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About the game

What is Open Surge?

Open Surge is a fun 2D retro platformer inspired by old-school Sonic games. It is also a game creation system that makes you a powerful creator! Play, hack, create games and unleash your creativity!

Open Surge is two projects in one: a game and a game creation system (game engine). It is released as free and open source software. Also, it is written from the ground up in C language, using the Allegro game programming library.

Where can I download it?

Get it at opensurge2d.org.

Who develops the game?

The game started to be developed by Alexandre Martins, a computer scientist from Brazil. Over time, people from all over the world began to contribute to the project, including artistics, musicians, translators and more! Check out the developers page for more information.

How can I help?

Do you feel inspired by this project? If you have artistic skills, marketing skills, speak multiple languages or have other talents, you can contribute! Contact Alexandre via Discord (alemart#7553) or e-mail.

I love Surge!

Marry him.

Can I create a game with Open Surge?

Absolutely! Read Introduction to Modding.

Can I create a commercial game with Open Surge?

Yes. First realize that a game created with the Open Surge Engine is composed of 2 parts:

  • The game engine: that's the Open Surge Engine, the software that runs the games
  • The game assets: those include visual arts, audio files and levels

1) The game engine is licensed under the GPL, a libre software license. You may use the game engine as-is or modify it keeping in mind the following:

  • If you use the game engine as-is, include its source code when distributing your game (it's in the src/ folder - the source code is already shipped by default in Open Surge).
  • If you modify the game engine in any possible way and publicly release your game, you must: 1. acknowledge that you have modified it and 2. provide access to your modified version of the source code of the game engine. Your modified version of the source code is automatically licensed under the GPL (you cannot change it to a different license).
  • You must provide a copy of the GPL license with the program.
  • Regardless of how you use it, the game engine remains free and open source, licensed under the GPL.

2) Your game assets may be licensed the way you want, as long as you own them. The GPL need not apply to your game assets. They may be under a proprietary license, and thus you may sell them.

  • New game assets created by you can have any license you want.
  • Reused or remixed game assets must keep the terms of their original license. Generally, art included in Open Surge is released under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) and scripts are released under the MIT license, with a few exceptions. You must check the assets themselves and the credits screen to know which licenses apply to which assets.
  • A note on scripts: the engine reads scripts in source form, so their source code is already exposed. Since scripts are considered to be software, release them under a GPL-compatible license, such as the MIT license.

SUMMARY: while the engine must remain free (as in freedom) and open source, game assets (graphics, audio, levels) made by you may be under a proprietary license. This form of distribution is legitimate and ensures customers must buy the content to play the game.

IMPORTANT: you must not exploit Surge commercially (nor the other characters), as this character is not your Intellectual Property (IP). When creating a commercial project, use your own original IP.

Answer adapted from the Solarus' FAQ.

Playing the game

How can I control the characters?

Using the keyboard, the important keys are: Arrows (move), Space Bar (jump), Left Ctrl (change character), Enter (pause) and ESC (quit). You can also use a joystick.

How do I play using a joystick?

Simply plug your joystick and have fun! Make sure that "Use gamepad" is set to to "YES" in the options screen.

How can I reconfigure the controls?

If you want different buttons for tasks like jumping, pausing the game, etc., you need to reconfigure the controls. Open config/input.def using a simple text editor like Notepad or gedit. Follow the instructions there.

How can I make my own levels?

See: How to make a level.

Are there additional levels?

Yes, you can find new levels on the forums!

What is a MOD?

It's a game made by users with the Open Surge game engine. MODs can be surprisingly different from the original Open Surge game: early modifications ranged from simple sidescrollers to platformers with ninjas and RPG elements. See Introduction to Modding.

How can I play MODs?

MODs come in a package (usually a .zip file). Simply decompress it and run the executable (.exe file). If you use Linux, you can use the command line to install a new MOD. For detailed instructions, run:

opensurge --help

How do I take a screenshot?

Press the "=" (equals) key. A screenshot will be saved to the screenshots/ folder. In Linux, it should be saved to ~/.cache/opensurge2d/opensurge/screenshots.


The screen size is too small!

Go to the options screen (at the main menu) and increase the size.

The controls are strange! My character keeps going left or right!

Disable joystick input.

The game is slow!

Close all running programs - specially the web browser. Next, close the game and open it again.

Additionally, you may decrease the screen size in the options screen. Also, play around with the command line options to tune things up. In a console window, type:

opensurge --help

Technical questions

I've found a bug!

If you've found a bug you think had escaped our attention, make sure you have as much information about when it occurred as possible. Tell us the steps to reproduce the bug, situations where the error won't show, etc. You can report the bug on the forums or contact the developers directly.

How do I run a level than isn't on the stage select?

You can simply go to the DEBUG (SECRET) stage select screen, where all .lev's (level files) will show up - cutscenes and everything. Here's how you access it:

  1. Go to the options screen
  2. Highlight stage select
  3. Press RIGHT three times; you'll hear a sound
  4. Enter

Since Open Surge version 0.5.0, you can also access the debug screen if you press RIGHT 3x in the splash screen (initial screen).

Advanced command line options

There are a few advanced options that are not directly available to users. It's worthwhile exploring them if you're a creator. Open a console/terminal and type:

opensurge --help

How can I compile the source code?

See: Compiling the Source Code.