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GOL follower 'Beer' wrote in to let us know that 'The Wild Eight' [Steam], a game I was previously excited about has decided to delay the Linux version because doing builds for different systems is 'too hard'.

This is becoming a really annoying pattern with crowdfunded games, here's what the developer said exactly:

QuoteWe are going to add it with updates later. Our hands are tied now because having builds for different OS is too hard for us because we want to publish updates and fixes really fast.


The problem is, Linux was specifically mentioned as a platform for 'simultaneous release' on their Kickstarter, which no doubt got them a fair few Linux gamers to fund them.

A situation that has become all too common and annoys me constantly. Don't fund games on Kickstarter if you're not prepared for things like this to happen folks.

Hopefully, when their update schedule slows down a bit they will actually do Linux support as it was promised.

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micha 13 Feb, 2017
Quoting: SirBubblesI'd like to chime in. After being burned by Kingdom Come: Deliverance and The Mandate, I'd be really hesitant about touching anything from Kickstarter. Getting a cheaper price isn't quite the same as buying a product you can have some certainty about. Delayed for years and not supporting the platform you use is not good enough. And here is another dev saying "can't be arsed supporting linux. Too hard".

Did you read the steam discussion? Their first post was:

QuoteThank you!
Yes, Linux version will be available!

And yes I can absolutely understand that you focus on one platform if you want to push out updates on a daily frequency or similar during EA. Actually, I'd recommend not being bitchy to dev for that since the result will be less games on Linux.

Of if anyone promises and Linux release and but there won't be any at all it's a completely different story.
STiAT 13 Feb, 2017
Quoting: micha
Quoting: SirBubblesI'd like to chime in. After being burned by Kingdom Come: Deliverance and The Mandate, I'd be really hesitant about touching anything from Kickstarter. Getting a cheaper price isn't quite the same as buying a product you can have some certainty about. Delayed for years and not supporting the platform you use is not good enough. And here is another dev saying "can't be arsed supporting linux. Too hard".

Did you read the steam discussion? Their first post was:

QuoteThank you!
Yes, Linux version will be available!

And yes I can absolutely understand that you focus on one platform if you want to push out updates on a daily frequency or similar during EA. Actually, I'd recommend not being bitchy to dev for that since the result will be less games on Linux.

Of if anyone promises and Linux release and but there won't be any at all it's a completely different story.

Knowing the route many games took (yes, there will be EA, yes there will be a 1-day release, yes we will publish linux builds later, yes it's still definitely coming, no it's not going to be released for Linux) I've had my hands enough burned not to kickstart anymore except for developers who have a linux track record. Why? They know what they'll face. Obviously, a lot of game developers underestimate the time to port, test and fix for other platforms. While I appreciate the effort, I did learn that I can not trust in what developers say at kickstarter, and because Linux is a low priority it is at high risk to be dropped.

I know that is a hen/egg issue there, without the funding they can not even try, but the rate of games which do not see a release in the end is getting higher and higher, and I'm not willing to accept this, since I'm personally on the good-will of the developers to return my money because they didn't publish on Linux. It's an investment, and in Linux a higher risk investment than on Windows.
EMO GANGSTER 13 Feb, 2017
yeah, kick starter is bullshit and money trap.
cxpher@gmail.com 14 Feb, 2017
I buy products that I can use immediately. Kickstarter does not work that way.
Tuxee 14 Feb, 2017
Quoting: micha
Quoting: SirBubblesI'd like to chime in. After being burned by Kingdom Come: Deliverance and The Mandate, I'd be really hesitant about touching anything from Kickstarter. Getting a cheaper price isn't quite the same as buying a product you can have some certainty about. Delayed for years and not supporting the platform you use is not good enough. And here is another dev saying "can't be arsed supporting linux. Too hard".

Did you read the steam discussion? Their first post was:

QuoteThank you!
Yes, Linux version will be available!


So what? That's what they said about KC: Deliverance, too. They even promised Beta access...
mirv 14 Feb, 2017
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I find this kind of excuse highly suspicious personally. It's really not difficult to have a build server these days, triggered by any code commit, and that can target build for multiple platforms. Or just do it manually, depending on the code size, team size, etc. Either way, they should have a build setup in place - literally press a button / run a command to say "build".

So, pushing out a fix shouldn't be difficult to do across all platforms simultaneously.

Of course, I've left out other things - maybe there's truly some platform specific code and some level of QA they want to do that means the game needs to be played to some extent. Even that should be able to be automated to a degree (it's called a benchmark). So a basic level of sanity is still available with that.

Of course, I would assume that platform-specific code is minimal as well. They should have had file naming, screen handling, input handling, etc, all sorted. If they actually want to do cross-platform at all, that should have been sorted by now - otherwise, they'd have to redo a lot of things later, waste a lot of time later, and then probably end up blaming everyone else but themselves.

tldr; the "excuse" doesn't pass the smell test. If that was truly blocking them, it's not a good impression of their capabilities on _any_ platform, let alone anything cross-platform.
micha 14 Feb, 2017
Quoting: mirvI find this kind of excuse highly suspicious personally. It's really not difficult to have a build server these days, triggered by any code commit, and that can target build for multiple platforms. Or just do it manually, depending on the code size, team size, etc. Either way, they should have a build setup in place - literally press a button / run a command to say "build".

So, pushing out a fix shouldn't be difficult to do across all platforms simultaneously.

Of course, I've left out other things - maybe there's truly some platform specific code and some level of QA they want to do that means the game needs to be played to some extent. Even that should be able to be automated to a degree (it's called a benchmark). So a basic level of sanity is still available with that.

