Monthly Archives: November 2009

Frictional Games the developers of the horror Penumbra series recently revealed the title of their next project – Amnesia : The Dark Descent which I wrote about earlier.
For this special event I interviewed the developers about their next title.

1. Hello Jens and thank you for the interview,
There is a question I ask every commercial game company that already released their previous games to GNU/Linux,  I wonder how where the overall sales of the Penumbra Trilogy per platform ? from the “Thank You” post I feel that there is indeed a market for GNU/Linux, but can you be more specific (at least percentage wise for each game and the trilogy pack)  ?

It’s a bit difficult to give any exact numbers, mainly because for Windows we have a publisher and they in turn use many partners, so even if we get sales figures they are not always detailed down to a unit level for all territories. To make matters worse the first publisher we had for the original Penumbra: Overture release where pretty much a scam and never sent any sales figures at all, so we have only a slight idea of how well that game sold.

I did my best to collect as many figures as I could for online sales of the game for Linux, Mac & Windows. To give some background, the only place to purchase Linux is through our online store, the Mac version is available in our store + 3 other online stores and the Windows version is available in our store (recently added) + all the major stores (Steam, D2D, Gamer’s Gate, etc). I could not get all the figures for the Windows version, it also further weakens the figures that the Windows version is available in retail and that it has had backup by publishers. So it has had a lot of marketing that the other platforms have not had.

Here are the percentage for each platform, based on the total sales of all the games (individual and as the Collection):

Windows: 80%
Linux: 12%
Mac: 8%

A large part of the Linux percentage is thanks to the “Thank You” post you mentioned, that the article it mentions and its readers are what we thank in it for purchasing a lot of copies during the USD 5 weekend sale.

I wish this was all very positive, but in reality our games do not do that well. The only reason the company exists is because we live on what the treasure chest has to offer! So while the Thank You post is obviously a big thanks (it is!), it’s more that it bought us some more time, at a time when we really needed it badly.

We sold 3000 copies for Linux during that weekend, which is a GREAT number of units to sell during a weekend, but for a price of USD 5, you get about USD 13 000 to put in the chest. We are five people in the company and we also have a great guy making the Linux port, so with that in mind you don’t get that many days extra to live on. Here in Sweden the tax rate is above 30% and the employer fee above 30% too, so to put say USD 1 000 in your pocket to buy food for it will cost the company around USD 1 800. That does not include the additional 12% of VAT you have to pay for the actual food! Haha.

There I went on a long trip… It was not to nag about the poor state of being an independent game developer, it is great to be part of a small company that can quite freely work on the type of games we want. But it does have some parts that are a bit of a strain on the creativity.

2. What can you tell us about the upcoming game Amnesia and how would you compare it to the Penumbra series gameplay/engine wise ? (please be detailed)
I’ll leave this question for Thomas, he spends a great deal of time with the design of the game and is properly the man to ask for this question.

Thomas: One could say that Amnesia is a sort of progression from Penumbra. Many of the core gameplay elements have been taken from Penumbra and then refined in Amnesia. This is stuff like the physical interaction system, the way which we design our levels, and so on. Anyone who has played Penumbra will feel right at home when starting Amnesia. What really makes Amnesia different from Penumbra gameplay wise (apart from story and settings) is were our focus have been this time. These are the main areas:

1) To make the player the protagonist. What this means is that the player should to the extent possible be in the shoes of the character he/she is playing as. We will not have any sort of cut scenes, there will be very little text feedback (like descriptions) and the player should be in control from start to finish with no time jumps or anything like that. We feel that this will increase the immersion and emotions experienced during gameplay.

2) Much more effort has been put on the graphics, in terms of details, quality and diversity. As we no longer have text comments that can enhance the environments we want the player to be able to get the feelings by themselves. When entering a room the mood should be apparent and work towards enhancing plot and atmosphere. So instead of the protagonist telling the player what they should think or feel towards something, it is up to the player to decide and hopefully forcing him/her to become more immersed in the game world.

3) To make a more streamlined experience where the player does not get stuck all the time on a puzzle or a gameplay element. We want to have difficulty in the game, but we are designing it in such a way that it should not make break the immersion. Whenever the player restarts from a save or gets stuck at some puzzle for too long, he/she will drift away from the game world and the quality of the experienced will be lessened. This means we are working very hard to get rid of these things and we do not want to throw in a puzzle just to lengthen gameplay time (something that we did in Penumbra).

