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Dauntless

why hasn't Linux gaming taken off?

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Not really sure if this is more appropriate in the GDnet lounge or here, but here goes. Here are my theories: 1) Linux is harder to program on than windows, and/or there are fewer Linux developers 2) Gaming libraries/API''s aren''t as robust or complete as DirectX (OpenGL is graphics only, OpenAL is audio only, SDL still has some compatibility issues, etc.) 3) DirectX is more versatile than OpenGL 4) Linux users don''t want to pay for software 5) No one uses Linux on the desktop, therefore there is no market Too bad the Linux console idea never got off the ground...it would have been interesting. But I think the really pertinent points are #4 and #5. Something like 90% of the desktop marketplace is M$. M$ is for the masses because Joe-six pack doesn''t want to have to figure out how to run Linux....and perhaps more importantly, he wants tech support to be there when his machine runs afoul. I work in tech support and I know how this goes. I think that the very large part of the consumer populace is still incredibly ignorant about computers...Windows included. You would be amazed at how many calls I get from people that don''t know how to turn off their computer much less even know how to copy and paste things into folders. The ignorance of quite a large group of people is pretty staggering. What amazes me is that if people don''t even know how to use Windows, and you essentially have to hold their hands to get them to work with it, why not go ahead and train them in Linux? I''ve been pushing our business to do this with no effect...and I''ll tell you why. There is no one to go to to point a finger at or escalate business failures to. And this is a huge issue for the company and I would imagine for Joe Six pack too. When Joe six pack runs into trouble, who does he call? Most distributions only have limited support, and what vendors sell Linux installed PC''s? Basically there is no one anywhere to hold anyone''s hand...and that really scares people away. The other major issue is that Linux gamers probably wouldn''t pay for software. I think in some ways they are spoiled by free software to the point that they expect things to be free. While you can make amateur games for free pretty easily, if you want professional caliber games with models and cut scenes created on Maya, and professional quality music and effects, then it''s not going to happen on Linux. I don''t really know how to counter any of my above points. Perhaps in time 1-3 will be abolished, but something needs to change for 4 and 5. Hopefully with IBM throwing it''s support for Linux on the mainframe, maybe it will eventually start supporting Linux on the desktop too. Hey, if IBM could make M$ what it is today by bundling MS-DOS with their PC''s, why not for Linux? Without IBM, M$ would be nothing (and probably Intel too for that matter).

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quote:
Original post by Dauntless
1) Linux is harder to program on than windows, and/or there are fewer Linux developers


Its not harder, its just that people and companies actually want to paid for the software they make, not told by a bunch of freesource hippies (parden the term, I don''t mean to offend) that they shouldn''t charge for software.

quote:

2) Gaming libraries/API''s aren''t as robust or complete as DirectX (OpenGL is graphics only, OpenAL is audio only, SDL still has some compatibility issues, etc.)


Not really, but it is true that innovation tends to come to the billion dollar companies with huge r&d budgets and trickle down to the ''freesource hippies'' later on.

quote:

3) DirectX is more versatile than OpenGL


Again, not really, but how many venders are making drivers for Linux first or at all? I can remember when it was going to be months before even a win2000 driver became available for some new hardware (when 2000 first came out and didn''t have a large market share).

quote:

4) Linux users don''t want to pay for software


You hit it on the head.

quote:

5) No one uses Linux on the desktop, therefore there is no market


They do, but only small number of experienced techies who can actually understand what partitioning their harddrive is, which doesn''t represent the real consumer market of people who can''t set the clock on their vcr.


Linux will always have a following due to it being an open-source, stable operating system, it might even get a good share of the server market. However big business (which ultimately drives forward new products and services), is not very interested in a product that can only be used by someone with three pocket protectors (unless they''re desperate to rack up another marketing bungle like IBM)

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1) There may be fewer Linux game developers (that's less debatable than "fewer Linux developers" in general), but I don't see how it is harder to program.

2) Any issues with compatibility would be caused by variation of the environment. This isn't such a big deal, really, as the commercial games that have been published for Linux have done fine on most systems where X is setup correctly.

