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John Carmack On Linux Gaming Support

A comment on reddit by id Software co-founder John Carmack (thanks Develop) follows the theme of a recent post by former id programmer Timothee Besset indicating that id's once-strong support for Linux gaming has waned. The post basically confirms and explains that premise, discussing how he sees a plausible path for Linux gaming via emulation on Steam, if "properly evangalized," but expressing skepticism about commercial native Linux ports:

However, I don’t think that a good business case can be made for officially supporting Linux for mainstream games today, and Zenimax doesn’t have any policy of “unofficial binaries” like Id used to have. I have argued for their value (mostly in the context of experimental Windows features, but Linux would also benefit), but my forceful internal pushes have been for the continuation of Id Software’s open source code releases, which I feel have broader benefits than unsupported Linux binaries.

I can’t speak for the executives at Zenimax, but they don’t even publish Mac titles (they partner with Aspyr), so I would be stunned if they showed an interest in officially publishing and supporting a Linux title. A port could be up and running in a week or two, but there is so much work to do beyond that for official support. The conventional wisdom is that native Linux games are not a good market. Id Software tested the conventional wisdom twice, with Quake Arena and Quake Live. The conventional wisdom proved correct. Arguments can be made that neither one was an optimal test case, but they were honest tries.

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43. Re: John Carmack On Linux Gaming Support Feb 6, 2013, 13:10 Beamer
 
headkase wrote on Feb 6, 2013, 11:37:
Beamer wrote on Feb 6, 2013, 11:04:
Valve's problem is going to be getting anyone to actually make Linux games. Like you said, "If they... get some large software developers aboard...." that's a big if. It's a risk. They need to hire Linux game programmers, something not really plentiful now. It's a big leap. Some will stick a toe in the waters, but don't expect anyone committing capital to jump in the deep end before anything is proven.

And, if it becomes proven, it isn't hard for others to adapt to it. Actually kicking out the product for Linux isn't really time or resource intensive, but it does require hiring some new people.

Having every developer writing for Linux is stupid. What needs to be done is that the engine developers write Linux-back-ends. When you develop your game for CryEngine 3 you don't say "oh my gosh! I have to write to the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC API!" No, shit. With CryEngine 3 you press the "deploy" button and the code needed at the lower levels - stuff dealing with operating systems and graphics and audio API's - is abstracted away from your content. If a engine developer makes an OpenGL back-end the developer of a game doesn't have to give two shits about it. They just press "deploy." Sorry, they have to press deploy 4 times: once each for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Linux. A properly written game engine will abstract away the lower level details and make it so a game developer doesn't have to give a single flying fuck about them.

Yeah, like I said in my second paragraph, it isn't time or resource intensive, just requires hiring some Linux people.

Also, it isn't as easy as just hitting "deploy." Sorry, doesn't work like that. Sure, if you choose to go with UE3 or CryEngine it's close, but id, of course, isn't doing that. So they need to hire some Linux people. And many other companies don't do that. So they'd need to hire some Linux people. And even those using UE3 often modify the code. So they'd need to hire some Linux people.

Like you said, what needs to be done is to have engine developers create Linux back ends. Some people need to be hired to do that.

I never said they need to hire game developers, I said game programmers. As in, they need programmers that understand both Linux and game engines.
 
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