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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 -
author picture
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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Liam Dawe 21 Jun, 2018
Quoting: mirv
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.
Glad someone with a cool head replied to that before me...

Just to point out, a good 99% of what we cover here is proprietary. Just some food for thought ;)

Honestly, I'm still surprised at how cool the comments are here, good job everyone!
antisol 21 Jun, 2018
I've been advocating for Linux gaming for many years now. I'm pretty zen. I've put a fair bit of thought into it. Here are my guidelines. Note that the effect of all of these is increased if more people do the same:


0. Vote with your wallet


The single most important thing you can do is give money to the people who give you Linux games, and deny money to the people who don't. Both parts of this are important, as is communication, see #1.

BUY THE GAME. Don't pirate games. If you can't afford all the games you want, wait for a sale. You want your gameplay to show up in their statistics, and you ABSOLUTELY don't want to show up as a pirated Linux client on their servers.


0a. Vote with your wallet

If you have the money, don't wait for a sale for the game you want, pay full price. Reward the devs financially for supporting your platform.


0b. Vote with your wallet

Only buy games on Linux. Only buy games after the Linux client has been released, don't pre-order games on the promise of a Linux client. Too many times, we've been promised a Linux client and then screwed over (I'm looking at you, Unreal Tournament 3). The only way to discourage this is to not buy until there's Linux support.

If you want to be hardcore like me, don't play any games on windows or using wine, ever, and don't buy any game that doesn't support Linux, no matter how much you want to play it (Oh how I want the new Doom!).


1. Be vocal

If you want a game ported to Linux, get on their forums of steam discussions - preferably somewhere where the devs will see it - and say that you'll buy the game as soon as a Linux version comes out. My preferred phrasing is something along the lines of "I'd really like to give you my money, but I only buy games with Linux support". Do this for every game you would buy. Those huge steam threads with hundreds of "+1 Linux" posts are equivalent to hundreds of lost sales. Let's make it thousands!

KEEP THAT PROMISE! If the game does get ported and a Linux client comes out, buy it ASAP, and send them an email saying thanks as per #2 below. The gamingonlinux RSS feeds are a great way to keep abreast of new games coming out.

DON'T. FEED. THE. TROLLS.

For every "I'll buy this when you support Linux" post on steam, there's a windows user who has nothing better to do than tell you that "Lunix is T3h SuXx00r!". I work on the assumption that these people are just killing time because they're waiting for one of their unskippable update/reboot/update/reboot/crash/reboot/update/reboot/reinstall cycles to finish. Don't respond to these trolls. If you MUST respond, keep it short, factual, and emotionless, citing your sources. But don't do it! Another option is to report these posts as offtopic/abuse. Don't be a zealot and don't get involved in flamewars, you just make us all look bad.

Value honest communication from devs. If a dev tells you "we're not going to support Linux, sorry", don't rage and fume, say "thanks for taking the time to reply and for your honesty". Raging and fuming will get you nowhere, but being nice might make them more likely to want to port their next game.

If a dev says "we'd like to support Linux, but it's not economical to port it", tell them about Ryan C Gordon, aka icculus, the elder god of Linux gaming (and a nice guy, too, just don't ask him about UT3). And tell Ryan about them. Ryan is making enough from patreon that he will sometimes do ports for free. Go give him your money.


2. Thank developers who give you a Linux version

For many of the games I play and enjoy on Linux, I send the developer a personal email saying "I love your game. Thanks so much for the Linux version!"

This is intended to give these devs a nice warm fuzzy feeling, which gives them a more positive perception of the Linux community. Hopefully that will encourage them to continue to support Linux in their future games.


3. When you have problems, don't be a jerk

If you run into a bug, make a good bug report and send it to the dev. BE FRIENDLY. Ask "Is there anything else I can do to help you track this down?". Don't call the dev an idiot or use words like "unacceptable", "crap", etc, no matter how serious the problem is and how straightforward the mistake is. Almost zero of these people are using Linux as their primary OS, and not many are familiar with it. They might make newbie mistakes. If they do, help them in a friendly way so that they can fix it, learn something, AND have a positive experience of the Linux community.


