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[P]
Linux games wishlist

By Denor in Op-Ed
Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 07:45:54 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

A few times lately, I've seen this article on linuxworld - it's a list of ten games (three commercial, seven free) for linux, and a short review of each.

My primary intent when looking over games is to find something that someone's made as a hobby (tuxracer, freeciv, etc), download it, and give it a play; This list helped that goal a great deal, and pointed out a few games of which I was unaware.

I read The Linux Game Tome. I keep up with Linuxgames. Occasionally I stop by Freshmeat - I've essentially found the majority of free linux games. Still, I can't help but wonder: Couldn't there be more?


First of all: This is not intended to be a flamebait submission: Those who work on linux games, I salute you! Those who do not, that's fine, you do your own thing. This is simply what I've titled it: A wishlist.

The state of linux games to me today reminds me of the shareware type games of yore - usually a single person or a small team produces a game, and releases it to everyone else. I, for one, loved when shareware was popular - I still browse through windows shareware, but the free linux games grab my attention far more readily. It's small, but growing.

I'm currently working on two games, one a simple java game for my gallery, and the other a more complex linux game - as such, I probably won't be taking on another project unless I get simultaneously bored with what I have and inspired with something else. Ideally, I'd like to do two or three quick, fun games just to add to the diversity of the free games out there.

That's what I'm asking of those here: If you were able to make a game of variable complexity, what would it be like? Ideally, what would you sit yourself down at the computer and play with (besides code for the game that you want all others to sit down and play with :)

My personal wishlist:

  • Real time stragegy: I know, I know, there are a ton of these - not too many for linux, though (they do exist, however). Something I could spend about an hour on, and feel a job well done when I've finished.
  • RPGs, console style: I used to be part of the Verge scene, which always seemed to be about to explode in a mountain of console-style RPGs. I would imagine making a similar RPG engine for Linux would be quite possible....
  • Games that make me think: Like freeciv, but moreso - turn-based strategy (there are more of these for Linux) that could take some time to complete.

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Poll
Of the free games mentioned in the article, I like _________ best.
o Tux Racer 24%
o TORCS 1%
o Pingus 6%
o Icebreaker 1%
o Pysol 1%
o Tux: A Quest for Herring 6%
o Freeciv 20%
o Games? Who needs games when I can be debugging code? I'll take set_self_destruct_time(TIME_NOW) over games any day! 37%

Votes: 62
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Freshmeat
o this article
o The Linux Game Tome
o Linuxgames
o Freshmeat [2]
o Verge
o Also by Denor


Display: Sort:
Linux games wishlist | 56 comments (49 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Linux games.. (3.33 / 6) (#3)
by gblues on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 04:32:00 PM EST

I think what Linux needs is a better API for games. Windows has DirectX, Macintosh has OpenGL, but Linux is a conglomeration of APIs that make it difficult to *run* linux games, much less write them.

The GGI project is/was supposed to help this by providing a unified graphics library, but I think it's dead at this point.

Don't even get me _started_ on X' inadequacies.

Nathan
... although in retrospect, having sex to the news was probably doomed to fail from the get-go. --squinky
SDL (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by msphil on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:03:23 PM EST

http://www.libsdl.org

It's been used in all the Loki titles (except Q3) to date. In addition to providing a framebuffer, it also handles input, sound, and OpenGL initialization. And, it's cross-platform (X, framebuffer console, DirectX, Win32 GDI, Mac, BeOS, maybe others).

So, in one sense the API is already there -- it's just a matter of getting more people to use it.

[ Parent ]

Allegro (none / 0) (#37)
by (void*) on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 09:52:59 PM EST

[promo]
Available here (select the Work-in-progress version).
You should give it a try. It's a game programming library created by Shawn Hargreaves that lets you write games for DOS, Windows, Linux (fbcon, svgalib, ggi), X, BeOS (and soon Mac) without changing a single line of code! It handles video, sound, input, packed files, 3D math, primitives, and lots more.
There are over 500 games made with it (non-commercial though), of which most can be found at the depot.
[/promo]

[ Parent ]
OpenGL... (none / 0) (#43)
by Parity on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 12:34:48 PM EST

Err.... 'Macintosh has OpenGL'??
I think you mean Windows, Linux, Macintosh, SGI, and other have OpenGL...
(Or at least, OpenGL APIs; Linux actually has Mesa, which is only OpenGL 'compatible' not an OpenGL 'implementation' ... the difference between the two is licensing.)

Parity None


[ Parent ]
What about SourceForge? (3.25 / 4) (#4)
by Zeram on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 04:35:14 PM EST

If you go look on SourceForge there are several games there, and there is even a massively multiplayer RTS being worked on.
<----^---->
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
netrek, nethack, linux futures, etc. (3.00 / 4) (#5)
by TuxNugget on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 04:36:39 PM EST

I think most of you "gamers" are addicted to eye candy. I admit I was addicted to Doom a few years back, but having finished it I put it away. I still play Nethack from time to time. Here are 2 real games from ageless times, GPL'd and free as they should be, and some "spam" for our site.

