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Company Seeks To Boost Linux Game Development With 3D Engine Giveaway 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-services-rendered dept.
binstream writes "To support Linux game development, Unigine Corp. announced a competition: it will give a free license for its Unigine engine to a seasoned team willing to work on a native Linux game. The company has been Linux-friendly from the very start; it released advanced GPU benchmarks (Heaven, Tropics, Sanctuary) for Linux before and is working on the OilRush strategy game that supports Linux as well."
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Company Seeks To Boost Linux Game Development With 3D Engine Giveaway

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  • What surprises me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday November 26, 2010 @07:35PM (#34353972) Journal
    What I find curious about the general poverty of the linux gaming scene is how the prerequisite elements that do exist seem to have come together much less well than I would have expected, even as, in other areas, the prerequisite elements come together better than I would expect.

    A lot of effort gets dumped into Linux and the software ecosystem that people generally mean when they say "linux"(gnome, KDE, prominent programs for both, etc.) A fair percentage of it is paid for(kernel work that makes it more suitable for vendor X's servers and vendor Y's embedded platforms, some Freedesktop consortium stuff, etc.); but much of it is purely voluntary, even the sort of thing that corporations might shy away from under the advice of their lawyers(swift reverse-engineering of iPod and MTP syncing, that one French physicist who single-handedly built support for about a bazillion pre-UVC webcams, etc.).

    Similarly, a lot of purely voluntary effort gets dumped into the modding scene. On occasion, a very prominent and successful mod team gets snapped up and goes pro; but that is a sucker's bet. There is a lot of hard, sometimes tedious, modding/art/game balance work going on around commercial games purely voluntarily.

    On the Linux side, support for cutting-edge, just-released games and engines is rather sparse; but there are a number of fully free engines and generic asset packs that have been kicking around for a while. All of ID's older engine properties have been cleaned up and open-ified, some from-scratch engines have as well, as well as a few other scratch developed or commercially abandoned projects.

    There exist the engines(not cutting edge; but adequate enough for reasonably pretty graphics), there exists a talent pool, as proven by the modders, and their exists a reasonable amount of volunteerism and paid-for-by-people-unconcerned-by-free-riders paid work in the linux ecosystem generally. Why does that so seldom come together on the Linux side? Are the modding tools with contemporary-release proprietary games just that superior to the tools available to the freed engines? Is the mass of potential gamers to turn into modders just that much larger on Windows? Something else?
  • A nice gesture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by somenickname (1270442) on Friday November 26, 2010 @07:37PM (#34353984)

    This is a nice gesture but, I don't really see it jump starting linux game development. I don't think linux will be considered a viable gaming market until a gigantic name like Blizzard starts releasing native linux clients. In fact, I think Blizzard could single handedly make linux a gaming platform. They already release OpenGL versions for the Mac so technologically, they are a short hop from a linux client rather than a giant leap. I wonder if thousands of e-mails to release Diablo 3 with a native linux client would be enough to persuade them to do it.

  • Re:A nice gesture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew.gmail@com> on Friday November 26, 2010 @08:03PM (#34354230) Homepage Journal

    World of Warcraft and many of their games run fine on Wine already. Eve Online officially supported their game in Linux for a while, and that was just Wine + their Client bundled together. If Blizzard officially recognized and supported their clients on Wine, that alone would be a huge win for Linux.

    And if Google is really pushing for greater success of Linux, helping advance Wine would help them.

  • Re:No Thank You (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2010 @08:43PM (#34354584)

    Technology wise, Ogre3D is not behind, at least on the 3D engine front. Unigine might offer a few features that fall outside the strict 3D engine category, but I doubt the 3D part is any more advanced than Ogre's. Not being able to fix bugs or customize the engine is a major downside.

    Still, it's good that whoever might be using it for a game can now release a linux binary with minimal cost.

  • Re:A nice gesture (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Friday November 26, 2010 @08:53PM (#34354656)

    Valve is another company that could do it. Importantly, they're currently porting all their major games to the Mac, which is a very good halfway point for porting to Linux. More importantly, they've been releasing Linux ports of their dedicated server software - no renderer or client software, meaning you can't actually play it, but that means a good chunk of the code is already there. Most importantly, though, Valve is pretty much in control of digital distribution, which is the ONLY way commercial games are going to come to Linux (many shops don't even stock Windows games anymore, let alone Linux) - and their current push onto the Mac is causing other companies to port there as well.

    Looking through my current Steam gamelist, I see 20-odd games that already have Linux ports, and another 30 or so that could be ported with less effort than normal. Now, not all of them are guaranteed to get a port - but even if half of them do, that's enough for 35 games on launch day, probably more (I used my "purchased games" list instead of the full "all games on Steam" list). That's enough for a pretty good launch, which would probably push other developers to either release ports, or hire someone to port it.

  • Re:wonderbar.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by braeldiil (1349569) on Friday November 26, 2010 @09:10PM (#34354802)
    Actually, the first step towards good linux drivers is entirely in the dev's hands. No one to blame but the kernel hackers. Provide a stable interface. Provide a stable binary interface, and the manufacturers will provide drivers, at least for common processors. It really is that simple. As long as the drivers need to be rewritten every few months because the kernel was changed (often for no other reason than to break compatibility), linux will have crummy drivers. No sane company is going to sign up to do 10 times the work for a platform with 1% of the usage.
  • Re:A nice gesture (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @12:09AM (#34355844)

    That brings up an interesting point. If a developer knows they're going to make a Mac port, why in the world do they still write their game in Direct3D first?

