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Why Game Developers Should Support OS X and Linux 283

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-faith dept.
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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Why Game Developers Should Support OS X and Linux

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  • by Senes (928228) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:40AM (#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 This might be an outdated school of thought, but I'd say it goes double for Mac users.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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:57AM (#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.

      • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:16AM (#26327845) Journal

        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.

        • by rm999 (775449) on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:32AM (#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.

          • by Creepy (93888) on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:13PM (#26331589) Journal

            First off, I believe FIFA 08 made EA more money than Madden, but maybe you mean in the US.

            Innovation is a high risk, high reward can bring profits - look at the Wii console - the least technically complex, the worst graphics of the major consoles, and the last to market - not to mention it isn't even the cheapest anymore (the XBox 360 cheapest model is under $200), but it dominates the sales charts. Meanwhile, Sony is bleeding money and laying off (and Microsoft is laying off to protect their bottom line).

            However, innovation only sells some of the time - Assassin's Creed was one of the top sellers on PS3 and XBox 360 and had a fair degree of innovation and a fair degree of evolution. Call of Duty 4 was also a top seller on those platforms and was mostly evolution. Why does CoD4 sell? First off, as far as shooters go, it is fairly simple to learn and play. Second, people are familiar with the game and controls from the previous games and there is less learning curve. Finally, the plot/fun factor of the game has been good enough that players don't have burnout (like the Tomb Raider franchise). Sports games benefit from having a head start, which is why they sell well - the buyers are nearly always fans that know the rules from watching sports. FIFA 08 isn't as popular as Madden in the US because the US is much more rabid fans of Football than Soccer, while the world audience is just the opposite. NHL games are probably very popular in Canada and the US, but I bet you could sell more copies of Kangaroo Hunter (yes, I made that up) in Australia than NHL games, even if KH used a 6 year old engine and played like crap).

            What do many Wii games and Portal have in common? They are deceptively simple - easy to learn, but difficult to master. Wii's dumbing down of the controller to 2 buttons means non-hardcore gamers have a basic learning curve of minutes, not hours or days. And they're mostly fun, or at least the few I've played were. Most of the time I'm fighting with the controls with games on the XBox 360 and PS3 and play against people that have used them for years and it tends to be more an exercise in frustration.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zephiris (788562)

          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

        • April 2008 also saw the PC-edition release of "Assassin's Creed". This made me a happy man.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by aliquis (678370)

          We got Mirror's Edge, Spore, and Dead Space, all from EA.

          Thanks to Transgaming creating Cider Windows emulator which EA use to make the games run on macs. It's not real ports, and it's more or less a no brainer for them. Why not release it if someone will buy it even though the resulting product is inferior*?

          * From but running on an emulated layer and because OS X graphics performance probably isn't up to Windows speeds to begin with (and third because macs always tend to come with somewhat mediocre graphics even though you pay premium prices.)

      • by jythie (914043)

        For the big companies yep, that is completely correct. For small companies that are going to die a slow horrible death as, you are also correct ^_^
         
        Small clever companies however don't do this and can make a nice little profit for themselves if they find a market that is being poorly served.

    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:13AM (#26327825) Journal

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rvw (755107)

        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: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Thumper_SVX (239525)

          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 fi

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica (681592) *

        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

        • by jabithew (1340853)

          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.

          • That's what I said -- search for Free Software.

            • by jabithew (1340853)

              Ah, we're coming up against the biggest lapse in the English language again. I meant software libre, I thought you meant software gratis. Mea culpa.

      • TINSTAAFL (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 p

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          its not bullshit, your obviously a mac user that isnt aware of the array of high quality freeware available on pc that isnt available to you...
          overall mac is between 2-3% of all the computers on the face of the planet. the rest are windows machines. if your writing software, where do you want it to go? 97-87% of market? or 2-3%?

          also - linux cant replace windows. Im a musician and a gamer. linux is useless for both. if I could replace windows with linux id do it in a second without thinking about it...

        • Re:TINSTAAFL (Score:4, Informative)

          by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday January 05, 2009 @01:47PM (#26332073) Homepage Journal

          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

          Actually, it is. Take Memtest86+ [memtest.org], the de facto standard RAM tester. Now Google for "memtest os x" and you'll find this jerk [memtestosx.org] who sells a compiled version but doesn't make the source available to it. To rub salt in the wound, he's too lazy to make his own website graphics and uses the default "Joomla! ...because open source matters".