Netrek - multiplayer space battles. uses X11, color 2D screen. Graphics are not as cool as those on their web page, so don't get your hopes up. Otherwise, the game is really well done. Fast UDP packets update game status. RSA encryption-blessed clients keeps robot players out. 15 player real time strategy and first person shooter. Two teams of 4-8 each battle it out for control of the galaxy. Several ship types from scout to battleship to a special starbase (limit 1 per team). You need a good 3 button mouse and a decent net connection to be a decent starbase commander, but a modem and a 2 button mouse are good for cannon fodder battleships. Game features: phasers, torps (2 kinds), tractor and pressor beams, armies & conquering planets. Not as popular as a few years back, but there is almost always a game on continuum.us.netrek.org

NetHack - A precursor to all those games like Ultima, Doom, etc... except this one is text-based graphics and more strategy oriented. Find the Amulet of Yendor and sacrifice it to your god to restore order to the world. Take as long as you like thinking. Lots of violence, death, shoplifting (!) Not able to save everywhere like with doom, etc. It is ok to polymorph your dog, but don't kill and eat him.

Linux Futures - a shameless plug for a futures-market community/game we have under development. Admittedly not as good or as addictive as netrek or nethack. But a lot less expensive than a real broker: lose your tuxnuggets, not your ass.

My Wishlist (3.60 / 5) (#6)
by gauntlet on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 04:37:30 PM EST

I want a coding game.

I want a game that includes in it's design an easy-to-learn/use scripting language with enough capabilities to keep me interested, and some sort of limitations. I have a unit, I code the unit to react to things in certain ways. I send it out into the world, and I win or lose. The "points" I get allow me to write bigger/more complex/somehow more advanced programs, which will be faced with incrementally more challenging situations.

Say, for instance, you have a deathmatch between opposing players, each having to write their own AI given certain strict limitations. Send them out against each other...

Imagine this... You climb into your mech, and it is teleported to the arena. It immediately begins it's initialization search pattern, looking in all directions for threats. Once the immediate sight-lines are cleared, it heads for ammo. Coming around a corner, you see the reverse side of another mech, walking away from yours in a different direction. "Does it have reverse sensors?" you wonder... Then, it turns. "Guess so."

Meanwhile, your mech has finally seen it in one of it's occasional threat searches, and begins to turn toward it. Your rotational equipment is the same, and his bot is staring down yours before you know it. "How much processing speed did he trade for maneuverability," you wonder, waiting to see the opposing mech aim its weapon. After what seems like an eternity, your mech raises its weapon to fire. You breath a sigh of relief.

The opposing mech detects the incoming threat before it has time to mount an attack of its own, its coder having allocated a little too much of his alloted resources to maneuverability. It turns to flee, but it is in a long hallway, and can merely swerve back and forth valiantly, but well within your mech's ability to track it. Moments later, a rocket comes arcing out of your mech, and locks into it's target almost immediately. A huge explosion, and you have destroyed it.

But there are more mechs out there, and this terrain is different from what you have experienced, so you quickly code up a run for cover routine, load it, reboot, and while your mech finds a place to hide, you code up a different strategy to compensate for the long, thin hallways of the world you have just entered...

Now THAT would be a game. :)

Into Canadian Politics?

Check out... (4.00 / 3) (#12)
by Biff Cool on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:01:44 PM EST

Core Wars this is the original programming game (AFAIK).
Also for Windows Mind Rover.


My ass. It's code, with pictures of fish attached. Get over it. --trhurler


[ Parent ]
Stop thinking so low-level (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:04:31 PM EST

There is no reason you can't do somthing like this with a variety of existing game engines. Quake of course comes to mind, and it runs on Linux (Q1 is fully open-source now too!) Why not make a Quake mod, then you can focus on the AI rather than all the rendering, network, sound, etc. programming?

As for the "easy-to-learn/use scripting language", well, just about any language is fairly easy to learn. What's hard are the algorithms. The syntax for C (including QuakeC) is minimal; you could learn all the keywords in a day. Programming however is a little harder, and it doesn't matter how "English" the language looks, it's not going to be easy to write a complicated algorithm. Until you give it a try, that is. :)

[ Parent ]
Halfway there... (4.00 / 3) (#15)
by msphil on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:06:41 PM EST

(OK, it's not really a "mech", per se)

MindRover

Note that this is actually circuit design/logic design with small vehicles, but it does have weapons, sensors, tracks, and other fun stuff. There's a demo for the Windows version.

It's also being ported to Linux (http://www.lokigames.com/products/mindrover/). I don't think a demo is available quite yet. (I was in the beta. It's quite a fun game. Sort of a "thinking man's" toy, as it were.)

Sorry to keep mentioning Loki, but they pretty much are most of the commercial gaming market at this point.

[ Parent ]

Been done before, and will be done again I'm sure (4.33 / 3) (#22)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:28:59 PM EST

Programming based games have been done before, and I'm sure they will be done again. Someone mentioned the timeless classic CoreWars - simple concept, simple implementation, and simply fun! (Based on the last time I played with it :-)

Back in the C64 era, there used to be a tank-game where you programmed your tanks, and turned 'em loose :-) Damned fun, but, for the life of me I can't remember what the heck the name of it was! I managed to beat the game, and overall, it was both fun and educational (and taught some minimalist programming techniques.)

Unluckly, no one has done a more recent one. I've been thinking about implementing a game like this recently (I'm about to become the first game developer to license VBA - VB is a dead simple language, and this would be an interesting use for it, and it's quite a bit more robust than the language in the game I played back on the C64 :-)

I'll have to put this back on my stack of 'to think about' designs. Problem is - if I implement it, and use VBA as the scripting language, I can't port it to Linux. MS would be a little upset at me for re-writing VBA onto Linux, I believe ;-) (And, yeah, I know - GB (Gnome Basic) exists on Linux, along with StarOffice's implementation of VBA, and at least one other upstart VBA implementation under way. If I ever get really serious about it, I'd probably just release the core of the game to someone else to implement on Linux, and let them integrate GB into it.)

