Ryzom is free software! What can we do from here?
This release is probably the single-biggest contribution to free software games yet. If you missed it, check out the press release. We're thankful to the Ryzom team for making this release, and excited about the possibilities it presents to all free software games. The code is tested and proven, having run the Ryzom game since 2004, and the art—more than 13 gigabytes of data—can be adapted and used in other games. This release can provide a lot of new resources and energy for free software game development.
Since we're expecting people to have a lot of interest in this release, we wanted to provide some detailed information up-front about exactly what has and has not been released, and suggestions for ways developers can contribute to the project effectively.
All of the code necessary to run both the client and server software has been released under AGPLv3. If you want to play on the official Ryzom server today, you can do that using only free software (with Wine and the Windows client). Modified clients will not be allowed to connect to the official server, but a testing server is available to try them out.
If you want to run your own server for the game, you have the software to do that, but you won't really have any world data—information about geography, special places, characters, quests, items, and so on—to run it with. Winch Gate Properties, the company that currently holds the copyright for all game materials and runs the official server, has decided not to release that data, to avoid causing disruption for their current player community. People who want to run their own server will need to develop their own world to do so—only a small test world comes with the code.
Unfortunately, that development can't be done with free software, because most of the world creation process depends on proprietary 3-D modeling software. Work is already underway to eliminate those dependencies and use free software alternatives like Blender. This is the next big task that needs to be done to make Ryzom even more useful to the free software community, so if you'd like to help, please see the project page for more information. In the meantime, the server code may be adapted for other games.
Art files from the game, including both textures and 3-D models, have been released under CC-BY-SA 3.0. The FSF is helping distribute these files by hosting a mirror for the Ryzom media server, as well as a torrent with all the assets. You can use these files in other games, software, artistic works—anywhere, really—under the terms of that license. Music and sound effects are not being released today because Winch Gate does not have the legal rights to do so, but they are trying to find an arrangement that will see these files released under a free license as well.
Today's release offers free software developers a lot of opportunities, both to contribute to Ryzom and to improve other software. If you see a project that you'd like to see benefit, please get involved! For more information about this release, including downloads and more projects underway, please visit the Ryzom team's page.