LINUXGAMES

Civilization: Call to Power 2 Source to Be Released (Maybe)

July 31st, 2003 by jvm

The Apolyton Civilization Site is reporting on this forum thread which indicates that the source code to Civilization: Call To Power 2 may be released at some point in the relatively near future. The original Civilization: Call to Power was the first game published by the now-defunct Loki Games in May 1999 (see our Loki Timeline for more details). The sequel in question was only published for the Windows platform.

Over at GameRankings it has a 73% average rating from the listed reviews. The user rating is in line with that number, at 7.4 out of 10.

If this source release happens, it could enable the spread of this game to previously unsupported platforms, like Linux, MacOS X, and any of the BSD family.

Regardless, we will always have Freeciv.

Civilization: Call To Power 1.2

January 19th, 2000 by Crusader

Loki Entertainment Software has released version 1.2 of the turn-based global strategy game Civilization: Call to Power. The mirror list for the patches is located here; a description of the patch files follows:

Patches for the x86 architecture
================================

Upgrade English CivCTP from 1.0 to 1.1:
CivCTP-1.1-x86-english.sh

Upgrade English CivCTP from 1.1 to 1.2:
CivCTP-1.2-x86-english.sh

Upgrade German CivCTP from 1.1 to 1.2:
CivCTP-1.2-x86-german.sh

Upgrade Corel Limited Edition from 1.1 to 1.2:
CivCTP-1.2-x86-limited.sh

Convert CivCTP 1.2 to a dynamically linked binary (unsupported):
CivCTP-1.2-x86-dynamic.sh

Patches for the PPC architecture
================================
Note: The PPC patches are unsupported, and do not contain networking support.

Upgrade English CivCTP from 1.0 to 1.1 (unsupported):
CivCTP-1.1-ppc-english.sh

Upgrade English CivCTP from 1.1 to 1.2 (unsupported):
CivCTP-1.2-ppc-english.sh

Patches for the Alpha architecture
==================================
Note: The Alpha patches are unsupported, and do not contain networking support.

Upgrade English CivCTP from 1.0 to 1.1 (unsupported):
CivCTP-1.1-alpha-english.sh

Upgrade English CivCTP from 1.1 to 1.2 (unsupported):
CivCTP-1.2-alpha-english.sh

Patches for all architectures
=============================

Convert CivCTP 1.2 to the English language:
CivCTP-1.2-data-english.sh

Convert CivCTP 1.2 to the French language:
CivCTP-1.2-data-french.sh

Convert CivCTP 1.2 to the German language:
CivCTP-1.2-data-german.sh

Convert CivCTP 1.2 to the Spanish language:
CivCTP-1.2-data-spanish.sh

Local Civ: CTP 1.2 Patch Mirror:
http://www.3ddownloads.com/index.php3?directory=%2Flinuxgames%2Floki%2Fpatches%2Fcivctp/

Civilization: Call To Power FAQ

March 6th, 1999 by Alkini

Loki Software has added a FAQ to their Civ:CTP page that covers a couple things like the price of the game and some answers to general system requirement questions among other things.

Pre-Order Civilization: Call To Power at GameCellar

March 4th, 1999 by Crusader

Loki Entertainment Software updated their page to point out that Game Cellar is taking pre-orders of Civ: CTP for $44.99. Game Cellar has a nice, but small, pic of what the box will apparently look like: the standard Civ: CTP box with Tux and the Loki logo in the bottom right-hand corner.

Civilization: Call to Power

February 13th, 1999 by Crusader

Activision has updated the main Civilization: Call to Power page with news that Civ: CTP will ship on the 16th of March, 1999 (just missing the dreaded Ides of March…). No word on whether the Linux port being completed by Loki Entertainment Software will ship at the same time unfortunately. Also, Gamespot has recently posted a large (including an interview with one the developers) preview of Civ: CTP here.

Loki Software porting Civilization: Call to Power

January 26th, 1999 by Crusader

Yahoo! Finance is reporting that Loki Entertainment Software will be porting the upcoming Activision sequel to Sid Meier’s Civilization series, Civilization: Call to Power, to the Linux platform. The story states that “Loki also plans to launch the Linux version of the game in spring to coincide with Activision’s PC release” and that Civ 3 “will be the first game marketed for the open source Linux platform”. The open-source clone of the previous Civilization titles, FreeCiv, can be downloaded at http://www.freeciv.org.

Civilization: CTP Wins Editor’s Choice Award

December 3rd, 1999 by Crusader

Linux Journal has awarded Loki’s port of Civilization: Call to Power the 1999 Editor’s Choice Award for Best New Application, End User. You can read the announcement (as well as the award-winners in other categories) at

http://www2.linuxjournal.com/lj-issues/issue68/3730.html

Linux Journal states that Civ: CTP’s status as one of the first high-quality commercial Linux gaming titles justifies this honor; congratulations to Loki for this achievement.

