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Scott Draeker Interview About Loki's Demise 327

An Anonymous Coward writes: "News forge is running an interview With lokigames president Scott Draeker. Looks like the leaked email wasn't a hoax after all. A very sad day for Linux. AOL? Redhat? IBM? someone please help these guys."
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Scott Draeker Interview About Loki's Demise

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  • Neither of these care.

    And why should they? They're just interested in Linux as far as the server market.

    Truth is that linux is a horrible gaming platform.
    Most gamers just want to play games. They don't want to recompile the kernel to play. They want to put the disk in and click "play" and that it.

    Thats why they buy consoles.
    • Re:AOL, IBM, RH (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
      Why would they need to recompile the kernel?

      If they do, I think the blame could go onto the distro providers. Hardware support starts there. If the drivers exist, they should be on that CD.

      I'd like to see mandrake get into it. They make some stuff 'easy' already.

      Thats why they buy consoles.
      And windows, and macs...

      There seems to be a huge PC game market, I don't think you got the memo. Not all PC games are click and play, many aren't. Linux or no linux.

      We need a game distro, I elect mandrake.
    • Re:AOL, IBM, RH (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PhotoGuy ( 189467 )
      The sad thing is, that with bootable linux CD's, they *could* do just this, just like a console. There's no reason games couldn't be designed with a known, working kernel, bootable on a CD. The main issue I could think of offhand is hardware compatability; a "Linux game box specification" (list of supported graphics cards, sound cards, etc., would address that).

      Just a thought...

    • Total BS (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vicegrip ( 82853 )
      I bought three of Loki's titles and NEVER did I need to do any tweaking.

      Alpha Centauri and Kohan being my favorites out of the three.

      And another thing, gaming companies drop like flies all the time. Dynamix, Looking Glass and other big names were no exception. Loki lasted pretty long all considering and did some very good work.
  • Wrong market (Score:4, Insightful)

    by archnerd ( 450052 ) <nonce+slashdot@org.dfranke@us> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:38PM (#2897554) Homepage
    I may be off base here, but it seems to me that Linux users want Linux games, not Linux ports of windows games. Yes, I know plenty of people who play Quake on Linux, but compare its popularity to say, nethack. My guess is that nethack, simple as it is, would be way ahead. Nethack is open source, which carries alot of weight with many Linux users, including me.
    • Re:Wrong market (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 )
      I think you are right. There needs to be more 'nerd' games for linux.

      Actually, I don't think that. But that is how your comment reads.

      But once again... why do we need opensource games? We just need games.

      If the games are open-source then anyone can basically rip them off. Open source is good for the GUI, server apps, and the kernel. Games are always going to be closed. At least to make some money they need to be.

      Seems to me that is what keeps big game developers out of linux. There is no need to recompile a game. Give me a million reasons... I won't buy a one. If a game doesn't work, 9/10 times a fix is promptly released.

      Game developers are in it for the money. They don't make that money however on support like server markets etc.
      • Re:Wrong market (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dwonis ( 52652 )
        But once again... why do we need opensource games? We just need games. If the games are open-source then anyone can basically rip them off. Open source is good for the GUI, server apps, and the kernel. Games are always going to be closed. At least to make some money they need to be.

        We need games where the game engine is open-source, but the art isn't. Hell, even a Minix-style license would be fine (i.e. you pay for the game, but you get non-redistributable source with it, but you can distribute patches).

        I don't find it too difficult to imagine a constantly evolving open-source game engine, where various companies periodically grab a version of the engine and sell art for it. This is where QuakeForge [quakeforge.net] might be in the future.

    • Re:Wrong market (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spankophile ( 78098 )
      > Nethack is open source, which carries alot of weight with many Linux users

      Explain to me again how to build a company around that? Oh right, by providing support... ugh...

      Modding is simply a difference of opinion.
    • Re:Wrong market (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 )
      • My guess is that nethack, simple as it is, would be way ahead. Nethack is open source, which carries alot of weight with many Linux users, including me.

      Look deep into your heart, and tell us honestly: how much would you pay for nethack-in-a-box? How much is that box worth to you?

      • >Look deep into your heart, and tell us honestly:
        >how much would you pay for nethack-in-a-box?
        >How much is that box worth to you?

        If the box contained a nicely typeset and bound
        copy of material equivalent to Dylan O'Donell's
        site, and the ever-popular "all I got was this
        t-shirt", (find the links yourself) and a
        CD containing all current versions
        of Nethack and Slash'em together with source,
        and a searchable, edited archive of
        rec.games.roguelike.nethack,I'd pay fifty bucks for it.
    • by ablair ( 318858 )
      If Linux companies had produced Linux-only or Linux-first games that were original and playable, most would still be in business. How can you compete by porting something that's already out for Windows, if most of your user base can already dual-boot into Windows and sees little reason to wait for the Linux version to come out? Not a good business plan, unfortunately.

      Although not the most technically advanced game, Tux Racer is a good example of the possible success of Linux games. If even a simple Linux-only game as this can achieve as many fans as it has in the Linux market, larger projects that were creative and Linux first had a good chance of success. But a port of SimCity 3000 months after you could already play it on your computer in Windows? Good game, bad business.
    • To a degree, I have to agree with you. Aside from Tribes 2, I honestly could have lived without most of the games Loki ported. Did I enjoy them? Yes. Were they essential to my existence (again, with the exception of Tribes 2)? Nope.

      Ironically, I have all this beefed-up hardware and what do I do with it? I play NetHack, SNES games, MacOS System 6/7 games, and low-frills (but high-quality) games like PySol and Uplink. Hell, I've played LBreakout 2.0 more than I ever played some of the Loki ports I bought. :)

      For me, Loki's two biggest faults were: 1) Too slow to get games ported (a year for Deus-Ex, wtf) and 2) Most of the games weren't to-die-for. Sure, I love Railroad Tycoon 2, HOMM3, and Kohan. But Loki couldn't bring me, for example, Half-Life and Diablo II. They can't bring me older games, and they can't bring me games that the developers simply refuse to allow to be ported. I and others have had to turn to TransGaming's WineX [transgaming.com] for this, albeit grudgingly because of the license issues.

