Any Prospects for Serious Linux Games?

What would it take to start a serious Linux game development movement?

When you look back to the roots of PC gaming specifically the DOS era games we see that many games emerged for that OS. Dos was a popular OS more so than Linux is now. With the advent more user friendly Linux options like Ubuntu, Kubuntu, etc. etc. could we see an increase in games?

Check out this innovator of early PC DOS game developments for pointers.-

I mean folks, back then when you played a shareware game you had hours of fun for free. You could contact the game developer/publisher and buy the game if you were down with it. You were down with it in no time at all. The games back then were edgy, raw, you didn’t really care bout any reviews. You only cared about what you and your friends thought about the game play in the end. Outside of a those who knew what was going on the rest of the world probably didn’t have a clue. Sorry, grandpa didn’t know jack about shareware gaming. Maybe that was the big appeal for gaming back then. Later on if you didn’t own a PC you weren’t in on the fun. Pc gamers could get into level design and make their own custom levels and cheats.

Back to my original question. When I look at Linux gaming I only see a few rag tag choices here and there. If a big game developer feels generous they will offer a Linux port of their popular game. Which brings me back to the spirit of DOS gaming in the early 90’s. What does it take to get one or two developers started in this manner of development? Maybe it’s the fact that Linux lacks key development tools for gaming? Or the DOS shareware developers had more software development tools that the average Linux developer has currently? Could it have been that the mindset of a DOS shareware game developer was more extreme? They must have seen a need to offer a new kind of gamer more options than were possible with the console games at the time. Plus give gamers the option to make their own custom DOS game upgrades.

What of the current mindset of todays gamers? Are they willing to look for off brand entertainment like independent games? If the word on the street was that some upcoming Linux games were the stuff would kids care? Do young people today look for entertainment that counters the adult mainstream entertainment culture?

When kids played games back in the early 90’s you can believe those gamers liked the fact that parents were clueless. A lot of entertainment media was passed around back in the 90’s from hand to hand. If a store like Walmart sold an album etc. you knew it was probably lame unless it had an parental advisory. Maybe concepts like this are dead now I don’t know. And if these factors had any bearing on the mindset of shareware gaming in the 90’s one can only speculate.

Linux seems a bit outside of the mainstream culture of computer users. This could make one wonder if some people are thinking about inventing new forms of gaming media for Linux.

What if Verse just dropped on the scene in some big way with ties to Linux gaming? Meanwhile Blenders game features progressed to a level that offered Linux game developers a solid development platform. Would we see a noticeable movement of Linux game development?

PC gaming is big part of the reason why we have the fast consumer 3d graphics boards, cpu’s and mainboards we see currently. Know while the hardware is here and now, there aren’t a lot of cool PC games that make use of this hardware. 3d artist PC use practices are not shared by mainstream computer users. Eventually we may be the only market for advanced PC tech. Computers would have looked a lot different today had it not been for the age of Dos shareware gaming. Maybe Linux can usher in a new age of 3d computer PC gaming that is quickly moving off to console markets.

What are your thoughts? Do you think PC games are almost on their way out of the gaming scene? Do you care about PC gaming on Linux? Could Linux save PC gaming?

Dos??? What is it?? :slight_smile:
Amiga and Atari were popular and great systems
But it was an age of “programers (almost) only games”.
Now, only graphics are important, unfortunatelly
I guess that a solid C/C++ game programmer never appear around
Blender forums?!
Oh well…

I’d say it was a lack of standardization. Linux has the worst standardization out of any OS available. On the plus side, it has the most choice but for gaming, it doesn’t help developers. How is a developer supposed to ensure that a game will run correctly for people using x window manager with y kernel using as many off-the-shelf hardware components with hacked drivers?

Also, with such a low market share (and lower it for gaming), support costs would outweigh profit.

The first unix-based system that games developers target after Windows is Mac OS X and the state of gaming there seems to be better than Linux but still pretty bad.

One issue is Microsoft’s proprietary APIs, which are not available on either Linux or Mac but have gained serious ground in the gaming industry. It’s not impossible to convert across but it takes much more time.

I think software like cedega will help but if anything, it will help out Mac gaming because they have such little choice in graphics hardware and the most standardized OS that it’s easy to support. The consumer Macs have just four cards - Intel GMA, Radeon X1600, GF 7300GT and GF 7600GT. Even Parallels are looking to get full 3D in their virtualization software for Mac by the end of the year.

But, if it gets popular with developers because it’s easier to support Macs then it might improve the chances for better Linux gaming too since it’s the same technology.

Nonetheless I’m seeing the same trend of people moving to consoles too and I think that’s a good thing. Consoles are great for gaming because they are heavily optimized for it and far cheaper than a PC of equivalent gaming power. They just aren’t good for FPS games.

I don’t particularly play games any more though and I can’t say I miss it really. I tried some game demos recently - Quake 4, Call of Duty 2 and Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness and I was just bored. CoD 2 wasn’t bad but still meh.

Yeah OTO it’s like that nowadays. If there’s any real mental pain of coding involved most folks won’t do any development. I think that future game developers will use tools that work like Macromedia Director, etc.

A game development system for the Linux OS structure that allows turn key game development wouldn’t be so bad maybe.

I wonder if a Linux game development structure could conform to a a desktop architecture like KDE or Gnome. Then the rest of it’s key elements maybe configured to work with Xserver, etc. I’m not an advanced coding whiz. Just tossing out ideas whatever the case my be. Then each game could be developed like a Module that fits into the main system. First you get the game base development system configured on your rpm or deb based system. Then the Game Module will run without a problem. As I said, I don’t know I’m just fishing.

Who knows if some people got a modular games development system going like this for Linux, it could also work for windows. It would be cool if there was a PC game development platform that was as flexible as say Apache server.

It seems like console games are not so good for the advancement of game development technology. Game developers need to be able to think outside the box. PC games are not limited to one architecture or another.

It might just be possible that consoles will bring a end to progressive game technology. If everything works with a RCA cable, why invent another interface? Consoles are game appliances. You buy a game, plug it in and play it just as it is.

I think that the biggest problem for PC game is the lack of innovation. As soon as technology conforms to one standard most people stick to it. PC game developers have more power at hand than console developers. PC games are the only reason why we have advanced consumer PC’s that are powerful enough for cg development. If advanced 3d tech was only developed console games would Nvidia or ATI keep developing similar updates for consumer PC’s?

I don’t really play the latest games either. They are boring because they’re just products designed for basic reactionary entertainment. The current games have absolutely no soul or real complexity. I find more enjoyment in 3d modeling and learning to code than playing the current crop of PC games.

It would be nice to play a real PC game again that has more action than a good game of Checkers.:smiley:

doesn’t playstation 3 use Linux?

Not sure if the PS3 uses Linux. I know that you will be able to get Linux for it on a removable HDD. As for the normal operating system if would make sense to use Linux (or a modified version) because Linux was running on software emulated Cell processors even before real ones were available.

Linux does have standardisation coming in. Its Known as LSB (Linux Standard Base) all major Linux distros are now LSB complaint (I think Gentoo only lacks RPM package support) so standardisation isn’t really much of an issue anymore.

ID Software produce Linux ports of most of their games, even if their games are all about the monster in the closet :P.

All the key development tools are on Linux, SDL is a great libary for handling input, X windowing system and heaps more. OpenAL is a very powerful cross-platform audio library (many windows based games are starting to use it over directsound) and I find OpenGL to be nicer to use than Direct3D. The Linux port of Quake 4 uses OpenGL/OpenAL and SDL under Linux, Direct X under Windows. Basically in order to make a game work well on all operating systems you can use SDL instead of DirectX, OpenAL instead of DirectSound and OpenGL instead of Direct3D. Creative are developing Linux drivers for their X-Fi cards which will finally introduce EAX to Linux through OpenAL.

Its important to realise that Linux and Mac OS X are not the same technology but they do share some similarities being both Unix like systems. Mac OS X resembles BSD more than Linux. Mac OS X uses many of the same core components as BSD.

I think the standardisation one is massive. Worth saying even using Direct X that debugging across graphics cards can be a serious pain.

There is also the perception in the industry that you won’t be able to sell a consumer level piece of software on Linux, since they’re used to getting it for free. Whether or not this is true of course is debatable.

I’ve been working writing games for mobile phones for several years using J2ME. J2ME as a platform has now got to the point where it would actually be a reasonable virtual console like thing to implement on a desktop, and on a desktop would certainly support PSP and DS level games quite easily. (For the technically minded JSR-184 for the M3G spec). The dev tools are all your standard Java stuff, so Eclipse, Ant etc. If Linux came with a player and JAM (application manager, for installing, uninstalling and managing saved games) then potentially it would explode in popularity.

I think for Linux targetting the hardware too closely goes too much against the ethos of the platform - you need to target a virtual machine (which is itself portable) of some kind.

Most people who buy a computer for gamng dont use linex as an operating system therefore games would be almost impossible to sell…

Just my 2 cents :stuck_out_tongue:

M3ta: That doesn’t mean that people who use Linux wouldn’t want to play games.

