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Why Game Developers Should Support OS X and Linux

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-faith dept.

PC Games (Games) 283

kevind23 writes "Although Mac OS X and Linux have a small (but growing) market share, Jeff from Wolfire Games argues that supporting non-Windows platforms can lead to a huge increase in game sales. Using their popular game Lugaru as an example, he shows how less-popular platforms, or more specifically, their userbase can be a powerful advertising force. This can lead to a dramatic increase in popularity and exposure, which usually means a large boost in overall sales. The short article is an interesting read, especially for those working in game development and sales."

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Mac users spend more money (5, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327639)

I remember it being drilled into my head over and over... develop for new hardware instead of old hardware, do everything for the expensive crowd because people who don't spend money on their hardware are less likely to spend money on software. This might be an outdated school of thought, but I'd say it goes double for Mac users. They're really expensive, and especially nowadays they're taking on this image as a trendy status symbol instead of a tool to do work with. Another things Mac devs have going for them, there is a lot less competition. If you would say that Macs don't have enough games out for them, then that translates into a niche to fill for aspiring businessmen.

Re:Mac users spend more money (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327733)

Another things Mac devs have going for them, there is a lot less competition. If you would say that Macs don't have enough games out for them, then that translates into a niche to fill for aspiring businessmen.

You clearly have no idea about game marketing. The people who hold the money in gaming are all about avoiding risk by stampeding to the same place as everyone else. Most of the last 15 years, I've been working on games that were just like whatever was popular the year before.

It's like a nature documentary I saw last week that showed zebras crossing a river in Africa. They all mill around for ages, until one finally crosses alone. If that one doesn't get eaten by the crocodiles, they all pour across in exactly the same place.

Re:Mac users spend more money (4, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327845)

The people who hold the money in gaming are all about avoiding risk by stampeding to the same place as everyone else.

Except in 2008, apparently. We got Mirror's Edge, Spore, and Dead Space, all from EA.

And don't forget, Portal came from Valve. Shows how if you really want to test an idea without too much risk, build a smaller game and use digital distribution.

Re:Mac users spend more money (3, Informative)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328277)

Mirror's Edge was a big monetary loss for EA, and Spore was received far less enthusiastically than expected. The game that made EA the most money last year? Madden - one of the least innovative series in the industry. And Portal may have helped sell Orange Box, but it never would have stood on its own as a serious revenue generator for Valve.

Sadly, game companies don't always feel the need to innovate because people are finicky and games cost millions to make. After all, they are businesses, usually with stock holders to answer to.

Re:Mac users spend more money (2, Insightful)

Zephiris (788562) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328313)

Spore and Dead Space are both fairly conventional when broken down. Dead Space gives a fairly interesting UI, but by-the-numbers story, standard-but-laggier-than-usual graphics, uninspired audio. Spore is a few minigames that have no real depth, and even the developers admit they're just like stripped down, simplistic versions of other EA/Maxis classics. Also, both heavily pirated as far as the news goes.
And Mirror's Edge isn't out yet for PC. We're talking about PCs on a Windows/Mac/Linux story, yes? :b I hope Mirror's Edge is good, but you can reasonably guarantee now that if it's an EA game (Mercenaries 2 also sadly comes to mind), it's surprisingly conventional no matter how much hype is applied, expensive, and DRM-laden.

Re:Mac users spend more money (1)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329097)

Spore and Dead Space are both fairly conventional when broken down.

Well anything is fairly conventional when "broken down" and when one has the negative outlook and bias you have. I can take any game and "break it down" and dismiss it by saying, "oh, well you're just pointing and clicking." You haven't even played Mirror's Edge and you've already dismissed it because it is an EA game. That's not really fair.

While Dead Space and Spore have their shortcomings, they are both fairly innovative games. Dead space had it's UI, which you mentioned, but it also did cool things with zero-gravity. I would say considering those facets of the game, it was reasonablily innovative and shouldn't be singled out as bad.
In Spore you're missing the fact that the creature (and house/ship/aircraft) creator did interesting things with sharing ideas between people. Yeah, it wasn't that great of a game, but it did some interesting things.

Re:Mac users spend more money (5, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327825)

The problem here is, it also translates into a culture of shareware. Things which are freeware on Windows, and open source everywhere else, are shareware on a Mac.

Maybe it's just me, but that's what I've seen. You could argue that it's because the Mac version is so different, unique, and so much better than the free alternatives that it deserves to be paid for. I think it's because of exactly what you've said -- someone who just paid $1k for a dev machine is unlikely to gripe about $50 for TextMate.

(I'm lazy, so those numbers are almost certainly wrong, but they're close to right.)

As a user, that is one thing I really hate about the Mac. It's not that I don't believe in paying for software, just that I don't think every little file management tool or MP3 player needs to ask $20. Put up a donation page and be grateful someone hasn't replaced you already.

But hey, if you're going for that angle, target Mac users because they spend more money and are grateful for any decent games, and target Linux users because they might buy one just to up the Linux stats.

Re:Mac users spend more money (2, Interesting)

rvw (755107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328017)

If you look a little further, you'll find a freeware or open source alternative for OSX, although it may not be the same program as on Windows or Linux. Textmate may not be free, so try jEdit or Textwrangler.

I don't know what programs you miss. Most of what I use is freeware or open source: OpenOffice, AdiumX, Keepass, Cyberduck, etc...

Re:Mac users spend more money (1, Flamebait)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328873)

Just the same as Linux, you can install Port, or Gentoo for OSX and you can access a huge library of totally free software within OSX. I have both installed on my Macbook Pro because they're really handy to have around.

