OpenRA – Classic strategy games rebuilt for the modern era

OpenRA – Classic strategy games rebuilt for the modern era




OpenRA's Red Alert is Red Alert as it was in player's dreams. The game is just as fun as it once was: fast, fun and limited in scope - but adapted to contemporary connectivity and display resolution.

OpenRA's killer feature is the extremely fast installation of a reliable cross-platform game that anyone can understand in ten minutes, that works in even the most skinny hardware... The perfect combination for an impromptu LAN party, where having fun with friends right now is more important than gaming depth and graphical sophistication.


Except for the original menu UI which is unmatched in atmosphere even today. It's the one thing that keeps me using the old RA2 instead.


There is also Chrono Divide for MP in browser, which was on HN not long ago.


RA2 was ace, but Yuri's Revenge, one of the greatest expansion packs IMO. Added so much more value to the game.




Yuri was completely unbalanced in Multiplayer though.


There's been attempts to re-balance him using memory injection to overcome INI file editing limitations without much success

Hopefully Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2 can be added to OpenRA one day. It seems like it's something the lead developer of OpenRA works on in his spare time, when he's not fixing bugs or tweaking things in OpenRA itself


Yield to me! Their will is my will!


Any opinion on Mental Omega?


Installing that game was a trip. I took the discs to a friend's house and we didn't realize the volume was cranked on the computer so we closed the drive and it boomed



His mom was very curious as to what the hell we were getting in to.


I still get goosebumps when I hear that intro sound.





Not RA specific, but this is by far one of the best game design tricks.

Players are so trusting that if you tell them they need to hurry up they will.


I've played it a bunch, and it really is the perfect LAN party game:

Quick to download, quick to install, no real setup or tutorial section, cross platform, runs on anything, timeless graphics, easy to understand gameplay, lots of custom game options including AI, etc. And of course, it's fun.

I've tried to find the FPS equivalent of this, but it's been much harder, surprisingly.


OpenArena used to be my go to FPS for impromptu LAN parties. Works on Mac, Windows, and Linux and it's easy to get a local server up and running. Plus it works great on ancient Thinkpads.


If you can get a modern remake of Quake I or II it would fit the bill. I have one on my USB memory stick that's forever been part of my keyring, just in case there ever is the need for a spontaneous fragfest.


Original Unreal Tournament is a pretty good one for this, I copied the install to a thumb drive on high school and played it on school computers all the time. Same with GZDoom


Can it be deployed as a web app? Might reduce the friction even further for new players


They did some neat game mechanic tweaks, especially of the previously useless units: mechanics and thieves being able to revive and capture vehicles. Keeps the spirit of the old game but makes it more fun.


> did some neat game mechanic tweaks

Original RA had a tendency to devolve into tank spamming. That takes skill. But it's closer to tactical than strategic. Does OpenRA deal with this in any way?


Play it with seasoned players. You’ll quickly get a sense for the Meta. It’s not tank spamming, I can promise you that.


That epic moment when your thief manages to capture the Ukrainian bomb truck and sends it right back to the enemies base!


Ukrainian bomb track in RA?


Ukraine is one of the two playable Soviet factions in OpenRA. The nuke truck is a unit exclusive to Ukraine.


>The nuke truck is a unit exclusive to Ukraine.

I now see what the creators did there. I didn't think about it when I was a kid.

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You,didn't think about it as a kid because the original Red Alert didn't include a nuke truck. Although one of the expansions (Aftermath?) did, it wasn't exclusive to Ukraine.

The nuke truck was made the Ukrainian unique unit only in OpenRA.


There was also a nuke truck in RA2, but it was exclusive to Libya.




Russia and Ukraine were the two Soviet factions in the OG Red Alert


Do they have an option where you can steal Russian tanks by using a tractor?


Not with tractors, but allied factions can do that with mechanics by capturing destroyed soviet tank husks. This is a worthwhile tactic because the soviets have bigger, more expensive tanks than allies.


I like this plan. I’m going to try it when I play against my kids next.


RA taught me almost everything I needed to know about geopolitics. Seriously, I marvel at its applicability.

- Resources

Without resources (eg. Net national income) you cannot support a national defense.

...Limited resources lead to conflict.

...Exploit and defend distant resources to preserve your domestic reserves.

- Capability Evolution & Resiliency

...You must pursue advanced capabilities that surpass or match your adversaries, and if you manage your resources properly this is achievable.

...Your infrastructure must be configured dispersed, redundant and secure.

- Combined Arms

...Combative units need a mix of capabilities to overcome defenses, unless you overwhelm (swarm) your enemy - which carries resource risks.

- Long View

...One can easily win a battle or two and lose the war without a long-term plan.

- Intelligence

...You cannot know how your capabilities measure up against your adversaries without good intel. This often means sacrificing units for a look into your opponent's capabilities.

If RA theory and gameplay were mandatory in Congress the United States would be better positioned to both deter and compete with its global adversaries.


If I tried to apply the lessons learned from Red Alert to geopolitics then every attempt at any kind of negotiation or diplomacy would be over within minutes after I attack my opposite number with a dog as a distraction while driving a car full of engineers into their base


Just need Tanya.


I once edited the .ini file to give Tanya the cruiser cannons. Most of the map would just... evaporate.


C&C games were among my earliest forays into modding. It was so easy with the whole game wrapped up in an ini file, and so much fun to muck with stuff.


I cannot upvote this enough.


I'm going to add a realism mod to balance this out a bit -

The car would get a flat tire on the way, and the engineers would spend hours arguing about how to fix it and whether operations would be "more scalable" if we designed a car that didn't have tires at all; Then the commander would call them to see what the heck was going on and they would all get nosebleeds from the stress.


Meanwhile if we applied the lessons of command and conquer, no enemy can defeat the power of sandbags!


The main geopolitical lesson from Red Alert: Build more Tesla Coils.


> If RA theory and gameplay were mandatory in Congress the United States would be better positioned to both deter and compete with its global adversaries.

Surely these "global adversaries" are a myth? Isn't the US Military like 3 times the size of the 3 next largest militaries combined or something?

There is no bogeyman except within, as far as the US Military goes. I'm not stupid - I know there are threats to the wellbeing of US society and citizens, but they aren't _existential_ threats to the US. Meanwhile the list of "de-throned and/or de-fanged by the US" nations is huge.

I think the one critical lesson missing from the "RA Theory" is you need to continue to live, and there is more to life than just squashing your "enemies."


> there is more to life than just squashing your "enemies"

Thankfully, our other grand national pastime happens to be making new enemies!

With a 3x military, we can afford to make 2x enemies and still come out ahead.

"Cha-ching!" --Tanya


> Isn't the US Military like 3 times the size of the 3 next largest militaries combined or something?

The PLA is larger. The PLAN is larger. China is situated far closer to the likely contested areas.

> _existential_ threats

Your head is firmly embedded in the sand. If you care you need to do some reading. A shortcut to your learning looks something like this: The CCP's ascension and probable downward spiral is only reversible through control over resources contested by the West and regional players. The parties cannot cooperatively resolve the disputed issues because more resources are required than are available and no viable alternatives exist. War is probably coming, perhaps inevitable, unless one of the key players implodes domestically.


> The PLA is larger.

Pretty much only if you count number of active duty troops. USA outspends China significantly, and the number of tanks, warships, planes, etc. is vastly in favor of the USA, not even to mention nuclear warheads.


> USA outspends China

US costs are far higher for almost everything, and the PLA obfuscates their spending. I wouldn't rely on this assumption.


>unless one of the key players implodes domestically.

If you listen to Zeihan, you'd be convinced china is on the verge of implosion due to it's demographic crash. I think he's a bit too deterministic, but it does lend credence to the 'now or never' idea that china is, in fact, serious about invading Taiwan by 2030 as things only get worse for them from there...


In terms of combined arms, I tried playing the remake of the original and realised quickly that all my humans were just run over by tanks, even in a mixed group.

What do you use them for?


For the most part - they are good for delay, tripwires, anti-air and scouting.