Engine wise it is quite different and there many parts that have been rebuilt from the ground up. The Penumbra games uses a portal system to do occlusion culling (check what objects not to draw) that placed a heavy burden on the artists. In Amnesia we used a fully dynamic culling system based on a technique called Coherent Hierarchical Culling, which does not give any extra work for the artists and give them more time to make nice graphics instead of worrying about performance issues. Another example is the shadows that were stencil (shadow volumes) based in Penumbra but is done with shadow maps in Amnesia. There are all kinds of new effects added as well, like Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, proper decals, etc. This means that Amnesia will not support as many graphic cards as Penumbra did, but we felt that we had to improve and were forced to draw the line somewhere. Still, Amnesia will be a lot less demanding than most commercial 3D games released these days. If you are looking for minimum requirements, then I am afraid it is too early for that as proper testing on that front has not started yet.

3. Usually I don’t like puzzle games, that’s because I am not so good at solving them – but I really enjoyed playing the Penumbra games because of it’s dark and scary atmosphere, how are the puzzled in Amnesia compare to Penumbra ? more challenging or easier ? can we expect more of the same or the new engine will let you make more complex and interesting puzzles  ?
For Amnesia the puzzles can probably be summed up as being a bit easier, it has been a design goal for the game to be a bit more streamlined in the experience. With Penumbra it was quite clear that as you encountered a puzzle, you had to spend some time trying to solve it, in Amnesia we have tried to smooth it out a bit more. Making puzzles more integrated into the rest of the game, so that we don’t get these “puzzle breaks” in the gameplay.

Amnesia is more about the exploration and horror than Penumbra, we have definitely concentrated on a game where the atmosphere is dense and trying to create an intriguing story. Much of the game is about finding out who you are and piece everything together to get the answers you seek.

So no, the engine is not really going to give any complex puzzles, but it will however give a better interaction with the puzzles. The whole physics interaction, and interaction in general, has been tweaked a lot so it is for example much easier to open doors, turn valves and so on.

4. What tools/libraries/programs have you used to develop Amnesia ? (3D, 2D, programming, platforms, etc…)
Oh, hmm, tons of stuff. Speaking for myself I use a Mac (old PPC model) to do all the work with sounds and video editing, I also use it to write down all my notes about bugs, the todo etc. The programs are quite old, I used to run a sound & music company, so it is Cubase SX 2.0, Spark XL (defunct) and an almost none working version of Peak. I use Windows for the development, which is mainly using our own tools for Level & Model editing in combination with writing the script code for the game, which I do using Notepad++. I do some simple modelling, often placeholders, and some basic image editing, for this I use Blender and GIMP.

Don’t worry, we use Linux too! Our server is Linux and I have a cute Eee with Linux that I usually use to login to the server and also to do some work with when on the run. It’s really great that server wise it does not really matter what platform you are accessing it from, the Mac obviously works out of the box and for Windows you have PuTTY.

Sounds like a ton of computers for a poor independent developer? Well, the Mac was traded for another older Mac + some extra cash in 2006, my PC is home built with some parts dating back to 2001 (damn that SoundBlaster card is really great or not much has happened with sound hardware/software compared to the graphics industry…).

Amnesia it self is built using cross-platform libraries only: OpenGL, OpenAL and Newton Game Dynamics are the major parts and then a slew of various libraries for mixed tasks. You can peak at Penumbra to get a specific list, it has changed very little for Amnesia!

5. At the Penumbra series the player was encouraged to run/hide from monsters , while in the first Penumbra it was possible to kill the dogs, in the second game killing the monsters was impossible (without a patch/mod) , how Amnesia will be compare to those games ? will the player be able/encouraged to kill monsters ? will Amnesia be more action oriented (fighting/climbing/jumping etc…) ?
And if so what weapons or/and skills can we expect ?

