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PC Games (Games) Software Linux

Does Linux Have Game? 729

kwpulliam writes "Tom's Hardware has an interesting writeup, discussing the difficulties in bringing games to Linux, and the dilemmas faced by the graphics card developers."
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Does Linux Have Game?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:13PM (#11240010)
    Id seems to do a good job of getting their games working in Linux and THEY seem to push the envelope of what gaming IS. If they can do it, I'm sure others can as well. Just as soon as the other game manufacturers get their priorities in order that is. :)
  • Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lxt ( 724570 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:15PM (#11240020) Journal
    ...it's called Tetris. And XTris. And Hextris. And CubeTris. And TrisTris. And GLTris. And...

    Clearly, the most dominant platform on consumer computers is going to have the vast majority of games available.

    If Linux was the dominant OS, you'd see plenty of games available.

    Simple as that.
  • by CrusadeR ( 555 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:17PM (#11240029) Homepage
    Direct3D to OpenGL is far less of a hurdle than convincing a publisher to budget the time for a developer to spend porting for a niche market unfortunately. From what I've read, porting MFC-based utilities (such as game editors) is more of a pain than switching 3D APIs.

    FPS games tend to get ported because developers/publishers see the value of having user-run Linux servers, and it's easier (although by no means guaranteed) to get a client port from a dev team that's already porting the server code.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zebbers ( 134389 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:21PM (#11240050)

    I play Enemy Territory all the time. As well as the UT series and Quake as well. Doom 3 is coming soon. Neverwinter Nights was fun and I can tackle a good number of games using Cedega.

    These discussions are always so pointless. As you said, of course windows has the most games. If you want the latest, or even a good selection- you must run windows.

    Interestingly enough, the only games I really find more enjoyable on PC vs my PS2 or Xbox are FPS. And those are the ones best supported under linux. So the one are PCs dominate in gaming: fps, is actually relatively supported on linux- atleast by the big TWO (id/epic)
  • by rote_locke ( 829859 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:21PM (#11240055)
    hmmm... doesn't directX belong to that software manufacturer from redmond? the one that does not like to share?
    sadly, that is why i don't see a linux-port of directX in the near future... :-(

  • by buttkick ( 626712 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:24PM (#11240073)
    In these days, game = 3d video card.
    And the support of 3d Video cards in linux is pathetic, only nvidia gives some interest on that, but the main reason is because of the MESS that is the interface to make drivers work in LINUX.
    Every year comes a new bunch of video cards, windows get the drivers, LINUX? don't.

    If LINUX wants fo compete with windows on ANYTHING, FIX THE DAMN DRIVERS, make it easy to developers, and support commercial drivers well too, manufactures have the right to keep their source in a very competitive market.

    Just check any benchmark of DOOM3 in windows x linux. The result is always, linux is slower, and more difficult to install and conigure the drivers.

  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:25PM (#11240080) Homepage Journal
    Not being able to play games on Linux is exactly why I still am running Windows on my systems. I am a heavy (as in activity, not weight) Ghost Recon, UT2004, and Diablo II gamer. I also have Half Life 2 that my wife purchased for me for Christmas waiting for my system to be upgraded, and I'm looking forward to the PC version of Ghost Recon II.

    Of course, what do these require? DirectX.

    And what's the only operating system that truly supports it? Well, it ain't Linux.

    All of the other major apps that I use are open source - Firefox, OpenOffice, CDex, etc. I have my trusty Sun Blade 100 up and running right next to me as well. So, I don't need Windows for all of my normal day to day stuff. I can just as easily run Linux or Solaris x86 for everything but gaming. Now that Linux has greatly evolved towards the desktop, the ability to play DirectX games is the last hurdle to getting Windows off of my main systems.

    At its core DirectX is just a set of common libraries. Is there no efficient way to convert Windows/DirectX calls to the equivalent Linux calls? We're no longer in the days of having separate VESA drivers for each video card. Surely, there must be some way out there to develop a functional DirectLinuX. Then again, that's why I'm a system admin, not a programmer.
  • by djsmiley ( 752149 ) <djsmiley2k@gmail.com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:28PM (#11240098) Homepage Journal
    Parent is close, but no cigar...

    The adverage gamer DOESN'T care what O/S hes running, as long as it runs as good as he wants it.
    What linux wants is many things but two stick out mostly to me. Remmber, adverage gamer is not Computer nerd (normally 12yr olds if you watch the news about Grand Theft Auto!).

    1. Linux must be EASY to use.
    2. Linux must run games BETTER than windows.

  • Open Source games (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:30PM (#11240107)
    Seriously, why aren't more Open Source games developed? I'm not talking Pong I'm talking Halo 2, Doom 3 level. I know the obvious answer is they are really expensive and time consuming to produce. If many of the people working on current games are into Open Source why not show there support by starting serious Open Source games in their spare time. Aim them first at Linux then port them to Windows and OSX later. Seems easier to port the other direction anyway, more video card support etc.

    Just a question. If everyone is so serious about supporting it donate the time and start building games that can compete one to one with the big boys. Technically they should be better since it's a labor of love and all the technical issues that everyone complains about, game play and such, should have been adressed in development. Without marketing and corporate suits to consider the games should be able to hit a whole new level and actually lead the pack.

    Just a thought.
  • by xgamer04 ( 248962 ) <xgamer04NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:33PM (#11240119)
    ...Loki is closed. Thanks for your patronage. Tried & failed already.

    Yeah, I can see how ONE company failing is indicative of the whole "linux game company" game. Loki failed, so OMG L00NiX GAM35 R T3H D00M3D!11.

    Why pay when Linux users use a free OS. Everybody expects their games to be free.

    Yeah, I notice tons of comments on /. all the time expressing how game companies should open source their code. Oh wait... maybe not. And also, companies like iD have released the engine code for their old games, which is what I think ALL software companies should do when their code is no longer financially useful.
  • by diegocgteleline.es ( 653730 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:34PM (#11240131)
    Look at Oracle. Did they have a Linux port when nobody used Linux? No, but when Linux started to grow at 30% percent rate in the server market they started to think about it.

