Save LinuxGames.com

If you were thinking about finding out if Linux had any games, where might you go? Well, if you type “Linux Games” into Google today or if you were to look up a website on the Yahoo! directory in the 90s, you would have ended up on LinuxGames.com.

During the early 2000s I was hanging out in the #loki IRC channel and had been writing for my own sites, a few weeks of pestering later and Dustin “Crusader” Reyes was good enough to give me a chance to write for LinuxGames.com.

There were always other sites like Happy PenguinHolarse, and today the major place I would look to is Gaming on Linux, but we kept LinuxGames going through technology migrations and I was there to help move the site to a modern WordPress core.

For over a decade, LinuxGames was where I went when I wanted to write seriously about games on Linux, and that was where the readers were.

Yesterday I found out just like everybody else that the site’s host plans on shutting down or archiving LinuxGames.com and I could not have been more shocked:

After 17 years on the Internet, AtomicGamer, the site who has been hosting LinuxGames is shutting down at the end of the month. I think it is time also that we put LinuxGames to bed as well. It has been a wild and fascinating ride all these years watching the Linux community mature and come to age. The passion that created this site has left me years ago and I know it is time to put the site to rest.

I would like to personally thanks Dustin and Al for all their support thru the many years and well as the countless people who have contributed to this site over the years.

This is at a time when Valve is shipping their version of Linux called SteamOS with the help of third party computer builders and folks like the Humble Bundle and Ryan ‘icculus’ Gordon continue to bring many games to Linux. With no advertising the Facebook page I set up for LinuxGames has over 1300 Likes and the twitter account I set up has 650 followers.

It could not be a more interesting time to write about these developments.

There are so many other solutions than shutting down what has been a mainstay for the community of Linux gamers.

I have offered to host the site for free in the comments on the article, and hosting WordPress sites is something I’ve been doing for years.

Ryan ‘icculus’ Gordon has offered to buy the domain name.

If you have a minute, please politely tweet @mmalkowskijr or comment on the news post, and encourage him to not let LinuxGames.com fade into oblivion.

Each of These Have Been Hand Sharpened to a Razor’s Edge

Luke Winkie:

Cutlery Corner is my favorite television show of all time. It is funnier than The Office, more socially relevant than The Wire, more suspenseful than Breaking Bad, and profoundly less boring than Mad Men. Every night the men and women on Cutlery Corner create the greatest accidental art known to mankind. Let me prove it to you.

In perhaps the ultimate proof that cutting the TV cord is possible, you can now watch Cutlery Corner live on YouTube.

Iwata Asked

The host of Game Center CX, Arino, normally just gets to play a difficult old game and try to finish it in one sitting. In this clip, Arino was surprised with a special guest, Nintendo’s President, Satoru Iwata.

It’s a great interview that really demonstrates what a different kind of person Iwata is from the cigar-chomping fat cat you might associate with the head of a video game company. Iwata started out as a developer on the original NES, and in this interview even lets us in on why older games were so difficult.

In recent years Mr. Iwata was the one doing the asking in his Iwata Asks series of developer interviews.

Thanks to shacker Serpico74 for the heads-up on the video.

Moberflow

Aleksander Gilyadov on the insane number of MOBAs that are going to fail:

Infinite Crisis is just one of the more recent examples of why the deluge of new multiplayer online battle arena and massively multiplayer online games needs to stop. A lot of them keep failing, and the price of failure is steep — layoffs and studio shutdowns.

Aleksander’s article is like so many others in assuming that there is no success possible for these MOBA and FPS games that isn’t multi-million dollar home-run success. Another example of this is the bizarre attitude around the GameCube or other Nintendo platforms from the past 15 years that aren’t the Wii, or the Sony handhelds Playstation Portable and Vita. What do all of these consoles have in common? They were declared failures by some press despite selling tens of millions of consoles and millions of games. Well, maybe not quite that many for the Vita, but that platform has been a great home for smaller downloadable handheld games.

Briefly mentioned in Aleksander’s article are other free-to-play games that have found some level of success, obviously short of World of Warcraft, but well enough to keep some companies going. The fault of games like Infinite Crisis and others that are inevitably shut down is usually in creating an unsustainable environment for the level of success they could have if their cost to operate the game on a continuing basis were lower. Instead, it’s all or nothing for many games developed for many English-speaking audiences.

Here’s where I digress for far longer onto MOBA as a name for a genre of games.  ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is a dumb as hell name for a genre of games that are at this point mostly Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) clones with different skins that are designed to entice different groups of players into signing up. Infinite Crisis was exactly that, a DOTA clone with comic-book characters dumped into it with whatever rule changes to the regular game were needed to not be a complete clone and whatever h was needed for their particular business model.