If you asked this question a year ago, I would have answered that Amnesia would be more action oriented. We spent about a year creating prototypes and have tested a lot of different approaches, what we originally wanted was to avoid some of the very tedious parts of developing a game like Penumbra. With Penumbra almost every instance of the game is uniquely created, each puzzle has to be done from the ground up, each event and so fort. It’s not like a First Person Shooter where you can put a lot of gameplay hours into having the player shoot enemies and once you have set it all up it can be re-used multiple times.

One idea we had was to add a bit more combat, to go back to the Overture idea that the player would always have a last resort of defence. This time we did the combat a bit easier and worked a lot on how the AI should behave, so that it gave the player a better chance to sneak or do a bit of battling to get out of a tricky situation and then hide again. But during testing we had the same problem as always, half thought it was way too easy and the other half thought it was very difficult. Adding to this we felt that it was not as fun as we had hope, that at best it would be like a poor-mans version of Condemned, as a small developer we really have to try and be unique, we can’t afford having a lot of “well it’s like game X only worse” comments.

So if comparing to the Penumbra games, Amnesia will be most similar to Black Plague. But with the differences that enemy encounters will always be very short, more of an obstacle to overcome, than levels filled with patrolling enemies.

6. Amnesia will use the new and improved engine HPL2, what’s new in this engine ? what new features will it have ?  are you willing to license this engine to other companies ?
Also at this note, is there a chance you will release your older engine HPL under some FOSS license like GPL as id software does with their older engines ?

To make sure you got the best answer to this question I asked Thomas to jump in again, he is after all the programmer.

Thomas: I have already gone through some of the new features in a previous answer, so I will let that be.

We do not plan to release any commercial version of the engine at this point since it would take too much time in support and probably not be worth it. Also, what we want to do is to make games, not sell SDKs / tools.

As for the releasing the old engine, we have talked about it, but it is not all that good and it would take some work to get it into some state that is usable for people (meaning documenting and such). I am also unsure how many people that would do anything useful with it now that engines like Unity can be gotten for free and has a lot better tools and support than the first HPL engine. This combined with the time it would take to make a proper release, makes it quite unlikely that it will happen. But as always it depends on how big the interest is and so on.

7. The community made some mods for the Penumbra games, how mod friendly will be Amnesia ? will you supply modding tools for the community and if so what can you tell me about them ?
Amnesia will be a lot more mod friendly. Developing tools take a lot of time, with Penumbra there was not time to do any advanced tools, creating the engine was time consuming enough. For Penumbra Thomas was pretty much the sole programmer, but for the whole Amnesia project we have had one additional programmer on-board that has concentrated fully on developing tools.

What we have now is a Level Editor, Model Editor, Particle Editor and a Material Editor. The main tools are by far the Level and Model editor. In the Model editor you import a 3D model, say a door and its frame, and then you use the editor to add physics bodies, joints and set properties for behaviour. For example you specify that the door is made out of wood, what it weighs, that it is connected by a joint to the door frame, that is has a gameplay specific value of being a door (which gives it a lot of predetermined behaviour, that is also easy to change) and that the joint will make certain sounds when the bodies connected to it move around. This allows you to create a final door entity, that you then can use over and over in the Level editor. Each time you use it you can give it specific properties, such as if the door should be locked or if it should be opened a bit when the player first enters the level.

The Level Editor is the most fun to use, you build the levels using sets of static graphics, you have pieces for walls, ceilings, railings and other type of main components to create rooms. Then you add in entities that are doors, chairs, items, gameplay parts and so on, all comes with a specified behaviour so in it’s simplest form you already have some gameplay in the level. Then you can continue on and add lightning, decals, particles, fog and other type of effects to spice it all up.

There are a lot of things that you can do in the Level Editor that we previously had to script in Penumbra. This saves a lot of time and also allows the user to do a lot more without having the need for any script knowledge. But of course, when you want to add in some really fun stuff you have to start writing scripts, but it’s at a quite high level so what limits the mod creation will be more about the effort than the requirements on skills.

To summarize, we have created a lot of tools to make the development of the game much more effective for us. But we have had the community in mind while doing it, so the tools will be part of the game and the game itself has a basic support for making use of user created content, more specifically a special option to load user maps.

As it looks now the tools will be available for all three platforms, something that we are very happy about!

