An Interview With A Linux Game Porter
Going forward, where do you hope Linux gaming will be in the next two to three years?
I'd love to see simultaneous release of Linux versions along with Windows versions. I can't say whether that'll happen within the next two to three years, but it'd be nice to see that and to see interests like LGP or Runesoft prosper as a result.
I'm also thinking that the mobile device market's going to start getting more interesting. Most of the mobile device providers seem to be interested in the power that OMAP3 and SnapDragon bring to the table, but seem to be not so interested in Symbian or Windows Mobile for the stuff there. Android, LiMo, or AccessLinux seem to be what's going to be on phones soon. If this is the case, you're looking at a space where they're looking for games that are at least a bit more than the typical games you find pushed for the mobile phone provider networks. I think it'd be kind of cool to see Caster show up on an Android phone or a Nokia web tablet, if you must know, and it's a good potential market for Linux game development that would precipitate games to show up on the desktop. If you're already making a Linux handheld title, if it's a really good one, it's not a big leap from OpenGL ES and similar API's on Linux handhelds to OpenGL and the corresponding API edges on the desktop. At that point, it's compelling enough if you're coding cleanly, to make a desktop version.
Recently on the Phoronix Forums you began seeking advice from gamers about what games they would like to see ported to Linux. How successful has that been? Do you see any success continuing to go forward?
It's been quite a bit more successful than I'd envisioned. When I started the thread originally, I wanted to involve the people grumbling about my remarks along the lines I'd made on the biggest struggle for Linux gaming. I wanted them to go through the process I'd gone through time and time again with studios and publishers alongside me to see for themselves why LGP and other porting interests have what they have and for the prices they did.
I'll be honest with everyone here- I didn't expect what I got. What WE got. What we ended up with was a dragnet bigger than most people by themselves individually could manage to scrape the entire Internet for prospective titles. I'm one guy. I can't be all over the 'net looking for this stuff. Each person has a gem they stumble across and say, "I'd like that..." but find that it's not available for Linux or the studio's at least passively interested but has no skills or time. We get a few good ones that rattle out, World of Goo as an example, because of proactive people in those forums. But, more often than not, it doesn't happen for numerous reasons. What happened here was that the people that spotted the stuff, but didn't have the skills or the confidence, bring it all to a forum thread where we COULD make a difference and change the name of the game. As a result, we've got NDA's and agreements signed on EU2 and Caster as a released game. A game that did better than I'd hoped for, even before I did the ARM port targeting OpenPandora, Beagleboard, and the upcoming Nokia N9XXX handhelds.
As for seeing any success going forward, I hope so. I'm going to go and start working through the list I've got so far (that is still growing) and contact a few more studios and publishers and see where it all leads. I'm hoping we'll get more wins like the ones we've got so far.
If all you could say were two to three sentences to "sell" a game publisher on the idea of porting their games to Linux, what would you say?
The Linux game market is larger than the IDC figures would lead you to believe. The market segment in question is largely under served and people will most definitely buy worthy titles to play on it. It is not as difficult to support the so-called myriad of Linux versions out there as you think- there's ways to do it and I can show you some of them.
Thank you Frank Earl for taking the time to answer these questions. Is there anything else you would like to add?
You're welcome. As for things to add? Not much of anything at this point.
If you enjoyed this interview, you may like our recent interview with the developers of the Unigine game engine.
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