As you know on BoilingSteam I am not really into doing 24/7 news, since there’s not always something exciting to write about every single day of the year. But on a monthly basis, we see patterns emerge, trends, and we can have a little more visibility when it comes to Linux Gaming as a whole. And it’s been a pretty good month, to be honest, following a pretty interesting month of July as well.
Work in Progress
- ARMA3 is being ported by VP and we have seen some first reports of performance between Windows and Linux, and guess what, once again the performance is very honourable. This being said, there are a number of limitations with the current porting efforts: they only support the 1.42 client which is not the latest one for the game on Windows… and this is significant since it may prevent most Linux players to connect to servers for online multiplayer. On top of that, modding will probably not be fully supported, while it is one of the biggest aspects of the ARMA3 community. The devs have been very transparent that this port may never leave the beta stage, so there is no guarantee that the game will actually land in your library in the end.
- Dirt Showdown is out of beta testing and was released as mentioned in my earlier post, with excellent performance, even above the Windows’ framerate on low and medium settings. VP has become a very serious porting company, and while we usually refer to their eON technology as a “wrapper” like WINE, I think that in this particular case they have had access to the game code – in the bugs reports they have mentioned that they were looking at some of the game code to fix some of the issues, so it may be more like an automated recompiled native port than a pure wrapper job, but hey, I may be completely wrong. Feel free to elaborate in the comments if you know more.
- Company of Heroes 2 was also released by Feral during August. It’s a solid port but just like for Shadow of Mordor, the port performance is not very impressive compared to the Windows version – in max settings, we get only half of the Framerate in Full-HD, which is pretty bad. On top of that, multiplayer only works with other Linux users (this, unfortunately, is nothing that Feral can help with), so this limits significantly the multiplayer aspects of this RTS game.
- Medieval II: Total War seems to be heading to Linux, following Empire Total War and while we are still waiting for long promised Rome Total War II as well. There’s no knowing who is behind the port at this stage, but it’s another good game coming to our collection, which is great.
- ShadowRun Hong Kong is finally available, and at the same time on all platforms. I have not played it yet (I still need to finish DragonFall !) but the reviews are great all around, so it sounds like they managed to keep a very high level of quality both in terms of storyline and mechanisms. I really like their trailer, leaving you wanting for more.
- Satellite Reign is a new take on the Syndicate game concept, with modern graphics. Reviews have been fairly positive, so this may be worth checking out.
- Universe Sandbox 2 is still in Early Access but its Linux version is now ready to be tested. I have not tried it and it seems like a cool large-objects physics simulator. On top of the fun aspect of it, it’s probably a great way to learn how our Universe works.
- Teeworlds is a FOSS game and until now it was probably available through your distro’ s repo, but since August the dev team has made it available through Steam as well – this will undoubtely help popularize the game even further, and it will remain free of charge as well. It’s an excellent multiplayer game, so you should give it a shot at least for a couple of minutes. I recommend you use a mouse, though.
- Big Pharma is out as well, and the Linux version seems to be decent while some issues were found in the non-English locales (not sure if they are fixed at this stage yet). The reviews have been a little mixed.
- Xcom 2 has been delayed to early 2016 (for all platforms). Too bad but that may be a life saver if you were planning to actually have a social life around the end of the year.
- Rollercoaster Tycoon: another game in the same vein as the old Theme Park, with modern graphics and a lot more options to design your own tracks and all. It seems like people at the recent PAX were pretty excited about the possibilities:
Bad News & Bad Vibe
- Gauntlet‘s devs have decided to cancel their planned SteamOS version, while it was one of the stretch goals of their Kickstarter campaign. As usual, please don’t give money before ANYONE delivers anything, especially regarding promising Linux versions.
- Pillars of Eternity: Brandon Adler, lead producer for this game, has been quite vocal that it was not worth developing for Linux, because it only represented 1.50% of their user base:
“I don’t think it was worthwhile developing for Linux,” Brandon Adler, lead producer said in response to questions the team had gathered from Twitter before the show. “They are a very, very small portion of our active user base—I think around one and a half percent of our users were Linux.”
- …which begs the question… oh, seriously, what were you expecting exactly ? It’s not like Steam survey is wildly off or something in terms of Linux user base size. Actually 1.5% is better than the average, most likely. The post continues bitching about how hard it was to squash bugs in Linux, but honestly I have a hard time keeping an ounce of respect for this kind of views. Why do you promise a Linux port if you have no experience whatsoever in the first place ? Why did you imagine there would be no work involved, just because you are using Unity ? If you are supporting Linux only for the cash, it’s probably not a very enticing proposition and everyone knows it. Or so I thought. EDIT: I missed the fact that one of the Obsidian founders commented further on the situation, and it paints a slightly more positive picture:
I’m one of the founders at Obsidian, and I definitely don’t regret us supporting Linux on PoE. I’m admittedly biased as a Linux fanboy myself though.
We signed up to do it during our Kickstarter campaign as a stretch goal. I think [PoE’s lead producer] Brandon’s feeling was more from the trials and tribulations of setting it all up and problems we ran into during development. For example, it was harder to develop in Linux because Unity didn’t support the tools at the time. Debugging was painful, but ultimately, we got it done, learned a bunch from the process, and now Linux is now fully supported in Unity.
FWIIW, we don’t have any plans to not continue developing on Linux!
- Mad Max has gone madder, and has apparently forgotten that the Linux version was planned along the way. It’s been apparently some time (6 months?) that any mention of Linux as a platform has disappeared from the announcements.
- Vulkan is heating up, especially since the Siggraph 2015 took place in Los Angeles (fixed!) not too long ago, where several sessions went in depth as to what Vulkan can bring and how it works. I would recommend to watch Vulkan on nVidia GPUs. Be sure to check out this summary of what Vulkan is and how it works, too.
- The Unity3D editor is now available in alpha for Linux. At this stage it is still an experiment, so feel free to try it out and report bugs if you are a actual or aspiring Games developer.
- Mesa has now complete 4.0 to 4.2 support.
- Wine 1.7.50 has started to include some early DX10 and DX11 support. It seems like they are moving forward as planned to have some DX10-DX11 support by the end of the year. Check out our interview with Codeweavers’ CEO a couple of month back if you want to know more about their motivations and technical hurdles to get there.
- GOG has finally implemented some Linux friendly installers (GUI based, though), and apparently our friend Icculus is behind that effort. There is still no news about the upcoming GOG Galaxy for Linux. I tried it a little on Windows and it still has a long way to go to be remotely as good in functionality as Steam…
That’s about it for August. Let me know if I missed something important.
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