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Cyphesis, the Worldforge server

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Cyphesis is the server for the WorldForge system.

It provides a complete solution for running an MMORPG server. Amongst its features are

  • Fully scriptable through Python
  • Live reload of both rules and world entities; edit your world without having to shut down or reload
  • Complete 3d physics simulation
  • Complex AI system, using Behavioral Trees and Python scripts
  • Out-of-process AI, allowing for distributed AI clients
  • Persistence through either SQLite or PostgreSQL
  • Powerful built in rules for visibility and containment of entities
  • Emergent gameplay through multiple simple systems interacting
  • Quick and powerful procedural terrain generation


The simplest way to install all required dependencies is by using Conan.

conan remote add worldforge
mkdir cmake-build && cd cmake-build
conan install .. --output-folder=. --build=missing
cmake --preset conan-release .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=../cmake-install
make -j all assets-download install

Alternatively you can use the Hammer tool. This is script provided by the Worldforge project which will download and install all of the required libraries and components used by Worldforge.

Otherwise the server can most easily be built through the following commands.

mkdir build_`arch` && cd build_`arch`
cmake ..
make assets-download
make install

Note that you also probably want to install the defaults worlds from Worldforge Worlds (this is done automatically by the Hammer build tool).


The test suite can be built and run using the check target. For example:

make check


Documentation describing how the system works can be found here.

There's also a collection of design documents found in the "docs/design" directory

API documentation

If Doxygen is available API documentation can be generated using the dox target. For example:

make dox

Python stubs

When editing the Python scripts that make up the rulesets it's a good idea to add the directory "docs/python" to your IDE's Python include paths. This directory contains stubs generated from the C++ bindings, which makes things such as type lookup and code completion easier.

These stubs are auto generated from the C++ bindings through the custom target "GeneratePythonDocs". Execute this target whenever you've done edits to the Python bindings.


Cyphesis is built using CMake. It requires Python and SQLite 3 which are included with most Linux distributions, and Atlas-C++, varconf, Mercator and wfmath which are provided by the WorldForge project. GNU readline is required by some of the included tools. Boost is used as well, mainly for the ASIO library which drives networking.

If a PostgreSQL development package is detected the optional PostgreSQL database backend will be built. This has to be enabled through a config option; by default data is persisted through SQLite.

If built from source the software and data must be installed using "make install" before it will be ready. Go to the Section called Setup for information on the setup steps required after installation.

Running a basic server

Start the server with the cyphesis command. It will output some startup messages and then run in the foreground. If you want to run the server in the background, start the server with the option --cyphesis:daemon=true .

If an empty server is started, it will automatically be populated if the Worldforge Worlds definitions have been installed.

If everything has worked so far, and you are not planning to do any server or world development at this time then you do not need to read any of the rest of these instructions.

Usage and configuration

The main server binary is called cyphesis. Its command line arguments and configuration are managed by "varconf", which means options can be set in configuration files and on the command line. The main configuration file is called cyphesis.vconf, and server settings are stored in the [cyphesis] section. The file can be found in the cyphesis source directory, and is installed into the sysconf directory, which is by default /etc. Settings in this configuration file can be overridden in on the command line, and once overridden they will be stored permanently in ~/.config/cyphesis.vconf. In order to drop back to the default settings, remove this file. Settings can be incrementally overridden in cyphesis.vconf non-interactively by passing them as command line options to cyconf. cyconf will store any settings it is given in cyphesis.vconf and then exited. If you are planning to have multiple servers run on the same system at the same or different times, the easiest way to handle the differences in configuration would be to use the cyphesis.vconf file, and avoid modifying the master configuration file.

As an example, the ruleset to be used is set in cyphesis.vconf as follows:


This setting can be overridden by invoking cyphesis with the following option:


It's also possible to specify settings using environment variables. They must be prefixed by "WF_" and first specify the section and then the key, separated by "_". For example, "WF_cyphesis_bindir=/foo/bar" would set the item "bindir" in the "cyphesis" section to "/foo/bar".

For more details of varconf usage see the Varconf documentation. For full details on configuraton options for cyphesis, see the cyphesis(1) man page.

The ruleset specified indicates the entity types available, the set of scripts that will be used for these entities, and the initialisation script used to populate the server.

If an empty server is started, it will automatically be populated if the Worldforge Worlds definitions have been installed.

The default ruleset for this version is called Deeds.

User provided Python scripts

When both the "cyphesis" server and the "cyaiclient" AI process starts they look for extra python scripts to run in the "/.local/share/cyphesis/cyaiclient.d" and "/.local/share/cyphesis/cyphesis.d" directories respectively.

This allows a developer to for example set up Python remote debugging. One example would be to use the remote Python debugger included in PyCharm Professional. By creating a file named "" containing this code a connection will be made at startup with the debugger on port 9999.

import sys

import pydevd

pydevd.settrace('localhost', port=9999, stdoutToServer=False, stderrToServer=False, suspend=False)

Using standard malloc memory allocator in Python

During development it can sometimes be good to use the standard "malloc" memory allocator rather than the Python specific allocator. For example if you want to profile memory usage. This can be enabled by setting the environment variable "PYTHONMALLOC" to something (doesn't matter what). Upon startup Cyphesis will then use malloc, and write a line about this to the log.

Performance measuring through Remotery

Performance tracking through Remotery is built in, but not enabled by default. You need to set the option "--cyphesis:remotery=true" to enable it.

After that's done you can open the file found at external/Remotery/vis/index.html to see real time measurements.

The server code in C++ is distributed under the GNU General Public License. See the file COPYING for details. The script files included with this distribution are also distributed under the GNU General Public License. Note that this copyright does not cover user scripts that use server services but do not use code from the scripts provided. Using such scripts is considered ordinary use of the server, and does not fall under the heading of derived work.

How to help

If you're interested in helping out with development you should check out these resources: