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Descent 3 has been made open source

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Update #2, 21/04/24 18:06: the code is now licensed under the GPL!

Update 18/04/24 15:11: there seems to be an issue with the licensing at the moment. The MIT license was not meant to be up on it, as this was apparently the default GitHub put on it. That license has now been removed, and so there's now no license on it. Hopefully this will be sorted soon so it can be clear for anyone who wishes to contribute.


Original article below:

Another classic has been given the open source treatment, with Descent 3 from Outrage Entertainment now available under the MIT license. This release was put up on GitHub by Kevin Bentley, one of the original developers.

It has a bit of an interesting history as it was originally ported to Linux way back in 2000 from Loki Entertainment, which didn't age particularly well. Then much later in 2020 developer Ryan "Icculus" Gordon did a re-port with various upgrades.

From the GitHub:

This is the latest version of the Descent 3 source code. This includes the '1.5' patch that Jeff Slutter and Kevin Bentley wrote several years ago. At the time, it worked for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Some proprietary sound and video libraries from Interplay have been stripped out (the ACM and MVE format). I have that code if someone wants to help make a converter so the old cutscenes work. It'll take some effort to stub out that code so it compiles.

The first thing I want to do is get everything compiling again, and ideally some CI/CD actions. After that, the code needs to be cleaned up some, to remove old version control comments, etc. A lot of this code was written by a really great team, but keep in mind we were much younger and less experienced back then.

If you're interested in helping maintain it, please send me a message. Otherwise, I'm happy to take pull requests.

This is the last update I put out there showing different architectures playing along. Yikes, that was a long time ago, sorry we never released a 1.5 patch. Some logistics got in the way!

Thanks to Jeff Slutter, who did most of the work modernizing the code from the 90's. I'm looking forward to seeing what the community does with it!

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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whizse Apr 16
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Interesting conversation here with icculus trying to figure out if he can release the source for the modern Linux port:

"Okay, I'll email Hervé later today and see if he'll let me release my changes. It couldn't hurt to ask, right?"

From https://github.com/kevinbentley/Descent3/issues/9

Fingers crossed 🤞


Last edited by whizse on 16 April 2024 at 5:08 pm UTC
Quoting: GamallThey're remasters in the sense that they are based on the actual, original source code for D1 and D2, which were released long ago (1997 for D1).

So now all Descent games are open-source.

Not really Decent, rebirth doesn't come with the game data. You have to buy it yourself, so does Descent2.de. It looks that this one is too. It's not really open source, in my opinion, because while the engine is now open sourced, the game data is not. I think it's kind of disingenuous to call it an open source game when the game in entirely isn't open source. Just the game engine.
Hamish Apr 16
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerNot really Decent, rebirth doesn't come with the game data. You have to buy it yourself, so does Descent2.de. It looks that this one is too.
So the exact same situation as with Doom or Heretic. The bespoke license used here is tricky, but the same was true for Doom and Heretic initally too, before id and Raven smartened up and adopted the GPL instead. Just a vistege of the code coming out so early on.

Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerIt's not really open source, in my opinion, because while the engine is now open sourced, the game data is not. I think it's kind of disingenuous to call it an open source game when the game in entirely isn't open source. Just the game engine.
Well, it is certainly not free media; I could muddy the waters and say any software not created through the open source development model is not "open source" too, but at a certain point that is just arguing semantics.
elmapul Apr 16
Quoting: melkemind
Quoting: elmapulthis was like, my first PC game ever!
im not even kidding, it was not my first gaming system since i had an n64, but when i saw the graphics i was stunned.

anyway i never finished it =p

Yeah, this game came free with my Voodoo graphics card, and I loved it.

i paid like 6.50R$ (nowadays that is about 1.2 us dollars, but back then it was something like 3.25 us dollars)
it was dirty cheap compared to n64 games who were about 60~120 R$ (actually i think the only reason we were able to buy 2 for the price of one was because the games were already cheaper than the standard price and we made an deal to purchase 2 if we got an disccount)


the graphics were also more impressive than n64 games.


Last edited by elmapul on 16 April 2024 at 11:22 pm UTC
Quoting: Hamish
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerNot really Decent, rebirth doesn't come with the game data. You have to buy it yourself, so does Descent2.de. It looks that this one is too.
So the exact same situation as with Doom or Heretic. The bespoke license used here is tricky, but the same was true for Doom and Heretic initally too, before id and Raven smartened up and adopted the GPL instead. Just a vistege of the code coming out so early on.

Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerIt's not really open source, in my opinion, because while the engine is now open sourced, the game data is not. I think it's kind of disingenuous to call it an open source game when the game in entirely isn't open source. Just the game engine.
Well, it is certainly not free media; I could muddy the waters and say any software not created through the open source development model is not "open source" too, but at a certain point that is just arguing semantics.

I'm not intentionally trying to be argumentative, just when I saw the headline "Descent 3 has been made open source" I was like OK a game like wesnoth or 0 A.D. That's not the case unfortunately.
Hamish Apr 17
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerI'm not intentionally trying to be argumentative, just when I saw the headline "Descent 3 has been made open source" I was like OK a game like wesnoth or 0 A.D. That's not the case unfortunately.
No worries, although in terms of a commercial proprietary game later releasing both its source code and assets to the community, I would say Warzone 2100 is the most cogent example I can think of.
Quoting: Hamish
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerI'm not intentionally trying to be argumentative, just when I saw the headline "Descent 3 has been made open source" I was like OK a game like wesnoth or 0 A.D. That's not the case, unfortunately.
No worries, although in terms of a commercial proprietary game later releasing both its source code and assets to the community, I would say Warzone 2100 is the most cogent example I can think of.

The decent source code release is still good. Modernized game engines are great. I like DevolutionX for my diablo, and I might try to do the same when I get decent. Or, I might just play it on the Original hardware Mac I have in the basement.
witchymary Apr 17
Is the original doom source code release not open source either? Weird standard to stand by. That's what most games that had their source code later released do—the code itself is open, but not the game assets.
DMJC Apr 17
Ah man, Descent 3 what a time. 1999 I preordered Freespace2. That was the start of my game modding. Between the Descent 1/2 level editors and Freespace 1/2. Then Descent 3 dropped. Descent developer tools were a revolution. For the first time being able to see inside the process of making games and being able to explore the files. It changed my life forever. A lot of the ideas behind Vegastrike were inspired by the Descent/Freespace series toolkits. And who could forget Loki Software? Linux native Descent 3 shipped with libSDL and the Loki Games update tools. Absolutely epic time.
Liam Dawe Apr 17
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyer
Quoting: Hamish
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerNot really Decent, rebirth doesn't come with the game data. You have to buy it yourself, so does Descent2.de. It looks that this one is too.
So the exact same situation as with Doom or Heretic. The bespoke license used here is tricky, but the same was true for Doom and Heretic initally too, before id and Raven smartened up and adopted the GPL instead. Just a vistege of the code coming out so early on.

Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerIt's not really open source, in my opinion, because while the engine is now open sourced, the game data is not. I think it's kind of disingenuous to call it an open source game when the game in entirely isn't open source. Just the game engine.
Well, it is certainly not free media; I could muddy the waters and say any software not created through the open source development model is not "open source" too, but at a certain point that is just arguing semantics.

I'm not intentionally trying to be argumentative, just when I saw the headline "Descent 3 has been made open source" I was like OK a game like wesnoth or 0 A.D. That's not the case unfortunately.
In this case, it really is arguing on semantics. It is open source, but it's not free. So I went with plain open source, rather than "free and open source". Hope that makes sense. I don't really see it as a productive argument to have though :P
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