Civilization: CTP Demo

October 12th, 1999 by Crusader

Loki has released a Civilization: Call to Power demo.The mirror list for the demo is located at http://www.lokigames.com/products/civctp/demo.php3. The local LG mirror is at

ftp.linuxgames.com/civdemo/civctp-demo.tar.gz

Futhermore, the Loki Hack page has been updated with word that several patches have been completed (resizing the game window from the command line, the return of the Aztecs, and a Tetris game to fill idle time in multiplayer); furthermore, Eric S. Raymond has dropped by to implement a Libertarian government in Civ: CTP!

Loki PowerPC Announcement

July 14th, 1999 by Crusader

Loki’s Sigyn sent in the following press release:

Linux Games Coming to the PowerPC

Loveland, CO July 14, 1999 Terra Soft Solutions and LokiEntertainment Software announce a strategic alliance to bringbest-selling PC games to Linux on PowerPC computers — in some casesbefore those same games are available for the MacOS.

Loki Entertainment Software has become a strong force in the gamingindustry, licensing MacOS and Windows games and porting them to the Linuxoperating system. Terra Soft Solutions has quickly established itself asa leader in the Linux for PowerPC arena. Through the partnership, Lokiand Terra Soft will combine their efforts to bring Linux games to PowerPCcomputers.

Linux is compatible with a wide-variety of computer hardware, includingi386-based hardware manufactured by Intel, AMD and Cyrix, andPowerPC-based hardware such as Apple Computer’s iMac. Through this newalliance, Loki will continue to license and port PC games to the LinuxOS. Terra Soft will work with Loki to develop PPC-compatible versionsbased on Loki’s source code.

“We are thrilled to work with Terra Soft to expand the universe ofapplications for Linux on the PowerPC, states Loki President ScottDraeker. “This partnership ensures that PowerPC users who install Linuxwill have access to the best games that the PC world has to offer.”

“This is a challenging opportunity. One that will keep us quite busy,”notes Stephen Edie, Software Engineer for Terra Soft. “My personalbackground and one might say my ‘passion’ is with gaming. Through mywork on porting the CMD 646 IDE driver for the Blue & Whites and ongoingwork on the graphical installer for Gone Home, I have become quitefamiliar with the PowerPC architecture. I believe that Terra Soft’sexperience with the PowerPC coupled with Loki’s background is anincredible combination. It allows each of us to do what we do best andprovide games that may not otherwise be made available on the PowerPC.”

In addition to working with Loki to bring Linux games to the PowerPC, Terra Soft will soon offer game bundles with its Yellow Dog Linux Gone Home distribution. Retail versions of Loki’s games, which will include both the i386 and PPC versions, will be available as stand alone productsfor sale directly from Loki, Terra Soft and other software retailers.

Loki plans to bring a wide variety of games to Linux, including the mostpopular action, adventure, and educational titles. Loki’s current productline includes Civilization: Call to Power, Myth II: Soulblighter,Railroad Tycoon II Gold Edition, and Eric’s Ultimate Solitaire. A totalof 8 titles are planned for release in 1999. Today’s announcement ensuresthat all of Loki’s titles will be available for both i386 and PowerPC.

About Loki Entertainment Software

Based in Tustin, CA, Loki works with leading game publishers to porttheir best-selling PC and Macintosh titles to the Linux platform. Lokimeets a pent-up need in the Linux community by providing fully-supported,shrink-wrapped games for sale through traditional retail channels. Formore information about Loki Entertainment Software, visit their websiteat www.lokigames.com.

Loki Contact: Kathryn Sorhaindo, 714-585-4359, sigyn@lokigames.com.

About Terra Soft Solutions, Inc.

Based in Loveland, CO, Terra Soft is the developer of Yellow Dog Linux for Apple Macintosh G3 and PPC computers. Champion Server, their flagshipproduct, is a highly professional distribution geared toward a wide rangeof network applications such as ISPs, corporate intra/extranets, web and network servers. Terra Soft recently introduced Black Lab Linux, a parallel computing system for research and development facilities. Formore information about Terra Soft Solutions, visit their website atwww.terrasoft solutions.com.

Terra Soft Contact: Kai Staats, 970-278-9243, kstaats@terraplex.com

Linux Civilization: CTP in Retail Stores

June 19th, 1999 by Crusader

Frank Ramsay sent in word that he’s spotted Loki’s Linux Civilization: Call to Power port, which is being distributed in North America by Macmillan Computer Publishing, in his local Electronics Boutique. Frank says that the store personnel informed him that “it had just arrived”, so be on the lookout at your local software retailer for this ground breaking commercial Linux game.

