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Hemisphere Games Reveals Osmos Linux Sales Numbers 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-than-a-little-less-than-a-lot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Hemisphere Games analyzes the sales numbers for their Linux port of Osmos and ask themselves, 'Is it worth porting games to Linux?' The short, simple answer is 'yes.' Breakdown and details in the post." A few other interesting details: the port took them about two man-months of work, the day they released for Linux was their single best sales day ever, and they got a surprising amount of interest from Russia and Eastern Europe. Their data only reflects sales through their website, and they make the point that "the lack of a strong Linux portal makes it a much less 'competitive' OS for commercial development." Hopefully someday the rumored Steam Linux client will help to solve that.
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Hemisphere Games Reveals Osmos Linux Sales Numbers

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  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:49PM (#32697018)
    Until Valve says anything about a Linux client, it's just rumor and speculation.

    And contrary to what Phoronix has reported for a couple of years now, Valve has not said one word about a Linux port.
    • by kiddygrinder (605598) on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:00PM (#32697842)
      the confirmation of a linux client has come from articles like this one telegraph.co.uk [telegraph.co.uk] and they have definitely been working on it as people have downloaded and actually run some of their linux code, however there has been no actual confirmation directly from valve.
      • Yeah one sentence at the end of the article not attributed to anyone at Valve. Like I said. Valve has not confirmed the existence of a Linux client.
        • if you actually had read to the end of my comment you might have seen that i agree with you
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Burpmaster (598437)

      Until Valve says anything about a Linux client, it's just rumor and speculation.

      That's absurd. It's no longer just a rumor once it's been proven, regardless of where or who the proof comes from. What we have is better than an official announcement, since an announcement could be false.

      We have the actual binary. Sure, it's a largely non-functional pre-alpha, but the build was frequently being updated, which indicates active development. And now the URL is an error 403 Forbidden. I'll bet the URL only works from Valve's internal IPs now, but that's just my speculation. The existence of a

    • by Khyber (864651)

      "Until Valve says anything about a Linux client, it's just rumor and speculation. "

      What if id software decided to say "Yo, Linux EVERYTHING."

      Would that make it even more legit?

  • Duh? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by bigspring (1791856)
    Linux geeks like video games, but have barely any available natively. They'll pay to encourage others to be ported in the future. It's a pretty simple idea. I find it fairly remarkable that people are just figuring this out.
    • by gangien (151940)

      just figuring this out? people tried before and haven't been successful.

      • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:32PM (#32697538) Homepage

        To reinforce the point:

        Loki Software was founded on November 9, 1998 by Scott Draeker, a former lawyer who became interested in porting games to Linux after being introduced to the system through his work as a software licensing attorney. By December of that year Loki had gained the rights to produce a port of Activision's then upcoming strategy game Civilization: Call to Power for Linux. This was to become Loki's first actual product, with the game hitting stores in May of 1999. From there they gained contracts to port many other titles, such as Myth II: Soulblighter, Railroad Tycoon II , and Eric's Ultimate Solitaire. Throughout the next two years the company would continue to bring more games to Linux.
        Although successful in its goal of bringing games to the Linux platform, the company was eventually forced to close due to financial troubles, with it declaring Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in August 2001, and finally being disbanded in January 2002.

        • Re:Duh? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Beelzebud (1361137) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:45PM (#32697682)
          I've read many tales about how he also spent most of their money on vanity items, and drove the business into the ground. Not to mention that 10 years ago Linux was a pain in the ass for a lot of people to set up and use. With distros like Ubuntu and Mint it's much more accessible now for people who simply want to play games, and not spend all their free time setting the system up.
        • by Binestar (28861)
          I still have my Civ:CTP linux disk, along with my Q3A Linux Metal box!
          • by jedidiah (1196)

            I was mistaken for a Loki employee at Comdex simply because I was wandering around with their shirt.

            At the time I thought it was a huge blunder that they weren't handing those shirts out themselves.

            The fact that we have to go beating the bushes ourselves looking for stuff can't help the sales numbers.

  • Really good news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:55PM (#32697088) Homepage

    "Windows for gaming" will still be the chant for the next 5+ years I fear, but I have to wonder some... "What If" someone got together with some other somepeople and created a "Linux gaming standard distribution" or something similar to LSB for gaming... something similar to "Wine bottles" but for game installation and playing. This could make Linux gaming SO much easier and more direct. It could ALSO aid in making the games more controllable by the software publishers (I know, no one likes that idea except the software publishers...) but consider that this would make a really nice link between console gaming and PC gaming. If this were to happen and somehow catch on, (yeah I know... fat chance) the new chant would be "Linux for gaming* because it can be faster and better than Windows can.

