Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Linux Games Part I

Stilly is complaining that no one is blogging today except him. Since he's in the process of helping me battle Linux, I guess this will make us even...

I read an article on the weekend (well, more an editorial sidebar) in the March issue of Linux Format (p19 if you care) about how there seems to be a distinct lack of non-puzzle, non-text games for Linux. A large part of this is because (at least according to Paul Hudson) most games are written using DirectX, making the porting much harder. And with Linux holding so much less of the market share, why would any developer bother putting the effort in.

As a long time Mac user (I didn't get a PC until I build my box in 2002), I understand this pain. While most of my friends were playing the latest, coolest games in high school, I was playing random stuff hardly anyone outside of the Apple Usergroup had ever heard of. Occasionally someone would get around to doing a port of the game, but usually that was six months to a year later.

This is part of the reason I have so much respect for Blizzard - they make a point of having Mac/PC hybrid CDs for their games. So the Mac version is released at the same time (usually), and if you change OS, you don't have to re-purchase the game.

So I've been thinking about this over the last few days, and trying to think of a business model for an open source game company. While it's possible to give your code away for free but still make a good living with most kinds of software, to me it seems like it would be a lot harder. Aside from MMORPGs, you generally can't sell a support contract for games. Supplying things documentation, walkthroughs or hints are a bit redundant - these things already appear really quickly for free on the web, and if you can see the source code, it makes it even easier to produce.

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