There are a lot of reasons that people are really excited about
games on the Linux
platform. For a lot of people, entertainment software is the
final culmination of a lot of tools that computer users use on a
daily basis. This means that to develop a cutting-edge game, you
need to develop good graphics technologies, good sound technology,
and good solid code all around. The concept behind building a big
game for Linux brings it all together, and that's what Linux needs.
For example, if game development code lends itself to writing
better drivers for a specific video card, Linux wins. This is
especially important to a universe of differently-clued people that
believe that Linux doesn't support any hardware, and that it's only
useful as a network operating system.
As the rest of the world gets into knock-down, drag-out fights
over the technical specifications on the Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo
Dolphin and the Playstation II, Linux users continue the fight to
realize their favorite operating system as a viable platform for
entertainment software. Not only that, but companies with a strong
eye for the Linux Market will Open Source everything they can,
3dfx being the most important
It's working. Companies like Loki Entertainment Software and open
source projects like Time City are pushing the envelope. While I
know first-hand how the Time
City team operates, I can just imagine Sam, Scott and Mike at
Loki porting software while singing `Anything You Can Do (I Can Do
Better)' from Annie Get Your Gun. They're making getting
Windows-quality games to run cleaner on Linux a way of life.
The entertainment software market is huge. I'd be interested to
see what percentage of overall market share Linux holds in the next
five years. Hey, even Sony Entertainment America said that they
used Linux to
develop for the new Playstation. Even if Linux stays `in the
background' of the entertainment software industry, the overall
impact will be tremendous.
In the open source community, Linux has proven itself over and
over again. If you follow conventional wisdom, Linux still needs a
`Killer App' to prove itself. It's time we gave them one. People
are out there making hardware purchase decisions based on the
hardware requirements of Quake III Arena.
The choice is clear; The `Killer App' of Linux won't be a word
processor, a rendering engine, or even a web server. It will be a
game. The game will be released, hard drives will be formatted, and
Linux will gain a stronger foothold.
What about the rest of the industry? Maybe someday soon, we'll
find companies releasing more Windows software, but with a twist.
How about a game that comes with a floppy and a CD that runs
directly off of the CD? This isn't that alien; LucasArts used to use `boot disks'
to clear memory on Windows systems. If a game company wants to take
advantage of Linux while staying on the Windows platform, they can
create a game where you boot from the floppy, load Linux into a RAM
disk, and run the application. The end-user is running Linux and
they don't even know it. Imagine the benefit to games played over
TCP/IP! It all comes down to using a pared-down Linux using only
the chunks you need to run your application.
It's not difficult, it's not rocket science, and it's one of the
keys to making world domination a reality for our favorite