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Some thoughts on Linux gaming in 2019, an end of year review

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Gaming

2019 is coming to a close, it's been a pretty wild year for Linux gaming that's for sure! Here's some thoughts on the year and what to expect for 2020.

Firstly, let's look over all the games that came to Linux in 2019. As usual, very little AAA support but that doesn't mean we don't get awesome experiences. We've had a huge amount of quality games, which is the important thing. Not including those currently in Early Access, here's a few random picks we've had released this year for Linux: Abandon Ship, AI War 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, DiRT 4, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, Sky Racket, Rise to Ruins, Indivisible, Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones, Jenny LeClue - Detectivu, Police Stories, Overland, Devader, Dicey Dungeons, Oxygen Not Included, Streets of Rogue, Mosaic, The Eternal Castle: Remastered, Mindustry, Slay the Spire and so on.

[...]

Sadly, this year we saw a few games drop Linux support entirely with Rust, Natural Selection 2, Forager and Throne of Lies. Not many, but even one dropping support is not good.

However, don't get too down about the above point. There's a huge amount of moving pieces, certainly when it comes to the future of Linux gaming. Right now, if you truly don't care about any details and just want to play games on Linux—you've never had it better. We have Steam Play, enabling Proton (and other tools like Boxtron) to run games through Steam not designed for Linux like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, No Man's Sky, Elite Dangerous, Deep Rock Galactic and plenty more. Wine also came along tremendously and when paired with DXVK/D9VK, even more games can be played easily on Linux like Overwatch.

I don't personally think Steam Play Proton/Wine should ever replace proper support, to make that clear. The last thing we need is more lock-in because developers end up seeing less of a point in using cross-platform tech and open APIs. For now though, while we're a niche, Steam Play Proton and Wine fill a big gap and they're definitely important for that. Eventually when more people try out Linux and enjoy the experience and the market share rises as a result, then we can look to get proper support from more developers. Until then, be sure you keep supporting those who do put out Linux versions of their games.

We also have the rise of streaming platforms like Google Stadia further taking away barriers to playing bigger titles on Linux. There's also whatever Steam Cloud Gaming turns out to be, that's going to be very exciting to find out more on. Hopefully Valve won't keep us waiting too long on it. Streaming platforms still have a long way to go though, and they have their own barriers of entry (especially internet speeds and bandwidth).

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D9VK 0.40

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Graphics/Benchmarks
Gaming
  • D9VK, the Direct3D9 to Vulkan layer has a huge new 0.40 'Croakacola' release out

    For use with Wine and Steam Play Proton, D9VK is the awesome project based on DXVK which translates Direct3D9 to Vulkan for better performance. A big new release just went out.

    Codenamed Croakacola, D9VK 0.40 is a big one. D9VK can now use more than 4GB VRAM on 32-bit applications/games, with it being noted to help modded Skyrim/Oblivion and obviously more too. There's also now async presentation across all vendors, some "query flushing" improvements, performance fixes for Risen and Legend of the Heroes: Trails of the Sky, bloom rendering fixes for SpinTyres/Mudrunner and other misc updates.

  • D9VK 0.40 Uses Async Present On All Drivers, Various Other Features + Perf Optimizations

    D9VK 0.40 is out today as the latest feature update to this Direct3D 9 over Vulkan translation layer based on DXVK.

    D9VK lead developer Joshua Ashton released version 0.40 today as the "Croakacola" release and it includes some big features like for 32-bit applications to be able to utilize more than 4GB of video RAM, which should help Skyrim, Oblivion, and other games.

Games: Sail Forth, Backspace Bouken, Receiver 2

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Gaming
  • Serene naval adventure Sail Forth has a brand new trailer, coming to Linux next year

    David Evans and The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild have a brand new trailer out for their upcoming naval action and adventure game Sail Forth.

    While previously Evans was working alone on Sail Forth doing graphics, audio and programming they've recently announced the team up with The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild who've developed and published multiple other titles with Linux support like The Bridge, Tumblestone and Almost There: The Platformer.

  • Crazy typing adventure dungeon-crawler Backspace Bouken is out now

    Backspace Bouken isn't your standard dungeon crawler, it mashes it together with a typing game and the end result is pretty hilarious.