Of course, I would assume that platform-specific code is minimal as well. They should have had file naming, screen handling, input handling, etc, all sorted. If they actually want to do cross-platform at all, that should have been sorted by now - otherwise, they'd have to redo a lot of things later, waste a lot of time later, and then probably end up blaming everyone else but themselves.

tldr; the "excuse" doesn't pass the smell test. If that was truly blocking them, it's not a good impression of their capabilities on _any_ platform, let alone anything cross-platform.

Believe me it's not nearly as simple as that.

* Build times can be something like 8h after you press that button even if you have parallel build nodes for each target platform (that's not compiling code, that's fast. I mean converting models and other data, automated tests, ..). so to be clear, detecting a bug on a single platform during QA can worst case result in an delay of 8h which is at the very least a single work day.

* Even if QA runs only smoke test it's at least 2h if QA per platform before a small update. And you definitely don't want to only do that for most. Since going through user bug reports, reproducing them and formatting them so programmers can fix them quickly is even less efficient then a little longer in house testing.

* Usually DEVs try to ensure file naming, screen/input handling and other things (e.g. different render APIs) to work independently across the platforms. In reality however there's always something you miss initially if not tested for it. Even if engines like Unity3D deal with most of it.

Running EA or any alpha/beta each non primary platform costs actually a lot. It can be worth it but let's be honest. In most cases it's not.

Again promising something and not delivering always sucks. But having a Linux version during EA wich is either broken half of the time, or has other bugs won't give the game a good reputation either. Actually it might even hurt sales on the primary platform if word of mouth is really bad. And again making sure that it is not the case comes a price which shouldn't be underestimated. You know a game doesn't only costs 100-200k just because that's what the kickstarter raised. It's more likely 10x as much as people think. So is another platform during EA.


Last edited by micha on 14 February 2017 at 11:12 pm UTC
mirv 15 Feb, 2017
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(I'll skip the quote to avoid excess)

Sure, builds times can be long, but asset conversion isn't done from scratch for an incremental change...right? I wouldn't think so at least. Regardless, that kind of thing definitely doesn't need doing per-platform, so if the actual code compile is minimal....then basic regression testing shouldn't be a heavy workload.

I think I didn't explain myself properly though - I'm not suggesting supporting a GNU/Linux release all the time, but being able to build it in the first place should be done from the start, if it's supposedly planned to be released on GNU/Linux at all. Building and basic sanity checks really, really shouldn't be an issue. Even 8h is nothing - that can be run overnight. Doesn't mean it has to be released (though a small test group of in closed beta wouldn't hurt), but it does mean when (or rather, if) proper GNU/Linux support comes along, then everything isn't completely broken.

I should also mention:
* GNU/Linux users typically give better bug reports. That's pretty widely accepted. Far less overheard in "formatting" for programmers (something else I don't personally believe in - maybe it was meant to be time spent triaging reports, which I can entirely understand).
* Even if it's not a target platform for release, a bit of cross-platform testing can often uncover or help debug issues on the primary release platform. Most porters are likely to agree with that.
* Being completely open and honest about issues facing getting a release out on GNU/Linux is probably good publicity, though maybe people will want to debate it.
* How many of the issues reported are platform-specific in the end? It would be interesting to get a count on how much is actually platform agnostic game code.

If a GNU/Linux version is promised, and then later seemingly flat out ignored - well at the very least there should be some proof of viability to the very people who helped fund the game. Otherwise there might be publicity, but it won't be good!

(Maybe there's more to it in this case, and I'm completely willing to accept that, but as I read and understand the excuse....well to me it sounds off.)

--edit: I'm trying not to sound harsh, but instead put forward reasons why I thinking the way I do. I am honestly interested in further discussion of why things might or might not be blocking, but frustration with seemingly continuous "oh, sorry, we can't support GNU/Linux because of some lame excuse" might come through, for which I will apologise now. and try to keep in check.


Last edited by mirv on 15 February 2017 at 12:12 am UTC
Leopard 15 Feb, 2017
Quoting: michaYou know a game doesn't only costs 100-200k just because that's what the kickstarter raised. It's more likely 10x as much as people think. So is another platform during EA.

Muahahahhahaha

This last part is entertained me so much
micha 15 Feb, 2017
Unfortunately, incremental conversion are not always possible and even if it still has changes are not to be underestimated since assets often depend in others. E.g. having any asset change in a level it might be important to completely re-process the exported level. At the very least incremental conversion are much more error prone which is why not a single studio I worked for does it, at least not fully. And a lot of time consuming processes are actually platform specific like converting textures into GPU supported compressed formats. E.g. when using Unity3D a platform switch (or clean import which is necessary since without we had random wrong assets in game otherwise every now and then) can take 1h for project which has Gigabytes of assets. A platform build for such a sized projected around ~30min (for Android it can be 5x as long).

Of course builds are typically nightly jobs. But again let's say one platform fails. That means one day of update delay, or one day with a broken live version (games without an online mode might get away with keeping the old version ofc). So lets say one of the game designers has scheduled a dedicated play session for the changes in that build, which means all his work & planning gets out of sync because one platform failed. This is just one example of many.

Also a dedicated full month of "porting" towards the release can be more efficient / cheaper. Let's say I'm in the middle of coding feature X but then one platform build breaks. That means I have switch context, find the issue and fix it and get my head back into the others problems to solve. It's another extra cost.

I agree with most of the bullet points though but still I think you underestimate the cost by assuming 'ideal' conditions which never are the case in my experience.

That said with our current project 'Albion Online' we have a Linux version continually since the first public release and I'm very proud of that. So it definitely is possible but I also understand if studios have different priorities.

I actually backed The Wild 8 myself and got excited when I received the Steam key recently only to find out I had to wait a little while longer. ;-)


Last edited by micha on 15 February 2017 at 12:36 am UTC
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