A real-time multi-player space warfare game, originally written in RATFOR for VAX/VMS, but updated for the 21st century.
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Conquest is a top-down, real time space warfare game. It was originally written in RATFOR for the VAX/VMS system in 1983 by Jef Poskanzer and Craig Leres.

I wasted incredible amounts of time playing this game with my friends in the terminal labs at college, and when I actually had a multi-user system running at home (Unixware) I decided to try and translate/port the code to C in Unix. This was in the early to mid 1990's.

Of course, over the years many things have changed. Today, Conquest is a true client/server game. The client uses freeglut, SDL 1.2 (for sound) and OpenGL. It uses C++11 to build, though for now it's "C software with some C++ containers and constructs". This will change over time. The curses client is no longer provided.


Conquest is released under the MIT License.

Playing the game

Conquest is a client that must connect over a network to a conquestd server.


By default, when running conquest without options, it will query the meta-server at conquest.radscan.com to get a list of currently available servers. Pick one, login, and play.

Alternatively, you can specify a specific server with the "-s" option:

conquest -s localhost:1701

The port number is optional, and will default to 1701.

You can get a list of the currently active servers via your web browser by going to http://radscan.com/cgi-bin/conqmeta.pl

The goal of the game

The goal of the game is to conquer the Universe by bombing planets, placing your team's armies on them and fighting off any ships that want to ruin your day. When all of the core planets have been taken by your team, the game is reset to start the carnage all over again.


To build and run Conquest, you will need:

  • automake/autoconf/libtool - The whole autoconf system.
  • X11 development headers and libraries (all of them)
  • OpenGL development headers and libraries. Conquest uses OpenGL version 1.x.
  • glut/freeglut development headers and libraries
  • SDL 1.2 and SDL_mixer 1.2, if you want sound (you do).
  • g++ 4.9 or better, or clang++ 3.4 or better

On a Kubuntu/Ubuntu 17.10 system, the following should install the required packages to build the server and client:

sudo apt-get install build-essential autoconf automake libtool \
     libsdl1.2-dev libsdl-mixer1.2-dev ncurses-dev bison flex \
     freeglut3-dev libxi-dev libxmu-dev

Conquest supports Linux systems and has also been tested on MAC OSX with the ports collection. I currently develop on Kubuntu 16.04.

In the past, other Unix systems were supported like the BSD's (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc) as will as Digital Unix for Alpha processors, and Sun/Oracle Solaris.

These have not been tested in a while, so if there are problems, please feel free to send patches.

The last release of conquest in 2010 also supported the conquest client (only) on Windows systems (XP and Windows 7) using MinGW. This has also not been tested in a while, but I plan to support this again later.

Building Conquest

First, create the conquest group:

sudo groupadd conquest

Conquest requires it's own group to prevent cheating or interference with the game data.


sh ./autogen.sh
sudo make install

Mailing List

There is a low volume mailing list for Conquest. You can subscribe here.

IRC Channel

There is an IRC Channel (#conquest) for Conquest on chat.freenode.net.

Further information

  • The Conquest Guide. This document gives you some more information on Conquest and explains how to play it (bomb planets, fight robot ships, etc). It also provides information on navigation and other things you might want to know.

  • A Conquest player put up this Strategy Guide some years ago. While a little dated, it still has some good information for new players.

  • The HISTORY file. This document gives an overview of changes between releases.

  • The Server Guide has instructions for those wanting to run their own Conquest servers.

  • The CQI Parser Documentation provides information on the format and types of files the Conquest server and client uses to configure itself. The Universe (planets, etc), textures, animations, and sound information are all handled by this parser. At startup, Conquest's executables will look for these files in prefix/etc/conquest/ . This is primarily of interest only to those wanting to run a server.

    • conqinitrc - This file specifies some limits on the universe (number of ships supported, planets supported, etc) as well as definitions for each of the planets in your universe. This is used by the server only. The server will not start if there are syntax errors in this file.

    • texturesrc - This file specifies the base texture and animation data required by the client (only). The client will not start if there are syntax errors in this file.

    • soundrc - this file is used by the client (only) to configure the sound effects (and music, if you have the musicpak installed). The client will not start if there are syntax errors in this file.

Doing a "make install" or updating to a newer package will overwrite these files. If you want to make custom changes to these files, make a copy of them with a filename suffix of '.local', and edit those instead.

Some screenshots

NOTE: Some of these were taken using the recordings of actual game play. At some point I'll update them to a more recent version of Conquest, but you should get the idea.

Short Range View

Short Range View

Long Range View

Long Range View

A little war

A little war

A mad robot

A mad robot

The Doomsday Machine

The Doomsday Machine