Ya know, thinking about it, it's REALLY surprising that there aren't more implementations of games like this. The tools are there, and it's really not what I would call a difficult task - the end user is going to do most of the AI work for you ;-)


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


[ Parent ]
Carnage heart for PSX (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by Defect on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:43:22 PM EST

http://www.gamers.com/game/4217

http://psx.ign.com/reviews/304.html

Just about exactly what you're talking about, mechs and all. You have to code the AI for the mechs, then you send em out. You can create new parts, etc. Great game.
defect - jso - joseth || a link
[ Parent ]
IANALG... (4.71 / 7) (#9)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 04:57:37 PM EST

Let me say up front - I Am Not A Linux Gamer. I have Win2K machines and Win98 machines for that. When I use Linux, it's for studying Linux or for 'professional' reasons.

Right now, companies like iD are saying there isn't enough room in the Linux game market yet to take Linux game development seriously. I still wonder if that is or isn't true - "producing games for Linux encourages more game players to move to Linux, and more developers to create games for the system" is the mantra I hear from time to time from Linux advocates. Problem is this - there doesn't need to be more ports of Windows games to Linux. Linux needs unique content to really grab people's attention, IMHO.

The lack of a single unified API that everyone wants to use for game development really causes some serious suckage. SDL is out there (and is good) but, in reality, it's still not 'there' yet, and not everyone uses it. A single API for game development would be REALLY useful.

Consistent environments are also a problem - while it would seem on the surface that Linux is Linux is Linux no matter what the distro is, that's really not the case. That adds a higher level of difficulty to developers and to Linux game players (and really cuts down on the liklyhood that newbies are going to jump over to Linux to play thier favorite games, since installation CAN be complicated. (Note that I didn't say 'IS' complicated - some things work just fine.)) Some standardization here would also be good, but, lets face it, it's not going to happen - developers are just going to have to adapt to the fact that Linux distros vary. That, or they have to require that you use RedHad Linux 7.0 - 7.1, and nothing else is supported.

What interests me the most, to tell you the truth, isn't classical game development houses producing games for Linux, I'm more interested in some of the smaller groups who are looking for a way to produce games (mostly freeware. I'm looking for more commercial or shareware stuff.) Since no publisher wants to touch Linux games right now, it produces an environment where game developers could start releasing stuff on Linux that has more innovative gameplay - publishers don't like innovation, and Linux is a perfect place for it. Since less games are being produces for Linux, it's a great place for developers to release thier innovative games, since there aren't 100,000 other small-time game developers producing for the same platform.

It should be noted, also, that I'm not doing any game development for Linux (since I'm a small time game developer struggling to get bigger) for multiple reasons - a lot of the 'stuff' that I'd like to develop with isn't there, the lack of a good market makes things iffy for me, and some of the tools that I like just aren't there. While I could cure #1 and #3, that requires more development time on my part to create those tools. If I stop to create those tools, I'm loosing money because I'm not writing games. Right now, I'm just waiting to see what happens with a couple of Linux tools under development, and if any of them become solid and pervasive in the Linux market, I'll probably be all over it.


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


id and Linux (none / 0) (#39)
by jfpoole on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 02:48:54 AM EST

Right now, companies like iD are saying there isn't enough room in the Linux game market yet to take Linux game development seriously.

It depends what you mean by "seriously". The statements made by Todd Hollenshead (id CEO) a couple of weeks ago (available here) seem to indicate that the reason id isn't producing a separate Linux SKU for Q3TA is that the retail performance for the Q3A Linux SKU was poor enough that it was a money losing proposition. Still, they are releasing a Linux binary version, so they're still supporting Linux, if only unofficially.

I still wonder if that is or isn't true - "producing games for Linux encourages more game players to move to Linux, and more developers to create games for the system" is the mantra I hear from time to time from Linux advocates. Problem is this - there doesn't need to be more ports of Windows games to Linux. Linux needs unique content to really grab people's attention, IMHO.

Good point. I can't see gamers switching platforms without a truly compelling reason, such as excellent content that's simply not available under their current platform. I'm not sure when this will happen, since Windows (at this moment) is still a better platform when it comes to games, both from a tecnical standpoint (better libraries, better bleeding-edge hardware support) and a business standpoint (far larger installed base). I can't see a game developer targeting Linux exclusively and hoping to make some form of living out of it.

-j

[ Parent ]

One minor quibble (none / 0) (#41)
by Midnight Ryder on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 10:04:09 AM EST

It depends what you mean by "seriously". The statements made by Todd Hollenshead (id CEO) a couple of weeks ago (available here) seem to indicate that the reason id isn't producing a separate Linux SKU for Q3TA is that the retail performance for the Q3A Linux SKU was poor enough that it was a money losing proposition. Still, they are releasing a Linux binary version, so they're still supporting Linux, if only unofficially.

OK, I do have one minor quibble with this statement - unofficially supporting Linux should not mean much of anything. Yeah, they produce a binary. But it's not a 'real' product, which means that the state of Linux games doesn't benefit from it. Again, just a minor quibble.


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


[ Parent ]
My wishlist (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by evvk on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:07:01 PM EST

I want adventure games in the spirit of old Lucas Arts' games: Zac McKracken, Maniac Mansion, DOTT, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Monkey Island 1&2, The Dig, Sam & Max Hit the Road and last, but not certainly least, Loom. Pretty hand-drawn graphics of course. (I don't like ugly polygon-approximated 3D graphics.) There aren't too many commercial adventure games these days either, let alone good.

Going a little further back.... (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by Denor on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 10:22:55 AM EST

IIRC, there exist interpreters for the old Sierra games from that era - I even think there are compilers so you can make your own (I'm unsure on that point) all for Linux.

