Off the clock: Unknown Horizons is a free, open-source RTS for Settlers fans
The premise from their own website: 'The player starts with a ship somewhere amid an archipelago. The goal of the game is to found some cities on the islands and to earn money.' Such a simple concept. But as we all know -- the simple games are often the best and last the test of time.
And, believe it or not, defying most open-source expectations, Unknown Horizons actually plays rather well. If you don't mind hammering away at a very, very nascent user interface, this is a great game to have running in the background while you browse your favorite after-hours websites.
Now, this game isn't even close to the caliber of Open Transport Tycoon, but it could be. The seeds are there -- the music is surprisingly good and the tutorial kind of works! Though it doesn't nag you to do things -- and there is no way to re-display steps in the tutorial after they disappear, so I hope you have a good memory.
The graphics are charmingly old-school. There are plenty of resolution options, full-screen, windowed (handy if you want to keep it the top corner of your screen while you do some 'real work') -- though I thought the interface was a little slow to react even on my beastly gaming computer.
As I mentioned earlier, the sound is great. There's even some voice acting! The music seems to be more 'mood' than 'active' -- I didn't find any audio triggers, but then again I didn't get into any combat situations.
All in all, there's a lot of work left to be done. The UI is incomplete and unintuitive. After an hour, I still hadn't worked out how to trade goods in the marketplace. There are UI elements that look like buttons or graph bars -- but are in fact sliders. There are missing icons, and generally not enough data available to you.
But... it works. It didn't crash. It's playable and -- most importantly -- it's actually quite fun.
As is the case with the majority of open source games, Unknown Horizons is available for Linux as well as Windows. Give it a go on your favorite distro!