Civilization: CTP 1.1 Patch Soon

May 29th, 1999 by Crusader

Loki Entertainment Software updated their news page earlier this week stating that the version 1.1 patch for Linux Civilization: Call to Power will be available soon. Also, the Civ: CTP binaries for Linux PPC are in testing for imminent release as well.

Civilization: CTP Beta Screenshots

March 20th, 1999 by Crusader

After a few hours of playing the beta Linux port of Civilization: Call to Power, my initial impressions are listed below:

-After installing the most recent patch, the beta appears rock-solid (i.e. no crashes or show-stopping bugs after 4 hours or so of play).
-Fog-of-war in Civ… I’m of the opinion that warriors from the 7th-century BC should not have an omniscient view of all explored territory… in other words, this is a welcome tactical change for me.
-Looking through the Great Library (which is now the game encyclopedia as opposed to a Wonder of the World), CTP offers some radical unit, tech, and wonder changes from the previous Civ titles (slavery, future technologies such as plutonium-consuming nanites, and non-Western wonders like the Forbidden City) that effectively destroy all my time-tested FreeCiv strategies :)
-The unit animations/sounds are amusing (shades of Warcraft’s venerable orcs); i.e. the phalanx unit declaring “shields up!” before entering battle.

A more extensive and complete preview will be posted at some point next week. I’ve also taken the liberty of posting some screenshots from the beta so you can get a better idea of what to expect when the final version is released:

1) Standard map view
2) Opening menu screen
3) Race selection screen (note: the number of races has been vastly increased compared to Civ 1 and 2)
4) Research dialog
5) Civilization status dialog
6) Technology listing in the Great Library
7) Units listing in the Great Library

Civilization: CTP Screenshots, Beta-testers chosen

March 11th, 1999 by Crusader

Loki Entertainment Software updated their Civilization: Call to Power page with four screenshots from the Linux port which is nearing completion. There is also a note stating that the 200 x86 beta testers have been chosen (half of which were chosen by testing experience/hardware and the remainder being chosen randomly) and will receive their beta copies this coming weekend. One interesting bit of information is that additional testers for the PowerPC and Alpha CPU ports will be chosen later.

Loki Software Seeks Civilization: CTP Beta Testers

March 2nd, 1999 by Crusader

Loki Software, the company dedicated to porting entertainment software to the Linux platform, has announced they are accepting applications to beta-test the soon-to-be-released port of Civilization: Call to Power. Be ready with a lot of personal information if you intend on applying.

Heroes of Might and Magic 3

January 21st, 2008 by jvm

Title: Heroes of Might and Magic III

Platform: Red Hat Linux 6.1

Publisher: Loki Entertainment Software

Test System:

Return to Linux Games, Matt’s Reviews, Linux Adventures, Games, or Home.

Email: Matt Matthews

Introduction

Defender of the Crown
Allow me to reminisce for a minute…

Defender of the Crown by Cinemaware was easily one of the most memorable and original games released in the halcyon era of the Commodore 64. As an Anglo-Saxon lord, you travel about Britain on horseback gaining control of land and castles and armies in an attempt to unify the isle under one leader. With some of the best 8-bit graphics and sound of that era, this unique game blended strategy and action was deemed, at the time, one of the most beautiful games ever created.

And now, back to the subject at hand…

HOMM3 Title Screen
Having spent most of my free time over the past two weeks with Loki Entertainment’s Linux port of Heroes of Might and Magic III, I can’t help but feel that this series of games is the natural evolution of Defender of the Crown. The basic ideas are all there, along with a giant bag of new tricks, each adding its own flavor to the already rich gameplay. And like Defender of the Crown before it, HOMM3 provides an unforgettable experience, filled with lush graphics and striking music. Further, the Heroes games stand in stark contrast to the seemingly endless flow of high-profile 3D games that grab the headlines in today’s game market. Can a hardcore gamer, one used to the heated, bloody battles of Quake 3 Arena and the heart-pounding car races of Gran Turismo and the button-thrashing brawls of Soul Blade, actually be drawn completely into the world of a game that require neither a Pentium II nor a 3D accelerator? Read on, brave reader!

