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More Bioware For Linux? 287

Posted by Hemos
from the tough-row-to-hoe dept.
GNious writes "Bioware has a thread about porting the upcoming game Dragon Age to Apple Mac OS X and/or Linux. Debate include such topics as porting houses, physics engines and the value of the market, with an enormous amount of requests for such games as Neverwinter Nights 2. With the potential for selling upwards of 1000 copies (counting individual requests) of a game at possibly $50 each, is the decision to exclude a platform and the associated revenue the correct one, or are the petitioners the ones that have gotten it wrong to think that their ca 1-5% marketshare matters?" I think the unfortunante reality is that in today's gaming market, you find that fewer people are willing to take a chance on the sales for these smaller markets -- too hard to predict revenue, and too hard to (some would say) to do the porting.
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More Bioware For Linux?

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  • by suso (153703) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:17AM (#17000880) Homepage Journal
    The problem with counting requests like that is that there is not a lot of follow through. I'd say that half or less of those people requesting will actually purchase the game. I myself bought a copy of Neverwinter Nights 1 as well as UT2004, Quake 3, Doom 3, Sim City 3000 and a few other games that work under Linux. Provided that I would have enough time(have a daughter now) I will buy a copy of NWN2 if they make a Linux client. But from what I've seen and heard from many people in the past, a lot of gamers talk talk talk and don't buy. Its easy to say "Me too", but most can't or don't pony up. Then again, there are probably a lot of people who don't say anything, but end up buying a copy to use for Linux. They need a better metric for counting the number of used Linux clients.
    • by diersing (679767) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:25AM (#17000958)
      One issue might be that, in general, techies run Linux. Gamers, because they see what platforms are being serviced, don't run Linux as it would cramp their gaming lifestyles. I know everytime I try to make my house Linux-only, my gaming itch flares up and I bang my head against Wine for a while before breaking down and re-installing Windows. I don't recall ever seing a game for Linux is CompUSA/Best Buy/Frye's as long as I can remember.
      • I bought three copies of nwn1 and two of nwn2 ... I'm kinda miffed that you can't run the nwn stand alone server under linux for nwn2. However, I'm also a supporter of cedega and have been sending them my $5/mo for like 3 years now. My guess would be that your games would work under cedega. It's sometimes kinda trickey, but if you actually buy the games it works pretty well -- the cracks and things for illegal copies don't work very well apparently.

        If they later release a native linux port of nwn2, I'd d
        • I bought three copies of nwn1 and two of nwn2 ... I'm kinda miffed that you can't run the nwn stand alone server under linux for nwn2.
          Actually, the server does run under plain Wine on linux. Not ideal, but it works. A search on the nwn2 bioboards will give you step-by-step directions.
      • I don't recall ever seing a game for Linux is CompUSA/Best Buy/Frye's as long as I can remember.

        Well ... I bought Quake4, Doom3, UT2004, and NWN at BestBuy and I only run Linux ... granted, I had to download the binary for most of those, but I do run them on Linux only. That said, I only play Enemy Territory regularly, don't think I've run D3, UT2004 or NWN in well over a year. However, I put my money where my mouth is. If Bioware puts out a Linux game, I will buy it. It's not a huge financial strain to
        • by Belial6 (794905)
          If the gaming companies want to advocate for Linux (Which in the long run is in their best interest), what they really need to do is put a small program on the disk that goes out and automatically downloads the Linux binary, and installs it. Then they put Linux on the box right next to Windows. This would give a much better experience to the Linux users, while at the same time making sure that MS doesn't lock them out of the game market later because of some precieved competition.

          At this point there ar
      • by MrCopilot (871878)
        Quake4, UT2k4, Doom3.

        Same old story. There are no games for linux. There is no game market for linux. Linux users don't buy.

        All are bullshit. Linux users buy GAMES. We prefer free but we buy Good Commercial games. Anyone who will continuously fiddle with wine and cedega for MONTHS (Sometimes Years (Half-Life) to get it to work, knows the value, and will pay for a Linux Native Binary.

        The real reason we have this problem can be summed up in two words : DirectX

        Notice anything about the games at the top

      • by markdavis (642305)

        everytime I try to make my house Linux-only, my gaming itch flares up and I bang my head against Wine for a while before breaking down and re-installing Windows.

        Then buy a game console?? (Just a thought)
        In any case, you CAN have a dual boot machine for such occasions... it isn't the end of the world. For me, if it doesn't exist or run under Linux, I have no interest in it anymore.

        My gaming days are now over (RSI), but when I was having fun, there were plenty of good Linux games to keep me busy- and m

    • And that's exactly how it works. You survey the market, users say "Sure, in fact I'd buy two if it were available today", you sweat over hot electrons to develop this widget and when you get it to market and no one responds.

      At All.

      We've all seen this happen at least one time.

      • by Fred_A (10934)
        We've all seen this happen at least one time.
        Yes, remember Daikatana !
      • by arivanov (12034)
        If you are referring to Loki - the market did respond. In fact, the market did respond reasonably well and the problem was that Loki was overly optimistic about the responce forcast.

        This is only a rumour, but from what I have heard they were supposed to be paying fixed royalties per year besides the per-game royalties and while their sales of Linux games were good, they were not anywhere as good as they had to be to pay for this model.

        This is not surprising - they went for old titles and simply rereleased t
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by bettlebrox (264668)
          There are some claims that Loki were doing well selling Linux games, but went out of business because of poor management decision: Google search [google.com]
    • by vondo (303621) *
      Well.... I guess you can count me in that category. I fully intended to buy NWN after loving the Baldur's Gate & Icewind Dale games, but... I really didn't think I would like the gameplay of NWN. For me, D&D has always been about the party (since Commodore 64/Pool of Radiance days). I don't do multiplayer, so I want control over every (or almost every) character. NWN didn't offer that, from what I understood, and you had to rely on henchmen to "do the right thing." So while I borrow a friends copy
    • Follow through (Score:3, Insightful)

      by metamatic (202216)
      I would have purchased Neverwinter Nights, but they didn't finish porting it. They only ported the game, they didn't bother with the tools. Then they tried to charge more for the partial port on Mac OS X than for the entire game on Windows. So I didn't buy.

      The way I see it, it's Bioware who have a problem with following through.
  • do the math (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:19AM (#17000894)
    The potential to sell upwards of a thousand copies at 50 bucks a piece. Man, they could make, like, 50,000 dollars on that! I can't see why they wouldn't invest hundreds of thousands or possibly millions for a return like that!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      If your development process involved coding generically (OpenGL is a good base) then porting is just a matter of recompiling.
      Sure you wouldn't want to specifically port a project when 50k is on the line, but if it takes half a day to sort out dependencies and linking then your 50k is looking better and better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by muridae (966931)
        Portable code is nice, but how much portability do you trade to get the game optimized? Look at the complaints about 'Brand New Game' and see how many people whine that the minimum spec will barely run it. When a game has to run at top speed on several different platforms, you might have a portable base code and then tune from there. Or you can write tuned code and try to port it if there is enough of a market. Guess which option the publishers are going to want you to take?
        • by jandrese (485)
          Well, on the other hand it doesn't appear that NWN2 is optimized at all. I mean the requirements for that game are exceedingly steep (my Athlon XP 1700 with a GeForce FX 5900 is both too slow and has not enough graphics power) already, so I'm guessing the code is not highly optimized. It doesn't even look all that good.
          • by OverlordQ (264228)
            Not to mention that NWN2 has SecuRom and the latest NWN2 patch wont let me play the freaking game cuz it keeps crashing (Again, recognized as a problem with SecuROM from the NWN2 developers).
        • Re:do the math (Score:5, Informative)

          by GooberToo (74388) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:36AM (#17001852)
          Portability is not a trade off with optimization. If it is, you screwed up in your design, big time. In fact, writing portable code often means means higher quality code with fewer bugs. Fewer bugs means more time to optimize the over all code base. This means a better product over all.

          If you're wondering why portable code means a better product, it's simple. Generally speaking, portable code means you're using multiple compilers. Multiple compilers will identify potential bugs and general code problems much more quickly.

          Additionally, code which is designed to be portable up front also tends to be designed much better. This is because you have to have a strong low level API on which the rest of your code can sit. Violations of the design by coders is quickly identified once you start to compile on the other platforms as suddenly, it doesn't compile. You can then wrap knuckles as needed. The end is a product which is maintainable, readable, optimal, and well designed. Everyone wins.

          If any of these design houses had the slightest bit of a clue, they would already have a portable, low-level API in place which is common to all of their games. This directly translates into faster time to market, fewer bugs, higher quality product, shorter testing cycles, smaller support costs, etc... And as a bonus, they obtain two additional markets (Linux and Mac) for little extra cost; assuming they do something reasonable like OpenGL at the start. Not to mention, this opens the door for the console market as then can continue to add new platform support to their low level API. The only one that becomes problematic is the Xbox because, AFAIK, no OpenGL support.