    Games are a problem of how many people uses it on a desktop, nothing else. And games should be easier to support than a database since in games they spent most of the time in the "data" which depends on the game engine not in the OS, and the game engine can't be that hard with companies like Id. The core problem here is Direct3D but if people starts using linux I don't doubt lots of game companies will consider to create new games in opengl if they can get enought revenue from linux people.

    With the current market share linux has is quite difficult to get anything. But if it grows we'll have lots of games, be sure. Heck, just look at doom, halflike, quake. Those games have been ported to linux (or they're in their way), and how much money can they have got those companies from the linux port? Nothing? Or almost nothing, compared with the revenue from the windows clients. That demonstrates that supporting games in linux is not hard, if it were too dificult and with the current lack of interest in the linux port they wouldn't have done it.
  • by silentrob ( 115677 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:34PM (#11240134)
    From the article:

    ATi cards' initial problems with Linux were due to a lack of driver support for Doom III. (...) Regardless of whether a game is based on an OpenGL or Direct3D API, the graphics card vendor's driver must support the game.

    Bullshit. What's the fucking point of utilizing any API for any development if you have to have the vendor modify it to work with your product? I suppose that absolutely no OpenGL game ever works under linux without ATI modifying thier drivers to specifically support that game? There's a lot of games out there. Good luck implementing support at the driver level for each and every one of them, ATI.

    It just pisses me off to see ATI try to pass this off as id's problem, when in reality there wouldn't be any fucking problem if ATI were make a proper implementation of OpenGL on linux, instead of focusing entirely on D3D/Win32.

    End rant. Flame on, and all that good shit.
  • by rasty ( 212471 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:34PM (#11240135) Homepage
    Wait a minute... did I miss anything (probably), but what's this thing that "Regardless of whether a game is based on an OpenGL or Direct3D API, the graphics card vendor's driver must support the game."?!?

    The graphics card vendor's API implementation should be complete regardless of the games that use that API. Of course a card could have certain hardware limitations not allowing it to actually support the whole set, but this doesn't look to be the case with Doom3 and ATI.

    True, today developers usually choose just one reference vendor for the development process (maybe sometimes because of the money they get rather than the actual lack of time to test on both, cmon there are just two!), therefore there could be some (possibly minor) incompatibilities with the other, but if both vendors' drivers were as complete as possible, that would definitely be a step in the right direction...! ... or not?
  • by WidescreenFreak ( 830043 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:35PM (#11240138) Homepage Journal
    Everybody expects their games to be free.

    Speak for yourself. I have no problems paying for my games as long as I know that they're games that I will enjoy. Those people who work hard to deliver games should not be told to give it away for free just to comply with the ridiculous notion that "Linux" should always equal "open source" or "free" just because the operating system happens to be free. This is one attitude of the Linux/FOSS community that I simply despise.

    It's attitudes like what you stated that are exactly why companies are not going to Linux. Oh, my! I'm a Linux user! I refuse to buy anything! The world should be free! I'm a Linux user! I should be able to get whatever I want for free! Either release it as Open Source or don't release it at all! I'm a Linux user!

    Additionally, if you knew anything about the history of Loki, you'd know that they went under primarily because of horrendous fiscal management, not because of a lack of demand for Linux games.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:37PM (#11240149) Journal
    From what I've read, porting MFC-based utilities (such as game editors) is more of a pain than switching 3D APIs.

    Yep. D3D and OpenGL both do more or less the same thing, and generally aren't a huge portion of the application. And if things are done properly, the renderer will be its own module. When you get down to it, all you're doing is drawing a lot of textured shaded triangles, and changing state.
  • by wcbarksdale ( 621327 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:40PM (#11240170)
    The main problem is that a modern game requires a large number of artists, writers, and designers (and comparatively few programmers), and the majority of people who spend their spare time working on open source games are programmers.
  • by Dwonis ( 52652 ) * on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:41PM (#11240175)
    Loki closed almost three years ago, and the events that led to its demise occurred over a course of 2-3 years before that. A lot has changed in (approx) 5 years.
  • by pmjordan ( 745016 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:42PM (#11240179)
    The problem is that the developers are more or less at the whim of the publishers, and resources are spent on fixing bugs rather than porting to platforms that may or may not increase profits. ID have loads of money anyway, so they don't really care, and it also helps engine sales.

  • Its catch 22.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bhalash ( 797330 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:49PM (#11240209)
    To get better gaming support on Linux we need more Linux gamers, but to get more Linux gamers we need better Linux gaming support.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:51PM (#11240219)
    Loki Games had a large following among the Linux community. Many people bought games and wanted that company to succeed. There was broad recognition throughout the community that illegally trading Loki games would result in the death of Loki, and as a result there was strong opposition to Loki warez. I really don't think you should place the blame on Linux users when the blame can so readily be placed on Scott Draeker (former founder and CEO of Loki) himself. While it's true that the customer base may not have been large enough to support a Loki games at the time, or even today, the fact remains that Draeker royally screwed his employees [newsforge.com] and offered terrible customer service to boot. While the programming and engineering staff killed themselves to produce a great product, management stuck it to them and the customers. Then Draeker closed shop, leaving one (far too loyal) employee with a huge credit card bill, the charges of which he took on to help with staff payroll.

    Bad management is what killed Loki. And possibly not enough sales to warrant a Linux gaming business. But we'll never know because Loki's books are locked away. It's just as possible that, like with the Macintosh, there's enough of a Linux community to support a small, but well run, games porting business. Hopefully, in the near future, we'll find out.
  • by Slothy ( 17409 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:52PM (#11240222) Homepage
    Yay Savage :)
  • by myster0n ( 216276 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @06:52PM (#11240224)
    If LINUX wants fo compete with windows on ANYTHING, FIX THE DAMN DRIVERS, make it easy to developers, and support commercial drivers well too, manufactures have the right to keep their source in a very competitive market.

