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Most Open-Source Game Artwork Is Awful

Gaming

Published on 13 June 2012 07:04 AM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Gaming
45 Comments

Earlier this month when talking about the Baseio game that's being worked on by the ioquake3 project, many Phoronix readers were quick to bring up in the forums that the artwork done by the free software community for these open-source games often aren't up to par.

Aside from some Phoronix readers being disappointed that this "baseio" game is being built atop ioquake3 and not the newer iodoom3 code-base, many in the forums were quick to criticize the limited artwork for this open-source project thus far and for the available open-source games in general. This is also basically a "yet another shooter" game with no original concepts besides wanting a game with CC-licensed artwork.

Baseio is wanting to put all of its game content out under a Creative Commons non-commercial-by-sharealike license. Here's one of their player models they have created thus far:

Most Open-Source Game Artwork Is Awful

Sure, it's an early work-in-progress, but simply put it's hard to disagree that in 2012 that model looks like shit. The ioquake3 engine (and many other open-source game engines) can handle much better graphics, but for many projects they are always -- and severely -- handicapped by the artwork.

For those wanting another example, need I bring back up Turtle Arena?

Most Open-Source Game Artwork Is Awful

It's not hard at all to find open-source games with horrific artwork. Very few open-source games that are community projects look professional. Probably the best looking community-based game I have ever come across has been Xonotic.

The game-play for some of these titles could be excellent (although a majority of the open-source games are just multi-player first person shooters...), but with the bad graphics they're likely to be laughed at by Windows gamers. Most Apple iOS game artwork even trumps the open-source desktop Linux games...

Why I bring up the unfortunate artwork situation is that it's currently inhibiting companies, professional developers, and others from becoming involved with these projects because they don't want to be professionally associated with something that to users may look like garbage. The engine may be great underneath, but that's not what the gamers (users) see. These recent conversations I've had with different parties were similar to that of when Unigine was asked in the past about providing gratis licenses of their engine to free game developers, etc (I think that information is public knowledge in the Phoronix Forums or elsewhere). Unsurprisingly, they have a fear that the game assets could turn out to be a wreck and just don't want to be associated with something ugly as it could leave the wrong impression with potential users/customers.

So as the latest community discussion topic, what could be done to better address the artwork problems within open-source games?

On a related note, from earlier this year there was the discussion about the best looking open-source game as a few examples of where some open-source games don't look too bad.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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