BioWare's first 3D engine (developed for Neverwinter Nights) was called "Aurora", the Roman goddess of dawn. "Eos" is her Greek name. However, "eos" has been used as a name for software and hardware alike by basically everyone and their dog. Therefore, we chose "xoreos", which is a pun on xor and a popular cookie brand, while still including "eos".
What is the reason for creating xoreos in the first place?
The main goal of xoreos is to have a portable, free/libre open source software program to play the games based on BioWare's Aurora engine and its later incarnations.
With portable, we mean at least, but not limited to GNU/Linux and Mac OS X in addition to Microsoft Windows. While a small fraction of the games (namely Neverwinter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic II) has GNU/Linux ports, other games did not. As for Mac OS X, the Neverwinter Nights Mac binary was a PowerPC one, which won't work on today's Intel Macs anymore. And later games use a Wine bottle, so they are not "proper" ports per se.
Neither of the original games run on Free-/Net-/OpenBSD, nor on other CPU architectures. xoreos does.
Moreover xoreos can (in the distant future) open up these games for more extensive modding. And while xoreos itself isn't a toolset, we would welcome a proper cross-platform toolset based on the xoreos code; even as a kind of subproject, if wanted.
Does xoreos run on mobile devices, like Android and iOS?
Currently, it doesn't, because we don't have an OpenGL ES renderer. This is something we want to do in the future, though.
Does xoreos run on consoles, like the Sony PlayStation or the Xbox?
No. And due to the closed and proprietary nature of these consoles, xoreos working on any of them in the future is highly unlikely.
What about earlier games, like Baldur's Gate?
The Infinity engine, while also having basic file formats in common, is isometric "2.5D", so using a complete different graphical model, which is far too different to integrate into xoreos. Also, there already is a reimplementation of the Infinity engine: GemRB.
What about later games, like Dragon Age: Inquisition?
Starting with Dragon Age: Inquisition, BioWare stopped using its own engine. Dragon Age: Inquisition, for example, uses the Frostbite 3 engine. Dragon Age II marks the end of an era that started with Neverwinter Nights.
What about the Mass Effect games?
Unfortunately, the Mass Effect games didn't use BioWare's own engine. They used the Unreal Engine instead, making support not within the scope of xoreos.
What about The Witcher 2 and 3?
While the first The Witcher game is heavily based on the Aurora engine of Neverwinter Nights, the later parts in the series aren't. They use CD Projekt RED's own REDengine.
Will there be a toolset like the one that shipped with Neverwinter Nights?
Probably not. The main focus is to get the games themselves running. A toolset is not something I'm all too interested in.
However, if somebody is interested in developing such a toolset, we would welcome it under the xoreos banner. There is a certain overlap of code and infrastructure, some of that already written, that's necessary for both goals.
Feel free to contact us if you're that somebody.
How do you pronounce "xoreos"?
Similar to Xonotic, there are two pronunciations, depending on where you live.
US people are more likely to pronounce it "zore + eos" and European people are more likely to pronounce it "ksor + eos".
How do you spell "xoreos"?
Canonically, "xoreos" is spelled all-lowercase, starting with a lowercase x. If you absolutely must uppercase the starting letter, "Xoreos" is okay as well.
It is never "XoreOS" or "xoreOS". The "os" in "xoreos" is part of "Eos", not an abbreviation of "Operating System".
xOreOs is right out.
Have you tried using Ogre3D as your 3D engine?
Yes, I have, and it was not a match made in heaven. No disrespect to the Ogre devs, but they don't seem all that mindful about portability in general and GNU/Linux in specific.
A few of the things that turned me away from Ogre pretty quickly when I investigated its viability for xoreos:
Ogre has no concept of a system-wide installed plugin and doesn't know where its plugins are installed. And yes, this includes the renderer plugins. So to get Ogre working at all on GNU/Linux, I have to ask pkg-config for the plugin directory and hardcode this at compile time. The most I can do is add a user- modifiable config option to the xoreos ConfigManager. Not exactly nice.
Sure, in the Windows world, where everything ships with their own libraries, this might be acceptable. But on GNU/Linux, this is awkward.
Windows with a fixed size. There is such a flag to make the main render window fixed-sized, but it's silently ignored on all render backends but the renderer for Windows. This is really weird and doesn't send a great message about their concerns for portability either.
I can't change the title of the main render window after it's been created. There is a question about that on the official Ogre forums, and the answer is: Cast the ogre window handle into a WinAPI window handle and call the WinAPI function that changes a window title. ... Yeah.
There is apparently a way to use SDL to handle the windows and the creation of an OpenGL context, and then tell Ogre to use this external OpenGL context. Likewise, this external OpenGL context seems to be ignored by Ogre on Mac OS X.
So, yes, while Ogre is obviously a great engine with many features, it seems the lack of concern for portability makes it completely unusable for my concerns, unfortunately.