Similarly, as you said you can find tools that are free as well, and I use a lot of great free software on my Mac, particularly those you mention. While it's true that it does seem to be more troublesome at first to find free software for Mac, more often than not a little more digging will find it and find it far better quality than most of the stuff released for free for Windows :)

Re:Mac users spend more money (2, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328053)

I've noticed that too. I find it helps to search for Mac Free Software rather than merely "freeware" -- there's a lot more of the former than the latter, and if you look for the latter you end up finding shareware (crippleware or nagware) instead.

But hey, if you're going for that angle, target Mac users because they spend more money and are grateful for any decent games, and target Linux users because they might buy one just to up the Linux stats.

The way I see it, you should target Mac users because they'll pay for software, and target Linux users because you might as well since you already made your software cross-platform to get the Mac users! Games do not need to have different code between the Mac and Linux versions; they can standard stuff like OpenGL, SDL, and POSIX. (Don't try it with applications though, since Mac users won't tolerate non-native UIs!)

Re:Mac users spend more money (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328183)

I always get around it by searching explicitly for open-source instead of freeware. This has never failed me yet, though I admit I'm not too demanding.

Re:Mac users spend more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328273)

> (Don't try it with applications though, since Mac users won't tolerate non-native UIs!)

Use wxWidgets. It uses native API to draw the dialogs, so application looks like Windows app in Windows and Mac app in Mac. It is also open source and quite permissive with the license and easier and faster to use than e.g. MFC.

Re:Mac users spend more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26329167)

They say so, but with wxw it looks all wrong and ugly. Qt4 does it better, but you also notice it...always :(

Re:Mac users spend more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328735)

hah.

"SDL. When direct hardware access is too fast."

TINSTAAFL (3, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328189)

As a user, that is one thing I really hate about the Mac. It's not that I don't believe in paying for software, just that I don't think every little file management tool or MP3 player needs to ask $20. Put up a donation page and be grateful someone hasn't replaced you already.

As a user, that's one thing I hate about other computer users - they expect people to do lots of work for them for free, and feel entitled to it somehow. You should be grateful many people are producing software for you, not coming out with bullshit like 'and be grateful someone hasn't replaced you already'.

Your attitude leads directly to plentiful releases of low-quality, just-good-enough software, many with bundled advertising and malware, much like the Windows software scene in fact. TINSTAAFL.

There is plenty of free open-source software on OS X if that's what you're looking for, it isn't magically turned into shareware - there's tons of Unix software available for free via macports for example, there's also GUI apps like Cyberduck, Audacity, Handbreak, GIMP, etc etc. Then OS X itself bundles tons of open-source software (apache, gcc, etc).

There is also some quality software (like TextMate, or BBEdit) which should continue to charge for development, because development takes time, effort and money.

You lazy bastard (2, Interesting)

mstroeck (411799) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328393)

OK, so you don't want to pay for TextMate...

How about just using XCode, Textwrangler, jEdit, Eclipse or Smultron?

Or how about using ANY FUCKING UNIX/LINUX EDITOR EVER WRITTEN IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND, either straight in an X11 window, or via the special OS X build that is available for most?

Re:You lazy bastard (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328453)

vim is available in Cocoa (Mac OS X's native UI toolkit) as MacVim. And with a little tuning, vim in Mac OS X's Terminal isn't half bad as well.

Re:You lazy bastard (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328855)

MacVim looks quite nice (I tend to just use Vim in the terminal though). One thing I liked about gvim is missing though - the menu items don't have their vim commands in the menu. For example, for make it is command-b, while on gvim it is :mak, so you can use the menus to learn how to use vim without the GUI.

Re:You lazy bastard (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329321)

How about just using XCode, Textwrangler, jEdit, Eclipse or Smultron?

Bugger that - just open the terminal and type "vi" - what more could anybodiDy neecEd?:x:x:x:q!DAMMIT[ESC]:q! (or there's nano).

Seriously, you've just given good reasons as to why you might not want to shell out money for a text editor: I tend to do any serious software/HTML coding in Eclipse, while nano is usually good enough for quick edits to config files etc. There's just the occasional case where you don't want to fart around with a project-based behemoth like Eclipse or Xcode, but nano doesn't quite cut the mustard - but if you had to pay you'd make do. On the PC, I used to regularly buy updates to UltraEdit until Eclipse came along.

That's where there used to be a bit of a hole on the Mac, but TextWrangler (highly recommended) fills it nicely.

either straight in an X11 window, or via the special OS X build that is available for most?

I think its implicit that the gp. wanted a Mac GUI text editor (i.e. one developed by someone who actually likes GUIs rather than some Unix geek who is going to go right back to using EMACS when the project is finished). If us Mac users could tolerate X11/Gnome/KDE without wanting to claw out our eyes we'd switch to Ubuntu and save ourselves a lot of money.

Re:Mac users spend more money (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328661)

i have to agree with this, on my world of warcraft website, 1/2 the guide sales come from mac users :P (might be higher - 1/2 of them have a mac.com email address or what ever it is)

Re:Mac users spend more money (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329099)

The problem here is, it also translates into a culture of shareware. Things which are freeware on Windows, and open source everywhere else, are shareware on a Mac. Maybe it's just me, but that's what I've seen.

I'd agree with you to a point - the "free as in beer" scene on the Mac did used to seem a bit thin compared to the PC, but I suspect that was just a side-effect of the much smaller market.

I've previously been frustrated by the lack of Mac freeware in areas such as unarchiving (Stuffit: non-free), FTP/SFTP (Fetch: non-free; Fugu seems to be dead) and text editing (in the past, its been BBEdit or nothing) - but thinking about it, these areas are dominated by shareware on the PC too (WinZip, WS-FTP, & I ended up registering UltraEdit).

