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Blizzard Reportedly Planning A Linux Game For 2013 353

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-more-games dept.
It looks like the recent success of Linux gaming has caught Blizzard's eye. According to "a reliable source at the company" 2013 will be the year that "at least one of their very popular titles will see a release for Ubuntu Linux." From the article: "It's been a poorly-kept secret that Blizzard has a native Linux client of World of Warcraft. As recently as 2011, the World of Warcraft Linux client was still being maintained internally. The client has been around for years and done by their own developers as a form of testing for the popular MMORPG currently offered on Windows and Mac OS X. As for why they haven't released the client, it's come down to "targeting a specific version of the platform" with Linux being "unstandardized" due to the many different distributions. There's still some fundamental problems with gaming on Linux. With World of Warcraft working generally fine under Wine as well, the company is further unmotivated to officially support a Linux build of the game."
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Blizzard Reportedly Planning A Linux Game For 2013

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  • by redmid17 (1217076) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:32PM (#42497453)
    FTA: " As for why they haven't released the client, it's come down to "targeting a specific version of the platform" with Linux being "unstandardized" due to the many different distributions." Just do what valve does. I mean I'm not going to be playing WoW, but millions do.
    • by decora (1710862) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:54PM (#42497621) Journal

      I used to be like you, complaining that it was 'no big deal' to release a linux game. What could possibly be so hard about it? OpenGL, write once, run anywhere! Then ... I met GLX. And the documentation on opengl.org. And Gallium / LLVM. and Mesa. and ... well. i just try not to think about it too much. The doctors say I should be OK... eventually...

      • by flayzernax (1060680) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:05PM (#42497729)

        The ironic thing is to run on mac really well they already have decent GL support, not everyone is forced to use mesa libs anymore those are really a thing of the past and depricated, NVIDIA kernal modules come witht heir own set of those very same libs which are basically everywhere on every linux gamers desktops.

        In essense they already have to cater to the specs of the vid card venders and what libs they prefer their hardware works with. So your argument is invalid for a big corp with devs who are very experienced in dealing with just that problem.

        For a garage startup it sure is a big problem to get a good 3D engine going. But for starts you can do something with SDL libs which are fucking fantastic across all platforms.

    • by dougmc (70836)

      with Linux being "unstandardized" due to the many different distributions."

      Of course, Windows has a similar number of different major "distributions" -- XP, 2003, 2008, 7, 8, Vista, etc.

      Of course, Blizzard is happy to support all of those because the customer base is so much larger.

      Making something that will work on the vast majority of Linux installations if not all is indeed an art -- but it's not *that* difficult, all they need to do is hire *one* guy skilled in the art and he can make it happen. Support is a bigger issue, but even there, the problem isn't really larger than i

      • Blizzard does not support server editions of Windows. Even if they did I don't know how 6 is "similar number" to the number of Linux distributions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Beetjebrak (545819)
          6 isn't that far-fetched. You have Debian and its many derivatives which are extremely similar under the hood, RedHat and its seven dwarfs which will manage with the same RPM, OpenSUSE and a few oddballs like Arch, Gentoo and Slackware. If Blizzard supports these, the rest of the world will support itself right up to FreeBSD and back as long as Blizzard provides both x86 and amd64 builds and lets us know what libs they link against.
          • the way arch linux's package system works, it makes building packages very very very easy. the PKGBUILDS are also bash, with build() and package() functions where you can insert whatever bash code you want.

            as with steam the steam package, all it takes is 10 lines of bash to get whatever ubuntu package you want, packaged for arch.

            The AUR, is a community repository for uploading said build scripts. If as much as one archer wants it, and is half competitant in bash, there will be a PKGBUILD in AUR.

            packaging fo
      • by WrecklessSandwich (1000139) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:24PM (#42497885)

        with Linux being "unstandardized" due to the many different distributions."

        Of course, Windows has a similar number of different major "distributions" -- XP, 2003, 2008, 7, 8, Vista, etc.

        You're comparing apples to oranges. Supporting multiple versions of one OS does not equate to supporting different Linux distributions. Supporting Windows back to XP is more like supporting Ubuntu going back many versions (pre-4.10 if you want to do it by year, but if you want to normalize for number of OS versions you could go by what Canonical supports and start with 10.04 LTS).

        • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:36PM (#42497977) Homepage

          You're comparing apples to oranges. Supporting multiple versions of one OS does not equate to supporting different Linux distributions. Supporting Windows back to XP is more like supporting Ubuntu going back many versions (pre-4.10 if you want to do it by year, but if you want to normalize for number of OS versions you could go by what Canonical supports and start with 10.04 LTS).