In RA1-2, they are good as fodder to soak up Tesla Coil hits and tank rounds so your armor can break through, especially agianst a human player. A good amount of fodder will force a human player micro against that attack, and distract them from other things.


It taught me what's the One Place That Hasn't Been Corrupted by Capitalism




Seriously though RA3 had:

- An eventual Oscar winner (Simmons)

- Two people with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Takei, Hasselhoff)

- An Emmy winner and Tony nominee (Curry).

- The first appearance of Gina Carano

All to further a plot that is absurd even for a video game, with a presentation that is possibly peak "pandering to teenage males."

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I think that What Jeff Jackson says here ( ) is pertinent.

Most of the people in congress are more calculating and competent than they look. They are largely clever and socially adept, and have smart people around them. The problem is that the incentives for public speech are misaligned.

That's why it's rarely what the politician says that matters - it's what they vote for that counts. And largely, The pentagon and NSA tell politicians what they need and they get it.


I worked on the Hill and this is unfortunately not the case in general, though there are exceptions.


I think the real story is we elect the candidates that do the best job of convincing people that they are aligned with their wishes and values, but those wishes and values proclaimed by the politician are, at best, only a very noisy proxy for how they will vote and, at worst, entirely fabricated for the sole purpose of winning votes


The skills required to get the job are mutually exclusive of the skills required to do the job.


Love this, here are my lessons from Tiberian Dawn:

Invest in your economy early rather than on an early defense. Just survive the first wave.

I take out harvesters (vehicles) first which disrupts my enemies ability to purchase military equipment.

Artillery is a game changer but needs support from small arms and scouts to increase the "sight" or range which will trigger a response.

I target power plants second, which disrupts radar, slows production and most importantly disables air defenses.

Troops / units are most effective when micro-managed.

A fighting force with diversity almost always wins out over a force dominated by one unit type.

Knowing what direction your enemy will attack from is critical.

By the time you've built very advanced weaponry, you should have already won a conventional war.

Probe your enemy for base weaknesses before attacking.

Don't waste your time repairing, just build new.


Cool. I'm currently working on a modern remake of the old goldbox games. Making good progress.


I play OpenRA / Tiberian Dawn at least 4-5 times a week.

Always skirmish, 1v1, powers disabled (no nukes) I play GDI, CPU is NOD.

Takes me 20 minutes, I win 90% of the time but have to focus or else I lose easily.

It's my crossword/sudoku/wordle/puzzle/meditation/mental reset.


Hmm. Now I want to start playing StarCraft again.

It’s been a while but I honestly feel like that helped me train my focus back then.


StarCraft is a bit of a different beast, 90% mechanics


Id argue there is much more strategy and tactics in Starcraft Brood War.

Red alert is mostly tanks and dogs. Production is very simplified. Units are very similar.

In starcraft strategy defined as "what you want to do" is deeper, since there are more poasibilities to expand. Also much more unit mix (not sure if this counts as tactic).


I just ran back through StarCraft + Broodwars campaigns recently and… it really really holds up. The unit pathing and computer player AI isn’t quite as smart, but the game is solid.


Did it play well on modern computers? What version did you use? I'm tempted to do the same.


Oh yeah totally runs fine, no issues whatsoever. I imagine blizzard puts some effort into maintaining compatibility.


I would recommend getting Starcraft Remastered if you're into the original games. They're really well made. "Modern" graphics that still feel like the original and should work out of box on modern computers (even M1 macs).


Yup the campaigns are actually my favorite part. I wish I had the time to run through SC2 campaigns too but they are numerous.


There's a bunch of custom versions of the SC2 campaigns now as well, including a coop one. GiantGrantGames is known for covering PvE content there.


I visited that channel and now I'm going to figure out how to play Age of Mythology on my computers this weekend.


If you haven't, give Starcraft Remastered a shot. Felt like the original games when I played them when I was a kid but looks "modern" without any changes on unit interactions, etc.


I really want to - that and the cartoon version - but I also don’t want to give blizzard any more money


I wish they had Red Alert 2. My favorite.