      The only way Linux could "dominate" the game world would probably be if somebody started creating to-die-for games that were only available for it (or available for everything but Windows... say, Linux, BSD, and MacOS X :). And ideally, such games would be open source to make us penguiny fellows happy. Taking 6-18 months to port games that are merely great (with a couple of exceptions) and not excellent (Star Craft anyone?) is, as we see now, not the best business model in the world. Don't get me wrong, I love the Loki games I bought. But they didn't quench my thirst for certain gotta-have titles out there. Until Linux has its own gotta-haves, our best hope is something along the lines of Wine or Lindows (dunno about the latter, never really looked into it, but who knows...).

      Just my 2 cents. Back to slaying ASCII characters I go. :)
  • A moment of silence for their hard working.

    It is sad, I still frequently am playing my copy of Tribes 2. Hopefully someone will take the Loki's place.

  • by Kiwi ( 5214 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:40PM (#2897577) Homepage Journal
    I would like to say that, of all of the games that Loki ported to Linux,
    the one that was good enough for me to use a Windows computer to play
    before Loki's port was Heroes of Might and Magic III. As it turns out,
    the games in the Heroes series were the only games that I ever considered
    good enough to use Windows to play. Loki's port of Heroes III meant that
    I can now get all of my gaming needs met without having to dual boot;
    significant when my computer only has a 3 gig hard disk.

    This game wastes hours of my time on my Linux laptop, and hours of my
    friend's time when we play hotseat together. The game still has hours of
    my time to waste, since I have not yet finished the campaigns; and, even
    after finishing the campaigns, there are the single senerio maps and, of
    course, the third party maps over at astral wizards.

    I only have a small number of dissapointments with the Linux version of
    Heroes III. One is that Loki never finished the map editor; one still
    needs to use Windows to make a decent Heroes III map. The other is that
    the expansion packs were never (and never will be, now) ported to Linux;
    while Loki wanted to do it, New World Computing would not give them the
    source code to make it possible. And, finally, I am dissapointed that
    Loki will not be around when Heroes 4 gets released; Heroes III without
    the expansion packs is all the Linux community gets of the excellent
    Heroes series.

    I am not a hard core gamer; but I am an open source developer who
    appreciates having some good games on Linux to blow off steam after
    dealing with a frustrating programming problem. Loki has made enough
    games to meet this need. I hope I do not offend anyone by saying that
    people who feel that Linux does not have enough games need to find other
    things to do with their time than play video games.

    Now, to the people at Loki, I wish them the utmost of luck.

    And, who knows, maybe one of the other Linux game publishers will port
    Heroes IV to Linux.

    - Sam
  • by Mr. Uptime ( 545980 ) <gregp@NOSPAM.lucent.com> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:40PM (#2897578) Homepage
    IANAL, but my experience as a software developer has made me very suspicious of Draeker's quote:

    ...after we bring our operations to a halt in an orderly fashion, we will make the source code to all of our products publicly available under the GPL.

    Since Loki only worked on ports of existing games and didn't (as far as I have heard) purchase full rights to the existing games' source code, what gives them the legal right to release the original authors' code into the public domain? Are they just doing it because there's nobody left to sue?

    Any way you look at it, though, it will definitely be a victory to open source to have such a substantial amount of game source code out there now.

    Mr. Uptime

    • They are talking about support products..Namely the Loki installer, I'd guess since the majority of Loki's APIs and such are already Open (SDL, OpenAL). Of course they can't release the source to the games they ported, but they can release a lot of the Linux-specific framework they set up to port those games in the first place.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:38PM (#2897963) Homepage
        The loki installer is the absolute best installer available for linux, and will thrust linux apps into the "one click install" realm for the newbies and appliance users. This has been sorely and desperately needed for years and years for linux. Imagine being able to download and click on abiword.run and it installs the program, makes the modifications to the xfree86-4 to fix the fonts problem, and download and install (or just install) the added extra required libs.

        Or make KDE one click installable, or upgradeable.

        Thanks Loki for giving. I do know that I will be buying up what I can, as I do have 2 youngster linux newbies that would love mindrover simcity, etc..
  • You want games? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dada21 ( 163177 ) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:41PM (#2897587) Homepage Journal
    Then support capitalism. "Open Source" and beerware won't work unless there is commercial and profitable incentive for it to work.

    Someone needs to figure out how to make the people happy AND make a profit. This communistic ideal is never going to work properly if you want these companies to last... Making a game is not a "group study," its a tough, 60 hour a week, full-time job. And people need to get paid.

    Maybe we need "Open Source Money Pools" where you can vote what kind of game you want. I'm sure that'll happen.

    • Re:You want games? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tyreth ( 523822 )
      Producing GPL software such as MySQL, and GNU/Linux in general, can be profitable. The company that produces the product can provide support and consultation for the product and make a revenue off that. All these tools are a means to an end - you use a MySQL database to make your data accessable to the company. You use gcc to create programs.

      Games have no such luxury. They are the end product. There is very little to be made off support, certainly not enough to support the development of games like QuakeIII. Games have to make their revenue off initial sales.

      Linux has proven dominant in the server market and it is a brilliant star there. Many have now set their eyes on the desktop, and all signs [newsforge.com] seem to indicate that this is a viable dream. I see linux gaming as the target after the desktop - once we have a serious control of the desktop market, Linux games will become a serious issue. Until then, however, the fight for Linux games will be difficult, as many others are pointing out. Loki did a great job, and many of us love their games, and it's sad to see them go. But the fight's not over yet.

      • Quake III is a bad example. Most of IDs money probably omes from selling and supporting their engines to other companies that want to write games. Not that the general idea of the post is wrong :)
    • Re:You want games? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @08:53PM (#2898303) Homepage
      This communistic ideal is never going to work properly if you want these companies to last...

      The primary ongoing games development for Linux is largely being done for communalistic (or, at least, unprofitable) motives. John Carmack has worked to ensure that linux binaries are available for ID games simply because he likes linux, not because there's any profit to be had in it - he's made this clear again and again.

      The truth is that the market, as a market, is too small to support Linux as a target platform. Perhaps appealing to the communal "by geeks, for geeks" ethic would actually be more effective than by claiming, wrongly, that there's some untapped goldmine in the Linux gaming market.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlashChick ( 544252 ) <<zib.acire> <ta> <acire>> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:43PM (#2897597) Homepage Journal
    "AOL?, Redhat?, IBM? someone please help these guys."

    Why? You seem to be missing the main point of Loki's business model. Loki took games that the game developers considered unprofitable to port to Linux and paid royalties to these game developers to port these games to Linux.

    Now, with Loki having gone out of business, it has proven the developers' original point: Linux gaming is just not economically profitable. Heck, even John Carmack [slashdot.org] says (and I quote): "[T]he linux market is not viable for game developers to pursue. Linux ports will be done out of good will, not profit motives."