          Let's face it, things like windowing, sound, input, networking, storage, and memory management is generally where the porting issues exist. If you go with OpenGL and a common, reusable library, suddenly the cost becomes moot as it is spread across n-games, as it gets reused. It's not like you have to write n-platforms when the gate opens. Heck, add to the library as you add platforms. Once a platform is in place, the next go-round is a freebe. I have no idea why coding houses are so dumb, but the math is easy to rationalize ad it just makes good business sense. Who doesn't want reduced support costs? Who doesn't want high quality games and happy, loyal customers? Who doesn't want two to three additional markets with greatly reduced effort and shorter time to market?

          Let's face it...good client/server games want Linux servers. Supporting networking, storage, and memory is half of the library. Let's face it...this really is a no-brainer but it shows how clueless most coding houses truely are.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by orkysoft (93727)
            Guess why the Xbos (360) doesn't support OpenGL: Microsoft wants developers to use DirectX instead, so they can't easily port to other platforms.
          • by EnglishTim (9662)
            I have no idea why coding houses are so dumb, but the math is easy to rationalize [and] it just makes good business sense.

            Has it occurred to you that perhaps it's not that developers are dumb, but instead it's that it's not quite as straightforward as you make out?

            Developers are always striving for better development practices, and this includes things like reducing coupling which leads to more portable code. However, I think you underestimate the amount of code that ends up getting written by game develope
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It's actually more complicated than that being that many/most PC games use DirectX to handle sound, input and (possibly) networking ...

        If you plan ahead and use OpenGL and OpenAL it shouldn't be too costly to port a game (probably only a month or so of work for a couple of developers) but until there are much better open source libraries (beyond OpenGL and OpenAL) you will require more than a recompile to get your game to work on Linux.
      • by pruss (246395)
        How about testing, manufacturing (new box, new CD/DVDs), modifying documentation, training customer support to deal with an OS they're not used to, etc.? Sure, one could skip the testing, manufacturing, documenting and customer support and mail out the software on CD-Rs in generic jewel cases with handwritten "NO SUPPORT AVAILABLE" labels (and even that takes work), but the company has a reputation to keep up, and people would probably feel odd about paying $50 for that. (But then I am not much of a gamer
        • by juhaz (110830)
          Considering the pieces of junk the companies keep putting out even for their primary target platforms that couldn't possibly have passed even the most rudimentary play-testing, their testing seems to consist of "if if compiles, ship it" and reputation is not something they're overtly concerned with. And customer support? Well, at least the handwritten note would reflect the reality, unlike the comfortable illusion that there IS a customer support that listens to you.
      • If your development process involved coding generically (OpenGL is a good base) then porting is just a matter of recompiling.

        OpenGL is a good option. There is another option, however, which may be of use to game vendors: porting with WINE. By developing for Windows, but making sure that it runs fine on WINE, they can get their products to run on other operating systems with less effort than switching to OpenGL. (Also this may ensure that they don't depend on obscure features of the Windows API, which may
  • porting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by unluckier (916763) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:20AM (#17000914) Journal
    porting? why not just *trying* to make it platform independent from the start?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by arth1 (260657)
      porting? why not just *trying* to make it platform independent from the start?

      And how, pray, do you do things like sound platform-independently? Synchronised with the picture, even?
      • Graphics: OpenGL
        Sound: OpenAL
        Physics: ODE
        Input: SDL (?)
        Network: ?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MatrixCubed (583402)
          My own game engine (http://odyssey-project.com/) uses the following technologies:
          Graphics: OpenGL
          Sound: OpenAL
          Physics: custom
          Input: SDL
          Network: ENet

          The source compiles out-of-the-box on Windows and Linux.
          • by arth1 (260657)
            How do you synchronise sound and motion when using OpenAL/OpenGL? Can you?
            (This is an honest question, not a troll)
            • I'm not sure on the exact details of how to do it, but I do know that people have been synchronizing sound and motion since the late 70s on arcade machines, Atari, and other game machines. You don't need an entire software package to be able to do it.
      • simple, stop using Microsoft lockin er I mean help to make your program or game. Use open standards which all systems can use. May cost a little bit more, and it might mean actually getting real programers and not DirectX hacks from the local community college, be then you will have a program that everyone can run. Problem is that its just so much easier to use tools that a company gives you to speed things along, not knowing its shutting you out of potential markets.
        • Except the point is that the cost isn't worth it. There are no 'potential markets'. Your potential markets are probably equivilant to a day's operating revenue, if that- if making the game cross-platform, or supporting it once it is, takes more than a company-day, it's just not worth it.

