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A look at the Penumbra Collection on Linux with Mesa in 2020

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When I switched to using Linux full time in the spring of 2007, my first recourse for gaming was either emulation or playing many of my old ported favourites from id Software. It did not take me long to start looking further afield in search of other quality Linux native titles, but in a time when digital distribution was in its infancy, and the Indie revolution that it would bring had not quite started yet, new games were few and far between.

At the same time, a small startup in Sweden was hard at work trying to expand their original Penumbra tech demo into a series of full fledged episodic horror games. The Penumbra Collection would be the ultimate result of that effort, with Linux support being provided by Edward Rudd. It would even go on to have its first instalment included as part of the original Humble Indie Bundle. The game soon caught my eye due to its strong graphics and advanced physics engine.

I have never been one to be frightened by video games, but thanks to its skilful environmental storytelling, strong writing, and accomplished vocal talent, the Penumbra Collection got its hooks into me all the same. Frictional Games would go on to even greater acclaim with the release of Amnesia: The Dark Descent only a few months after I first played, but it is the Penumbra Collection that is always going to hold a special place in my heart.

It pains me to say then, in spite of the still excellent support that Frictional Games gives to our platform, that the state of the Penumbra Collection for a number of Linux users has become such a mess. Ten years on I found myself with little option other than running my old copy of the Penumbra Collection from the now defunct Desura service; the closure of the company’s own storefront leaving no other recourse for those wishing to avoid the use of Steam.

Regardless, the version of the game that I have (1.1.1 released on December 4, 2014) appears even now to be the most recent release of the Penumbra Collection. This includes a number of much appreciated quality of life improvements over earlier versions such as offering support for more modern display resolutions, better audio handling through the use of an improved OALWrapper, and everything being reworked to run on top of SDL2.

 

At first blush the game installed and ran great, right up until I tried to leave the fishing boat at the start of the first episode in the series Penumbra: Overture. Upon attempting to load the next level the game would immediately crash to the desktop; a similar problem occurred upon using the vice at the start of the second episode Penumbra: Black Plague. It did not take long for me to discover that the solution was to build a custom Mesa package yet again.

For whatever reason, the Penumbra Collection will crash when Mesa is built with compiler optimizations applied. This can be mitigated by Arch Linux users through the use of the Arch Build System, or by generating your own Mesa build manually. Either option is far from ideal of course, and while officially the game does only support proprietary vendor drivers, almost all users of both AMD and Intel graphics hardware on Linux will now run into this issue.

Also alarming is that while trying to diagnose the problem I uncovered a separate bug that causes the game to crash when using modern versions of the libvorbis library. My copy of the Penumbra Collection came bundled with an older "libvorbis.so.0" file included in the the game's various "lib" directories, so I was able to sidestep this issue, but it is always a bad sign when a game refuses to run off the libraries that come supplied with your Linux distribution.

Ten years on the Penumbra Collection plays as strong as ever, even if my appreciation for Overture has increased as my over familiarity with Black Plague has lessened its impact. More than any other game, I wish I could go back to 2010 and play these titles with a fresh pair of eyes, especially since solving puzzles in the wrong order can on occasion confuse the narrative. What need do I have for the severed hand of Dr. Eminiss when I already have one in my bag?

Frictional Games are hard at work on their next Amnesia title, and while I know that keeping old games updated can become an aggravating support burden, I do still hope that the developers can come back to the Penumbra Collection, fix up these issues that will continue to plague a growing number of Linux users, and then spread the game to even more stores. To be left with creaking binaries from a shuttered distribution service is disheartening for a game that remains so dear to me.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, and farm labourer living in Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and more information on him can be found at his icculus.org hompage where he lists everything he is currently involved in.
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25 comments
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mos 22 May
x_winglist a HD6870
yep, that's where I've got my assumption from.

as for the crash.. well anything can break anything in computing, especially in a highly-volatile world of complex programmable frame-buffer devices)

whether in this case the blame lies on mesa/Arch/penumbra/driver or spread across multiple parties is open for discussion I guess.
Hamish 22 May
So this is interesting. When going back to try and provide the core dump that x_wing requested I discovered that Overture no longer crashes when you leave the fishing boat, even when using the stock lib32-mesa package supplied by Arch Linux.

