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FreeRCT aims to be a free and open source game which captures the look, feel and gameplay of the popular games RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 and 2.

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FreeRCT aims to be a free and open source game which captures the look, feel and gameplay of the popular games RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 and 2.


Building the program

Currently only Linux is officially supported, although Windows and MacOS should work. Let us know if it's broken.

Almost everything is written in C++, which means you need g++ or clang++ to compile it. FreeRCT uses C++17 features, so g++ 7+ or clang 6+ is recommended. In addition, you need:

  • lex/flex - Scanner generator for generating RCD input files. (optional)
  • yacc/bison - Parser generator for generating RCD input files. (optional)
  • libpng - Making the RCD data files that contain the graphics and other data read by the program.
  • GLFW3 & GLEW & Freetype - Displaying graphics of the program.
  • CMake & make - Building the program.

The existence of these programs/libraries is checked by cmake.

Building is as simple as

$ git clone
$ cd FreeRCT               # Go into the downloaded source directory.
$ mkdir build && cd build  # Create and enter a build directory.
$ cmake ..                 # Checks libraries are where they're supposed to be and replaces some strings.
$ make                     # Let make do the heavy work.
$ make install             # Optional step to install the program on the system. May require root privileges.

or, if you use Nix with flake support:

$ nix build

CMake accepts the following options:

Name Default value Explanation
Use this string as the build version. If not specified, the version is detected automatically from git. If this also fails, the version defaults to '0.0.0-revdetect-broken'.
ASAN OFF Use AddressSanitizer (see below).
CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX '/usr' or '/usr/local' Directory where 'make install' installs.
DEBIAN_PACKAGING OFF If enabled, 'make install' uses a filesystem structure suited for packaging and system-wide installations on Debian/Ubuntu-like systems. Otherwise, a structure optimised for user-local installations and Flatpak builds is used.
RELEASE OFF Compile as a release build (works faster but is not suited for debugging).
USERDATA_PREFIX XDG basedir spec or '~/.freerct' or '~/.local/share/freerct' Default directory where user data such as savegames is stored. If not set, the XDG basedir specification will be applied. If XDG_DATA_HOME is not set, a platform-specific default path will be used.
WEBASSEMBLY OFF Compile as a WebAssembly program that can be run in the browser using JavaScript (experimental feature). May override all other settings.

Note that CMake options are prefixed with '-D', so the full call is e.g.

$ cmake -DASAN=ON -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX='~/.local' ..
$ cmake -DASAN=OFF -DVERSION_STRING="0.1~abc123" -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX='/usr' -DUSERDATA_PREFIX='~/.config/freerct' ..

You can use the switch -DASAN=ON to link AddressSanitizer (ASan) into the executable. ASan is a library that detects invalid memory accesses at runtime and terminates the program with a full backtrace upon detecting one. This makes it a useful and recommended tool for developers and everyone who wants to assist with discovering bugs. End-users should leave this option disabled. You might need to create a link to the symbolizer before using ASan for the first time, e.g.

$ sudo ln -s /usr/bin/llvm-symbolizer-3.8 /usr/bin/llvm-symbolizer

(the actual path may differ on your system.) See for more information on ASan.

  • src directory contains the source code of the FreeRCT program itself.
  • src/rcdgen directory contains the source code of the rcdgen program, that builds RCD files from source (which are read by freerct).
  • graphics/rcd directory contains the source files of the RCD data files, except the graphics.
  • graphics/sprites directory contains all the graphics of the game.
  • bin directory contains the actual freerct executable along with some other files required to actually run the program.
  • data directory contains miscellaneous assets loaded by FreeRCT at runtime.
  • utils directory contains miscellaneous utility programs and scripts that may make developers' lives easier.

The cmake/make commands above will generate the rcdgen program, the rcd files and build the 'freerct' program in the src directory.

Config file

Finally, you can optionally create a 'freerct.cfg' INI format file next to the 'freerct' program in the bin directory, containing the settings to use. All entries are optional. It looks like

medium-size = 12
medium-path = /usr/share/fonts/gnu-free/FreeSans.ttf

language = nds_DE

auto-resave = false

This means the medium sized font is 12 points high, and its source font definition file is at the indicated path. Make sure you use a path that actually exists. The language is set to Low German by this example, and automatic resaving of savegame files is disabled.

The actual font file is not that critical, as long as it contains the ASCII characters, in the font-size you mention in the file.

All supported options are:

Section Name Default value Explanation
font medium-path <installdir>/data/font/Ubuntu-L.tff Default font file.
font medium-size 15 Default font size.
language language system language The language to use. Use --help for a list of supported languages.
saveloading auto-resave false If true, automatically resave all savegames directly after loading.
saveloading max_autosaves 3 The maximum number of automatic monthly savegames to retain. Setting this to 0 disables automatic saving.

Running the program

Now run the program

$ ./bin/freerct


$ make run

which should open a window containing the main menu (see also the pictures in the blog).

Pressing 'q' quits the program.

Use --help or -h to view available command-line options.

A detailed manual for the game is available online.

Building Troubleshoot


All the CMake dependencies can be installed under Debian based systems (e.g. Ubuntu) using the following command:

$ sudo apt install zlib1g-dev libpng-dev libglfw3-dev libglew-dev libfreetype-dev doxygen flex bison


To install the dependencies on MacOS you can use Homebrew:

$ brew install flex bison libpng glfw glew freetype cmake make


FreeRCT aims to be a free and open source game which captures the look, feel and gameplay of the popular games RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 and 2.







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