    Hmm... That's not what the people from NVidea said in TFA.

    Let's quote 2 paragraphs from the article (Tippett = Matthew Tippett, product team lead for Linux platform engineering, ATI ; Triantos = Nick Triantos, chief software architect for NVIDIA):

    Of course, Linux drivers are not inherently difficult to develop compared to Windows drivers. And as many a gamer will attest, installing the right, updated driver for a graphics card to get a Direct3D game to run on WindowsXP can be a real pain, fraught with device conflicts and other nuisances. Indeed, the development process for Linux drivers are largely the same as creating drivers for Windows. "There is often a misunderstanding in the market that leads to the misconception that Linux [driver development] is difficult," Tippett said.

    In fact, Linux driver development for graphics cards can even represent a more streamlined process than it is for Windows. "The problem with Windows is that there is so much different software out there and the quality varies, and any one piece of poorly written software can take down the whole system," Triantos said. "Printer drivers, multimedia devices, and all the junk in the bottom right hand of your system tray with Windows all add up to lots of opportunities for someone to make mistakes. Linux doesn't have all of those levels, but doesn't have those risks as well."

    That doesn't mean that there are no problems, but, at least to them, the problems are not the things you stated. One thing that could improve linux drivers is just to put the same number of people on in as they put on the windows drivers. But the market needs to increase quite a lot before that happens.
  • by Illissius ( 694708 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:00PM (#11240268)
    I've been thinking about why there's a lack of high-quality open source games. The easy answer would be the huge artistic & etc. effort required, but I'm not entirely sure that's true: just look at the huge number of free (unsure whether Free) mods for Windows games. So the problem actually seems to lie with the engine. We need a high quality (as in, up there with the latest commercial ones) open source game engine first; having it be cross platform wouldn't hurt, either.
    Unfortunately, though, games are dissimilar to most other apps in that, for most other apps, you only need one: Windows has MS Office, Linux has OpenOffice.org, for example. For games, however, you need lots of them: Linux has Unreal and Doom, but Windows also has Far Cry, Half Life, and all the rest. So just having good open source games won't be enough unless all the Windows ones suddenly turn open source as well, which is unlikely.
    So in the end it's back to the chicken-and-egg situation of the most popular OS getting the most games, and the OS with the most games getting more popular -- Linux will have to gain a larger installed base in other, non-gaming circles first, for game creators to have an incentive to port to it. (Which is already happening, to a degree. It just needs to continue.)
  • by Rolman ( 120909 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:05PM (#11240289)
    I think this article, while right in its own context, is too graphics-centric and doesn't provide a full perspective on the problem, it's far worse that one can expect from just RTFA.

    Sure, graphics are important, but sound, network and input APIs are actually in a much worse situation.

    We can argue all we want about how OpenGL is better in many ways and I'd agree wholeheartedly, but Linux's sound, input and network support is just too behind the times in terms "out of the box" functionality or ease of use.

    I have been a developer for many years and worked on many platforms, and a common pattern on any serious platform (even going back to the 8-bit days) is that there's complete (granted it's almost never perfect) support for all areas, and DirectX here is no exception, it has by far the best integrated gaming support of any API in existence. Whether it's buggy or low-performance or not cross-platform portable doesn't matter that much. Time-to-market is the name of the game, you want a sellable product and DirectX is the fastest way.

    Too often for this kind of argument I receive answers that are ignorant, or uninformed at best, some of them sound like: "But there's OpenAL and it's cross-platform", "udev and hotplug are TEH R0x0RZ", "Linux networking is robust and good enough for servers, therefore desktop performance is guaranteed", "ALSA is better than the Windows crap", "Linux is more stable". Some of them may be right, and Hey! I want Linux to be successful too! But they're completely missing the point and that doesn't help the situation.

    We need better API integration, better driver support from chipset vendors (not just graphics, you pixel whores!), BETTER END-USER UTILITIES and some company like Transgaming that can provide a sensible porting/cross-platform middleware solution for developers, not just wrappers for end-users. Criterion's Renderware is a very successful solution for home consoles, one would think there's a market for something like this on the PC.
  • Re:Big releases (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wudbaer ( 48473 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:06PM (#11240299) Homepage
    Yeah, and porting games makes sense then because people want to run games on their servers and customized and locked down corporate desktops. Down kid yourself; Linux may have a higher overall marketshare than OS X, but its importance on the home desktop (=games) is still more or less nil.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:09PM (#11240307)
    There are big problems with selling any kind of commercial windows software to Linux users, and they won't go away with market-share increases:

    -Linux users overwhelmingly use x86 machines, and therefore can run Windows easily if they need to. Unless the Linux version ships simultaneously and is equal to or better than the Windows version, all but the most fanatical Linux users will just get the Windows version and have no interest in an eventual port (and the fanatical ones won't want it anyway, see below)

    -Even if they don't actually run Windows, Linux users have Wine and usually popular games (ie, the ones that might actually sell enough linux copies to be worthwhile to port) are working under Wine by the time any publisher could ship a Linux port.

    -Linux users are ofen averse to paying for software, and/or oppose proprietary software as a matter of principle. So the possible market for a Linux game is further decimated, even after dual-booters and Wine users are taken out of the equation, because of the remaining users some of them will refuse to use anything proprietary and the most of the rest will pirate it unless it is free to begin with.

    Under these constraints I can't see how any game developer would waste their time porting to Linux. The Mac market and even the few remaining Amiga users still can get a few commercial games ported, because those users can't run Windows software on their computers and are willing to pay for software.
  • by Money for Nothin' ( 754763 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:15PM (#11240342)
    Ok, maybe Direct3D is the main GUI on windows but it is of no relevance anywhere else. Not on Linux. Not on BSD. Not on MacOS. Not on the PS2. Not even Windows-CE and therefore not on PDAs and Mobile Phones. Nowhere except Wintel.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Direct3D is also used on the XBox, since that's basically a Wintel PC w/ an Nvidia chipset.

