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Author Topic: Aquaria and Linux  (Read 54829 times)
palu
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« on: February 25, 2009, 01:11:29 PM »

Hello,
i came across Aquaria through David Rosen's video Design Tour of it. The game looked nice and i figured the demo would be a decent program with which to try the 1.0+ version of Wine (as it had been years since i'd used Wine for anything, and i happened to have broadband at the time). Though the demo has quirks under Wine —the installer crashed trying to create a new directory, the game's initial loading seems rather slow or as if it occasionally gets choked on input events, and it lacks toggles for either grabbing/ungrabbing the mouse cursor or switching between fullscreen and windowed modes— i found that Aquaria played well enough once started and that, despite these relatively minor annoyances, it is a pretty enjoyable game.

After having played through the demo, i find myself in an all too familiar position as a minority linux gamer. Looking through this forum's search results for 'linux', it appears that a native linux port has been considered and decided against (the cost/effort of doing the port deemed unlikely to be worth the potential linux sales). It also seems that you've made some efforts to ensure that the game works with Wine in the majority of cases. Finally, several potential linux customers have claimed that they would buy a native port gladly, but that they will not buy games that require them to use Wine.

In light of this, i'd like to point you towards two worthwhile articles:
The Whys and Hows of Porting Software by Ryan "icculus" Gordon (http://icculus.org/~icculus/)
Why you should support Mac OS X and Linux from Wolfire Games (http://www.wolfire.com/)

I'd also like to ask whether if you (the Aquaria developers) felt you did not have the time or desire to create a native linux port, you would be open to allowing someone else to port it at no cost? Student programmers would be likely candidates —with their course grades depending on the completion of the port— and i'm pretty sure my university is not unique in encouraging (often requiring) its computer science students to get involved with real world projects.

Finally, if the linux port is still never to be, is there any chance of a works-with-Wine guarantee and/or a discounted price for linux users (or even a promise to donate a portion of the linux sales to the Wine developers)?

Thanks for your time,
p.
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Chibi
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2009, 01:44:31 PM »

I'm fairly sure Alec knows the steps involved in porting a game to Linux, but he doesn't want to invest time and effort into something that has a very limited return. Compounding that reason is the fact that Aquaria runs smoothly in Wine.

Here's your guarantee:
I;d consider buying a linux version. I don't run OSX or WIndows so that would be my only option.

I would however expect a native exutable. It should work with Wine would not be a sufficent guarantee for me that I can run the game.

PS I use Ubuntu as well.

Dude, did you miss the native vid? Smiley

Anyways, the potential is there for a Linux release. The game runs, but to make a final version for Linux would require separate testing. We probably won't be able to look into that until the PC and Mac versions are released.

That said, someone at Ambrosia actually has a case sensitive OSX setup for testing! So maybe we'll be ahead entering Linux testing after all...
So - what about officially supporting it under wine then?

I don't really get what this means. It runs great under Wine from what users have told me. I don't have a Linux box, and I'd have no idea how to fix something if it only didn't work under Wine - since it would be due to some fault of Wine's emulation.

I like your idea about student programmers working on it, but they would need to work closely with Alec or a senior programmer.

Welcome to the forums, Palu!  Smiley

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Xiagan
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« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2009, 12:37:33 PM »

I'd also like to ask whether if you (the Aquaria developers) felt you did not have the time or desire to create a native linux port, you would be open to allowing someone else to port it at no cost? Student programmers would be likely candidates —with their course grades depending on the completion of the port— and i'm pretty sure my university is not unique in encouraging (often requiring) its computer science students to get involved with real world projects.
I like that. Smiley

I had no problems with wine and ubuntu hardy, but now with intrepid it is crashing. Haven't figured out why yet...
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palu
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« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2009, 09:03:37 AM »

Hello again,
and thanks for the replies; i hadn't found nor seen the video of Aquaria running on Ubuntu prior to my own post.

@Chibi: posting those article links was not intended to imply any doubt concerning the Aquaria developer's competence, it was only intended to persuade them to reconsider the linux port's viability (and when Ryan "I've ported everything from Google Earth to Second Life to America's Army to etc etc" Gordon writes an article on the whys and hows of porting software, it's certainly worth a glance!).

