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An Open-Source MMORPG Using The Unigine Engine

Gaming

Published on 10 April 2011 02:02 PM EDT
Written by Michael Larabel in Gaming
15 Comments

Project Bossanova has high hopes to develop "the first 3D game built especially with Linux as the first priority. It will set the standard in gameplay, graphics, compatibility, community integration and more." In addition, they plan to have the game, now announced as RunServer's MMT, to be open-source. This is an MMOPRG game and it's being built using the Unigine Engine.

Project Bossanova itself is not a game but they're simply trying to focus on and sponsor a game who's primary focus is on Linux support. The game they chose is RunServer's MMT, which was first shown off at the Game Developers' Conference 2009 in Moscow. It's built using our favorite game engine, the Unigine Engine. RunServer also integrates their own middle-ware code.

This past week they've announced the a playable demo of this game for Linux users who promise to pledge for the cause. They're not collecting money yet, but if you promise to give money in the future, they'll grant you access to this early demo.

Reality though has now set in that has dampened the project's original ideals. While the project seeks to make this game open, the Unigine Engine itself is proprietary and will not be opened up as part of this initiative. The RunServer software that's used for online server development, server geometry, RDBMS, etc will also remain closed-up by the Russian developers. They will just be opening up their top layer of the game client.

The MMORPG game itself when complete will be offered on a subscription basis. The project also began to be a Linux-only game, but that exclusiveness has now been dropped and there will also be a Windows version (there was in fact a MMT Windows demo previously for Russian gamers).

It appears though they hope the free software community can contribute though to make this game comparable to other triple-A titles, which is a massive feat by itself. "We are confident that the game we eventually release will not only be on par with current offerings in terms of graphics, gameplay, stability and compatibility."

Due to the Unigine Engine's impressive but demanding OpenGL renderer, it's also unlikely you will find this "open" game running anytime soon on open-source graphics drivers on Linux. It's possible to run the Unigine Engine on ATI Gallium3D when using out-of-tree S3TC and floating-point support, etc but that's just for R300g. And the performance is certainly less than desirable with even older game engines often wreaking havoc on Mesa / Gallium3D.

Sean McNamara, the Phoronix reader writing in to tell us about Project Bossanova, does mention "If you do an article on it, it'd be nice if you could mention the current non-working state of Unigine on the open source graphics stack. Maybe Unigine can apply some of the cut-downs they made for Android to a lower-spec OpenGL alternative renderer that will work swimmingly with Mesa and lower-end GPUs?"

While it's a nice thought, it's not that easy in reality and doesn't address the underlying issue of the open-source drivers being well behind their proprietary brethren. The Unigine Engine port to Android (and now Apple iOS too) does make some visual sacrifices, but heavily relies upon OpenGL ES 2.0, which is supported by Mesa / Gallium3D but still leaves a lot to be desired.

The Unigine Corp developers also aren't interested in cutting down the graphical richness of their engine for traditional PCs to satisfy those who wish to use open-source GPU drivers. It's effectively the same reason why they don't offer engine licenses to indie developers at no cost or next to nothing: they don't want titles based upon their engine looking like crap. Such community games tend to not have the best artwork and other assets, which Unigine Corp doesn't want representing their engine. It's just a crippling experience; it'd be like going to Oktoberfest and drinking Bud Light or any other American Scheiße out of an Augustiner Maß.

It's also not a problem specific to Unigine. Well known Ryan "Icculus" Gordon previously commented on how the current open-source GPU drivers are the problem with the lack of S3TC support, among other features, that leave them to provide an OpenGL 2.1 experience with slow performance. It's the drivers that need to be improved.

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, among other triple-A titles from years past, still struggle running under Linux with the latest -- mainline -- open-source graphics drivers. Windows games running under Wine on Linux are also often problematic with the various Mesa / Gallium3D options. The Source Engine on Linux with such drivers is also a nightmare.

Besides the OilRush game that's currently in beta and will be officially released this summer, there's also three other forthcoming Unigine games.

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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