Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Jyoti Bansal

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

No complaints here: Linux gaming is gaining steam

The buzz around Linux gaming has never been louder

(LinuxWorld) — I was surprised at the amount of "friendly fire" I took as a result of my last Linux-gaming article, which was about BioWare's betas of Neverwinter Nights for Linux. Some of the core group at Icculus.org — maybe most of them — were furious at me for one reason or another.

Some felt I had been too harsh with Epic Games when I wrote about Unreal Tournament 2003. Others said I was paranoid for suggesting Microsoft might be using exclusionary terms in its contracts with game publishers. Some said I shouldn't have even brought up the question, because even if my suspicions proved to be right, it was "just business." Still others raged against me without citing specifics, saying only that I was too clueless for them to even bother explaining it.

Fearing that there may have been some validity in that last item, I've been hanging around all the gaming channels I can find on irc.freenode.net over the past week or so, trying to learn more about the Linux gaming scene. I'm definitely still persona non grata with some, but others are starting to accept me on friendlier terms. One thing I've learned is that the fault line over which the scene sits — the thing that makes it such a volatile and dangerous place for clueless journalists like me to visit — has little to do with me. It's more about game-players and developers from the world of Windows and proprietary software coming into direct contact with the great unwashed hordes who love open-source and free software.

Putting aside my natural distrust of Microsoft's business practices, there really are other things to consider as explanations for why Linux games continue to be afterthoughts. Things like ports of games previously released for Windows. Things that usually require Linux users to buy the Windows version to run the game on Linux.

Some say there simply aren't enough Linux gamers to make it worthwhile for big game companies to publish Linux games that stand on their own. Those that hold this position maintain that Linux folk are lucky to get anything at all, afterthought or not. It's just too small a market. Another view is that however many Linux users/game-players there may be, they are just not willing to buy software. They say Linux users believe everything should be free (as in beer) and shun everything else.

Some may wonder, as I do, exactly why such an insignificant market of die-hard, penny-pinching geeks engenders as much interest among game-publishers, game-developers and game-players as it does. As huge as the gaming industry is, and as small a percentage of Linux desktops as there are to sell to, something doesn't add up. For example, Slashdot reports that at the recent LinuxWorld conference in New York, the Icculus.org booth "was the darling of LinuxWorld (Conference and Expo). Their booth drew more traffic per square foot than any other display."

Ryan "Icculus" Gordon seems to be the man in the center of the storm. Gordon worked at Loki Games before it went bankrupt. Now the site he hosts, Icculus.org, has become central to Linux gaming. While working at Loki, Gordon ported such well-known titles as Descent 3, Kohan, Unreal Tournament and Quake 3, among others. He doesn't seem to have slowed down any since Loki's demise.

Gordon makes his living as a contract programmer. He also does, helps with, or simply supports the porting and enhancement of games that have been open-sourced by their original publishers. Duke Nukem 3D is a recent example. A few days after the source code was opened by 3DRealms, a Linux port was available on the Icculus site. While the code for Duke Nukem 3D is now open, you still need to buy a copy of the proprietary version in order to be able to play the Linux version.

Over the weekend, word spread of Gordon's latest endeavor: the port of the popular new ARUSH Entertainment/Groove Games first-person shooter called Devastation. It's been less than a month since Devastation went gold, so the Linux faithful won't have to wait long to be able to play this one on their home turf.

You might think with the flurry of activity following the opening of Duke Nukem 3D and starting to work on Devastation that Gordon is a busy guy. You don't know the half of it. He is also at work on ports of Medal of Honor Allied Assault: Spearhead from Electronic Arts, Serious Sam 1 and Serious Sam 2 from Croteam, and America's Army from the U. S. Army.

Linux Game Publishing is a new force

That's not all of what's going on. A new force called Linux Game Publishing has appeared on the Linux gaming scene, cranking out projects as well. LGP is hard at work on a number of ports, including Ballistics from Xicat, Bandits: Phoenix Rising from PAN Vision, Disciples II: Dark Prophesy from Strategy First and Majesty Gold from Infogrames. Already available from LGP are Candy Cruncher, Mindrover and Creatures Internet Edition. Majesty Gold has gone gold and will be here in a matter of days.

Of course, there are some who are not happy just to port games from other platforms to Linux. They want to write games for Linux in the first place. The LGP has helped to form Angry Pixels to do just that. They have put together a team of developers and are looking for musicians and artists to join them as well. Keep an eye on Angry Pixels; they could become yet another major force in Linux gaming.