          Given that, why would they give half a damn about vendor lock-in? It's not doing anything but helping them.

          Frankly, you just sound bitter, and it shows.
          • by Fred_A (10934)
            Apparently for some online games there seems to be an active little Mac community. While the Mac isn't a large market, it's certainly more visible on the desktop than the regular Unixes are. It seems to me that a Mac port could for the most be the same code as a x86 Unix/Linux port (now that they use Intel CPUs) since they rely on OpenGL.
          • Except the point is that the cost isn't worth it.

            The assertion is that the cost isn't worth it. Realistically, pretty much all of the really successful games not developed by a shop MS owns, eventually get ported to the Mac and that has meant away from DirectX. Of course now that there are WINE re-implementation options that will not necessarily be the case. Still, while arguing against maintaining a non-DirectX solution you might want to look at companies like Blizzard. They seem to be doing pretty well

    • by dave1791 (315728)
      Since prople are using nwn and nwn2 as the examples here, I'll point something out. Atari, as the publisher of both, has access to the platform related sales data if it exists (iirc, the CDa had both win and linux binaries and I don't remember if there was a platform question in registration). For nwn2, DirectX was used and they did not bother with OpenGL.

      My suspicion is that the cost benefit (to Atari) came down in favor of not bothering with Linux this time around.
    • Re:porting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:04AM (#17001430) Homepage
      Every time a discussion about this comes up, people say "Oh, just use OpenGL, SDL, etc., and it will be portable".

      Game programmers aren't stupid. The vast majority will use the library that means:
      a) The game is written quickly.
      b) The game runs well on the largest range of computers.

      I am not a games programmer, but I go to the pub with a lot of them. Using OpenGL over directx means writing a fairly substansal part of your game twice, once using nvidia extensions and once using ATI extensions. For things other than graphics, then you end up with two choices:

      a) The library you are using is a wrapper over directx, so you are getting extra bugs / slowdown without significant gain or
      b) The library is distinct and usually has bugs with all kinds of very cheap cards many people have (in particular sound).

      Unless you can be sure changing libraries isn't going to break your game on less than 2% of windows machines, then making it platform independant is going to reduce the size of your overall market.
      • Excuse me... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Svartalf (2997) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:04PM (#17002306) Homepage
        Given that I know QUITE a bit on the subject (Heh... I port games over to Linux and right now I'm off that for a little bit doing driver development consulting for one of the two aforementioned players in 3D...), I think I should comment.

        Most of the extensions aren't ATI or NVidia specific that are usable. To be sure, they offer those, but most of the
        extensions are ARB or EXT extensions- they're intended to be used by either player and are typically provided by
        the same. The reality is that OpenGL 2.1 and DX9/10 are intrinsically identical except for programming style.

        Besides, you should abstract out your engine components if you've any aspirations to target the next gen consoles-
        DX10's NOT on PS3 or Wii, but OpenGL ES 2.0 IS and it's a clean, easy to use subset that ports back to MacOS and Linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EnglishTim (9662)
      Why not code cross-platform from the start?

      Because it costs a lot more to do that than you might think. At a conservative estimate I'd guess that targeting Linux would take at the very least 10% more time. If the development budget for the whole game is $5,000,000, then you'd need to expect that you could make back at least half a million dollars from Linux purchases just to make it break even, let alone worthwhile.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:23AM (#17000932)
    I think the unfortunante reality is that in today's gaming market, you find that fewer people are willing to take a chance on the sales for these smaller markets

    That's how the market works. The fewer people willing to buy something, the less they'll be willing to invest in porting it. If you really want to help get these games ported, work to increase Linux's market share. The more people that use it, the more ports you'll see. That's just the way it is.

    -Eric

  • 1000 thats it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc . r r . c om> on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:24AM (#17000946) Homepage
    If the potential is only 1000 copies at 50 bucks, why would any company bother? 50,000 will pay one low level programmer with no testers, no marketing, not even budget for changing the system requirements graphics on the box. Porting to Linux is nice, and for the companies that do it god bless them, but to expect it is a bit outside reality. Like most Linux projects it has to be a labor of love since it has no room for being a labor of profit.

    The only way I really see any growth in the Linux games market is either an exponential growth in Linux users or companies adopting an open source partnership to allow games to be ported by volunteers.
    • by eht (8912)
      And that would be assuming that 50$ is what the developer could make from it. For the developer to get that the retailer would have to charge between 75 and 100$ or possibly more.
    • by schon (31600)
      If the potential is only 1000 copies

      Exactly. After all, it is well known that the only people who would have *ever* bought NWN to run on Linux would have posted to that forum, right? The fact that only 1000 people posted to the forum means that *ONLY* those people would have bought NWN2 for Linux, and they would have only bought one copy.