    The harsh reality is that no one is going to bail Loki out. At this point, Linux games remain unprofitable. As long as gamers have good 3D support and decently easy game setup in Windows, they will continue to use Windows. My advice is to move on and not pursue the issue until Linux gets more desktop market share.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why? You seem to be missing the main point of Loki's business model.

      Read the interview. The porting was to create a market, a need for Linux gaming. The eventual goal was to create Linux games, not ports. Draeker gives great examples in how even with the Mac, most games are just ported from Windows, which Mac isn't exactly a large market either for gamers.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dstone ( 191334 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:28PM (#2897891) Homepage
        The porting was to create a market, a need for Linux gaming.

        OMFG, that philosophy reeks of soul-less corporate product shovelling! "There's not really any current need or market for our products, so we'll try to create one!" Personally, I love Linux for programming, administration, deploy-and-forget Oracle installs, etc., but there's clearly just no desire amongst gamers to switch from Windows.
        • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by DA_MAN_DA_MYTH ( 182037 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @08:14PM (#2898135) Homepage Journal
          Just like their was no desire for gamers to switch from DOS? Don't fear the penguins, and don't fear change, embrace it.

          Think about what is going on. Desktop users aren't exactly ready to leave they're windows partition solely on the fact that their games are built for DirectX, thus not being supported on Linux, (or Mac (-- I don't know to much about this), or whatever without a level of porting)

          What Loki tried to do, as well as what TuxGames and a few other companies, is trying to say "Hey! there is a market for Linux gaming". Maybe game developers will listen, maybe they won't. Maybe SDL will become easy to use, maybe it won't. Can't blame the guys at Loki for having a vision though, and trying to create a market.

          I personally do not want to install a Windows partition to play games. So if Transgaming can bring it to me through WineX so be it. However nothing runs better than a pure port, and that is why I hope more companies like Loki pop up in the new future.

          • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Xerithane ( 13482 )
            I'm sorry, but your entire argument is moot. Gamers don't have a need to switch to Linux. Gamers did however have a reason to switch from DOS, and there was a desire there. Windows was a superior game platform than DOS for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you are too young remember what DOS gaming was like. With HIMEM issues, and the eternal UNIVBE struggles. Windows did make that all standard, so if you got windows working, the games all had the same graphics. And they were easier to develop for (even though the windows SDK sucked, as far as graphics and standards went).

            Linux isn't like that. Linux is taking a huge step back into fighting hardware, distro issues, compatibility issues. It's a pain in the ass, and not worth the effort. I don't think we're ever going to see that. Not until we have standardized development (SDL, still needs to go a long way) and good vendor support (Hi nVidia!). Don't hold your breath, because unlike windows, Linux isn't commercially backed for the desktop. The only way linux gaming will succeed with it's current setup is good nature which we all know companies don't have -- because that tends to turn them into liquidation material.
      • You can't create a market for Linux gaming without having a *lot* of people actually using linux. Unlike what reading /. would lead you to believe, there just aren't that many people who use Linux as their primary OS, and even if they do, they usually have a Windows partition on there for playing games. No one with a Win partition laying around is going to buy a game for Linux(except perhaps the mindless zealots) when they can get the same thing for Windows , which - let's be real - is a FAR superior gaming platform. So, that leaves us with the very, very small percentage of Linux only users to sell to, and most of those don't play games anyway.

        This company failed because of a stupid business model. There is no market for Linux games and probably never will be. Keep that Windows partition, folks, you're going to need it.

      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by borzwazie ( 101172 )
        You know, here's a thought:

        Look how many Xboxes Halo has sold. Look how many PS2's MGS2 has sold.

        I think we're all missing the point here: we want linux games...let's make a game that people install Linux to play.

        • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cruelworld ( 21187 )

          Why would you do this? I can see making the game for Linux first and then porting, but why on Gods green earth if you a had game so earth-shattering great would you NOT try to sell it to a market about 10000% bigger then Linux users?

          Games take money to develop, and most people want to make that back.
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pigeonhed ( 137303 )
      I could not more fully agree. Wait to make Linux Gaming a must have. The corporate world is more ripe for Linux. Gamers needs tend to be changing and fickle. The corporate world tends to want the same thing year in year out. How much has word processing really changed in the last five years?. Also the largest advantage to Linux I have found is the ability to maximize old hardware. Gamers generally upgrade and jump at the whim of Nvidia and ATI.

      The desktop market would add so much more credibility in the marketplace too. I am not saying to hell with gamers, just learn to crawl before you walk.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Metrol ( 147060 ) on Friday January 25, 2002 @12:53AM (#2899185) Homepage
        The desktop market would add so much more credibility in the marketplace too. I am not saying to hell with gamers, just learn to crawl before you walk.

        Why is it I never have moderator points when something REALLY needs bumped up.

        Jump back in time to Windows 3.1 if you will. Even Solitaire didn't play well on it, much less the bulk of the gaming market that was designed for DOS. Once it was readily apparent to even the most obtuse gaming company that Windows was going to be the future of the desktop, games started coming out for it. The best place to establish this is at the corporate level, much like Windows did way back when.

        Folks seem to forget that the killer app for Windows 3.1 was not Doom, it was Excel. Only by focusing on the corporate desktop will *nix OS's have a serious chance at going after the broader consumer market.
  • by Dephex Twin ( 416238 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:43PM (#2897599) Homepage
    If you want a perfect example of the difference, just look at Mac gaming. There are many games available for the Mac put out by several great Mac porting companies. But no one develops new games for the Mac.
    What about Ambrosia Software [ambrosiasw.com]?

  • by kenneth_martens ( 320269 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:44PM (#2897603)
    The fact that Loki is going under shouldn't be a surprise: they filed for bankruptcy in August of 2001, according to this Register article. [theregister.co.uk]

    Anyway, this might be a good opportunity to buy some Loki releases cheap. However, according to the article, we shouldn't expect discounts right away. Scott Draeker said "I don't think there will be any huge discounts right away -- maybe in six months..."
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @06:45PM (#2897612)
    I mean, it's very sad for the Linux desktop people, but I've always felt that Linux's real strength was as a low-midrange server 0S, which is what I use it for (quite profitably) both at work and at home.

    Mostly, when I hear news like this, I want to tell people 'right tool for the right job'. Right now, the right tool for gaming is Windows. I wish it weren't so, but I also wish that the cheapest place to buy quality hand-tools wasn't Sears Roebuck.

