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The Humble Indie Bundle V Reddit IAmA - A Summary

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So earlier this evening, I offered to post a quick write-up with quotes of any Linux relevant stuff from the recent Humble Bundle developers' IAmA thread on Reddit. For some unknown reason, I was expecting that this would involve a couple of hours' reading and a few hundred words' worth of writing.

9 hours later...

For anybody not familiar with this type of Reddit thing (which is nothing to be ashamed of), an IAmA thread (or "Reddit" as I'm told they're called) where one or more Reddit users declare their position (in this case, "I am an indie game developer who has contributed to the current Humble Bundle promotion") and invite others to ask them questions.

The participants of this IAmA were as follows, and they apparently did their best to answer the overwhelming tidal wave of queries, anecdotes and concerns that numbered nigh on 3,000 comments.
      TimOfLegend: Tim Schafer, co-founder of Double Fine, creator of Psychonauts; gentleman, scholar, effervescent source of notable quotables
      DinoP: Dino Patti, co-founder of Playdead, creators of LIMBO
      SG_Greg: Greg Kasavin, Supergiant Games writer and one of the designers of Bastion
      SG_Logan: Logan Cunningham, actor, voiceover artist, and the voice of Rucks, the inimitable Bastion narrator
      superbrothersHQ: lovingly crafted art, writing, co-lead design and creative dynamo for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
      jimjammers: Jim Guthrie, indie musician and composer of songs and sounds, co-creator of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
      krispiotrowski: Kris Piotrowski, creative director and game designer at CAPY, co-lead design & guru for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
      FG_Thomas: Thomas Grip, development co-lead of Frictional Games, creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent
      FG_Jens: Jens Nilsson, development co-lead of Frictional Games, creators of Amnesia: the Dark Descent
      parsap: Jeffrey Rosen, co-founder of Humble Bundle
      qubitsu: Richard Esguerra, Humble Bundle organizer

Several common themes stand out immediately, the most common of which being the general "What inspired [game|feature|title]?" style of question. The "Will we see a sequel?" and "I loved this [game|character|developer]!" were both quite popular too, along with the well-expected "Do you have any advice for aspiring [developers|designers|artists|musicians]?" questions.

Interestingly, there was a surprisingly high ratio of "[Mono|Flash|Air|CrossOver|Wine] ports are not acceptable types of Linux support!" concerns, which is fairly relevant to us Linux gamers, who often like to see the Humble Bundle promotion as a doorway or kick-in-the-pants that will lead to further Linux support from participating developers. On this note, concerned commenters seemed divided into two major camps: those that felt that it was unacceptable, and those that would have preferred to know in advance what they would be receiving.

Ultimately, the responsibility for deciding what does and does not make it into a Humble Bundle promotion falls to the Humble Bundle organisers, and the opinions voiced by Richard and Jeff during the IAmA indicate that they are treating CodeWeavers as they would any other porter, and that tailored CrossOver ports (that's what I'm going to call them - I understand that some may disagree with that title) are something that is being explored as a potential avenue for future titles.

Jeff was quick to point out (both in the Reddit and via emails we exchanged) that they're wanting to address and resolve any and all CrossOver support issues that arise, and that it's important that Linux and Mac users report these instead of putting them down to being Wine issues. CodeWeavers are apparently working to resolve all currently reported issues.

Jeff also mentioned that they were closely monitoring the performance of the Limbo build closely and gathering objective data before making decisions about future stuff. User feedback and satisfaction will be having an impact too, though I imagine that it's got to be tough for them to draw meaningful feedback from anti-Wine rants.

Of particular interest to me (obviously) was some discussion of how top contributors, in particular Minecraft developer and regular Humble Bundle supporter Notch, may be inflating the Linux platform averages. I emailed Notch earlier today, who confirmed that he does infact, select Windows as his platform. Update: Cupcakes Nom, the friendly Humble Brony Bundle organiser tells me that they tick every platform's checkbox for their contributions, so they will be having more of an effect on Linux averages than other platforms (as our purchaser numbers are smaller).

All up, the IAmA came across as a positive and worthwhile event, and taking the time to read through every comment really makes me wish I had've been awake for it (or that I were asleep right now) :D

So, without further ado, here are a bunch of relevant and otherwise interesting or entertaining quotes.


QuoteLinux was like a party that sounded fun we were afraid to go to because we didn't think we'd know anybody there, and the HiB guys were like your socially fearless friend who says, "Don't worry, we'll go together." And when he gets to your house he says, "Is that what you're wearing?" and you say, "uh..." and he says, "Don't worry. I know a guy." And he lends you a cool leather jacket and you go to the party and when you walk in there's a needle scratch and everybody turns to look at you and your friend gives a cool nod and then everybody goes back to the party. So kind of like a John Hughes film. Hope that helps explain things. That's about as technical as I can go. I just hope I don't accidentally knock over a beer can pyramid that some tough guys are building.