Downgrading the package reveals that the fix was introduced with lib32-mesa-20.0.7-2 built on May 15th. A couple of days after I first started drafting this article.

Black Plague still crashes when attempting to flatten the coin in the vice, however. Here is the backtrace:
#0  0xf537355b in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#1  0xf4e90e77 in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#2  0xf4e927ca in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#3  0xf502629c in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#4  0xf50280fa in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#5  0x083f42a1 in hpl::cSDLTexture::CreateFromBitmapToHandle(hpl::iBitmap2D*, int) ()
#6  0x083f5609 in hpl::cSDLTexture::CreateFromBitmap(hpl::iBitmap2D*) ()
#7  0x08381716 in hpl::cTextureManager::CreateFlatTexture(std::string const&, bool, bool, hpl::eTextureType, hpl::eTextureTarget, unsigned int) ()
#8  0x083794ec in hpl::cMaterialManager::LoadFromFile(std::string const&, std::string const&) ()
#9  0x08379c8a in hpl::cMaterialManager::CreateMaterial(std::string const&) ()
#10 0x082f8790 in hpl::cParticleEmitterData3D_UserData::LoadFromElement(TiXmlElement*) ()
#11 0x082f11fd in hpl::cParticleSystemData3D::LoadFromFile(std::string const&) ()
#12 0x08395cab in hpl::cParticleManager::CreatePS3D(std::string const&, std::string const&, hpl::cVector3<float>, hpl::cMatrix<float> const&) ()
#13 0x0835584a in hpl::cWorld3D::CreateParticleSystem(std::string const&, std::string const&, hpl::cVector3<float> const&, hpl::cMatrix<float> const&) ()
#14 0x08324561 in ?? ()
#15 0x0857d482 in CallSTDCallFunction(unsigned long const*, int, unsigned int) ()
#16 0x0857da17 in CallSystemFunction(int, asCContext*, void*) ()
#17 0x085a0e4d in asCContext::ExecuteNext() ()
#18 0x085a38ce in asCContext::Execute() ()
#19 0x085632ce in asCScriptEngine::ExecuteString(char const*, char const*, asIScriptContext**, unsigned long) ()
#20 0x0841da38 in hpl::cSqScript::Run(std::string const&) ()
#21 0x081a5879 in cInit::RunScriptCommand(std::string const&) ()
#22 0x0827bf65 in cGameWheel::RunCallback(eGameWheelState, eGameWheelAction) ()
#23 0x0827c2ab in cGameWheel::Update(float) ()
#24 0x082a7764 in iGameEntity::OnUpdate(float) ()
#25 0x082076ef in cMapHandler::Update(float) ()
#26 0x08322a97 in hpl::cUpdater::Update(float) ()
#27 0x0831f0f3 in hpl::cGame::Run() ()
#28 0x08246628 in hplMain(std::string const&) ()
#29 0x083e7cab in main ()


My Radeon HD 6870 still uses the older r600g drivers by the way. I do in fact have a Radeon RX 460 on order so that I can upgrade to amdgpu and gain Vulkan support among other things, but it has not arrived yet.


Last edited by Hamish on 22 May 2020 at 11:17 pm UTC
x_wing 22 May
HamishSo this is interesting. When going back to try and provide the core dump that x_wing requested I discovered that Overture no longer crashes when you leave the fishing boat, even when using the stock lib32-mesa package supplied by Arch Linux.

Downgrading the package reveals that the fix was introduced with lib32-mesa-20.0.7-2 built on May 15th. A couple of days after I first started drafting this article.