Game Overview

World Map View
For those not familiar with the world of Heroes of Might and Magic, let me convey the view I’ve gained in my brief experience. You command a group of “heroes”, each of which controls an army of smaller units. Heroes move about on a world map, from city to city, gathering resources and artifacts along the way. Each city you control garners gold, resources, and troops for you; the gold and resources can, in turn, be turned into city improvements and the ability to produce more and better troops. Conflict occurs between AI controlled heroes and your own, between a hero and a city garrison, or between a hero and groups of creatures scattered about the world map. All movement and combat is turn-based, so you can take as much time as you want planning out your strategy.

(Rich) City View
Strategy is really the root of this game. Anyone attempting to play this game haphazardly will eventually find their cities overrun and their heroes summarily destroyed by an efficient enemy AI. Success is dependent upon a player’s ability to manage simultaneously multiple cities and varied heroes towards an array of goals. Initially, the game will seem frustrating for the sheer amount of information that must be assimilated; there are enough town types, creature types, heroes, artifacts, and spells, each with a handful of critical statistics, to make a first game (and perhaps even a second and third game) more of a vehicle for reading the manual than a vehicle for entertainment. Fortunately, the game is accessible and appealing enough to motivate you above this initially steep learning curve. Veteran users will no doubt need some time to
acclimate to the changes made since HOMM2, but should find most of the game and the strategies required a comfortable fit right from the start.

Defending a City...Poorly
Despite a flamboyant, cartoonish appearance, HOMM3 offers gamers plenty of strategy and gameplay to while away the hours. At the highest level, a good player will move heroes around the world map efficiently and choose to fight battles only when they are ready. At a finer level, cities must be managed, balancing money and resource generation with amassing troops for your armies. At a still finer level, decisions about skill specialization must be made for each hero, and artifacts (which bestow special bonuses to abilities) must be distributed to maximize their potency. At what I see as the finest level, battles must be managed to use troops, terrain, and spells to guarantee a victory. So while a single piece of this complex game, like building a powerful army, may be easy to conquer, that one piece alone will likely not be enough to quash your foes’ forces.

Single Player – Scenarios

For a lone player, HOMM3 provides more than enough single player scenarios to take up the a good month for a moderately determined player. To keep the gameplay fresh, each scenario takes place on a different map (of varying sizes) and may provide a single or several computer opponents with which to compete. Since progess can be saved at any point during a turn, a player is free to freeze the gamestate and try different tactics and strategies. For those players enjoying the quest for a “perfect” strategy, these scenarios provide a fertile ground for cultivating ideas and plans.

The computer AI is an able opponent, and I found that watching him closely provided me not only with vital information of his whereabouts and and army strengths, but also with a good example of how to manage several cities and heroes efficiently. While there are times when the AI seems too efficient, riding the fine line between challenging and annoying, in the end I appreciated the level of skill it pushed me to achieve.

Here I’ll lodge my biggest complaint with the game’s structure: The tutorial scenario is a terrible example and, while bolstering a new player’s confidence may seem good in theory, in practice it fails utterly. It serves merely as a tour of the objectives in this game’s world but fails to introduce any of the real relationships between them or explain the work that a real scenario will require to acquire those objectives. The rest of HOMM3 is so polished that playing the tutorial leaves one with the definite feeling that it was tacked on at the last minute.

Despite the great number and variety of these scenarios, this mode is my least favorite. This isn’t to say that single player scenarios aren’t fun and entertaining; they can be great fun. Rather, the campaign and multiplayer modes are, quite simply, even better!

Single Player – Campaign

Campaign Selection Screen
A step up in complexity from the single scenario mod is the Campaign. Here several scenarios are strung together, with cut scenes and narrative inbetween, to form a more elaborate experience. Beyond the overall story, though, scenarios are linked further: a player’s performance in one scenario affects how he starts the next. Together with the story, this strategy adds a critical edge to the Campaign mode, making it a more compelling game experience.

As an added incentive, not all campaigns included in the game are accessible at the outset. To gain access to these extra campaigns, one must first complete those few campaigns initially offered.

Multiplayer – Internet/LAN/Hotseat

Not to be left out of the multiplayer obsession in today’s game market, HOMM3 provides two modes with which you can challenge your friends to a game of hero-coaching wits. The scenarios are similar to what you’ll encounter in a single player scenario, but you play against human opponents (or a mix of human and computer AI opponents).

The first mode is Hotseat and it allows several users to play a multiplayer scenario from one computer by taking turns. This mode is a bit awkward since a crucial aspect of the multiplayer gameplay stems from not knowing what your opponents are doing. So keeping your friends (i.e. opponents) from looking while you make your moves could be a potential problem. Still, almost all the fun that can be had playing over a LAN or over the Internet is part of the Hotseat mode, and it’s a great option when only one person owns the game.