    Until the tools change... and this means an infrastructure change to Linux like any of the Wine-focused distros are harping... Windows will continue to be the best platform for games, just as MacOS continues to be the best platform for many multimedia tasks.

    Rather than bemoaning YALCB (Yet Another Linux Company Bankruptcy...) contribute to projects like WINE and LindowsOS. Also, Linux GUI's and apps have all gone well past the point where they should be spending as much time on usability and compatibility as they do on technology development and application power:

    Example: One of the complaints I hear most frequently from Windows users who switch over to a big name distro like Mandrake or RedHat complain about the speed of Gnome or KDE up against Windows GUI. The speed hit can be explained and fixed through several settings, program switches, and even kernel optimizations, but if I'm a Joe-Sixpack who doesn't wan't to support Microsoft, but sees this behavior and can't fix it easily, then I'm probably going to stay with Windows.

    If you want Linux to be a gaming OS, it has to be just as easy to use and configure for everyone as the other gaming OS.
    • Another target is transgaming.com and WineX where you can subscribe to their service and vote for the next issue that they address. In this way you can vote with your money, influence the future of Linux gaming in a non-technical way, and provide sure support for gaming in Linux through, in the least, emulation of the de facto standard, Windows.

      It is an interesting experiment, be it feasable or no.
    • >Windows will continue to be the best platform >for games, just as MacOS continues to be the >best platform for many multimedia tasks.

      I hate to mince words here, but dig this: Some might argue that *BeOS* is the best platform for many multimedia tasks. But it's gone the way of the dinosaur because almost *nobody* used it in that manner, regardless of how well designed it was.

      Likewise, I would argue that *Linux* is the best platform for gaming...if you're ready to cope with a limited selection of games. I won't bore you with FPS benchmarks, but Linux (3rd party drivers and all) has evolved to a point where it can spank Windows 2000 and XP on a regular basis every time a part-time gamer wants to turn that badass mail server in the back room into a temporary gaming box. The file system is faster and more efficient. A user can easily give any game close-to-realtime priority if fragging a friend is foremost on her/his mind, picking up 5-10 extra frames per second in the process...

      My point is that Windows is *not* a superior gaming platform compared to Linux, just that it is far better supported by game developers and hardware manufacturers alike. Until that changes, we will all find ourselves downloading the new DirectX version 37.

      I have no signature.
      • by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @08:25PM (#2898175)
        >>I hate to mince words here, but dig this: Some
        >>might argue that *BeOS* is the best platform
        >>for many multimedia tasks.

        Hate to mince words, but those people are idiots.
        First - don't talk about BeOS in the present sense. It's dead. Sad, but true.

        Second - where would be all these multimedia apps on BeOS? Where's Illustrator? Photoshop? Quicktime? Painter? Freehand? Media Composer? DS? Symphony? ProTools? Quark? Maya? SOFTIMAGE? 3DSMax? Lightwave? Houdini? Pagemaker? Framemaker? InDesign? Combustion? Inferno? Media100? etc etc etc...

        See a trend? Certainly BeOS *may have had the potential* to be a good MM os, but there was zero software. And that's what matters. Unless I'm willing to write all the tools myself. If i'm being paid to do graphic design i couldn't give a damn about the OOP'ness and threading model of the OS. I need apps - period. And I need *specific* apps. For example - If i need Photoshop I need Photoshop. I don't want GIMP. It's always kind of laughable when people declare GIMP to be a Photoshop killer. Maybe it will be in 10 years - but it's nowhere in the ballpark now. Not to slag on GIMP, but it's no Photoshop. And when I have a job to do, spending $600 on Photoshop to get the tools I need, vs. getting GIMP for 'free' and having endless headaches and missing 80% of the tools I need.... well there is no choice. Spending $600 on photoshop would pay for itself in a week.

        Lets drop the 'coulda-woulda-shoulda' attitude. Next thing you'll bring up how killer the Amiga was.

        >>Likewise, I would argue that *Linux* is the >>best platform for gaming...if you're ready to >>cope with a limited selection of games.

        You could argue, but you'd be wrong. Limited selection of games, terrible drivers, and an OS that is stuck in 1979.

        Example: I want to change the resolution/color space of my monitor. On Win32, ControlPanel->Display->Settings. Click click click I'm done.

        On Linux - oh christ. Go try and dig out the chipset docs for your PC and gfx card if you've got them and start digging into the Xfree config files. Make sure you don't type in bad settings that'll cook your monitor or fry the card because you've put in a sync value that exceeds their specs. I got to fight with a default of Xfree4.x for a hour because my mouse type (though supported) isn't even documented (luckily i had an old v3.x config file still laying around). And no, Xconfigurator isn't even close.

        >>The file system is faster and more efficient.

        Lets see, it seems like they've FINALLY fixed the corruption problems in the 2.4 kernels...... we hope. Too bad about the VM subsystem. We're getting there......

        >>My point is that Windows is *not* a superior
        >>gaming platform compared to Linux,

        Sure it is. It the OS facilities that are required, it is easy to use, and it has the games selection. You should start reading the linux kernel mailing list. The kernel has some *serious* problems. Even the powers that be can admit that.

        Where is the linux equivalent of DirectInput? Nope.
        Where is the linux equivalent of Direct3D? We've got OpenGL, which is proceeding at a glacial development pace, while D3D updates pop up every couple months --- significant updates. Being able to work with retained mode in D3D instead of being forced to deal with immediate model in OGL can make a big difference to a coder. The points go on and on. If you think D3D is junk, i suggest you read Carmacks points on his opinion of D3Dv8. It's quite nice, and MSFT is doing some good stuff with it.

        It's funny --- there are so many things that Win2k/XP offer the user that the linux zealot will say "NOT IMPORTANT!" until linux finally adds it.... then it's the best thing since sliced bread.

        C'mon. Lets be realistic. Linux isn't great for games. Generally it's a colossal pain in the ass - and ocassionally not being too much trouble.

        I write code all day on Win32 and Linux so I'm not one of these armchair quarterbacks who's talking out of their ass. I like linux for what it's good at, but it isn't good at everything. And it just makes you sound like a naieve zealot to spout off that it is.
        • I have some problems with your arguments. First, you exagerate the problems with getting X to work. If you buy decently supported card and use a recent distro. X setup usually works out of the box and is a piece of cake. (And windows usually has to download drivers too.