I was going to bring up Interactive Fiction - old text games like Zork and many others. There are interpreters for Linux for Z-machine games, as well as other popular IF formats. There are also compilers for linux. Due to the fact that nearly every popular IF language compiles to bytecode, (whether Z-code or something else) everything's fairly platform independant.

The best news, of course, is that they're still being made. The yearly competition just ended - if it's something you like, there's still a niche for developers.


-Denor


[ Parent ]
Another thing we need. (4.16 / 6) (#17)
by Inoshiro on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:09:45 PM EST

One major thing Linux needs is a standard for libraries. Not all libraries, just gaming ones. It's really frustrating to download some of these games (developed on RH or Debian), manually install SDL, manually install SDL_mixer, spend a second or two installpkging the proper 3D libs (thank you, /contrib dir, for having Slackware 3D libs for my Voodoo2), and then having the game not compile, or choke for odd reasons (like versioning problems).

This problem didn't exist in DOS as they could use the hardware directly. You just bought standard hardware (SB or GUS for sound, VESA or VGA video cards, etc). Windows changed that, and MS introduced DirectX to deal with it. The API is "fairly" standard (DirectX 7 games will probably work on DirectX 7.), and allows people to have their games running without having to think.

So what I'd like to see is a nice prorgam which would configure your system for SDL, add any additional SDL parts, parse /proc/pci for the video card and perhaps setup the 3D drivers for you. This would save time and effort. I mean, I'm a programmer, I've setup cross compiler environments more easily than I've installed some video games in Linux. This has to change.



--
[ イノシロ ]
I gotta say it... (4.00 / 2) (#27)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:44:35 PM EST

So what I'd like to see is a nice prorgam which would configure your system for SDL, add any additional SDL parts, parse /proc/pci for the video card and perhaps setup the 3D drivers for you. This would save time and effort. I mean, I'm a programmer, I've setup cross compiler environments more easily than I've installed some video games in Linux. This has to change.

I can't help it. I HAVE say this - you've got an itch, scratch it! :-) Develop this puppy already, and release your alpha version for all the rest of us to hack on :-)

I agree with ya (as mentioned in my rant I posted already concerning similar things). Given how much effort people like Loki put into thier games, I really very surprised this doesn't exist already - heck, it would cut down on support costs, etc. if it was done and shipped with the games. And if it was a nice standard, everyone could just include it in thier game distros, and it would kill quite a few newbie questions (and reduce the gamer frustration levels - when someone gets frustrated, the tell other people about it, and it doesn't improve the Linux game development scene any by having bad PR flying around.) Jeez, I really wish I had an infinite amount of time to throw at an issue like this (heck, I probably should even be waisting time posting on Kuro5hin as it is :-) I'm sure that's the same reason why you haven't broke down and built it yourself ;-)


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


[ Parent ]
Unfortunately (none / 0) (#50)
by Inoshiro on Sun Dec 24, 2000 at 02:50:23 AM EST

My itch to scratch also includes a proper whitelisting setup my for mail, a new setup for a server in my house, Slackware SPARC, K5 admin, job, learning French, learning better algorithm analysis and design techniques, etc, etc, etc..

I really have to divide my time sparingly, :-/ Although I'd certainly be able to help if more people also got on board. A shell script + glue perl + source code could go a long way if designed correctly by the right group of people.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
An even niftier idea: (none / 0) (#51)
by 11223 on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 02:10:26 PM EST

For those that have librep (a lisp variant, on which sawfish is built), one could make the whole thing a librep program. To run, just do "rep 3dsetup.jl" and it'd pop up with a nice GTK+ window and help you configure everything. Of course, you'd need librep, rep-gtk, and gtk+, but most people interested in running games probably have those things installed (and if not, their installation is trivial.)

It's a nice solution because librep has good gtk+ bindings (for a scripting language), and most everybody with librep installed has the gtk bindings installed. Everybody with GNOME has librep installed.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Ug. (none / 0) (#52)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 11:45:59 PM EST

For those that have librep (a lisp variant, on which sawfish is built), one could make the whole thing a librep program. To run, just do "rep 3dsetup.jl" and it'd pop up with a nice GTK+ window and help you configure everything. Of course, you'd need librep, rep-gtk, and gtk+, but most people interested in running games probably have those things installed (and if not, their installation is trivial.

Umm.... that one little part where most people will have it installed, or can install it, is where I have a problem with a plan like this. I mean, if the idea of a Linux Game Configurator is to help install, setup, and configure pieces for games, then there should be very little up-front requirements (IE, a working X, libc - that which is almost garanteed to come with every distro.) Just a thought.


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


[ Parent ]
And an intel processor, too, I see. (none / 0) (#54)
by 11223 on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 05:17:33 PM EST

The problem is that we can't really expect everybody to have just an intel processor, particularly as the market for semi-embedded linux devices grows. I mean, what about those folk with a PPC or something like that? I'm trying to make the requirements reasonable (most everybody has GNOME in some way shape or form installed) but processor-independent.

--
The dead hand of Asimov's mass psychology wins every time.
[ Parent ]

Poke (none / 0) (#55)
by Inoshiro on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 05:27:39 PM EST

I saw no mention of intel procs. A perl script which checks for libraries, or a test program which tries to dlopen what it needs (and perhaps point to ways to get the reqs needed working) would be easy-peasy to do. Parse /proc/cpuinfo and /proc/pci (if it's dependant on some cards) for what it needs, check that the appropriate libraries are available, and then either point the person to a binary distro for their arch, or some source.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
x86 centric? (none / 0) (#56)
by Midnight Ryder on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 06:16:37 PM EST

The problem is that we can't really expect everybody to have just an intel processor, particularly as the market for semi-embedded linux devices grows. I mean, what about those folk with a PPC or something like that? I'm trying to make the requirements reasonable (most everybody has GNOME in some way shape or form installed) but processor-independent.

