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How to be a great advocate for a niche gaming platform

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Directly helping to bring games to Linux can be super complicated - I’m talking low-level, real-time, writing-a-GUI-in-Visual-Basic-to-hack-the-Gibson complicated. What if there was a way to support the platform you love with just your regular old self? After years of stringent Meditation, Study and Calculations™ I’ve come to a miraculous conclusion: without even getting close to finding yourself stuck in vim, you can actually make a difference! Hear me out, friend.

This here is a collection of advice, rules, and reminders that I’d like to think if followed by a vocal minority, have the power to grow, nurture and reinforce our already strong community, without us even getting out of our seats.

 

You’re a fan of more than just the platform

First thing’s first, if you’re advocating for a platform, it goes without saying you’re a fan of that platform, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re also a fan of the games you want to play. Be an avid fan of those games! Let developers know how much you like their creation, how hyped you are to play it, or how much you’ve enjoyed it’s previous incarnations. Messages and posts like these add up, and as a developer, I’ve seen the positive effect they can have on colleagues after a long day. As a fan, I’ve also seen games brought to Linux simply because users who were huge fans showed that joy and asked nicely. If you’re a fan of the game, why not tell all your friends too? Even the console peasant and windows nerds as well. Getting a developer more sales, even on another platform, will get Linux noticed!

Oh wow, I friggin love @CoolShootyGame on Linux! Hey @friendowindows1 and @XxPS4Friendo2xX, you should get it too!

 

You can have tangible value

If there’s one thing Linux users are good at, it’s bug reports. If you’re not good at bug reports yet, then there are plenty of simple guides online! Well documented bugs with clear and simple reproduction steps, video evidence, and a friendly attitude go a monumental way towards helping get that bug fixed. When you provide a great bug report you’ve made fixing the issue way easier, saving the developer time, and therefore money, and have been genuinely valuable. Report those bugs, and report them well, friend! 

Hey Ms. Developer, I found an issue on level 2, here’s a video. I’m running Gentoo, but it happens on Ubuntu 18.04 as well, with driver 478.28 on my GTX 1180 that I transported in from the future. Let me know if you need more information!

 

You likely have a superpower

Sometimes it’s easy to forget the most significant power you have — the power to vote with your wallet. This superpower isn’t granted to everyone, we don’t all have disposable income, but for those of us that do, I say spend it wisely and well.

Here’s a general guide on how to do this:

  • Always buy on Linux, but only once a Linux version is announced
  • Buy direct from the developer if possible
  • Never use grey-market key sites, there’s no guarantee the purchase will be tagged correctly or that the developer will get the money
  • Play on Linux and soon after purchasing

Following these Four Simple Steps™ (scientists hate them) should guarantee that you show up as a Linux user and that the developer gets a bigger and visibly penguin shaped paycheck. Of course, in some instances, maybe you want Valve or GOG to get a bigger cut. If so, then go for it, I’m not your Mom, jeez.

 

You have a mighty fine voice

There’s a time and place for strong and powerful support, but when it’s misplaced it can come across like zealotry and be very damaging. At times things can get heated, and anger can get vented without realizing who might be reading, or the damage being done to the community. It’s especially hard to for a bigger company to defend themselves, so extra help from the community can be a real boon. A simple down-vote or equivalent can help a little, but what about an overt expression of friendliness? This can work wonders. Spread the love, it’s one of the most powerful ways to disarm and counter negativity.

A: You idiot, it’s easy to get game X onto Linux, it’s only 2D!

B: Hey friendo, I know where you’re coming from, I wish it were easy too, but I think we just disagree. Have you tried game Y on Linux though? It’s 2D too, and I really like it! You might too! 

 

Your time, and money, are more valuable than you think

This one is a simple numbers game. In a smaller community, a single user has far more value than they would have had among a larger crowd. Perhaps only 100 Linux sales of an indie game are enough to make that version worthwhile financially, compared to the 10 thousand or so Windows purchases needed. Your purchase is a full 100 times more important to that developer than any of those Windows bozos! The same applies to time spent on reporting bugs or helping in beta. Flex those 100-fold bigger muscles! 

Uh oh, my muscles are too big and I’m trapped in this room. HULK STUCK. HELP!

 

You can practice respect and reciprocation

These are both things worth living by anyway, but it’s key to remember when to apply them. As a developer, I have so much respect for the work put into creating any game, however tiny, but especially for what it might have taken to bring the game on Linux, and to fix all the issues that will have been found doing so. I’ve spent weeks on single graphics bugs in the driver, or memory corruptions caused by tiny differences in the compilers between platforms. I have immeasurable respect for the others who delve to help bring games to Linux, and because of this, I don’t think too hard of those who have failed or have given up. I reciprocate those efforts, successful or otherwise, with love, direct messages, donations, Patreon subscriptions, advocating for the developer or simply buying their games. I think we can all do more of those, one way or another.

