Infobox VG
title = Freeciv

caption = "Freeciv" 2.1.0-beta3, with the SDL client
developer = The Freeciv developers
license = GNU General Public License
publisher = The Freeciv project
released = January 5, 1996 (1.0)
August 11, 2008 (2.1.6)
genre = Turn-based strategy
modes = Multiplayer, single-player
platforms = cross-platform
input = Keyboard, mouse

"Freeciv" is a multiplayer, turn-based strategy game for workstations and personal computers inspired by the commercial proprietary "Sid Meier's Civilization" series. The latest stable version of "Freeciv" is 2.1.6, released on August 11, 2008. The game's default settings are closest to "Civilization II", both in gameplay and graphics (including the units and the isometric grid).

"Freeciv" is available for most desktop Linux distributions. Released under the GNU General Public License, "Freeciv" is free software.


Players take the role of a tribe leader in 4000 BC and have to guide their people through the centuries. Over time, new technologies are discovered, which allow the construction of new city buildings and the deployment of new units. Players can wage war on one another or form diplomatic relationships.

The game ends when one civilization has eradicated all others, accomplished the goal of space colonization, or at a certain deadline. If more than one civilization remains at the deadline, the player with the highest score wins. Points are awarded for the size of a civilization, its wealth, and cultural and scientific advances.


"Freeciv" is very configurable, down to the specific rules, so it can be played in "Freeciv" (default) mode, "Civilization", "Civilization II", or in a custom mode. One or several players act as game administrators and can configure the game rules. Typically modified rules are:

* Number of players required before the game can be started
* Speed of technological development
* Whether there should be computer controlled players
* Whether (computer controlled) barbarians should invade player settlements
* How close cities can be built to one another
* How continents and islands are generated and distributed over the map
* Map size
* Map topology (rectangular or hexagonal tiling; whether it wraps horizontally and/or vertically)

The graphics system is very configurable as well: originally, map display was always in overhead mode (like in "Civ I"), which many players found rather crude [ [ a review on Free Games Net (1998)] ] ; isometric mode (like in "Civ II") was added later. In both modes, look can be further customized by switching to an alternative set of graphics (called a "tileset"). The sounds can be replaced as well.

Freeciv supports human-to-human multiplayer gameplay and artificial intelligence (AI) computer players. While the game is turn based, human players move simultaneously. The AI players move separately, partly at the start of a turn, partly at the end.

In releases before 2.0, AI players could not engage in diplomatic relationships with human players. Under the current release, AI players will engage in a very predictable, rules-based diplomacy.

In order to play a game of Freeciv, a user must start up a Freeciv client and connect with that client to a Freeciv server. Initially, the server is in pre-game phase; in this phase, clients can connect and game configuration parameters can be changed. At some point, the server may be ordered to start a game; in response, it creates game players (nations) and the game map, and assigns every player to either a Freeciv client or a computer player, as specified by the configuration. From that point on, the game will run until it ends or is terminated; the server can never get back into pre-game state.

The user can also start a game directly from the client: this automatically starts a Freeciv server, connects to it and starts the game.

"Freeciv" has a map and scenario editor called Civworld available as a separate download. Civworld is being integrated into the main release for the planned 2.2 version, and development snapshots as of 2007 already have some map editing capabilities built-in. [ [ Civworld] ]

Gameplay in "Freeciv" mode resembles "Civilization II", with some improvements. For example:

* Multiplayer capability (available on "Civilization II Gold")
* Queued production
* New units (Workers, AWACS)
* Improved "go" command with intended route shown
* Ability to view city production and turns to growth without opening the city screen
* The concept of national borders (much like the "culture" borders used in "Civilization III")

"Freeciv" omits some features available in the original "Civilization II", including:

* Disasters
* Ability to zoom in/out from map
* Music
* Throneroom or palace construction subgame/prize
* Movies for wonders
* Ability to view city
* Advisors


Originally developed on IRIX, "Freeciv" has been reported to run on Linux, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Solaris, along with a large number of other operating systems including Ultrix, QNX, OS/2, Cygwin, AmigaOS, ZETA, SkyOS and various BSDs. "Freeciv" is included with many popular Linux distributions.


In the 1990s, it was quite common for departments of computer science to offer computing facilities to students in the form of rooms of Unix workstations, attached to central servers, and with excellent Internet connectivity, and graphics capabilities based on the X Window system. Several graphical, multiplayer games were developed for this platform, such as XTank, XPilot, xbattle and Xconq.

At DAIMI, the CS department at Aarhus University, three CS students, avid players of XPilot and of Sid Meier's "Civilization", which was a stand-alone PC game for DOS, decided to find out whether the two could be fused into an X-based multiplayer Civilization-like strategy game. [ [ Freeciv:In the Beginning] ] Development started in November 1995; the first playable version was released in January, 1996, with bugfixing and small enhancements until April. [ [ Freeciv 1.0a source code (1996)] ; see DESIGN] [ [ Freeciv 1.0k source code (1996)] ; see CHANGES] . The rules of the game were close to Civilization, while the client/server architecture was basically that of XPilot. Surprisingly, Xconq doesn't appear to have been much of an influence.

For the developers, Freeciv 1.0 was a successful proof of concept, but a rather boring game, so they went back to XPilot.But Freeciv was already playable and addictive enough to pick up other students as players, bugfixers and feature extenders. Designed to be portable, it was ported to many platforms, which helped its survival. Freeciv playing and development continues until the present day, although the spells with little development activity have grown longer and more frequent over time. The development history is strictly incremental: while there have been many serious improvements, the basic design and architecture have not changed since the early versions.

Over 15,000 source patches have been applied to Freeciv since it was started. A very brief overview:
* 1996: main development at DAIMI labs, but always with international contributions
* 1997: development moves away from DAIMI and becomes fully international
* 1998: computer players; Civilization II features; graphics improvements
* 1999: GTK+ client; Amiga client; public gameserver pool with post-game reporting and player ranking
* 2000: isometric view; much extended nations set and language support
* 2001: Win32 client; improved handling of networking problems
* 2002: city management agents
* 2003: start of SDL client; team play; sound
* 2005: alternative map topologies; massive game rebalancing; better AI, with diplomacy
* 2007: Lua scripting; usable SDL client; GGZ Gaming Zone support

ee also

* "FreeCol"
* List of open source games


External links

* [ Project home page]
* [ "Longturn" ("Freeciv" variant with one turn each day)]

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