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Cortex Command Community Project Source

⚠️ This repository has been archived. ⚠️

The source code and game data for the Community Project have been merged into a single repository here.

All further contributions, updates and releases will take place in the new unified repository. Please open any issues or bug reports there.

The Cortex Command Community Project is Free/Libre and Open Source under GNU AGPL v3

Meson Build (Linux, macOS) Windows Build

This is a community-driven effort to continue the development of Cortex Command.
Stay up to date in our Discord channel.

Installing the Game

If you just want to play the latest version of the game you can get it from our website.

Getting Mods

You can get mods from our mod portal.

Windows Build Instructions

First you need to download the necessary files:

  1. Install the necessary tools.
    You'll probably want Visual Studio Community Edition (build supports 2019 (>=16.10) and 2022 versions. Earlier versions are not supported due to lack of C++20 standard library features and conformance).
    You also need to have both x86 and x64 versions of the Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2015-2022 installed in order to run the compiled builds.
    You may also want to check out the list of recommended Visual Studio plugins here.

  2. Clone this Source Repository and the Data Repository in neighboring folders.
    Do Not change the folder names unless you want to make trouble for yourself.

  3. Copy the following libraries from Cortex-Command-Community-Project-Source\external\lib\win into the Data Repository:

  • fmod.dll

  • SDL2.dll

    For 32-bit builds, copy the following libraries from the x86 folder inside ...\lib\win as well:

  • fmodL.dll

  • SDL2-32.dll

Now you're ready to build and launch the game.
Simply open RTEA.sln with Visual Studio, choose your target platform (x86 or x64) and configuration, and run the project.

  • Use Debug Full for debugging with all visual elements enabled (builds fast, runs very slow).
  • Use Debug Minimal for debugging with all visual elements disabled (builds fast, runs slightly faster).
  • Use Debug Release for a debugger-enabled release build (builds slow, runs almost as fast as Final. Debugging may be unreliable due to compiler optimizations).
  • Use Final to build release executable.

The first build will take a while, but future ones should be quicker.

If you want to use an IDE other than Visual Studio, you will have to build using meson. Check the Linux and Installing Dependencies section for pointers.

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)

The Linux build can be built and run on Windows 10 using WSL by following the Linux building and running instructions.
Information on installing and using WSL can be found here.

Building can be done directly from the Windows filesystem side, without having to clone the repositories on the Linux filesystem side.
By default WSL will mount your C: drive to /mnt/c/, or just /c/. From there you can navigate to the Source and Data directories to follow the meson build steps.

This has been tested with WSL2 Ubuntu 22.04 but should work with other distributions and WSL1 as well.

Linux and macOS Build Instructions

The Linux build uses the meson build system, and builds against system libraries.


  • meson>= 1.0.0 (pip install meson if your distro doesn't include a recent version)
  • ninja
  • gcc, g++ (>=12, clang unsupported)
  • sdl2
  • opengl (usually provided by the gpu driver)
  • flac
  • luajit
  • lua (maybe optional)
  • minizip
  • tbb
  • lz4>=1.9.0
  • libpng
  • dylibbundler (required only if installing on macOS)
  • SDL2_image (linux only)

For unspecified versions assume compatibility with the latest ubuntu LTS release.


  1. Install Dependencies (see below for instructions).

  2. Clone this Source Repository and the Data Respository.

  3. Open a terminal in the Source Repository.

  4. meson setup build or meson setup --buildtype=debug build for debug build (default is release build)
    For macOS you need to specify gcc, with env CC=gcc-13 CXX=g++-13 meson setup build

  5. ninja -C build

  6. (optional) sudo ninja install -C build (To uninstall later, keep the build directory intact. The game can then be uninstalled by sudo ninja uninstall -C build)

If you want to change the buildtype afterwards, you can use meson configure --buildtype {release or debug} in the build directory or create a secondary build directory as in Step 4. There are also additional build options documented in the wiki as well as through running meson configure in the build directory.


(If you installed the game in step 6 above, it should appear with your regular applications and will just run)

  1. Copy (or link, might be preferable for testing builds) build/CortexCommand or build/CortexCommand_debug (depending on if you made a debug build) into the Data Repository.

    cd $DATA_REPOSITORY; ln -s ../Cortex-Command-Community-Project-Source/build/CortexCommand .

  2. (optional) Copy (link) all libfmod files from external/lib/[os]/[arch] into the Data Repository.

  • Linux: cd $DATA_REPOSITORY; ln -s ../Cortex-Command-Community-Project-Source/external/lib/linux/x86_64/* .
  • macOS: cd $DATA_REPOSITORY; ln -s ../Cortex-Command-Community-Project-Source/external/lib/macOS/libfmod.dylib .
  1. Run ./CortexCommand or ./CortexCommand_debug in the Data Repository.

Installing Dependencies

macOS additional dependencies:

  • brew (or any other package manager)
  • Xcode or Command Line Tools for Xcode (if you need to, you can also generate an xcode project from meson using the --backend=xcode option on setup)

Homebrew (macOS):
brew install pkg-config sdl2 minizip lz4 flac luajit lua libpng tbb gcc@13 ninja meson dylibbundler

Arch Linux:
sudo pacman -S sdl2 sdl2_image tbb flac luajit lua minizip lz4 libpng meson ninja base-devel

Ubuntu >=22.04:
sudo apt-get install build-essential libsdl2-dev libsdl2-image-dev libloadpng4-dev libflac++-dev luajit-5.1-dev liblua5.1-dev libminizip-dev liblz4-dev libpng++-dev libtbb-dev ninja-build python3-pip
sudo python3 -m pip install meson

# dnf install allegro-loadpng-devel allegro-devel libsdl2-devel SDL2_image-devel lua-devel boost-devel meson ninja-build flac-devel luajit-devel minizip-compat-devel tbb-devel lz4-devel libpng-devel lua-devel gcc gcc-c++


  • older versions of pipewire(-alsa) and fmod don't work well together, so the game might not close, have no sound or crash. Workaround by ln -s /bin/true /usr/bin/pulseaudio

Debugging with VS Code

This repository includes launch configurations to automatically build and debug the game using VS Code on any of the supported platforms using one of the two supported build systems.


msbuild (Windows only)

meson (All platforms)

These launch configurations are accessible via the Run and Debug view, and provide profiles to build and run the game in Release mode or any of the 3 Debug modes.

All configurations will run pre-launch tasks to build the game using the supported backend before launching.

More Information

See the Information and Recommendations page for more details and useful development tools.


[ARCHIVED] Cortex Command - Open Source under GNU AGPL v3 (no game data included)








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