Hmmm....? Did I mention architecture in there anywhere? I probably shouldn't have mentioned even a functional X running on the machine, but, most newbies are more familiar / comfortable with a GUI based installer - thus I mentioned having X working. My thought isn't for the hardcore gamers, who will stop at nothing to make a game run (but a configurator for games would make things easier), I'm thinking towards newbies. Want more people getting involved in Linux gaming? They can't all be hardcore Linux users - you already have that as your base for gamers.

My concept is to assume almost NOTHING about the original machine. Assume they have it up to the point where there is a running distribution of Linux of some flavor. Fromt there, the configurator would grab what the user is got on board for hardware (is this an x86 based machine, an Alpha, PPC, etc.), then look at what needs to be done.

And why would you assume that GIMP is loaded on the machine? Seems silly to assume that to me - but then again, I'm a Windows based game developer who uses Linux for none of my game development (but have it loaded, and do use it from time to time.)

And even as a Windows developer, I'm still aware there are other processors out there. In my office I've got 3 x86 based machines, a 166 Alpha, and a couple of 68000 and 68030 machines (Amigas). Sheesh. (And that's not counting the 'vintage machines' either.)


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


[ Parent ]
It's a pitty... (none / 0) (#53)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 11:50:11 PM EST

My itch to scratch also includes a proper whitelisting setup my for mail, a new setup for a server in my house, Slackware SPARC, K5 admin, job, learning French, learning better algorithm analysis and design techniques, etc, etc, etc..

Thus, why I mentioned at the end you were probably in the same shape as me, time wise :-)

Ya know - it's a pitty that so many people with good ideas can't have more time to contribute to projects! The universe is so unfair - we need 48 or 72 hours in the day :-)


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


[ Parent ]
DirectX (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by linklater on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 05:27:15 AM EST

I gotta say it... DirectX has finally matured into a very effective gaming API. When it first came on the scene it was indeed the API from HELL with obfuscated interfaces and random sprinklings of bugs. But, after working with version 8 (which Finally works properly on the NT kernel - well, Win2K..) it's now at the point where its really quite nice to work with.

One of the reasons I've always made console games is the sheer bloody awfulness of PC game development... No fixed peg to hang your game from, and new hardware features every 3 months to cope with etc etc. While MS have made things considerably easier with DirectX, Linux is still languishing in the world of Mesa3D, SVGA, and painful driver installation problems. OK, it's not as bad as it could be (at least I don't need to hand-craft autoexec's), but when it took me 2 hours to get Quake3 running on my Linux box, and then only under a root XWindows session, it hit me that Linux still has a way to go regarding the 'simple plug and play gaming experience.'

I do hope it gets there though 8)... Since ditching Windows from my home PC's I'm forced to play Carmageddon 3 at work... there again, I do own the company 8)

---- 'Who dares not speak his free thought is a slave.' - Euripides
[ Parent ]

One simple question (3.40 / 5) (#18)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:15:39 PM EST

I fear this is going to be taken the wrong way, but I'm serious when I ask: Why do you want to see games for Linux? Assuming you have enough money for a PC, is it really that difficult to boot up another OS, or flip on your console?

This is not a troll or a flame, I'm just really curious.

Workstation+Server (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by spinfire on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:28:01 PM EST

Not every workstation or server is just that, in fact, my box at home is both a moderate traffic webserver and mailserver as well as a workstation. As much as I wouldn't mind popping into windows for a bit, I cannot bring the server down for such a long time, simply to play some game.

Though it would be nice to have a separate box for windows/gaming/DVDs/whatever, that requires space and money as well. Therefore, i definetly see a reason to support Linux Games and other windows-land software in Linux, even if I spend most of my time IRCing or Codeing and not gaming.


Freelance Hacker. spinfire on FooNET.
[ Parent ]

Difficult, no. Hassle, yes. (4.66 / 3) (#21)
by iCEBaLM on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:28:52 PM EST

It isn't difficult, but it is quite annoying. Having to close down all the apps you're working on and reboot just to play a game shouldn't be necessary. Consoles aren't the answer either, if he wanted a console he would have bought one, not to mention many games are better on the computer and simply not available on a console.

-- iCEBaLM

[ Parent ]
Confirms the obvious (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:33:09 PM EST

That you're lazy :) Seriously though, just because a few Linux users can't be bothered to reboot or get another box because their web-server has to be running constantly is not nearly enough reason to get developers to write for Linux. I mean, think about it, it really isn't.

[ Parent ]
Think about it (none / 0) (#28)
by evvk on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 06:07:47 PM EST

Suppose you used some non-mainstream OS. Wouldn't you really like to be able to do everything there? Booting to another OS just to play a game for few minutes is cumbersome. Compare it to a 24h internet connection (ethernet, cable, dsl, anything) versus dialing up (modem, isdn). Having to dial up just to check for new mail or to check for something (e.g. mathworld when it still was while doing math excercises) is cumbersome.

[ Parent ]
I think I understand (none / 0) (#29)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 06:33:38 PM EST

I think I understand the reason you want Linux games. Actually I was pretty sure I understood the reason that most Linux users want Linux games before I posted the question, but I just wanted to ask for the heck of it.

