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Future Linux Game Evaluation

[ The opinions expressed by authors on Linux Today are their
own. They speak only for themselves and not for Linux Today.
]

By Paul
Ferris
, Staff Writer

You know Linux is going mainstream when you start to see games
appearing virtually overnight for it. Recently in the mail I was
sent some new pre-releases for evaluation purposes, and I thought
I’d share my opinions with the Linux Today readership (imagine
that!) so that they could make better informed game buying
decisions.

By the way, don’t look for these babies anytime soon. Since they
are pre-releases the titles and plot-lines might get changed before
you see them. Even so, the type of games presented here are fairly
similar to other games that you may have seen or played in the
past. I’ll even go so far as to predict that you may have seen the
plot-lines as well.

Oh well, more Linux Innovation(tm) to come, I’m sure.

Game: Quickhack III

Type: Shootem-up

Description: You’re Linus T. – space marine.
Marooned in a distant country, you have nothing but your wits and
an ever-growing army of volunteer mercenaries at your disposal in a
quest to bring justice to a corrupt world. The enemy in a huge
monolithic space ship has delivered a virus to mankind that causes
a sizable portion of the population to become computer
illiterate.

Armed with little more than your wits at the beginning of the
game, the odds seem bleak at first. As play progresses you begin to
decimate everything in sight with an ever increasing arsenal of
weapons.

You begin with nothing but a GCC pistol, progressing through an
I386 rotary cannon until you obtain the ultimate weapon – the
LNX9000. This gun is capable of clearing an entire room of nasties
with one pull of the trigger.

Play progresses through ever more populated levels until the
very end when things are going so fast that practically no one can
comprehend what’s going on.

Scoring: There is no score, and the player at
most times during the game doesn’t even seem to care.

Rating: 5 out of a possible 5.
This game is addictive and thrilling. Hours of enjoyment and many
exciting puzzles make for a great gaming experience. I can only
predict that this game will be a hit for years to come.

Game: Klien DOJ

Type: Detective Adventure

Description: Assigned one of the toughest cases
in American history, you must bring down the Redmond Mob. Evidence
proves hard to collect as witnesses won’t testify for fear of
retribution. Blatant law breaking actions occur in plain sight of
the general public but no one seems to be able to do anything about
it until you come along. The head honcho, a sinister figure who
goes by the name of “El Gato”, has enormous power, and play is
fairly rough until the final courtroom scene where mobsters fall
like flies as their credibility stretches beyond comprehension.
Even as insurmountable as this seems, you still have the ability to
win one for justice.

Scoring: You either win or lose.

Rating: 4 out of a possible 5
This game is quite entertaining to play. The graphics during the
end trial were so realistic at times that you have to remind
yourself that it’s a simulation. Of course your crafty legal team
does just that every time, proving that the evidence has been
fabricated.

Game: PR Boondoggle

Type: Simulation strategy game.

Description: You’ve been given the task of
protecting the public image of one of the richest and most corrupt
corporations in the world, a software monopoly. Your job: Attempt
to polish the company reputation while cleaning up after large
quantities of mistakes. Gaping security holes found in the product?
No problem, simply fabricate press releases about the tireless
souls working for weeks to fix them for a captive customer base.
Work diligently to smear competitors products with half-truths and
phony benchmark statistics. Earn high points by comparing your
company to industries that either have no bearing or outright
disprove your point. Provide false and misleading letters to the
editor and phony public discussion responses. Game-play can go on
for hours as you strive to protect your company’s ever
deteriorating reputation in the face of insurmountable evidence to
the contrary.

Bonus round consists of fabricating ever more creative optimism
to be parroted by company legal mouths on the steps of the supreme
court.

Scoring: The score is a tabulation of three
factors: Spin, Fud and Smoke.

Rating: 2 out of a possible 5
This game was amusing at first, but later play becomes repetitious
and predictable. The end result is always the same, as no amount of
press coverage and spin seem to be able to cure the skeptical
public.

Game: Pac Mac

Type: Arcade

Description: Resuscitate dying products by
running around and painting them different colors with your magic
spray gun. Create new product lines by stealing as many free code
projects as you can find and slapping your own proprietary license
on them. Increase unit volume by preventing evil customers from
making simple hardware upgrades.

Scoring: Based upon number of units
processed

Rating: 1 out of a possible 5

Although the colors are a nice touch, play is two-dimensional
and at times boring and predictable.

Game: Fantasy CEO

Type: Fantasy Role Playing Game

Description: Head up one of the worlds most
powerful companies in this wild fantasy RPG. Make statements in
public that have no bearing on reality. Contribute money from your
vastly accumulated mass of ill-gotten wealth at key points to
distract opponents from battles going on in other places. Score
bonus points by throwing spells read from magic books such as the
mysterious “The Road Behind”. Vanquish opponents by starving them
of valuable treasure and other objects in the deeper recesses of a
dark, lawless fantasy world. Bonus points gathered in pie and
question dodging rounds.

Scoring: Score is based upon stock price at the
end of each round. The higher the stock price, the higher your
score.

Rating: 1/2 point out of a possible 5
This game is amusing but the scoring system is unbelievable. In
just a few rounds the evaluation copy of this game had generated a
score so high that it caused a segmentation violation and a core
dump on the test system. Before that the score was so high it
seemed out of plausible believability. Vocabulary choices at times
were limited to just a few selections, such as “I don’t know….”,
“I don’t recall…”, and “What did you mean by…”. This detracted
from the overall play-ability of the game and added to overall
frustration.

Overall conclusions

Of all the games played, I think the PR Boondoggle one had the
most realistic graphics, making it frightening to play. If I had to
pick a game that was the most fun, it would be QuickHack III. It
would be cool to have a gun like the LNX9000 in real life, eh?
Klien DOJ had the most action scenes, and Fantasy CEO offered the
most comic relief. Of all the games, Pac Mac was the most antique,
even with the colorful graphics. I couldn’t help but think that
something different or some new approach should be done to spruce
it up.

There you have it. This pretty much clears up the “Linux lacks
mainstream applications” complaint. With Innovative(tm) games like
these, hours of entertaining FUD, er fun can be had and are just a
mouse click away.

My apologies to Arlan Levitan, who was inspirational in the
writing of this article: Arlan, you are dearly missed, in case you
didn’t know.