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File:Freeciv-2.1.0-beta3-sdl slack11.0.png
Freeciv 2.1.0-beta3, with the SDL client
Developer(s) The Freeciv developers
Publisher(s) The Freeciv project
License GNU General Public License
Platform(s) Cross-platform
Release date(s) January 5, 1996 (1.0)
November 26, 2009 (2.1.10)
Genre(s) Turn-based strategy
Mode(s) Multiplayer, single-player
Input methods 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 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 computer operating systems. Released under the GNU General Public License, Freeciv is free and open source 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 vertically)

In order to play a game of Freeciv, a user must start up a Freeciv client and connect it 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.

The default gameplay mode in Freeciv resembles Civilization II.


Freeciv's graphics system is configurable: originally, map display was always in overhead mode (like in Civ I), which many players found rather crude;[1] 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.

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.[2]


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, Maemo 5, ZETA, SkyOS and various BSDs. Freeciv is included with many popular Linux distributions. There is also a version of Freeciv playable online in a browser.


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.[3] The students—Peter Unold, Claus Leth Gregersen and Allan Ove Kjeldbjerg—started development in November 1995; the first playable version was released in January, 1996, with bugfixing and small enhancements until April.[4][5] The rules of the game were close to Civilization, while the client/server architecture was basically that of XPilot.

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.[6] It was useful enough to be picked up by popular Linux distributions, e.g. Debian[7] Designed to be portable, it was ported to many platforms, which helped its survival. Freeciv playing and development continues to 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.

See also


External links

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