Confused on Steam Play and Proton? Be sure to check out our guide.

Frozenbyte being the developer behind titles like the Trine series, Shadwen, Has-Been Heroes and the upcoming Starbase talks a little about Proton and future native Linux support. If you're not clear on what Proton and Steam Play are, be sure to check out our constantly updated dedicated page. It's a special compatibility layer for running Windows games and apps from Steam on Linux.

If you're not aware, Frozenbyte did previously have their games ported over to Linux but they eventually stopped after the release of Shadwen in 2016. The latest Trine 4 and their other titles don't have Linux version. With Starbase that's due to release tomorrow (July 29, 2021), there's a post on the Steam forum from a user asking about Linux support and Frozenbyte developer Jukka Larja (JLarja) replied on July 27 to explain it's not a priority:

With Proton being as good as it is, native support is not very high on our list. In fact (without actually trying the native versions on modern Linux distro) I would recommend Proton emulation over native versions for all the previous games we've released. Changes are you'll get better graphics quality, likely less trouble getting the game running and input working, and possible better performance too. For low-on-resources port Proton is simply superior.

If Linux gaming takes off (for example, because Steam Deck becomes a huge success), then we'll have a reason to consider not-so-low-on-resources port, which may (and probably does) change the picture somewhat. At the moment we have Xbox Series X/S higher on our porting targets list though (not for Starbase currently, but for other future projects).

I imagine there will be plenty more of this, especially for older ports where performance wasn't top and some that might have other issues. Proton isn't just something that's good to ensure Linux gamers and Steam Deck users get to play the latest games, it's also (as even porter Ethan Lee has pointed out), good for being an "essential preservation project" for older Windows games to keep them working nicely.

What is interesting to see is a mention of it being possibility if the Steam Deck is a success. People will argue on one side about there not being a point if Proton gets to the stage where Windows games can just run out of the box on Linux with Proton, but there is the other side that a native Linux build gives developers more control and flexibility on their games compared with handing it all over to Valve. Either way, that and more depends on how the Steam Deck goes.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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97 comments
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Kuduzkehpan 29 Jul
This is actually why i hate wine proton and so on over native games. But while we linux users are low on population and market share proton and wine keeps us stay comfortable in our Linux World. thats a handicap.
and this is a paradox.
more the proton and vulkan is more the marketshare and more native games for Linux. Because native with vulkan is more easy than praying a 3rd party solution will works for our product.
bepop 30 Jul
Proton is better than half-assed ports. I'm looking at you Total War Warhammer II :<
mirv 30 Jul
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Quoting: bepopProton is better than half-assed ports. I'm looking at you Total War Warhammer II :<

Curious, what do you find so bad about that port?
TheBard 30 Jul
I love PR statement so much ... or not. The "if the Steam Deck is a success, we may consider doing a native port" is a complete nonsense and shows a big misunderstanding. Valve's efforts with Proton, Steam Runtime and Pressure Vessel are there because the native port approach failed. It failed because porting natively is neither free not trivial. It requires some developers experienced in Linux (game) programming, OpenGL/Vulkan, dsitro-agnostic futute-proof packaging, etc. It also requires new QA and support pipelines and either duplicating efforts and money working a separate version of the code or making compromises to keep only one version (say goodbye to the Windows only lib you want to use ).

Proton solves most all the Linux related issues. No need to hire Linux game developers or teach your current Windows/DirectX-only developers Linux and OpenGL/Vulkan. But Proton is still a different platform that requires its own QA and support pipeline. I bet that if the Steam Deck is a success, developers will have a dedicated QA for the Deck. When games do not run well on Proton, the current usual answer is "we don't care". But if the Deck is a success, this answer will probably not be acceptable anymore.

So Frozenbyte, you're wrong. Proton is indeed the way to go for Linux gaming. If I remember correctly, you stopped porting on Linux because of the costs. I perfectly understand and accept that. The cost of doing a native port won't change so if the Deck is a success and you want your games to run well on it, test your windows build with the Deck and modify your windows build when it breaks Proton. But what you will probably not do if the Deck is a success is telling Deck users "we don't care" like you just told us.
Zlopez 30 Jul
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Quoting: bepopProton is better than half-assed ports. I'm looking at you Total War Warhammer II :<

Hm, I'm playing native version of TW: Warhammer 2 (around 200 hours) and besides the non available cross-platform multiplayer I didn't found any issue with it.
STiAT 30 Jul
Quoting: BielFPs
Quoting: STiATOn other games (Valheim in example), the Linux port is so bad performance whise (OGL and Vulkan) that it's actually better to play using Proton,


In case of Valheim I notice this too, and the cause is not Vulkan being worse than Directx, but probably because the developers are more comfortable at working with dx,

Well, I didn't mean Vulkan is worse as an API, but the implementation in Valheim seems less polished than the DX version. And rightfully so, it's early access and Vulkan implementation quite new in their engine. They are leaning Vulkan being their main implementation in future, but they are not there yet, that will require some more work / polishing.

And as an API, Vulkan may be lower level and require more effort by devs, but as we see in DXVK, it can work, and work nicely.
BielFPs 30 Jul
Quoting: STiATWell, I didn't mean Vulkan is worse as an API, but the implementation in Valheim seems less polished than the DX version.
I know, I was just reinforcing my point :)
i have better experience on my linux box with valheim instead of windows.
but performance depends on many things i have only 10 fps loss in valheim with full desktop effect KDE. But 10 fps more with windows 10 with no desktop effect. what if i use xfce on linux ?
bepop 11 Aug
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: bepopProton is better than half-assed ports. I'm looking at you Total War Warhammer II :<

Curious, what do you find so bad about that port?

Performance is worse than running it with Proton and WAY worse than running it on Windows (3900x + 1080ti). Delayed patches and no multiplayer with Windows. It's a joke
mirv 11 Aug
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Quoting: bepop
Quoting: mirv
Quoting: bepopProton is better than half-assed ports. I'm looking at you Total War Warhammer II :<

Curious, what do you find so bad about that port?

Performance is worse than running it with Proton and WAY worse than running it on Windows (3900x + 1080ti). Delayed patches and no multiplayer with Windows. It's a joke

While I understand the perspective of most end users not caring about reasons, just that something does/doesn't work, I'm still compelled to point out that delayed patches are because Feral most likely don't get anything to work with until after the Windows release by CA, and the no multiplayer is because of CA (whatever they use for networking appears to be entirely reliant on Microsoft's compilers for something).

As for "way worse" performance, your mileage may differ (I mean, it obviously does). I don't have a Windows installation, but actually did attempt to load it up through wine for shits & giggles; that didn't even start. So for me at least, anything wine based gave utterly abysmal performance. Native runs quite well - actually so well that I never even bothered adjusting the performance governor from ondemand.


Last edited by mirv on 11 August 2021 at 7:28 pm UTC
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