          Sure, you can get Memtest for free if you know how. It's just irksome that the source-deprived shareware version is the one most Mac users will know about. So one program isn't the end of the world, but it seems par for the course for OS X.

      • You lazy bastard (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mstroeck (411799)

        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?

        • 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.
          • 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.
        • by itsdapead (734413)

          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

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        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 e

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          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 librar

          • by Fulg (138866) on Monday January 05, 2009 @11:21AM (#26330055) Homepage

            [...] 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). [Emphasis mine]

            I get what you're saying, but a big pet peeve of mine on OSX is that I see the exact opposite. Sure, almost all of Mac software looks great, but many don't follow consistent usability guidelines and many program options are hidden away. The fact that most dialog boxes cannot be controlled by the keyboard on OSX (by default anyway) is another big issue for me.

            For example, it took me months to find the "Play Song Preview" in iTMS/iTunes because it's not in any app menu or even the right-click context menu; you just have to know to doubleclick the song. In every other Windows app that's not a problem, the bold menu entry is what will happen when you doubleclick; I don't know why this "standard" doesn't apply to OSX.

            Another example, I needed a tool to just crop an image on OSX (splitting a desktop wallpaper in two for spaning multiple monitors). I found ImageWell, which worked fine but has a weird workflow and a non-resizeable interface that forces you to work in a very small preview version of your image!

            Now don't get me wrong, I totally accept that I'm not used to OSX so any difference from W32 annoys me, but I think the point stands anyway.

            Anyway, getting back on topic, developers target the platforms they use. Less marketshare means less developers means less variety. I only use OSX occasionally, so I don't bother developing much for it (I only use the Mac for iPhone development now).

          • by itsdapead (734413)

            I don't know how far you're looking back,

            Quite a while - I think the "issue" probably dates back to the good ol' Mac OS Classic days and has been improving ever since OS X appeared. Back when you had to pay for development tools and documentation, programmers were possibly less inclined to give away their efforts: film at 11!)

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          Have you looked at 7zx? it seems to be 7Zip for the Mac.

      • Simple solution. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LWATCDR (28044)

        Get out XCode and write your own. Problem solved.
        I hear this all the time but it is at best rude. It takes a lot of work to write a good text editor, file management tool, or mp3 player. Some people want to do it for free and put it out under GPL. That is great. I have released GPL code myself. Some people want to get paid for their hard work. I am also all for that. If you like their product pay for it.
        If you don't like their product enough to pay them what they ask then DON"T USE IT AND DON"T COMPLAIN.
        T

        • I, for one, only complain about the prices people ask when they do naughty things like setting reseller minimums even on outdated versions.

          If you need accounting software or DVD authoring software but don't need the newest version, you can probably find it for 10% or 20% of the cost by buying an older version sitting on a shelf in a warehouse.

          If you want Windows XP it's getting harder to buy. If you need Adobe Creative Studio 2 or newer, go ahead and buy CS 4 because it's the same price. Both of these compa

      • While I'm pretty firmly in the linux camp myself, I must say that there are real advantages to the mac shareware ecosystem vs. the windows freeware one. Both have programs that are worth it and programs that really aren't. The trouble is, a freeware program that really isn't worth it is likely to be some ghastly adware mess(if it isn't an outright trojan) while a shareware program that isn't worth it is just a waste of money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by immcintosh (1089551)
        This may be beside your point, but I would love to be able to pay $50 for TextMate in Linux. It's the only Mac-only app I'm jealous of. Even better, make something with the UI and feature set of TextMate that understands VI commands. I'd be sold.
    • by rpillala (583965)

      Here is Cringely talking about Apple's behavior generally in June of last year. It bears on what you're saying; you might find it interesting:

      http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080613_005065.html [pbs.org]

  • Cached Copy (Score:3, Informative)

    by rsmith-mac (639075) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:41AM (#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.
  • Targeting a larger audience results in more sales. Who'd have guessed? :p

    • Fill in the numbers: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by krischik (781389) <krischik@nOSpaM.users.sourceforge.net> on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:50AM (#26327699) Homepage Journal

      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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      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.