8. What can you tell me about the replayability of Amnesia ? will there be several solutions to each quest/puzzle ? what about different paths/ways to end the game ?
We are strong believers of making games that definitely does not necessary need a lot of replayability. Since we make a story driven game that is much about exploring and experiencing the game we feel that it should be one experience that is as good as it can possibly be. We don’t want the player to get stuck too often in the game, so the story and environment often push the player towards a specific goal, but this does not mean you have to take that specific path.

Much like in Penumbra you can explore the world in more than one specific path, there are places you can go and solve parts of a large puzzle in different orders. There are of course events that only occur based on certain criteria, it could be as simple as revisiting a level three times for a spooky event to occur (as a precaution to make sure that if someone goes back and forth a lot there will be some events going on making it a bit more interesting).

There will be story bits and puzzles that are not necessary to complete the game, so depending on how you play there will always be the option to replay to make sure you got all the story bits and puzzles. For the ending we do not want to talk about it really, but there will be some differences depending on what you have done during the game, but it’s not something we would put down as a main feature or talk too much about as it would ruin the final game.

Our type of “replayability” is perhaps conveniently compared to that of films, if you really enjoy it you see it one-two times again to really suck it up all up and notice the details you missed the first time.

9. When could we expect Amnesia to be released ? will the Linux version be released at the same time as the Windows one ? what about preorders ?
Sometime during the summer 2010 is the current goal, it might change, but we usually manage to stay on track. We have had a very confusing time with this project, with publisher involvement planned than then has gone down the drain, close to the closing of the whole company and so on and on, so we have had periods when we have had to concentrate a lot on other areas than the actual development of the game. But since this summer it has been full steam a head and keeping up with the schedule.

The Linux version should be available on or around the same time as the Windows release. We can inform already that Edward Rudd, the Linux porter, have the game up and running on Linux as well as the Level Editor. So things are looking good at the moment!

We will definitely make sure there is an option to preorder before the release, not until next year though. We can absolutely make use of all the support we can get!

10. Is there anything I’ve missed and you want to add to the interview ?  
I think it is all good! Looking forward to be in touch again next year, perhaps with some new gritty details or even playable previews!

Thanks for asking us to do an interview.

And thank you Frictional Games for answering in so much detail.

Links
Frictional Games
Amnesia : The Dark Descent
Penumbra Series

As you can probably notice I’ve been very busy with my job as a GNU/Linux and Windows System Administrator in the past month and I didn’t have much time to update my blog.
But this is hopefully about to change now…

I’ve noticed that many people where interested in Dark Salvation from Mangled Eye Studios, so I’ve managed to to interview Thearrel McKinney – the founder and main (and almost only) developer of the game.

1. Hello Thearrel McKinney , please tell us about yourself and your company, when did you start developing Dark Salvation ? is it your first project ? and what made you start a game company ?
I’ve been involved in the game development scene for over a decade. I got started in the mod community, built up a portfolio, got hired professionally where I worked on projects such as Counterstrike: Condition Zero, Star Trek: Elite Force II, and Black Hawk Down: Team Sabre to name a few. I did that from 2001-2004 and in mid 2004 I broke out on my own and formed Mangled Eye Studios.
I had begun the early renditions of Dark Salvation back in 1999 right after Quake 3: Arena was released before I got into the industry professionally. It was an untitled mod project at the time and was only supposed to be an extension of Quake 3: Arena as a new tier. As with a lot of game development projects, ideas get tossed, added, changed etc. and it just eventually got to the point of turning out to be a single player project instead of just a new multiplayer tier for Quake 3: Arena. It took about 8 years from start to finish but not full time since I had to put the project aside a number of times to make sure my work was complete and on time for my actual job at the time.
It isn’t my first professional project since I worked on a number of commercial games already but it is my first project released by my company Mangled Eye Studios where I built the entire game myself with the help of outsourced contractors. I started Mangled Eye Studios so I could pursue some of my own projects I have in mind.