3) This doesn't really need a reply. Even if there was such an issue, no one here would sanely debate it due to their own 'API prejudices.'

4) To take a completely different perspective on this: I think a greater percentage of us want to pay for software than Windows users. If you look at the Windows market, the users treat software piracy as a natural occurance. However, in the 'free software' and 'open source' world the users have learned to respect licensing. Many people turn to these solutions out of their own honesty. After all, they could have just warezed Windows if they just wanted an OS and had no morals.

5) This one is the only one that I find more that marginally valid. People don't consider changing operating systems for a couple reasons:
a) They don't know there's anything better than what they had. People that fall into this group are the ones thinking that their 'computer' (as in OS) crashing is a normal part of the computing
experience.
b) They don't understand that Linux has made incredable advances in the realm of user friendliness. Many of the conceptions about it's user hostility are false given the correct distribution. Support is normally most of what you're paying for when you buy a box. Installation is now easy (you've seen those reviews about how Mandrake, or whatever, takes less thinking than Windows to install). One possible issue is that installing new software could be difficult. However, the computer half-literate barely understand how to install normal software anyway. Give them a couple sentences of instructions and this issue is only as bad as it is in the Windows world.
c) Somewhat like reason A: Linux doesn't come with their computer. Another ignorance derived issue: "I bought a Windows computer, how could it even use something else?" For these people, sticking with Windows probably is a good idea. The straight forware solution is to get Linux coming installed as the default OS on computers (it'd save the consumer money too ). Part of the Microsoft antitrust case is that Microsoft may have been making edgy demands about what its OEM customers are allowed to do when setting up a system's default OS.



[edited by - Null and Void on May 4, 2002 4:07:07 PM]

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Okay.. you are right in some points but not in all. Here are my ideas:

1) Linux is absolutely not harder to program than Windows. You also have to make a difference between the different areas. In Windows there is only one: the Desktop. But with Linux you can do everthing you want from network servers to games to scientific applications. And because of the tons of excellent libraries out there for Linux, programming is often easier! There are many class wrappers or libraries that simplify certain aspects of programming.

2) Linux Gaming libraries are very robust. First OpenGL is THE standard graphics library for professional applications so it simply must be stable and robust. Secondly OGL is much easier to program and the code isn''t as ''spaghetti'' as with DirectX. SDL is a portable library that is easy to program and has everything that a programmer needs to code his games. Together with OGL and SDL you can program absolutely powerful games that are perfectly portable and can be used for many platforms (Win, Linux, MacOS ..)

3) You can''t compare DX and OGL. You could say that DX is a set of APIs, one for sound things (DirectSound), one for Input (DirectInput) etc. OGL is graphics only and for sound etc. you have to use other libs.

4) That might be true.. But I think you shouldn''t develop games only for Linux. That''s too risky. But if you program with say OpenGL and SDL, you will have portable code that runs on both Windows and Linux. ID Software does a similar thing with their software. For example Quake III and RTCW are avalaible for both Win and Linux. A Linux user will certainly buy a great game if it is available for his platform.

5) There are users out there that use Linux on the desktop ( as me ), but there are only few.. However I think this will change in the future and if you program protable code, you will have some buyers of the Linux edition as they are happy to see that there is a great game out for Linux. Of course there will be more buyers for the Win edition, but why don''t prepare for the future ?


Yes there are really many people that don''t know much about computer. That''s why Win is so popular.It would be really good if some PC vendors would also build Linux boxes and I hope that will be done in the future.

The most important market is the desktop. The servers are often run with Linux or Unix-derivates. Hopefully there will be some big game developers that finally try to program games for Linux too. That would be a great thing. I am happy that ID software does so. Perhaps they will help other companies to do the same.

Bye,
-Stone.

www.steinsoft.net
cout << "Happy Coding!" << endl;

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Could everyone refrain from commenting on the first three proposed reasons? They are mere perception-based speculation and can not be substantiated in any form. Discussing them will be akin to a mini-flame war, so please concentrate on questions 4 and 5.