  • Blizzard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by incripshin (580256) <markpeloquin@gmail. c o m> on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:52AM (#26327707) Homepage
    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 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Kalriath (849904) * on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:06AM (#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.

      • by splutty (43475)

        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 som

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          CCP's efforts were a very shaky start for Mac (but then, given that they have a small user base by MMO standards in the first place, especially compared to Blizzard), it's understandable.

          The recent QR patch, after tweaking, and with some updates to Cider, has made a world of difference to Mac performance in EVE. It still has problems - after running the game for any length of time, you need to log out and log back in again to fix graphical glitches in the rest of OS X (inability to scroll in Safari, totally

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mstroeck (411799)

        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.

  • OGL vs DirectX (Score:3, Insightful)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:00AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kazade84 (1078337) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:18AM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Daengbo (523424)

        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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by kazade84 (1078337)

          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 e

      • 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 ...

      • you think the PS3 supports DX?

        You think the PS3 matters if your business isn't big enough to have a contract with Sony, or if your game is in a genre whose control doesn't easily simplify to a SIXAXIS controller?

        But then why keep D3D?

        Because Xbox 360 doesn't work with OpenGL, and it's reportedly easier to get a contract with Microsoft for Xbox 360 than with Sony for PS3 (which uses OpenGL ES) or with Nintendo for Wii (which uses the OpenGL-like GX API).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 f

      • by Kjella (173770)

        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.

        I'm sorry, but Carmack's rant from 1996(!) has about as much relevance as Win95 vs Gnome 1.0 vs KDE 1.0 in a modern discussion of Vista vs Gnome vs KDE. Everything that was even remotely relvant has been changed many times over already. In modern times it's mostly been DirectX, DirectX, DirectX - I think pretty much all of my 3D-intensive games use it. What's sad is that usually the pure D3D parts are well emulated by WINE, it's usually other parts that lead to crashes.

      • 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.

        Those are the people who spend money on games. If people are serious about gaming, they can at least dual boot into Windows, and have massive cards/RAM/etc. If people aren't serious about gaming, they are less likely to buy new games. Also, they're more likely to pirate games,

  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:03AM (#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.

  • by sleeponthemic (1253494) on Monday January 05, 2009 @06:11AM (#26327821) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.

    • by smash (1351)
      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...

    • by Kamokazi (1080091)

      You indirectly gave another real world example. NWN 1 had Linux support. So when they made NWN2, they more than likely thought about doing it again, but they didn't. Why? Probably because they didn't sell enough copies of NWN1 to make it worthwhile. It all works down to how much the extra development costs versus additional copies sold (or you can throw in Microsoft paying them off conspiracy theories if you like).

      • by vadim_t (324782)

        See, my point is that the number of Linux copies sold isn't a perfect indicator.

        I paid for Windows copies because there was Linux support, but I bet that fact never got registered anywhere. They saw 4 sales, and one of them for Linux.

        Now thanks to no Linux support, they lost another 4 sales, even though maybe only one of them would be for Linux.

        • by Kamokazi (1080091)

          But you're talking about a fraction of a fraction of a percent now. The number of Windows copies purchased because a Linux client existed is probably much smaller than the number of Linux copies sold. They can project development costs for a Linux client, and they can do rough estimates on sales. They would have to be pretty sure that the number of copies sold would be significantly higher than the additional development costs. Hell, there's even a decent chance they lost money on NWN1 because they didn

  • by daniel23 (605413) on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:33AM (#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.

    • On Linux, it depends on your settings. (It does on Windows, too, since Autorun is easy to disable.) By default, KDE will open a dialog asking what to do when you pop in any kind of media (CD, USB drive, etc.) and Gnome will just open the disk with Nautilus. At this point, there will probably be a installer.sh file which will do all the heavy lifting of the install. This is basically how the proprietary software that isn't in the repos I've come across handle their installs. Things would get tricky if you wa
  • by bersl2 (689221) on Monday January 05, 2009 @07:54AM (#26328419) Journal

    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]

    • 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]