I think its improved a lot in recent years: e.g. TextWrangler is a good free text editor; MacFusion/MacFUSE help with file transfer. Plus, if you can put up with X11 interfaces and don't mind waiting for macports/fink to compile stuff from source, most of your favorite GNU/Linux stuff is available. Plus big projects like Eclipse and OpenOffice now seem more enthusiastic about Mac (although NeoOffice still feels more stable than OO for Mac).

Still waiting for a decent GUI-based archiver with creation/browsing facilities (free or otherwise) though: "The Unarchiver" improves unpacking no end, but isn't really a "WinZip" replacement.

Re:Mac users spend more money (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329265)

It's mainly because Mac users don't tolerate crap. When I'm trying to find a free/cheap piece of W32 software I have to wade through 90 clones all which have GUI bugs and or just look like crap in general. (Some gung-ho developer tried to reinvent Windows widgets).

Most all of the freeware and software I've found for Mac (and use daily) is very consistent. Not only that it all integrates rather well. Almost every client/server connects to each other over Bonjour. Almost everything has the auto-updater library so it checks for updates. Everything uses Growl for notification.

I don't know how far you're looking back, but TextMate (IMHO) beats BBEdit hands down and has been available for at least 4 years. Cyberduck is an awesome SFTP/FTP/S3/WebDAV client. And as long as something still works, I don't see a need to update or fix it. I remember when I first got involved screen hadn't had an update in over a year, but it worked and was near bullet-proof.

And Notepad++ is an awesome free W32 text editor.

Re:Mac users spend more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327937)

There is a catch to that idea, you don't make money with the top of the line users, you make it appealing to large crowds.
The only use for top of the line users is to make the rest of the users jealous and push the market forward. My reasoning goes south when you charge insanely amounts of money and people stills buys you, buy i guess that isn't running as good for sony's PS3 as is doing for Apple.

Re:Linux users spend less money (1)

MikP (1398275) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328143)

And Linux users want to get everything free. So it must be a game that is free to install but requires a subscription for online gaming...

Re:Linux users spend less money (1)

websitebroke (996163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329525)

I wouldn't go that far. In fact, I bought the Lugaru game mentioned in the summary. I'm sure other Linux users have too. Actually, I'd buy a lot of games if they ran on my Ubuntu system without messing around with WINE. Personally, there's no way I'm going to buy a subscription for something.

One thing that would be nice is if we could do an apt-get (or yum or whatever) install via Canonical's or somebody else's non-free repository, and have the opportunity to buy/register it while installing it.

Cached Copy (2, Informative)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327647)

It seems that the poor blog has been Slashdotted, so here's the Google cache entry for it [209.85.173.132] complete with graphics.

Who'd have thought it? (2, Funny)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327655)

Targeting a larger audience results in more sales. Who'd have guessed? :p

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

blakedev (1397081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327673)

I don't know, it's like it makes sense or something.

Fill in the numbers: (3, Interesting)

krischik (781389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327699)

Targeting a 5 .. 10% larger audience lead to ~122% more sales.

Now, I would still have guessed (including the leverage) it but that does not go for everybody.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (2, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327781)

Really, his point was that targeting platforms with small market share give you a lot more exposure and increases sales in other, more popular platforms due to that exposure.

I don't think you would have guessed that.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328215)

Really, his point was that targeting platforms with small market share give you a lot more exposure and increases sales in other, more popular platforms due to that exposure.

I don't think you would have guessed that.

FWIW, I don't think he proved it, or even offered evidence of it, either.

Could be, but who knows? All we know for sure is that Mac users are apparently a lot more willing to shell out for games than PC users (I've seen this confirmed on many cross platform games, so I have no reason to doubt that it applies somewhat generally).

Re:Who'd have thought it? (2, Insightful)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328763)

Probably because it's bullshit.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

Anonymous Conrad (600139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328233)

Targeting a larger audience results in more sales. Who'd have guessed? :p

But at the cost of porting then testing and supporting three separate releases. TFA doesn't address the cost of that, and tripling your testing along must be huge.

Sure, it worked for him, he got a huge volume of Mac sales, but that doesn't mean the numbers will work for everyone.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328587)

> But at the cost of porting then testing and supporting three separate releases.

Don't port, write portable using libraries that were made for that purpose.

Majority of the bugs in portable software affect all platforms, so testing and supporting is not that big issue, if you just write portable code. If you write 3 versions, then it is a lot of work.

There is also advantage of testing on different platforms, you can find bugs more easily. Some bugs are instantly visible (e.g. code won't even compile) on some platforms and cause only hidden damage on other platforms.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

Anonymous Conrad (600139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328745)

Don't port, write portable using libraries that were made for that purpose.

In an ideal world, sure, but it doesn't usually work like that. Portable libraries, where they exist, don't always have all the function you need. They don't always expose everything in a completely platform neutral way e.g. because the hardware drivers underneath have subtle differences in the way they handle things. They sometimes have bugs themselves. etc. (I'll concede I haven't done this for games but I have written more mundane apps portably.)

Bottom line: you can't assume something will work unless you explicitly test it. Sure, testing one platform will catch common bugs but you still have to playtest the game thoroughly on all platforms after you've fixed the common bugs.

Some bugs are instantly visible (e.g. code won't even compile) on some platforms and cause only hidden damage on other platforms.

Now hang on a minute - that'd only be true if you're using different compilers on each platform and that isn't something you can take lightly. Even switching between different versions of the same compiler can be a significant porting effort - you can't just assume your code will compile and work on three separate compilers for free.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329101)

Don't port, write portable using libraries that were made for that purpose.

In an ideal world, sure, but it doesn't usually work like that. Portable libraries, where they exist, don't always have all the function you need. They don't always expose everything in a completely platform neutral way e.g. because the hardware drivers underneath have subtle differences in the way they handle things. They sometimes have bugs themselves. etc.

Then write it yourself. Sure, it's a big expensive job, but if your goal is to become an established development house, rather than "Strike big with one game and sell out to EA", then you can amortize the development cost over every subsequent game you develop. Not to mention licensing it out to other dev houses to recoup some of those costs, a la Unreal Engine (how many games was that used for?) etc...

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329599)

if your goal is to become an established development house, rather than "Strike big with one game and sell out to EA", then you can amortize the development cost over every subsequent game you develop.

It's not possible to amortize all maintenance when platforms change under your feet every year or two. Apple releases a new version of Mac OS X, Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, Canonical releases a new version of Ubuntu, new PC video cards come with new OpenGL extensions, Nintendo releases a new console or major firmware update, Sony releases a new console or major firmware update, Microsoft releases a new console or major firmware update, etc.

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328653)

TFA doesn't address the cost of that, and tripling your testing along must be huge.

Your /. post testing process failed. Are you underfunding your testing department?

Re:Who'd have thought it? (1)

Anonymous Conrad (600139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328761)

Your /. post testing process failed. Are you underfunding your testing department?

No. But I don't waste their time proofreading my /. posts either :-p.

Summary of TFA (0, Flamebait)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327703)

'Because I said so and I know I'm right. If you don't agree with me you're an idiot for caring more about the 89% of PC users who aren't using a Mac or Linux.'

Re:Summary of TFA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327769)

'Because I said so and I know I'm right. If you don't agree with me you're an idiot for caring more about the 89% of PC users who aren't using a Mac or Linux.'

I don't remember him suggesting that one neglect Windows users, rather simply that one should refrain from neglecting non-Windows users

Re:Summary of TFA (3, Funny)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327787)

Your reasoned commentary singles you out from the herd. Stupid zebra, you're crocodile bait now.

Re:Summary of TFA (1)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328247)

The problem isn't one of how many more sales you get, but one of how many more sales you get in return for the extra time/effort you spend building in portability.

I mean, Windows is the safe bet. Linux/Mac... well, you _will_ get some more sales - some will be dual booting, but some won't. But that's not the issue - what is the issue is how much it'll cost you in additional effort to do a Mac/Linux release - it's pretty much guaranteed there will be _some_ code tweaking needed, and _some_ additional bugs/support requirements. So it comes down to a question of whether the market is big enough to make that worthwhile, given that ... well, at the very least Linux users tend to be tech savvy enough to dual boot.

I think that it's getting there - there's gradually getting to be a large enough market of people prepared to pay money for their stuff, that it's worth it. Which I guess would be the point of the article.

Re:Summary of TFA (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329041)

well one of the biggest issues now is what I call Lazy coders. Programers who instead of taking the time to learn languages easily ported subscribe to the windows way of doing things and thus are out of their element when it comes to portable code for OS X/Linux.

Stopped reading when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328555)

I stopped reading when the article said that Linux sales were growing. No, Mac market share is increasing. Linux desktop market share is not moving and has remained stagnant for years now. I guess 2009 will be the year of Linux on the desktop, just as 08 was, 07 was, 06, 05, 04, 03 etc etc etc all were.

Seriously - who would want to develop for Linux? There is a heap of extra dev to do which could instead be spent on building the next big thing. Linux zealots should get over themselves, they are but a blip on the radar.

Blizzard (4, Interesting)

incripshin (580256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327707)

Why, this is the perfect place to advertise the Linux Installers for Blizzard Products Petition [petitiononline.com] ! I believe that if Blizzard supported Linux for its upcoming titles, it would change Linux gaming forever.

Re:Blizzard (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327779)

Petition? Got W(h)INE?

Re:Blizzard (3, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327805)

Why? No one takes online petitions seriously, it's just a waste of time. Besides, it aint "only fair" that Linux be supported - what's that shit about?

For now, the games work fine under WINE (which is more than can be said for anything EA), isn't that enough for now? If you want to see game companies developing natively for *nix, get more people using it. The developers will follow, seriously.

Re:Blizzard (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327915)

Getting a supported version of the game with a Wine wrapper would be a step in the right direction. Anything is better than "If you can make it work, then I won't or might not sue you or break it with a patch," which is what we've got now.

Re:Blizzard (and CCP) (2, Interesting)

splutty (43475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328149)

For now, the games work fine under WINE (which is more than can be said for anything EA), isn't that enough for now? If you want to see game companies developing natively for *nix, get more people using it. The developers will follow, seriously.

One of the main reasons things like WoW work in WINE is because Blizzard actually makes a decent effort to have their games run properly in OpenGL. You can run a WoW client in Windows in OpenGL as well, which in some cases actually solves some DirectX problems on some cards/computers.

Another example is CCP, the producers of Eve Online. They have a MAC and Linux client, respectively on Cedega on the MAC (IIRC) and a specific Wine on Linux, and that seems to work quite well from what I've heard.

If software companies would work closer with the people that write these sort of 'emulators' (they're not really emulators in most cases, except for some specific routines), I think that would start to make a serious difference.

The other option is to go the Quake route, and just write your engine in such a way that it can run natively on other platforms, but that requires development effort from the start, something that up until recently wasn't exactly worth it for most companies.

We'll see what happens in the near future, but I'm afraid that the Winblows/DirectSux combination will be prevalent for a while longer yet.