Also @Chibi: if i understand Alec's reply posts regarding Wine/Aquaria/linux: there is no guarantee that it will work with Wine, no way to identify the purchase as a linux sale (if we don't get counted, how will anyone know that there are linux gamers worth supporting?), no refunds available if it fails to work, and only random users' claims that it works at all (which i've experienced myself with the demo —hats off to the Wine devs—, but that is hardly a guarantee as Xiagan's post shows) . If one were inclined to be severe and/or cynical about it, the stance could be unfairly paraphrased as: "We've decided not to support your platform, but feel free to buy our game anyway!". I hope that there are enough qualifiers in my previous sentence to make it clear that i do not take that view, although i do recognize that someone else might/could take it as such.

Also also @Chibi: thanks for the welcome! Depending on the amount of closure i'm able to get on Bit Blot's linux stance, i'm not sure i'll end up around very much (without closure i'll probably keep popping up to try to persuade them to relight the porting torch!).

To that end, there's was a recent update over at 2D Boy's World of Goo Linux Version blog post which i'll quote here:
Quote from: 2D Boy
Update 4: It’s only been 2 days since the release of the Linux version and it already accounts for 4.6% of the full downloads from our website.  Our thanks to everyone who’s playing the game on Linux and spreading the word.  Here are a couple of nifty stats:
    * About 12% of Linux downloads are of the .rpm package, 30% are of the .tar.gz package, and 57% are of the .deb package.
    * More copies of the game were sold via our website on the day the Linux version released than any other day.  This day beat the previous record by 40%. There is a market for Linux games after all :)
A, hopefully relevant, note concerning their record linux sales figures upon the official release: they had the linux version in the works for a fair while before it was ready and many people bought it ahead of time and played it under Wine (the point here isn't that they give you all versions for one price, but that their linux release day sales were that high even with many having pre-bought it to play under Wine).

I'm glad Chibi and Xiagan like my student porter idea, though it's just one of many options that Bit Blot has to get an Aquaria linux port with minimal effort, cost, and risk. Other options that spring readily to mind are as follows (i'll repeat the student/volunteer one as that is the most financially beneficial for Bit Blot). A post by the developers detailing any issues/concerns that are blocking a linux port (especially given that it was running on Ubuntu back in 2007) would help with finding a palatable solution —support us so we can support you!

1. Allow university guided computer science students to port Aquaria to linux as part of a group senior project or such; alternately, allow a community volunteer (knowledgable and developer approved, of course) to do the port free of charge (though i don't think giving them a copy for their efforts would be out of line ^_^).

2. Contact Ryan "icculus" Gordon to inquire as to his availability and pricing for an Aquaria linux port (and be open to his suggestions of alternate porters if he's too busy). Based on Ryan's (or his suggested porter's) pricing, make the port contingent on linux pre-order numbers sufficient to pay the cost of the port itself!

3. Contact Linux Game Publishing to see if they're interested in licensing the game for a linux port.

4. Release the Aquaria engine source code under a license that would allow the community to port it to linux (and potentially other platforms/architectures, like Pandora) while keeping the game's data proprietary (as there are potentially 2 Aquaria sequels in the eventual works this might be more or less appealing).

An update on this from Alec would be super.
p.
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Chibi
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« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2009, 05:15:59 PM »

You should P.M. (Personal Message) Alec with your ideas - he might not read this thread, and he definitely should hear your thoughts. (Not to mention that your page-long treatises on the viability of a Linux port need more breathing room.)  Smiley
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Alec
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2009, 06:29:08 PM »

I don't have the time to do or be involved in a Linux port right now.
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SlickMcRunfast
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2009, 03:05:41 AM »

I don't have the time to do or be involved in a Linux port right now.

It hard holding back the many negative comments I want to throw.

Anyway could you pass it on to a porter, or is there too much legal involved?
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palu
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« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2009, 06:57:49 AM »

It hard holding back the many negative comments I want to throw.

Anyway could you pass it on to a porter, or is there too much legal involved?

I would recommend holding back the negative comments as i don't think there is any slight or malice intended (and even if there was, escalation of hostility isn't good for trying to persuade people that it's worthwhile to support us linux goons ^_^). I think Alec is currently quite swamped with GDC related work (and otherwise preoccupied with his Monocle Engine ideas). As i've come to understand it, Alec is busy moving forward with non-Aquaria projects and (correctly or not) assumes the amount of benefit to be gained from continuing with his previous linux porting efforts (or otherwise spending his time on what is now an "old project") to not be worth the effort, at least for him personally (and how he spends his time and life is certainly his choice). To that understanding, i've put a proposal (aka my request for the opportunity) to port the game for free with no strings attached (nor any help beyond access to the Aquaria source code) into a PM to Alec (a little over a week ago, actually) and i'll post here once/if anything is decided. I wouldn't get your hopes up, but we'll see.
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SlickMcRunfast
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2009, 08:35:00 AM »

I'm Sorry for expressing my frustrations. We keep getting teased with something thats indefinite and it's hard for me to take. Its similar to whats happening with UT3.

palu, good luck with the port if your are chosen.