    Anyway, onto my main point. People play games primarily on 3 platforms: consoles, desktop PCs, and cellphones.

    Consoles are typically proprietary designs with their own graphics APIs (the PS2 is the best and most-common example); hence, Direct3D's supposed "minority" status in the console world is irrelevant.

    Likewise, cellphones have their own APIs too. J2ME might make this easier, but AFAIK, the 3D support -- in the few instances so far in which it's available -- doesn't include OpenGL or Direct3D.

    Hence, we're left largely with desktop PC gaming.

    And so, we have to define the word "minority". Currently, roughly at least 90% of the worldwide desktop userbase runs Windows. Not Linux. Not BSD. Not MacOS. Not PS2. Not even WinCE, and therefore, not PDAs or mobile phones.

    As a result, 90% of the world's userbase has Direct3D libs immediately-available as part of Win9x/ME/NT/2k/XP, ready-to-run.

    Linux doesn't have these libs, although, they can be run (slowly) via WINE. But Linux is irrelevant, because even now, it has, by the most-optimistic estimates, perhaps 3-4% of the worldwide desktop market share. The only worthy competitor Direct3D has on Linux is the combination of OpenGL and some other graphics libs, such as SDL.

    Regardless, we've boiled down the argument of "minority" status of Direct3D to the space of desktop PCs, and as any Slashdotter knows, MSFT has nearly total control in that space. So, to say that Direct3D is a "minority" player is not only silly, but it's wrong...

    Now, as for future development, I agree w/ you: it'd be wise for developers to look ahead to the trends of increased gaming on cellphones and consoles, etc., away from their PCs, and on those grounds, Direct3D is definitely a more-questionable choice compared to relatively-portable libs like SDL...
  • by br00tus ( 528477 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:19PM (#11240365)
    I decided a few weeks ago to switch from Windows to Debian Linux on my machine which has a sound card, graphics card and so forth. One reason I switched was because Linux easily supported my Linksys 802.11b Wireless USB adapter (once I downloaded the drivers off sourceforge), while installing the drivers for it on Windows broke all of my networking badly - it was a mess.

    Two worries were preventing me from doing it. One was a worry about the inability to send a Microsoft Word format document like a resume in an e-mail, but of course, you have the ability to do that in Linux currently, and I guess for now, legacy Word programs force Microsoft to maintain backwards compatibility. The second worry, a more real one, was games. I knew the latest versions of Doom, Warcraft, Everquest and so forth were on Microsoft and not Linux. This turns out to be more substantial than my vague uneasiness over the ability to send Word format documents (which of course, for now, you can send in Linux).

    What I did is install Debian 3.0 ("woody"). I played some games with lightweight graphics capability like Freeciv or Xboard, but then wanted something more hardcore so I downloaded Tux Racer. It was slooooow when I played. Averaging 0.7 frames per second actually. So then I read I needed drivers for my specifics graphics card to get it to a higher fps rate. I began installing the non-free kernel modules for it, but it was unhappy with the versions of some Debian 3.0 packages, especially XFree86 (xserver-common). I was also having some problems with my H-P PSC (Printer-Scanner-Copier) and its Linux drivers because Debian 3.0 had an ancient version of Python and so forth. So I decided to upgrade from stable version Debian 3.0 ("Woody") to testing version Debian 3.1 ("Sarge").

    This fixed my HP PSC problems with Python versions. I am still struggling with Mesa, OpenGL and so forth, and right now can not run tux-racer. I have newer version of Mesa then I did with Debian 3.0, but I'm told my newer one is out-of-date by Tux Racer (whereas my older one was not). I haven't even tried to put the special drivers for my graphics card driver in (which needed the newer version of XFree86).

    Anyhow, I've been using UNIX since 1989, and have been a UNIX sysadmin since 1996, and getting Mesa/OpenGL packages working on Debian is giving me trouble, I can imagine what it would be like for someone less experienced. Plus, even if I do get Mesa working for Tux Racer, I will have to be fortunate enough to have graphics acceleration support for my card in Linux. And then, even if those two birds get knocked down, how many games are there out there for Linux with those capabilities - Tux Racer? One or two more? What else? I already know that ease-of-setup for graphics is easier in Windows than Linux (system upgrade, then Mesa problem, followed by looking for graphics acceleration support for my card which may or may not be a problem), how does it stack up against DirectX for the same equipment?

    Of course, for free systems, one good thing is I can be part of the solution. I have over a decade of UNIX experience, but only recently has my C programming gotten semi-decent (if that - I can write an OK program in a month, but then it takes me a year to debug all the thread race conditions, buffer overflows and so forth I seem to leave about). Even so, it is very daunting for me to feel I can contribute to these sorts of projects. I know a lot about how the Gnutella protocol so I have a leg up on other people looking to contribute to them - but looking over the code and seeing all of the linked lists, pointers to pointers, calls to GLib and so forth, I wonder if I can ever make a contribution to them since unlike full-time developers, I only have the faintest ideas how things like linked lists work. The learning curve to be able to contribute to these projects is somewhat steep in my opinion, although I always hear stories about kids who stumble over some code, begin sending contributions, and begin running some major project while a teenager, like the guy who maintains the Linux 2.4 kernel [kerneltrap.org] I run on my machine.

  • by upsidedown_duck ( 788782 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:46PM (#11240536)
    More like OpenGL+SDL.

    Why don't more games use OpenGL+OpenAL+SDL? It's cross platform, it works, and it's easy to learn and program with. Why do so many people jump on the Microsoft bandwagon, when it isn't even always the better choice?
  • Uh... yeah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:55PM (#11240598)
    Listen to the ten-thousand and one complaints about how the video game industry is catabolising itself, how mediocrity rules ["Revenge of Son of NASCAR II" (shamelessly stolen from some other poster... and perfectly describes everything wrong with videogames today, how ironic...)], and the preponderance of clone titles (although I guess 100 different versions of Tetris on Linux qualifies) and the notable absence of titles like HL2 and Halo2 from my videogame library: why aren't there games on Linux?