What I'm trying to do is get you to see it from the other side. For the same reason, if I am typically designing games for Windows, it would be a pain for me to switch over to Linux all the time to test my Linux port. If I am putting in the effort to make a game, is it so unfair of me to ask you to reboot? :)

Note that I'm trying to avoid the typical "Linux games don't make enough money to justify a port" argument (which is perfectly valid). Instead I'm trying to explain why someone like myself doesn't bother making Linux-specific games or ports for fun. In addition to a plethora of other problems, it's just too much of a damn pain in the ass! Personally, if I were to do a port, I'd do Mac next since it's the next biggest market. But even they don't get very many ports because their gamer market is too small.

OTOH, as I pointed out in another thread, if you're into doing Quake mods, then it's automatically ported to Linux. IMHO, something like Quake is the perfect "Linux game development environment". Perhaps you might spend some time playing with the various Quake mods out there, there are a bunch.

[ Parent ]
Quake.. (none / 0) (#33)
by evvk on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 07:03:24 PM EST

Well, I don't like quake or the genre in general. I used to like Castle Wolfenstein 3D, original Doom and Descent but that's it.

I know it is an annoyance to port a game, but think about it this way: by using standard APIs (e.g. OpenGL) the game should run on with minimal effort on almost any *nix-like platform (perhaps even OS X; although there is not much market on the other *nixes) and with a little more effort even on Windows - which is "least standard" platform after Apple changes to OS X.

[ Parent ]
Oh yeah (none / 0) (#30)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 06:39:53 PM EST

One other thing I wanted to point out:

Booting to another OS just to play a game for few minutes is cumbersome.

That's not a good attitude :) "Just to play a game"?! Why would anyone want to make a game for someone who thinks so little of them? (j/k sort of.. but you get my drift?)

[ Parent ]
portable code (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by mikpos on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 06:43:10 PM EST

The easiest way out of this is just to write portable code. If you stick to cross-platform libraries like OpenGL (plus GLUT if you like), SDL and maybe OpenAL once it matures a bit, you can increase your market by probably a good 10% without any effort (beyond the few hours it takes to recompile everything).

I haven't worked with DirectX, so I don't know if it's programmatically any better than the above (I've heard opinions on both sides, which says it's at least different). Still, I think it makes good sense to write portable code, apart from marketing reasons. If nothing else, it should help tremendously in the removal of heisenbugs. Getting /. long-hairs to play it is just a bonus :)

[ Parent ]

Not that easy (2.00 / 1) (#32)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 06:59:59 PM EST

If you stick to cross-platform libraries like OpenGL (plus GLUT if you like), SDL and maybe OpenAL once it matures a bit, you can increase your market by probably a good 10% without any effort (beyond the few hours it takes to recompile everything).

Actually that's false. If you stick to OpenGL you will definitely be shrinking your market. For all the additional Macs, Linux and BeOS players you get, you will be losing a larger population of Windows users without OpenGL cards (D3D supports virtually every card).

Still, you could accommodate both. You could support OpenGL and Direct3D. Is it worth it? Financially.. typically no.

Also one should not forget the additional cost & effort of compiling, testing, additional hardware, support and distribution to all those additional platforms. Even Quake never broke even on its Linux efforts.

I will however give you the best reason I can think of for porting to Linux: Free servers! If you're writing a multiplayer game, and you're expecting the community to run servers, I think it would be a very good idea to write a Linux port, including a playable client, in order to entice the community to do so. Strangely enough, I rarely see Linux fans making this point.

[ Parent ]
opengl.. (none / 0) (#35)
by evvk on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 07:32:18 PM EST

Why do people always talk of cards supporting an API? Cards don't support an API! The drivers, wrappers, whatever do!

You know, Quake3 uses OpenGL. Carmack has said, that he will not uses D3D because it sucks. He had, in his .plan or something (use the google) an example: 10 lines OpenGL, 100 lines D3D (or something like that). I have not personally used D3D but to my knowledge, D3D is difficult to use and requires much code for simple even things. I have, however, used OpenGL and the API is quite nice and very easy and simple to use.

[ Parent ]

OT: API wars (none / 0) (#36)
by spacejack on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 08:08:06 PM EST

Why do people always talk of cards supporting an API? Cards don't support an API! The drivers, wrappers, whatever do!

Ok, well, if you want to get pedantic, sure. There are fewer consumer cards with OpenGL drivers than those with D3D drivers.

You know, Quake3 uses OpenGL. Carmack has said, that he will not uses D3D because it sucks.

D3D certainly did suck, especially back before DrawPrimitive when you had to build byte-code execute buffers by hand. It was brutal.

Over the years however, D3D has sucked less and less. Nowadays, it almost doesn't suck at all. Even so, OpenGL is still easier to use (I really like programming for OpenGL, however that doesn't really impact my decision to use it or not). So OpenGL does get points for requiring less effort to get up & running. But once you've got your low-level API calls running it's not much different really. The cards all do basically the same things; the APIs just have different ways to do it (and yes, both can be a pain in the ass under certain circumstances). OpenGL used to provide more helper functions, but even that's changed now that D3D can load TGAs & BMPs automatically (whereas you'd still have to write your own bitmap file reader for OpenGL).

OTOH, some developers prefer D3D because it is closer to the "metal" than OpenGL. It also allows you to write directly to the frame buffer, which is not allowed under OpenGL, and provides more information about the underlying hardware specifics. Before the 3D cards came of age, this was essential to get some of the crappier cards to perform half decently. Nowadays it's not such a big deal unless you want to accommodate older systems.