          See, this isn't about "normalizing", it's about differences and how difficult they are to write code to work with and support.

          A modern (within the last few years) Fedora vs a modern Debian is very roughly about as different as XP vs Windows 7 (at least from the point of view of writing a program to run on them), and really, most of the compatibility problems with Linux distributions can be resolved by simply making a statically linked executable or including all the shared libraries that you need rather than assuming that they're part of the OS. (The Linux version of .dll hell, as it were, but at least they're not installed in a system directory to mess up other programs.)

          I guess the problem becomes much larger if Blizzard tries to support Linux distributions going back to when XP was introduced (2001) but considering that they don't even support the original version of XP any more and instead require the most recent service pack even that's not a fair comparison. For the most part, supporting multiple Linux distributions aren't that bad -- the problems come in how 3D acceleration is handled, but even then you can pick a few systems and say you support them and not others. (For example, the open source Nvidia drivers probably don't perform well enough, when the binary blob drivers do, so support the latter but not the former.)

          • The biggest differences linux had for me, when running games under wine was threading, on slackware I had to tweak the kernal paramaters and recompile because it threaded a little to aggressively for the server and didnt quite support wines emulation of memory (or something like that) it was awhile ago. I would say the graphics side of things is probably drastic between vendors, but not between distributions so much in the long run.

      • well with windows vista,7, most of 8 are about the same and need little changed to make a app work on all of them.

        XP mainly is stuck with a older DX and older driver model.

        linux has the libs mess and distributions update much faster then windows does.

        The server windows os are based on the desktop ones under the hood.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Personally I think that's shorthand for "requires the NVIDIA binary driver" and they don't want to step into the middle of that shitfight. The way around nearly all the other differences on x86 linux is just a static compile away.
      • Yeah, it would probably be something else if the libs were easily redistributable, but I'm pretty sure NVidia in that case is the only source so without their drivers, your up shit creak so how do you support the other vendors without pissing of nvidia and creating your own libs... its not trivial then. I think linus was bitching to this effect about 6 months ago.

        • But when I had wow running in linux under wine back before the burning crusade (dont remember the year) wine was directly linking to the OpenGL calls it didnt need to wrapper them. Some of the openGL was buggy though and that would cause lag or crashes in certain areas around lakes and with the minimap. But a few settings in the games configs would smooth that out.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:54PM (#42498911)

        At this point, the nVidia binary driver is the only driver out there that provides what you get on Windows, which is to say all the latest features, good speed, and stability. Anything else makes compromises of varying amounts. Now for a simple game, this might be ok. Some games stick with 2D, use SDL, and call it a day. They'll work with the SVGA X server if it comes to that, perhaps just with some tearing/slow graphics. However for a modern 3D game that makes use of some fancy features, that doesn't cut it.

        Well that situation is a problem. For one it is a problem simply because not everyone has an nVidia card but then of course there's the whole religious crusade some people have against closed source, particularly with regards to drivers.

        With pro applications, you can just say "Quadro or GTFO" and require the binary driver. People will deal with it. With this? All it would do is get them all kinds of hate mail.

        Also, funny enough, when you talk OpenGL, nVidia is the only one who really does it well in Windows too. Not long ago at work we had a system that was running HFSS. That does not require OpenGL, but will use it if available to accelerate graphics. The system had an ass slow graphics card (it was a server repurposed to be a workstation basically) and so a new video card was wanted. We picked up a cheap AMD 7000 series card... and ran in to a strange problem: In remote desktop, HFSS worked fine. On the system itself, no dice.

        After going around and around a sneaking suspicion creeped up on me. I pulled the AMD card and stuck in an nVidia card. Everything started working.

        nVidia produces top flight OpenGL drivers, which on Windows are as fast as their Driect3D drivers (which are really fast). Everyone else... much more hit or miss.

  • Too Late (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 89cents (589228) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:40PM (#42497519)
    Blizzard used to by favorite gaming company. Now I loathe them. The recent huge disappointment of Diablo 3, the no LAN play in SC2, and with how I heard they seriously dumbed down WoW, Blizzard won't be getting anymore of my money.
    • Re:Too Late (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geek (5680) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:00PM (#42497681) Homepage

      Not to mention them trying to force people into using that real ID system which back fired so badly. I blame Activision for all of this. Blizzard was great until that merger.

    • So how many hours of gaming did you do over LAN in 2012?

