LINUXGAMES

Linux Games Podcast Michael Simms Interview

October 19th, 2006 by TimeDoctor

The Linux Games podcast now has a dedicated page!. As far as I am concerned this podcast has been a fantastic success in the first few episodes, nearing a thousand total listeners per episode. You can help us to raise that number by getting your friends to listen to the podcast as well, this is why we support iTunes.

Finally I need to ask you folks to think up your questions for our next interview guest, Michael Simms. He is the Chief Warlord of both Tux Games and Linux Game Publishing. We’re recording Friday night if all goes well, so you’ll need to have your questions in before 7PM PST on the 20th. So, leave your questions in the comments, and don’t forget to encourage your developer friends to make podcast advertisements!Update: Podcast recorded last night :)

16 Responses to “Linux Games Podcast Michael Simms Interview”

  1. gaminggeek Says:

    How did you get into the linux gaming bis?

  2. snowbender Says:

    Why do we see so few commercial games on Linux? Why are there so few ports and why are most ports ports from games which were popular years ago (ok, except probably X2 and Cold War) ? I would think that with the seemingly higher popularity of Linux (and since it is nowadays more accessible to not-that-tech-savvy people) that a new ‘LokiGames’ would be more successfull today than 5 years ago? Is no one willing to take the risk because of what happened with Loki? Or do many game publishers oppose Linux ports (by external companies)?

    Suppose I would really love to port game X from gamestudio Y that was published by game publisher Z. Who do I talk to? Do I talk to Linux Game Publishing? Does Linux Game Publishing talk to other game publishers about possible linux ports? Who decides over the possibility (and conditions) of a Linux port, the game publisher or the game studio which published, resp developed the original game?

    Can you give some examples of how much the original developers/publishers ask in return for letting you port the game to linux and sell it?

    What about backwards compatibility and gaming on Linux? I have the impression that with binary software on Linux, it’s very likely that when you buy it now, that it’s no longer gonna work within 2 years. (I noticed this also with software of my own, which segfaults on newer Linux kernels) Is this better with more recent Linux games like Cold War ? Do older games on the Linux Game Publishing site work with for example the latest Ubuntu?

    In that context, do you know how developers of new Linux games feel about including the source code of their game (only the C code, not including the source of ‘content’) as some form of “help-yourself-kit” in case the game no longer runs at some later point in time? Or in case the game does not include binaries for your platform (for example linux on powerpc)? Are they willing to sell the source seperately?

    Why don’t we see more adventure games ported to Linux… I would think that porting adventure games does not require that much work compared to other games which use a fancy 3d-engine with all kinds of effects and, in addition, I believe that several adventure games use the same engine.. so, once the engine is ported, it would be easy to port several games in a short time?

  3. zborgerd Says:

    Poor lgp-michael. Not to troll on the subject, but he’s already answered a lot of these questions several times. So, while I cannot speak for him or LGP, I think that many of these are self explanatory.

    [q]
    Why do we see so few commercial games on Linux? Why are there so few ports and why are most ports ports from games which were popular years ago (ok, except probably X2 and Cold War) ?[/q]

    Because games cost money, and most companies are not interested in letting a small Linux publisher port/publish their game unless you carry buckets of cash with you.

    [q]
    I would think that with the seemingly higher popularity of Linux (and since it is nowadays more accessible to not-that-tech-savvy people) that a new ‘LokiGames’ would be more successfull today than 5 years ago?[/q]

    LGP is still in business. Loki is not. In fact, LGP has already outlasted Loki by about a year. That’s saying a lot, considering that it often seems as if Linux gamers don’t buy enough games to sustain commercial Linux gaming.

    [q]
    Suppose I would really love to port game X from gamestudio Y that was published by game publisher Z. Who do I talk to? Do I talk to Linux Game Publishing? Does Linux Game Publishing talk to other game publishers about possible linux ports? Who decides over the possibility (and conditions) of a Linux port, the game publisher or the game studio which published, resp developed the original game?[/q]

    In the case of Cold War, several Linux gamers asked LGP-Michael to pursue this game. We also passed the suggestion off to Patrik Rak and the other kind Mindware folks via the Mindware forums (they appeared to be actively looking into Linux and Mac publishing options anyway). Things just happened to work out, but it appears that they had to prod Dreamcatcher for a while.