      Why, it's a known fact that only people who know about (and post to) a forum before a game is released will *ever* purchase that game! If someone didn't know that the fo
    • by Creepy (93888)
      For the most part, if the code was written to work cross-platform to begin with, the work is trivial. Unfortunately, code usually isn't written that way - most game developers use DirectX (such as NWN2, unlike its predecessor), Physics APIs (e.g. Havok, though there is a mac version now), Tree APIs (speedtree), and others that are usually Windows only. Not only that, they usually charge premium licensing fees if they do offer a Windows alternative (ahem - Havok). Should they decide to port, they also nee
  • linux (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by minus_273 (174041)
    wow! a whole 1000 copies at $50! that will really cover the cost of porting the game. It might make sense to port only if they raised the retail price. Esp when you consider most linux users will probably not buy the game and download it instead. There is a reason why there is a lot of commercial software for the mac and barely any for linux even though they both have around the same market share. It has to do with the culture of the users. Linux users are used to getting thing for free and most of the so
    • by Goaway (82658)
      Actually, it probably has a lot more to do with how it is pretty much impossible to distribute binaries on Linux.
      • by arth1 (260657)

        Actually, it probably has a lot more to do with how it is pretty much impossible to distribute binaries on Linux.

        Indeed. Where other operating systems have an ABI to ensure compatibility between multiple versions of the same operating system, Linux' ABI is only for interoperability with other operating systems. Linux could do with an internal ABI that ensured a standard set of libraries with immutable APIs for the lifetime of the ABI.

        Regards,
        --
        *Art

      • They do it on a daily basis. They've got a good solid handle on it right now and it's
        about to be improved even further in a couple of months as I finish the touches on a
        possible new build environment for them.
      • by asuffield (111848)

        Actually, it probably has a lot more to do with how it is pretty much impossible to distribute binaries on Linux.

        Common misconception, but badly wrong. Linux is probably the easiest platform of all to distribute binaries for, because the vendors pay particular attention to getting ABI compatibility right, and the system was designed to solve this problem. On Windows, distributing binaries gets you the affectionately named "DLL hell". People "solve" this by assuming that Windows will be used to run only one

      • by pembo13 (770295)
        All Google tools that run on Linux come as binary. Skype comes as a binary. Flash comes as binary.
        • by minus_273 (174041)
          as does java and adobe pdf reader. You also see people damanding the source for all of the above. Do you see skype in debian? imagine being an average user and having to jump through hoops to install skype on your ubuntu box.
  • Not talking about Bioware in particular here. How many copies have to be sold before it is interesting to develop a port of a game? There are a lot of linux users around, but since Loki Games no decent titles has been ported. Did Loki games crash so bad, that even considering the linux market is seen as stupid?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      A game cannot be 'ported' to Linux; it has to have native support from teh beginning. Otherwise, you know what happens?

      Loki happens.

      "Hi, I'm looking for ShinyGame."

      "Oh, here you are. That'll be $9.99."

      "No, wait, I want the Linux version."

      "Oh, I'm sorry. There you go. That'll be $49.95."

      Any serious gamer already has a Windows partition/second drive/second box for gaming. Thus, the Loki concept is bitchslapped by logic: $49.95, for a possibly mediocre port, with untold problems*? Or $9.95, for the same
    • by jandrese (485)
      Loki had at least one major problem with their system that I think was largely responsible for crushing them in the end: Not only did they have to port the game the first time, but they had to go back and redo all of their testing (even though the porting framework was pretty generic) every time the publisher released a patch. Keeping stuff patched was an enormous task and I think it did them in eventually.

      I don't know about the other games, but I know Kohan had a reasonably active userbase. It's a sha
  • It would be nice to get - I bought NWN and both add-on extensions, and had a blast with it for over two years.

    But reality today is that the battle lines is not Windows on one hand and Mac/Linux on the other, it's desktop computer versus console. And apart from a few niche genres, the consoles are winning big.

    If I want to do gaming today I would not consider dual-booting, I would just get a console (a Wii and/or DS2 is on the horizon for me; perhaps after the holidays).

    • If you liked NWN and SoU and HotU, go get the Prestige "Upgrade" at nwnprc.netgamers.co.uk

      Well, if you want 75+ classes, a real epic spell system, a bunch of new spells, psionics, and everything else, go get it ;-D

      Well, that and I like my human Wizard 7/Red Wizard 23/Lich 10. Casts necro spells with 65 or so DC.. Momento Mori = you die.
  • Where do they get figures like that from ?

