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.
  • 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 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 a complete list of these projects, see Open Source Game Clones.

Multi game engine

Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Active Recommended Supported game(s)
ResidualVM Multi-platform 0.3.1 3D adventure games (Grim Fandango, Escape from Monkey Island & Myst III: Exile)
ScummVM Multi-platform 2.0.0 Adventure games (LucasArts, Sierra, Activision, Humongous & more)
XLEngine Windows, Linux 0.1.0 Star Wars: Dark Forces, Daggerfall.
Later: Outlaws, Blood, Shadow Warrior.
EasyRPG Multi-platform 0.6.0 RPG Maker 2000/2003 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)
OpenRA Windows, Linux, macOS, BSD Git Early Westwood games (Command & Conquer, C&C: Red Alert, Dune 2000).
Soon: 2nd-gen C&C (C&C: Tiberian Sun).

Single game engine

Name Operating System(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Active Recommended Supported game(s)
OpenTomb Multi-platform Git Tomb Raider 1-5
OpenRW Linux, Windows, macOS, OpenBSD Git ~ Grand Theft Auto III
Windows, Linux, macOS 1.18.74
0.60 Beta 2
Descent, Descent II
Shockolate Windows, Linux, macOS 0.7.7 System Shock: Enhanced Edition
URDE Linux, Windows, macOS Git (WIP) Metroid Prime 1-3
Cave Story
rawgl Multi-platform 0.2.1 Another World/Out of This World
REminiscence Multi-platform 0.4.5 Flashback (Another World's spiritual sequel)
xrick Multi-platform #021212 Rick Dangerous
CannonBall Multi-platform 0.3 OutRun
NFSIISE Windows, Linux, macOS,
ARM devices (Android)
Git Need for Speed II: SE
OpenMC2 Linux, macOS (Both on Wine) 0.0.2 Midnight Club II
RVGL Windows, Linux, mobile 19.0430a Re-Volt
stuntcarremake Linux, OpenPandora.
Windows (Old).
Build 07 Stunt Car Racer Remake (Windows remake of Stunt Car Racer on Amiga/AtariST)
OpenLGR Windows, Linux, macOS Git Lego Racers
OpenSWE1R Windows, Linux, macOS Git (WIP) Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
Arx Libertatis Windows, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD 1.1.2-r1 Arx Fatalis
Daggerfall Unity Windows, Linux, macOS PreAlpha 0.7 The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
GemRB Multi-platform 0.8.5 Infinity Engine
(Baldur's Gate series (1998–2001), Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale series (2000–2002))
OpenMW Windows, Linux, macOS 0.45.0 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
OpenTESArena Windows, Linux, macOS 0.9.0 (WIP) The Elder Scrolls I: Arena
openage Windows, Linux, macOS, BSD 0.3.0 ~ Age of Empires, AoE II (HD), Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds
TA3D Windows Linux, macOS 0.6.0 ~ Total Annihilation
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.
Syndicate Wars Port Windows Linux, macOS 0.3 Syndicate Wars
FreeSynd Windows Linux, macOS 0.7.5 Syndicate (1993)
civctp2 Windows, Linux, Pandora, Pyra 2010-04-01
(ctp2 for Linux/Pandora/Pyra])
~ Call to Power II
OpenXcom Windows, Linux, macOS Git UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-Com: UFO Defense), X-COM: Terror From the Deep
CivOne Windows, Linux, macOS Git (WIP) Sid Meier's Civilization
Sim - Construction/Management
CorsixTH Windows, Linux, macOS, BSD 0.63 Beta 1 Theme Hospital
OpenLoco Windows, Linux, macOS 19.03 Chris Sawyer's Locomotion
OpenRCT2 Windows, Linux, macOS 0.2.2 RollerCoaster Tycoon 2
OpenTTD Multi-platform 1.9.1 Transport Tycoon Deluxe