    Oh, I don't know, maybe because the OSS community tries so hard to emulate (that's not punny) their commercial brethren even when their goals aren't even remotely similar, or are so caught up in the political ideology that the idea of making a closed source, for-profit game to run on some OSS is foreign.

    With most of the smaller developers bitching about how they can't compete with the likes of EA for resources or shelf space, here is a wide open market just begging to prove game theory correct. Here is a chance for someone to bring a title to market just as they envision it. Here is a chance for newbies to cut their teeth.

    Here's an idea: release a solid (not blockbuster) title for Linux only. And when you are done, release another one. And another one. And another one.

    Got a shortage of ideas? Look to niche markets, like war games or sims. Most gamers harbor some secret fantasy of games they wished they could create if they could put down the controller long enough to learn how to code (mine being football as a battle sim, or an online version of Illuminati, or some mutant child of Civ, Neo-nectaris, and Fallout; or Bizzaro- an side scroller featuring and spider-like eyeball ment to pay homage to the Tex Avery sight gag, or...). Talk to your audience.

    Then you got a respectable library of games, and some geek speaking in hushed tones "Middle Earth Football for $20. And they're giving the OS away for free..."

    Waiting for the games to come to you isn't going anywhere.

    *cracks open his "Linux for Dummies"*

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@NOSpAm.yahoo.com> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @07:56PM (#11240603) Homepage Journal
    I heard the 10 years ago!
  • Re:Its catch 22.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kethinov ( 636034 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @08:17PM (#11240717) Homepage Journal
    No, software and hardware management in Linux needs to stop being retarded
    Last I checked, it wasn't. apt-get + Synaptic makes installing software really bloody easy. It's like doing a Windows update except you get tens of thousands of free software packages (including a few games) all a few clicks away. Personally, I find apt-get install tuxracer (or clicking for it in Synaptic) pretty idiot proof easy. Oh, you want to install UT 2004 and it's not in apt? Feel free to run the installer which works mysteriously the same as the one for Windows. If you have problems installing third party software in Linux, bitch to the people who wrote (or did the shitty job porting) it, not the Linux people.
    Seriously, the *nix directory structure sucks
    Yeah, cause /home/user is just so much worse than C:\Documents and Settings\user\My Documents. Ever hear of brevity? That's what unix adheres to. Unix' directory structure isn't perfect, but neither is Windows'. To be fair, let's say they both have their advantages and pitfalls.
    One common problem with ALL operating systems is that software shouldn't have to be installed to run.
    There are many programs in both Windows and Linux that do not require installers. All installers do is copy files and make shortcuts anyway. I'm not seeing a requirement here.
    No registries, no more installed libraries.
    Last I checked, Windows was the only OS using a registry. Last I checked, every game I've installed in a unix OS was staticly compiled and didn't suffer from dependency hell.
    You should be able to play a whole game by running a single binary from the disc. If you want faster load times, copy the disc to a hard drive and bingo, it's "installed."
    Yes, you should.
    When this happens, Linux will become the dominant OS.
    OS X already works this way and is no closer to being the dominant OS than it was 5 years ago. You're clearly confused about just what determines what the dominant OS is.
  • by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @08:17PM (#11240718) Homepage
    Some years ago I abandoned Windows on the desktop and switched entirely to Linux. I bought every game from Lokigames with the exception of Eric's ultimate solitare. (I hate solitaire). I purchased Unreal Tournament and other linux compatable games and wrote on the cards "PURCHASED FOR USE WITH LINUX" on the cards that I mailed back.

    Problem was, as an advocate (zealot?) I could not play Half-Life with my friends, and they were all into Half-Life. Now, don't tell me that you can run Half-Life on Linux by doing this or by doing that... I know all the things needed to make it work (it works now much better than it did then). However, it really never worked on Linux, or at least I should say it BARELY worked. I certanly could not use it for deathmatching.

    When Q3A came out, I bought a Matrox card specifically because of the Linux compatible drivers, and their support of Linux. But Q3A did not run all that great on my machine, even if Linux did have a higher FPS at some of the more esoteric resolutions (Like 640X480 or LESS).

    Now, as I type this, I am typing from an XP machine. It is not nearly as stable as I would like - nothing like the non-gui server I have next to me running RH 6.2 (Never bothered to upgrade it, it is still running just fine thanks.) I work on Linux all day, and I now do all my work with Putty to connect to the servers I work on. I am considering going back to Linux on the desktop for browsing, email and chat as I have been having stablity issues with XP and my DVD burner. However, I like my games, and I like playing them well. Furthermore, I like having the highest FPS and quality settings avaliable.

    I use my computers as a tool, and when I get home and I want to play Counter Strike Source, Desert Combat or America's Army with my friends I use Windows XP. Don't tell me that these can work on Linux - I already know - and I don't care. I wasted too much of my time in zealotry trying to get some of my older games to run as well under Linux as they do on windows. I don't love XP - but it runs my games. You see, I like Windows for the ability to play games with my friends. I like Linux to run as a server and have the stability and power that a server should have. I don't use Windows servers myself, and I dont use Linux gaming machines. I would like it to change, but when I get home after work, I just want to game with my friends. I have no desire to poke a Linux box more. I get paid to do that at work, I dont want to do it at home.

    Would I like to see it change? Sure, but it won't happen for some time if it does, and I have better things to do with my time than be a zealot.
  • by diegocgteleline.es ( 653730 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @08:25PM (#11240768)
    Because games are not about code, but data

    For games, they spend like 75% of the efforts in the "data" (music, maps, etc etc) and 25% for the game engine, or so I heard. If you buy the graphics engine from another company it might be even less.

    Open source, GPL, BSD...all is everything software not "art". Games are a different beast the open source movement don't know how to fight. We need to promote that too - "art" free of copyright issues and perhaps licenses which forces you to release the file you used to develop your 3d map?
  • by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @08:44PM (#11240850) Journal
    simple, microsoft have brand awareness working for them, big time!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @08:52PM (#11240873)

    At its core DirectX is just a set of common libraries. Is there no efficient way to convert Windows/DirectX calls to the equivalent Linux calls? [...] Surely, there must be some way out there to develop a functional DirectLinuX. Then again, that's why I'm a system admin, not a programmer.

