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Old 06-09-2014, 03:43 PM   #46
sundialsvcs
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It is somewhat understandable that Linux might be a less-supported platform because, of all the platforms out there, Linux is the one that can the least "count on" exactly what hardware (and software) environment it might be running on. Linux is probably also the smallest and least-likely to-be-economical target in a very low-margin business. Companies not only have to make cool games, but they have to make profits doing so. Not as easy as it seems!

Face it, if you real-l-l-l-lly want to run a particular game, it makes more-than a certain amount of sense to "buy the whole shinola." Hardware and Software in one made-for-each-piece. For example, a Macintosh. Or a custom-created Windows system ... perhaps even an XBox (which is, at its guts, just such a system).

After all, if your goal is to "play the damn thing," you probably want the shortest distance between two points, and that might well be: a system that has been expressly architected for that purpose. Hardware's cheap enough these days that you can consider buying a piece of hardware for a dedicated purpose. (And maybe to run Linux on it, on the side, in a virtual machine.)
 
Old 06-09-2014, 03:57 PM   #47
dugan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundialsvcs View Post
It is somewhat understandable that Linux might be a less-supported platform because, of all the platforms out there, Linux is the one that can the least "count on" exactly what hardware (and software) environment it might be running on. Linux is probably also the smallest and least-likely to-be-economical target in a very low-margin business. Companies not only have to make cool games, but they have to make profits doing so. Not as easy as it seems!
Aah, the "business value (vs cost) of supporting Linux" question...

The assumption I'm seeing in the above is that the cost of supporting Linux is higher than the cost of not supporting Linux. With the current state of SDL2 and Unity3D, that cost difference is negligible for new developments. That's why most new indie games are supporting Linux: they get to enter an enthusiastic market at a cost that, while not zero, is low enough to be worth it. That makes supporting linux economical.

For accounts of the business value of supporting Linux, here's my favorite. Frictional Games would have gone out of business if they didn't invest in Linux support years ago.

Jens Nilsson Interview: Amnesia & The Future

There's also an interview with Gaslamp Games detailing their experiences with Linux, from a business perspective. It's a bit less positive than the above, but it's real (and they're still supporting Linux):

Exclusive Interview With Gaslamp Games

The developers of Trine felt, until recently, that updating the Linux version to get it on Steam would not be worth the effort (effort is cost). They've changed their minds.

The Linux port of The Witcher 2 was obviously done because it was seen as a wise investment. They botched the port, as we all know, but bad deliveries are always a risk in the software development business.

And Epic and Crytek wouldn't be investing money into making their engines support Linux if they aren't currently thinking about entering this market too. They don't have Valve's ulterior motive, which is to add value to their own SteamOS platform.

Last edited by dugan; 06-09-2014 at 07:50 PM.
 
Old 06-11-2014, 03:15 AM   #48
orasis
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If I was a game developer I would be hesitant about Linux as well... if for nothing else but it's lack of standards. OSS4, ALSA, Pulse-Audio... Qt... no maybe GTK... etc etc.

Windows is Windows and Mac-Os is Mac-Os ... but Linux is a name for all sorts of configurations. It's hard to support "Linux" when there is no real standard of what Linux is.
 
Old 06-11-2014, 05:20 AM   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orasis View Post
If I was a game developer I would be hesitant about Linux as well... if for nothing else but it's lack of standards. OSS4, ALSA, Pulse-Audio... Qt... no maybe GTK... etc etc.

Windows is Windows and Mac-Os is Mac-Os ... but Linux is a name for all sorts of configurations. It's hard to support "Linux" when there is no real standard of what Linux is.
For this purpose wrapper libraries like SDL/SDL2 exist, which abstract sound, graphics and other components from the actual OS.
 
Old 06-11-2014, 07:59 AM   #50
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Yes, the business concern that I would have is: "to what degree are off-the-wall support issues likely to eat our profit?"

Even companies like Microsoft have been quoted as saying that the unit-cost of one technical support incident can eliminate the profit from a single retail sale. So, this is a legitimate business concern that companies must wrestle with, each one coming to their own set of conclusions.

