Linux: the future of gaming
What does the games industry think about SteamOS and Linux games development generally?
Chris Thornett plunders his interview vault for some answers.
Whether or not you think games are important for Linux, the stone cold reality is that they significantly drive mainstream interest in any operating system. As I wrote in the feature for LXF179, Linux: the Future of Gaming, this was a lesson Gabe Newell learnt back in the early 1990s while working for Microsoft – and it changed the direction of his career.
Valve is only part of the Linux gaming story, though. I spoke to a lot of people for the Linux gaming feature: everyone from games publishers and Linux game porters, through to game engine and driver developers - and I just couldn’t get all their interviews into the eight-page feature. I encountered so many passionate people and it seemed a shame to leave their contributions on the cutting floor, so we’ve decide to publish a lot of them here.
Of course, since writing the Linux gaming feature, we now have a very early, almost alpha-like, beta of SteamOS to play with and a rogue’s gallery of Steam Machines announced at CES.
It wasn’t a huge surprise that the custom OS turned out to be Debian-based, and Wheezy (7.1) no less, although features like the choice of the slim Xcompmgr compositor, rather than Wayland or possibly Mir, might have surprised some people.
It’s an exciting time for games on Linux. Valve’s support, particularly for native games and nursing better graphics drivers into existence, will mean we’ll see more newcomers trying a Linux distro for the first time. So even if you don’t know or care who Valve is and think references to Half-Life 3 might be something to do with radiometric dating, you should still see this as an opportunity to encourage as many gaming friends to give Linux a try as it matures as a gaming platform.
First up is Kaveh Nasri, engineering manager for the Intel Open Source Driver. Note: the original interview was attributed to the ‘wrong Kaveh’. I’m posting this interview as it was a rare opportunity to hear more about the challenges of porting reasonably contemporary games to work on Intel’s open source drivers.
Our second is with Andy Ritger, Nvidia Linux Graphics Driver engineer. A lot of detail had to be cut from the printed interview, which is why I wanted to post it in full here. There’s no picture of the man (an official one, at least). Even the PR didn’t have one on file. I note that an image search for ‘Andy Ritger’ and ‘Nvidia’ tends to yield lots of photos of Linus Torvald doing a one-finger salute to the camera…
Next, we have a short interview with co-creator of Elite, David Braben. We had to include his words as the man’s a gaming legend. Unfortunately, he did slap Linux about with a few fair but critical jabs…
You have to love Paradox Development Studios enthusiasm for the Linux platform, we interviewed resident programmer, Rikard Åsgard.
And finally, at least for now anyway, Wargaming.net's solution architect, Maksim Meinikau. World of Tanks is a massive MMO hit – in fact, it's just broken the record for the most concurrent user, surpassing 1,114,000 concurrent users. The company also joined the Linux Foundation last year, so we asked them whether Linux had a place in future developments.
I’ll try and update this post with some more interview links from the following - any of them take your fancy?
4A (Metro Last Light, the full interview on its Linux development)
Compulsion Games (Contrast)
Eugen Systems (WarGame series & R.U.S.E.)
Frictional Games (Thomas Grip, Amnesia series and Soma)
Rebellion (Jason Kingsley, Sniper Elite)
Revolution Software (Broken Sword series)
Unity Technologies (CEO, David Helgaston & Linux engineer, Levi Bard - makers of the Unity Game Engine)
Note: Some of the interviews are based on canned questions.
You should follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter