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Unknown Worlds are dumping the Linux version of Natural Selection 2

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Some sad news to share this Friday evening, as Unknown Worlds Entertainment have announced they're calling it a day for the Linux version of Natural Selection 2. They will, however, continue their Linux server.

Posted in an official announcement on the NS2 website, they claim they're doing this as a result of it apparently being "more difficult to support and develop for the platform natively" including issues like not finding enough users with QA experience to help.

Unlike what happened with Rust, they're not offering refunds to previous buyers. They say to claim a refund from Valve if you purchased it in the last "30" days which isn't even right, it's two weeks and under two hours on Valve's refund option. Update: They adjusted the announcement to mention this is being allowed "from Valve outside the normal Steam refund policy".

Something they noted, is that they've "verified" Natural Selection 2 works in Steam Play saying it "can offer the same or in some cases even better performance on Linux than user experienced before". Sadly ProtonDB has nothing to back that up. They didn't say they would support it, just that it currently works.

The particularly stinging end to the post thanks Linux client users who "helped and gave support from over the years".

Looks like they have already purged Linux from the Steam store page too.

I'm not too happy considering NS2 was a personal purchase. I also upgraded my own copy to their deluxe edition and gifted quite a few copies of it to friends over the years to try to get more people into it.

To be blunt though, this simply sounds like a cost-cutting measure for a game that is way past its prime. For an online shooter, it has an incredibly low player-base and it regularly struggles to even hit 400 players and going by the charts on SteamDB it continues to trend downwards.

This does bring to light an issue here. While yes, we do have Steam Play, again the issue of support that I've raised before comes up. Anyone who purchased it to support them because they had a Linux version are now force to either run it unsupported or not at all. It doesn't sit right with me that games can just be taken away like that.

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sub 14 Sep, 2019
Quoting: Liam Dawe
Quoting: subWe will most likely see more and more devs dropping Linux support or not considering it right from the start.
You mean exactly like it was before Steam Play then?

I was asking for reliable numbers.
Would allow us to stop speculating about that.

Is there an API to extract from Steam all newly released games within one month and which platforms they support? If we'd do this - back to when Steam for Linux was released - that would surely provide some insight where the fraction of native Linux games is trending.
Including the influence of the rise and fall of Steam Machines.

If you have already posted such numbers, please point me to it. :)


Last edited by sub on 14 September 2019 at 7:05 am UTC
Vortex_Acherontic 14 Sep, 2019
Quoting: OrkultusI had a feeling the entire time that Proton was going to cause more drops in native linux support in games. I love Proton don't get me wrong, it's the best thing to happen for Linux gaming, but Native is just so much better.

There are some good native ports out there but also there are a lot native ports which just don't work or have very poor performance or doesn't look as good as the windows counterpart.

To name a few native games I play with Wine/Proton for various reasons:

- ARK: Survival Evolved:
-- Poor performance, graphic glitches and absolutely ugly compared to the windows build
- Mr. Shifty:
-- Just launching one time, broken controls and the Unity config folder has to be cleared to be able to run the game again
- Tomb Raider [2013]:
-- Poor performance
- Mad Max / Alien Isolation / Shadow of Mordor
-- Broken Ubuntu libraries shipped with the game (For the Feral Launcher only) which needs to be manually fixed
-- Since I upgraded to a rolling release also the launcher complains about missing symbols in libSDL_image who knows why (didn't fixed that right now because I'm too lazy if it runs out of the box with Proton I see no need there)
- 7 Days to Die
-- Horrible performance with the Linux build but with Proton I do have even a lot better performance than any windows user I know
- Dying Light
-- A little bit worse performance and game crashes when somebody makes a special move (Smashing a zombies head while in air)
- Every Saints Row title / Borderlands 2
-- Incompatible with the windows build and also poor performance

and on and on and on.
To summarize it, I don't care if I do have official native or official Proton/Wine support as long as I can play the game with less trouble and fixing stuff. And I would advice and dev to a) develop entirely on Linux and than port to windows (I know some what controversial :D) or b) do what you know and just make sure Wine and/or Proton works as well, like the guys from No Mans Sky are doing :D


Last edited by Vortex_Acherontic on 14 September 2019 at 8:15 am UTC
dreamer_ 14 Sep, 2019
Quoting: rkfgOkay, so I knew this for a couple of weeks already (was told by a developer who asked me to test the game on Proton) but since it's now official then here's some more info.

If you have direct contact with the developer, can you ask what is their stance on releasing the source code?