Hosting a Multiplayer Game
The other mode is TCP/IP which allows you to play over the Internet or over a LAN. For this review, I was able to try out both methods and can report that they work remarkably well. Over a LAN, as you would expect, there is no lag and arranging a game is relatively easy as players can agree verbally upon a scenario and settings. At our test session, once everyone was connected we experienced no problems for well over two hours of gameplay. The only hitch we encountered
was a hang while trying to connect; subsequently, we weren’t able to reproduce that situation, so it probably was a configuration error on our part. Later, I played a one-on-one game via our dialup Internet accounts; with the use of GAIM to arrange the details, setting up anInternet game was nearly as easy as setting up a LAN game. At the beginning of such a game, a reasonable amount of network traffic takes place and over a slow modem connection this phase may take as long as a minute. But past that initial traffic, only chat messages and turn
updates are swapped, using only a tiny fraction of your bandwidth.

We encountered some very neat features in HOMM3 while playing multiplayer games on our LAN. First, when a user drops from the game a computer-controlled opponent takes its place. This is handy for times when not everyone in your group can stay for the entire game. Second, the multiplayer game can actually be saved, providing some interesting benefits. Notably for us, we had the opportunity to take a break for lunch and return to our machines without worrying about losing our place. Next, for those who like honing your strategy skills, any user can save the position of the game and go back later to replay
that portion of the game (against CPU opponents, of course) to experiment with a different strategy.

Graphics &amp Sound

Excellent Video Clips!
At first, I’ll admit, I was a little turned off by the cartoonish graphics of HOMM3. But upon closer inspection, I realize that this is probably just the effect that the designers were shooting for. My only gripe, then, is that the excellent in-game video sequences seems a bit incongruous next to the in-game graphics as the videos depict what can only be called “more realistic” creatures and persons. All of that aside, the artists have done their duty well and created clearly recognizable, colorful, and detailed graphics for all creatures, cities, artifacts, and dozens of other items that populate the world of HOMM3. Perhaps the only point real complaint one could have about the graphics is that the game runs at only one resolution, 800×600. (Check the Linux-specific Issues section for more on this.)

The music in HOMM3 was a pleasant surprise for me. While some game music is the kind that you listen to once and immediately turn down, I find that the music here is quite well-done. The most impressive part, in my mind, is the dynamic way in which the music mirrors the current hero’s surroundings. The varied background sounds are fantastic as well, adding just the right atmosphere without being overly noticeable.

Linux Specific Issues

I’ve tried installing HOMM3 on three separate machines (all running some variant of Red Hat) and it installed easily on all of them. Loki gave the whole Linux gaming community an invaluable gift when they wrote the famous installer that now accompanies all of their games. Even with the minimal install (only 5Mb of HDD space), the game runs well, provided your CD-ROM drive is up to the task.

The K6-2/300 and Celeron 300A (at 450MHz) machines ran HOMM3 beautifully, and are well within the recommended system requirements. I had hoped that, given that the simple demands of the interface, this game would run well off of a laptop and so one of the test systems was a Pentium 166MHz laptop with 32Mb of RAM. As the system requirements implied that a “Pentium class processor” and 32Mb of RAM would be enough to run the game, this seemed a reasonable proposition, esp. since the 800×600 fixed resolution within the game would fit well on a laptop screen. However, even with a full install, the animations and music were choppy and degraded the gameplay and enjoyment significantly. My suspicion is that the limitation was really in the low RAM and laptop video card, but I’m not confident of that.

While it is easy enough for those running at higher resolutions to Ctrl-Alt-(-) and Ctrl-Alt-(+) to adjust for this, it does get a bit tiresome to do that on a regular basis. Users choosing to run HOMM3 as root on their machine will have access to a more convenient fullscreen mode. Fortunately, Loki has promised that the first patch will introduce a fullscreen mode for all users (not just the superuser) much like the one in the latest patches to Railroad Tycoon II Gold and Civilization: Call to Power.

For those that find multiplayer as compelling as I, be warned that all versions of HOMM3 will network only within a particular platform. That is to say, the game has been released for Win32, MacOS, and Linux but each version can only talk to clients on its respective platform. The Windows version makes use of DirectPlay, a part of Microsoft’s proprietary DirectX. The MacOS version makes use of OpenPlay, an open alternative to DirectPlay. Loki has said that they may incorporate OpenPlay functionality into a future patch to enable interoperability between MacOS and Linux users. I hope that this actually does comes to pass.

Also, those players familiar with the Windows version will tell you that a map editor came as part of the package. While no map editor shipped with HOMM3 for Linux, it is apparently in development and will be released eventually. Incidentally, maps created with the Windows map editor apparently work well with the Linux client.