Re:Blizzard (and CCP) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328677)

Flame protection: I've used Linux since the SuSE 6.1 days, have contributed to F/OSS etc. However, DirectX is technically superior to OpenGL for game purposes ... that's just a statement of fact. Not only is Direct3D superior to OpenGL, but DirectX is a whole standardised API stack (DirectSound, DirectPlay etc) instead of just graphics. The latest OGL standard was supposed to bring it up to par, but instead focused almost entirely on CAD / render workstation stuff. You can't blame game companies, DirectX is just the logical choice these days unless you REALLY care about native portability.

Re:Blizzard (and CCP) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328977)

Another example is CCP, the producers of Eve Online. They have a MAC and Linux client, respectively on Cedega on the MAC (IIRC) and a specific Wine on Linux, and that seems to work quite well from what I've heard.

It's called Cider on Mac and it's actually Cedega on Linux. But it doesn't really work quite well. I tried it a few months back and the pygtk-based Cedega installer didn't work at all under e17. So I used twm to install it. But then Cedega wouldn't even open a window. So I installed wine and it worked.
The moral of the story is: There is no alternative to cross-platform code.
Instead of blowing their money on something as useless as Cedega, CCP should have instead hired a dedicated Linux/Mac Coder.

Re:Blizzard (1, Insightful)

mstroeck (411799) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328401)

I actually prefer it the way it is. Keeps the WINE developers on their toes - and that's way more important than having native WoW.

Re:Blizzard (1)

alabandit (1024941) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328725)

if i had mod point i would mode this up

Re:Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328765)

Actually I started a petition to get Epic to release the final Unreal patch that they thought we had forgot about.

They saw the petition and released the final patch.

Most online petitions fail because little effort is put into them and people don't do enough to get their petition some publicity.

Of course some poorly worded petition written by some 12 year old and posted on one message board won't do anything.

Re:Blizzard (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327889)

yes that is true. But as a business, they look at it and think, if we support linux, it will be done as a lose. Unless you can show that they'll make a decent profit (not just a small one) they are very unlikey to support anything.

as a linux system's admin, i wouldn't wise development of something like a large scale gaming client like that on any one.

Re:Blizzard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328105)

...why? Wine runs [winehq.org] them [winehq.org] decently (there are some bugs as you can read there. Nothing that couldn't be fixed with a bit more developer resources) well as it is. If those aren't good enough, there is always Cedega [cedega.com] ...

Blizzard? What about Epic?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26329489)

Where is my Unreal Tournament 3 for Linux that was suppose to come out when the game was released?

I bought UT3 because in the past Epic had supported Linux (even if limited; eg. no editor tools)... but now that UT3 box has been collecting dust for well over a year and there is no sign of the Linux client on the horizon. They have made no statements of any value about what the deal is. They ban people that even ask about it in the Epic forums then they cover everything up by deleting all the posts. Bunch of assholes.

B===D (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327727)

B===D

Re:B===D (1)

Paladin_Krone (635912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327743)

I find this ironically on-topic...

Re:B===D (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327941)

You mean B=D?
technically...I think it's more like FreeB=D, just replace the "=" with a "S".
Or replace with a "A"
(perhaps even "ASTAR")

Anyways....dunno about this one.
One of the issues is that gaming (graphics, sound, etc.) API's aren't as well developed on non-Windows platforms and the user base is smaller.
Sure, there's OpenGL but.....OGL...well..it's not really "optimized" for games (this may be the fault of video card manufacturers who can't write good drivers that implement the necessary OGL functions as well as game developers who...well...don't know how to code, period)

And there are hardware limitations to think about as well on other platforms.
Getting the latest and greatest video card on a Mac for one is not always possible (nvidia drivers for mac isn't on nvidias site...at least not for the 2x0 series or the 9 series).
And Linux drivers are fairly new.

Come to think of it..."=" should really be "A"

Re:B===D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26329365)

Shit, are you serious? How long has B equaled D?

Well, this just changes everything. Dack to the brawing doarb for me!

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327739)

A game with an anthropomorphic bunny in the lead sells extremely well on Linux..
I feel strangely offended

Re:Wow (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327799)

  • Linux sales: 5%
  • Windows sales: 45%
  • Mac sales: 50%

Apparently, Mac-heads are crazy for bunnies.

Point by point, they all look like point #1 (1, Redundant)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327757)

I RTFA, and I got a feeling of deja vu after point #1.

  1. It's good to be a big fish in a small pond

    This is obviously true. World of Padman and Wesnoth get articles on Linux sites all the time. Even though these titles are available on Windows, no Windows sites cover them. The reason? There's probably way too much Windows game competition at that quality level.

  2. More platforms means more opportunities

    I don't see how this is actually any different than point #1. I'm certainly happy for his fortune in getting on Digg FP three times for the same game. If he had made a single-platform game, though, he wouldn't have gotten that exposure due to the #1 effect.

  3. Vocal minorities

    Again, I see this as an extension of point #1. He got mentioned on Slashdot because of the Linux build, and got Windows and Mac traffic from Slashdot. If there had been a lot of commercial Linux games, though, he wouldn't have gotten the mention on Slashdot because of ... Point #1.

  4. You can't choose your evangelists

    OK, I'll give this one to him as not related to #1. He believes that Mac-heads are cultists, and I'm not arguing. j/k ;)

OGL vs DirectX (2, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327763)

I think it's pretty simple.

Developers like DirectX.

Developers who develop DirectX Products don't always feel the desire to maintain a DirectX and OGL render pipeline.

Apple 3D Card selection have been historically pretty worthless. Linux is infamous for its 3D Card support.