    I used to have a boss like you. The worst boss in my life. Whenever he asked me to develop something and I said it would take a certain amount of time, if that amount of time wasn't what he has already told the client, he would say "surely it's just a case of programming?" Yes, it was a case of programming. A shit load of programming.

    You are doing the exact same thing. You've decided on the proper outcome - trying to keep up with Microsoft's API of the week - and are now saying "surely it's just a case of programming?"

    Yes, there is a way of using Windows APIs in Linux. The project is called WINE, and it is twelve years old. And they still haven't finished it. I remember when they had a decent amount of the API completed. The Win16 API, that is. Then Microsoft released Windows 95 and promptly moved the goalposts. And they've done it dozens of times since then. We're up to - what - DirectX 9? 10? I developed a few things for DirectX 2. It's a completely different API now.

    If somebody started implementing the latest version of DirectX today, Microsoft will have released another couple of versions by the time it's complete. Playing catch-up to Microsoft when it's Microsoft's API you are trying to implement is damn near impossible.

    If people actually want to play games on Linux, then they should stop buying Windows-only games and write and tell the publishers why. If the publishers don't know there's a market, they won't value cross-platform games, and continue to use DirectX, something that will always be poorly supported on anything other than a Microsoft operating system.

  • by praedictus ( 61731 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @09:13PM (#11240946) Journal
    But at least they're still supporting both versions.
    1.65 was just recently released for both Linux and Windows. I still haven't got it working correctly in linux (no fault of Bioware, I have a poorly supported onboard video) This brings up the issue: not everyone has access to bleeding edge hardware. (I have to get relatives to ship from overseas or pay up to 3x the going rate - a crappy mx440 is over the equivalent of 200 dollars here, and a 6800 goes for the equivalent of 1200 dollars) So I'm forced to go with less than optimal hardware for the time being.
    Lack of open drivers is not always the manufacturer's direct fault - often they have NDA's on licenced technologies that limit what they can reveal to 3rd parties (the poor folks trying to get Linux drivers working) hence, unless the company is committed to linux support like NVidia, and makes their own drivers in-house with binary releases, even rudimentary gaming support for the rest of us is an uphill battle.
    Not is all gloom and doom however, for instance I find the linux sound drivers for my motherboard far superior to the Windows ones!
    The last two game purchases I made were deliberately because of Linux support... I'm not one of the mythical freeloaders the Microsoft astroturfers seem to go on about. I am also working on getting an NVidia card (6600GT) sent here, but for the time being I still need to dual-boot.
  • by daVinci1980 ( 73174 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @09:16PM (#11240954) Homepage
    No offense, but there's a few reasons we don't use ogl for developing video games that you're glossing over.

    First, I like a standard that updates itself frequently. DirectX does this. In the time that it took for OGL to go from 1.2 to 2.0, DX went from roughly DX6 to DX9. What did you do if you were writing games in OGL during that time? Oh, you wrote ALL OF YOUR CODE TWICE, once for NVidia, and once for ATI, and hopefully you didn't care about other vendors. This is why when you look at Carmack's old .plans, he talks about the various codepaths.

    Second, I like a standard that really pays attention to what I (the graphics programmer), has to say. Input is key. When I have a feature request, I notify MS, NVidia, and ATI. I convince each of them why it's a good idea. Generally, it makes it into the next release. Of course, I've tried this with ogl as well.. Not such a simple process. Of course, you can still bring it up with the vendors, but then you also have to bring it up with the standards comittee, and I can't just leave it at that even.

    Third, did I mention that I don't want to write my code twice? I really hate doing that. It's bad enough that I have to check caps bits in the first place, and have to do minor if statements to deal with various hardware. But what I really want to avoid is having to write code to several seperate extensions.

    OGL may become a powerful force in the (gaming) market in the next few years, time will tell. But it will be largely dependent on how quickly the standards comittee can get off their ass and update. If DX continues to release 2-3 major revs (and countless minor revs) in the same time it takes for OGL to update, then DX will remain the dominant platform to develop for, regardless of the 10% or so linux marketshare lost.

    (Incidentally, in terms of 'borrowing' from OGL, that hasn't really been true since Dx8. Since then, OGL has really been trying to play catchup).

  • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @09:25PM (#11240984) Homepage
    It is quite simple to deduce that a game with a windows-only release was only seriously developed to run on windows. A studio that releases a game on multiple platforms, as id does, or Epic did with UT2K4, obviously invested time in the other platforms. The difference is that id and Epic are major powerhouse game studios, whereas your windows-only games are released by smaller studios with less to risk (and they thus must prioritize on things other than multiplatform support).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 02, 2005 @09:33PM (#11241013)
    Some people just can't take the truth, can they ?

    Linux is still a pain to get going for any non-tech savvy joe and as the
    market is still tiny, it doesn't make commercial sense to put as many resources on the part of publishers into Linux games as on Windoze.

    Also C++ is obsolete (.net hint hint) !!!
    Move on from it OSS people, fast...
    The microsoft juggernaut is doing all it can
    to stay on top and you cannot compete otherwise.
    You need a next generation language and dev environment or natural selection will keep
    you on the bottom of the pile and in server rooms.
  • by AusG4 ( 651867 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @09:53PM (#11241148) Homepage Journal
    Or ever better...

    Simply write games using only OpenGL. This allows maximum compatibility across any platform... hence the "Open" part of "OpenGL".

    Another poster made the point that it shouldn't be technically much different to write for a UNIX machine or a Windows machine, as the two have much more in common than, say, Windows and a PS2.

    If you believe the rumors, the PlayStation 3 is going to alleviate some of the PlayStation 2's notoriously difficult learning curve by using OpenGL as the graphics language.