  • Realistic gun simulation FPS 'Receiver 2' announced from Wolfire Games

    Receiver is getting a much expanded sequel! Wolfire Games (Overgrowth, Lugaru) have confirmed Receiver 2 is releasing with Linux support next year.

    Announcing the game on Twitter, they said "Receiver. Is. Back. The most realistic gun simulator ever returns in #Receiver2, a brand new game from Wolfire Games.".

Games: Proton Release and Railway Empire

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Gaming

Games: Sally Face, Feral Interactive Staff, Crowdfunding and WarriOrb: Prologue

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Gaming
  • Unsettling story-driven adventure 'Sally Face' has a final fifth episode released

    An adventure about a boy with a prosthetic face and a tragic past, an unsettling episodic game and it's now complete. As of today, it's also now available on GOG as well as Steam.

  • Feral Interactive's lead Vulkan developer is moving onto something new

    Some game industry news to share today, as the Vulkan development lead at Feral Interactive has announced they're moving on. A big change too, as they're jumping over to Sony to work on the PlayStation.

  • A reminder of some great looking games coming to Linux from successful crowdfunding campaigns

    Crowdfunding for games doesn't always work out but thanks to the likes of IndieGoGo, Kickstarter, Fig and more we have a lot of good Linux games.

    Firstly though, a reminder on what games came to Linux as a result of crowdfunding. It's easy to forget just how many there has been. Games like: 7 Days to Die, AI War II, ATOM RPG, EVERSPACE, Factorio, FTL: Faster Than Light, Hollow Knight, Hyper Light Drifter, Pillars of Eternity + Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, The Long Dark, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Wasteland 2.

    There's plenty more on the way too, let's take a quick look at over 20 which I think are going to be awesome that are funded and on the way to Linux. All release dates are subject to change of course, since they're in development currently.

  • WarriOrb: Prologue gives an impressive taste of what's to come in this action platformer

    A once mighty demon trapped in an unusual and slightly amusing body, WarriOrb: Prologue gives us a small taste of what's to come in the full game and it's quite impressive. You will have to make your way through the ravaged world to regain your freedom and sanity. Along the way you will meet demons, giants, mutants and all sort of magical and crazy creatures.

Games: Game Awards, Unity (Mono) and Hive Time

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Gaming
  • Try multiple upcoming Linux games like CARRION and SkateBIRD for 48 hours during The Game Awards

    The Game Awards is back and so Steam is doing a Game Festival to go along with it, with multiple upcoming games putting up a special limited-time demo. There's also sales, again.

    You might want to be quick, as the demos are only valid until December 13 at 6PM UTC. Below are the games that have a Linux demo available to try out.

    Spiritfarer - a cozy management game about dying. You play Stella, ferrymaster to the deceased, a Spiritfarer. Build a boat to explore the world, then befriend and care for spirits before finally releasing them into the afterlife.

  • Fully supported Unity Editor for Linux delayed, Unity 2019.3 in the final testing stages

    Two bits of big news about the Unity game engine to share today, one specifically about Linux and one about the Unity engine as a whole.

    Firstly, remember the team at Unity announced back in May that the Unity Editor for Linux was going to be fully supported instead of staying experimental? Well, sadly the release date slipped. Still happening though! In an update to the original blog post announcing it, they said it's been pushed from 2019.3 and so it's now happening in 2020. No exact date or version number for when it happens is being given. When we get more news about the Unity Editor getting a date again to move from experimental to supported, we will let you know.

  • Build and manage a totally scientifically inaccurate Beehive in Hive Time, out now

    Keep busy Bees, grow your hive, make some sweet honey and produce a new Queen before your current one dies of old age. That's mostly the aim of the game in Hive Time, with colourful visuals and a family friendly theme encased in a sublime soundtrack from Peter Silk it's quite lovely overall.

Games: Feral Interactive, Fantasy Strike, GNU/Linux as Gaming Platform

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Gaming
  • Seems like Feral Interactive may have a few surprises for Linux in 2020

    Porting studio Feral Interactive [Official Site] have already given Linux a lot of games and it sounds like more are coming.

    While this year they've already released Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, a Vulkan beta for Shadow of Mordor, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS and DiRT 4 plus plus big updates/expansions to Company of Heroes 2 and Total War: WARHAMMER II. Still to come is Life is Strange 2, which Feral previously teased to arrive sometime soon.

