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FreeOrion: A Free Open Source 4x Space Strategy Game

By on July 31st, 2009 5:31 am

While doing some research on the latest news about space strategy games under development I came across with the FreeOrion project.

FreeOrion is an open-source project which goal is to build a turn based 4x space strategy game. The entire project is community-centered were people who share the common motivation are invited to contribute to build the game in many ways, some as programmers, others as conceptual designers, others as opinion makers.

As stated in the project vision the game is inspired in the Master of Orion series and it will be a turn-based strategy game built-in the classic 4X model style.

Edit:  For an interview I did with the FreeOrion Programming Lead please refer to: Interview with FreeOrion’s Programming Lead: Zach Laine. / Edit

Current status

As far as I could tell from the official page forums and wiki the project seems to have started somewhere around 5 to 6 years ago and the word is that the game is currently in the alpha stage and that it will be still a while till it is finished. You can see the project roadmap here. The most recent version available to download is currently (version 0.3.13) which means that according to the roadmap there is still a long way to go.

First impressions

After checking out the forums of the project and reading some people announcements, ideas and warnings of premature and unstable material my expectations became rather low. I downloaded the most recent build available for Windows (version 0.3.13) from the project sourceforge that you can find in this link (there are also builds for Linux and Mac). I installed the game (clean), launched it (sounds good), there is already a more than presentable main menu, good ambient sound music and voila the galaxy is presented to you in all of its splendor.

Immediately you identify familiar things about the game that makes you remember of Master of Orion like for example the ship movement mechanics (select a ship with a left mouse click and choose destination planet with right-click with spaceship immediately moving towards the planet). After some time clicking on the menus, mostly in the planets and in the spaceships I have to say that it seemed that I was really playing a Orion game. And I don’t think more of a compliment to the design & development team I can give than this. In spite the version still being alpha with all the expected unpolished graphics, many unfinished functionalities, others still not present at all and clunky User Interface I really have to say that I got hooked immediately to the game atmosphere and I really wanted to play more. Oh and by the way, no software crashes :) still …

Some screenshots

As you can see the galaxy map already shows a good presentation. The production screen still looks unfinished, a lot of polish to be done, more solid graphics and definitely better UI still required. The research screen shows potential but, as normal, is still rough around the edges (rather messy and confusing dependencies with all that curvy lines around). All things considered I think that all of this is already great work! The project seems to be in the good path.

Galaxy Map
Galaxy Map
Production Screen
Production Screen
Research Screen
Research Screen

You can see more screen shots here.


FreeOrion is definitely a project to take seriously and to watch closely in the near future. The game seems really to embrace the spirit of the Master of Orion series. I personally became quite interested in knowing more about the project and to contribute myself to the cause with all the means I can. For now I’m spreading the word, in the near future I plan to make updates at least when the major project milestones are announced.

Godspeed FreeOrion, and watch out for the Guardian! :)

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  1. spdddmn says:

    “FreeOrion is definitely a project to take seriously and to watch closelly in the near future.”

    Given that this project has been goin on for like 6 years now, and they are still in alpha, I tend to doubt there will be massive progress anytime soon. It has some nice bits in it, but it seems to me like a long ways to go before its really playable. Maybe another 6 years?

  2. gloryandrew says:

    When I first started playing the free online strategy game known as game, I figured I’d play for about a couple of weeks and call it good. I was on vacation from work and looking for something to pass the time with a few of my online friends.

  3. Cristo says:

    as much as i would like to see freeorion succeed i think the developer lost interest in it a few years ago. such a slow progress makes me believe it will never be done. eventhough its open source and a fan dedicates his freetime i am just thinking now. ver 0,3 took 6 years. another ver 0,6 on top of this and we have flying cars. i dont like spending my interest in dusty projects :/

    there is more hope in a moo4 than freeorion sadly.

    do you think supremacy and aphelion will see release statuses?

  4. Adam Solo says:

    yes .. I do have to agree with you, progress has been slow for freeorion. They are still in the v0.3.something. I know they publish incremental builds once in a while though (check here:

    Regarding Supremacy it seems that Mike is strongly commited to go a head with it. He’s going to Vegas for the StarTrek conference and all. Aphelion I don’t know, I haven’t seen a lot of action latelly. In the near future I’ll check with both Mike and Brad to see what’s their status.

  5. Chris says:

    If you want the devs to spend more time developing FreeOrion, send them a 5 Euro donation, i bet it’ll make a big difference if 100k people send 1-5 Euros…

  6. steve says:


  7. pertm says:

    It is okey but the thing I don’t like about it is those starlanes. Both MOO1 and MOO2 did not have starlanes so you had to watch if some ships might be going for a deep strike.

    • Mark says:

      I agree, starlanes are a horrible idea used by “lazy” programmers. They are a deal breaker for me, even with a free game.

      Roads-in-space just suck all the immersion out of a space game.

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Post category: Games Under Development