And, lest we forget, both "iOS" and "Android" are already very-similar environments. The underlying software of a game is, indeed, designed to be fairly transportable in many cases. The uncertainty lies in the exact details of the system, and the system software, that will surround it. That's what will be costly, and uncertain.

They won't make a categorical decision either way, but it's something they're going to think about. A lot.

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 06-11-2014 at 08:09 AM.
 
Old 06-11-2014, 09:29 AM   #51
dugan
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Originally Posted by orasis View Post
If I was a game developer I would be hesitant about Linux as well... if for nothing else but it's lack of standards. OSS4, ALSA, Pulse-Audio... Qt... no maybe GTK... etc etc.
As opposed to, say, having to choose between "Metro" and "Desktop Windows"? Or between WinAPI, WinForms, WPF, no maybe Qt etc etc etc? Or between the dozens of incompatible first-party and third-party ways of playing audio on Windows? Or, and this is a dilemma that only exists on Windows, between Direct3D and OpenGL? You don't know anything about Windows programming, do you.

Solutions, of course, already exist. If you're using a cross-platform game engine (like Unity3D or SDL2) and/or cross-platform middleware layers, the above issues are solved for you. Just as the directly analagous "Linux is a different platform than Windows" issue is.

Quote:
Yes, the business concern that I would have is: "to what degree are off-the-wall support issues likely to eat our profit?"

It's something they're going to think about. A lot.
That's the stated reason GOG.com didn't support Linux for such a long time wasn't it? They did think about it, a lot, and they've decided to move forward with it.

Quote:
It's hard to support "Linux" when there is no real standard of what Linux is.
Valve's already solved that: the platforms they'll provide support for are Ubuntu and SteamOS. And those are the platforms that you support when you release your game on Steam for Linux.

Last edited by dugan; 06-11-2014 at 10:29 AM.
 
Old 06-11-2014, 10:07 PM   #52
sundialsvcs
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Hey, it really is just a business decision ...

... which is to say: "Sh*t, we've got X(-thousand...) people working for us(!) who might be hungry if We Screw Up™ ...

Ahem. "You just gotta be there. Then, you will understand."

{Heh, you say that "you wanna run a business?™" Goody for you. Well, sometimes it sucks.}
 
Old 06-14-2014, 10:43 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugan View Post
Aah, the "business value (vs cost) of supporting Linux" question...

The assumption I'm seeing in the above is that the cost of supporting Linux is higher than the cost of not supporting Linux. With the current state of SDL2 and Unity3D, that cost difference is negligible for new developments. That's why most new indie games are supporting Linux: they get to enter an enthusiastic market at a cost that, while not zero, is low enough to be worth it. That makes supporting linux economical
We have a relatively low user base. For the 'indies' it's worthwhile, but, for the houses spending millions... it is a gambit. Now, do not get me wrong... I hit the roof when I read that CIV V was coming to Linux, but, this is a question of not only API'S/OS'ES etc but user-base as well.

Not only are we a small group, we're also known as the 'computer literate' group, the people that could hack proprietary software. They do worry about that.
 
Old 06-15-2014, 04:50 PM   #54
xyzone
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Originally Posted by orasis View Post
Not only are we a small group, we're also known as the 'computer literate' group, the people that could hack proprietary software. They do worry about that.
There's far more script kiddies and warez cracks for Windows out there than Linux. In fact, I've never even seen 'warez' for Linux. So if they do believe what you say they're willfully ignorant. But mostly I do believe it's not the case at all, and it's completely about market share size.
 
Old 06-15-2014, 05:15 PM   #55
dugan
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The reverse engineering tools used to crack games are far more prominent on Windows. Not saying that they don't exist on Linux, but Windows is much better represented on reverseengineering.stackexchange.com. I would assume that the same is true for other reverse engineering communities, including those where "reverse engineering" is as much a euphemism as it is technically descriptive.

Would this change if Linux became a mainstream gaming platform? Possibly, but the time to worry about that is when it happens.

Last edited by dugan; 06-15-2014 at 07:29 PM.
 
  


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