Whoa, Nelly! This Beta is a good start @GameDevDerp, but it’s a little buggy. Much appreciated though! Can I help to polish it?

 

Always remember, it’s complicated…

In the programmer community we have a shared wisdom — first estimate how long you think something might take, then times that by three. If you don’t know how many problems you might face, have a guess, then times it by 3, and estimate how long each of those might take by using the first rule again. As an outsider, I think it’s safe to say that even 3 is too small a number. Things that are simple in our minds can be orders of magnitude more complicated in practice, and it’s especially true when talking about the hydra that is game development. Solve one issue, 5 more can appear! It can be a wild ride. Bear this in mind when thinking about the work being done and you’ll go a long way.

Wait so that’s 3 times more issues, and 3 times longer, so 9 times the original, but each fix makes 5 more appear? Is that 45 or 14 times more? How does math work?

 

And lastly, everything you just read is wrong

Well, it’s not all completely wrong, but no tidbit of wisdom applies in all contexts. Sometimes it’s simply best to take a nice big step back, and let things happen. HexDSL recently had a wonderful small rant about this here. And besides, being an enthusiastic advocate can be hard work, we penguins have a tough time typing with flippers, and don’t even have vocal chords. Take a breather, preen those feathers, throw up some fish, and let fate handle the ways of this mysterious world.

LinuxPerson24601: *silence*

 

Well done! If you’ve read this far then it’s likely you’re now a Linux gaming zen master. Go out and spread that genius, you’ve earned it. Maybe next time I’ll be writing a new article with tips on how to be humble about your popular platform!

Peace.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial
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About the author -
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I’m a programmer and avid gamer. I currently develop and game on Pop_OS, plus run Mint, Fedora and Raspbian at home. I work at Unity as a Linux specialist in the Sustained Engineering team, while also contracting for Valve. Formerly developer and Linux Group Lead at Feral. Any opinions and thoughts I write are mine personally and do not represent those of my employers.
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38 comments
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Nezchan 21 Jun, 2018
I'm a non-technical person myself for the most part, and one thing I appreciate about the more mainstream distros like Ubuntu is that for most problems all you need to do is a quick internet search and copy-paste the first solution you find. It takes a lot of the stress out of minor fixes and tweaks, and ties in with the earlier comments about how Linux users as a rule are good at bug reporting.

A lot of the distros have ways to set up the desktop in a similar way to Windows (MATE's "Redmond" layout, for instance) which makes the adoption process easier as well. People like having a familiar setup, and if they get adventurous later on it's pretty easy to change.

As to rebooting though, I do find I have to reboot way more than I'd like to. Sometimes that's for updates, but more often for lockups and weird interactions between things like Discord and other programs, or maybe pulseaudio being a butt again and disabling the mute feature or whatever. Part of that is likely because I have an older machine, but not entirely. The fortunate part is that Linux generally starts up really fast, so it's really not that much of a hardship, but it's something that does happen and we have to remember that it's troubling to new users.
Marc Di Luzio 21 Jun, 2018
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Quoting: cprnI don't know, man. I don't know. If this is the world you want to live in, with squishy people giving free hugs and saying nice things to everyone regardless of their behaviour, feel free, but I'm on Linux - I'm nice to people who earned my respect, to everyone else I'm civilised.

I read the rest of your post and gotta say I do agree with a lot of that, especially about why we're here using Linux. That's something that's good to point out and be reminded.

Obviously, when there are issues with the Linux version, those are not to be ignored by us, and if the dev doesn't seemingly care to address them then yes, it rightly should be called out so others don't also buy into a broken product.

I actually don't think much of this disagrees with my suggestions - being just civilized for the worst cases sounds perfectly fine :). The truth is you don't have to do any of this if you don't think a dev deserves it, just don't do the opposite cause that's not gonna get us anywhere, I'm sure we're on the same page there.