Harkening back to the 90s PC Gamer days when every first-person shooter was a Doom clone by calling MOBAs DOTA clones is appropriate. DOTA clone doesn’t sound like a name invented by a bunch of greedy game industry fat cats. Though first-person-shooter probably seemed dumb as hell when that term was entering our collective vocabularies, too.

Doom clones were almost universally terrible but businesses were making enough money from them to keep afloat and a few made  something good along the way. For example, Strife, was one of my favorite Doom clones and it was one of the first really good FPS-RPGs games. Fallout 3 is a bit more of what you’d think of as an FPS-RPG, but Strife was the first good one. You might be thinking that the  Wizardry games and some Ultimas were FPS-RPGS, but they had no guns or shooting to fulfill the FPS half of the genre name.

Not content to leave well enough alone, the overflow of DOTA clones screwed up the re-release of Strife when it was updated by Night Dive Studios for modern operating systems on Steam. MOBA was taking the namespace on Steam. Instead, the official Steam name for Strife is The Original Strife: Veteran Edition. Awful.

MOBA isn’t even as descriptive a title as FPS, it could describe almost any competitive or cooperative online multiplayer game. My beloved ioquake3 engine could be described as a MOBA because it is online and multiplayer and has arenas to battle in.

Apple Music and Beats: 1

Apple’s streaming music subscription service, Apple Musicwas released last week in addition to the new streaming radio station Beats: 1 and other features in the new versions of Music on iOS and iTunes on Windows and Mac OS X.

I’ll admit that although I had tried Pandora and Spotify they’d never really stuck. Why not own my music and listen to the full albums I love instead of playlists? Why listen to ads alongside my favorite music?

The three month trial of Apple Music has made me a quick convert for now, at least. As well as the low price, $15 for six of my family members isn’t that much more than what I was paying for one Spotify subscription. The killer feature is that the music matching (previously available in iTunes Match) will let you bring in any music that isn’t available for streaming. No Beatles to stream? If it was in your iTunes music library before, it’s available through Apple Music. iTunes Match was the thing that finally let me stop syncing my iPhone to my laptop.

There’s something really strange about the new streaming  Beats: 1 radio station that launched alongside Apple Music. It’s good. 

Unlike most other internet radio stations, there are hosts. A revolutionary concept, I know, but it’s how they host that is so different. They don’t sound like pre-programmed chatter bots with dumbass names like Free Beer and Hotwings from radio planet twelve in the marketing galaxy.

The only part of Beats-1 that sounds pre-programmed are the rare advertising reads that are given by what sounds like a BBC presenter who usually says about five words before a track starts. Not between every track, so far it sounds like it’s once or twice an hour you might hear a few words. Way better than any of the terrestrial radio stations you might hear.

One particular program I heard on the launch night was enough to make Beats: 1 post-worthy. St. Vincent had put together a mixtape for an 11-year old named Piper (who won a contest) and what do you know, this is really good. Even St. Vincent’s banter with Piper is good. 

Earlier in the day there was still plenty of fine music to listen to. Some of which was new to me. The day-time (Pacific time) DJ’s has a more traditional radio jockey style, but almost no ads and it didn’t sound like it was ruined by the influence of the record industry. Awesome.

The ads that were there were voiced by a tonally inappropriate genericly British accented person which was a bit hilarious to hear him talking about some hotel chain for a half second with rap going on underneath.

The only downside to Beats: 1 is that the music was edited for radio with no explicit option when the old iTunes radio stations had an explicit language option. Beats: 1 is available to everyone who has iTunes on a Mac, on Windows, or on the iOS Music app, there’s no fee to listen to it.

How To Fix Call of Duty

Tyler Wilde:

I’d bring the multiplayer back to the basics. Good ideas introduced in CoD 4—the ideas that had me obsessed with it for months—have been added to and iterated on and it’s out of control. CoD 4’s unlock system was just about leveling. It was easy to set goals (I worked hard for the Barrett .50cal and was ecstatic when I unlocked it), and loadout decisions felt a lot more meaningful—they weren’t overwhelming, at least.

The last few Call of Duty games have been somewhat disappointing. Super convoluted. Nobody liked Ghosts but Advanced Warfare’s multiplayer still isn’t that fun. The DLC system has been insulting to players, paying for loadout slots and personalization packs? Come on. Look at this shit:

Look at all that juice

I can’t even get my browser window tall enough on my laptop to show them all in one screenshot.