  • Fighting game Fantasy Strike adds full cross-platform online play with PC and Consoles

    The very pretty fighting game Fantasy Strike from Sirlin Games just got a great update, enabling cross-platform online play between Linux/macOS/Windows and the Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 consoles.

    Apply to all online modes including Casual and Ranked, find a match should be a lot easier now. You can also challenge or spectate others from your in-game friends list, which also works across all platforms too as you can add people from any platform based on tags.

  • Looking towards other operating systems

    Learning a new operating system from scratch is a daunting experience for many people. Fortunately, there are a few Linux distributions that come with a Windows-like desktop environment such as a form of a star bar at the bottom. However, Windows and Linux operating on vastly different philosophies, to the way that they are organized to the way that the files are handled. Linux employs the traditional monolithic kernel and it provides a hierarchical view of the files. Because it is modular, most of the necessary drivers can be loaded and unloaded dynamically. One of the major appeals of Linux is that it is open-source, compared to Microsoft which is a closed and inaccessible environment. Windows is made for simple and out of the box use and directed toward inexperienced users, a reason why the OS has been adopted by so many people. Linux puts more emphasis on the user, who has the possibility of customizing the desktop environment to suit their needs. Windows also offer a few, but fairly limited customization options.

    The main reason why people avoid switching to Linux is their gaming habits. Linux is known for not playing well with most PC games. Most PC games are being developed with Windows as the main platforms with some companies providing Linux support sometime after the original release. Games that do not have a Linux release require third party compatibility applications to run Windows games. The major application that is used to play Windows games on Linux is Wine. The developers of Wine have specified that the software is not an emulator but more of a compatibility layer for Linux to run Windows programs, not just games. In the world of programming, Wine is considered a masterpiece and one of the greatest feats of open source development that allows most Windows binaries to run on Linux without relying on any of Microsoft’s dependencies. Most of the Wine resources are dedicated to running the complicated frameworks of various DirectX components.

    [...]

    Many people prefer to enjoy online gaming, especially casino games. The beauty of these games is that most are available and can be played directly in the browser. The default browser that Linux uses is Mozilla Firefox, which itself, is a powerful browser. Because online casinos are played directly in the browser, there is almost no difference between playing them on Linux and playing them in Windows. There are also casino games that can be downloaded with most of them being made to run only on Windows due to a large number of people using the OS. As mentioned before, to run most Windows software, players have the option to use WINE. However, since because playing the casinos using the browser, most people are better off sticking with that version. Many games from online roulette to poker, and other table games are available online. Almost all online casinos found online have the option to play instantly with no download required, which is why any OS that can run a browser is perfectly capable to run casino games. Linux has been around for a long time, but it was only in the last 10 years that people have started noticing the operating system becoming more friendlier and easy to learn. Besides the many desktop environments, customizability, community and growing compatibility of games, as well as more security, many have started the transition from Windows to Linux.

Games: Transport Fever 2, Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York, Rocket League

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Gaming
  • Build a transportation empire with Transport Fever 2 out now, same-day support for Linux

    Urban Games and Good Shepherd Entertainment are back, with Transport Fever 2 now officially available with same-day support for Linux.

    With a wide variety of transportation options available to build across multiple generations, there's a huge amount of content included. Prepare to kiss your time and friendships goodbye as we've got another great time-sink on our hands.

  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York for Linux is now uncertain

    Before release, the store pages for Vampire: The Masquerade - Coteries of New York very clearly listed Windows, MAC OS, Linux and now it's only available for Windows.

    Not to be confused with Bloodlines 2, Coteries of New York is styled like an interactive fiction (a fancy way to say: Visual Novel). It does look good though and it sounded very interesting so we were quite excited to see the mention of Linux support.

  • Rocket League's new Item Shop and Blueprints get a price reduction

    Oh Psyonix, what have you done? Rocket League recently had the loot boxes removed, with Blueprints and an Item Shop instead so you see exactly what you get but the pricing is terrible.

    As someone who has hundreds of hours in Rocket League, Psyonix really did disappoint with the big update recently. It could have been handled a lot better, but it came across as incredibly greedy. It's a game you have to pay for, yet they wanted us to spend a ridiculous amount of money on Credits for some of the items.