So not only do developers need an openGL renderer but they also have to develop for a less refined driver base.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327833)

ET:QW worked fine for me with the ATI (proprietary) driver.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (4, Insightful)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327853)

DirectX forms a very small part of any well designed game. Everything would be abstracted for portability, you think the PS3 supports DX?

Let's just go through the thought process of porting a game that supports Windows to Linux MacOSX, starting from a DX only codebase.

It would be trivial to support OpenGL as a 2nd renderer as well as D3D because, as I said, games are designed for portability, but as you pointed out that's more maintenance.

But then why keep D3D? OpenGL is portable and runs on Linux, Windows and OSX so the logical decision would be to ONLY support OpenGL, suddenly the game becomes more portable.

Then there are the other things that DirectX does that need to be duplicated for other platforms, for example input, sound etc. The logical choice would be to use, I dunno, some libraries that already took care of the work, like SDL (windowing, input and events) and OpenAL (sound).

But wait. If you use SDL + OpenAL then suddenly the game runs on all platforms... then what's the point of a DX version?

The point I'm getting at is if a game developer wanted to support the 3 main PC platforms they could do with the same amount of development work. The reasons they don't are:

1. They already have a whole DX tool chain built on Windows and with the blessing of Microsoft. It is a risk for them to change their whole process, what if it doesn't pay off?

2. There WILL be more testing required. Chances are things would work the same as all platforms but they'd still have to test that.

There are of course some advantages to writing for more platforms:

1. Compiling your code with more than one compiler is good practice because it flags up bad code that your original compiler allowed erroneously

2. Parts of the code that aren't abstract enough will be flagged up pretty quickly.

Anyway I'm waffling. The point is, the studios won't change until the increase in market share makes up for the change in their development processes.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (2, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328069)

I was looking for a coding rant I read in the summer about SDL and audio insufficiencies so that I could point you to it, but you'll have to settle for what I found instead. Take a look at this [viridiangames.com] ... and I found what I was looking for [braid-game.com] . Make sure to read the comments on Braid for the real info. A Loki programmer even says SDL isinadequate for audio.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (2, Informative)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328101)

Both those articles don't relate to what I said..

1. SDL doesn't have text functions, but in that discussion they are talking about using SDL without OpenGL. 3D games wouldn't be using the 2D blitting abilities of SDL so the point is irrelevant when OpenGL is being used. Now you could point out that DX on Windows has outline fonts and bitmap fonts, but then there are plenty of FreeType based OpenGL font libraries out there.

2. As I said, use OpenAL for sound, I never suggested SDL for audio, AT ALL. I don't even think it supports 3D positional sound.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (0, Offtopic)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328289)

Not trying to argue a point. I'm not a programmer and can't make any valid comments. I just thought you might be interested in the Braid programmer's problems WRT programming on Linux since you seemed knowledgeable on the subject.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (1)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328367)

hehe, OK sorry if I came across abrupt at all. I am indeed interested ;)

Re:OGL vs DirectX (0, Flamebait)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328499)

Not your fault. I wasn't clear, and everything on Slashdot is an argument unless stated otherwise. ;)

Re:OGL vs DirectX (1)

musikit (716987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328461)

im late on the game on this reply but i can give you a little heads up on this...

first as far as i can tell mac only supports openal 1.0. when ever other platform including the xbox supports at least 1.1 and most likely 1.2. i dont know whats going on there but i digress...

so in order to port anything to mac sound wise you will need to port your audio interface to core audio. which most people do not like to do because of the horrible developer documentation/examples given to people by apple.

2nd input polling.... MS has 3 different ways of getting input into a DX application. 1. Win32 WM_ messages. 2. GetAsyncKeyState 3. DInput polling.

from my experiences Win32 isnt fesible as the system could be slowing down the message pump. i dont really know why it does it but its wierd. plus it adds a random event which needs to be responded to or ignored now. not when your ready to process input. GetAsyncKeyState is flakey and some virus scanners dont like it. they uses it as a heuristic to detect your program as a "keylogger" not that using getasynckeystate will get you flagged but it increases your score. so DInput is left. with some nice options and the ability to poll input when im ready for it. it is very easy to manage.

on the mac side it seems like there are 3 options for input. 1. SDL which is nice but has a win32 type interface. 2. Cocoa events which again has a win32 type interface and requires the main window to be in objective-C which to alot of developers isnt fun. and 3. cocoa window manager input traps. which require root access as far as i can tell.

ohh and lets not forget about debugging tools. DX has this nice tool that lets you run your program as normal and it'll log all the DX calls you make in series and log them out. this requires no additional logging by your code. MSVC also has this very nice debugging interface that lets me easily change the program's current line of code, view memory and set breakpoints, and watch variables. while GDB can do all this for you, it is a text interface which can be annoying and the mac GUI front end to gdb seems to be what i call a window spawner. where the MS tools are all in one window with various tabs. the mac tools open every little thing in a seperate window which can be very annoying.

opengl. this is where i will be unable to comment as it seems apple is doing a good job supporting opengl however i dont keep track of this enough to say which version of opengl they are using versus what version linux is currently using.

windowing systems. MS has one. Win32. mac has 2. Carbon and Cocoa. linux has like 20. exageration but you get the point. so if im a game developer do i chose KDE or gnome. and while im sure most linux people have one installed and running the libs for the other installer you are still gonna get that one kid who posts on your forums. WTF i dont run KDE or have it installed why do i need to install KDE to run your game why cant you have a gnome port. creating non-constructive input into your user feedback system.

i loves mac. if you could check the log youd see im posting from one. all i own are macs and nintendo gaming consoles. and i do wish more people would port their games to mac/linux so macs/linux gets larger. however your then gonna end up supporting 6 platforms. win32, win64, mac32, mac64, linux32, linux64. which is a large amount of development work for a small amount of gain.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328797)

On Windowing sytems in Linux, for a game developer I would think it matters little. In terms of GUI elements, most games roll their own anyway. In terms of dealing with full screen, they support the same flags and SDL abstracts it away anyway.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328885)

first as far as i can tell mac only supports openal 1.0. when ever other platform including the xbox supports at least 1.1 and most likely 1.2.