2. What inspired you to start a game studio that specializes on 3D shooters ? there are so many 3D shooters already, what do you think you could add to the genre ?
The 3D shooter genre has always been a favorite of mine. It’s what I developed with back in the day and its what I’ve worked with for years. Yes there’s tons of 3D shooters on the market some unique and a lot are the same. The main goal of this game once I established it to be a full fledged single player game was to just make a fun old school shooter for fans of that type of game. There was no intention to make it look like a modern game nor to be some super never done that type of gameplay before type of game. It’s just something simple and fun to play. We did use id Tech 3 (Quake 3 Engine) for this game with no modifications to the renderer itself so most people should realize
its not going to look on par to something that came out recently using a more modern engine. We did push the engine as far as it could go though so you’re seeing the engine at its limits by default and I think it turned out fairly well for the aged tech we used.

3. Please, tell me in detail about Dark Salvation, how is it different from hundreds of other 3D shooters in the market ?
Dark Salvation isn’t anything new in terms of how the game is played. It is built to be an old school shooter with monsters, puzzles, etc. Some of the unique things about Dark Salvation are the environments and you play as a dead woman who has been brought back to life by the Spirit Crystal and the flesh of her forearms have been eaten away by the power of this crystal. It does speak to you and sometimes it can give you clues on what to do next.

4. In the games description I’ve noticed that there are puzzles in each level, what kind of puzzles can we expect from Dark Salvation ?
There are a lot of different types of puzzles in Dark Salvation. There are breakable objects some you have to destroy them all to open certain doors. Switch puzzles where you have to press them in a certain order based on imagery you’ve seen in that specific level. Platform jump puzzles, timed doors, all kinds of misc. stuff. You can find secrets that lead to armor, health, ammo, weapons etc. There are also a number of secret levels that can be found in the game.

5. What can you tell us about the interesting unique weapons in the game ?
The main weapon is called the Spirit Crystal. It is the object that possessed Talia (main character) and ate away her forearm flesh and ripped her heart out. She throws it and it homes in on nearby enemies. Each weapon uses an alternate magic attack as well. Some things like spikes shooting out of the walls and floors and killing monsters instantly. Another is a vortex portal that will suck in monsters and explode them on impact. You also have a weapon called the Gription where you need to use it to shoot onto latches scattered throughout the levels in order to progress and find secrets. You can even use it to pull objects to you when you normally can’t reach where they are at. There’s a lot more for the rest of the weapons. You can also collect pieces to a magical weapon that you obtain throughout the game by assembling all the pieces.

6. Dark Salvation is using id tech 3 game engine which since have been released under the GPLv2.
I understand from the Wikipedia (under Products using a proprietary license of id tech 3) that you have licensed this engine at the time when it was still closed source.
What is the “open source” status of “your” engine ? have you modified it ?
And if it’s still open source, would it be possible for the community to “convert” the game to use other more modern engines or improve the existing one like it was done before with other games ?

Where did you hear we licensed the engine? (laughs)
There really hasn’t been anything we’ve done to the engines renderer. The only modifications we made to the engine was to enable Dark Salvation to be its own game so we won’t be releasing any source code for that. We will be however releasing the game source once we have the Linux and Mac builds ready to deploy. This way people can use the game source and make some mods for the game as well as using it as a basis to develop their own project.

7. When looking on the hardware system requirements for Dark Salvation they seems very low, are strong PC’s/Mac’s with new videocards could use their power in the game ? to what extent ?
Yeah the system requirements are just about what Quake 3: Arena’s requirements were. The only adjustments that were made higher for graphics card and memory requirements was for using a larger texture budget and particle effects. Really older systems just wouldn’t handle running the game that well or even at all based on those two factors alone. With newer cards of course you’re freeing up system memory and using video card memory so the game will run better no doubt with newer gaming systems. The engine is only capable of so much itself so eventually things cap out. A modern computer would make the game a better experience but it is also not necessary to have to enjoy the game since it does have the lower system requirements.

8. As the Windows version was released first with the Dual Disc edition which includes the great soudtrack, I and many other GNU/Linux user worry about how we could also get the soundtracks with the GNU/Linux version ?
Will there be a download edition for GNU/Linux which will also include the soundtracks as a separate download (maybe as mp3 or ogg) like it was done with the recently released Machinarium ?

I’m not really sure yet on what I’m going to do with the Linux version. In order to provide the game in disc form it will have to be profitable since this is a small indie company with a budget. I’m not 100% sure on how big the Linux gaming community is so I may do preorders for the Linux version to see where it stands if it will be profitable. There’s really no sense in paying to have a bunch of them put into production then only a handful of people purchase the game which just covered the cost of manufacturing resulting in zero profit.