    I'm pretty sure a decent game for Linux could sell several tens or even hundreds of thousands of copies.

    I bought the Linux version of Q3 when it was available. I was planning on buying a few more games from Loki, until they shut down.

    With Linux desktop market share constantly increasing, it makes more and more economic sense to start creating cross-platform games.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ritchie70 (860516)

      And on what are you basing your 10,000 - 100,000 figure? The fact that you bought a game?

      The "Linux Game Market" for any given game is the set of people who are all of the following:

      1. Run Linux as a desktop
      2. Are interested in games
      3. Are willing to put non-free software on their free Linux system
      4. Have some $ to spend on a game
      5. Think pirating software is wrong.
      6. Think YOUR game is worth spending $ on.

      How many people is that really?

      The Linux market may be the same size as the Mac market, but the vast majority

      • The "Linux Game Market" for any given game is the set of people who are all of the following:

        Run Linux as a desktop
        Are interested in games
        Are willing to put non-free software on their free Linux system
        Have some $ to spend on a game
        Think pirating software is wrong.
        Think YOUR game is worth spending $ on.


        You missed one. Namely - "Don't already have the game under Windows and can't get it to work under WINE". That's the big one, because people won't spend another $50 if they already have a solution.
        • by arth1 (260657)

          As WINE improves, and as virtualization adds hardware graphics support (which could be coming to some extent in a year's time), there's going to be less incentive for a native version.

          The software that is released changes quicker than WINE improves. It's a catch-up game, and unfortunately, WINE is getting farther and farther behind.

          Out of the last few games I bought, how many can you get to run under WINE?

          Neverwinter Nights 2
          Microsoft Flight Simulator X
          Gothic 3
          Fable: The lost chapters
          Oblivion
          GT Legends
          X3 -

    • by AlXtreme (223728)
      If we take the upper-limit of 5% Linux-marketshare usage, a hundred thousand copies would mean at least 2M sold. That's $100M revenue what we're talking about. These types of PC games aren't just decent, they're the top (Quake, UT, WoW, NWN). Some of those have cross-platform engines, others don't.

      The question then arises what is more costly: Supporting multiple platforms directly, or supporting Transgaming occasionally to do all the hard work. Perhaps the executives think that even if a reduced number of L
    • by arth1 (260657)
      I'm pretty sure a decent game for Linux could sell several tens or even hundreds of thousands of copies.

      Quake III and Railroad Tycoon II were decent games that were released also for Linux, but had abysmal sales. Honestly, how many of you bought them?

      --
      *Art
  • Why Port (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 27, 2006 @10:48AM (#17001178)

    I think the unfortunante reality is that in today's gaming market, you find that fewer people are willing to take a chance on the sales for these smaller markets -- too hard to predict revenue, and too hard to (some would say) to do the porting.

    The really smart gaming houses that know their titles will be successful (look at Id and Blizzard) also know that coding their titles to be portable is the way to go, even if they don't want to target other platforms. It encourages good coding practices and makes a better program. Most of them rely heavily on OpenGL and do plan to port their games at least to the mac as part of their original strategy. If your game is almost finished and you're just now considering portability and other platforms, you screwed up. You might as well wait till it is out and see how popular it is before going after other platforms.

    Some might say the Mac or Linux markets are insignificant, but the truth is a lot of companies make good money from the Mac market. Lets not forget to include consoles as well when considering portability. I've seen some companies cite the practices of MS owned gaming houses as reason not to make games portable, but that is pretty laughable when you consider it. Also, I've seen some people point to horribly botched porting projects as reason to avoid it. Instances where a Linux port came out a year and a half after the Windows version, was buggy, was a game that required a community, and where the port was more expensive than the Windows version and was more buggy than using the Windows version in WINE. That too is pretty sad.

    Coding for portability and aiming at Windows, the mac, and one or more consoles can seriously increase the revenue from a game, but it has to be part of the original game plan and you have to code with that in mind. Porting after the fact can make money, and if you have a very successful title outsourcing the port can make some pretty safe money, but not nearly as much of it. I don't see a reason for any big publisher (not owned by MS) to not target multiple platforms from the outset. Anyone want to bet the MMORPG that topples WoW's supremacy is another simultaneous cross-platfomr release?