The ISOs for RA2 and Yuri's Revenge are easily available if you're OK with just skirmish and campaign modes.


Not exactly the same thing but this website is basically Red Alert 2 in the web with multiplayer support:


Same here, but sometimes I have to resist playing a second game :)

I appreciate the simplicity of the game, but also the small details that make it fun. And that a typical game rarely lasts more than 20-30 minutes.


Armageddon, 10 players, FFA.

Most of the games it's the usual route of eating all players from BL to TL and then moving to TR and BR and the same time. I managed to bring the average time down to 12 minutes, with the best time around 10:30, but sometimes it's manages to catch me with the pants down, if I do something wrong or just take to long to do the essentials.


45MB download, that's an insane fun-to-byte density!! I'm gonna try this on my old ThinkPad x61!

I remember distinctly about the amazing cinematic cut scene in RA for that era of technology. The engineer probably geeked out with a lot compression hacks. I thought they were skipping every other line of rendering but still retained the illusion of a full video.


Is there anything like this but closer to the style of C&C Generals?


According to wikipedia there are two options, although it looks like only one of them is actually playable right now:


This I would like to see!


You should try the Red Alert 3: Evolution mod. Its C&C Generals on RA3.


Use GenPatcher ( to make the original game work basically perfectly on modern OSes, as well as implement a bunch of stability, balance, and other optional fixes.


Any idea if this can get it working on Linux? I dumped a couple hours into trying to get it running under wine and proton but couldn't figure it out.


Generlas is a very picky game, with random mismatch errors all the time on windows, even as a linux gamer I've given up on running it on linux, it has enough issues as is!


This. I think part of the reason an OpenCCG hasn't shown up is because the modding/community support for the original CD images/binaries is so strong. Plus... the game isn't exactly hard to find (it's on Origin, for example) and isn't exactly hard to find (if you know what I mean).


My friends and I have a C&C Generals night a couple times a year. We use the Rise of the Reds: Babushka's Revenge mod, which is sort of a mod of an old mod. It balances things out quite a bit and adds some new stuff. I think it includes widescreen support


This is great. I couldn’t get my dos version running for a long time. This will let me get back into the game.


How do they get away with this legally?

I'm glad they do, just a bit confused


All the art and sound assets are loaded from a local copy of C&C that the user must purchase on their own before running OpenRA (specifically the "C&C Remastered Collection" on Steam or Origin). OpenRA uses the assets from that local install, so it's all legal! Stratagus does the same thing with Warcraft assets.


OpenRA will download the campaign and graphics assets for you (not sounds and movies). No purchase is required.


The assets available for download within the OpenRA client are stored freeware releases OpenRA hosts. EA freeware'd the three base games back in 2008. OpenRA does prompt if you want to provide your own discs to load your licensed assets if that's preferred. (referenced EA news link dead, doesn't look like has a clean snap)


Thanks for explaining!

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I love playing OpenRA. Really lets me relive and share some fond childhood experiences with my kids. They love it also. LAN party is so fun.

I do need one of them to get with the program and actually build an army instead of 100s of dogs though.


This is for people wondering how to get the original audio and video files


Amazing. Also want to point out that the double clicking of the mouse for Dune2000 definitely took me a little bit to figure out. It's been a long time since I had to do that - don't miss it. Other than that though very cool - happy to revisit the games!


I'll take this opportunity to recommend Zero-K[1] for those who were into Total Annihilation. It's truly excellent!



...or Total Annihilation Spring, nowadays known as Spring RTS:


And Beyond All Reason:


If I find a Total Annihilation remake, I’ll have to kiss my free time goodbye. That was the one strategy game like this that I really got into.


Supreme Commander/Forged Alliance were really good and run like a dream on modern hardware despite their horrible optimization at the time. There’s even an open source community replacement for the multiplayer servers.


There are also some "spiritual successors" like Planetary Annihilation Titans, Rusted Warfare, Ashes of the Singilarity, and some buildy spinoffs like Mindustry and Dyson Sphere Program.

Not so speak of BAR and the various Spring Engine projects.

There is a lot of TA nostalgia going around, at various levels of scale and graphical fidelity.

