the Sigil, Hacx: Twitch 'n Kill
Platform
Commander Genius Windows Linux macOS Switch 2.4.5.1 Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons, Commander Keen in Keen Dreams, Commander Keen in Goodbye Galaxy, Commander Keen in Aliens Ate My Babysitter
Racing
OpenNFS Windows Linux macOS 0.3 ~ Need for Speed I-III, Need for Speed: High Stakes, Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2
RPG
EasyRPG Multi-platform 0.6.2.2 RPG Maker 2000/2003 games
GemRB Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Android 0.8.5 Infinity Engine
(Baldur's Gate series (1998–2001), Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale series (2000–2002))
Neko RPGXP Player Android 2.01 ~ RPG Maker XP/VX/VA/MV games
xoreos Windows Linux macOS 0.0.5 (WIP) BioWare's Aurora engine & derivatives
(BioWare's 7 PC/console RPGs, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, The Witcher)
RTS
openage Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.3.0 ~ Age of Empires, AoE II (HD), Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
OpenRA Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Git Early Westwood games (Command & Conquer, C&C: Red Alert, Dune 2000).
Soon: 2nd-gen C&C (C&C: Tiberian Sun).
OpenSAGE Windows Linux macOS 0.3.0 (WIP) EA's Command & Conquer games
(C&C: Generals, C&C: Generals - Zero Hour)
Soon: The Battle for Middle-earth series (2004-2006), C&C 3 & expansion.
Shoot 'em up
ReC98 Multi-platform Git (WIP) Touhou 1 - 5 (PC-98)