    • I can't afford to own two computers right now, and I chose to buy a Mac because I prefer it for my "work" duties. Having said that, one of the reasons I originally opted to get into World of Warcraft was that I was bored, I wanted a game to get into, and I didn't own a Windows box - which pre-empts me from owning the vast majority of top-tier PC titles. I recall hearing from a videogame podcast at some point where an expansion pack for The Sims for the Mac had momentarily broke into the top 10 selling gam

      • Having said that, one of the reasons I originally opted to get into World of Warcraft was that I was bored, I wanted a game to get into, and I didn't own a Windows box - which pre-empts me from owning the vast majority of top-tier PC titles.

        The mac platform outperforms most estimates based solely upon market share for several reasons. They include: less competition, larger install share than market share, less piracy, macs are concentrated among those with disposable income, most office systems are Windo

  • play Minions of Mirth [prairiegames.com] while you wait for Bioware to get their Mac and Linux act together.
  • I dont understand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by T-Ranger (10520)
    What the now so-hard-we-wont-even-try technical stumbling block is these days. You have Wine - I'm sure if you throw money at Transgaming you can get a more friendly (well, for them) license. And you have Mono. Ditto for Novell.

    So, what is the major technology that you can't fairly easily replace with some pseudo-OSS libraries?

    And: hahaha. NWN2 banner add while posting this.
  • by Zondar (32904) on Monday November 27, 2006 @11:03AM (#17001402)
    Most games these days have patches on a somewhat regular basis. Each additional platform you launch the game on requires that you include that platform in your ongoing development costs.

    It's not as simple as "just recompile it for Linux, duh". Every time I see someone scream for some MMORPG to release 'the Linux client we know you have', they always forget to include the recurring dev cycle costs.

    If the cost to make it + the cost to maintain it > the additional revenue it brings in... then it doesn't get made.
  • Compare and contrast the number of NWN games sold to the number of NWN2 games sold, in the future. Should be a great way to see if cross-porting "pays off".
  • Why not ask for a minimal, say $10-$20 deposit? If the game is released, the deposit is counted towards the purchase. If the game is not released, the money is returned. That's how you separate someone with intent to buy/play from someone filling out a form online.
  • Sorry, but the $50k in revenue you'd make from those 1000 copies don't even pay for the salary of the people porting the game. That being said, I'd think there's more than 1000 copies in it for any game company releasing a good AAA title for Linux, and that it might be worth it, if ports are something your company is willing to do. For it to be profitable, I'd say 5000 to 10000 units sell through would have to be the minimum - of course you've got to consider the value of the PR as well, considering that ga
    • by GooberToo (74388)
      Actually, it does. People don't realize that game programmers are the low-rung of programmers, pay wise. A programmer might might $50k in a year. That $50k will pay for one coder for a year. Since it won't take a year, we can say, let's put four guys on it for three months. That 50k paid for the port.

      Now then, having said that, realistically, it's very doubtful that ONLY 1000 copies would be sold on the basis of a Linux port. It's much more likely to be at least 10,000+. Yes, that's a guessimate on m
  • Over the Thanksgiving weekend I logged in close to 30 hours playing NWN on Linux. I think I paid around $50 for the game some months ago, downloaded the Linux client, then got everything updated. Easily the best $50 I've spent. If there's a pre-order list I'll put my money in.
  • Hey Linux users don't want them to port their stinking closed source games to Linux.
    If they want people to play their games on Linux then they should Open Source them.

    Isn't that how RMS feels?

    I for one would pay for a good game that runs under Linux but then I don't think that closed source is always evil.
  • Bioware has nothing to do with NWN2 other than hosting the forums. They don't control a linux port and since it was decided to use DirectX this time around, its not coming anytime soon.
    As far as games in general being on Linux, well that depends on the game. If the developer can be sweet talked into openGL you have a much higher chance of seeing it. Perhaps the community should start wooing developers.
  • The fact of the matter is that many of these games run atop a more generalized engine. The game itself is pretty much platform independent at this point. The traditional notion of "porting" a game doesn't apply. Rather, its whether or not one ought to port the underlying engine.

    It depends on the engine, of course, but it's much more straight-forward than one would think in many cases (unless it's hopelessly wedded to DirectX without any abstraction at all). Thankfully, that's not too often the case any more
  • by chill (34294)
    Bioware's NWN was excellent, but I'm not holding out much hope for Atari's NWN2.

    I *am* holding out hope for id's Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. id has a history or providing downloadable Linux versions once the retail PC version is out. Buy the box, download the Linux binaries and you're good to go.