@ta1243 was an amazing site back in the day


May I present, Beyond All Reason -

Like OpenRA it's open source too.

Disclaimer, I'm one of the devs for it.


Thanks for your work!

What is the relation between BAR, Recoil and Spring?


Spring is an open source engine

Recoil is a rename/fork of Spring

BAR is a game using the Recoil engine (ZeroK is also a game using the Recoil engine)


BaR is probably the closest thing I found to the original TA. This is after playing everything from Supreme Commander, planetary annihilation ,Zero-K and few others I can't even remember the names anymore. Something just felt off about those games. But BaR somehow was able to recreate it the feel of the original TA.

Any plans to allow custom AI mods and units? (I haven't played it in a few months)


AI yes, very much so. In fact if you can get over the rather steep (for now) first step of getting them working I think we'd welcome AI submissions.

Units we want to and there's currently something called "tweakdefs" that gets you halfway there.


The website doesn't seem to like mobile devices much. The fade in for text and pictures happens way later than they're supposed to, so you end up having to scroll almost past the text part for both it and the image to appear, and then scroll up again to actually read it now that it's visible.

I miss the days when the text and images were just there without all the fade ins.


I've passed this on to our web-dev chap on our discord. Thanks for providing the feedback; I suspect mobile wasn't fully tested!


There was a small bug indeed, we have just fixed it, thanks for notifying us!


Thank-you! Now I need to find a Windows machine to play it on. :)


This is just my little personal feedback. BAR defensive turrets seem very underwhelming compared to TA. The laser towers and guardians felt big and mighty by just their animations and sounds. BAR defensive turrets feel like they are blowing bubbles by comparison.


I think that's intentional and is from a lot of PvP balance over the last 10 years of development (mostly from the games preceding BAR)


What engine is it built on?


Recoil (previously called Spring) -


Hey! BAR sucks up an unreasonable amount of my free time. Good stuff!


We've had 3 people request temporary suspensions to allow them to focus on their studies this week. We see that as one heck of a compliment ;)


I'm assuming you're already aware of SpringRTS and Zero K?


There's also <> which re-implements Warcraft 2 and (very WIP) Starcraft 1.


I never knew this existed, thanks so much for posting i!


I'm very fond of wargus and war1gus. I had to build it myself, but I was able to play wc1 and wc2 on Mac OS with native arm64 binaries. Lovely project.


Could this be done with Earth 2140? it was out around the same time, worked very similarly , there were demo disks included with PC magazine.

edit:nvm it has been done :)


Wow, I'm totally checking this out, thanks.


Welp, never downloading this, I'd just stop sleeping. Played the shit out of the original C&C:RA against my friends in high school.


I’m always terrified to download stuff like this because either what you describe will happen… or I’ll discover the game isn’t anywhere near as compelling as it is in my memories.


In this case it will be better than the original.


Super cool. Sadly, seems like RTS is dead genre, except for old titles.


Sanctuary is an in-progress game that's heavily inspired by Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance. It does use Unity though. Not sure how the recent pricing changes will impact the game's development.


It’s a shame! I’m probably the least of a gamer of anyone I know (a bit of FIFA on PS4 is the only game I’ve played all year), but I played the shit out of RTS games back in the day. There was something wonderful about opening up StarCraft, jumping into a really fun and intense game, and then being finished 45min or so later. I just couldn’t get as into games you had to play for significantly longer or with more nebulous objectives. Endless unwinnable games like WoW were my absolute nightmare.


Starcraft 1 is still quite active on the Korean server, though it's not for the faint of heart.


There's a bunch of cool ones in development, actually: Beyond All Reason, Sanctuary, Tempest Rising, DORF, Immortal Gates of Pyre, Stormgate, and ZeroSpace just to name a few.


See also CnCNet:

Not the same goals but still enables playing the old C&C games on modern hardware.


I have the old discs for RA and CC First decade and im still having trouble with disc detection in openra (installed appimage on kubuntu).