Finally, there are rumors that the expansion pack that was released for the Windows version will eventually be available for Linux users as well. Nothing official, yet, but there is at least a chance that Loki will release the expansion as well.

Final Words

Campaign Story Clip
Loki seems capable of doing no wrong at this point in its life, and its port of Heroes of Might and Magic III furthers my belief in its ability to deliver great games into the hands of Linux gamers. HOMM3 seems well-chosen to round out Loki’s growing
catalog of games, and it will no doubt lure more casual gamers to Linux as time goes by. Personally, I tend to prefer action games to strategy games, but HOMM3 has been surprisingly enjoyable over the past two weeks. While it certainly won’t replace Quake 3 Arena or Unreal Tournament (especially for gamers like me), it will continue to hold an icon on my desktop because, in the end, I’m hooked on the deep, engrossing strategy and the wildy fun multiplayer component …oh, and that rush you get when you carry a huge army of Arch Angels into battle and decimate your opponent!

Matt Matthews

Review Update (31 January 2000)

After posting my HOMM3 review, Stephane Peter and Scott Draeker from Loki Entertainment contacted me with some additional information and a correction.

First, I was incorrect in stating that the Apple Macintosh version of HOMM3 used OpenPlay. According to Peter, the programmer that did most of the porting work on HOMM3, the Mac and Linux ports share some common code and thus have “the same network backend.” However, the two can’t talk to each other because of the endian difference between the PC and Mac architectures. There are no plans at this time to implement OpenPlay in any version of HOMM3 on any platform.

On the topic of the map/scenario editor, Scott Draeker notified me that it is “well into development” and should be released when finished. This is good news for current HOMM3 owners and all the more reason for other Linux gamers to give HOMM3 a good long look. Grab the newly released demo and try it out; if it’s your cup of tea, then get out and buy it.

More sales of HOMM3, and other Loki games, will certainly increase the likelihood that more games will get ported. Draeker made it clear that they are talking with 3D0 about bringing the HOMM3 expansion packs to Linux. Also, if their relationship remains strong and the games are in demand, Loki would “like to continue bringing [the Heroes series] to Linux.” If the quality of HOMM3 is any indication, this is great news for Linux gamers.

So there you have it: The editor is definitely on the way and expansion packs are being considered. Given that HOMM3 is a great game already, these just add to its attractiveness. And while I find myself wishing that I could play against my Windows-using, HOMM3-playing friends, that is but a small part of this fine game.

Matt Matthews

Go to the top.

Interview with Icculus

December 4th, 2007 by Marv

Interview with the Icculus

13 May 2007 by JVM

It’s helpful for us, as a community, to have an idea where our system stands now, where we can see changes in the near future, and our
prospects for future growth. To that end, we’ve asked Ryan “icculusGordon to rate various companies and technologies and their impact on GNU/Linux gaming. Ryan has been essential to the development of several important games on GNU/Linux, including Unreal Tournament 2003, America’s Army,Descent 3, and Serious Sam. He has also ported some applications, like Google Earth and the Second Life client from Linden Labs.

LinuxGames: On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is no effect at all and 10 is metaphysical transmogrification, how will the following affect the future of GNU/Linux gaming? We’ll start with SDL.

Ryan: 8. It’s already the defacto standard for game development on Linux, and the next version more or less removes all the current limitations. I don’t see it going away.

Very few game titles, commercial or open source, use anything but SDL on Linux, and I don’t see this changing for a long time. More titles will use OpenGL for video instead of the 2D interfaces, but they’re still going to use
SDL to get that done.

LG: Ok, so OpenGL itself is a…?

Ryan: 10. Everything will be using it sooner than later, even things that don’t know they are, much like how Quartz
turned out on the Mac. Even SDL hides OpenGL behind the basic 2D video interfaces in the next major version.

2D framebuffers are a dead end, and having to write pixels manually is going to become a slower and slower path. Everything doing video, games or otherwise, will be using high level graphics APIs, like OpenGL or Cairo, that eventually talk
3D primitives and shader programs to the hardware. Cute things like wobbly windows or Apple’s Expose’ or Microsoft’s Flip3D are just side effects and bonuses of that transition.

LG: And on the audio side, how important is OpenAL ?

Ryan: As much as I like OpenAL, last year I would have said 3…a novelty that has a small fanbase that like the API and a majority of developers treating it like OpenGL vs. Direct3D…it’s what “everyone else” uses, but it’s not something they care deeply about on Windows.

Windows Vista removing hardware acceleration from DirectSound made OpenAL more like a 7, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes the defacto standard for game audio on Windows, and thus everywhere else, too. Creative’s Alchemy project shows that there was a real demand for this, and crippling DirectSound was a baffling mistake on Microsoft’s part. Mac OS X game developers rejoiced when OpenAL shipped in the default 10.4 install, since CoreAudio was really painful to program. Linux, of course, has had OpenAL easily available for years.