          Also linux does have a directInput equivalent, SDL. And while SDL doesn't yet support force feed back (which is kinda pointless IMO) it does everything else DirectInput does, while being much nicer to use. (at least that is what my friend told me who rewrote his directX based game to a SDL based game)

          Your right Linux can be a pain in the ass, if you don't have the right equipment, and if you don't know what you are doing. However, the same can be said about windows. I know plenty of people who have stability problems playing windows games.

          Dude, have fun coding on Win32. Personally as a recreational programmer I find linux alot more fun. Everything is there for the examining and comes with free compilers for most languages. And the OS doesn't hide stuff from you and treat you like a dummy.
        • Lets be realistic. Linux isn't great for games.

          Agreed, but if you're willing to run Wine, it's now getting pretty decent, even without Transgaming's DirectX extensions. What's nice about Wine is that it doesn't actually require any installation of Windows. So you install Linux, install Wine, and you can get away with never spending the cash on a Windows OS. Some of the great sites that are soooo helpful for this include:

    • Mostly, when I hear news like this, I want to tell people 'right tool for the right job'. Right now, the right tool for gaming is Windows. I wish it weren't so, but I also wish that the cheapest place to buy quality hand-tools wasn't Sears Roebuck.

      While I'm a strong proponent of the right tool right job mentality, I'm also well aware of the chicken and egg problem. If nobody tries to push linux into being a gaming platform, it will never become one.

      And lets face it, while hackers might be good at developing fun games, they're usually not good at developing ones with a lot of artwork. Text based games aren't groundbreakers any more and graphic artists don't often want to work for free, from what I've seen. Yes, they could be like lots of us open source give it away programmers, but it is everyone's right to ask for compensation for their work.

      So, the upshot of this, as I see it, is that if you want linux to become a gaming platform, you need commercial entities that are pushing it. Like any new technology and market, it will be small and unpopular for a while. Once it gains critical mass, things won't be so tight. Until then, we need companies like Loki that combine money with an overall good faith effort to develop the market and technology.

      While I don't really give a damn about videogames, I know that the more games you can play on linux, the more people will use linux, and all users of linux benefit, at least indirectly, from an increased user base.

      And as far as things like Wine go, yes, they're neat, and are a useful interim solution, but Wine will always be slower than running the software natively in Windows by the very nature of how it works and what it is. You don't tend to run servers and other intensive processes in emulation, why should you run games, which will often chew up all the resources they can to run as well as possible?
      • I think the biggest roadblock is Linux itself. Linux needs to be able to handle multimedia out of the box, for almost any soundcard/network card/video card. Until this happens, what's the point of pushing Linux as a gaming OS? Don't put the cart before the horse..

        I believe it was mentioned awhile back that Amiga was working on a multimedia layer that could be grafted to Linux systems. Whether or not this happened, it's still a good idea. With this MM layer, you could write truly hardware independent games, and the only user requirement would be that they have this layer installed.
      • I'm also well aware of the chicken and egg problem.

        The real problem is that even when there is a linux port available, people buy the windows version anyway. Example: Quake 3. Does it really matter that much what operating system you're running your games under? You're machine's not going to be doing anything but playing the game when you're using it for that, so who cares if you have to reboot into windows?
    • Somebody soon is going to produce a distro that will be "the crossover distro" that will propel Linux into the mainstream. When this happens, and the illusion of windows is shattered, then there will be an avalanche of development for Linux.

      Games development will eventually flourish on Linux; its development is logical and organinc rather than driven by the need to release sucessive versions of boxed software on time. This will probably mean that the stability, refinement and quality of the of the games will be unprecedented.

      All of this can happen, but not without the basic need of a usable, inclusive, non threatening distribution, which probably could only be produced by someone like AOL. They have the money, the deep experience in usability and intimate familiarity with "joe sixpack" that is crucial to the development and mass acceptance of Linux.

      Games are the icing on the cake; got to turn the oven on first, decide on the flavour and mix the batter before we try and eat it.
    • by Decimal ( 154606 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @08:04PM (#2898092) Homepage Journal
      Right now, the right tool for gaming is Windows.

      *Looks over at the Dreamcast and Gamecube consoles next to the television, controllers already so worn from extensive use that the buttons are going bad*

      You're kidding, right?
      • I agree, gameing consoles are a much more enjoyable gaming experience IMHO then computer games. The only problem with consoles is that you cannot get certain games on them. Civ style games for example (b4 you say anything, where's the ps2 port of SMAC?) or to a lesser degree, FPSes. When the PS2 and XBOX get their heads out of their asses and join the DC online, then you'll be able to play lots of games online.

        What will make linux a viable game creation platform are things like SDL, WorldForge and other open source projects that are also games. If people continue to develop open source gaming engines and the tools needed to create content for them, then maybe in a few years we will see more games popping up on linux first. If there are better tools on linux, then the games will come. Right now the best tools available for creating games all run on WINDOWS. Everything from 3dstudiomax to directX. Yes, directX is a good tool because it supports so many features.

        SDL is a good tool, but there needs to be a larger pool of people using and developing it before it will spawn great games on a regular basis.
    • Great example..... No real mechanic uses crafstman tools from sears. they use snap-on. Just like real games use tools from nintendo, sony, and sega. sorry but the console has the computer gaming industry beat 10 to 1. in ease of use, quality , playability, and sales. even really really crappy games for the PS2 (wild wild racing comes to mind... that one royally sucks) make more money and sell more copies than any windows game.

      If you want to reccomend to someone the correct tools be sure that you are an expert before you go making reccomendations....

      The FF series blows away any windows game ever created in sales, use, following, profit, everything.....

      and it will stay that way.
  • Loki discounts. (Score:2, Informative)

    by PrimeNumber ( 136578 )
    Draeker: We've been working with our resellers to make sure they have adequate supplies of products and anticipate they will continue selling Loki products. I don't think there will be any huge discounts right away -- maybe in six months they'll discount whatever is left.

    I think he is mistaken on this one. I bought Loki Heretic II today for $5.00 at Microcenter.
    • BestBuy supposedly has Quake III for Linux onsale for $9.99. Haven't gone to get a copy yet (I was a quake 2 addict but I never tried quake 3 after the betas).
      • This fact was confirmed 3 days ago at my local Best Buy.

