Aspyr Hard at Work on the Civilization:BE Port


A couple of hours ago, Russ Looney from Aspyr (acting as eCommerce Content and Community Manager) has published on GameAgent the current status of the Mac and Linux port of Civilization Beyond Earth. I would definitely recommend you have a look at it, but here is a very short summary anyway:

  • The Linux and Mac versions are already running and in Beta.
  • They are currently squashing bugs as they go.
  • The key issue is performance because the game was written for DirectX 11 on Windows.

The fact that DirectX11 conversion is not straightforward in OpenGL has led Aspyr to recommend higher specs on Linux and Mac than for the Windows version.

[table colalign=“left|center|center” colwidth=“100|50|50|50”] Category,Linux System Requirements,Windows System Requirements Operating System,SteamOS / Ubuntu 14.04,Windows® Vista SP2 / Windows® 7 CPU Processor,Intel Core i3 / AMD A10,Quad Core CPU CPU Speed,2.4 GHz,1.8 GHz Memory,4 GB RAM,4 GB RAM Hard Disk Space,10 GB,8 GB Video Card (ATI),Radeon HD 6450,AMD HD 5000 Video Card (NVidia),Geforce 640M,Geforce GT400 Video Card (Intel),Iris Pro, IvyBridge [/table]

There were some good additional comments below the article, such as the following from Blair (Aspyr), relative to the difference in requirements between platforms:

Blair: To be clear, we went fairly conservative on specs. We hope to get them down but cant promise that. Also to be clear, our minimums are set to provide a level of performance that we can stand behind as gamers. It certainly doesnt mean the game wont launch (I’m looking at you HD4000 users) but it does mean the experience will be less than ideal in most cases.

We have even a confirmation that the game will not work on HD3000 graphics, which is too bad since Civ 5 worked fine on my HD3000-equipped laptop.

Blair: Yeah, no chance there unfortunately [for HD 3000]. BE is actually a fair bit more taxing that Civ V. For example, the texture maps used on the “Leaders” are beyond massive.

Yet it does not mean that only OpenGL 4.1 is being used - Aspyr may be trying to rewrite some DirectX 11 calls and keep them compatible with earlier OpenGL standards as well, while performance may take a serious hit (for Intel, libMesa does not support anything beyond OpenGL 3.3 at this stage, but things may change with the release 11 in 2015):

Blair: That answer [about which OpenGL we are using] is actually really complicated. But to make a VERY long story short, OpenGL 3.1 up to 4.1 is being used.

So on Linux you will be strongly advised to have an AMD or nVidia chip/card to be able to run Civilization: Beyond Earth at a comfortable level, once it is released on Steam. Or you may consider skipping the game, since there were lots of mixed reviews since its release on Windows:

Adamchicago78: I’m so sad to write this review. I’m a hard-core Civilization fan. I’ve played Civ since the franchise was first launched. I’ve literally logged hundreds of hours playing Civ 5 and all its DLC in Steam. I also feel as though Alpha Centauri is still one of the best computer games ever made. I’ve been looking forward to Civilization Beyond Earth for months. This game is such a terrible disappointment.

Hey, don’t go away, there is more…

Shabushabu: I can’t recommend Beyond Earth at this time. It feels like a decently designed mod but not a full game release at full cost game, there is just not enough there… And whats worse ? Its boring, 200 turns in and only 2 or so wonders have been built in the game thus far… No Alien issues whatsoever, more turtle AI from CIV V. Perhaps after they milk the IP after 2 more expansions… stay away for now.

The first page of Steam Reviews is largely negative, and this is coming from a number of Civilization 5 fans, which does not bode too well for Civ BE. It may well be that the game will improve as expansions are released (just like for Civ 5) but I can say I have been far from being impressed when watching the different video reviews in the past week. That’s a little disappointing for one of the first AAA titles to be released at the same time frame on all platforms.