Quote
  • Always buy on Linux, but only once a Linux version is announced

  • Buy direct from the developer if possible

So to clarify, those are part of a guide to aid in helping the devs that have earned your respect. The first one is to strengthen the platform in the statistics, and yes in general I'd say don't even pre-order at all if you can help it, TB and others have explained that tenfold! If they don't have a good refund policy (ie. they're breaking the law these days), then of course they don't deserve your respect and therefore you can act civilised instead of throwing money at them. Seems fine :)


Last edited by Marc Di Luzio on 21 June 2018 at 4:38 pm UTC
cbones 21 Jun, 2018
In addition to "buy on Linux, play soon on Linux" I would add, "if you insist on dual-boot/using WINE, buy on Linux and don't play it for a few weeks"
denyasis 21 Jun, 2018
I think these are some great points and a good reminder to be civilized/polite with the people/devs we interact with. Personal attacks and insults never help us. I'm glad that is such a rarity on this site.


Quoting: KelsI'm a non-technical person myself for the most part, and one thing I appreciate about the more mainstream distros like Ubuntu is that for most problems all you need to do is a quick internet search and copy-paste the first solution you find. It takes a lot of the stress out of minor fixes and tweaks, and ties in with the earlier comments about how Linux users as a rule are good at bug reporting.

That brought back a few memories that made me LOL a bit, thanks. I remember when I first tried linux and my issues were in the network (pre-smarphone / wifi). I had to unplug the modem and walk it up/down the stairs to my father's computer to look up the solutions, write them down, unhook the modem, walk it back and hook it all up. I was so mad, but too stubborn to give up. I'm glad I didn't.


ps- I still have my original 15+ year old txt files that I would type the commands into to save them along with my notes of what they did/fixed. I still do that to this day, although more and more of them are hyperlinks to the ARCH wiki and other places.
Salvatos 21 Jun, 2018
Quoting: denyasisps- I still have my original 15+ year old txt files that I would type the commands into to save them along with my notes of what they did/fixed. I still do that to this day, although more and more of them are hyperlinks to the ARCH wiki and other places.
I can relate. Not with the first part since I could always reboot on Windows or use my laptop to look things up, thankfully, but I still have a "linux instructions" file tucked away for various fixes and tweaks ranging from printer drivers to Gnome or GTK tweaks, how to get MIDI to work (I still have trouble with that one) or useful ImageMagick commands for when I have some batch processing to do. Which reminds me I should look into fixing my scrollbars again.
TurtleShark 21 Jun, 2018
Quoting: g000hFeel I can share some of my perspective on this:

A big thing that stops the average person from adopting Linux is technical ability. The average person never installs an operating system and frankly doesn't want to install one. They just want it there on the PC/laptop which they purchase. Of course, when their Operating System (or hardware) stops working, then often they can't solve the problem themselves and need to find someone technical to help them out. [It would be good to have lots of decent quality walk-through videos and tutorials on the web, explaining how to do things - for new adopters. Too many videos ramble and don't provide concise information.]

If that person received a computer with no OS, then Linux is actually a very pleasant experience to get up and running. Also, when a person has an old computer where maybe the Windows install is messed up and needs replacing, these computers can be refreshed with a Linux install and a simple desktop (e.g. XFCE). Linux with a lean desktop can run amazingly well on low-spec or old hardware. [I personally have Xubuntu on a 4GB RAM Chromebook with Celeron processor, and it boots up to the desktop in less than 10 seconds.]

What these people need is help (to install) and encouragement (it'll run nice and fast, you won't get any viruses, it is legal and free, and there are plenty of games to play on it - Steam, GOG, itch, etc.) Linux enthusiasts can help with this. It helps to be friendly and pleasant to newbies. A RTFM attitude does not help with user adoption.

Also, there are many people who'd be happy to give Linux a go, *but* don't want to get rid of Windows, and we can help them to get a dual-boot environment set up. Tell them all the great things about Linux - The fact that the OS isn't spying on them, you can have a very fast resource-light machine (which boots in seconds), you don't have to suffer the slow-downs that occur in Windows every time it goes through patch updates, the fact that you don't have to reboot Linux anything like as often as Windows, the fact that you can customise the system any way you want (not restricted like the Mac / Windows world).

Aside from platform adoption, which I've just been mentioning, many of the points made by mdiluz I'm in complete agreement with. One thing I'd like to see is less confrontation in the Linux gaming forums and posts. It isn't winning us friends to fight amongst ourselves (e.g. GOG vs Steam, Debian vs Redhat, DRM-free vs DRM, and name-calling and derision between competing sides. Sure, discuss things, but keep it polite and respectful.)

On the subject of game developers, we Linux game-purchasers, need to be polite and respectful there as well!!!


I have recently changed over from Windows 10 to gaming on Linux (well, technically I dual boot for Rainbow six siege, but only when my friends are online that play that alone. It is the ONLY thing installed! All my other games are awesomely Linux).

I have found a lot of the arguments against Linux to be oddly familiar. Then it hit me... They are a lot of the same arguments I heard 2004-2014 about PC gaming vs console gaming.