        Tin Box for Linux, in fact.
      • I saw Quake III in that big cookie tin at EBX for 9.99 several months ago. There was this big sticker on it saying (to paraphrase) "Convert this game for PC use with a free download". Was tempted to buy it, but I just find Quake too depressingly violent to be fun.
    • I think he was referring to *their* prices, not retailers cleaning their shelves.
  • I'm assuming these guys are experts in porting, right? If they could just take some of their experience and translate it into enterprise software porting instead of games porting (read, go from an expensive proprietary system to a free one), they could probably earn their weight in gold. Even if the software itself is different, I'm sure a lot of the problem-solving experience and testing ability and intuition and insight would probably come in handy...
  • What's going to happen to those games that they've developed? Surely, as these games are propritary, etc, they're not going to be GPLed, which is what Loki would do if they owned the games. Does this mean that people will not be able to buy the games anymore? Or is some large game company going to snatch the games up and continue support + sales of the existing games? I'd hate to see such gems of modern gaming as Tribes 2 and Kohan become unavalible for the Linux platform suddenly.
    • Re:The Games? (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'd hate to see such gems of modern gaming as Tribes 2 and Kohan become unavalible for the Linux platform suddenly.

      Well, that's exactly what's going to happen.

      The same could have been said for Corel's products -- there is nothing else comparable to Corel Draw for Linux or Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux, but both have been discontinued due to nonexistent sales. I'm lucky enough to own both, but people who want to buy WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux today are out of luck, because Corel won't sell it to you and neither will anyone else.

      In fact, it was Corel's second try... Corel Draw 6 (IIRC) was released for Linux years ago, and pulled due to lack of sales.

      I see a lot of people here complaining that it's about capitalism vs. communism, or about "they didn't release the games I want" but I think, when it really comes down to truth, things look something like this:
      • Linux users don't pay for software. Ever. They're too cheap.
      • Loki games aren't out there for warezing. You gotta buy them.
      • Windows is everywhere and easy to warez.
      • Windows games are everywhere and easy to warez.

      It's nothing to do with a utopian fantasy about free software... Linux users just want free beer. It's a sad thing for those of us who want to use Linux for anything else. We get told over and over "Use the right tool for the right job. What you want is Windows." Hmmm, Windows to run office software. Windows to browse the Web with a decent browser. Windows to play games. Well, as it turns out that's all I use a computer for these days.

      So, in essence, what the "community" tells the rest of us, day in and day out, is "get lost and go back to Windows." Not because of any principle, but because they're deathly afraid they might become mainstream.

      Sad for those of us who have never owned windows. I came up through the Unix world, starting in the mid '80s and I'm comfortable with *nix systems I still have a VT100 (yes, a real one) sitting in the corner that I use for some things. But if they're saying that Linux is for coding only, and thus modern Unix is for coding only... I guess I've outgrown Unix and will have to invest in Windows.

      Ramble, ramble, ramble...

      Back to on-topic... in short, yes, the games, and all of the hard work, will likely disappear into a black hole.
  • by Spankophile ( 78098 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:05PM (#2897760) Homepage
    AOL? Redhat? IBM? someone please help these guys.

    The only people that could have helped these guys were Linux Gamers. Where either a) there aren't enough of them, or b) they're not used to having to actually pay for software, c) they didn't like the games Loki did.

    whichever it is... the market has decided.

    Hmm, let's see how long it takes for this to get modded down...
    • You hit it right on the head. All the games I want to play I can run under wine, which I don't because I have a win2k partition just for games.

      They really wanted to create a niche market for linux porting, that would open up ground to a real game company. Unfortunately, most linux people who play games I reckon are pretty similar to myself. Coders and admins, they work and do hobby work and when they need a break from that they switch to games. Hell, I play around with crafty and gnuchess more than I play the games I've actually purchased. I think you have to look at the people who are running Linux. A lot of us aren't huge gamers, and those that are already have access to our games and are stuck in our paths.

      I thought about buying Kohan from Loki. Then realized it'd be another game that I don't play ever. It woulda been nice to support them, in hindsight. I'm happily stuck in my niche, and they don't provide much in the immediate benefit for myself. I know it's a selfish outlook, but that's the way it goes.
    • Well, I for one bought their games. About a half dozen of them in all -- even Eric's Ultimate Solitaire, even though pysol is much, much better.

      However as I saw it there were two big problems:

      1. I'm not a fan of first-person shooters so I didn't buy any of them. I would have loved to seen more games like Railroad Tycoon II and Alpha Centauri.

      2. I bought several of the games at a local Electronics Buotique, where they were selling for $5-10 a pop. I like a bargain as much as anyone else but the low price told me that either Loki wasn't charging enough for the games (doubtful), or EB wasn't selling the games and was closing them out. No matter how good Loki was, I don't think they were ever going to make it without retailer support.
  • Mandrake (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaredmcook ( 552049 )
    With Mandrake creating a "Gaming edition", why don't they pick up where Loki left off? That seems pretty logical to me.
  • Does anyone know what kind of revenues Loki made? I'm curious as to how possible it is for a company to do linux ports of Windows games in the first place. Was this doomed to failure? Was there a lack of sufficient marketing? I've purchased a few Loki games from a local retailer and have reviewed one (Railroad Tycoon II). I found all of the games to be well done, functional, and extremely playable on my hardware (PIII 500, 512MB RAM).

    As an avid gamer (I boot Windows ONLY to play games) I was very happy to see Loki port Windows based games to Linux. And contrary to a bunch of the posts so far, I thought that it was a) simple to get the games running and b) pretty decent in performance. Yeah, sure, Windows generally played the same game better on the same computer (although generally not by much), but then you had to cope with all that Window's garbage, like reboots and mysterious hangs and ... sheesh. At least if there was a problem with the game under Linux, I just had to restart the game, not the computer!

    Anyhow, does anyone have the answers to my questions?

    Best of luck to all who worked at Loki! You did a great job!
  • by WillSeattle ( 239206 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:29PM (#2897901) Homepage
    from the article:
    NewsForge: What happens to your public CVS repository and the projects it hosts?

    Draeker: We'd like to find someone to continue hosting it.

    Any volunteers?

  • Green Bay Packers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stonedown ( 44508 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:36PM (#2897946) Homepage
    It sounds like it's a little late, but why not follow the model of the Green Bay Packers?


    Issue voting, non-divident-paying shares, with no chance of stock appreciation. I would be willing to pay $100 for a share. The motive for us is the same as it was for the Packers - to save a cherished institution; buy Loki enough time to make their business model work.

    It would be important to prevent any single entity from gaining control, just as it was important for the Packers, by limiting how many shares any individual or organization can possess.