9. When could we expect a GNU/Linux port to be released ? will it be available only as a download or also as a DVD ? what about the dual disc edition for Linux ?
When its done is the usual stance on things. I’ve begun work on a new project so the port isn’t getting my full time but it is coming along. It will be available as a digital download for sure, still not sure on making it available on disc yet.

10. thank you for the interview, is there anything you wish to add to the interview ?
Thanks for the time, I appreciate it. The Linux port is on its way just slowly since I’m a one man crew. I hope everyone enjoys the game when it is ready. If anyone has and other specific questions feel free to email from the website.

Thank you Thearrel McKinney very much for the interview, can’t wait for the GNU/Linux release of Dark Salvation !

And for those of us who want the box edition with the soundtrack CD – preordering is a good option (when the GNU/Linux port will be finished).

Links
http://www.mangledeye.com
Dark Salvation

Today I thought about writing about Blood and it’s remakes, freegamer already did it first (yesterday) but I hope I could add some new stuff he didn’t write about.

I’m a huge fan of Blood, yeah that old 3D shooter from 1997.
I think that Blood is the best game that used the BUILD engine, and even today with it’s outdated graphics it is one of my favorite 3D shooters of all times.

Luckily I am not the only fan of this great game and there are several fan made games/mods inspired by blood.

1. Blood: The Flesh Game :
As you can guess from the name this is a flash version of blood which runs on all OS’s.
Although it’s just a demo of what never became a full length game due to lack of time, it was praised by the fans.
Blood : The Flesh Game is an adventure game based on Blood and Blood 2 in which you are play the role of Caleb at a 2d platform shooter.
The game is closed source but I think that if you would like to finish developing this demo into a full game you can contact Tamás Tóth (at adatjoe [at] vipmail {dot} hu) and he will help you in your quest and maybe even release the source (who knows).

FleshScreamshot

2. ZBlood :
ZBlood (sometimes spelt Zblood or zblood) is a game that runs on the ZDoom engine, which is a modified version of id Software’s Doom engine aka id Tech 1 . ZBlood itself is a modified version of the Doom II WAD, Blood TC. However ZBlood includes many new weapons, levels and features and is currently being updated while Blood TC is no longer being worked on.
As id Tech 1 was released under GPLv2 and works with GNU/Linux, this mod should also work on GNU/Linux.
The original BUILD engine is more feature heavy then id’s 1 engine, so I consider it a downgrade in terms of technology.

ZB_003

3. Transfusion :
Transfusion uses the DarkPlaces engine in order to recreate Blood in full 3D.
Darkplaces is a very modified and improved Quake engine.
Currently Transfusion is a death-match game like Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament (but with much less impressive graphics), but it’s a Free software (FOSS) and still under heavy development.
The goal is to recreate Blood so there is much work to be done still.

action01

dranzbb6-02

As you can see the first screenshots is the death-match and the second one is the actual (still incomplete) single player levels.

4. HYPERTENSION :
Now we finally came to the last recreation or even reincarnation of our beloved game Blood.
HYPERTENSION is based on the GPLed Hyper3dge which is was developed from the EDGE engine which was based on id tech 1.
HYPERTENSION is feature live-action videos with amateur actors, changing soundtrack based on events in the game, many new and old weapons and enemies, classic levels a brand new campaign and much more features !

While the game itself is not yet FOSS (this could be discussed) it will be out very soon and will have a native GNU/Linux client !

shot140

shot119

There is much to expect…

Links :
Blood
Blood Wiki
Blood: The Flesh Game
ZBlood
Transfusion
HYPERTENSION
Interview with TDGMods on Hypertension

In the recent years the desktop user-base of the GNU/Linux OS is growing, and with it the demand for native games for this platform.
There are some game developers who port their games to GNU/Linux themselves, but some don’t have the time or knowledge for it.

Luckily we have a few professional GNU/Linux game porters :
Linux Game Publishing
Ryan Gordon aka icculus
Frank Earl (former LGP employee)
Igios (They work with LGP on some project)
Dave D. Taylor (former employee of id software, while he is currently employed at Naked Sky Entertainment, he would be happy to port more games to GNU/Linux as a pay projects).