      • by 89cents (589228)
        With Starfriend, the SC2 LAN enabler, 3-4 days a week after hours at work with coworkers.
    • by Moraelin (679338) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:22PM (#42498345) Journal

      Well, before I start, I'm not (or rather for a long while no longer) a WoW fan, but I did briefly try it again recently. So, you know, I'm only having a superficial impression. I don't think I'll bother much with it, but...

      I think that as far as "dumbing down" goes, it really sounds worse than it really is, when you do the Vulcan thing and think about it logically.

      1. Most of the stuff you'll only notice if you've played it before and have any particular attachment (even if just for nostalgia sake) about the old system. Truth is, I most other recent games are just about as "dumbed down".

      You can play TOR for example as a DPS Trooper with little more than Grav Round, Full Auto and High Impact Bolt as the only three buttons you'll ever have to press. Heck, you could play it with Grav Round only, if you don't mind losing a little DPS. Trust me, that's actually less skill needed than WoW even now. (And obviously the Bounty Hunter is the same deal, just with different names on the buttons you press.)

      2. For that matter, it's not really dumber than WoW used to be to start with. Anyone remember the pre-Burning Crusade raids that some classes only needed one button to get through? Ironically, for all its reputation of a noob class, the Hunter was technically the most "complex" to play since it needed a whole THREE buttons. Yeah, you also needed to set the hunter mark and send the pet, so, yeah, that's a whole two whole extra buttons :p

      (Not to mention you had more typing or talking to do than the raid leader, what with having to tell everyone that yes, the pet was on passive, every time anything went wrong, no matter who started it or what actually happened. You could be still running back from the cemetery when the rest of the group did something stupid, and they'd still insist that it's somehow the pet not being on passive that caused it. I mean, it wasn't even in the dungeon, but it must have caused it. Somehow.;))

      Yeah, it didn't really start as a sort of modern day chess or go or other complex thinking game. Nor had the geekiest and smartest population. Really, it was from the start a game that 6 year olds can master.

      So let's get on to what really changed:

      3. So now for a bunch of quests you don't have to run back to the quest giver to get the next step of it. Well, it takes some getting used to it, but at the end of the day, it's not like running back and forth was actually the fun part.

      4. You don't have to keep buying skill upgrades every 2 levels; they now increase in effect with your level. Not only it's like how a bunch of other games were working already (e.g., COH), but basically if you've been on the game long enough to have a valid whine about being used to the old system... guess what? Paying a few coppers to buy the skills on a new alt wasn't really a balance factor any more anyway.

      Plus, again, running back to wherever your trainer was, and then back, was hardly something that added any fun.

      5. The talent trees. Well, the issue with those is two-fold:

      A) Most people were going for cookie-cutter builds from some site anyway. Not just in COH, but generally. Whether it's actually talent trees (e.g., TOR, RIFT, etc) or putting points in some skill (e.g., STO), most people just want something that works, not to solve a puzzle. If there had been some way to tell the computer "just go by this build off that site" automatically, most people would have just done it. And in effect that's what the new system does.

      B) You haven't actually lost much. In addition to the choice every 15 levels now, many of which are actually new extras, a bunch of the old talents everyone took for a given spec are now automatic passive skills, that you get automatically when reaching a certain level. So, you know, you haven't actually lost them or anything, and they were not that much of a choice in the first place anyway. Now you just get them automatically instead of having to click through the tree.

      C) Basically it doesn't let you mak

  • Incompetence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:49PM (#42497579) Journal

    It's only "unstandardised" if you want to link against every last library.

    If you treat it like OSX or Windows and ship all necessary dylibs/DLLs which aren't provided by default then it works fine.

    Somehow companies like Mathworks have been managing this happily for well over a decade without making up weird claims about standardisation. Oh and hey, I've done it too. It's easy.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Not to mention that in practice you could probably just target a recent version of Ubuntu and reach most potential customers.

      • That doesn't work, because ubuntu 12.10 will have (e.g.) libxml.some.very.specific.version which will be different everywhere else.

        Pick a binary.

        type

        ldd binary

        look at the list.

        As long as you ship it with everything listed (bar libc, libm and libstdc++) it will work fine.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          I have kept old dynamically linked binaries across distribution upgrades and moves to entirely different distributions.

          The "problem" is not nearly as dire as some would like to make it out.

          Windows installers have always solved this problem just by having free run of the system. Any deskop machine is no less a random collection of system files. Windows in truth is probably much more "fragmented" than any Linux because of this.

          • I have kept old dynamically linked binaries across distribution upgrades and moves to entirely different distributions.

            That should be OK as long as everything it links to is carried around as well.

            The trouble is if the version number changes linking will fail even if there is binary compatibility.

            Except in libc/libstdc++ where they do deep .so magic to allow one .so to link against may previous versions.

    • inquiring minds want to know

      • I preer to keep my real identity and my slashdot life separate.

        Sorry.

        But for extra fun, firefox, libreoffice and openoffice seem to be able to manage too.

        • Seems Firefox has had some problems: http://blog.gerv.net/2011/01/why_firefox_on_linux_is_not_accelerated/ [gerv.net]. The salient quote being: "We tried enabling OpenGL on Linux, and discovered that most Linux drivers are so disastrously buggy (think 'crash the X server at the drop of a hat, and paint incorrectly the rest of the time' buggy) that we had to disable it for now."

          Also doing some more basic compositing and doing a full out 3D game are things that are a bit different in terms of complexity and problems.

          I'm

    • Is close-source software likely to have problems with the LGPL if they link statically instead of dynamically? That's a question, not an accusation -- I don't know which libraries game makers are likely to use, and whether they are LGPL or something else.

      • by Bill Dimm (463823)

        Ignore the above -- I'm not sure how I read "ship all necessary DLLs" as statically linking the libraries. I think I need more sleep...

      • Yes for LGPL2, no (???) for 3.

        But you don't have to statically link anyway. You can just copy the .so's too.

        • by Bill Dimm (463823)

          Yeah, I badly misread the post I was replying to to imply static linking when he/she said nothing of the sort. My bad.

  • Support (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:04PM (#42497715)

    Guys, you're missing the point being made here. It's not that the application can't run under different flavors -- it's about supporting them. Every distribution has its own quirks, its own packaging manager, its own set of libraries that are included (and some that aren't). It's a support nightmare. Rather than writing installation instructions once, you have to write it a dozen times. Versions change constantly. Everybody here has experienced the joys of googling for someone's hack script to get something working... a patch here, a tweak there... yes, it's possible.

    But from a support perspective, it's difficulty level = nightmare trying to help these people. And they'll expect your help. You just gave them a major application and said it works with Linux... so you better know every flavor, every variation, every configuration possible. And that, right there, is why Blizzard hasn't jumped on the Linux bandwagon -- too many support variables.

    • No it isn't (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geek (5680)

      The Linux community can support itself. All they need is to release a tar.gz binary package and the distributions will make their own packages and instructions. Blizzard can release it and say "Support yourselves, we're only releasing binaries. Have fun" and the community will do the rest.

      • Re:No it isn't (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:38PM (#42497989) Homepage

        There are even new installers for old Loki games that follow this same exact "support yourself" model. All Valve or Blizzard has to do is get out of the way enough to allow the community to do it's thing.

        Some power user for the random obscure distribution of your choice will gladly do the legwork for you if you don't put up legal barriers.

      • The Linux community can support itself. All they need is to release a tar.gz binary package and the distributions will make their own packages and instructions. Blizzard can release it and say "Support yourselves, we're only releasing binaries. Have fun" and the community will do the rest.

        You're absolutely right. Then you have all the damn hipsters hop onto Linux now that it supports a popular game (and is within their budget) as if it's a new OS that didn't exist last year calling into blizzard to ask why the game won't run higher than 800x640 or more than 10fps because they don't know they have to tell their distro that it's ok to run that closed driver that goes with their specific card...

        • by geek (5680)

          So?

          "Sorry, we don't support Linux. The binaries are for hobbyists. Here's a nice community forum where all you Linux folks can chat about it. Thanks."

          Is that too hard for your angry little mind to comprehend or what?

      • This about supporting the end user of their product, not Linux. Blizzard doesn't want to support a platform with a bazillion permutations. The reality of it is that when a gamer calls in tech support to troubleshoot network access, they will get sucked into touching the OS to determine if it's a game library issue or a jacked up WiFi driver bug effecting only that destro with that chipset.

        The do not want to get involved. Supporting Windows and over clocked flakey machines is bad enough as it is.

        • Re:No it isn't (Score:5, Insightful)

          by girlintraining (1395911) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:22PM (#42498695)

          You sir, get it. Everyone else is busy banging pots and pans saying "We can do it ourselves!" but that's not really the point. Anytime you release an application onto a platform, you're going to get people who say everything else works just fine, so it must be your application. Enter technical support. Think about taking a phone call where the problem is that their video driver needs to be reinstalled. Under windows, this is merely painful and requires a couple reboots -- 15 minute call. Under Linux, it could require a kernel recompilation, editing files in /etc, and downloading and installing dozens of dependent packages ahead of that. That's two hours of work.

          So one linux call costs the equivalent manpower of eight windows callers. For a support manager, that's a scary proposition, and they do not give a damn how many people know what they're doing -- those aren't the people they're going to be supporting! It's going to be the guy who just downloaded Debian because he heard "It supports world of warcraft" on the web forums, and by god, he's going to make it work now. And he doesn't have a clue.

          Blizzard's target market is not slashdot readers who can list out all the arguments for the 'ls' command and can do sed and awk scripts in their sleep. Blizzard is looking at the guy who "heard about it on the internet"... and that guy's going to make some poor bastard in tech support utterly miserable.

      • by Georules (655379)
        I sincerely hope you are joking.
    • Statically linked binary tarball -> /opt. Problem solved.
    • Re:Support (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hduff (570443) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <ffudtyoh>> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:47PM (#42498061) Homepage Journal

      They could release a generic, runs-most-anywhere installation bundled with all the correct libraries, specifying minimum storage,memory, videocard, kernel/glibc requirements (just like for a Windows release).

      If they want to limit support, pick the top 5 distros and make certain it runs on those out-ofthe-box. Everything else is "at your own risk". Other software companies have some model for this so it can't be that difficult.

    • Then they don't need to use yum or aptitude or whatever. They can either link the libraries statically or supply their own libraries and point to them, and have the whole thing dump into its own directory. I've installed plenty of software like this. Just installed Alfresco and it comes with its own copies of Java, OpenOffice, PostgresSQL and Tomcat sitting in its own directory tree under /opt.

    • Provide a deb package, the community will repackage for the other distros.
      It happens with plenty of closed-source software.

  • Ok so a lot of people seem to be critical of the "Ubuntu is not the summation of linux!" but come on seriously, a real game development company isn't going to maintain their own libraries to run the game, that's what the distribution is for. So they picked one distro to support and went with it. If the solution for every single commercial developer is to "just release your own libraries" then I'm sorry to say we might as well just relegate this whole Linux thing to a neat geeks OS. Because that's the same k
  • The 3d driver situation on Linux needs to be addressed. Something along the lines of having up to date drivers in the basic repositories would be ideal, but even just having a download option on the vendor site would suffice.

    • The 3d driver situation on Linux needs to be addressed. Something along the lines of having up to date drivers in the basic repositories would be ideal, but even just having a download option on the vendor site would suffice.

      Vendor site? Nope, wrong, drivers need to be in the kernel tree or packaged by your distribution, vendores should only provide source and/or documentation.
      This "vendor needs to provide binary drivers" model was popularized by window, and actually adds more burden on the hardware developer, and results in less OSs having proper support.

  • "targeting a specific version of the platform?"

    what?

    Release a .deb for ubuntu, and it will filter into derivatives like mint.

    Most GNU/Linux libraries are pretty standard, and version compatibility is pretty wide.

    For everything else, release a .tar.gz with the compiled binaries and make file with install instructions, a README and INSTALL files.

    From this, every other distro will be able to make their own packages.
    • by Arker (91948)

      For everything else, release a .tar.gz with the compiled binaries and make file with install instructions, a README and INSTALL files.

      That's really all that needs to be done. I dont understand why people insist on inventing the wheel over and over again... and making it more complicated in the process.

  • Dear Bliz devs:

    I've bought every expansion as soon as I can.

    I run WoW in wine.

    If we get an official port, me and all my friends will buy some of those white elephant knick knacks you like to sell.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:31PM (#42499155)

    Blizzard wants to be able to say if you have XYZ configuration, then it will work. If it doesn't work, then here's our 1-800 number, our email support system etc etc... for which you are entitled to contact since you bought the game and your system meets the requirements.

    I run SC2 under win7 without any problems, however, if I installed it and it crashed upon startup I could call them up and have a Blizzard tech provide me with assistance. If I called them up and said, "I'm running this under the win32 emulator that's part of OS/2 Warp, they'd politely tell them that it is an unsupported and untested configuration and might give me some sort of "best effort" support, which wouldn't equate to much and then eventually refer me to some forums...

    Imagine the uproar that would take place if they released something for Ubuntu version X, and all the people running either version Y or some other distribution would flame Blizzard... "You're not supporting *my* distribution..."

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