Black Plague still crashes when attempting to flatten the coin in the vice, however. Here is the backtrace:
#0  0xf537355b in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#1  0xf4e90e77 in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#2  0xf4e927ca in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#3  0xf502629c in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#4  0xf50280fa in ?? () from /usr/lib32/dri/r600_dri.so
#5  0x083f42a1 in hpl::cSDLTexture::CreateFromBitmapToHandle(hpl::iBitmap2D*, int) ()
#6  0x083f5609 in hpl::cSDLTexture::CreateFromBitmap(hpl::iBitmap2D*) ()
#7  0x08381716 in hpl::cTextureManager::CreateFlatTexture(std::string const&, bool, bool, hpl::eTextureType, hpl::eTextureTarget, unsigned int) ()
#8  0x083794ec in hpl::cMaterialManager::LoadFromFile(std::string const&, std::string const&) ()
#9  0x08379c8a in hpl::cMaterialManager::CreateMaterial(std::string const&) ()
#10 0x082f8790 in hpl::cParticleEmitterData3D_UserData::LoadFromElement(TiXmlElement*) ()
#11 0x082f11fd in hpl::cParticleSystemData3D::LoadFromFile(std::string const&) ()
#12 0x08395cab in hpl::cParticleManager::CreatePS3D(std::string const&, std::string const&, hpl::cVector3<float>, hpl::cMatrix<float> const&) ()
#13 0x0835584a in hpl::cWorld3D::CreateParticleSystem(std::string const&, std::string const&, hpl::cVector3<float> const&, hpl::cMatrix<float> const&) ()
#14 0x08324561 in ?? ()
#15 0x0857d482 in CallSTDCallFunction(unsigned long const*, int, unsigned int) ()
#16 0x0857da17 in CallSystemFunction(int, asCContext*, void*) ()
#17 0x085a0e4d in asCContext::ExecuteNext() ()
#18 0x085a38ce in asCContext::Execute() ()
#19 0x085632ce in asCScriptEngine::ExecuteString(char const*, char const*, asIScriptContext**, unsigned long) ()
#20 0x0841da38 in hpl::cSqScript::Run(std::string const&) ()
#21 0x081a5879 in cInit::RunScriptCommand(std::string const&) ()
#22 0x0827bf65 in cGameWheel::RunCallback(eGameWheelState, eGameWheelAction) ()
#23 0x0827c2ab in cGameWheel::Update(float) ()
#24 0x082a7764 in iGameEntity::OnUpdate(float) ()
#25 0x082076ef in cMapHandler::Update(float) ()
#26 0x08322a97 in hpl::cUpdater::Update(float) ()
#27 0x0831f0f3 in hpl::cGame::Run() ()
#28 0x08246628 in hplMain(std::string const&) ()
#29 0x083e7cab in main ()


My Radeon HD 6870 still uses the older r600g drivers by the way. I do in fact have a Radeon RX 460 on order so that I can upgrade to amdgpu and gain Vulkan support among other things, but it has not arrived yet.

Indeed, that build is related to the removal of the linker optimizations with gcc 10. I'm not sure if the issue is related with gcc or mesa (seems that it is the former as the opened ticket on mesa gitlab are closed now) but I think this is a good example of why Debian or other distros prefer a slower path regarding package upgrades

BTW: the game ships debug symbols?? Weird that they didn't strip the binary on release


Last edited by x_wing on 22 May 2020 at 11:51 pm UTC
Cyril 23 May
Still sad to see that GOG have not the Linux versions of the Penumbra games... I send an email about it this month and still no answer.
CyrilStill sad to see that GOG have not the Linux versions of the Penumbra games... I send an email about it this month and still no answer.

This is just my theory but I think issues like these are why it is not on GOG. To be more specific from what I have gathered GOG is very strict about providing the same support to all potential customers. For instance on the CRPG Beautiful Isolation the Linux version was late being on GOG but the developer mentioned that this was because on Steam they could simply choose to not support those that used AMD CPUs and GPUs on Linux as they had a bug on those setups at the moment. GOG would not allow them to do this and had they released the Linux version on GOG they would have to support all customers not just certain ones. Now luckily that bug got fixed and the Linux version for Beautiful Desolation is now on GOG but it makes me wonder how many Linux games that are not on GOG are due to not being able to blacklist customers like Steam allows them to. Again, just a theory.
x_wing 24 May
PublicNuisance
CyrilStill sad to see that GOG have not the Linux versions of the Penumbra games... I send an email about it this month and still no answer.

This is just my theory but I think issues like these are why it is not on GOG. To be more specific from what I have gathered GOG is very strict about providing the same support to all potential customers. For instance on the CRPG Beautiful Isolation the Linux version was late being on GOG but the developer mentioned that this was because on Steam they could simply choose to not support those that used AMD CPUs and GPUs on Linux as they had a bug on those setups at the moment. GOG would not allow them to do this and had they released the Linux version on GOG they would have to support all customers not just certain ones. Now luckily that bug got fixed and the Linux version for Beautiful Desolation is now on GOG but it makes me wonder how many Linux games that are not on GOG are due to not being able to blacklist customers like Steam allows them to. Again, just a theory.