Alec, good luck with GDC.
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Alec
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2009, 09:35:28 AM »

I don't have the time to do or be involved in a Linux port right now.

It hard holding back the many negative comments I want to throw.

Anyway could you pass it on to a porter, or is there too much legal involved?

What are your negative comments exactly?
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Alec
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2009, 09:58:20 AM »

I'm Sorry for expressing my frustrations. We keep getting teased with something thats indefinite and it's hard for me to take. Its similar to whats happening with UT3.

palu, good luck with the port if your are chosen.

Alec, good luck with GDC.

If you want a definite answer, I'd lean towards "there will be no linux port". I don't seeing myself as having any time or desire to work on it in the near future.

If you're curious what I'm up to, you can check out http://infiniteammo.ca

Heroes and Villains would be enough to keep me busy, but I'm also trying to do preproduction on the next "big" game I want to make, trying to see if I can get Monocle Engine off the ground as well as juggling three other iPhone game projects. On top of that, I have to deal with corporate BS. (like getting Aquaria onto new distribution platforms, talking to publishers, incorporation papers, blah blah blah) Hopefully I can find something that will be able to keep me financially stable while I can continue to work on things I'd like to work on. Maybe that's in the cards, maybe its not.

Not to mention some intense personal drama outside of my control that I'm caught up in that has me stressed out and generally not in the best mood. Its been a rough last 6 months, I'll tell you.

I'm not making excuses, if I had a lot of free time I doubt that the Linux version of Aquaria would be the first thing that I'd work on right now. But I felt like I might as well explain what life is like from my perspective, since some folks seem to get personally angry at me if I don't have things ready for them when they want it.

Its not like I get to sit in a room and work on games and then other people handle all that stuff for me. (it'd sure be nice if it was, eh!)

So yeah, Linux port for Aquaria is really low on my priority list. I generally don't like to say "never", but if the effect of that is that people feel strung along... I'd say don't hold your breath! Smiley
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SlickMcRunfast
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2009, 06:01:01 PM »

Alec, Thank you for an answer finally.

"But I felt like I might as well explain what life is like from my perspective, since some folks seem to get personally angry at me if I don't have things ready for them when they want it.", I'm personally not angry at all that it's not ready, it's that I have been falsely lead for about two years.

As for "If you're curious what I'm up to, you can check out http://infiniteammo.ca", it's likely I'll never be able to play it so there is no reason for me to bother.

Good luck with the new game.
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Alec
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2009, 01:04:28 AM »

Alec, Thank you for an answer finally.

"But I felt like I might as well explain what life is like from my perspective, since some folks seem to get personally angry at me if I don't have things ready for them when they want it.", I'm personally not angry at all that it's not ready, it's that I have been falsely lead for about two years.

It wasn't my intent to falsey lead anyone anywhere, but alright. You still sound upset. Smiley
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palu
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« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2009, 08:15:23 AM »

Well, it's been about 40 days (including 2 weeks of post GDC time) since i have PM'd Alec and there has been no reply. I suppose that at this point the lack of a reply might count as a negative response to my proposal, and as i said i'd post here once anything had been decided, here's a post fulfilling that pledge.

As i've come to understand it (and i could certainly be wrong (but Alec never really addressed any of my previously posted suggestions or questions)), Alec does not seem particularly interested in a linux port unless he does the port himself (as he had started to do back in 2007), and as he has moved on to, and is busy with, other projects (and is generally not particularly interested in doing a port in the foreseeable future) there will be no linux port. This is a shame since there are so many potential ways to produce an Aquaria linux port with no cost nor risk to (nor time investment from) Bit-Blot and i believe that the linux gaming community would heartily embrace the game. Perhaps the sales of a linux port of Aquaria would not give Alec the financial stability he wants, but i don't see how the additional sales could hurt (linux games tend to have infinite shelf life, and the publicity generated by doing a linux port tends to give sales of other (Mac/Windows) versions a bump).

As it doesn't seem fruitful to keep cheerleading for a linux port at this point (see bold text above), this will probably be my last post on these forums. Thanks for the warm reception and replies (mostly @Chibi) and i hope that Bit-Blot stays open to linux releases in the future, even if Aquaria never makes it.

Take care and have fun,
p.
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Alec
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« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2009, 09:10:41 AM »

Are there exact questions you want answered other than I'm too busy to do a Linux port right now?
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