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Allow me to phrase this question in a slightly different way: Why should Linux gaming take off? What does Linux offer as a gaming platform that Windows doesn''t? What advantages do I gain by switching to it? (And before I get flamed, please note that I am putting these forward as rhetorical questions.)

IMHO, people in general, and gamers in particular, won''t switch to Linux unless they have some concrete reason to. Saying "Switch to Linux because Micro$oft is evil" accomplishes nothing. Saying "Switch to Linux because Winblows is an unstable piece of crap" accomplishes nothing. But saying something like "If you switch to Linux, you might notice that your games run faster" is music to a gamer''s ears.

I believe that if this issue were addressed, more people would start to give Linux a try. This ties in directly with your item #5. More people gaming in Linux = more people using Linux on the desktop = more marketshare = more games being developed for Linux.

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i recall reading a comment from j.carmack on q3a for
linux.. he said that they really didnt make any
money off of it, but they expected that.
he also said that loki owes them so much money it
wasnt even funny. odd that they would continue
to even release games for linux

-eldee
;another space monkey;
[ Forced Evolution Studios ]


::evolve::

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Hi, well I respect your opinion Dauntless but I do have a few reasons for disagreement:

1) Linux is a heck of a lot simpler to program for than Windows. It has free, easy access and no-nonsense programming documentation and libraries. UNIX came first, and by far there are more experienced developers using Linux (however there are probably more commercialized developers (who most are probably unqualified) for Windows.

2) DirectX is no where near as stable as Mesa3D, X11, SDL, YLib, etc. These libraries are far more stable (at least from our tests of them) than DirectX. You should also take a look at Ylib, http://wolfpack.twu.net/YIFF/ since it''s far more mature than DirectX, OpenAL, and ESD combined.

3) DirectX is proprietery to Windows, therefore it lacks the portability of OpenGL. OpenGL is for graphics, DirectX is a much larger system-wide wrapper compareable like SDL.

4) This is more of a socio-economic issue, our world is at a bronze stage of industrial revolution (in general). And that means we need to use money to get people to cooperate rather than people taking the pride in accompishments regardless of who got the credit. (I did not want to mention Loki games because they did afterall, go out of business).

5) I use Linux on a desktop, and most of the computers in our lab are Linux and are used as a desktop. We have two Windows computers but they are in the minority.

With regards to games on the Linux console... I really don''t think that is a good target to write a game for.

Overall, Linux is *different* and yes it requires more experience and maturity from users. It''s probably ahead of its time compared with the education and social-economic status of the general population. But there are games on Linux compareable to Windows games:

http://wolfpack.twu.net/SearchAndRescue/
http://wolfpack.twu.net/ShipWars/XShipWars/
http://xsw.terminator.net/

These are just our games, there are hundreds of other Linux games out there.

Also, yes there are also Linux users who can''t figure out how to use their keyboard yet they can manage to recompile their kernel. Just because someone sticks two disks in when an installation dialog says "insert disk 2" dosen''t mean they are stupid, they just might have a problem in one particular area.

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Good points, Martee.

quote:
Original post by eldee
odd that they would continue
to even release games for linux

They only release binaries, in part as a goodwill/philanthropic gesture and in part because that expands their market for the exact same product to a different sector (Linux users need to buy the Windows version to play under Linux). Smart business.

[ GDNet Start Here | GDNet Search Tool | GDNet FAQ ]
[ MS RTFM [MSDN] | SGI STL Docs | Boost ]
[ Google! | Asking Smart Questions | Jargon File ]
Thanks to Kylotan for the idea!

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quote:
Original post by Martee
Allow me to phrase this question in a slightly different way: Why should Linux gaming take off? What does Linux offer as a gaming platform that Windows doesn''t? What advantages do I gain by switching to it? (And before I get flamed, please note that I am putting these forward as rhetorical questions.)



i think the reason why the majority of game developers havent
accepted linux game development is because there really isnt
much of an audience to speak of.. sure there are people
here and there who are willing to buy your game, but not
enough to turn a profit (as john carmack stated with q3a)


-eldee
;another space monkey;
[ Forced Evolution Studios ]


::evolve::

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