    I’d say that the circumstances just depend upon the publisher and the developer in question.

    [q]Can you give some examples of how much the original developers/publishers ask in return for letting you port the game to linux and sell it?[/q]

    That would be a bad business decision. Also, it totally is different between all companies and contracts.

    [q]
    What about backwards compatibility and gaming on Linux? I have the impression that with binary software on Linux, it’s very likely that when you buy it now, that it’s no longer gonna work within 2 years. (I noticed this also with software of my own, which segfaults on newer Linux kernels) Is this better with more recent Linux games like Cold War ? Do older games on the Linux Game Publishing site work with for example the latest Ubuntu?[/q]

    All of my LGP games still run just as well as they always have. Only game I own that has suffered substantial bitrot is Jagged Alliance 2 (which isn’t an LGP game). I think a few Loki games are getting there though, but they seem to have workarounds.

    [q]
    Why don’t we see more adventure games ported to Linux… I would think that porting adventure games does not require that much work compared to other games which use a fancy 3d-engine with all kinds of effects and, in addition, I believe that several adventure games use the same engine.. so, once the engine is ported, it would be easy to port several games in a short time?[/q]

    Have people been demanding these? I’d say that more people want quality RPGs (or MMORPGS) than adventure games. In the case of the amount of “work” involved in porting 3D vs 2D games to Linux… Take a look at Disciples 2 (which is 2D). What you suggest about 2D being easier probably does not apply, as they’d probably have released that game by now if it were “easy”.

    Perhaps you could suggest a specific adventure game to Michael, so that he may be able to look into it.

  4. snowbender Says:

    Sorry, I guess I should try to find some old interviews, feel free to ignore any deemed-not-interesting or answered-over-and-over-again questions :)

    About the remark about Loki Games. As I understand it, Loki was both developer and publisher in the sense that they had their own people porting games developed by others, while LGP is mainly a publisher of Linux games and “sponsors” external people (sometimes the original developers) to make Linux ports. Is that right?
    I didn’t understand the comment about “bad business decision” at first, but now that I think about it, I guess it’s not a good business policy to talk about business deals in public.
    The comment on backward compatibility was in general, I’ve had problems with it (a Loki game and Theocracy), but I don’t have any LGP game yet (I played the ColdWar demo and even though it’s impressive, I’m afraid it’s not really my kind of game).
    About the 3D versus 2D and you referring to Disciples2, I guess porting games is more challenging than I think it is (although I am a programmer and think I know “something” about it); there can be unexpected problems, there’s also the fact whether you can get some help from the original developers or not, the state of the original code, and so on… but isn’t it for most Linux ports so that the (original) game is old and looks outdated? I know I sound like I don’t appreciate the work from LGP or other Linux game publishers/developers, but, in the end, isn’t that the sad truth? I wish there would be more ColdWar-alike releases…
    I imagine that has to do with available budgets and the fact that there are not many gamers supporting Linux commercial games, but, in my opinion, only games like ColdWar can change something about that.
    About suggestions for games…. I’ll think about it, there’s definitely several games I’d love to see on Linux (not only adventure games, for example also racing games… there’s simply not one decent finished racing game on Linux). Is there an official place for that?

  5. TTimo Says:

    What is the strategy behind offering pre-orders for id games way before they hit the shelves? I see Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is already on the pre-orders, with an announced shipping date of Feb 27, it was the same for Quake 4 and Doom 3 ..

    I guess that’s based on best estimates for the availability of the Windows version .. I know I said I had the basics of the Linux ETQW client running, but I didn’t give any dates. What if the binary is delayed a few months? Or for reasons X or Y doesn’t happen?

    Is it to generate more buzz ( which we certainly appreciate ), isn’t it a bit risky as it depends on a lot of factors you have no control over? Do your customers get angry when you don’t make the announced release dates?

