Click here to close now.



Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: John Esposito, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Flint Brenton, Elizabeth White

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 Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
There is little doubt that Big Data solutions will have an increasing role in the Enterprise IT mainstream over time. Big Data at Cloud Expo - to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - has announced its Call for Papers is open. Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ReadyTalk, a leading provider of online conferencing and webinar services, has been named Vendor Presentation Sponsor at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ReadyTalk delivers audio and web conferencing services that inspire collaboration and enable the Future of Work for today’s increasingly digital and mobile workforce. By combining intuitive, innovative tec...
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
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, wh...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
industrial company for a multi-year contract initially valued at over $4.0 million. In addition to DataV software, Bsquare will also provide comprehensive systems integration, support and maintenance services. DataV leverages advanced data analytics, predictive reasoning, data-driven diagnostics, and automated orchestration of remediation actions in order to improve asset uptime while reducing service and warranty costs.
Vidyo, Inc., has joined the Alliance for Open Media. The Alliance for Open Media is a non-profit organization working to define and develop media technologies that address the need for an open standard for video compression and delivery over the web. As a member of the Alliance, Vidyo will collaborate with industry leaders in pursuit of an open and royalty-free AOMedia Video codec, AV1. Vidyo’s contributions to the organization will bring to bear its long history of expertise in codec technolo...