Syntensity: New FOSS Platform for 3D Games

October 31st, 2009 by Crusader

An open-source platform for multiplayer 3D games, Syntensity, has recently launched:

Here is a screenshot of the lobby (from where you can enter portals that send you into different games):

Syntensity isn’t a single game, but rather a platform that can run all kinds of 3D games. There are already a few games, and anybody can create their own. The main game is a multiplayer first/third person shooter (sort of like Quake 3 Arena), and there is also a simple drawing game (in which multiple people can draw and see what each other are drawing in realtime). You can see both games in action in this video.


Getting started

  • .debs for Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10 (32/64-bit) on Playdeb. After installing the .deb, a menu item ‘Syntensity’ should appear under ‘Games’ in the main menu. Click it to start the client.
  • Compiling Syntensity on other Linuxes is simple, see the instructions on the engine page.
  • Log in (you need to register on the website first), and then click ‘connect to lobby…’
  • It will download a little content, and then you will enter the world you see in the screenshot above.
  • Press ‘H’ for an interactive tutorial (it explains basic stuff like the controls).
  • Further explanations appear in the Quick Start Guide and Introduction.

More Details

Among the main features of this platform is that it downloads game content for you automatically. So once you have the Syntensity client installed, you can play any of the games without needing to manually download or install anything (like you can use Firefox to view websites). Also, when you create or modify a game, you can easily upload the new version, and then everyone can immediately play it.

Another major feature is that anybody can modify any game on Syntensity. So if you’re playing a game and you think, “it would be cool if that weapon did more damage”, or “the game would be more balanced if that position was less fortified”, then you can modify a version of that game, and other people can play your modified version.

Note that this is how things work on Syntensity (letting anybody modify any game), but you are free to use the open source engine to run your own games, however you want.

Background and Engine Stuff

Syntensity is the result of about a year and a half of intensive coding, and also uses a lot of existing open source code. To briefly summarize, it started with Cube 2/Sauerbraten, which was made much more flexible and generic, a new scripting API using Google V8 was added, as well as a lot of infrastructure like asset distribution and management in Python.

The core engine is in C++, while games are written in JavaScript and plugins can be written in Python. The master (metadata) server is written in Python and Django. All the components (client, server, master server) are open source under the AGPL (note that just like Blender, the license only applies to the engine, not to games you make with it. You own copyright to your games and can license them however you want).


Disclaimer: There may be bugs. You can file them on Launchpad. If you are having trouble starting the client, try to run it on the commandline (‘syntensity’ if you installed the .deb, ‘./’ otherwise) to see the output (you can also get it to show more logging output, see here). You can ask for help on IRC (#syntensity on FreeNode) or on the forum.

2 Responses to “Syntensity: New FOSS Platform for 3D Games”

  1. SlickMcRunfast Says:

    Pumping out the news today Crusader!

    Might try this game soon once I get all my other games installed again. 9.10!

  2. TheAncientGoat Says:

    Hmm, I wanted to submit some news regarding syntensity, they’re working on a web plugin, but my submission got marked as spam :(

    Also, the bot detector says the the year is 2009 XD

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