It’s nice to not be swimming upstream for once. :)

I don’t think anyone thinks of audio being as important as video…we probably won’t use OpenAL for the bleeps and bloops a system makes when new email arrives like we’ll use OpenGL to render basic window system controls…so it lands around 7 instead of 10. Important for Linux gaming, not so important for Linux in general.

LG: These are always controversial, but we need to cover them. How about WINE, Transgaming & Cedega, and CodeWeavers & CrossOver?

Ryan: They’re a 2.
I think they’ll always be around, and as long as Windows is dominant, they’ll definitely have a use, but I just never manage to find anything that works with them, game or otherwise. Most things I’ve tried tend to crash on startup, but I don’t really put much effort into it, and to be fair, I’ve never really tried to use them for the things they want you to: Microsoft Office, World of Warcraft, etc, so my results aren’t really surprising. Usually it’s more like data wrapped in a Windows installer .exe that I need to extract and can’t.

But if you can only use it for a handful of apps, I’m not sure it justifies the man-years of development going into them. It seems like implementing the entire win32 API to run iTunes is a long way around just to be able to buy stuff from the iTunes Store. That’s just my opinion, though.

People talk about Wine and company like it’s going to kill Linux, but I just don’t see that happening.

I still say that Transgaming’s SwiftShader is way more impressive than Cedega, but that’s just me…the tech behind that is like Geek Porn to me, I can’t lie.

LG: A newer entry in this market is Falling
Leaf
and their product, Alky.

Ryan: 1? I don’t know much about these guys, except they have some sort of wine-like tech. But if they are just starting now, they are never going to get far, considering how long wine itself took to get where it is. Even focused on just gaming tech, I think they’d have trouble competing with Transgaming, who has a solid pile of really smart people building on top of wine’s foundation.

LG: What about id Software and Epic MegaGames, both of whom are known for making native GNU/Linux versions of their games.

Ryan: 8. Add
Valve in there, too, since id, Epic and Valve supply the tech that powers most triple-A titles, and that’s not likely to change in the next 5 years.

It almost doesn’t matter if we see Half-Life 3 on Linux, so long as we get the Source Engine ported. Same for Quake 5 (Doom 4? Whatever) and UT3 and such. That id and Epic see value in Linux ports of their games is great, because it adds a ton of legitimacy to the platform, but that their engines are available is what’s important, because then you can lobby to their licensees. And boy, there’s lots of licensees now. You really can’t build a game from scratch in 2007…most things are building on top ofsomething, and usually it’s UnrealEngine3.

This proved to be a win with UnrealEngine1, UnrealEngine2, and I’m sure it will with UnrealEngine3, too. I’m sure TTimo [Timothee Besset] at id would say the same for Doom and Quake tech, and the other Linux titles they spawned.

LG: What about Tux Games and the related company, Linux Game Publishing ?

Ryan: 3. I don’t see Tux Games building an empire. Loki was too aggressive about obtaining titles, LGP is not aggressive enough. I’m sort of the opinion that the Loki/LGP model isn’t the right way to go, though. I think we need more ports on the same disc as the Windows version, or freely downloadable for use with the Windows retail disc…it’s a serious problem not being able to get the product to consumers trivially…I think it would be hard to make a profit within those bounds with a third-party porting house.

Then again, that assumes a brick-and-mortar retail store. If everyone moves to the Steam /iTunes/whatever model of consuming content, it’s possible they could really thrive, but I think physical distribution is always going to be an albatross around Michael Simms’s neck.

LG: And the traditional nemesis, Microsoft.

Ryan: 1. I’m surprised you asked about Microsoft. Really, they’re the status quo. Even with something as controversial as Vista, people don’t really move to or from Windows in any significant quantities.

The real threat to Linux adoption is Apple, not Microsoft. If you didn’t know, now you know.

LG: And how about Google?

Ryan: 6. Maybe 5 or 4. They’ve definitely been enthusiastic about Linux versions of their desktop apps–heck, they paid me to port some of them–but with the exception of companies they acquired, like Keyhole for Google Earth, they just simply don’t DO many desktop apps.

There is some belief that they’ll deliver the world into a new era of AJAX‘d web 2.0 applications, and while I’m down with that, I’m not sure that actually helps Linux…if it doesn’t matter what desktop you run Firefox on, why change desktops?

LG: Finally, on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the moribundity of Windows NT on PowerPC and 10 is akin to the virus-like spread of World of Warcraft, what is the future of GNU/Linux gaming going to be like in the next couple of years?

