Unvanquished is a real-time strategy game played as a first-person shooter where evolving aliens and heavily armed humans fight for their survival.
Unvanquished saw its first release on February 29, 2012. But the history starts far before. Unvanquished is a fork and a continuation of Tremulous which was inspired by the Quake 2 mod Gloom. There was multiple attempts to make a Gloom-like game on Quake 3 engine including Q3 Gloom by Team Reaction and Tremulous by Dark Legion Development. After having been a Quake 3 mod, Tremulous was released as standalone 1.1.0 version in 2006.
I want to thank bsp1t for some precious information about Gloom and Q3 Gloom he shared while writing this article!
Below is one of the older screenshots of Tremulous, from October 06, 2001: you can see the old Tremulous’ Overmind (with a greenish color!) and a dead Q3 player model placeholder lying on the floor of the Tremor map. You can still play the Tremor map in Unvanquished 21 years later!
If you look at some ported maps that are still playable today you’ll notice some reminiscences of that past, like posters in Transit featuring blue dretches or showcasing the then upcoming Karith map still being named Trem2 at the time.
Tremulous attracted a lot of attention and gained a wide popularity, benefiting from the open source release of Quake 3 code by id Software and from the open source community interest. At the time, Linux users have seen in games like Nexuiz (ancestor of Xonotic) and Tremulous the proof open source games were possible. It was also a time where Linux gaming market was very small and such games drained a lot of attention thanks to their care of the Linux player base.
The Tremulous 1.2 release that never came
Unfortunately, the highly-expected 1.2 version of Tremulous never came, despite a “gameplay preview” having been distributed. In the mean time, there was multiple projects working on the open-sourced code of Quake 3, including the engine, with projects like ioquake3 and XreaL. Despite XreaL never having really been used by a game at the time except for a proof of concept shooter, the showcase of the various implemented features caught the eyes of many peoples. People tried to build alternate engines for Tremulous reusing some XreaL improvements, those efforts gave birth to TremFusion in 2008.
The rise of XreaL and Tremfusion engines
The Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory code was then open-sourced and XreaL started to mix XreaL with it to produce ET:XreaL. A project to revive Tremulous attracted some people and some information was delivered about the project under the TremZ name, while the engine, forked off ET:XreaL was then named OpenWolf. Archæologists will find on the web archive of the now-defunct tremz.com website the very first blog posts from January of 2012 that were written by kharnov (former Unvanquished project head). Those TremZ and OpenWolf names were not definitive and were short-lived.
The game was released on tremz.com as first alpha under the Unvanquished name on February 29 of 2012. The engine was already named Dæmon as it had been renamed from OpenWolf to Dæmon in January of 2012, one month prior that first alpha release.
Another Tremulous mod that went nowhere kindly gave the Unvanquished name and the domain name. The GitHub organization was renamed from TremZ to Unvanquished in April of 2012, between second and third alpha.
There have been some drama at the time and in March of 2012 some people deleted from the TremZ website the Unvanquished release post and the previous posts originally written by the team who actually released the game. Those other people announced they would still make a game named TremZ. An OpenWolf developer declared the source code “will be moved from public access to private access, so only developers can get full access read/write commits”.
On the meantime Unvanquished was already a live project, with a first release already public and online playable servers. The code was already public on GitHub. The new unvanquished.net website was now the official place for the game, Unvanquished second alpha was released on April 1st, third alpha on May 1st, and the team behind Unvanquished never stopped releasing since.
The XreaL-based OpenWolf engine on which Dæmon derivates must not be confused with a newer OWEngine that is based on Qio engine by Vodin. The Dæmon engine we use doesn’t derivate from that other OWEngine.
The birth of Unvanquished and Dæmon engine
From the beginning, Unvanquished was heavily linked to Tremulous, as most early members of the Unvanquished project were already heavily invested in Tremulous or renowned Tremulous projects.
Stijn “Ingar” Buys was a member of the official Tremulous team working on the Tremulous 1.2 project and joined the Unvanquished team as level designer and among other things he contributed the Vega map, the Vega texture, initially targeted for Tremulous and now adapted and improved for the Dæmon engine features. Ingar also contributed his Space skybox set initially designed for the Osirion game and was also known to distribute builds of the NetRadiant level editor and Tremulous game pack, he did this useful work benefiting Unvanquished for multiple years as well.
Jan “Stannum” van der Weg was a member of the original Tremulous team who already released the standalone Tremulous 1.1.0 and earliest mods (his Transit map is an old Tremulous map, known to already been featured in tremulous-q3-1.0.0 from 2005), Stannum joined the Unvanquished team for 3D Modeling & Animation and provided multiple models and textures for the game.
Amanieu d’Antras and Corentin “kangz” Wallez who were already known for their work on their successful TremFusion engine before joined the team for Engine Development. Kangz was the one who ported the game from the Q3VM to NativeClient, enabling us to use modern compilers, C++, and to make easier to rely on third-party libraries.