OS X has supported OpenAL 1.2 since OS X 10.4.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329191)

Games developers need to make their games work on Windows first ... ...There is so much anti-copying and DRM on most games nowadays getting them to work on the platform they were designed for is a nightmare ....

Several Games houses have said that there is (as always) so much copying going on on Windows that they might not support it anymore and just target consoles .... getting them to write fore Linux is a total non-starter ...

Re:OGL vs DirectX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26329373)

NO they do not need to get it to work on Windows first.

They need to get it to work cross platform in first try.

If you make something to work on Windows, and don't think about other platforms. Then it's a hell to re-write all of it to work cross-platform, becouse then some programmer used a few Windows only calls or something like that.

Start out by making it cross-platform.
It will save a lot of time in the end.
But yes you can't use you Windows only / hardcore DirectX programmers. They need to lear to program to other then Windows, or you need to hire some that can more then windows

Re:OGL vs DirectX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26327877)

You do realize that OGL runs on Linux right? Not to mention the non Microsoft consoles. I'd say if you are going to do it right then write it with the intention of release on Windows, OS X, Linux, PS3 and Wii, preferably simultaneously.

There really is no reason that they can't do it, especially with companies like Blizzard having had Mac and Windows support for years on the same disc and companies like Epic that have ported the Doom, Quake, Unreal Tournament(Sans 3) and Wolfenstein titles to all the major desktop OSs as well as most of the consoles that where out at the time of release.

Since OGL is also open source so long as you have the drivers and hardware grunt theres no reason you can't use Windows 98 to run a game using OGL3.0.

In reality its the game makers not seeing the forest for the trees, since while some markets are small you should always target the largest aggregate of potential customers.

So again, why not use OGL when it means you can have an easy time porting your game to everything but the 360? Something tells me the number of sales you get from supporting everything else makes up for it.

Re:OGL vs DirectX (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328091)

Developers like DirectX.

Not all developers. In fact, historically, there's the classic Carmack attack on DirectX. There was certainly a period of time for which OpenGL was faster.

Apple 3D Card selection have been historically pretty worthless. Linux is infamous for its 3D Card support.

Neither of which matters -- if your game only runs on the very latest, $500 worth of SLI goodness, with more RAM on the video card than a computer had two years ago, you're targeting a much smaller audience than Linux or OS X users.

Your pipeline should be able to scale, both up and down, especially if you intend to use that engine for other games in the future. And, looking up, this is another point in favor of OpenGL -- DirectX 10 currently runs on exactly one platform (Vista), which is perhaps the most universally hated platform since Windows ME, maybe even Microsoft Bob. Even if you're only going to be targeting older versions of Windows, with OpenGL, it's up to the manufacturers, and they tend to keep at least 2K and XP up to date with GL support.

The other funny part of this is that Linux video support actually has more working than OS X, as far as I can tell -- SLI on nvidia, for example.

So not only do developers need an openGL renderer but they also have to develop for a less refined driver base.

Once they've got an OpenGL renderer, I'll argue that they don't need a DirectX one. And you need a less refined driver base anyway, unless you force everyone to upgrade to Vista + SLI/Crossfire + OMGULTRABBQ 3000 PCI-EXPRESS.

Cross-platform computer games (1)

Crumplecorn (904797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327765)

Because being crossplatform'd with consoles just isn't enough!

Why game developers should support standards (3, Interesting)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327783)

The alternative of simply programming over a common standard environment is still there.

Part of all that power currently spent on better and better graphics could be spent on passing through a common interface.

As an extra bonus, it would allow the creation of computer-like machines that would only run that standard gaming environment, without all the other functions of a computer.

Unless someone translated the rest of the usual computer functions to that common gaming environent.

Maybe there's more to it (4, Interesting)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26327821)

But I thought that article trivialised the whole affair and offered very little evidence for the point, bar a spectacularly presented pie chart. One publisher made money from a game. Not quite the smoking gun.

One thing that is true is that there is a lot of respect and word of mouth thrown the way of a good game with native linux client. That would of course diminish if there weren't so few quality games supporting it, of course.

I also find myself wondering whether this game Lugaru is an opengl game, keeping migration costs down.

Re:Maybe there's more to it (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328081)

The guy appears to be primarily a Mac developer. His older games include ones for Mac Classic and his minimum specs list "G3" and "G4." I'm guessing that he does OGL.

Re:Maybe there's more to it (3, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328543)

The article is its own proof : Because of its linux port, it got an article on Slashdot frontpage for a game that would otherwise go totally unnoticed !

I'll give a real world example (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328087)

Copies of NWN1 I paid for: 4. One for me, one for friends. I use the Linux version, some of the friends use Windows ones. But I woudln't have bought even one if it didn't work for me.

Copies of NWN2 I paid for: 0. No Linux support, didn't even look at it.

Copies of Lugaru I paid for: 1 so far, plus plugged it at every appropiate opportinity. Would have been 0 without Linux support. The next version looks good enough that I'll probably end up paying for more than one.

Re:I'll give a real world example (1)

smash (1351) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329547)

Damn shame, because in terms of storyline and graphics, NWN2 shits all over NWN1.