But I think the 3D API wars are a bit off topic here ;)

[ Parent ]
Not quite... (none / 0) (#38)
by DJBongHit on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 01:37:05 AM EST

Why do people always talk of cards supporting an API? Cards don't support an API! The drivers, wrappers, whatever do!
This is true in most cases, but there are cards on the market (and I think even NVidia cards do this, but I may be mistaken, it may just be professional cards) which have a hardware-accelerated OpenGL pipeline - in some cases the driver just tells the card that the user called "glTranslatef(1.25, 5.0, 0.0)" or "glTexImage3D(GL_TEXTURE_3D, 0, GL_RGB, 1, 2, 3, 0, GL_RGB, GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE, image)" and the card keeps track of everything itself - from the OpenGL states to textures to geometry information.

But yeah, in most cases the card just draws polygons where it's told and it's up to the driver to provide the card with this information.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
some of us (2.50 / 2) (#25)
by 31: on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:42:49 PM EST

don't have copies of windows. I've avoided buying premades (dell, or others), so the only legal copy I have of windows is for my laptop... which, well, doesn't do so well for games :)

I guess getting a console could work as an alternative, but then i'd need to get a better tv...

-Patrick
[ Parent ]
A simple answer (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by 0x00 on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 07:31:41 PM EST

If Linux doesn't have games it will never dominate the home desktop. When people aren't working on their computer they may want to play, and at the moment, Linux does not provide this option. How many times have you heard "I'd switch to Linux, but it doesn't play games". Its one of the main reasons why people aren't motivated to change. Linux needs games, purely to push it to the home user.

--
0x00

That fat clown just fragged you!

[ Parent ]
You got that right! (4.00 / 2) (#44)
by Paul_F on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 04:03:36 PM EST

If Linux doesn't have games it will never dominate the home desktop.

And even with games it will never dominate the desktop either! I like Linux, don't get me wrong, I've been running it for about 5 years now but I don't see the day ever coming when Linux will overtake Windows in popularity. Games or no games I just don't see it ever happening.

Maybe the biggest excuse you hear now is "I'd switch to Linux, but it doesn't play games". but even with games people will come up with another excuse. Like Linux doesn't support hardware, or Linux is too difficult to configure, or Linux doesn't run Internet Explorer.

As far as the main reason why people aren't motivated to change is that they already have Windows, and applications and data that rely on Windows and as far as they're concerned Windows was free, 'hey, it came with the PC'. It's all they know, and all anyone around them knows too. And more than they want to know also.

Well lots of people can point out problems it's finding solutions that's impressive. I'll just point out a couple more of Linux's problems and then anyone can connect the dots and see that the solutions ain't never gonna happen. The other side of the coin with open source is Linux's biggest problem. There's no central management, no one at the helm controlling Linux's direction. And it's not just going to drift in the right direction fast enough for anyone.

You can sit in K5 all day tooting your horn and it's not going to make one little bit of difference in the grand scheme of things. Linus has control of the kernel, and that's a good thing. One of Linux's greatest strengths is the stability of it's kernel. Past that it's anyone's, and no one's game. Why just the sheer amount of effort wasted in debating the best desktop environment is staggering. If all of that effort was funneled into a project who knows what could have come out of it. We all know what's come out of all of the debating already. Nothing.

All of the duplication of effort is wasted. How many filesystems are there? Which one is best? How many compilers are out there? Again, which one should we use? How many distributions? How many MP3 players, downloaders, this that and the other things do we really need? At some point choice is no longer such a good thing. But more and more almost worthless apps keep pouring out everyday. And the big picture is totally ignored. Now you want games. Yeah that'll make everything just peachy I'm sure.

Linux is adrift and going nowhere. On paper the bazaar looked good, in practice it's been a failure. The solution? Unworkable, no one is going to knuckle down and work under strict management for nothing. Heck, for that anyone should expect to receive a paycheck.

Sorry if I come off like a Microsoft loving Linux basher but I'm just trying not to get blinded by ideology or anything here. I'm just saying it as I see it. Humans just don't accomplish complex projects without central authority. Plan the work, then work the plan. Running about willy nilly in a million directions at once rarely achieves any desired effect.

Linux has made some impressive strides over the years but it has not gone nearly far enough fast enough. And the big picture has been totally ignored. web reference Not that I think their idea is best (I run Slackware note how Pat is not on the list) but I use it as a reference on how no one can get it together.

Yeah this post won't attract too many flames... heh

[ Parent ]

I'll believe it when I see it (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by speek on Wed Dec 20, 2000 at 05:44:41 PM EST

Linux is adrift and going nowhere. On paper the bazaar looked good, in practice it's been a failure

When I see progress slowing, I'll believe this. From where I sit, however, it's only accelerating.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

*nix supporters should stay focused (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by spacejack on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 01:38:57 PM EST

When I see progress slowing, I'll believe this. From where I sit, however, it's only accelerating.

When I got a web host I specifically chose a Unix system over NT (ok, that's not Linux, but close enough for this argument). That is; I consider *nix/Apache superior to Windows2000 as a web server -- for both security and solid, free tools. I simply don't think it's in the interest of the Open Source/free OS people to try to mutate it into a consumer-friendly, home-user/games OS.

Furthermore, I think effort would be better spent to ensuring *nix as the prime server OS. I've already seen a couple of projects I worked on switch over to NT, and I find that a lot more troubling than the lack of games..

