Originally Published: Wednesday, 3 January 2001 Author: Ross Sanders
Published to: enhance_articles_games/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Ramblings on Linux Games

While strolling through the park one day, Ross Sanders was disturbed to learn that good games for Linux are not in plentiful supply. He'd like to see some games on the market that are unique to Linux.

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Creativity is the life source of the open source movement and operating systems like Linux. It's also the driving force behind any good game. Uniqueness, creativity, a strong plot, and good support technologies and ideas make ideas come to life on the computer screen. A few weeks ago I surfed the internet for a unique, quality, commercial game for Linux that was not a game I already had for Windows. In short, I was hoping to find a good game in the genre I enjoy designed for Linux and of a quality that I would want to buy.

Everything I found were Linux ports of Windows games or half-finished open source projects that were often themselves knock offs of other wildly popular games of days gone by. As much as I wholeheartedly support what Loki Games is trying to do with Linux gaming, I simply wanted something unique to spend my hard earned money on that day.

I began digging deeper to try to find why there are no Wing Commanders, StarCrafts, and Baldur's Gate 2 for Linux. I mean honest-to-goodness solid games that are either fresh out even in the Windows world with a Linux port, or an original game that is primarily marketed to Linux gamer fans instead of Windows.

The problem boils down to money. It takes money to pay storytellers and managers to organize a story line. It takes money to pay graphics artists to bring creative realism to your computer screw and bring for the oooohs and aaaahs from a particularly effective opening movie or special effect. It takes lots of money to pay the teams of programmers that turn the story lines and plots into playable code. And please let us not forget the professional QA people that make sure it doesn't crash all the time! All these people expect to get something out of this so we can drool in excitement as we load up and watch the opening sequences of John Irenicus' dungeon in BG 2, or to watch Mark Hamill give his final orders in WC Prophecy.

Companies rightly expect to make profits off their games in order to justify the continuing expenses of not only producing more games but to support those that they have already released. The platform of choice is therefore either a console system such as the new PlayStation 2, or on the computer desktop realm, Windows, even to the exclusion sometimes of MacOS ports. The Windows platform is the most widespread platform in use today on desktops, whether it's stable or not is of no consequence. It is what is there. DirectX keeps the programmers from having to worry about writing drivers all the time, Windows games make the companies sufficient profits to justify the expense of production. It's a dynamite combination.

Where does this leave the Linux gamers? It usually leaves us in the dark. Linux users are used to having things for free and are often reluctant to purchase any software at all for their Linux systems. The reasons are as varied as there are Linux users. Some consider the gaming companies as part of the "evil empire" of closed source and secretive corporate America. Others just do not want to pay the money and instead pirate the games. Taking a step back and looking at the Linux and open source communities together, it's easy to see why Linux gaming companies are not doing well financially if they are even floating at all. We like things for FREE!

Until this mind-set in the Linux community evolves to one of a higher understanding for the need of programmers to eat as well as code, Linux is still going to be on the short stick of the gaming world. The only way to change this is to show corporate America that a buck can be made by publishing Linux games. We have to support the fledgling companies, such as Loki Games, that are trying to bring creativity to the Linux gaming world by actually buying their products rather than stealing them. Then one day in the future, more companies will jump on the Linux gaming bandwagon and we will have the latest and greatest and it will not be a Windows port. No more dual booting for us gamer freaks! Now that is a goal to work for!


Ross Sanders is a RABID gamer patiently waiting still for Alpha Centauri and (maybe one day) Total Annihilation for Linux. (Hint Hint Loki! :) )
PS: I bought a Loki Game instead: Descent 3.
wolf_fire@ithink.net




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