Most people who buy a computer for gamng dont use linex as an operating system therefore games would be almost impossible to sell…

Just my 2 cents :stuck_out_tongue:

Many people will probibly buy it for development things. Sony might try selling some RAM extentions. If they did, that would prompt me to buy it.

I agree… even if apps like mudbox are reported to easily fit 3 million
polygons mesh in 1 Gb of ram this doesn’t means 256Mb will be
enough for any use…

However about Linux Games the situation is …fragmented.

On the commercial side, there are lots of developers complaining about the
lack of userbase and the lack of “standards” in linux, even thinking that a
port is not rewriting a project from zero, too often the hacks needed to
optimize on windows are too much…

On the freeware/OS games side, there are just 2 zillion games that are just
programming exercise, they’re not refined, nor in graphics, ui, etc.etc.
Just 10-20 linux open sources games can be really considered games,
the other will come with ugly graphics (sometimes sub-DOS standards),
standard fonts and unuser-friendly UI (gamers just love things like menu
remembering the last option you choosed and reselecting that when you
open the menu…). Still, the lack of some kind of “standardization” for
audio or net libraries is an issue.
And still lots interesting open sourced windows games aren’t ported to linux
(some examples in ogre3d forums) for lack of developers…

The situation is a catch 22: Companies make games for Windows because the majority of PC owners use it (by default) and would port them to Linux too if more people used it, unfortunately they won’t since the games are made for Windows…

Economics lesson 1 - Money drives the market :slight_smile:

I see lot’s of the post here referring to PC games as merely products on a store shelf.

I brought up shareware games because that type of game delivery system seems to it fit some of Linux concepts. You would think that a PC game development system could be offered up with some basic level of game play. As far as “basic” I mean something like a plot, a world, game levels, characters, A.I., physics, multilevel game play, etc., etc. Often I find this basic type of “generic” game play setup offered by most commercial game companies now. Quite honestly, it ain’t anything to write home about. You play one FPS, you played them all.

I could see a system of game development that offered basic generic game development features. This system could abide by or emulate the basic OpenGL standards, Directx, audio, GPU’s, CPU’s, 3DNow, etc. As a media platform PC games could offer general content developers with so many more profit points than consoles.

Say one could develop a PC game like say, like one can a content management website system. They could use a game to pump out advertising dollars, film promotion, music promotion, etc.

It seems that the ideas behind PC game development have fallen behind other current concepts for new digital media development. PC game development offerings are quickly reverting back to retail media concepts from the 80’s. PC games can be more than just retail products.

To me PC’s are more in favor of digital media development businesses. Console game developments are more in favor of hardware vendors. In the past PC game media companies and their customers had hardware companies servicing their every need. The development habits of PC game media companies and game consumers controlled the course of PC game hardware developments.

When I saw the Project Offset game development that makes use current PC technology I could see that some developers get the point of “real” PC gaming. I also think about my own use of PC’s for 3d modeling, scene development, rendering, etc. I think of all of the choices I have to create 3d games and 3d media content on a PC.

I would love to see PC games development options like the ones that are available for other new digital media developers. I really don’t see this happening on a windows PC platform.

Hey I’m just an end user. I’m only concerned about creating digital media content. As a PC user I want more digital media content offered to me at the click of my mouse. Anyone that gets wise to the fact that it’s content creation and content use that counts will win this one.

I would say that basic content development is the main reasoning behind my use of Blender for all of these years. And it’s the reason why I switched every PC that I use over to Linux. If I were a PC game developer I would be searching for a way to get my content out there with the least amount of resistance. It looks like Linux is the option for basic PC media development in many areas.

Why not create serious games on Linux? Maybe it’s too early to tell what ideas Linux PC developers have up their sleeves for gaming. With quad CPU’s replacing singles and more high speed Internet options who knows?

It sounds like you are describing a game engine. That’s essentially what they do in that they provide all the lower level functionality required so the developer can focus on the game design. The trouble is that not every game engine is suitable for every game and again you run into the problem about whether it’s profitable to port the game engine across. One example is the Havok engine, which was recently ported to OS X. Without that, it would just be impossible to port the games using that engine. But even then the people who are porting the games would have to buy the licenses and again money is a factor.

My job is doing this, but on phones and not PCs. There’s no point in doing it on PCs as production costs are so ludicrously high (for a direct x c++ game), and the market isn’t as big. You’ll find the only notable exception here is Flash games, but Flash game creators are not exactly compensated adequately financially.

PCs as a content viewing platform are going to go the way of the dodo within about 5 years, especially with the PS3 and Wii having web capability out of the box, and as high speed mobile connections finally get mainstream.