Don't get me wrong i want to see linux succeed, but if i need Windows to play a game i want to play, i run it on Windows...

OT: How to lay out a CD for Linux, Mac vs Win? (5, Interesting)

daniel23 (605413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328283)

strange question, shouldnt I know the answer myself since I've been using all three OSen for ages myself? (Typing this on an Ubuntu desktop)

But it's been quite some years now that I last mastered a win/mac CD (it still had OS9) and I never did one for Linux before.
On the other hand my own computer usage has so much shifted to a net focus that I hardly ever install and run a CD myself anymore. And if I do this at all, it's always on win.

So, win is easy, there will be an autorun.inf with a link to an icon and a link to some autorun.exe or whatever.

On Mac, I'd expect the CD to appear with a large friendly icon, a window opening on double click with more large friendly icons that make it very clear what to do (i.e. drag the application onto the application folder alias). No autorun here.

On Linux? I have no idea. From my own usage pattern I don't expect the stuff to be on a CDrom in the first place, it's either in the repositories of my distribution or in a .deb/.rpm dnl'ed from some url or I got a tarball and have to do the ./configure / make / make install - dance. I don't think I ever opened a "commercial" CD intended to be used from Linux (with the exception of install discs). Autorun? - Gott bewahre! Rather a README, may be an install.pl ...

Now there should be sites discussing that question, design guides, style guides, best practices. No way that I'm the first one pondering about how to make a CD look just right on all three OSen - but google drowns me in a bazillion of unrelated pages. Which is why I turn up here with my question, hoping that some of you keep a link or two in their bookmarks to help me find my way.

Re:OT: How to lay out a CD for Linux, Mac vs Win? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328423)

an install.pl

Bad idea. Not everyone has Perl installed. Your best bet is probably Autopackage [autopackage.org] . My only concern would be permissions, since it of course needs to be executed (with /bin/bash). Are CD-ROMs usually mounted with +x? Or can you use ISO9660/Rock Ridge to set permissions?

Already been done dusted and packaged: Loki. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328787)

They have an installer that works just like the windows one. Better, because you can install it system wide (/usr/local/games) as root/admin or just for yourself (~/game) and when so installed, it's in one place so you can back it up.

And, as XP only just got around to doing properly (though often unused) all save games are in your home directory, meaning your save games survive an OS reinstall.

semi-OT: Lugaru isn't working on current distros (2, Informative)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328419)

The game and modern versions of SDL don't like each other.

As with many great Linux ports, icculus maintains the Linux version.

Older bug report [icculus.org]
New bug report [icculus.org]

OSX should do more to support game developers (2, Insightful)

SpazmodeusG (1334705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328465)

Seriously Apple doesn't do as much to support game developers as Microsoft does.
The Microsoft DirectX SDK has demo applications, a bunch of sounds, models and textures that can be used for non-commercial purposes etc.
Apple has no specific game development library and they don't do anything to support the open source game libraries that fill that void - SDL for example.
The most they have is a small area on their developers website that has a handful of tutorials. It just doesn't cut it compared to what Microsoft does to encourage all types of game developers.
Every game platform i know of has a game development toolkit that helps programmers out. From all the consoles through to the various versions of Windows. Apple has yet to release anything of the sort.

Re:OSX should do more to support game developers (1)

macdude22 (846648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329271)

The sad thing is Apple used to do this. The GameSprockets SDK contained a number of library's for graphics, sound, networking, etc... In the age of OS X and the popularity of the Macintosh these days it's surprising they don't have something similar, or simply resurrect the Sprocket name. I'm sure it still holds some name recognition among Macintosh developers. http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=31236 [apple.com]

This year is indeed the year of the Linux desktop. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26328531)

This is THE year of the Linux desktop... because I finally switched over to it.

Re:This year is indeed the year of the Linux deskt (1)

onitzuka (1303967) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329381)

This is THE year of the Linux desktop... because I finally switched over to it.

Cheers!

no reason at all (1)

drfireman (101623) | more than 5 years ago | (#26328603)

This article actually makes the opposite point. The authors had all the numbers from an actual commercial cross-platform game at their disposal, and because their game got picked up by Mac writers but not Windows writers, they had the perfect opportunity to present best-case numbers to make this point. But all they could muster was a pie chart that should be in textbooks on how to present non-information, and a few ridiculously weak arguments. I would kill to see decent games for Linux, but I can't imagine how this article is going to help any. Did anyone's belief in the value of supporting Linux and/or OSX actually go up after reading it?

more reasons (2, Interesting)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329165)

There are many more reasons, in fact. The most important one is that cross-platform development usually results in higher-quality products.

The most obvious reason is that bugs tend to show up faster if you test on more than one platform. Developers hate that, it appears to make development more difficult, but the truth is that it simply exposes the lousy work that most developers deliver.

The other reason is that you can take advantage of - or start thinking about - the platform features. For example, the old Loki port of Civ3 had additional features that the windos version didn't have, simply because the platform required them. One example: On the windos platform, there was automatically one profile for all users, because the game saved everything in the game directory. On Linux, due to stricter permissions, that was simply not possible, so the game saved everything it had to save into the user directory and every user had his own profile. You can do that in windos, too, but a lot of windos developers never think about it.

Did it help Stardock with OS/2? (1)

cyberspittle (519754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329189)

Subject says all ...

XFi & Linux (1)

doesthisfuckingexist (1384097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26329339)

Big blocker to Linux game development was a lack of audio driver from Creative for Linux. This isn't the case now (the code is available and building it is simple) and more importantly, they work. The only reason I've not moved to Linux is the lack of AAA game support, hopefully this will change.
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