Jack “EmperorJack” Purvis, Cody “Supertanker” Jackson, Paweł “Pevel” Micek and Maximilian “Viech” Stahlberg were renowned mappers from Tremulous community and were well known for their popular maps. They joined the Unvanquished team for Level Design and ported or remade some of their Tremulous maps for Unvanquished: Thunder (EmperorJack), Spacetracks and Station15 (Supertanker), Perseus, Antares and Yocto (Pevel), and Parpax (Viech).
Many others people who joined Unvanquished were already heavily invested in Tremulous community projects or related projects like ioquake3. Some others may have started with Unvanquished. You can read the names and get more information about Unvanquished people and contributions on the Unvanquished About page. You can add your name to this page: Join us!
Initial project head in 2012 was composed of kharnov and Harsh “Ishq” Modi, and Maximilian “Viech” Stahlberg joined the head after that, probably around 2013 our 2014. In 2017 kharnov had chosen Thomas “illwieckz” Debesse to replace him at the project head as he had to focus on other topics in its life.
Teaming with people from Xonotic, the engine was successfully extracted from the Unvanquished source into its own repository around the year 2017, making easier to investigate game porting efforts.
Ten years of human history
Ten years in the life of people is a lot and many changes can happen, sometime for the worst, sometime for the good. In 2014, events in Ukraine directly impacted some Unvanquished contributors who had to stop contributing, and 2022 just demonstrated that a hope for a better world is not even for tomorrow yet.
With time passing some other contributors became unreachable, so when we faced some license issue we unfortunately had to either delete or replace the contributions.
Disclaimer: the following is based on public information from our contributors, some being past contributors. Those informations may be slightly outdated if the said informations were outdated in the first place.
Some people who contributed to Unvanquished continued with jobs in the gaming industry or the video industry, like Angel “Angleo” Bedolla who seems to now work at id Software after having being a character model on Mortal Kombat for NetherRealm. Angelo first modeled the Unvanquished human model with the related light and medium armour!
Daniel “dandoombuggy” McCarthy who modeled the Tyrant, the Tube, the Trapper and textured the Dretch is now a Senior 3D Artist having worked on games like Total War: Warhammer 2.
Ludwig “Geno527” Dresch is also now a Lead Env Art at GFactory, and after having modeled for Unvanquished what became our current Lucifer canon, worked on games like Dishonored 2 and WarCry.
Vincent “Warvinc” Monfette who modeled for Unvanquished the current armoury, the current telenode and the old drill looks to now be Assistant Art Director at Ubisoft Saguenay, having worked on games like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege! Casey Addler who modeled for Unvanquished the female soldier model (we still need to import it in game though!), modeled the granger model and re-textured a male soldier model (the one by RXMT), he is now an Environment and Character Artist at Microsoft.
Raphaël “RXMT” Moreault-Truchon seems to have moved from video game digital design to the cinema industry and have worked of a bunch of movies, credited as digital compositor or vfx artist. Before that he did for Unvanquished the Dragoon, the Overmind and a male soldier model.
Oleksandr “AlexRaidock” Tykkoiev who modeled the new flamer (already in game!) and the sniper rifle (still to be shipped with the game!) is now working at Stanion Studios. Vlad “hristew“ Hristev who did the machinegun and chris807 who did a lot of our models (lasgun, grenade, reactor, repeater, rocket pod, turret, and medipad) are freelancers.
And this is a quick list of artists among those who have public information about what they do. Many other contributors including contributions on other topics like software development pursued interesting careers in the industry. Did you know Corentin “Kangz” Wallez became co-chair of Web GPU Working Group at W3C? In the same time Thomas “illwieckz” Debesse have created his own enterprise around free software services. Some of our contributor’s real name and job may also be very secret 🤫️. If you contributed to Unvanquished, don’t hesitate to drop by our chat to give news! 🥂️
As we can see, a free software project is also an human adventure!
Free and open source again
Based on the free open source Tremulous game, the Unvanquished game was never intended to not be free, but with time some assets were merged with problematic licenses like Creative Commons licenses with non-commercial clauses and some models just lacked the appropriate license mention from the author. After multiple years of reaching pasts contributors, the game became libre again in 2020 (see our Now we are free! blog post).
On a related topic, Unvanquished wiki was using a license that was considered non-free because of a non-commercial clause, in fact nobody was able to explain why this clause was there, it may have been a mistake. After years of reaching contributors to get permissions to relicense and rewriting other pages, the wiki was liberated on 2021, see the Wiki relicensing page and the Unvanquished 0.52.1 blog post.
From Alpha to Beta and still Unvanquished
Until April of 2016, the project delivered monthly releases which was a really impressive achievement for a fully volunteer project to sustain such rhythm for years. But with some life preoccupations coming the following releases were mostly done on a yearly rhythme. We now hope to be able to release more frequently again, such rhythm still being to be decided (something between a month and a year ?).
If you like history, we recently restored more than 40 articles from the very beginning of the project!
10 years is a long time for open source community projects! Our friends of Xonotic also turned 10 years old in 2020, meaning the Xonotic game is now older than the age of Nexuiz when they had to rename because the name had been sold. If we sum the ages, that open source game effort is now 21 years old! Our friends of Q3Rally also turned 20 years old in 2022! We hope to live that long and even more!
Long live Unvanquished! ➡️ Today is time to play!