Linux gaming, a game of Linux?

By Hex DSL

I think, at this point it’s pretty fair to say that I have played more games than most people. I have been playing video games on PC since I was 12 years old (I’m 37 now.) With the exception of the time just after my daughter was born when I found the ease of the X-Box quite alluring for a few years, I have played nothing BUT PC (and the occasional DS game)

 

Playing games for a long time is not the reason that I think I have played more games than most people, the reason I think that this may be true is because for the last few years I have been creating YouTube videos, and for the last year specifically I have been creating a new YouTube video every single day. Like a man obsessed with not losing his combo I have spent more time on OBS (capture software) than I have in ANY game.

 

To be specific here, I’m talking about Linux. I switched to Linux as my primary platform about 4 years ago now. I still gamed on windows and used steam-in-home-streaming to access my windows games at first but that just faded away organically. In fact, today I removed my Steam account from the only windows PC in the house (my daughters sims 4 machine.)

 

So, as a result of making a video of a different game each day I have Played a about an hour of a whole lot of games. I have a series on the channel that is called “… A Linux game'” the idea is that I give a sort of early impression of a game as well as assessing if there are any extra steps or not in regards to launching the game.

 

There are some odd tricks I have learned over this time in regards to getting games to launch, Some need a screen disabled, some launch in one desktops environment but not others (older unity games just flash back if you launch them first time on Gnome 3, this went away with more recent versions) some games need you to manually put the resolution in config’ file before they will play ball. Most won’t run on the monitor you want them to and need to be moved the first time they are loaded (and every other time too, more often than not.) And don’t even get me started on the Unity “cant click on a full screen game bug” yeah that one makes me smack my head on the desk because the fix is so commonly known that I feel like the Unity developers are actively avoiding it with fingers in ears going ‘lalalalalalala’ because it would take ONE LINE in the launcher to solve it, and that’s just a step too far for them!

 

After the last paragraph of salt and snark you may think I’m here to talk ‘smack’ and ague that Linux is in some way at fault, or start listing reasons why it will ‘never be for the main stream’ but no. That’s not something I am here to say. In all honesty I couldn’t give a flying penguin (or other animal) if Linux mainstreams or not. I have lots of games to play on my Linux machine. I love ‘indie’ games and even if I was on Mac or Windows (eww) I would still be playing the same games. For the most part the lack of so called ‘Triple A Games’ on Linux is something I don’t even notice. I have all the indie gems I want. I’m also willing to use the Wine compatibility layer to play some indie titles that have not yet come to Linux, so my pool of games is even larger.

 

The thing that I have noticed over the last few years, (playing all these games) is that things are getting better. Linux is becoming the natural home of the indie game (as they don’t have to fight GTA and COD for sales) as a result the game creation tools are getting better and better. The developers are learning more tricks and tweaks to make the Linux version of games a smoother user experience. Many indie games that didn’t come to Linux at launch are worked on by developers because they see not only the extra sales but the extra loyalty and interest they are getting from the Linux gamers out there. For the most part Linux gamers are a more technical crowed and the occasional bug or issue with the game is not only reported but usually accompanied by ‘verification’ and documentation.

 

Obviously not all Linux gamers are the wonderful team-penguin hippies I know and love, some send abuse and threats to developers after a bad port, but lets be honest, every platform has its ass hats to deal with.

 

When my YouTube channel was launched it purpose was to ‘test’ games and see if the Linux versions even launched on Linux. Eventually though the focus of my channel had to move away from that because for the most part games did work. In fact it became unusual for a game advertised ‘available on Linux’ to fail to work.

 

So now I make ‘first look’ videos and the occasional opinion vlog. I can mostly assume that a game will launch when I click ‘play’ in Steam and move on to having a nice time (assuming the game is not crappy.) This is assuming its not one of those stupid Unity games that has the bug where you can’t interact with the screen (solved simply by adding ‘-screen-fullscreen 0’ to the launch options, in case you didn’t know.)

 

I can play my games while not having to worry about Blue screens, Virus Killers, Spyware, Data snooping by my own damned OS and random slowdowns. I play while not compromising my firm belief that proprietary operating systems are bad for consumers and lets be honest, Windows is inferior to Linux as a gamers OS. Yes…. Take a moment to filter that into your brain… I’ll even say it again so people know I didn’t type it wrong…..

 

Windows is inferior to Linux as a gamers OS.

 

Now take away the idea that there are more games on Windows and some of the ‘Triple A’ ones run a little fast in Windows. It is not the fault of Linux that more Developers make games for Windows because of sales figures.

 

Now think back to a time you had a problem with a game crashing to desktop on Window’s. Think about how you solved it. You had to rub your chin for a second, try killing your Anti-virus and firewall software, retry… same problem? Oh I see…. Now you search google and steam forums for a solution. That is the only way to figure it out for most of us. Hope someone smarter or the hive mind of the internet has come to a solution by trial and error.

 

Now think about the same crash to desktop problem on Linux. You just run steam from a terminal, launch the game and when it crashed to desktop with no warning you read the last few lines of the terminal and then you have a massive clue as to the problem! If it’s am missing library, you install it. If its a resolution issue, you solve it. If its an error you don’t recognise you can search the internet for that exact message, knowing the first thing you click on will be someone explaining what it is and usually giving you the exact solution. Because Linux isn’t trying to hide anything its allowing you to have the information and tools to solve a problem. Why would any operating system work to hide debug information? (looks at Microsoft intently for a moment)
Still not convinced that Windows is inferior to Linux for gamers? Okay, how many frames a second do you lose to that memory resident virus killer that I KNOW you have to run in windows? Yeah… not a thing in Linux. How about that bloated UI that increases its memory footprint every time windows increases its version number? In Linux you can use any desktop environment that you like, so if you want one that uses a few meg of memory you can (okay, I run Gnome so I’m not a great example of someone who worries about DE memory usage)

 

And most of all…. The icing on the cake here, is this: I have never EVER been ejected from a game because my OS has decided its time to update. This isn’t even something I would consider in a billion years of Linux gaming. Linux would NEVER do this. It would be OS-suicide for any Distro that implemented it because you would switch to something else the moment it happened. Microsoft make it so that if you are playing a game and its time to update, screw your game. They are in charge if your PC, not you. Now granted it doesn’t happen as often as the internet would have you believe but it can and does happen. And a Linux user, its always funny to me when it does.

 

I know, none of what I have said is new or revolutionary but all this. All these words (1,575) is my way of saying….

 

Hello, I’m HexDSL and I think you maybe seeing a little more of me on thelinuxgamer.co.uk.