    Thus, using OpenGL gives you access to 99% of the worlds gaming-capable devices... Windows, the Macintosh, Linux and PlayStation 3.

    Now, some people are going to come out and say that Direct3D is so much faster than OpenGL... but to them I say "tell that to John Carmack". Doom 3, as "un-fun" as it is, is one of the best looking games ever made and it seems to get along in OpenGL just fine, thanks.

    Once the game is actualyl written in OpenGL, it's a lot easier argument to justify the cost of a port, when all you're porting is the HID and sound code...

    And as for sound, that's why we have OpenAL. :)
  • by Drakino ( 10965 ) <d_slashdot.miniinfo@net> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @09:57PM (#11241165) Journal
    How many people here actually went out and bought a Linux computer from a vendor? Sure, Linux desktops probably outsold Mac desktops, but check on how many of those Linux desktops were sold into enterprise enviornments. It's probably going to be most of them. The home linux market is very hard to measure. So, when a publisher looks at platforms, they tend to choose Mac above Linux due to the home market numbers that they can see, and the ease of porting a game to a platform that hasn't had as many moving API targets.
  • by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @10:28PM (#11241299) Journal
    Honestly, you've got to be in the *extreme* minority there. I'm not denying there are some people out there running nothing but Linux on their machine(s) and only playing the games that run natively on it.

    But #1. Many people I encounter who do run strictly Linux on their PCs do so because of a lack of funds. These are the guys who like Linux because they're still able to eeek some life out of their old Pentium 1's and even the old 486DX that they turned into a print server box. They're not exactly a "prime market" for selling commercial games!

    #2. Why ruin uptime for a game? Well, in return, I feel like I need to ask you why the "uptime" is an issue in the first place? In the majority of scenarios I can imagine where one is concerned about uptime between reboots, it has to do with that PC running a fairly critical server-type function that's a hassle or major problem to interrupt. I don't think it's really wise to fire up video games on such a system. If it's really just a home workstation, dual-booting into Windows when you want to play a Windows-only game doesn't seem like such a huge deal?

    That said though, glad to hear you're buying only the games with Linux support... That's really the only way anyone will keep bothering to make Linux versions of commerical games. I do the same with my Mac, actually. I own a PC with Win XP on it too, but I'd rather put my limited funds towards the people writing for my Mac - because my dollar counts a lot more in a niche market.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat.cCHICAGOom minus city> on Sunday January 02, 2005 @10:46PM (#11241388) Journal
    Actually, you can give ATI and NVidia a little more credit than that.

    The problem isn't that they are full of themselves that they don't think anyone else could write better drivers than they could. The problem they have is that if they publish the specs, then some upstart company could potentially reverse engineer all their hard work (and in the process find ways around patents) without all the money that ATI and NVidia put into R&D for creating the techologies in the first place. There are precedents for this sort of thing, so it's not just paranoia on their part.

    If that danger could somehow be eliminated, I'm sure ATI and NVidia would absolutely _LOVE_ to publish their specs, since it would cut down on their own development costs dramatically to let the OSS community write drivers for them.

  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @10:54PM (#11241436)
    I'm a system admin, not a programmer

    Well then you are in luck because I am a programmer and will endeavor to answer your question.

    The problem with translation of calls is that there is no binary compatibility between DirectX library calls which use the dynamic link library (dll) and the Linux kernel by which the calls and their returns could be easily redirected. DirectX and its libraries are all compiled into native code and coupled tightly with the windows kernel. Any attempt to reverse engineer this will certainly not be helped along by Microsoft and given the complexity of the DirectX libraries, which include routines for sound, 2D and 3D drawing, feedback devices, and many others, the task would be extremely difficult at best. Past experiences within the computing industry have shown that such linkages, where they occur without the support of the vendors in question, are fragile and extremely prone to breakage if either system changes.

    The Java and .NET idea of a common language runtime assembly however holds out hope that a solution may eventually be feasible. The idea of the common language runtime is to create a virtual assembly language which can then be easily mapped into the native assembly instructions used on the target machine. In this manner even a complex library such as DirectX could theoretically be compiled to this virtual assembly and easily distributed for use on a wide variety of platforms. Back to the gamming issue...

    The majority of the game development done these days with the exception of Sony and Nintendo console platforms, which use their own proprietary libraries, uses Microsoft DirectX. This adds an additional political dimension to the problem because companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are reluctant to make their crown jewels (i.e. their gaming libraries) available for release on compatible commodity hardware.

    The short and easy answer to your question is yes, there might be some way to develop a mapping layer to handle method calls and returns. However, the complexity, expense, and reliability of such an undertaking given the technical difficulties and political realties make this solution unappealing at the very least. If it could have been done easily, cheaply, and reliably then it probably already would have been done a while ago. Most people simply purchase the console(s) of their choice or maintain a windows boot partition just for gaming. Unless or until the gaming industry and the companies involved decide to develop a common language assembly and provide versions of their libraries in this assembly this problem will continue to persist. Even then there is the issue of backwards compatability with existing games.

    As a disclaimer I do not program for the games industry, but some of my CS classmates ended up working in the game industry and this is my understanding from my conversations with them and my personal experiences. I may be wrong about certain minor details, but I think that I have presented the basic problems from the programmers' point of view.
  • by the angry liberal ( 825035 ) on Sunday January 02, 2005 @11:30PM (#11241566)
    I should also point out that the machine has two processors, which Windows XP recognised. I didn't add SMP support into the Linux kernel.

    You should also point out whether or not you used the command line switches to actually enable the smp support in the game engine. I think it is off by default and really doesn't do much for performance when on.

    I am suprised you guys are getting such results with Linux performing better. Even the project homepage disagrees with this result, as do my personal experiences on a dual boot system.

    Then again, Linux always performs better according to slashdot threads.
  • by swv3752 ( 187722 ) <swv3752@hotma i l . c om> on Monday January 03, 2005 @12:25AM (#11241834) Homepage Journal
    Probably more that ATI Linux drivers are so so.
  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday January 03, 2005 @12:34AM (#11241896) Journal
    upstart company could potentially reverse engineer all their hard work

    The only thing is that some upstart company willing to work this way to make what is essentially an nVidia clone would have the resources and the guts to reverse engineer it from the existing nvidia driver.