    Are there still people running Windows 9X for their games? Last I saw (years ago) that was the case... makes me want to load up Win9X and then set up XvT and such... Those were some good ole days!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      After I installed xubuntu recently and tried out Playonlinux, I was shocked to see that all my games were running, and only my graphics drivers were holding me back. I tried downloading the radeon 5830 drivers, and their website's fucked up and they still don't have the download fixed.

      Frankly the year of gaming on linux is right now and I may have even missed some of it.

      More games work through linux than windows for me!

    • I was pondering this the other night myself. A distro dedicated to gaming. And then I started thinking about an entity making a bunch of boxes with identical hardware, running this gaming distro, and suddenly you have a console like platform. You could make them upgradeable as well, as long as it has at least X amount of performance.

      Imagine a dedicated linux gaming platform. With a keyboard/mouse control as a default, but you'd still have the ability to install a USB gamepad. I get all tingly inside.

      Someone

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by icebraining (1313345)

        That's not what GP is suggesting (not a machine nor a distro): he's talking about a standard like the LSB [linuxfoundation.org], but for games.

    • by mangu (126918)

      There was a time when games came with a "DOS extender" program that allowed the game to use machine resources that weren't available to MS-DOS. It wasn't such a big deal for the software companies to ship that small program together with the game, and it wasn't such a big deal for the user to install it.

      Imagine if games came in a live Linux CD-ROM. MS-Windows users could play those games with all the benefits of Linux and Linux users would have a natively compilated game.

      Are there still people running Windo

      • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:45PM (#32697684) Homepage

        Imagine if games came in a live Linux CD-ROM. MS-Windows users could play those games with all the benefits of Linux

        What benefits? I only see drawbacks:
        - terrible loading times (wasting the hard drive advantage)
        - having to reboot
        - having to configure the network to play online games. Since it's a LiveCD, having to store those configurations in a USB disk or losing them
        - wasting the integration of systems like Steam

        In general, that would be like playing on a PS2 with better graphics. No thank you.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Plus how the drivers installed on the Linux LiveCD would be outdated the minute something new was released, and there would be no good way to patch the disc.

        • I fully agree with you.

          But I've been tinkering with Linux a lot recently, and wanted to point one thing out. Distros like PuppyLinux can actually save your session onto write-once multisession DVDs, so settings like your Wifi SSID and password can easily be saved/restored.

          I totally agree about the loading times. I've wondered for a long time about why consoles lacked HDDs.

          • Distros like PuppyLinux can actually save your session onto write-once multisession DVDs, so settings like your Wifi SSID and password can easily be saved/restored.

            Yes, but from what I can tell (I'm not sure), normal consumer DVD (DVD-R and DVD+R) can't be pressed, only recorded with optical drives, which would drive up the costs immensely. Conversely, the DVD used by games/movies are DVD-ROM, which as far as I know, don't support optical writing, hence no multissessions.

  • .deb v .rpm (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday June 25, 2010 @05:59PM (#32697144)

    That part was most surprising for me - whilst I think .rpm is more of the standard for server based business apps, it appears debia (ie ubuntu) is the predominant platform for clients.

    Ok, it doesn't surprise me at all now I've thought it through :)

  • Oblig (Score:1, Funny)

    by DIplomatic (1759914)
    Yes, but does it run on.....oh.
  • One game? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:02PM (#32697198)

    One puzzle game proves that it's worth it to port to Linux?

    If it took two months to port a puzzle game, imagine how much time and expenses it would take to port a big-name game with much higher technical demands and support requirements.

    • Re:One game? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@[ ]u.org ['bea' in gap]> on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:11PM (#32697298)

      > If it took two months to port a puzzle game, imagine how much time and expenses it would take to port a big-name...

      One suspects most of that time was learning a new platform. If Linux was a target from the start and the game house had done it before the porting time would be less. To begin a cross platform library like SDL would probably be selected at the start of the project. Porting would then be a minor problem. Even better would be to divide the development team's workstations and develop all targeted platforms in parallel to catch cross platform issues during development. Done that way a wide targeted product should not add more than a couple percent to the development costs.

      Another idea. If a game house or group of them developed a common repository the distribution costs could be minimal. This doesn't require their wares be free either. Activation keys/etc could still be used while using repos to eliminate installation problems, distributing updates, etc. Who needs Steam? Better, who needs to cut Steam in for a cut for something Linux has native?

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Agree... it's sad I have no mod points right now. :/

        It would be awesome if I could add my favorite game studio's repo and select from their games.