    It's not an either/or problem. You can easily write your game engine to use either, and it's been done before. (For example, pretty much every game engine that exists ever in the last decade.) That way, you get higher performance on DirectX-supporting machines, and compatibility with more platforms, without having to change your core game code. This is how, for example, Gamebryo and Unreal-based games are ported to Mac and PS3.

    You have to remember, though, that adding a second platform doubles the QA time, and if you're talking about Macs (and especially Linux), OSes full of users who, for one reason or another, don't play (or don't buy) games, then the financials just don't line up for the port.

    You also have something of an image problem, in that DirectX 10+ games really, really do look completely different than DirectX 9 games. So you're stuck either writing a *ton* of code in your GL layer to simulate the DX10 look, or shipping a game that looks radically different on Mac/PS3/whatever.

    It's not some horrible nasty conspiracy towards less-popular OSes, like so many people on this site make it out to be, it's a simple equation on the developer's balancesheet.

  • Re:wonderbar.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @12:18AM (#34355888)

    There aren't any characters in those images, or videos... just an empty landscape. How does the engine perform with 300 armed ogres running around?

  • Re:wonderbar.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @01:09AM (#34356098)

    Please hell no. If windows is an example of doing this right then I don't want it. The ABI for windows hasn't changed in 20 years and it's horrible riddled with bugs and simply a PoS. All one has to do is look at how lame their visual c++ compiler is because it has to compile down for their archaic abi to realise that's not the way to go.

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Saturday November 27, 2010 @02:09AM (#34356314) Journal

    I don't know if it is the engines so much as the crappy lack of ideas. Look at the list of engines another posters added above, how many are nothing but shitty Q3:Arena clones? On the Cube 2 page I got "We aren't focused on single player, but click here for a bunch making a great single player with our engine" or some such. What do I find on the link? project: dead.

    You come up with a kick ass single player with a good story, maybe some nice twist like Bioshock? Folks WILL notice. Crank out the same tired ass Q3 shit we have been seeing for a decade? Why would we care, when Counter Strike and its kin have had that genre locked up for ages? Surely with all the paranoia I've seen on some of the forums somebody could come up with a good Deus Ex/Conspiracy Theory/ Matrix/ they are all out to get you storyline, and hell if it had cool twists and gave you a hell of a ride most of us wouldn't care if the graphics were at Far Cry 1 level.

    So WTF? Why is every damned Linux game designer on the fricking planet bound and determined to give us the same old CTF DM bullshit we've seen about 100 bazillion times huh? Hell I just got done playing a little NOLF and even though the graphics are dated it is still pretty damned fun to play. Yet another CTF or Mario clone is just too been there, done that. C'mon guys, I know there are some talented writers out there, if you want us Windows guys to suddenly start taking Linux gaming seriously make a game that makes Deus Ex or Bioshock look like DOOM. You can do it if you try!

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kayoshiii (1099149) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:10AM (#34356944)

    Please point me to a GPL game engine that supports DirectX11/OpenGL4 features.

  • Re:wonderbar.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kayoshiii (1099149) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:30AM (#34356978)

    I use Unigine on Linux at work. Everybody else uses it on Windows. OpenGL performance is slightly faster on Linux than Windows but DirectX11 runs a bit faster than OpenGL/Linux I think this is down to DirectX11 multi-threading better thus the CPU becoming less of a bottleneck.
    This is with the nVidia drivers.

    Unigine is really targeted at DirectX10+ class hardware and is one of the first engines to support new DirectX11/OpenGL 4 features. Our most recent project involves perhaps 100kms of Railway track with animated crowds of people and thousands of animated cars. We have it running on about as fast a systems as you can get. But we don't do optimisation either unless we have to.

    Unigine is really good at cross compatible too. All the tools are equally available on Windows/Linux and almost all the code I write under Linux will work the same on Windows.

  • Re:wonderbar.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marcello_dl (667940) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @08:32AM (#34357284) Homepage Journal

    > Provide a stable binary interface, and the manufacturers will provide drivers, at least for common processors.

    Are you sure it's all about binary interfaces? Hardware vendors lose control of whatever runs under linux, while a slightly incompatible windows release/service pack every now and then ensures forced obsolescence.

    That would change a bit with binary interfaces but not that much.
    And it would get in the way of kernel development.

    But I could be wrong so somebody could mantain some kernel with a fixed ABI and see what happens. T2 project [t2-project.org] does have specified targets already IIRC.

  • Re:wonderbar.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yetihehe (971185) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @12:07PM (#34358024)

    All hardware vendors need to do is give a kernel dev specs and a driver which will be indefinitely supported is created.

    Yeah, driver for my Asus WL-167g wifi was created and worked, but now I can't compile it anymore, because someone thought that net_device struct is no longer needed (starting from kernel 2.6.31). Driver is still open source, but I'm not good enough at driver programming so I can't use this with newest kernels. Now imagine normal user, which buys a card which has "Compatible with linux" on a box but when he tries to compile the driver he is greeted with errors. Yes, I found what happened on some obscure forum, but I had others means of connecting than this card.

    Moral: Constant ABI changes are just frustrating.

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