Well damn, this has gotten good. Downloadable on linux as a flatpak and can automatically download the assets it needs... Luckily it has a "save mission" feature so I could save and exit and return later after only losing 20 mins of my workday. This is even better than I remember! Kudos to the devs on such a fantastic job.


is a ra2 release on the roadmap?


It’s been on the roadmap for the past 10 years. I imagine it’s not easy.


Meanwhile the old game (ra2) runs pretty well with enhancements from to allow easier installation on modern windows systems and net play.


Or just Google it with "DODI Repack" and get it fully patched and batteries included for modern systems, if your ethics around piracy are not super strong.


How many times over do I need to pay for RA2 in my life haha.


No matter the answer I imagine your cost/hour is pretty darn low if you're anything like the rest of us. When that denominator is high the ratio is always going to be low!


recently I played my Warcraft II via Wargus and was pleasantly surprised. It seems that they generalised the engine, named Stratagus, so it can run different games...

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From the code perspective, pretty nice, they decided to work with C# and don't use any Engine.. it would be nice however if we had more documentation about it internals, architecture and etc.


The decision to not use an engine is curious. Anyone know why?


If i remember correctly it doesn't come with cinematics or mission briefs for campaign mode. I'm guessing that would be a copyright issue.


You can import those from ISOs: but the campaign is not complete afaik as it needs to be re-built in OpenRA: (I think this is the related ticket)


Important to note that EA released C&C, RA1, and Tiberian Sun as freeware so you can just grab the data.


For a long time OpenRA was the only thing that would work on my kids Linux computers. The only reason I upgraded their computers is because OpenRA made an update that wouldn't work on first gen i5 integrated graphics. We play a game together almost every day.

Huge thanks to the devs, this game was a big part of my childhood, and thanks to them it is a part of my kids childhood too


Can someone who's played this confirm if it has some open source equivalent of the awesome Red Alert music?

It's those fast paced heavy metal riffs that goes so well with seeing conscripts being sent into a meat grinder.


The guitarist is Frank Klepacki and he has a bunch of additional albums, plus the RA/C&C OSTs exist out there in redbook form.


As is usually the case with these open source reimplementations, the game assets (textures, sounds) must still be retrieved from the official installation / ISO.


You can get a copy on the Internet Archive ( I don't believe that this is copyright infringement. I think that we're just that old.


I can assure you, we are not that old. For works created in 1978 or later (which is the case for these) work-for-hire pieces like this get 95 years of copyright protection:

So we are solidly inside the copyright window.


The entire player base will literally die from old age before the copyright expires.

Sounds reasonable.


While the owners of C&C made them available for free. Thus they can be legally downloaded, even directly from within OpenRA.


Cheers to those guys. I never understand the thought process of obstructing the use of materials that are so old in video-game-years. Without the community they (these assets) will just sit in the closet and die.


In most cases it is that various rights are held by defunct or disinterested parties and so it's near impossible to get relicensing done legally.


I can only speculate that some fear it might hurt the saleskf later editions and other new games (which is a bad reason)

And there seems to be some market for nostalgia around selling old games. We can see new versions of old consoles, bundles of old games (with preconfigured emulators), ...


I'm so glad this game still exists in some way or another. And this is a really authentic reproduction. I spent hours playing this as a kid, and rediscovered this in my 30's, and, well... have spent hours more playing it. Thank you for your efforts maintaining this classic


There are some players on OpenRA that are really good. Beating one of them once or twice was riviting.


I wish it could support RA2 the same way. Don't get me wrong, RA1 was _fun_, but RA2 units are so much more. And there's a real difference between soviets and allies army. RA1 they were too much alike.


Loving this, I really appreciate the work that you have done. Posting in all my friend circles now, I am sure everyone will love replaying this game


I played a bit of Dune2000 but I kept getting my ass kicked by the AI at the first level and there's no difficulty oprion.


Is part of the AI the worms? such is life on Arrakis ;)


No, the worms are okay. It's the enemy that storms you with neverending units. This is way harder than the original game.


I loved these games and played so many of them but for some reason I just don’t think I’d be able to play them again.


OpenRA is somewhat modernized so you should give it a shot imo.