A Brief History of Linux Gaming

Thanks to LinuxGames.com, I learned about the blog kahvipapu and the Linux Gaming series of posts.

In part one, the author focuses on first-person shooters. Loki ported quite a few games from Windows, including Quake 3 Arena. I was able to purchase multiple copies in the distinctive metal packaging once Loki went out of the business. Besides mainstream titles such as Unreal Tournament 2004 and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, freely available games such as the Quake-based Warsow and Nexuiz. Both are beautiful looking and a lot of fun. I have yet to play Tremulous, which is a team-based FPS with real-time strategy elements. I really should check that one out.

Part two is focused upon strategy games. I have always felt that there is a definite lack of strategy games on Gnu/Linux. Besides Freeciv and Loki’s port of Civilization: Call to Power, which I do not own, I’ve found many games are uninteresting or still in alpha.

Then again, I haven’t played Battle for Wesnoth yet, and considering that it is one of the games that most people think of when you say “strategy game for Gnu/Linux”, I probably should. I’m downloading it right now. I have played Loki’s port of Myth 2, and it is always fun to set up a chain reaction explosion.

Another game I should try is UFO: Alien Invasion. I’ve never played X-COM, but I’ve heard plenty of good things about it. Warzone 2100 is one that I haven’t heard of before. It is supposedly one of the first 3D RTS games ever, and it is now open source. I’m downloading that one, too. I have also been meaning to purchase Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood.

Part three continues to list the strategy games available for Gnu/Linux. Bos Wars, Dominion 3, FreeOrion, and of course the Total Annihilation-based Spring are among the games listed.

Part four is all about MMOs. A Tale in the Desert is a popular one, and I recall the developers mentioning that there are more subscriptions from Gnu/Linux users than Windows or Mac users. While a number of games are only playable using Wine or Cedega, quite a few have native clients. Vendetta Online is one of them, and so is the indie game Dofus.

I am sure that more games will be listed in future articles. For instance, Frozen Bubble is a really popular puzzle game. Missing from the list of strategy games was Tribale Trouble and Defcon, two games from two different indie developers. Lux, Darwinia, Pioneers, and Widelands were also missing. Pioneers is a Settlers of Catan clone, but with all of the press Catan has received for being on XBLA, Pioneers should be mentioned.

Hmm…if it is hard to catalog all the games available for Gnu/Linux, perhaps “Linux has no games” isn’t such a true statement anymore.

2 comments to A Brief History of Linux Gaming

  • Well obviously there are going to be a few games for it. However the majority of computer users don’t use a linux-based system, thus it doesn’t have as big of a market as other systems. Which means there’s going to be alot less people developing for it because they can’t make money on it. And half the stuff is gpl’d/lgpl’d which scares alot of developers away anyways. I mean why did Loki go out of business? Probably because there were not enough people buying games for it.

  • Actually, Keith, I had looked into Loki’s demise and learned that it had a healthy revenue stream and an unhealthy management system in place. Enough people are buying games for Gnu/Linux; there just aren’t any highly visible examples of companies making big bucks from those sales.

    As for the license terms, if you’re developing a game, you’re in charge of the licenses associated with that game, so the GPL/LGPL shouldn’t frighten you unless you decide to use those licenses, and if you made that decision, you probably aren’t afraid of them, right? B-)

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