4. Stand up for yourself, don't let the dev be a jerk

Having said that, if the problem is major and you don't get any response to your bug report in a reasonable time (be *very* reasonable - I usually leave a few weeks, and I'll send 3-4 emails over that time), get a refund for the game, then send the dev an email saying that you got a refund due to the unacceptable support and maybe that you won't be buying their games in future (Hi, Phil Fish!). Having a horribly broken and unsupported Linux port is worse than having no port at all, do not support these developers. But realise that fixing Linux issues is probably not going to be their top priority and there might just be one person trying to deal with all the Linux-specific stuff - don't expect the support to be super fast. If it is super-fast, say "wow, that was super fast! Thanks so much!" (Hi, Running With Scissors!)


5. Be Excellent To Each Other

Help others if the opportunity arises. Even better, if you're bored, look for ways to help others. Just don't be a jerk. A lot of these points boil down to not being a jerk. You're the face of a community, act like it. We want devs to enjoy corresponding with us, and we want windows users saying "those Linux nerds are nice people, maybe I should give Linux a go". SO BE NICE, OR ELSE! ;)

GustyGhost 22 Jun, 2018
Quoting: mirv
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.

I think you and I are talking about two different types of developers.

Quoting: liamdaweJust to point out, a good 99% of what we cover here is proprietary. Just some food for thought ;)

Why might individuals strongly aligned with software freedom be interested in the trends of proprietary game software? More food for thought.
elmapul 22 Jun, 2018
" 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"

i dont get this sentence
Salvatos 22 Jun, 2018
Quoting: antisol(snip)
Post of the year? Post of the year.

Quoting: GustyGhostWhy might individuals strongly aligned with software freedom be interested in the trends of proprietary game software? More food for thought.
Easy to answer as far as I'm concerned. I don't need nor want to see the internal workings of the video games I play. Those companies and creators sell experiences. I buy the experience, enjoy it and move along. I don't care how it runs and I don't need to tweak it, unlike a browser or an e-mail client or an operating system. Same as I don't care for source files for the music I listen to or the books I read, or the recipes for the food I eat in restaurants. I'm interested in the finished product, bundled up and ready to consume in a specific form.

I find it amazing that people like the 0 A.D. crowd have been making an entirely open game and are actually getting somewhere with it. But at the end of the day I'm never going to actually look at the sources and it's completely irrelevant to my enjoyment of the product.

Quoting: elmapul" 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"

i dont get this sentence
I think the reasoning is that the devs are going to make the game for Windows primarily and it will require a very large investment -- and a proportionally large number of sales to break even. Provided that they are doing this step no matter what, the extra work to port to Linux represents only a fraction of the cost, and therefore doesn't require nearly as many sales to be lucrative in itself.
RussianNeuroMancer 22 Jun, 2018
Quoting: antisoldon't expect the support to be super fast. If it is super-fast, say "wow, that was super fast! Thanks so much!" (Hi, Running With Scissors!)
Yeah, fast support is rare and in my opinion should be rewarded (I bought two additional copies of Mini Metro because of fast issue workaround from developers).
mirv 22 Jun, 2018
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Quoting: GustyGhost
Quoting: mirv
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.

I think you and I are talking about two different types of developers.

Quoting: liamdaweJust to point out, a good 99% of what we cover here is proprietary. Just some food for thought ;)

Why might individuals strongly aligned with software freedom be interested in the trends of proprietary game software? More food for thought.

More food for thought: developers of (closed source) games actively contribute to open source drivers. ID Software all started as closed source. Libre Office started from Open Office, itself based on (closed source) Star Office. Same for Blender. And 0 A.D.

Closed projects can become open. Open projects can be used on open and closed source projects (think GCC), and should be aware of industry trends.
cprn 22 Jun, 2018
Quoting: GuestBerating the devs will get you one thing - a pulled Linux build, and no future support.

It might. I know this makes more sense when talking about software in general (because you have to be able to trust your software, games not necessarily) but do we even care if people who already failed to deliver give up on us? I personally don't. If they reiterate, take the feedback like men, fix the issues, probably learn something in the process - respect. If they don't? Oh, well.
cprn 22 Jun, 2018
Quoting: liamdawe[...] Honestly, I'm still surprised at how cool the comments are here, good job everyone!

What did you expect? :D
Smilex 22 Jun, 2018
One thing I feel was neglected by OP, which I find to be very important, is to remember to dance.

dance.

dance.

But more importantly - remember to let go of farts while dancing. I know there's potential that it becomes very awkward, but the stomach ache you get by not letting go, makes it difficult to stay in a good dancing mood. So, fart.

fart.

fart.
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