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Descent 3 has been made open source

By - | Views: 46,902

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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30 comments
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whizse Apr 17
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The situation with the game data/assets is a bit complicated in this case. Parallax Software owns the copyright for the game, but Interplay owns the Descent trademark and have the right to publish and sell the game.

Presumably Interplay would be less than thrilled about the game data being made available free of charge. Re-releases and old titles seems to be their main source of revenue these days.

Info from here. I presume the non-payment issue was resolved given that all Descent titles are back on GOG.
Quoting: Liam Dawe
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
So I guess it's "LOSS" ("Libre Open Source Software", but without "Free")
But I don't think it's a total LOSS.
Samsai Apr 17
We should not suddenly change terminology to imply that an open source game must have free assets too. It's already tough enough to get developers to understand that they can release just the program source code to their games and still keep making money on the assets, so muddying the waters even more is just plain unnecessary.

Even without free assets, releasing this software as open source provides significant longevity and preservation, not to mention opening the door to expansion and derivative works. Frankly, for that reason the people that made the software open source deserve some copies to be bought.


Last edited by Samsai on 17 April 2024 at 5:45 pm UTC
Kirtai Apr 18
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyer
Quoting: Gamall
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerDon't mean to be rude, but only Decent3? What about 2 and 1!?! I can't play them out of order!!!

They already have fantastic open-source ports.

https://www.descent2.de/
https://www.dxx-rebirth.com/

I think those are game engine remasters, while this one is the actual game. I could be mistaken though.
There's also Chocolate Descent at https://github.com/InsanityBringer/ChocolateDescent
Liam Dawe Apr 18
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.
Quoting: Kirtai
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyer
Quoting: Gamall
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerDon't mean to be rude, but only Decent3? What about 2 and 1!?! I can't play them out of order!!!

They already have fantastic open-source ports.

https://www.descent2.de/
https://www.dxx-rebirth.com/

I think those are game engine remasters, while this one is the actual game. I could be mistaken though.
There's also Chocolate Descent at https://github.com/InsanityBringer/ChocolateDescent
I was very disappointed when I followed that link and there was a suspicious lack of anything about chocolate.
Anza Apr 18
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: Kirtai
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyer
Quoting: Gamall
Quoting: NathanaelKStottlemyerDon't mean to be rude, but only Decent3? What about 2 and 1!?! I can't play them out of order!!!

They already have fantastic open-source ports.

https://www.descent2.de/
https://www.dxx-rebirth.com/

I think those are game engine remasters, while this one is the actual game. I could be mistaken though.
There's also Chocolate Descent at https://github.com/InsanityBringer/ChocolateDescent
I was very disappointed when I followed that link and there was a suspicious lack of anything about chocolate.

So it went downhill fast.

PS: bit more seriously though, probably the name comes from Chocolate Doom and even has same purpose.
whizse Apr 18
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See also shockolate.
whizse Apr 20
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It's finally been licensed as GPL v3.0

Let's hope it stays that way!
whizse Apr 26
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Interplay okayed Icculus to release his changes! That'll bring the Linux port right up to speed. Guess the Windows boffins need to port over those changes for a more modern Descent 3 experience on their end.

Licensing is confusing again, not sure if we'll end up with two Descent 3 source releases, one GPL and one MIT?
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