      *yawn* I almost got my hopes up: open /dev/[sound/]dsp: Device or resource busy open /dev/[sound/]dsp: Device or resource busy open /dev/[sound/]dsp: Device or resource busy Fatal signal: Segmentation Fault (SDL Parachute Deployed)

  • 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 Mi
    • by jythie (914043)

      Having done some game work on OSX, I'm not even sure I see the point in an OSX specific SDK or toolkit. While it would be good PR for them to do so, the game APIs for OSX are generally things like SDL/OpenGL/etc which already have their own rich communities. That is one of the nice things about cross platform APIs,.. you don't have to go to the OS developer for anything unless you are really digging around the guts or interfacing to the OS specific layer (like Cocoa, which they have plenty of help for).

  • 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 imagi

  • more reasons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Monday January 05, 2009 @09:54AM (#26329165) Homepage Journal

    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.

    • Completely UNTRUE (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cybrthng (22291)

      Consoles prove my point entirely. Ports of games that are on all consoles tend to suck because there is no polish. Work that could have been spent on the game; making it better, faster, fancier or simply more playable is spent on the process of porting - to platforms in which bugs may not be reproducible at all. A variety of OS's, hardware configurations, kernel schedulers, drivers and whatnot doesn't make a game better. Just means more people, increased costs, more delays and less features.

  • by jythie (914043) on Monday January 05, 2009 @10:54AM (#26329689)

    I've never understood software houses that insist on releasing games on a single platform with propriatry APIs rather then starting development with a cross platform engine and then porting to other platforms.
     
    In any other industry, if I went up to a manager and said 'hey, this API will get us an extra 10-15% market share for similar development costs' and they will go 'wow! let's go with that! more money for us!'
     
    yet in software there seems to be this almost psychotic attachment to 'we must support only Windows because that is all people use'.

  • Let's say that Mac OSX has 5% of the market and that windows has 90% of the market.
    Say a game captures 50% of all Mac users. That is 50% of 5% or 2.5% of the market
    If that same game captures just 5% of Windows boxes then it captures 5% of 90% which is 4.5% of the market.

    A nominally unpopular on Windows is still more than a success on Mac. Even allowing Linux 5% of the market, a game would need 50% on both Linux and OSX to match a mere 5% of the Windows market.

    In other words, a very popular game on OS X and

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      5% on Windows = unpopular? Are you out of your mind? You can feel lucky if you get more than 10,000 downloads, or 500 sales.
  • Windows has a development environment for games. It bears some resemblance to the platform used to develop for the XBox and XBox360. That means you can develop for one of these, and have some level of commonality with other platforms.

    There is nothing at all like this on the Mac or Unix side of things. There are _some_ common points with other Unix platforms, but these are limited to lower-level plumbing. There is no real "games platform" that
    exists that is nearly all-inclusive as DirectX:

    OpenGL is certainly

  • TFA makes a compelling point, but I have a mixed feeling about that. I have a commercial program [photosounder.com] that's currently Windows-only, but with plans to port to Mac OS X and Linux.

    While a Mac OS X port is an easy choice, I'm not sure about the Linux port at all. On one hand there's all the advantages that TFA mentions, but on the other hand, who uses Linux for audio production, Linux has an especially small market share in that domain, plus the reason everyone's given me, Linux users usually don't like to pay, eve

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday January 05, 2009 @12:32PM (#26330973)

    Macs need to have better video card / hardware and a $2300 tower with a lower mid-range card as the base will not do it. A $130 cost of the base card + $150 for a 8800GT makeing it $280 for a 8800gt does not help.

    Putting 9400m in the mini and macbook helps make them better but the mini needs to have a faster cpu + 256 - 512 of video ram that is not part of system ram and maybe a faster 3.5 hd. Also put in a 9500 / 9600 in the higher end systems. The imac needs to have system better video card and not a small video card bump that also comes with a bigger screen that makes you trun down the screen size to run games at good settings.

    Where is the mac tower? maybe a $1200 - $1500+ base core i7 system with SLI / crossfire on the higher end? With a $2700+ 2 cpu core i7 mac pro. The Dual core i7 systems will likely cost more then to days dual Exon's and a mac pro tower staring at $2700+ will look bad next to a $600 - $900 mini with a slow cpu + 9400 video useing system ram with a 2.5 laptop hd. Other system at $800 - $900 have pci-e slots and or video cards with there own ram.

