Natural Selection 2 and GNU/Linux

One of the Unknown Worlds developers, Max has posted a blogpost about the GNU/Linux port for their upcoming game Natural Selection 2 :

“Beat Wolf asks: What platforms will be supported? (Linux, OS X, XBox, etc..) The web page still mentions Linux and OS X as target platforms, but there have been many doubts with the inclusion of Steamworks and because the question seems to be avoided for some time now.

Well let the issue be avoided no longer! Currently our engine and tools only work on Windows, and that will be the only platform Natural Selection 2 will be available on at release. However, most of the engine is not platform specific. The largest Windows-specific piece is the low level rendering code which is built on Direct3D. In the interest of having our engine run on Linux and OS X someday, this low level rendering code is wrapped up so that it’s mostly separate from the rest of the engine. With a small amount of effort, we can swap out this piece with an OpenGL implementation that will work on Linux and OS X. All of our tools are built using the cross-platform wxWidgets framework, so once we get the engine working on another platform, bringing the tools over won’t be too much work.

Now that I’ve convinced you that we’ve taken steps to allow us to bring our engine to other platforms, you might be wondering why we don’t just go ahead and do it. The answer is simple; we don’t have the time right now. As an alternative to doing it ourselves, we’ve considered “open sourcing” or publishing the low-level APIs for the pieces that are Windows specific and inviting community members to contribute their own implementation. If you like this idea let me know in the comments.

Now the issue of Steamworks. For those of you who don’t know, Steamworks is the core technology of Steam, like the friends list, server browser and voice chat. We’ve integrated Steamworks into Natural Selection 2 because it saves us the effort of implementing these things ourselves, and gets the game into your hands faster. Unfortunately Steamworks (which essentially is the Steam client) only works on Windows. We’ve setup Natural Selection 2 to work without Steamworks, but you lose the services that it provides. For example, instead of being able to browse for a server you’d have to type in its address in the console to connect to it. For an OS X or Linux client, we’d have to substitute in our own implementation of those missing services. This certainly isn’t out of the question for a post-release update to the game, but it’s not something we’d delay the initial Windows release to incorporate.

I should add to this discussion, that none of this applies to running dedicated servers on Linux. Dedicated servers don’t require graphics, input or any of those other platform specific things. And one of the great things about writing all of the game code in Lua is that it’s inherently platform agnostic. Dedicated Linux server support will be in the initial release.

If you have more questions you’d like to see answered, feel free email me at The more specific the better! “

So one way or the other a GNU/Linux port will be made, but I wonder if the Sparks Game Engine will be also available for GNU/Linux :

“Spark is the entire game engine and tool set we’re using to build Natural Selection 2. This includes the graphics, sound, networking, physics, scripting, path finding and effects system (probably others too). It also includes tools like the Editor, Builder, Viewer and Cinematic Editor.”


Unknown Worlds
Natural Selection 2
Blogpost about NS2 and GNU/Linux

Poster: Maxim Bardin. Category: Uncategorized. Tags: , ,
7 February

4 Responses to “Natural Selection 2 and GNU/Linux”

  1. scott says:

    wow this is huge, i thought it was based off hl2 source. ns is the best mod ever. ns 2 looks awesome. So having them have goals for linux/gnu is a awesome.

  2. Julius says:

    Realistically this really sounds like it will never happen though.

  3. Apopas says:

    If they had the goal to port it really, they wouldn have not stick it with direct3d///

  4. Genma says:

    Well they say atleast that OSX is a target doing that isn’t mutch different from porting to linux, but I hope they will port the game would be an awsome addition to all of the hungry Linux gamers, and above all I prepurchased it aswell from that hope of a linux client, and because I liked the first game.

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