Also, contrary to popular belief, games tend not to be the thing that popularizes an OS for the masses (in fact, it can kill it [eg. Amiga, Atari]) -- it's the ability to do work on it; to bring work home from the office. MS is where they are today because of the IBM legacy, then the DOS legacy, then the Win3.1 legacy, the Win95 legacy.. etc. The backwards compatibility is what makes it an unstable OS, but at the same time provides it with such a huge market.

[ Parent ]
Brain Fart... (2.50 / 4) (#23)
by Midnight Ryder on Tue Dec 19, 2000 at 05:30:28 PM EST

Oops - realized it a minute later, even after hitting the preview button. The game I was refering to was NOT a C64 era game, it was an early Amiga era title. Unluckly, I still can't remember the damned name :-P


Davis Ray Sickmon, Jr

Owner / President

MidnightRyder.Com - game developer, among other things


A True Linux Gamer's Perspective (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by krach42 on Thu Dec 21, 2000 at 04:45:54 AM EST

I've read through many of these comments, and alas, I've not read one true shread of comment that accurately describes my position, and thus, I see the need for my comment.

First, some back story... I was an avid windows user, but liked the ideas of linux, and how it worked; people working for free because they want the best product possible, and thus, the very person making your programs, is the very person looking to use the product, as opposed to the possibility in the market of, "Oh... I don't WANT to write this code, when am _I_ going to use it?" Anyways, I digress. So, there I was a windows user like no other, I had linux installed more as, "eh... something to play with in my bored hours" But that all changed one fretful night in Albuquerque, in a hot room ducked in the recesses of the Convention Center attending a GAMMAthon (gaming group for Albuquerque, good people, I like 'em)

Me and my fellow friends drove 3 hours up to Albuquerque (not counting time spent collecting people up, and assuming good time; one driver got a ticket on the way) Anyways, one person had his computer essentially refuse to work, my dear friend Lyle had his fan for his GeForce pop off again, so he was frustrated, I had another friend who couldn't play StarCraft, because there were too many people examining his harddrive through his shared drive... and amoung all my friends having the most annoyed time in their life... there was I... I was trying to install Half-Life so I could play Counter-strike <PLUG TYPE="Shameless">oh god, I love CounterStrike...</PLUG> Well, little did I know at the begining, that before the night was over, I would have installed Half-life a number of times, sufficient to memorize the install key, WITHOUT TRYING... *sigh* Well, after all was said and done; I breathed a sigh of relief after it was all over, and I decided, that "If Windows ain't gonna work... I'm gonna try only Linux!" and since then, I've had Linux, and ONLY linux on my real machine... (Don't get me wrong, I have a VMWare version of Windows running, but we can all attest that it's insufficient for running games, and also insufficient for doing much of anything, but alas, I've yet to find a Quicktime player that actually works on the new Final Fantasy trailer which I've now become quite addicted to <PLUG TYPE="Shameless">MMMmmm... Final Fantasy the movie...</PLUG>

Well, anyways, I now have Linux and ONLY Linux running on my machine; with Wine installed so I can run StarCraft... Through Loki Games, I've found Quake3, UT, and Myth II (a new game my LAN group is wanting to play) and might I say, I'm very happy at all of them. I bought Q3A on my way home from GAMMAthon, and I had a friend buy me Myth II as a Christmas present (we randomly found the Linux version at a Hastings) and I'm running the free binaries for UT with my friends data (yes, yes, no money to Loki there, but hold your horses) I'm just now going to register Myth II, and actually complain that I didn't get a CD key for Q3A (is this a common problem?) and once they release their GOTY version of UT, I'm ordering that special priority. I may even order SimCity 3000, and Descent III (I have a win32 copy of the later, but with incompatible data files, I need the linux version... wonder if they give discounts for "upgrading")

This long rant all boils down to a) I don't reboot to windows, because I don't HAVE windows on my machine (I may for a short time until a DVD player for Linux comes out compatible with my drive... perhaps I should complain to the company) and b) I don't EVER intend to run windows again on my machine, because as much as you can say that windows provides a supperior gaming environment to Linux, the fact remains that Linux is far supperior in stability than Windows (I'm sure I don't have to harp on this matter, but for the records, while I had few problems with Windows, I have even less now, even including trying to get XXXxxx game running on WINE or whatever) and c) I'm going to do everything possible in my capacity as a consumer to let Loki Games (and other commerical companies) that I'm very willing to support the Linux Gaming cause, because I don't want to be FORCED to use Windows in any way, shape, or form. PERIOD. I want my alternative, and I want it now!

Now, I apologize for the long rant, but this point, I felt, had to be made, and I'm willing to make myself a target, by standing on my soap-box, and saying that Windows should NEVER be required!


Krach42, the universe's most death-resistant entity. *** VACUUM BAD!!! ***

I give you credit (none / 0) (#49)
by spacejack on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 01:42:46 PM EST

I give you credit for going the extra mile to make Linux work for you as a gaming OS. But I seriously doubt many people are willing to do the same.

[ Parent ]
Incentive to make Linux games? (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by darthaya on Fri Dec 22, 2000 at 02:34:12 AM EST

How do you make money if you have to make it GPLed, and free for download all over the place? And you are not going to make a single penny out of technical support, most gamers would expect the game to WORK right out of the box. No sweat.

THe only reason that I am still happily using windows 98 is that I can play Diablo II, starcraft, final fantasy 8, Sacrifice, unreal tournament and a number of others on it without having to worrying about the incompatibility and also the configuration. Games have to be the most fool-proof software and NOTHING in linux so far could be callled fool-proof.

Not to discourage independent game developers. But the key to the market success is the involvment of big name game houses. Only if blizzard decides to make a linux game...

Linux games wishlist | 56 comments (49 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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