    As it is, either way you're not going to figure out the "magic" within the card whether or not they publish specs, the worst that would happen is that CopycatCorp would sell a video card that would be run by nVidia's drivers, cutting the cost of writing a driver for their card.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2005 @01:28AM (#11242125)
    I guess you didn't RTFA where the ATI says it's a misconception that there are any issues with writing graphics drivers for Linux. In fact, it's easier than Windows.

    But hey, you got modded up for mentioning "DMCA," "copyright law," and "patents" in a Slashdot discussion. No surprise there.
  • by Viper168 ( 650370 ) on Monday January 03, 2005 @01:45AM (#11242186)
    Where I sit on the Cedega issue is that while it may be causing less linux gamers to be accounted for, it makes it easier for more people to actually make the switch.

    Eventually of course, linux users will number high enough for game companies to actually start paying attention to linux.

    And as a linux user, and gamer, I appreciate what they do... Because of their work I'm never going to dual boot windows for gaming, and I look forward to playing HL2 when I get around to getting a decent system built.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2005 @02:12AM (#11242291)
    Because at least with DirectX, there's only one source of bugs and problems, and with the right contract (which game companies have, I assure you) one person (well, group) to talk (yes, phone and talk) to.

    As opposed to Linux, which there are probably a dozen mailing lists all talking about the same thing, and if you join and post a quick question to an urgent problem you're having, the best response you get is "RTFM." (Note in this particular case the "FM" had "Coming Soon" below the section that would cover the question).
  • by tunah ( 530328 ) <sam@[ ]yup.com ['kra' in gap]> on Monday January 03, 2005 @02:27AM (#11242352) Homepage
    forcing people to update their OS (which is why Windows 95/98 are dead)

    Credit where credit is due, windows 95/98 are dead because it sucked, and windows 2k/XP/2k3 are much better.

  • by shufler ( 262955 ) on Monday January 03, 2005 @02:29AM (#11242359) Homepage
    I must admit that I have grown tired of this being cited as the reason for Wine noting being an Emulator. No one is claiming Wine emulates the Intel x86.

    Myth 1 Debunked: "[A]s the name says, Wine Is Not a (CPU) Emulator."

    Wine just provides the Windows API. This means that you will need an x86-compatible processor to run an x86 Windows application, for instance from Intel or AMD.

    Copied directly from http://www.winehq.com/site/docs/wine-faq/index#IS- WINE-AN-EMULATOR [winehq.com]. Changes only to formatting.

    Wine can call itself anything it wants, but the fact remains that Wine does the following [winehq.com]:

    2.1. What is Wine and what is it supposed to do?

    Wine is a program which allows the operation of DOS and MS Windows programs (Windows 3.x and Win32 executables) on UNIX operating systems such as Linux. It consists of a program loader, which loads and executes a Windows binary, and a set of libraries that implements Windows API calls using their UNIX or X11 equivalents. The libraries may also be used for porting Win32 code into native UNIX executables, often without many changes in the source.

    If you intend on using the ROM for a console game (such example consoles are the NES, SNES, Genesis, Playstation, Gamboy, and so on), you use a program loader which loads and executes a ROM, and a set of libraries that implements the console API calls using their UNIX or X11 or Windows or Linux or DOS or Nokia equivalents.

    In that situation, you are using an emulator. How does this differ when you're trying to run a Windows application?

    Just because the people maintaining Wine say it's not an emulator, does not mean this is true. In fact, if you go back a few years, to say, 1998, you will clearly see that WINE stood for WINdows Emulator [faqs.org]. Why? Because that's what it is.

    Also, before you go and try and say that WINE used to stand for WINdows Emulator, and they later changed it because the program changed, let me quote the section from the WINdows Emulator FAQ which describes what WINE is:

    1.1: What is Wine, and what is it supposed to do?

    Wine is a program which allows the operation of DOS and MS Windows programs (Windows 3.x and Win32 executables) on UNIX. It consists of a program loader, which loads and executes a Windows binary, and a library that implements Windows API calls using their UNIX or X11 equivalents. The library may also be used for porting Win32 code into
    native UNIX executables.

    Yes, with the exception of the addition of 5 words ("... operating systems such as Linux"), it's verbatim.
  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) * on Monday January 03, 2005 @03:29AM (#11242583) Homepage
    Well, with Cedega (formerly WineX), they basically have... ... which has always puzzeled me. If Cedega implements DirectX and other Win32 libraries, then why does every game that works with it need explicit support? It seems very rare that even an older game will work properly if it's not officially supported by Transgaming. I smell something fishy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2005 @04:16AM (#11242759)
    All of you that are saying Loki didn't die because of bad sales... you're incorrect.

    Loki died because it put itself into a financial hole that it never got out of. If all of their products had sold even half as well as Call to Power, the bad management decision everyone is so fond of citing wouldn't even have come into play. The bad decisions on the management side were nothing more than an exec drowning in debt trying to keep the company afloat any way possible because he believed it could still be profitable at some point.

    I worked there. I can't and won't say that management made good decisions, but the whole company was buried under a mountain of debt because its products just didn't sell. Everything else came later.

    I say this because it's important to recognize the problem before a reasonable solution can be found. The problem was (and is) that there's no evidence that people will pay for games that run only on Linux. The obvious solution is to make games that don't run only on Linux. That way the only problem becomes how to fund it.

  • by Wiz ( 6870 ) on Monday January 03, 2005 @07:12AM (#11243285) Homepage
    He is the right, their drivers are that bad.

    I've seen benchmarks for Doom 3 on Linux that show a 5900 beating an ATi x800XT..... there is NO WAY that should happen!

    If you play games in Linux, Nvidia is the only option right now IMHO. I switched from ATi to Nvidia for this reason and I've never looked back.

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker