Ryzom – or the Saga of Ryzom as it was called back when I made an account for it – has become even more open as before!

Since I'm writing this already a day after I got the e-mail, you've probably caught wiff about it in the media 1 and wondering what the bloody hack do I mean with “even more” in my post.

The thing is that NeL 2 – the engine Nevrax made for Ryzom – has been already before available under GPL. What's changed now is that all code – engine, server, client, tools etc. – is released under AGPL 3.0 and the artwork under CC-BY-SA 3.0. What's not inculded is the data of the game; so the stories, setting, parameters and quests are still only available to its gamers for a monthly fee.

Before the more official part, I think it's only fair to mention the history of it as well:

  • If my mind does not play tricks on me, already early on (2004 I think) there was an official GNU/Linux port of the client available, which was quite soon stopped because of the lack of manpower.
  • In November 2006 Nevrax announced they're most likely going to bust and that several companies are willing to take them over. In the same week a bunch former Nevrax employees and other contributors to NeL have started Ryzom.org – a project to “turn [the classic commercial] model on its head and give players control over the virtual world their character's inhabit. [Ryzom.org want[s] to purchase the source code, game data, and artwork, so that [they] can further develop it by placing it under a Free Software license.” To achieve this they planned to gather donations and buy Ryzom from Nevrax and release it as free software. The most notable donation pledge was FSF's 60 000 USD.
  • Sadly in 2006 Ryzom.org did not succeed and Ryzom (together with the rest Nevrax) was sold to GameForge. As lady luck wants it, GameForge became bankrupt even before it had fully paid for Nevrax' assets, so these were returned back to the liquidator.
  • Fast forward a few years and it's 2010, Ryzom is being “owned” by Winch Gate Properties, code and artwork is free, FSF thinks this is “probably the single-biggest contribution to free software games yet” and a lot of Nevrax' original employees are again active on Ryzom.

So, what's in it for us? Well, anyone can freely use their art and the code (now called Ryzom Core) to build your own game. Then there's Ryzom asking the community to help migrate to CMake, help make a port for GNU/Linux and in general be able to pariticpate with bug reports, patches, wishes and ideas.

For more about Ryzom's new (even more) open plan now, check out their Open Source FAQ, their RoadMap and the forum thread.

From the above mentioned Ryzom.org project quite soon (also in 2006) a more wide-scope organisation called Virtual Citizenship Association popped up which made Ryzom.org as one of its projects. It consists of MMORPG professionals, gamers and people who believe in FOSS. They fight for the rights of virtual citizens (online gamers, inhabitants of virual worlds etc.), that since they're the heart and soul of such online communities and virtual worlds they should have the right to vote, participate with ideas, not have their (privacy and otherwise) rights trampled on by corporations and even have code and artwork freely available for themselves to do their own derivatives. You can read more about it in their social contract. It's current projects include a shared hosting shard for FOSS MMORPG and the colaboration with Second Life's makers and review of the GPL'ing of their client.

À propos, Wolfire games – the guys behind brilliant games like Gish, World of Goo, Aquaria, Penumbra and Lugaru – have just published on their blog that GNU/Linux users contribute twice as much as their Windows counterparts.

Could the silver era of GNU/Linux and FOSS gaming be ahead of us? We can only hope. It's quite clear though that the dark ages are behind us. Thank gods for that!

hook out → sipping already cold fair trade Ceylon+Darjeeling tea with sugar and having a nice tingling sensation in his tummy that he'll be able to roam Atys again :]


  1. It was mentioned on Phoronix as well as Heise Online to name two. 

  2. Official website Community fork

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