The problem with all these non-PC platforms is a distribution one, not a creation one. ie on consoles you have to satisfy the manufacturer that they are going to carry the game, and on phones you (generally) have to satisfy the operator that they will carry the game, and you will have to pay them the certification fee. On phones this isn’t strictly true, as you can deploy titles outside of the carrier relationship, but in that case you need serious marketing clout - but no more than you’re going to need to make your PC game remotely successful.

Thought I’d quickly add a note about cost of entry into a marketplace. If the cost of entry is too low (either financially or in skills required) that virtually anyone can do it, then the bottom will fall out of the market. This is what has happened to Flash games, and web development more generally. It’s simply too easy. Some things (such as 3D graphics) have a level of inherent complexity that most people will never learn, but even so the democratisation of tools in the 3D industry has led to a collapse of fees people can charge in the wider market, and it is no longer a viable career unless you can hit the top rung almost straight away, as you can bet there will always be a bunch of just out of college teenagers desperate for their first job and willing to do it for nothing.

Personally I wish a Vmware virtual machine had graphics card access. Then I would use a linux distro and virtualise windows when needed to play games. Perhaps it would be too slow but it would be well worth trying.

Games are the only reason I keep coming back to Windows. Linux compatible games would be truely awesome and yes I would be willing to pay for them.

How I hate the M$ monopoly.


That’s what I mentioned above. Parallels is a competitor to VMWare and they’ve said that they are working on full speed 3D gaming by the end of the year for the Mac version. They also make a Linux version so it might well go into all their products. What I’ve read is that two operating systems can’t control the same hardware at the same time. The CPU, HD etc can be shared but the GPU has to be controlled by one or the other. I’ve been trying out Crossover recently and it seem to be able to do 3D so I’m thinking if Parallels can get full Windows compatibility for everything else and patch in the Wine DirectX stuff, you’ll get a fully compatible, hardware accelerated VM. It still won’t be as good as native because the VM has limited resources but it should be good enough for most things.

I like the idea of Crossover more because it doesn’t have the same resource limitations and you don’t need to even run Windows. However, the comptatibility sucks. I tried about 10 standard apps and none of them but firefox worked.

LInux is really kind of a hacker thing so it won’t do much for games except in the free software arena. SDL came out of Linux, so I think that’s what your going to see coming from the free software, linux programmers. Development software that makes creating games easier. The split between consoles and pc is getting wider and wider, so the next move will probably be hacked Linux games on PS3. It sounds like Sony is going to encourage it by providing some software for amateur game development. I’m ready to start moving off the pc because Microsoft has ruled it for too long and they constantly twist everything to working on only their software. I can’t wait to use Blender on a PS3.

I was thinking more along the lines of a Game System which would of course have to include some type of game engine. The funny thing I see now is the concept that computer game creation which fits into into a popular hardware/software scenario must made for one platform alone or another. Software is the mind behind all things computational. Software can roam free and be made to fit into any PC hardware setup. Software is light and doesn’t need to take up retail store space. It would be nice to see a gaming development system much like an OS that can be made to fit into every popular PC architecture. PC hardware’s getting faster and more able to support fast game play via software/cpu support.

Maybe even a “Live” bootable media/hard drive installed game system could be developed. This system might support games which are presented as “modules” that plug in to the hardware installed, hard drive or “live” media game system. An icon could pop up on the desktop and game play could commence.

The low hardware requirement could have been the key behind healthy PC game development in the past. Game developers could design their game run on any PC as long as it met the basic requirements of the game development OS. The game system OS could be made to support games via software/OpenGL. The games could play at the lowest setting allowed at decent frame rates. If you ran the games on a 80 core system well the games could use all 80 cores.

Who’s needs 80 cores?:smiley:

Notice I’m not saying anything like the “free” word here. I’m just discussing possibilities.

Imagine a game system that allowed modular game development. The game player would only need the basic Game OS, a capable PC and the game modules. Game level design elements, physics, music, etc. could be linked to the game module via the game system. This way even game players could add their own content to the game play. The game players would just put their custom content in a “home” directory, etc. in a special file linked to the game module. Maybe this file could have a name that the game reads. Or better yet, the game system could have ahem, ahem, an open source game editor included. This game editor could output game content to the “home” directory for the game module to read.

With this type of modular game system game play would be as easy as browsing to a website and playing flash content.

First, this kind of game play system has to get off the ground. Then if the demos where cool and fast it might get noticed.

I still think that game consoles are lame and way so 80’s dudes and dudettes.:smiley:

Never give up on software solutions. Software cures “virtually” all that ill’s yah.:smiley: