Sunday, October 28, 2007

The State of the Linux Gaming Industry

When I read reports on the Linux gaming industry, I can't help but wonder where the Linux gamers are at? Can we find them on the Nintendo Wii or perhaps the Playstation 3 (PS3)? After all, I have heard that PS3 actually works rather well with Yellow Dog Linux.

Now, I fear that if we plan to see the level of acceptance we are seeing with Ubuntu, the Linux gaming industry is going to have to make some tough choices. This will involve the licensing game developers choose, goals and profit models for those who remain open source, and of course, competing with the mega-giants like EA, who is happily working with Apple on the OS X platform .

Enter Loki: The One Best Hope At Porting Popular Windows Games to Linux. Even when considering the number of popular titles in Windows, it was nice to know that we had Loki pulling for the Linux users just a few years ago. Today, they are out of business due to bankruptcy. The remaining players in the non-open source Linux gaming world include " id " ( for now anyway ), Epic Games and others.

Some will argue that this is what these companies get for daring to bring forth a non-open source product to the Linux landscape. Personally, I find this attitude to be elitist and unfortunate as these games were not running on the slow moving mess laughingly called Cedega . No, they ran natively, and many of them ran quite well.

To be fair, it has been over a year since I've tried Cedega on a variety of different distros, but when Cross Over Office is providing me with better results than this option designed for gaming, something is seriously wrong. However, latest reports suggest that things are improving with Cadega.

A Fantastic Game for the Open Source At Heart. If you are tired of playing games like SuperTux and are ready to step up to something with 3D acceleration, great graphics and a gaming engine that offers everything you could want from a first person shooter, look no further. The 'Cube' gaming engine is the first thing to come out of the open source community that actually shows enough detail, a big enough fan base and interest in further development that it could quickly become a cult classic.

Offspring from the Cube Gaming Engine. Already, the Cube engine has generated enough interest to where three popular 'mods' (modifications from the original Cube) have taken shape.

Cube 2: Sauerbraten : This mod is a little less about glamor in gaming and more about a trip back to old-school gaming.

Cube 2: Eisenstern : To some limited degree, I see this as evolving into something even more than a basic single player game. With a little time, money and know-how, we might one day see this evolving into a World of Warcraft type clone. This would likely happen with another mod, though.

AssultCube : Perhaps the mod that will gain the most attention for gamers in the Linux world looking for the most realism in their first person shooter title. AssultCube is a very clean, well designed mod of Cube.

Finding Games, Open Source And Closed. For the uninitiated, locating great games to enjoy in Linux can be a bit troubling. I used to buy mine from Loki. Today, we continue to see two great resources that have weathered the pressures of the Windows gaming industry.

The Linux Game Tome : An old but valued resource that has stood the test of time. Despite the lack of clear gaming categories, this remains the king of gaming sources in my world.

Liberated Games : A resource that provides games for multiple platforms, some of which may already appear on the 'Tome' above. Liberated Games is still a good place to check out to see if anything has been released that is worth checking out.

All in all, the state of the Linux gaming industry is improving substantially, but it will take sometime before gaming giants, such as EA, focus on Linux and take it seriously as a platform. In the meantime, just like with everything in Linux, it's up to the community to band together and show enough demand for the heavyweights, or at least open source developers, to take notice.

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