Games: Hellpoint, Wasteland 2 Director's Cut, Bite the Bullet, Steam Play Proton

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Gaming
  • Hellpoint, the dark sci-fi action RPG from Cradle Games now launching in 2020 with new details

    Cradle Games recently put out some fresh exciting details for Hellpoint, their upcoming crowdfunded dark sci-fi action RPG.

    Firstly, it seems the release has been pushed back a while. They were aiming for this year but they're just not going to hit it. They've been going through console certification, along with doing regular updates to the PC Beta and they're now saying it's going to be sometime in "Q1 2020" for Hellpoint's release.

  • Get Wasteland 2 Director's Cut FREE in the GOG Winter Sale, lots of Linux games going cheaps

    Is there seriously another big sale going on already? Yep! This time it comes with a FREE game too. GOG are offering Wasteland 2 Director's Cut at no cost.

    Firstly then, the Wasteland 2 Director's Cut Digital Classic Edition going FREE on GOG which also comes with Wasteland 1: The Original Classic so you're getting two games for nothing here. That should keep you busy enough through the colder Winter nights.

  • Action-RPG platform shooter Bite the Bullet is going to have some really crazy weapons

    Mega Cat Studios previously showed how eating enemies in Bite the Bullet would power you up, now they're talking about the varied weapons you get to play with.

    As a huge fan of Broforce and other such crazy action platformers, Bite the Bullet is high up on my list of games coming out next year. We shouldn't be waiting too long on it, with it due in the first quarter of 2020. To show it off a little more, Mega Cat Studios have a new video talking about all the weapons and some of them are pretty crazy.

  • Another Steam Beta is out, updates the Linux Runtime to help Steam Play Proton

    Quite a small update to the Steam Beta recently, but for some Linux gamers using Steam Play Proton it might be a rather helpful one.

    The new Library got tweaked a little again, now allowing for Family Sharing of tools, Valve also fixed new categories created in small mode or Big Picture mode not being properly saved when switching to normal mode and recently played but disallowed by Family View games not appearing in the Recent Games shelf when Family View is enabled on startup.

Games: Pygame, The Long Dark, DXVK and Shovel Knight

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Gaming
  • Enable your Python game player to run forward and backward

    In previous entries in this series about creating video games in Python 3 using the Pygame module, you designed your level-design layout, but some portion of your level probably extended past your viewable screen. The ubiquitous solution to that problem in platformer games is, as the term "side-scroller" suggests, scrolling.

    The key to scrolling is to make the platforms around the player sprite move when the player sprite gets close to the edge of the screen. This provides the illusion that the screen is a "camera" panning across the game world.

    This scrolling trick requires two dead zones at either edge of the screen, at which point your avatar stands still while the world scrolls by.

  • Survival Mode in The Long Dark just got a lot bigger with the ERRANT PILGRIM update

    As promised, Hinterland Studio have released a huge update to the Survival Mode side of The Long Dark named ERRANT PILGRIM.

    It brings in a whole new region to explore, Bleak Inlet. Once a home to a thriving industrial Cannery, seismic activity cut-off Bleak Inlet from the rest of the Great Bear mainland. Exploring is not for the faint of heart, being Timberwolf territory but the treasures contained in the industrial complex may just be enough to warrant the journey.

  • DXVK Reportedly Going Into "Maintenance Mode" Due To State Of Code-Base

    While DXVK tends to be much-loved by Linux gamers for allowing more Direct3D 10/11 Windows games to run nicely on Linux with Wine or Proton (Steam Play) thanks to its fairly complete translation of D3D10/D3D11 API calls to Vulkan, it looks like Philip Rebohle is at least contemplating shifting it just into maintenance-mode.

    The DXVK lead developer recently commented that DXVK is "entering maintenance mode" and he doesn't want to make any significant changes or additions to the code.

  • Shovel Knight: King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown are out, completing the series

    Starting off with a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign back in 2013 and growing into a massive multi-part 8-bit inspired world, Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove now finally finished. Note: Keys provided by GOG.com to us.

    Originally having a goal of $75,000 and a Linux/macOS stretch goal at $130,000 it proved to be popular ending on $311,491. It's taken six years for Yacht Club Games to get here starting with Shovel of Hope, followed by Plague of Shadows in 2015, Specter of Torment in 2017, and now King of Cards and Shovel Knight Showdown in 2019.

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