Two: Getting games to run in Linux.
I love Linux. I love trying out different flavours of Linux. I love being able to hack at the most critical software of my system (though I haven’t done it in years) and I love the concept of a software system (and ecosystem) built a by community.
Once, I tried to switch over completely to using Linux on my home desktop and figured that if I could only get Diablo 3 to run under emulation (Wine / Cedega / Play On Linux), then that would be all I needed to make the switch permanently.
Sadly, I could never get it to be stable. It would run for awhile, then crash. I realised that even if I get it working once, all my work could be undone by a simple software update to any one of a million moving parts. There was also always the nagging doubt that Blizzard would ban me if it saw weird activity from my account.
I also discovered Warframe, which doesn’t even have a Mac client. So I’m stuck on Windows until Digital Extremes decides to add yet another platform to the list of stuff it’s going to support.
Still, I liked messing around with gaming on Linux to get a sense of the state of play. At one stage I decided to see if I could benchmark BioShock Infinite on Ubuntu vs. Windows.
At that stage I ran into an issue where some of the textures wouldn’t render right, and as I delved deeper into the problem, I discovered it was an AMD driver problem. A specific feature that BioShock Infinite used wasn’t exposed by the driver for the Linux version.
At that point I vowed that my next card would be Nvidia, despite Linus Torvalds flipping them the bird. I bought a GTX 970 for my next upgrade. Still have it.
Another game that had a Linux client, but which I struggled to get working was Digital: A Love Story. The dev uses an engine called Ren’Py, and there was something broken about the version that shipped with the game on newer versions of Ubuntu. So I hacked at it, basically getting the game to run on a newer version of Ren’Py or installing older versions of specific libraries in the game’s directory… I don’t remember exactly which.
It’s interesting to see the different narratives of Linux gaming out there. Here’s an interesting one from Engadget:
The headline makes it sound like the author is going to argue that Linux gaming is two steps from death, but the only point they’re making is that Linux gaming is where it is thanks to Valve. Which I wouldn’t classify as a particularly controversial opinion.
The first few hits on YouTube for “linux gaming” have more positive or neutral titles, and basically present the same facts — Valve released Proton, which is making Linux gaming more accessible than ever.
Sadly, DRM and anti-cheat services are still proving problematic for emulators and games like Warhammer: Vermintide 2 don’t seem to run on Linux at all.