Ryan: It’s hard to say, of course. I think we’ve passed the usual also-ran bar at this point, and that’s almost as good as critical mass. Every alternate operating system declares desktop legitimacy as soon as a commercial title arrives, but the real test is what happens afterwards…Civilization: Call to Power had a BeOS version, too, after all.

Ultimately, I don’t think it’s entirely a social issue when one of these OSes fails; it’s actually largely technical. OS/2 added whole driver layers, DIVE and DART, because they found out that Doom 1 couldn’t move pixels to video RAM fast enough, but never really gave the system the rich APIs it needed. Neither OS/2 nor BeOS really provided robust OpenGL support, etc. Driver support in general starts to slip, and sooner than later, the technology of games marched on without them.

Linux has been keeping up better, in that the base system evolves to meet modern needs better, and for now closed-source video drivers give you all the same functionality you’d expect on Windows, so we’re not just flat-out locked out. You’d be surprised, that’s half the battle.

From there, keeping a few engines portable and aggressively lobbying for the right titles can make a big difference.

The problem recently is that we’ve been going through a dry spell, so everything seems a little bleak right now…for me, this is largely due to downtime between UnrealEngine2 and UnrealEngine3. After UT2003 shipped, I couldn’t sleep for all the porting work to be done, but now, there’s not much going on while people are preparing next-gen titles on next-gen tech. I expect 2008 will blow up again like 2003 did.

In the meantime, I’m following the smarter points of Loki’s plans, and continuing to build infrastructure I’ll need instead of wishing it would show up…SDL is moving towards the new 1.3 API, I just announced my next-gen loki_setup replacement today…and other things.

I guess you’re asking what Linux gaming will look like in five years and, in a roundabout way, I’m answering: whatever we make it look like.

LG: Thank you Ryan, for taking the time to answer our questions and giving usyour perspective. More importantly, thanks for all the hard work you’ve doneimproving the infrastructure for games on GNU/Linux.

Loki Stock

January 28th, 2002 by Crusader

Shawn Gordon ofThe Kompany let us know thatyou can now order Loki Software’sport of Eric’s Ultimate Solitaire from them forjust $5.00 US (plus shipping and handling).

Also, Tux Games still has several Loki titlesin stock and should have enough for the forseeable future; however, Civilization: Call to Poweris sold out and is now an unavailable game as Loki cannot replace their stock before operations cease.

Linux.com on Civ:CTP

April 21st, 2001 by Alkini

Games.Linux.com recently posted a reviewby their new writer Omar Ahmed. The review covers Loki‘s first port, Civilization: Call to Power -specifically game installation, features, gameplay, and graphics.

Loki Stuff

April 9th, 2001 by Crusader

Some new Loki Software releases:

  • Version 1.2a ofCivilization: Call to Power; changes:
    • Fixed loading play-by-email games containing spaces.
    • Fixed crash on start when playing on an 8-bit X11 display.
    • Fixed crash playing some of the movies.
    • Fixed game hang when switching desktops with XFree86 4.0.
    • Scrolling works now after toggling fullscreen mode.
    • Fixed diplomacy crash in German language version.
    • Networking is now built in, solving LC_ALL problem.
    • civctp -s no longer signals the name of a scenario to load.
    • Fixed 1.1 save game compatibility.
    • Fixed Play-By-Email games with Windows players (save game compatibility).
    • Fixed assertion failure when loading scenario icons.

    Civ:CTP is now supported in Loki Update; you can get the patch you need for youversion of CTP from

    ftp://ftp.lokigames.com/pub/updates/civctp/

  • Version 0.4.3 of the SDL MPEG Player Library;the full list of changes can be found in the README.

    SMPEG 0.4.3 Source: ftp://ftp.lokigames.com/pub/open-source/smpeg/smpeg-0.4.3.tar.gz

  • Also, version 1.0.10 of Loki Update, used for patchingLoki games, was released. Changes:
    • You can pass an install directory as well as product on the command line
    • Added multi-language detection for Heretic II
    • Fixed setting the temporary download path
    • Always use the effective user id for the home directory

    The appropriate version for your architecture can be downloaded from the utility’shomepage.

  • Finally, Linux Tribes’Bad_CRC wrote in to point outthat Loki’s Mike Phillips has addedmd5sums for theirTribes 2 dedicated server patches as a download sanitycheck.

Zocks Articles

September 11th, 2000 by Crusader

The German gaming site Zocks put two Linux-relatedarticles up on their site this weekend:

Furthermore, Zocks is holding a drawing for copies of SuSE,Civilization: Call to Power, andMyth 2: Soulblighter.