    Also the $2000 mac book pro is lacking in video power next to other laptops that have 9700 / 9800 cards in them some even have sli at the same price or lower and they have 4gb of ram some even have a faster cpu as well.

    Apple will have to deal with better EFiX and Psystar system and if the new mini comes with no firewire, mini DP need apple wants you to pay $30 - $100 more for the Mini DisplayPort to DVI Adapter or the Mini DisplayPort to DVIDL Adapter, 9400m video that uses system ram.

    1 more thing there better not be a intel atom based mini at $500+ as that will be slower then to days mini even if they put 9400m video on it and that will just say to Psystar we can't beat you in hardware but we can try in court.

  • (apologies if this is a re-post, my previous comment seems to be missing) Releasing a game for Windows, Mac and Linux sounds all well and good, and the adoption rates on the smaller platforms may be higher as a percentage of the OS install base, but it doesn't make financial sense for most companies to spend the effort to write games for the mac, or especially Linux. I'm a former game developer who has written games for Windows, OS X, Linux, and all the consoles, so I know the market and development chall
  • Releasing a game for Windows, Mac and Linux sounds all well and good, and the adoption rates on the smaller platforms may be higher as a percentage of the OS install base, but it doesn't make financial sense for most companies to spend the effort to write games for the mac, or especially Linux.

    I'm a former game developer who has written games for Windows, OS X, Linux, and all the consoles, so I know the market and development challenges pretty well.

    Windows, for the time being, is still the prime software de

    • by PReDiToR (687141)
      When writing for Windows did you ever consider how the program would work under WINE?

      Lots of people think that WINE is bad, but if (as you and others say) we're stuck with Windows only games, wouldn't compatibility with WINE on Linux == Linux support? At least for marketing purposes?
  • The trouble with making a game multiplatform isn't "necessarily" the cost/time/effort/skill of using abstracted code or having to train DX programmers to use OpenGL. One large problem is that in the past, you could relatively easy put a game on 1 piece of physical media and have both the Mac and Windows tracks on the CD-ROM.

    Now that games are coming close to filling DVDs or spanning multiple CDs, it isn't nearly as simple to provide a single disc that is Windows+Mac. Now you must provide either a box with
    • The trouble with making a game multiplatform isn't "necessarily" the cost/time/effort/skill of using abstracted code or having to train DX programmers to use OpenGL. One large problem is that in the past, you could relatively easy put a game on 1 piece of physical media and have both the Mac and Windows tracks on the CD-ROM. Now that games are coming close to filling DVDs or spanning multiple CDs, it isn't nearly as simple to provide a single disc that is Windows+Mac.

      How much of that space is executable and how much is resources that are the same for both versions? It makes installers slightly more complex, but not that bad. Besides there are more and more avaenues for online distribution these days.

      Secondly, you have to consider it can quite difficult to provide "good" technical support... The bigest[sic] problem with purchased software; particularly entertainment/gaming software is that the market has little patience for a product that doesn't install and run on a single double-click. So support is an absolute necessity.

      That's not an argument for support, but one for decent installers that have been well tested. You can't half ass the installer after QA is finished and expect it to be a success. Of course most big game developers have already figured this out. Given the levels of support ge

  • by seebs (15766) on Monday January 05, 2009 @05:41PM (#26335587) Homepage

    When my spouse and I wanted to take up an MMO, we had an obvious requirement: It had to run on a Mac, because my spouse is a Mac user. So, we got WoW. (There weren't many competitors at the time who did Mac; even now, the most obvious is Eve which is of anti-value to me because I don't, ever, under any circumstances, want PvP.)

    So far, that's two copies sold. But wait. My brother-in-law now plays with us. My sister-in-law now plays with us, because her husband plays with us. A friend of mine from some message boards who'd given up got back into the game because I was playing it. So I can name five people (and more than five monthly subscriptions) that came from that sale. Only one of whom plays primarily on Mac.

    For games that are played with other people, the effect isn't just the actual sales to Mac users; it's the sales to people who want to play with Mac users, and the moment anyone provides an option for the Mac market, a lot of other users will end up being drawn to that product by preference.

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