  6. zborgerd Says:

    [q]Sorry, I guess I should try to find some old interviews, feel free to ignore any deemed-not-interesting or answered-over-and-over-again questions :)[/q]

    Heh. I hope I wasn’t being a jerk. I guess I hadn’t had my coffee thought I was being smart. :D

    I’ve been interested in a racing game as well. Ballistics is actually a good game (I’ve played the beta quite a lot), but it seems to be hung up in beta testing because of some rendering engine and networking changes. I’d also like something with actual cars, though, with network play. I’m not sure how many options are available for the PC, aside from “licensed” titles like Le Mans, NASCAR, etc. Most of those game licenses are exclusively controlled by pretty big publishers like EA.

    Bandits looks like it will be great fun for fans of the “car combat” genre, like Twisted Metal. I’m not sure how far they’ve gotten on the development of that one, but since Ballistics is basically done – most of the engine work can probably be borrowed for Bandits.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    What will be the next release ?
    What is the 2005 turn over of Tux Games ? What are the expectations for 2006 ?
    What about developping your own games ?
    Are you single ? How many kids have you ?

  8. zborgerd Says:

    1. When will you drop us some hints about the “super sekret AAA game” that’s on the way? Michael, you’re killin’ us. I’m going to start paying someone to leak some logs of the LGP dev channel. :D

    2. Which genres are the future “AAA” and “AAAA” games (two different games)?

    3. Are these two games from the same developer?

    4. Do you have any interest in discussing the possibility of a publishing agreement with Mindware on future titles like Voodoo Nights (assuming that they are also interested)? Cold War is a great game, and I was really excited that both companies were working together to bring the game to Linux gamers.

    5. Do you expect that Ballistics or Knights and Merchants will be seeing releases by the end of the year?

    6. Which games are you currently playing right now in your spare time (Spare time? Yeah right.)?

  9. ziuchkov Says:

    It seems that one of the problems with porting games is the added difficulty of maintainance and upgrades. Post-release modifications to game must be propogated to each ported platform in order to keep the versions in sync. Depending on the code base, this can be a lot of work. Michael, how much do you think the hassles of maintaining separate ports (whether internally or through your the help of your company) contributes to game developers’ reluctance to release linux versions of their games?

    My next question deals with cross-platform code base as opposed to ported code. In the past, I have worked on coding a cross-platform mancala game that I had hoped would run on win, linux, and mac. While working on the project, I had problems locating good cross-platform resources in terms of both documentation and toolkits. Michael, what is your opinion of the current state of cross-platform game development resources? Do you think better cross-platform resources would lead game developers to release cross-platform versions of their games?

    Expanding on this last question, have you ever considered offering a consulting service to game developers in which you could help them make their code base cross-platform? If game developers would prefer to maintain a single code base as opposed to separate platform ports, you could help them to accomplish this. You could assemble a team of linux/mac game developers and offer their services as consultants to game developers who are interested in making their games run on multiple platforms from the start. Doing so would not only expand on the services provided by your company, but would help the state of linux gaming. If game developers learn how to write code that is portable/cross-platform from the start, the task of releasing linux/mac versions of their games becomes easier and perhaps more desirable for the game developers.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    How well have your games sold? Are you getting enough cash to do this kind of thing full time, or do you have to support yourself with another job?

    Do you plan to carry Defcon when it comes out on Linux?

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Did you consider the option of selling LGP games also as “download”, instead of only as boxed games?

  12. Anonymous Says:

    In what shape are LGP and Tuxgames financialy? should we expect any of them to drop out anytime soon.

    Have you seen any growth in the intrest of Linux games lately?

    How many people does currently work for LGP?

    Name the games that you would like to see ported to Linux the most, by LGP or any other.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    What’s your favorite beer?

  14. Anonymous Says:

    Seems lika Running with sissors is geering up for a new version of Postal. This version(Postal 3) should use the Velve engine used in Half life 2. My first thought is that we can forget Postal 3 for Linux. Please comment.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    Any plans to give the game demos to live CD distro people? It would be nice to show off the games that can be played to Linux-less friends.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    is Ballistics ever coming out? I mean lol!

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