    I know, ideally we should have bought the games in the first place, but Mandrake only recently was able to autodetect NVidia cards and install 3D support automatically. I think manually setting up NVidia cards was the big stopper for a lot of people.
  • by erat ( 2665 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:41PM (#2897973)
    ...Loki is a business, and if they don't have a viable business model, it's their problem. When you start a business you either make it successful or you don't. It's nobody elses problem to make things work, and it's especially nobody elses problem to infuse cash into a business that has proven time and time again that it's not viable.

    I'm not saying Loki was a bad company. I'm saying that the business they were in was not robust enough to sustain Loki. Even the best of the best can only sell ice cubes to eskimos for so long. The Linux gaming market just isn't there, folks. Make your peace and move on.

    I wish the folks at Loki (and the former employees) all the luck in the world, and maybe some day Linux will have a viable game market that will bring them all back together again. For now, though, it's not there. Pooling money together to keep Loki alive for the few people who bothered to buy their games is just plain silly. Ditto for asking RH/IBM/AOL to bail them out.

    Loki wasn't in the business of charity; nobody should be asked for charity to keep Loki in business.
    • Pooling money together to keep Loki alive for the few people who bothered to buy their games is just plain silly... Loki wasn't in the business of charity; nobody should be asked for charity to keep Loki in business.

      Hey, Loki provided something valuable to me and if I'm willing to pay to try to keep it coming, what the hell is wrong with that?

      I'm not asking you to chip in your $100. But why should you seek to prevent me from chipping in my $100? Just because you're an asshole and want to prevent me from supporting what I want to support?
  • Cheer up, Loki (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Our Man In Redmond ( 63094 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @07:55PM (#2898044)
    In addition to everything else you did, you made a four-year-old happy. My granddaughter discovered your port of Heroes of Might and Magic III on my computer and promptly learned how to move the characters around. She now begs to play "the horsie game" when she comes over on weekends.

    Of course she has no concept of the strategy or even of the point of the game, but she likes creating armies full of sprites, water elementals and unicorns.

    You could always do worse than pleasing a child.
  • Blood from a stone (Score:2, Insightful)

    by saintm ( 142527 )
    Loki went out of business because not enough people paid them for their product. Whether or not it is a problem with the Linux community having to pay for software, or if it is because Linux does not have enough of the core gaming market is up for debate. Either way, you can't operate a profitble business without customers/users.

    If Loki been able to get some big name games to the platform things may of been different. Sorry, but Postal is a crap game that was crap on PC and no amount of good will can make a 2-3 year old crap game a viable product.

    Maybe they should of looked at the charts more and sold out. Who wants to be a millionaire? sold bucket loads. Yeah it is shallow, but it is mass market and a damn sight more likely to sell than The Return of Postal-Unplugged Special Edition.

    Oh, and for all those people who say things like "I use Windows ONLY for games" why bother saying that? Does it make any difference if you use Windows for ONLY games or if you use Windows for everything? Do you feel proud that you pay the same amount to Microsoft for their operating system but don't use it for anything (apart from games)?
    • Whether or not it is a problem with the Linux community having to pay for software, or if it is because Linux does not have enough of the core gaming market is up for debate.
      The more likely explanation is that people who might have been willing to pay full price for *new* Linux games aren't willing to pay full price for ports of old Windows games they already own. When a game is already out for a year, most of the people who would be interested in buying it already have bit the bullet and gotten the Windows version. Case in point: Civ:CTP for linux sold well. It was not a year of waiting for the port like everyuthing else Loki put out. I'd have been willing to wait a year or so for a Linux port on most games I've bought - but most of the time I didn't even know a loki port was going to happen until well after the windows version was out. So to wait for a linux port I'd have to always wait every time a game came out, under the hope that it turns out to be one of the few that loki would port. That's not a reasonable expectation for a company to make of its potential customers. I realize this isn't Loki's faul - they can't get started on the port until the Windows version is done, usually. But it does show the flaw in their business strategy.
    • Who wants to be a millionaire? sold bucket loads.

      At the risk of sounding elitist, I suspect that Linux users would have been profoundly uninterested in stuff like that. People (and yes, there are a lot of them) who buy that kind of crap, don't have Linux. Postal made more sense than that.

      Speaking of Postal: yes, it was crap. But it had "buzz." Maybe Loki did a better job of selling out than you think.

  • by jandrese ( 485 )
    I guess this means we're not going to get Kohan: Ariman's Gift for Linux/FreeBSD. This is a real shame since I love Kohan: Immortal Soverigns so much.
  • Bound to Happen... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ablair ( 318858 )
    Considering that Loki filed for bakrupcy [slashdot.org] in the summer, and 90% of companies that do aren't in existence just 1 year later, this is no surprise.

    In hindsight and now knowing what the Linux gaming market is like, this was inevitable. The fact that most Linux users either dual-boot with Windows or have another x86 machine with Windows was the critical factor. As most of us Linuxheads are in the technically-savvy section of the computing market, and those users tend to be aware of new products & software faster and early adopters, why would they want to wait months for a game to come out for Liunx if they could play it today on their Windows partition? Even if our hearts were in the right place and we tried not to play a game until we bought the Linux version, obviously our desires exceeded our willpower otherwise Loki would still be with us.

    This is unfortunately not good news for the rest of the Linux gaming industry (or what's left of it). The circumstances that made Loki die still exist, and I'm sure other Linux gaming companies are feeling them too. But our own use of x86 hardware - as much freedom and value as it has given us - is the very reason Linux gaming is faltering. Mac-porting companies are doing well, and even Amiga companies get good responses to their ports, all because they have captive audiences. It's the price we pay for inexpensive and abundant hardware.
  • Blizzaed needs to tap into this oil well we call "Gaming On My Firewall". Better get those mail servers geared up for some Warcraft III!!!
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Thursday January 24, 2002 @08:51PM (#2898293)
    I see a lot of people concluded from this that the Linux gaming market is not viable. While that may be the case, Loki in no way demonstrates it.