"People don't want to learn how to build a PC! They just want to plug it in and have it work!"
"I don't want to deal with error messages and figuring things out. Just want to play games."
"But there's no games on PC! All my favorite exclusives (Uncharted, Halo, etc.) are on Xbox360/PS3"
"But X game didn't work well on PC, works great on my console" (Game came out for the console and got ported to PC)
"PC's great for OLD games. All the new exclusives are for the consoles."

AND my favorite
"Desktop PC's are dead"

Now that niche "dying" PC gaming market isn't so niche...

The technical difficulty will be a hurtle to overcome, but I don't think it will stop (maybe stunt a little) the growth of the community. In fact, for me personally, it is what interested me in Linux to begin with. After I realized how many games are actually compatible, and the awesomeness/freedom of Linux, I decided to stay.
Leopard 21 Jun, 2018
Quoting: Guest
Quoting: GustyGhostOf course, there are also developers who simply don't care and have only released builds to linux just because there was an option to export to that platform. "More money? Yes, please." "But I have to properly support that platform? Yuck." We can all think of a game that is chronically broken and neglected by a team that promised X and Y and Z platforms because it sounded nice (or it made more sales) only to stomp their boot into the faces of users requesting fixes. I get that this guide is all ra-ra-ree be nice to the devs but I will maintain the course of berating those who broke user trust.

Berating the devs will get you one thing - a pulled Linux build, and no future support.

I think that is not the case always.

From your POV , you got death threaths etc which i wasn't a Linux gamer that time but that was an unfortunate thing.

But times are changing and if companies keep this hatred all the time i think that way:

1-) That is a little bit unfair. Even in real life we put someone in the nemesis category after so much thinking and simply there is no choice left.

2-) When this attitude keeps like that it also shows they wasn't really into supporting. Which GOG and CDPR shows that clearly i think. No Galaxy on Linux , no Witcher 1 port , no Witcher 3 etc.

So sadly after these incidents , i stopped buying from GOG. Because i'm not interested to buy anything from a store that simply dislikes our community.

Although , i bought Witcher 2 on Steam because it is a good port for me , VP put effort into it , Valve is a direct contributor for Linux gaming. So that is a complete solution for me to respecting hard work and also play a good game.

GOG and CDPR with that attitude , is equal to me as a non existing company. Sure , we are not populated as Mac , as Windows but if that means being second class citizen then i choose to not be a part of that country ( GOG in this case :P )
tonR 21 Jun, 2018
Great article! Especially on "You can have tangible value" part.

And for such niche gaming community, Linux gamers are the most diverse gaming community I ever seen. Multiple backgrounds and from multiple countries with mutiple views are join together to make Linux gaming better.

For example here in GOL, there are 7,579 registered users equivalent to small town in many countries. But people here has lots opinion which cause lots of disagreement in article's comments section. So, that's shows how we love Linux gaming as whole.

Quoting: TurtleSharkI have found a lot of the arguments against Linux to be oddly familiar. Then it hit me... They are a lot of the same arguments I heard 2004-2014 about PC gaming vs console gaming.

"People don't want to learn how to build a PC! They just want to plug it in and have it work!"
"I don't want to deal with error messages and figuring things out. Just want to play games."
"But there's no games on PC! All my favorite exclusives (Uncharted, Halo, etc.) are on Xbox360/PS3"
"But X game didn't work well on PC, works great on my console" (Game came out for the console and got ported to PC)
"PC's great for OLD games. All the new exclusives are for the consoles."


AND my favorite
"Desktop PC's are dead"

Now that niche "dying" PC gaming market isn't so niche...

Decades later..... Microsoft combined Xbox and Windows 10 become singular platform known as Xbox Play Anywhere. So much for console exclusivity and optimization.
GustyGhost 21 Jun, 2018
Quoting: GuestBerating the devs will get you one thing - a pulled Linux build, and no future support.

One less piece of proprietary garbage infesting this platform is a victory in my book.
mirv 21 Jun, 2018
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Quoting: GustyGhost
Quoting: GuestBerating the devs will get you one thing - a pulled Linux build, and no future support.

One less piece of proprietary garbage infesting this platform is a victory in my book.

There's simply no excuse for the "berating" done to which jaycee is referring. None. At all. It was nothing approaching any form of victory. If this article had been back then....well, I should have stood up back then and done more to reproach people, to mention everything in this article, and to my shame and continued regret, I did not.

So please, no, I think that's the wrong attitude. Encourage FOSS, point out its virtues, don't just put down proprietary software. That's the whole point of this article.
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