Single game engine[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Active Recommended Supported game(s)
Action-adventure
OpenJK Windows Linux macOS Git ~ Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Adventure
The Ur-Quan Masters Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.7.0 Star Control II
FPS
Aleph One Windows Linux macOS 1.2.1 Marathon 1-2, Marathon Infinity
BStone Windows Linux macOS 1.2.8 Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold, Blake Stone: Planet Strike
dhewm3 Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.5.1 Doom 3 (Original)
Doom64 EX Windows Linux macOS 2.5 Doom 64 (Original)
D2X-XL
DXX-Rebirth
Windows Linux macOS 1.18.74
0.60 Beta 2
Descent, Descent II
ECWolf Windows Linux macOS Android 1.3.3 Wolfenstein 3D, Spear of Destiny, Super 3D Noah’s Ark
EDuke32 Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD [1] Duke Nukem 3D
Hammer of Thyrion Windows Linux macOS 1.5.9 Hexen II
ioquake3 Windows Linux macOS 1.36 Quake III: Arena
iortcw Windows Linux macOS 1.51 ~ Return to Castle Wolfenstein
NBlood Windows Linux Git Blood
OpenMoHAA Windows Linux [2] Medal of Honour: Allied Assault
PrBoom Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Git ~[N 3] Doom 1-2, Final Doom
Quakespasm
vkQuake[N 4]
Windows Linux macOS 0.93.2
1.04.1
Quake 1
RBDOOM-3-BFG Windows Linux 1.2.0 Doom 3 (BFG Edition)
Rise of the Triad for Linux Windows 7 Linux Dreamcast 1.1.2 ~ Rise of the Triad: Dark War
Shockolate Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.7.7 System Shock 1
The Force Engine Windows 0.01.006 (WIP) Star Wars: Dark Forces, Outlaws
Tyrquake Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Git Quake 1
vitaQuake II Windows Linux macOS Vita Git, PS Vita Quake 2
Xash3D Windows Linux Android 0.19.2 Half-Life 1
Yamagi Quake II Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 7.43 Quake 2
Platform
Alive Windows Linux Git Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus
NXEngine
nxengine-evo
Windows Linux macOS 1.0.0.6
2.6.4
Cave Story
OpenJazz Windows Linux macOS Pandora GP32 Dreamcast 20190106 ~ Jazz Jackrabbit 1
rawgl Windows Linux macOS 0.2.1 Another World/Out of This World
REminiscence Windows Android 0.4.5 Flashback (Another World's spiritual sequel)
Rigel Engine Windows Linux macOS Linux ARM 0.6.1 Duke Nukem II
SDLPoP Windows Linux macOS 1.2.1 Prince of Persia (1989)
Super Mario 64 PC Port Windows Linux sm64-port and sm64ex Builder
sm64nx Builder
Super Mario 64 (N64)
xrick Windows Linux GameCube BeOS GP32 #021212 Rick Dangerous
Racing
CannonBall Windows Linux macOS Pandora Linux ARM 0.3 OutRun
NFSIISE Windows Linux macOS Android Git Need for Speed II: SE
OpenLGR Windows Linux macOS Git Lego Racers
OpenMC2 Linux macOS (via Wine) 0.0.2 Midnight Club II
OpenSWE1R Windows Linux macOS Git (WIP) Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
RVGL Windows Linux Android Linux ARM Pandora 20.0430a Re-Volt
stuntcarremake[N 5] Windows 7 Linux Pandora Build 08 Stunt Car Racer (Amiga / AtariST)
RPG
Arx Libertatis Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 1.1.2-r1 Arx Fatalis
Daggerfall Unity Windows Linux macOS Alpha 0.10.25a The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
DevilutionX Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Haiku Switch 1.0.1 Diablo
OpenVIII Windows Linux Git Final Fantasy VIII
OpenDiablo2 Windows Linux Git Diablo II
OpenMW Windows Linux macOS 0.46.0 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
OpenTESArena Windows Linux macOS 0.11.0 (WIP) The Elder Scrolls I: Arena
RTS
OpenDUNE Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.9 Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty
TA3D Windows Linux macOS 0.6.0 ~ Total Annihilation
RTT
FreeSynd Windows Linux macOS 0.7.5 Syndicate (1993)
Syndicate Wars Port Windows Linux macOS 0.3 Syndicate Wars
TBS
civctp2 Windows Linux Pandora Pyra 2010-04-01
(ctp2 for Linux/Pandora/Pyra])
~ Call to Power II
CivOne Windows Linux macOS Git (WIP) Sid Meier's Civilization
OpenXcom Windows Linux macOS Git UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-Com: UFO Defense), X-COM: Terror From the Deep
Sandbox
OpenRW Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD Git ~ Grand Theft Auto III
re3 Windows Linux 1.0.2934 Grand Theft Auto III
San Andreas Unity Windows Linux macOS Android 3.3 ~ Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Sim - City-building
CaesarIA Windows Linux macOS Android Haiku 0.5 (2016) Caesar III
Julius
Augustus (Gameplay changes)
Windows Linux macOS Vita Switch 1.4.1
1.4.1
Caesar III
Sim - Construction/Management
CorsixTH Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.63 Beta 1 Theme Hospital
OpenLoco Windows Linux macOS 19.03 Chris Sawyer's Locomotion
OpenRCT2 Windows Linux macOS 0.2.3 RollerCoaster Tycoon 2
OpenTTD Windows Linux macOS 1.9.1 Transport Tycoon Deluxe

Notes[edit]

  1. OpenLara was inspired by OpenTomb
  2. ZDoom has been discontinued. However the development of its replacements, GZDoom and LZDoom, is still active.
  3. PrBoom-plus is still active
  4. vkQuake is based on Quakespasm, but uses Vulkan instead of OpenGL for rendering
  5. Based on Stunt Car Racer Remake for Windows

External links[edit]

Curated Lists:

News:

  • GamingOnLinux.com (For the latest news on releases and updates of game recreations and source ports that work on Linux)
  • Reddit feed (Aggregation quality is a little bit spotty. You have to wade through the news posts a bit for the relevant software.)
  • List of Open Source Games on Reddit (Thread by u/AMD_CEO. Wed Jul 1, 2020. Had added recommendations to links also seen above.)