    The problem here is they port a game after it is popular, with a lead time of at least 6 months to get from Windows to Linux. The Linux users who also like to play games alot are typically on x86 architecture, and have some version of Windows (even 95) lying around. Is it worth it to wait 6 months to a year to play a game on Linux, especially since by then the Windows version is in the bargain bin at 1/5 the price of the Linux version.
    *If* there is a potential viable Linux gaming market (and that is a big *if*, the Linux desktop userbase is already small compared to Windows, and of those users, I would venture to say that most don't really care that much about games.), then the only hope to see it come forth is if the playing field is level, meaning that releases would have to be simultaneous, equally available (on the shelves), and equally priced. Given the circumstances, only Transgaming can have a short enough lead time to really sell enough to have any good numbers.
    • by teg ( 97890 )

      Note that giving the users a choice of which OS to run (a "level playing field") isn't a necessity for vendors... If you you sell 100 units split fifty-fifty when selling to Win and Linux, you might be just as happy selling 90 to Windows and not selling to the Linux market by not porting.

      Of course, if the cost of bringing the product to the platform is low, the support burden low you might as well get the remaining profit as well. It's just a question of economics.

  • the whole free software, open source thing doesnt really cut it with games.

    with the majority of popular games coming out now, mainly in the land of FPS and RTS, you can gain access to an SDK within days of the games release, as well as normally a section of source code with which to rewrite sections to make your own mod or just to tinker with the game, making the whole 'port games to linux because its open source etc etc' a moot point

    and with every developer and his mother trying to release another version of quake, c&c etc, and all the 'its like &ltgenre defining classic&gt but quicksave is now F10 instead of F6' games coming out, its hard enough to make money without charging the large amounts companies already do for games.
    how could a company that is rewriting already existing games for an operating system that is really only a niche market *in the land of gaming* (note this point before you flame) expect to cope? even though they dont have all the issues with art, music etc, these things dont convert themselves. and the amount of people that downloaded a full OS for free, then a browser for free, then everything else for free arent gonna wanna pay just to play games. i think this whats happened to loki has proved this point.

    windows is the premier gaming platform, and its gonna be a hard thing to change. sure, i whinge like the rest of us when IE crashes for the millionth time for no good reason, and i despise all the 'invasion of privacy bullshit that makes me use Eudora and Netscape/Opera instead of Outlook/IE, but games wise, you arent gonna get a better platform.
  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Thursday January 24, 2002 @09:04PM (#2898346)
    In general (with a few exceptions), the masses of gamers follow games, not platforms. They're "Grand Theft Auto III fans," not "PS2 platform fans" - with console platforms in particular, which games are available is a large part of the decision process for which platform to buy.

    So the problem with Loki's business model is that it was porting games that were already available. The only people interested would be those people who don't run Windows, but want to play the games - that's a minority of gamers. The vast majority of gamers just want to play the game; since it was already released for Windows, they have no need to get it again for Linux.

    Now if they were producing new games for Linux, that'd be another matter entirely. But they're producing games for Linux that the hardcore gamers all already have for another platform; there's little incentive for them to buy it again.

  • Loki all but proves that building a business around porting games from Windows to Linux doesn't work. But perhaps writing games for Linux and porting them to Windows might?

    Would it be easier to write the game for Linux and then do the port to Windows? Which is more difficult, going from Windows to Linux or from Linux to Windows? I'd imagine Linux -> Windows is easier to do since you'll be using a set of libraries that are more likely to be cross-platform than if you started with Windows.

    But that's just my guess.

  • A sad day in the Linux world. Once again we're caught in the Catch-22 wherein we can't break away from Microsloth if our favourite games aren't written for Linux, and yet we can't buy those games when they're the only thing that runs under Linux!

    While Free Software is the lifeblood of this community, I have to urge everyone who cares about Linux to vote with their money when they see a company trying to turn things right. It's the only language capitalism understands...
  • Larry Ellison has stated that if Apple ever starts going under again, he will buy it just to keep the, around and piss off Bill Gates. Can someone convince him that buying Loki and making people think that "if the CEO of Oracle considers Linux gaming viable, it really must be," would truly piss off Bill Gates and Fester Ballmer?
  • Because Open Source development and the surrounding community is not compatible with traditional business models. And yet everyone refuses to open their eyes to this, innovate, and move forward. Thus far, there have been two approaches:

    1.) Distributions - supposedly 'value-added' compilations of free software with various technical support options as the real selling point. (Well, tech support if you really want to use the quirky, obfuscated mess that is most commercial Linux distributions.) Now if these same companies had just helped to enhance the Debian project (with say.. a newbie-friendly installer / hardware detection / GUI control panel / etc.) and then supported that instead, maybe it would have worked. But instead, the commercial distro people waste enormous amounts of time and energy redo'ing work that other people have already done a good job on.

    2.) Proprietary Software for Linux - these are the people who believe that Open Source doesn't work for all types of software, so instead of fully supporting the community, they've created proprietary products to "fill in the gaps" in the landscape of free software. Problem is, this isn't economically efficient for them OR the customers. And it certainly doesn't further the cause of Open Source software. People who use proprietary office suites or games are throwing money into a black hole. Sure, it may temporarily suit a need or desire, but that money doesn't go towards producing software that will live on, continually improving as an open code base.

    So here's the part where innovation comes in. People are willing to pay for software that they need as long as it actually fits the bill. Because of this, there is no reason why these users cannot pay Open Source developers to write software they need, but which will also be free to the community. Why would you pay for something that will be free? Because if you don't, it will never exist.. or at least it won't exist by the time you need it. So would you, as a user of software, rather sink money into proprietary software whose code will never see the light of day? Or would you rather get better quality software for the same price and support Open Source at the same time? The key, of course, is how to *organize* this exchange between users and developers in some sort of contract form.

    Unfortunately, I don't believe Eric Raymond ever really touched on this when he wrote The Magic Cauldron. Of the Open Source business models he listed, the closest match is perhaps found in section 9.3 "Give away recipes, Open a restaurant." But it does have a powerful point, one that needs to be re-thought and expanded. Software can be, in every sense of the word, a service. Programmers are paid for the labor of writing code that does what people need. That's it. Forget selling things. Forget delusions of 'value-added versions.' And forget distributions plastered with bright logos and 'commercial looking' shrinkwrap. It's a waste. The true value is the functionality of the code itself. Contract for it to be written to specification, then stick it up on an FTP server for the world to see. Or sell your services, promising that you will transform any current and future Open Source software into a turnkey solution. Because that's what customers want: a solution. It's that simple.

    There are many ways to go about this and it's time to starting trying them. People, stop sitting on your asses complaining and go start making a difference.
  • It seems that that Ragnar BOY finally destroyed Loki's evil plans to destroy the world.

    Now, was it *really* wise to port that Rune, eh?

    May you live forever in the halls of the One-Eyed.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.