I doubt that it works that way. Beautiful Desolation still has a bug that makes the game unplayable on Linux with Mesa drivers (unless you want to cheat). Whatever restriction or problem they have with GoG is probably completely unrelated with the current state of the game on Mesa.


Last edited by x_wing on 24 May 2020 at 9:22 pm UTC
Hamish 24 May
The Linux version of Metro: Last Light Redux was bounced by GOG.com quality control:
QuoteIn this case that responsibility was on us ... We encountered a number of technical issues while preparing our DRM-free Linux and Mac OS X versions and made the call to hold back the releases until we can be confident in the quality of our product. While we are trying to fix the problems, we cannot make any promises if and when the DRM-free versions will be ready."
Source: https://news.softpedia.com/news/Deep-Silver-Refuses-to-Provide-Linux-DRM-free-Builds-to-GOG-com-for-Metro-Last-Light-Redux-481335.shtml

Also seems to be true with Postal 2 as well:
QuoteWe had planned on having Mac and Linux ports done for this release, but we ran into some really bizarre problems in trying to get them to run, that we haven't sorted out yet. So we had to push those plans back for a while. Unfortunately, I can't give you an ETA on when we might get them done.
Source: https://www.gog.com/forum/postal_series/linux_version_of_postal_2_and_paradise_lost/post2

Which is why when I played Postal 2 again earlier this year I had to use my old outdated Desura copy like I did with the Penumbra Collection.


Last edited by Hamish on 24 May 2020 at 9:26 pm UTC
Desum 25 May
I vaguely recall Frictional saying they planned to open source the other two Penumbra games along with Amnesia:TDD at some point.
x_wing
PublicNuisance
CyrilStill sad to see that GOG have not the Linux versions of the Penumbra games... I send an email about it this month and still no answer.

This is just my theory but I think issues like these are why it is not on GOG. To be more specific from what I have gathered GOG is very strict about providing the same support to all potential customers. For instance on the CRPG Beautiful Isolation the Linux version was late being on GOG but the developer mentioned that this was because on Steam they could simply choose to not support those that used AMD CPUs and GPUs on Linux as they had a bug on those setups at the moment. GOG would not allow them to do this and had they released the Linux version on GOG they would have to support all customers not just certain ones. Now luckily that bug got fixed and the Linux version for Beautiful Desolation is now on GOG but it makes me wonder how many Linux games that are not on GOG are due to not being able to blacklist customers like Steam allows them to. Again, just a theory.

I doubt that it works that way. Beautiful Desolation still has a bug that makes the game unplayable on Linux with Mesa drivers (unless you want to cheat). Whatever restriction or problem they have with GoG is probably completely unrelated with the current state of the game on Mesa.

From the GOG forum for the game coming from an employee of Brotherhood:

"GOG is a lot more strict about release. They are not going to let me isolate an entire processor manufacturer (AMD) for a platform"

https://www.gog.com/forum/beautiful_desolation/linux_version/page1

On Steam they were literally allowed to put in the system requirements that the game wouldn't work on AMD CPUs or GPUs on Linux and weren't going to be officially supported. Then behind the scenes they fixed the bug; got it released on GOG; and removed that language from Steam.

From the Steam forums when asked if a Linux version was coming to GOG after the fix:

"Yip, it is at GOG for review now. They take some time to make sure everything is ok (they actually play the game). I think we should have it up by next week. Ill update this thread once it is there."

https://steamcommunity.com/app/912570/discussions/0/1749024519676236016/?ctp=10

People can say what they will about GOG but they do excel in certain areas over Steam such as in QA on what games are allowed on their store and trying to make sure they work.
x_wing 25 May
PublicNuisancePeople can say what they will about GOG but they do excel in certain areas over Steam such as in QA on what games are allowed on their store and trying to make sure they work.

I can't talk of how they test the game but I can tell you: the game is not yet playable with AMD GPUs. I have the game and I reported an issue with the codex (basically you can't see the contents) and that makes the game unplayable as it's a vital component for the story and game riddles.

Whatever tests GOG did, it wasn't with an AMDGPUs or they didn't try to play the game properly.


Last edited by x_wing on 25 May 2020 at 4:10 pm UTC
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