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Alas, Gaming on Linux, we knew it never!

Date/Time Permalink: 06/11/06 01:07:21 pm
Category: General

At Free Software Magazine, they're bemoaning the state of Linux gaming again:

" Thing is, you can never enter a store, fancy a game you just discovered, buy a boxed set, put the CD in the drive, see it install itself and play—like most gamers do."

When did this happen? I ran Windows for years, and with each version of Windows I would buy, there was about a month in which I could buy games for it, and then after that any games I bought wouldn't be compatible with my system. Why do articles like this insist on pretending there's no such thing as ".DLL-Hell", ActiveX problems, sound driver bugs, video driver corruption, etc.? And compatibility between systems? Anything written for the 586 on Windows, guarantee that it won't work on the 686 for Windows. Then there are the games that are essentially useless out-of-the-box; they are designed to be played in an online community replete with cheaters and their scripts, or not played at all. Consider that games on Linux are free; check out the freeware games for Windows and you'll see things just as dismal. Last, you'd better be right about the game when you buy it, because the store sure as blue hell isn't going to take it back and you can kiss sixty bananas adios. Windows gaming is ahead of the rest, but it's hardly the rosey-skied picture everybody paints it.

Now that we've quit pretending that the basic laws of physics that make computer systems inherently difficult apply to Linux and Linux only (as always when we hear complaints about Linux), there remains one main reason why you can't buy dozens of game titles at the store for Linux: demand. There aren't enough people running Linux at home to make it worthwhile, many of those who do (such as I) are more likely to write our own games than buy one anyway, so there's not as much profit in it.

This isn't insurmountable, either. If the force of Capitalism can create market demand for pet rocks and rubic's cubes, it will create demand for Linux games, too.

But here's something which many programmers know: games are difficult. Games involve video, sound, threading, processing, joysticks and pads, a sophisticated engine such as collision detection, and even A.I. Compare a word processor: can you buffer text? Build a GUI window with icons and pull-down menus? You're there. Really full-scale games such as produced by the top brands involve a full-scale studio and production comparable to what you'd see for making a movie. Free Software just doesn't have that kind of muscle to throw around, yet.


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