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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 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++11 features, so g++ 4.8+ or clang 3.3+ 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.
  • SDL2 & SDL2-ttf - Displaying graphics of the program. Note that SDL2 versions of both libraries are needed.
  • 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.
$ cmake .    # Checks libraries are where they're supposed to be and replaces some strings
$ make       # Let make do the heavy work.

CMake accepts the following options:

Name Default Explanation
OVERRIDE_VCS OFF Override the lack of a VCS checkout.
ASAN OFF Use AddressSanitizer (
USERDATA_PREFIX '.' Directory where user data such as savegames is stored.
  • 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.

Running the program

Now run the program

$ cd 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.

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 libsdl2-dev libsdl2-ttf-dev doxygen flex bison


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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