Game no go on Linux due to suck



  • I am a Linux user. Can I play?

    This was always one of my goals, but as we leave the realm of the ideal and draw inexorably closer to the cruel reality of launch day, it looks like it’s not going to happen. At least, not at launch.

    We have a Linux build that works. It’s a good bit slower than it should be, but still acceptable on a modern system. This isn’t a technology problem. It’s a practical one. Arvind released Unrest on Linux, and discovered that:

    A majority of your technical support problems and headaches will come from Linux people. There are hundreds of distros, your game might work on some but not others, and you can’t test them all.

    If your game doesn’t play well with some popular Linux distro, then you can get lots of negative feedback on the store. “They claim this game works on Linux but I’m running the latest release candidate of Persimmon Linux[1] with AMD’s drivers from 2012, and this game doesn’t work and they said they couldn’t solve my package manager problems for me.”

    Yes, maybe that guy is being unreasonable. But if you’ve ever read reviews on Steam you already know that “unreasonable” doesn’t mean “unusual”. More importantly, his negative review will drag our rating down, which will hurt sales on the PC side.

    Linux sales are such a tiny faction of a percent of sales that it’s just not worth the expense and risk of #1 and #2. Linux can end up being less than %1 of sales, but it can account for a much larger portion of your technical support load.

    I really want to encourage gaming on alternate platforms as a way to defend against Windows hegemony, and as a way to hopefully keep Steam hegemony from getting much worse.

    It would be easier to do the right thing if we knew the game was going to be successful. If the game sells well and is reviewed well then a couple of bad reviews and the odd lost sale are no big deal and we’ll be in a position to do a Linux release. But what we don’t want is a situation where we’re providing time-sucking technical support for the Linux build of a dud game.


  • BINNED

    Agreed. Does not make sense to support your game on Linux or your app on Windows phone.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    If your game doesn’t play well with some popular Linux distro

    The top 3 are all Debian-based. Guess what, SteamOS is also Debian-based. So if your game is distributed on Steam, you can guarantee that the vast majority of your Linux users will be on Debian-based OSes.


  • area_deu

    That. He should just refuse to support anything except SteamOS + Ubuntu.



  • Lately I updated my NVIDIA drivers and it broke all "Source" games from Valve. They just didn't launch. Running the game from command line gave some hints what could cause the problem. Googling found forum threads and a magic environment variable that "fixes" it.

    I can do these things and I don't really mind but if this happened to an average user, they would probably complain on Steam support forums that some particular game doesn't work. In this case the TR :wtf: was NVIDIA.



  • That wouldn't stop negative reviews would it? Even if you clearly state that it is only supported on certain combo's people will whine about how it doesn't work on others. This is even true on Windows: This doesn't work on XP! It sucks! And you see it in Google Play Store as well: It takes forever to load on my cheap phone!


  • area_deu

    I've seen people complaining about some games needing 64-bit Windows and leaving negative ratings. Yet the average is usually very positive.



  • @aliceif said:

    Yet the average is usually very positive.

    Key word being average here. If you have enough customers, you'll get a nice big set of reviews. In a big set of reviews a few bad apples still give you a warm average.



  • @aliceif said:

    I've seen people complaining about some games needing 64-bit Windows and leaving negative ratings. Yet the average is usually very positive.

    Wow, really?

    The only game I know of that requires a 64-bit version of Windows is Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin. Which has a note on its Steam page telling people who still have 32-bit OSes to get the regular version of Dark Souls 2.



  • On somewhat related note, I've seen Windows PCs sold with 32-bit edition a few years back which had 4 GB of RAM and only 3 GB available on boot. Given the same key works for both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows, I don't know what the manufacturer was trying to save there.


  • SockDev

    And Galactic Civilizations III.



  • That entire article is pretty funny.

    And the game looks good too. I'll put it on my wish list and wait for the inevitable sale, after the author realizes there's no future in indie dev and starts shoving the game into every indie bundle, hoping to scrape enough money to stave off starvation.



  • @aliceif said:

    That. He should just refuse to support anything except SteamOS + Ubuntu.

    But that's his point - if you do this, you'll have a swarm of people smearing your game because it doesn't work on their Linux From Scratch install with a driver pulled from a city garbage dump.

    And just try telling them "you're not using a right distro". Good luck.


  • SockDev

    Jeff does the same with Discourse and we said he was :doing_it_wrong:... How is this different?


  • BINNED

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    But that's his point - if you do this, you'll have a swarm of people smearing your game because it doesn't work on their Linux From Scratch install with a driver pulled from a city garbage dump.