There is also id software’s Timothee Besset who ports all id’s games to GNU/Linux, but as he works with id software I doubt he could also port other games to GNU/Linux.

The problem, or perhaps the blessing is that all of those people/companies are currently very busy porting games to GNU/Linux and can not except more porting projects at this time.
Therefore I am looking for more people/companies who port games to GNU/Linux.

A few months ago I’ve contacted Steve from Soldak, the developers of the action cRPG games : Depths of Peril, Kivi’s Underworld and (in development) Din’s Curse .
All of those games have a native MacOSX clients and they run on Wine 100%, BUT as we all well know – most GNU/Linux users won’t buy a game that doesn’t have a native GNU/Linux client (for good reasons).
So I’ve managed to convince Steve to port his games to GNU/Linux (which shouldn’t be hard due the the already developed MacOS clients).
The problem is that Steve doesn’t know how to port his games to GNU/Linux and needs help with this issue.
So I’ve tried to find a GNU/Linux game porter for him, that was a harder job then I originally thought it would be…
I’ve contacted LGP, Ryan and Frank, all of which where too busy with other porting projects that they couldn’t even replay to my emails (except LGP which said that they are full of work for at least a year).

Finally yesterday I’ve emailed Igios, which said that they might find the time to port those games because they already have a MacOS client and it would be easier to port them to GNU/Linux.
The ports for Soldak games are not confirmed yet, but Steve has promised to keep me updated on this subject.
If anyone is interested, the thread could be found HERE.

I know of other game companies who think or thought about making a GNU/Linux clients for their games, but they had to abandoned the idea because they didn’t know how to make it and there was no GNU/Linux porters available for the job.

So if you know of any other GNU/Linux porters please replay to this thread and let us know about them.

Also at this notice I would like to thank all the people who asked from Runic Games to make a native GNU/Linux client for their game Torchlight.
While there is no official replay from the developers at this thread, I am sure that they cannot miss it (and i’ve PMed one of the devs again about it).
They are currently busy working on a MacOSX client, so the GNU/Linux port will be considered afterwords.
I am sure that at one point or another there will be a native GNU/Linux client for Torchlight.

A few minutes ago I got a news letter from Frictional Games the developers of the Penumbra series about their next title :

“During the weekend we finished a demo build of our upcoming game Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

“Amnesia? What’s that?”

Oh, Sorry, “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” is the final name for our project that has previously had the work title Lux Tenebras/Unknown.

The demo sent in to the IGF competition is fully playable and full featured – it has everything that the final game will have, with the exception of some missing voice acting, placeholders and work in progress content. It is not the complete game from start to finish, rather it is the first part of the game with everything in place to give the experience of the final game. So that there is no misunderstanding, the demo is only for the IGF judges.

“Sounds great, when can we see some stuff?”

At the start of the year we decided to fully concentrate on the development of the game and we will continue to do so for the rest of the year. There will be plenty of time next year to show and tell what the game will be about before release! We did however make sure to put up a new site for the game, it has some new content as well, Amnesia: The Dark Descent.”

Even more info on the subject could be found at their blog :

“After lots of work and little sleep Frictional Games have entered into the IGF, an international competition for indie games, with our upcoming horror! The game is still a while from being completed, but the build we sent in to the competition is a very important milestone and the first version that gives of a taste of what the full game will be like. When creating a horror game gameplay needs to be tested over longer periods of time (because atomsphere, etc requires long build up) and testing the IGF version of the game tells us that we are on the right track!

At the start of the next year we will see if we managed to get nominated! In case you are wondering, Penumbra Overture entered the 2008 competetion (no nomination) and Black Plague did not enter in 2009 because we had financial backup from a publisher (i.e. not indie). Now that we are back as full indie we can enter again!

Now its back to work again!”

screenshot01

Needless to say that a GNU/Linux version will be made.
So there is something to look forward to, and apparently it’s coming soon…

As you might heard 2dboy , the company (of 2 people) behind the indie game World-Of-Goo (WOG) made a birthday sales week, which was extended to 13 days.
During the birthday sales users could pay for WOG from 0.1$ to how they valued the game and the company.
GNU/Linux desktop users which hold the market share of about 1% (according to some sources, I personally doubt this number ) accounted for 17% of all sales ! this is 14,152 people (of the overall 83,250) ! truly amazing number.