Oh and also, if you want to be cool at the party, stay away from wine. (haha! Linux joke!) - TimOfLegend

QuoteWorst idea? Wow, we had so many: Sanity potions. Completion % that pops up every time you progress. Lots of combat. Trampolines. Coin collection. Chests that opened if you placed coins in them. Color mixing gameplay mechanic. Etc. If you open super_secret in the redist folder you can see videos of builds containing some of this stuff.

Why all the shitty stuff? Because our goal was to impress a publisher and to do a game that would be easier for us to create. When our publishing deal broke and we were almost out of cash we came to our senses and decided on making a game the hard way.

Regarding port: All credit to our excellent porter Edward Rudd! He did an awesome job. - FG_Thomas

QuoteAs far as my personal work went, I think writing the G-Man dialog was my favorite. Mostly because I got to sneak in the line, "Feces." - TimOfLegend

Quote>What goes into planning for a bundle?
Emails, Skype, and Ouija. But mostly Ouija. - quibitsu

QuoteWe're always trying to put together Humble Bundle sales that are awesome. (One of the questions we literally ask in the office is, "Will redditors be excited about this bundle?") But a Humble Bundle promotion always involves a ton of variables, and so sometimes it's made sense to do a smaller bundle or to try something totally unique, like the Humble Bundle Mojam.

Experimenting is the key—if a bundle idea has promise, we'll explore it, even if it doesn't totally fit all of the traditions established before. (Experimentation was a big factor in how the first Humble Bundle came about, after all.) - qubitsu

Quote"What made you decide to make a Linux port?" The HiB guys did. And now that we've dipped our toes in, we hope to do more in the future. It gave us the confidence to promise a Linux version of the Double Fine Kickstarter Adventure, for example. - TimOfLegend

QuoteThe LIMBO Linux build was created by CodeWeavers who basically take a custom version of Wine and tune the game to make sure it runs flawlessly. This is our first experiment with CodeWeavers and we are watching carefully.

If there are any bugs with the game, I don't want people to think "oh well, it uses Wine" -- these ought to be sent to CodeWeavers who should do their best to fix them. - parsap

QuoteWe typically help organize porting for the games in the bundle, and it's usually the toughest part! But we're rabid about trying to provide the best experience possible, and native ports usually do that.

But in the case of LIMBO, our porting friends said there was some audio middleware that's not easily supported on Linux, we decided to see if we could experiment with another solution that could provide a rock-solid Linux gaming experience. CodeWeavers took it on—they do highly customized Linux wrappers to optimize specific pieces of software—and the prototypes worked incredibly well. They spent a lot of time tweaking and optimizing, and it passed their QA and our QA (and seemed to perform more consistently than even some of the native ports we've seen).

But we get that software is hard, and so we'll try to keep an eye out for any showstoppers. Hit up [email protected] with any issues and we'll make sure CodeWeavers hears about any LIMBO bugs that need fixing. - quibitsu

QuoteAs a follow up question to this: Will you have better linux Q&A in the future? For nearly all of the bundles it's quite common that the linux versions of the games will be buggy and/or unplayable till they get patched later.

For example I still can't play super meat boy and there hasn't been any activity on the bugzilla icculus hosts for the game. - zedDB

Yes, we have about 30 Linux testers who we added after HIB 4. We are always working on improving this. I know Ryan is working on some Super Meat Boy fixes. - parsap

QuoteWe do the best QA we can, but it's a wide-wide world of Linux out there, so it has been really hard to squash all the bugs before they're encountered in the wild.

If anyone super-trustworthy is willing to help us iron out Linux issues, we could always use a few more knowledgable folks! Email [email protected] with a bit about your Linux background. - qubitsu

QuoteTagging on to this, does that open up the possibility of having Dear Esther or a UDK game in the next bundle? I mean, technically, Source / Unreal Engine 3 are both pieces of middleware which can't be ported to Linux by their users.

I feel like if Limbo couldn't be ported natively it shouldn't be in the bundle. I've been a loyal supporter of the HIB since the very beginning, and I always pay well over the average because I'm grateful for what you guys are doing for Linux gaming. But I could have bought Limbo and installed it under Wine myself in ten minutes. - techrogue

Source and UDK games were definitely one reason why we wanted to try experimenting with wrappers. - qubitsu

QuoteSorry guys, we couldn't, in the time available, port the middleware of Limbo, it works in Wine though! If not write a detailed description about the issue to [email protected]. We are not Linux experts, but will see what we can do to help you make the game work. Else we'll refund your money. (Except if you are Notch) - DinoP

QuoteWhile this is not my area here at frictional, as far as programing goes I only do gameplay scripting, but at least for us we keep the multiple platforms in mind from the start so everything is as much as possible based on cross-platform technologies. Then we have the Linux guru Edward that works some magic and voila there you go, all done!