I asked Mike Phillips, lead programmer at LGP, what he thought of Linux's game scene today and how he thinks it may have changed over the last year or so. He said:

Two years ago, it was clear that the eggs were all in one basket, and it was starting to unravel. Although several solid releases were still ahead of Loki, the bulk of the developers had already left, and it was becoming clear that no new titles were forthcoming. Tribsoft and Hyperion were becoming quiet, and retailers were dropping Linux games as if they never existed.

One year ago, Loki folded, and it looked like the life had gone out of Linux gaming. In fact, it really was looking like dual-booting was the only reasonable gaming choice.

Today, however, it looks very promising. It reminds me a lot of the heady days of late 1999, but with a much more diverse development base.

Ryan "icculus" Gordon, one of the Loki alumni, is doing a great job on his contracts and seems to be doing a good job of covering the FPS arena (Unreal Tournament 2003; Serious Sam, First and Second Encounter; Medal of Honor: Allied Assault; Devastation). Bioware's AAA title Neverwinter Nights released the client, id has promised Doom 3. And there have been rumblings of others...

And, of course, we (Linux Game Publishing) have quite a few titles in the pipeline. It feels like this time, the user base is better positioned and there is a wider range of offerings available.

That's how it looks to my eyes as well. There is a healthy interest and vitality in the Linux gaming community today that wasn't there previously. While LGP and Icculus.org are the two primary players, they aren't alone. Some ports, such as BioWare's Neverwinter Nights, are done in-house by the publishing company. Apex-development is another example. They are including Linux as one of the supported platforms for Payback. The game is described as gangster warfare, with attitude.

What about my suspicion that Microsoft is doing business the same way they always have, forcing exclusionary terms into its deals with game developers? I don't know. I still have the suspicion. I asked both Epic Games and BioWare if they have any contracts with anyone that limit or curtail the ability to port games to Linux or to promote games ported to Linux. The fact that neither company responded to my questions does nothing to dispel my suspicion.

On the other hand, it also seems clear to me that even if Microsoft is behaving badly in this regard — and we won't know whether or not that's the case until the next antitrust trial — it doesn't seem to be doing them much good. The buzz around Linux gaming has never been louder. There are more top-quality games available today than ever before, and the pipeline is filled with more jewels to come.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DivvyCloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DivvyCloud software enables organizations to achieve their cloud computing goals by simplifying and automating security, compliance and cost optimization of public and private cloud infrastructure. Using DivvyCloud, customers can leverage programmatic Bots to identify and remediate common cloud problems in rea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri, Inc, a leading provider of enterprise cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Tintri offers an enterprise cloud platform built with public cloud-like web services and RESTful APIs. Organizations use Tintri all-flash storage with scale-out and automation as a foundation for their own clouds – to build agile development environments...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Carbonite will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Carbonite protects your entire IT footprint with the right level of protection for each workload, ensuring lower costs and dependable solutions with DoubleTake and Evault.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Technologic Systems Inc., an embedded systems solutions company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Technologic Systems is an embedded systems company with headquarters in Fountain Hills, Arizona. They have been in business for 32 years, helping more than 8,000 OEM customers and building over a hundred COTS products that have never been discontinued. Technologic Systems’ pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tappest will exhibit MooseFS at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. MooseFS is a breakthrough concept in the storage industry. It allows you to secure stored data with either duplication or erasure coding using any server. The newest – 4.0 version of the software enables users to maintain the redundancy level with even 50% less hard drive space required. The software func...
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "We are a software house, so we perfectly understand challenges that other software houses face in their projects. We can augment a team, that will work with the same standards and processes as our partners' internal teams. Our teams will deliver the same quality within the required time and budget just as our partn...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real r...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software in the hope of capturing value in IoT. Although IoT is relatively new in the market, it has already gone through many promotional terms such as IoE, IoX, SDX, Edge/Fog, Mist Compute, etc. Ultimately, irrespective of the name, it is about deriving value from independent software assets participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution.
SYS-CON Events announced today that A&I Solutions has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 1999, A&I Solutions is a leading information technology (IT) software and services provider focusing on best-in-class enterprise solutions. By partnering with industry leaders in technology, A&I assures customers high performance levels across all IT environments including: mai...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Systena America will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Systena Group has been in business for various software development and verification in Japan, US, ASEAN, and China by utilizing the knowledge we gained from all types of device development for various industries including smartphones (Android/iOS), wireless communication, security technology and IoT serv...
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busine...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Outscale's technology makes an automated and adaptable Cloud available to businesses, supporting them in the most complex IT projects while controlling their operational aspects. You boost your IT infrastructure's reactivity, with request responses that only take a few seconds.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...