I bought NS2 years ago, but the initial Linux version was unplayable on my machine, so I've never gotten into it properly…
rkfg 14 Sep, 2019
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Quoting: F.Ultra
Quoting: Sir_Diealot
Quoting: F.Ultra
Quoting: rkfgI have a feeling that as SteamPlay becomes more and more reliable this situation will become common. I wonder what Valve would do if anything at all.

I hardly think that they pulled the native Linux build due to SteamPlay when you need a custom build of Proton to make it work.

Eh, it *will* work through SteamPlay. Good enough for the Linux folks.

Well if "not working properly" is what they deem good enough for Linux folks then I still don't see how they would not have played this card without SteamPlay.
It won't work on current Proton because it ships a slightly outdated Wine version. When they switch to a newer Wine NS2 will work fine (except for the issues I've described). For now there's a big memory leak in one of the Wine-provided functions, quoting the developer:
QuoteThe wine maintainers fixed the issues related to us (or better Luajit) using the 64 bit zero bit offset with NTAllocMemory with the release of 4.14
You need a custom proton build which is already based on wine 4.14
rkfg 14 Sep, 2019
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Quoting: dreamer_
Quoting: rkfgOkay, so I knew this for a couple of weeks already (was told by a developer who asked me to test the game on Proton) but since it's now official then here's some more info.

If you have direct contact with the developer, can you ask what is their stance on releasing the source code?

I bought NS2 years ago, but the initial Linux version was unplayable on my machine, so I've never gotten into it properly…
I asked the developer and here's what he answered (Liam, add this to the article if you want to):

QuoteThere are some licensing issues that don't make it possible to release the full codebase of spark to the public. During the early times of development UWE licensed modules of spark to 3rd parties for additional funds. Right now from UWE's perspective it's not worth it spending time and money to resolve that.

Also with engines like unity and unreal available it's not really worth it for a studio like UWE to continue to invest in their own engine.

We will look into ns2-specific issues with wine. We already added a workaround for the NtAllocateVirtualMemory related issues with wine below version 4.15

Something else to note is that essentially the decision to drop Linux came down to dropping support for all renderers beside DX11 long term. So we can add additional render features without having to port them for the other renderers. The OpenGL renderer wasn't in a good place to start with and we just lack a full time developer to just focus on that. And we don't have the budget to invest into a Vulkan renderer. But we would be more than happy to welcome a community developer who's willing to work on the native Linux client just for the sake of it. Of course that developer would need to sign our CDT NDA to get access to the engine's source code.

So if anyone's up to making a Vulkan renderer or supporting the existing one, you're welcome! Mind that the engine is still closed source and under an NDA and you most likely won't get paid for that. That said the alternative ways to get money always exist, like Patreon. The NS2 community is small but dedicated, I myself clocked 3760 hours to date and I don't see a reason to stop.
dubigrasu 14 Sep, 2019
While unsupported, will the Linux client be still downloadable (and able to start a local server) or simply removed completely?
Liam Dawe 14 Sep, 2019
Update: They adjusted the announcement to mention the 30 day refund is being allowed "from Valve outside the normal Steam refund policy".


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 14 September 2019 at 1:06 pm UTC
rkfg 14 Sep, 2019
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Quoting: dubigrasuWhile unsupported, will the Linux client be still downloadable (and able to start a local server) or simply removed completely?
Just in case, you can use the not often used Steam function to backup the game files and restore them afterwards. The build 329 is set to be released on Monday (if nothing bad happens) from what I heard on public Discord channels so not much time left.
morbius 14 Sep, 2019
No reason to hold grudge against this developer, NS2 supported Linux when hardly any game did. And by now, NS2 has ran its course, this sort of move is well justified.
dubigrasu 14 Sep, 2019
Quoting: rkfg
Quoting: dubigrasuWhile unsupported, will the Linux client be still downloadable (and able to start a local server) or simply removed completely?
Just in case, you can use the not often used Steam function to backup the game files and restore them afterwards. The build 329 is set to be released on Monday (if nothing bad happens) from what I heard on public Discord channels so not much time left.
Yes, I was wondering if I have to resort to that eventually. Could be also possible to use steam -console to download older builds I suppose.
Truth be told though, I don't see myself playing the game again, I was just curious about what are their intentions regarding the obsolete build. For example Rust devs (initially) removed the Linux support but allowed it to be downloadable, and only later on they actually removed it.
(Is not exactly the same case yes, in Rust case they kept releasing newer, albeit unsupported builds.)
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