It's been a learning experience, for each game we have made the ports have been better and better and the delay between the original Windows release and the Mac/Linux versions less and less. With Amnesia we managed to get all three released on the same day, which we internally was very happy about. - FG_Jens

QuoteOur game did almost just run, had to do some small modifications. We used a lot of time on testing on different distributions. The wine solution was done by a company called Codeweavers, to streamline the process and minimize hazzle on different dists. - DinoP

QuoteHumble Bundle, inc. makes a substantial amount of money via the Humble Bundles. Do you have plans to "give back" to independent developers in more ways than the Humble Store and Humble Bundles? It would be neat to have something like a Humble Fund. - slime73

A Humble Fundle would be pretty awesome. :D Seriously though, we are actually thinking of a way to help fund games. - parsap

QuoteCan we get some sort of agreement with the HIB packs that Adobe AIR / Flash or wrapped WINE is not considered acceptable Linux support?

Also, which distros are you testing on? - Benanov

Yeah. To be clear, we don't have prejudices against Flash for games, but AIR clearly wasn't the right play.

We're testing variously on 64-bit Ubuntu 11.10/11.04, 32-bit & 63-bit Ubuntu 12.04, 32-bit Debian 5, 32-bit Arch Linux (3.3.5-1-ARCH), Fedora 15 x86_64, Slackware 13.37 and 13.1, and probably a few more distributions that I'm forgetting about. The CodeWeavers wrapper was tested on more systems, I believe.

We're always down for more help with Linux testing if people are interested! Let me know at [email protected]; it'd be cool if you let us know about your distro and background with Linux. - qubitsu
Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc
About the author -
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Game developer, Linux helper person, and independent writer/interviewer.

Currently working on Winter's Wake, a first person text adventure thing and its engine Icicle. Also making a little bee themed base builder called Hive Time :)

I do more stuff than could ever fit into a bio.
See more from me
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Cheeseness Jun 3, 2012
Apologies to everyone for the length of this post. It was a big effort to try to sum up such an expansive and wide ranging discussion. In the end, I had plenty more I could have said, and a lot of unused quotes.

I promise I'll try to keep future stuff smaller :D
whizse Jun 3, 2012
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Tim Schafers description of a Linux "party" is just awesome :cool:

Oh, and thanks for the summary Cheeseness!
Hamish Jun 3, 2012
Thanks for the article Cheeseness. Your efforts are appreciated.

Though I am really concerned about that UDK comment... :confused:
Cheeseness Jun 4, 2012
I'm glad you guys got something out of it :D

On one hand, I find the consideration of wrappers to get non-native titles fitting the "cross platform" description a little worrying - once the flood gates are opened, I imagine that any leverage left with which to encourage native support from developers that the Humble Bundle guys have would be greatly diminished (speculation, of course).

On the other hand, I would be pretty excited to see stuff like Q.U.B.E. make it to Humble Bundle audiences.

If only sponsoring cross-platform ports of engines commonly used by indie developers (which no indie developer is going to have the resources to commission) fit under their plans to help fund games.

Also, I heard back from the Bronies about where they allocate their contributions :)

Edit: I have no idea if anybody cares about such things, but assuming that there's an even distribution of Windows payment values (which we know there isn't), I calculate Notch's impact on the Windows average to be +4c. A big fish in an enormously large ocean.
Bumadar Jun 4, 2012
Its a bit sad that the HiB guys are looking at none native Linux games as an option, I do fully see where Hamish and his petition are coming from but to be honest I think we passed that junction already. On the other hand I am glad they see that AIR is not the way to go and at least the money for making the wine package goes to codeweavers which is a good thing as they are the engine behind wine for sure.

I would prefer native builds of course but I also have to admit that limbo right now runs better/more stable then for example Psychonauts which has been crashing with me a lot during the in game movie starts.

Also for the "normal" user if I may call them that, in the end what counts is the fact if it works and not how it works and more games on linux is a good thing in the end.
Cheeseness Jun 5, 2012
Quoting: "Bumadar, post: 4458, member: 93"Its a bit sad that the HiB guys are looking at none native Linux games as an option, I do fully see where Hamish and his petition are coming from but to be honest I think we passed that junction already.

I think if you have real concerns, it would be worth emailing the Humble Bundle guys and explain them in an honest and rational manner.

QuoteAlso for the "normal" user if I may call them that, in the end what counts is the fact if it works and not how it works and more games on linux is a good thing in the end.

See, this is where it starts to get complicated. I like to hope that the Humble Bundle promotions lead to some level of continued interest in Linux support by developers who have been included and encourage other developers to consider it. It's great that the games included in the bundles are ported, but (hopefully) the real value lies beyond that.

If using wrappers like Wine is seen as an appropriate way to satiate the Linux market by developers, then I think that longer term, this would mean less developer attention for Linux and *less* Linux support (even for "normal" users). Obviously this isn't an issue for Limbo because CodeWeavers are looking after it and making sure it's maintained, but as I say, the bigger picture is stuff that's outside the Humble Bundle promotions.
whizse Jun 5, 2012
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So, something I've been thinking about for a while, might as well ask what you all think:

If there was a Windows game that for some reason couldn't be ported for a bundle, and didn't work in Wine. Would you prefer it if the Humble guys paid someone to improve Wine (not just package up the game) so the game could run, or would you prefer it if they ditched the title and selected another game for a native port? (Keep in mind that improving Wine would be a contribution to open source and might improve Wine compatibility for other games as well.)
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