    I'd put those in the "idiot" basket. The whole thing about distros not behaving the same is shit, I'd rather not have it, but I know I'm running Steam on a distro that's not officially supported and deal with problems as I go. And honestly, the only games I had problems with are the ones that falsily claim Linux support (most of them won't even download, but some idiot checked Linux support when releasing it I guess).

    As stated above, driver fuckups happen. On any OS. You'll get idiots complaining about the game if NVidia or AMD fuck up their drivers regardless of the platform. If you're so worried about such cases you're better off not touching the PC market at all.


  • area_deu

    @Maciejasjmj said:

    you'll have a swarm

    Tiny and negligible.



  • Why don't they then sell the Linux version separately?

    That way, the Linux distro reviews can tank, but the PC game will be unaffected.



  • @cartman82 said:

    That entire article is pretty funny.

    Website assumes I even know what GoG is.... Had to dig down through support to find their mission statement.

    full compatibility with Windows XP & Vista. Most of our games are compatible with Windows 7 as well

    Yeah, you don't seem to care about that image enough to even bother updating this information.

    They seem more concerned with just outright competing with Steam now.



  • Yeah I knew they'll pivot and go after steam after they replaced the full "good old games" branding with just "gog".

    Still, I appreciate the anti-DRM atttitude.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    They claim this game works on Linux but I’m running the latest release candidate of Persimmon Linux[1] with AMD’s drivers from 2012, and this game doesn’t work and they said they couldn’t solve my package manager problems for me.

    It takes exactly one (1) person to maintain proper build and packaging for these distributions:

    • Fedora (the current release, Nvidia drivers as packaged by rpmfusion, that's what everyone uses)
    • Ubuntu (LTS + the current stable release)
    • Debian stable
      and fuck the rest of them. They are derivative, or they can set up a chroot, a docker or anything else they need.


  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    But that's his point - if you do this, you'll have a swarm of people smearing your game because it doesn't work on their Linux From Scratch install with a driver pulled from a city garbage dump.

    Well, if they want to fuck with that, it's their game. I think they would get a dopamine shot from being able to launch it at all. Maybe list shared library and API dependencies in an Ikeaesque README of sorts, that's not too much work.



  • Plus every distribution has plenty of fanboys willing to do the work for you.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Plus every distribution has plenty of fanboys willing to do the work for you.

    Nope. It has to be a paid, reasonable non-bullshit non-fanboi. You want him to be able to access the source code reliably, and build the actual shit. You want him to report the bugs of upstream packaging (drivers, distro, LKML even) coherently. It's a responsibility, and probably a signed NDA of some sort. And an NDA requires a paycheck, unless you are a fascist PHB that wants everyone to work for free, in which case you fuck up royally and deserve an oblivion anyway.



  • @hifi said:

    On somewhat related note, I've seen Windows PCs sold with 32-bit edition a few years back which had 4 GB of RAM and only 3 GB available on boot. Given the same key works for both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows, I don't know what the manufacturer was trying to save there.

    My experience has been that some older software won't run on 64 bit Windows but will on 32. Particularly industrial automation software which is incredibly expensive to upgrade, if it supports newer OS's at all.



  • @aliceif said:

    That. He should just refuse to support anything except SteamOS + Ubuntu.

    Plus it's really not that hard to not depend on the distribution packages, and outdated/broken drivers are a thing on Windows too. This just sounds like "we don't know how to do this, therefore you shouldn't bother trying".

    @powerlord said:

    Wow, really?

    We got a request for 32-bit build almost immediately. I didn't even think about it, I kinda forget 32-bit OSes still exist.



  • Elite: Dangerous: Horizons requires 64-bit Windows now, and I think PlanetSide 2 finally moved to 64-bit only. Which is good because 32-bit operating systems need to die.


  • SockDev

    @mott555 said:

    Which is good because 32-bit operating systems need to die.

    QFT


  • BINNED

    Hey, screw you, some of us intend to retire using the mad bucks we'll earn by fixing the Y2k38 bugs :stuck_out_tongue:



  • Windows phone owner. This is an (understandable) limitation to actually owning a windows phone.

    I cry myself to sleep at night to the light of blank metro tiles.



  • But my ArchLinux install!



  • On a linux-based OS, you have much less competition. I wouldn't support "Linux" on a game, I would support something like "Ubuntu".

    Doesn't steamplay abstract all of these problems away?



  • @Luhmann said:

    And you see it in Google Play Store as well: It takes forever to load on my cheap phone!

    In the specific case of the Google Play Store the developer deserves what he gets. In the playstore, the developer must inform which devices are compatible, and the game won't even show for incompatible devices, and won't allow it to be installed trough the play store website.

