My Thoughts on How Linux Gaming Could be Taken More Seriously

SpongebobFan1994

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While I was watching a lets play of Xonotic earlier today, I was thinking about how Linux gaming has gradually developed more of a presence over the years, and that in-turn made me want to put the idea out there for a magazine dedicated to it. Granted, before that can become a reality, gaming on Linux still has ways to go before it can truly be taken seriously, but some dominoes are starting to get knocked down as we speak.

IMO, I can see enough people buying the Steam Deck since Steam itself has been widely successful, but I don't think it will get developers interested in Linux because A) Even though SteamOS is based on Arch, it's still mostly uses proprietary software, and B) Steam is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Google Play, and those ecosystems have more of an established gaming presence than Linux (even with Proton's help of porting). The best way Linux gaming can become mainstream is to create a series of Linux-based consoles, compete with the Steam Deck (other consoles can wait), and have a successful marketing campaign. However, there aren't many great games that are exclusively made for Linux, which brings me to my next point...

Many FOSS games are made with 30-something game engines that no AAA developer uses anymore (like Quake), which is why the graphics look dated. Its also the reason why most gamers envision indie games as being simple games developed by teenage Fortnite and Mindcraft fanboys. Yes, games shouldn't be defined by their graphics, and they don't need to be in 4K either, but gamers expect graphics to age like fine wine. This problem is usually caused by the small amount of FOSS game engines in existence, and keeping the software for them up to date. While we definitely need more FOSS and up to date game engines, the amount of them isn't going to matter unless the developers of them make people take them seriously. This is why I highly recommend studying what the development teams of more successful engines did to make their successful in the first place, and then do what they did while being original.

When I was still going to college, I never studied game design (because that wasn't my major at the time), so I don't know if students following that career path are ever exposed to Linux or it's software when they're learning (for anyone who studied game design, I'd appreciate you answering that question for me). If they're not, I'd like to see people with experience in designing Linux games setting up schools or park district classes dedicated to doing that.

Lastly, because big studios and publishers like EA have a massive amount of creative control over the games they release, it'd be interesting to see a private Linux game development cooperative (I was thinking of calling it Penguin Games) that not only advertises themselves and encourages up-and-coming developers to join them, but also gives full creative control to each development team.

While game development sounds cool, there's a lot of technical aspects that go into it, and because I'm not a technical-oriented person, I don't see myself being a part of it. However, it'd be interesting to see a point in time where Linux replaces closed-source gaming platforms.
 


Fanboi

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I agree and disagree with certain points (what else is new):

30-something years old engines. I think not:
Godot is hardly 30-something. It's modern and very pro. Unreal 4 (IDK about 5) runs on Linux (natively). Unity has/had plans through Mono (I don't like Unity, so not really keeping an eye out). Yeah, only two, but GD, we're talking UE4 here! Unity compiles for Linux, but last I checked gas tons of abstraction, though, and AFAIK, the IDE is Windows-only. But remember, we have native Unreal (and Unreal IDE). Oh, and we got Ren'Py -- never forget that and late nights with Kleenex (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink -- we all do).

If you want an example of a really fun native Linux game, checkout Super Tux Kart (no two guesses which Ninetendo property is ripped off). There are tons of excellent 2D games and their graphics age brilliantly (on any platform compared to 3D). Not to mention we're running almost every emulator from MSX to PS2 with WIP PS3.

I think the problem is what Linux gaming natively used to be and beating that stereotype is gonna take time. When I get back into gamedev, I plan my games to be multi-platform with a Linux and a BSD exclusive pre-release (how to stir a pot) on all the projects I have planned. ATM, I'm too busy, but I'm taking notes and have written the plot and certain mechanics for two.

Anyway, that's what we need and if nobody has done it in the next two years, expect me.

Being realistic, don't expect too many FOSS games. Free as in free beer, but not OSS coz source reveals cheats, easter eggs, etc. Plus free as in libre allows forks and no dev wants their game forked and that dude getting the credit and people not caring about the original. Not all devs, but most.
 
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