      • Re:One game? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Kjella (173770) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:39PM (#32697610) Homepage

        One suspects most of that time was learning a new platform. If Linux was a target from the start and the game house had done it before the porting time would be less. To begin a cross platform library like SDL would probably be selected at the start of the project.

        Quote TFA:

        The code was engineered to be cross-platform from the start, built on libraries like OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg/libvorbis, freetype, etc.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:24PM (#32698118)

          What happens if you need something that is NOT cross platform to Linux? You then have to develop an in house version of it. Ok, but that is increasing the cost of development over all, not just for the Linux version.

          An example for commercial titles would be Speedtree, Scaleform, or any number of other middleware apps that do not have Linux ports. None of them do anything you couldn't write yourself, however they simplify development thus reducing time thus reducing cost. Scaleform is used to make resolution independent UIs easily and quickly. It gives artists robust tools so that they can design UIs right away. The programmers then can make use of them. This is cheaper than having to have the programmers write not only the UI code for the engine, but then tools for the artists to make the UIs and so on.

          So in a complex title you might well find costs of the Windows version going up because the tools you use aren't available for Linux. Saying "Just use something else," or "Just write your own," isn't an answer. The question isn't if it is technically possible to do it, the question is it economical to do it. The amount of expected sales has to exceed the costs by a non-trivial amount.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jmorris42 (1458) *

          > Quote TFA:

          > The code was engineered to be cross-platform from the start, built on libraries like OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg/libvorbis, freetype, etc.

          That basic level of avoiding Microsoft only tech makes a port plausible, it doesn't make your code cross platform. I noted the distinct lack of a mention of an explicit cross platform layer such as SDL. The article doesn't say what the original development environment was but I'd put more money on Microsoft Visual Studio than emacs/autoconf/gnu make, etc.

      • The code was engineered to be cross-platform from the start, built on libraries like OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg/libvorbis, freetype, etc. In addition, Aaron had already done a great job on the Mac port, ironing out any remaining gcc/abstraction details.

        From TFA:

        The code was engineered to be cross-platform from the start, built on libraries like OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg/libvorbis, freetype, etc. In addition, Aaron had already done a great job on the Mac port, ironing out any remaining gcc/abstraction details.

      • by Narishma (822073)

        The article says that the project was planned as a multiplatform game from the start, using stuff like OpenGL, OpenAL, Freetype and so on. It still took them 2 months to port to Linux, after they have already ported it to a similar system (MacOS X).

      • by cynyr (703126)
        get it to work on non binary distros, and you have a winner. not all of us run distros from 3 years ago...
      • Who needs Steam? Better, who needs to cut Steam in for a cut for something Linux has native?

        Short of a few indy devs, Linux users need Steam to bring them developers and publishers.

        Whatever cut Steam takes, it's worth it.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        I've been saying it for years and I'll say it again- its for this reason that Mac's rise back to relevance is a Good Thing for Linux users.

        If a developer (and we're not just talking games here) is thinking about cross-platform portability right from day 1, it makes it far easier to port a product at any point in the future. If ever the proportion of desktops/laptops running something non-Windows becomes high enough, developers will have an excuse to spare a thought for portability. Even if Linux is still la

    • Re:One game? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:36PM (#32697576) Homepage

      If it took two months to port a puzzle game, imagine how much time and expenses it would take to port a big-name game with much higher technical demands and support requirements.

      Two manmonths of work is extremely little. Development studios like Inifinity Ward has 60 employees, Telltale Games 70, Bizarre Creations 165, Valve 225, Turbine 300, Bioware 500, Take Two 2000, Blizzard 4600. Some do publishing and other game-related stuff, but still two months is a drop in the ocean compared to the manyears laid down in many games. Even a small increase in sales would pay for much, much more. Enough? Tough to say, depends on how it scales. True this isn't proof but you also brought nothing but a very spurious argument for why it couldn't.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Rockoon (1252108)
        So just stack man-months as if they werent mythical?
        • by Kjella (173770)

          So just stack man-months as if they werent mythical?

          I think you're repeating a slashdot meme, because clearly you haven't understood it. The mythical man month is about adding project members to a project very late in the process to deliver faster on a delayed project. In practice the new members not only aren't very productive, they suck up time from everyone else to teach them about the system so it ends up taking as long or longer to finish anyway.

          That does not preclude large software projects, producing the game itself is one of them. If a Linux port wou

          • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

            by Rockoon (1252108)

            If a Linux port would take 5 manyears you don't need one man for five years, with some planning you can have 10 people working on it for six months.

            Why not 100 people for 18 days? or 1000 people for 2 days?

            • by Draek (916851)

              Because Amdahl's Law [wikipedia.org], surprisingly enough, also applies to people. You can't, for instance, ask somebody to write half an algorithm and another person the other half, well technically you can but the work needed to keep it orderly so it works (same variable names, etc) would be far more than it'd take just one programmer to write the entire thing himself.

              Dunno why you were modded Troll though, I think it's a valid question, at least at first glance.

              • by Rockoon (1252108)

                Because Amdahl's Law, surprisingly enough, also applies to people. You can't, for instance, ask somebody to write half an algorithm and another person the other half, well technically you can but the work needed to keep it orderly so it works (same variable names, etc) would be far more than it'd take just one programmer to write the entire thing himself.

                Exactly. So this idea that you can just throw more developers at porting isnt substantiated. The answer is "it depends" .. mythical man month. Just because it takes X man-months doesnt mean that you can throw more men at it to reduce the time required to complete it.

                • by Patch86 (1465427)

                  There is always an optimum for these things. 100 people working for a day and a half isn't necessarily it, and neither is 1 man working for 2 months. But assuming you stick with whatever seems about optimum, "man-hours" is still a relevant term- it is a perfectly useful way of measuring the cost of things.

                  E.g., if the "optimum" for this project happens to be 4 employees working for 2 weeks, that's "2 man-months". If each of your employees costs $5k a month, then that tells you the project will cost you abou

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hitmark (640295)

        seems like computer game production is in much the same state as banks issuing loans.

        the biggest entities in either need a scale of return so high that they miss out on a lot of the smaller customers.

        so maybe computer gaming needs something similar to the concept of microcredit?

    • by Spykk (823586)
      If the game was written properly its size shouldn't change how long it takes to port it. Game logic is intrinsically cross platform. If the code that renders scenes, plays sounds, accesses the file system or uses the network is sufficiently abstract then the time to port any given game shouldn't vary much regardless of its scope.
    • by bloodhawk (813939)

      One puzzle game proves that it's worth it to port to Linux?

      If it took two months to port a puzzle game, imagine how much time and expenses it would take to port a big-name game with much higher technical demands and support requirements.

      The article actually stated it was not worth it unless you were doing it for the passion, if there time had been at industry standard rates (which they state as $10,000 a man month, personally I would say that is on the low side) then the project would have made a loss. So I guess this is worth it as long as your time is worth nothing or you are doing it for the love of it.

  • rather impressive (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@gmai l . com> on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:06PM (#32697226)

    I don't think linux will become a more profitable platform to target than windows for major game houses in any sort of foreseeable future, but I think that graph [hemispheregames.com] from the article makes a pretty strong case for indie developers to target linux.

    Good news for indy developers (who now have a larger potential audience), and of course good news for linux users.

  • I hate to ask this because it sounds like looking a gift horse in the mouth, but how on earth did it take them two man-months? I ported my game engine over and it took about a week. And that's with manual X11 calls - if I'd wimped out and used a library for it, it would've taken just a few days.

    What exactly took the time there?

    • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Maybe they were unfamilar with the platform, and didn't code the engine to be relatively platform independant the first time around?

      • Won't someone read TFA?

        The code was engineered to be cross-platform from the start, built on libraries like OpenGL, OpenAL, libogg/libvorbis, freetype, etc. In addition, Aaron had already done a great job on the Mac port, ironing out any remaining gcc/abstraction details.

        This was *before* the porting started.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rasjani (97395)

      1) Actual porting of the game - if you read the article, the guy who did the port did not know the codebase from the start - you propably knew your codebase in and out ?
      2) Multi format packaging - its not only about building debian rules or spec file and you are set - if you target multiple platforms and hardware architectures via proper packaging - you need to be checking a lot of build options with dependencies..
      3) website changes
      4) and testing ..

      And last, possible promotion ?

      Releasing stuff might not alw

    • by nschubach (922175)

      I'm guessing it probably wasn't all two months... I'm sure there were long breaks, conferences, hookers, beer... the usuals.

    • by cynyr (703126)
      auth, moving all of the DX code, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ZorbaTHut (126196)

        According to the article, it already ran on OSX. That implies it was already using OpenGL.

  • Interesting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by immakiku (777365) on Friday June 25, 2010 @06:08PM (#32697252)
    Gaming is one of the last things keeping people from switching to Linux entirely. Once the Linux gaming scene picks up steam (pun intended), "those in the know" will have no reason to retain an installation of Windows. The increase in user base will spur further development in the areas of Linux that are inferior to Windows at the moment.
    • no. one of the last things keeping people from switching to Linux is that Adobe doesnt have a Linux-compatible Creative Suite. if they did, LOL, there would be a "sea-change" for sure.
    • by westlake (615356)

      Gaming is one of the last things keeping people from switching to Linux entirely

      Linux has a global 1% share of the desktop. Top Operating System Share Trend [hitslink.com]

      I can't believe that 99% of the holdouts are PC gamers.

      • Re:Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Beelzebud (1361137) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:41PM (#32699430)
        You'd be in for a surprise then. Gamers love to tinker with their systems, and most of my friends, and myself would be using Linux full time if we could. It wouldn't be 99%, that's a bit of a stretch, but I know it would be around 10-20%.
      • Gaming is one of the last things keeping people from switching to Linux entirely

        Linux has a global 1% share of the desktop. Top Operating System Share Trend [hitslink.com]

        I can't believe that 99% of the holdouts are PC gamers.

        No, they're mostly people who don't even know what an OS is. But techy people drive tech adoption, and a lot of young techy people are gamers. I admin a gaming forum, and a lot of random people there say they like Linux but are never going to consider it full-time unless it's as good as Windows for gaming. But that means supporting many more games than Mac does now (let alone Linux), plus having performance as good as Windows – a consistent 10 FPS loss would be unacceptable. So we have a long way

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm currently writing a 3D game for Linux using OpenGL and SDL. In a way those two cover a lot of bases, but there are some glaring holes as well:

    * Middleware. DX owns the game middleware market.

    * IDEs. I'm using kdevelop, and have looked at Eclipse, but there is no Linux IDE that can come close to Visual Studio. I say this as a huge Linux advocate, and someone who barely ever even boots into Windows - but credit where it's due, MSVC is simply a better product.

    Otherwise, I don't see much reason to tie y

  • by future assassin (639396) on Friday June 25, 2010 @07:18PM (#32698070) Homepage
    Thanks to Slashdot for the article which made me buy a Linux compatible game. Level two baby!!!!!
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      I would have bought it, had I not paid for the windows version via steam a long while ago.

      Delayed releases suck. Had I any idea, I would have bought only the Linux version.

  • Worth mentioning.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Trubacca (941152)
    This "linux gaming" concept is a very interesting subject, and perhaps my fellow slashdotters can help my brain tackle some "ethical dilemma's" that I am facing. Some quick backstory.. I love me some computer games. Grew up on the stuff.. Civ 1 was my first true computer game.. it came bundled with our first cd-rom drive that my dad bought. I never went back to a console again. I grew up, but never outgrew gaming.. although these days I try to temper "frivolous entertainment" with worthwhile projects and co
    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Any port in a storm, man. Any port in a storm.
    • Look at it this way. If we all adopted the purist attitude that everything should be 100% open, then you should forget about ever having entertainment software on Linux. Like it or not, piracy is a real concern for independent game developers like Valve, and if you expect them to forfeit copy protection in the name of Stallman-style zealotry, then gaming on Linux is never going to happen in a big way. Where Valve got their DRM right is that Steam also provides useful features for their games. It's not
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Steam doesn't belong on my PC, and I run Linux, but that doesn't mean Steam doesn't belong on Linux.

      If you love first sale law then don't patronize Steam. Otherwise it's really not that bad. But personally I consider the ability to resell to be critical. If you get a game cheap enough to where it offsets this, or you just don't care, why not use Steam?

  • A note from LGP. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:38PM (#32699414) Homepage

    Wed, June 23 2010

    Is grateful to Slashdot for finally noticing that LGP exists, after militantly ignoring any game release we have made for the last 5 years, as soon as reports of our death come through, we get a front page story. Slashdot - Your support of Linux is inspirational.
    For others who wonder, we are very much alive. We have had a couple of staffing issues on the admin side of things, which explains most of our silence, but work is progressing on more than one unannounced title. We will offer further updates as and when there is news to update you with.

  • ... the people who bought it because it worked with wine. I, for one, bought it back when there was no linux client, just because it had a 'platinum' (or gold maybe) rating from in the winehq app database. I wouldn't have bought it otherwise, but I was happy when I got a native client. The game is nice, though, and I would love to see it's source code released (like Aquaria,Gish,Lugaru and Penumbra, all of which have already released their source code). I'm very curious about how they do many of the things
  • by mqduck (232646)

    Well, it apparently got lots of great reviews (according to the game's website). But the video of it makes it looks like it's just a less interesting version of the first stage in Spore

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