Friday, September 20, 2013

The Future Of Gaming

I love playing computer games. It's what originally drove me to learn computer programming, I wanted to create my own games. Until now I still have very little success with that, but... I have learnt to program web applications quite well and earning my pay using those skills. And I love open source software. Ever since I started programming professionally, my main work OS has always been Linux (various distributions and all and currently on Arch Linux). I always install dual-boot because... hardware problems (some projectors and printers just couldn't be detected by Linux when I started out, that's mostly not a problem now) and mainly to play games (sure there was some open source games available, but apart from "Battle for Wesnoth" and "FreeCiv" I don't actually recall any games I've played extensively enough to be remembered).

But recently the gaming scene in LinuxLand has improved tremendously, partly thanks to the Windows 8 app store like lock-in and other things, Valve decided to release their Steam distribution system on the Linux platform (Mainly targeting Ubuntu but more on this later). And they have been making progress by leaps and bounds. Check out what the CEO of Valve recently said at Linuxcon.

I've installed the Steam client ever since it first came out on Arch. It is still targeted at Ubuntu but since Ubuntu is based mainly on mainstream open source stack, all of the tools are available and the Arch community is quick on these updates and creating new package and all. I understand Valve decision to base it on the Ubuntu platform because of the large market share Ubuntu have and easier to test for deployment and all. But I worry about the seemingly off tangent direction Conanical is taking Ubuntu and if it starts to be not so compatible with the rest of the world, would Valve still follow it and abandon all the other Linux users (I sure hope not and sure hope this scenario does not even happen). But anyhow, for now life is good.

I've recently worked out all the OpenGL problems I had with my desktop (being on Arch it wasn't configured properly from the beginning, default 2d works fine and simple 3d for desktop effects, but for games it was completely whack. It so happened that I didn't install the DRI package for ati and that was the problem). Then I installed and downloaded Dota 2. Woah... I was pretty impressed. It was the most prettiest game I have played on Linux so far. Had problem when initially changing the resolution to 1080 because the display would become a bit crazy but when I saved the settings and restarted Dota 2 in 1080 resolution, it was sweet. I don't really have the time to play it for long right now but the 20 minutes I spent in it was bliss (Just finished the first tutorial level that's all :P).

Valve is making great headway into gaming on LinuxLand and I wish them the best. I can't wait to see more mainstream games released with a Linux port and spending some cash to support the developers (of course having fun along the way too... :P). Maybe one day, I won't have to dual-boot anymore. Maybe one day... :)

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