    Steam should do something similar for game requirements, there is no reason for it to be offering me games that require a modern NVIDIA card when all that I have is a laptop with integrated graphics.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Still, I appreciate the anti-DRM atttitude.

    Yes, but how can you be sure they'll honor it in the future, especially since it now has a backseat.



  • If there are so few Linux users, why would someone fear our terrible stupid game reviews, anyway?


  • BINNED

    @fbmac said:

    Doesn't steamplay abstract all of these problems away?

    Most of it, yes. You're still a victim to driver bugs, but yes, most if not all libraries are available as a part of Steam Runtime by default, which you can override as needed.



  • @fbmac said:

    Doesn't steamplay abstract all of these problems away?

    SteamPlay is just a marketing term for "you get the game for all supported systems". There is no abstraction of any kind involved.



  • Steam contains a bunch of commonly used libraries as part of that, so you can guarantee that, for example, SDL is available on any platform your game is available on Steam from.



  • @wft said:

    It takes exactly one (1) person to maintain proper build and packaging for these distributions:

    Yes, and on a three person team, that's 33% of your team with the task of supporting 1% of your users.

    As they commented there, Linux support is a nice ideal and gives you nerd cred, but nerd cred is expensive and doesn't pay the bills.

    @CatPlusPlus said:

    Plus it's really not that hard to not depend on the distribution packages, and outdated/broken drivers are a thing on Windows too. This just sounds like "we don't know how to do this, therefore you shouldn't bother trying".
    No, his argument was "this requires more support effort for fewer sales, so it doesn't make business sense." Since they're trying to run a business, business decisions take precedence. They'll eventually try to release it on Linux (they already have a build that works on it, it's just not as fast) if the game makes some money, but they don't want to risk losing first week PC sales over bad Linux reviews. And if the game is a dud anyway, taking on the cost of supporting Linux makes no sense at all.

    @fbmac said:

    If there are so few Linux users, why would someone fear our terrible stupid game reviews, anyway?
    Because they're a vocal minority, and reviews are aggregated regardless of OS. And people are more driven to complain than they are to compliment a game (since they'll be busy playing it if they liked it).

    Are you really so surprised by someone making a rational decision not to support Linux at launch?



  • And that changes what he said... how?



  • @aliceif said:

    That. He should just refuse to support anything except SteamOS + Ubuntu.

    It's not going to stop those assholes from writing bad reviews.



  • @xaade said:

    Why don't they then sell the Linux version separately?

    They're releasing on Steam and Steam doesn't allow that.



  • Well then Steam needs to start separating the reviews by platform then.

    It makes no sense to let a game tank because it didn't do as well on some obscure platform.



  • @xaade said:

    Yes, but how can you be sure they'll honor it in the future, especially since it now has a backseat.

    I don't. (shrugs)



  • This is another reason why Linux won't ever have the same level of game support.

    (And before someone whips out their list of 300 obscure indie titles and 10 AAA titles... just don't... I won't even consider it.)



  • Exactly, which is why I still buy on Steam.

    If I wanted a second rate Steam, then I'd have to hate myself more than others already do.



  • @xaade said:

    It makes no sense to let a game tank because it didn't do as well on some obscure platform.

    If you claim to support SteamOS, do a good job on making your game run on it. We don't want crappy ports from Windows games. It's better if they just don't port it, if they don't plan to make a proper version.


  • kills Dumbledore

    @xaade said:

    how can you be sure they'll honor it in the future

    You can always keep a copy of any installer you download from them. Even if they renege later, you still have a DRM free way to reinstall and play the game



  • And it will always be lesser risk to just make it work on Windows.

    Have fun not playing games.

    Even if Steam just allowed them to sell Linux version separately, they could make the Linux version cheaper or even free... or whatever...

    As is, Steam has a system where there is too much risk to make the game also work on Linux.



  • At the point you bought the game.

    I'm saying that, for a new customer, I have low confidence that they will continue to prioritize DRM-free games.

    They are making a Steam-lite, without the promise that it will be DRM-free. There's an assumption, but without them putting that info closer to the front page, it creates doubt.



  • @fbmac said:

    If you claim to support SteamOS, do a good job on making your game run on it. We don't want crappy ports from Windows games. It's better if they just don't port it, if they don't plan to make a proper version.

    Sadly enough, this should also be the rule for anyone porting any older game to Steam as well. There have been a couple recent (rather disastrous) ports of older JRPGs to Steam/PC that are showing just how little they seem to care about the quality of their republish. (Disgaea PC and one of the Tales series, I believe, have been the most recent examples)


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