    Of course, I'll have to shell out another $400 or so to upgrade my system the play it right... Oh the sacrifices I'll make in the name of fragging alien scum. :-)

    Thanks id!
  • Someone should ask Blizzard how that cross-platform experiment with World of Warcraft is working for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oc255 (218044)
      imho ... Blizzard is the massive exception to the rule. They write amazing code, they run an amazing operation. Of course, they also stay behind the tech curve (smart). Blizzard, Google (for how long I wonder), Apple (much lesser extent), ID did well with the Doom RPG but I don't know where they are heading ... it's odd, they need new IP or something.

      Back on topic, they are a massive exception to the rule. WoW is a AAA title can run OpenGL (mac/windows) and DX (windows), has very few bugs in constant ch
  • I know most people think it is a crazy idea, but I think it is long past time for games to go open source. Really, the open source model lends itself almost ideally to gaming and there is a lot of money to be made by the early adopter.

    Already some games are carried to success by the mod community. Really there are several components to a successful game. Artwork, story, and gameplay. Of those, only the gameplay is at risk of being copied by competitors if a game is open sourced. Gameplay relies upon the e

  • 1000 games is a joke (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ffakr (468921) on Monday November 27, 2006 @12:27PM (#17002622) Homepage
    I can see 1000 games as a target for Linux releases. Linux geeks are often (but certainly not always) gamers but people don't install linux to play games. If you want optimised video drivers and if you just want the damn game to 'just work' you keep a Windows machine or Windows Partition. Not to mention the lag in patches.. it's no fun bringing your linux rig to lan party only to find out that you can't join the game because the V. 1.1 patch is not available for you yet.

    The 1000 number for OS X is a joke though. Seriously, Any decent game should sell more than 1000 copies on the Mac. There are far too many Macs in use in homes for a GOOD game to not sell reasonably well. The Mac has issues.. it's rare to see them with really good video systems. The recent Intel machines have solid offerings but they aren't fantastic ( Elder Scrolls would play like crap on a stock iMac with underclocked X1600 video). I have, however, played Battlefield 2 at native rez with decent settings on a 1st gen Intel 17" iMac and it ran great. It beat the hell out of my Athlon X2 3800 w/ AGP Nvidia 6600GT. The current iMacs are much nicer too.

    The bigger problem, as I see it, is that the gaming industry is in a lull. I don't see any really compelling titles. I love WW2 era FPShooters but the Genre has been played out to death. The Battlefield series has been solid but every new version is just a new veneer on the same game. To me and my friends, EQ and WWC MassivelyMulitPlayer games are played out. The frustration of dumping time into them has long since outweighted the enjoyment (I never did try World of WarCraft.. I got burned out before that).
    Really, I walk through the gaming isle at Frys and nothing excites me and I've been looking to have another lan party. There's literally dozens of FPS War games but none stand out and I'm not going to try them all so I can tell people to buy one just for a night at my house.

    The other problem is crappy coding though this is more minor issue. If the developer houses wrote tighter code, there'd be a larger range of medoicre machines that could run that code. Remember when the big guns were Doom3 vs. HalfLife2.. HalfLife2, to me, looked every bit as good overall and it ran MUCH better on less than cutting edge hardware. Doom3 was the killer benchmark for a while and the lighting system does look nice but the HL2 engine looks great and I really enjoyed the game (more so than the 'turn the corner and shoot' story line of Doom3). IMHO, HL2 is a superior game because the sum of the whole package is superior [visuals, story, environment, gameplay..]. The impressive thing is, Valve pulled this off without forcing everyone to run out and drop $500 on upgrades. If Valve, for instance, started supporting OS X, I'm sure they'd be able to run on a pretty large Mac installed base. Everything over the Mini should run HL2 fantastically. [other noteable crap-tastic games I'd never buy for a Mac.. BF Vietnam.. which crippled my Radeon9800Pro back in 2003, EQ (HORRIBLE CODING) and even EQ2 which seemed un-reasonably slow on decent PC hardware)

    If we had good, compelling games.. I'd guarantee that a port of a GOOD game to OS X would sell a hell of a lot more than 1000 copies with annual sales of Millions of computers and poor enterprise market penetration (most macs go home or at least into EDU markets).
  • They probably dont want to support linux because the code they wrote isn't written to be portable. If they migrate their code to be portable, then linux and macosx (as well as other unix's)should be no problem to use as a make target.
  • by truffle (37924)
    http://www.transgaming.com/products_linux.php [transgaming.com]

    Working with Cadega probably makes more sense for most game developers.

    Yes you restrict your product to Cadega users, but most of the hassle is handled by Cadega.

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