This week in open source games: September 28 - October 4, 2014

Licensing Lord of the Rings, Borderlands 2 on Linux, and more

This week in open source games
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Open source games roundup

Week of September 28 - October 4, 2014

Howdy, open source game fans! In this week's edition of our open source games news, we take a look at the storied history of Lord of the Rings games, Borderlands 2 on Linux, and more!

The epic tale of Tolkien's Middle-earth in video games

Alexa Ray Corriea's exhaustive history of video games set in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings mythos is a fascinating look at how the Tolkien estate has handled licensing adaptations over the years. It's a cautionary tale of how restrictive requirements caused several games set in Middle-earth to flounder and, in some cases, fail.

The licenses are fragmented across Tolkien's oeuvre: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and the posthumously-published collection of Middle-earth lore, The Silmarillion. There are licenses for the movies based on the books, and for each book itself. For a game designer, wading through the quagmire of legal rights to using a specific character or event is akin to Sam and Frodo trudging through the Dead Marshes.

When it comes to open source, we talk a lot about software licensing, but the discussion on copyright is big, too. Organizations like Creative Commons work to provide authors and companies with ways to maintain copyright but encourage sharing and distribution of their works, and events like the Public Domain Jam encourage game developers to use intellectual property that is open for anyone.

Borderlands 2 is officially out on Linux

Back in early September, the fine folks at Aspyr Media announced that Borderlands 2 would be arriving "very soon." Turns out they weren't kidding. The first-person action RPG shooter is out and on sale, although it currently only supports Nvidia graphics cards. Aspyr's Michael Blair told GamingOnLinux a bit about the process: "This port was challenging, for sure." He goes on to discuss their plans for future support. You can pick up Borderlands 2 at GameAgent or on Steam.

Unreal Engine 4 on Linux

YouTuber RagingElbows got the Unreal Engine 4.5 Editor running natively on Linux. "It runs pretty well," he says in his video walkthrough. "This is the first version that has quasi-official native Linux support." Check out the video below as he runs the game engine through the paces. For more info, check out his Reddit thread.

Microduino-Joypad launches on Kickstarter

It's time for another retro handheld game system! Can you really have too many? This one is from Microduino Studio, who successfully launched their tiny, stackable Microduino boards last October. The Microduino-Joypad is an "8-bit multi-functional game console" and, best of all, "it's completely open source and you can even create and develop your own game to inspire your imagination. Moreover, it’s not only a game console, it’s also a remote controller for other devices, such as Quadcopter, robot and cell phone, etc." Looks like a lot of fun!

Play games for charity in the Extra Life marathon

Extra Life is an online charity where games fans can join in on a 24-hour gaming marathon to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. Play games—video, mobile phone, board, or tabletop—and get your friends and family to chip in for each hour that you play. Red Hatter Travis Bryant is participating and he still has $140 left to raise. Help kids in need and chip in a few tax-deductible bucks, won't you?

In other news:

Anything we missed? Send us an email or tell me about it on my personal Twitter account. And be sure to follow on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news on everything open source.

About the author

Michael Harrison - Michael an unrepentant geek with a love for games, the social web, and open source projects to share with his kids. He writes about raising geek children at GeekDad and records a podcast about games called The Dice Section. You can follow him on Twitter at @oldbie.