As Koen Witters from Koonsolo said on our interview and published on his website (after the insightful discovery) – “Linux users are the most eager to buy an indie game”
He was indeed right about it.

But there is more…
GNU/Linux users are also eager to pay more then any other platform !
On this birthday sales day the GNU/Linux users chose to pay $3.45 for the game while the Mac user payed $2.52 and the Windows users payed only $1.95.
Those are off course average numbers, some chose to pay $0.1 and some even $150 !

So this proves once more, if developers support us by making a GNU/Linux client, then we will surly support them and make it worth for them to develop more games for GNU/Linux.

Sorry for not updating my blog more often, I’ve started big with 3 updates every week but now I don’t post as much as I used to.
I still have some good ideas to post about, but the “news” stuff is harder to find those days.
If the Windows platform has new games released almost daily, on GNU/Linux things are different.
That is the reason why we have to fight for every game that might have a chance for a GNU/Linux client !

Some time ago I’ve added Torchlight which is developed by Runic Games to the “Games that might have a GNU/Linux client” list on my blog, in the ” Upcoming GNU/Linux games !” section.
I’ve assumed that because Torchlight is based on the Ogre3D engine which is cross platform and because a MacOSX client is already in the works a GNU/Linux client will follow.
I still hold that thought and I’m quite sure a GNU/Linux client will be made at some point by the developers or some other porters or 3rd party company (like LGP or Ryan Gordon).

At 29/10/2009 Torchlight was finally released for the Windows platform and NOW is the time to ask for a GNU/Linux client.
On that day I’ve P.Med one of the Torchlight developers asking about the possibility for a GNU/Linux client :

“Hello

I’ve send an email to runic games a few months ago but got no replay.
I’ve registered to the forums and posted about it but also none got an official replay.
I was wondering if you are planing on porting Torchlight to Linux.
Ogre3D is cross platform and porting the game should be no problem, there are even people who wish to help you do so if you don’t have the time.
Is there a chance for a Linux client for Torchlight ?

Thanks in Advance
Maxim.”

And even got a replay :

“Maxim,
Unfortunately we do not have any linux plans decided at this time. I think some people are trying to get it working under WINE but I have not heard much about it (there are a few threads going on that if you want to look). We do have a FAQ page on the website which does have our official statement on other operating systems too, its a bit far down though.

http://www.torchlightgame.com/faq/#faq18

Thanks”

As you can see it’s not a definite “NO” and they are open to convincing.
That day I’ve posted a thread at Ubuntuforums asking people to let their wishes for a native GNU/Linux client be known at the “Linux client” thread at Runic Games forums, the developers of Torchlight.

Many people have posted at Runic Games Linux thread asking for a native GNU/Linux client for Torchlight, and while no developer have replied yet I am sure they are more positive to the idea then before.

If you didn’t yet post in their thread, please do so – as it’s a small step for the GNU/Linux gamer and a BIG win for the GNU/Linux gamers community.

Why do I even want to invest my time in this game ?
First of all we don’t have many good native cRPG games on GNU/Linux except Sacred Gold and NWN while there are a LOT of cRPG fans among the GNU/Linux gamers community.
For a long time I’ve said that the backbone for GNU/Linux adoption are games, and more games will help more people to convert to GNU/Linux thus making a bigger market share and making more gaming companies think about creating native GNU/Linux clients for their games – breaking the “chicken and egg” barrier.

The second thing is that Torchlight was created by the Diablo1+2 developers from Blizzard !
This must mean something even before reading the great reviews the game got.

The third thing is that while their demo runs on Wine, their full game doesn’t – due to DRM restrictions.
Thus the GNU/Linux users have to pirate Torchlight in order to play it because in the cracked version the DRM “protection” was removed.
That is indeed absurd driving us to be pirates even if we want to support a game we like.

Off course buying a Windows game, even if it runs on Wine 100% doesn’t serve our purposes.

So if you want another great game for GNU/Linux, vote your support at their forums.