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Building a Retro Linux Gaming Computer Part 37: Dashing Through the Snow

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Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

Continued from Part 36: Entertainment for X Windows

By the end of 2002 things were starting to look bleak when it came to commercial Linux gaming. Both Loki Software and even the smaller porting house Tribsoft had closed their doors for good, while new firms such as Linux Game Publishing born out of the turmoil were struggling to find their feet. Some relief was on the horizon thanks to the work of independent contractors such as Ryan "icculus" Gordon, but he was far from alone in finding creative ways to bring more games to Linux.

A common refrain has always been that if developers would just provide access to their source code, then the Linux community would be happy to step in and do the heavy lifting for them. This has not always proven to be the case in actual fact, but when Slingshot Game Technology decided to call our bluff and released the source code to their snowboarding simulation Soul Ride under the GNU General Public License in 2003, the Linux community did indeed rise to the challenge.

They even provided a professional looking Loki Setup installer for owners of the Soul Ride CD-ROM to download by use of the install script. This will grab the data right off the disc as well as providing the option of installing a number of Virtual Resorts which were provided for free on the Soul Ride website. That being said, you must ensure your user account has write permissions to the install directory, as otherwise you will be unable to save your player settings.

Not doing so will also cause other weirdness such as not being able to change mountains as well as the game not ceasing to play the CD audio on exit. Besides this I also encountered a graphical error where my shadow would be drawn multiple times in a grid underneath my character; that is, unless the weather was set to be snowing or whiteout conditions. This proved to not be much of a compromise, as obscuring the distance in snow also gives a much needed framerate boost.

The controls also came with a learning curve. Soul Ride was intended to be experienced with Slingshot Game Technology's own proprietary Catapult snowboard game controller, but as next to no one has that, I had to settle for using either the mouse or keyboard. You do not steer so much as shift your weight on the snowboard, with the forward and backward axis not even coming into play unless you are airborne. A full breakdown of the controls can be found on the Soul Ride Support FAQ.


Outside of the Catapult controller, the main selling point of Soul Ride was its recreation of real mountains made possible by the use of satelite topography data. The CD-ROM features simulations of two American ski areas, Mammoth Mountain in California as well as Tuckerman Ravine found on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. The Virtual Resort addons provide recreations of both Stratton and Jay Peak in Vermont, as well as the Breckenridge resort in Colorado.

You can either play through the included trail scenarios or Heli-Drop yourself anywhere on the slopes. Soul Ride also has one more trick up its sleeve, allowing you to record your runs and various stunts on a simulated VCR. This feeds into the final novel mechanic of allowing you to rewind up to three times during a descent, giving you some leeway if you wipe out. I found these to often rewind further than I would like, but they do help stop the game from being too unforgiving.

Soul Ride does show its age in the lack of ragdoll physics, with you often looking as stiff as the snowboard you ride on when getting into trouble; the way you just fall over looking dejected if you run out of momentum is comical. You can also still gain point bonuses while you are wiping out, which does seem to be rubbing in your failure a touch. This is all accompanied by a licensed soundtrack sporting a number of bands provided by Bloodshot Records, Mint Records, and Ringing Ear Records.

Linux Game Publishing would later craft their own packaged Linux release of Soul Ride in 2005, which based on the free demo functioned much the same as the source port outside of a few improvements such as saving player data in your home directory and supporting a few more launch parameters. It still showed the same graphical error with the player's shadow, and just like with the source port, does not allow me to force either the display settings or the weather conditions at launch.

Outside of comparing scores between player profiles there is no competitive aspect to Soul Ride, which is a shame as being able to play hot seat against another player and potentially wipe each other out could have been a lot of fun. Of course with it being released under the GPL nothing is stopping someone from adding these features, and the game built and ran fine for me from source even on my modern Linux computer. By now I am getting to know my way around a compiler.

Carrying on in Part 38: The Stagnant Demesne

Return to Part 1: Dumpster Diving

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About the author -
author picture
Hamish Paul Wilson is a free software developer, game critic, amateur writer, cattle rancher, shepherd, and beekeeper living in rural Alberta, Canada. He is an advocate of both DRM free native Linux gaming and the free software movement alongside his other causes, and further information can be found at his homepage where he lists everything he is currently involved in:
See more from me

Hamish Dec 18, 2023
Further links and resources can be found on the official website:
gbudny Dec 18, 2023
Thank you for the article.

There are some interesting facts about Soul Ride for Linux from LGP.

The professional manual in the PDF file is available only on the CD. It was the only situation when they didn't print it. LGP never published it on their website.

Just like Mindrover, it was the Mixed Mode CD, which is disappointing.

There are some tidbits from Wikipedia that I can confirm:

It was the only LGP game available for Linux that you can play on computers with the Alpha (the experimental version) processors. Yes, LGP released the 64-bit game!

Of course, you can find on the CD Linux binaries for x86, PowerPC, and Sparc (the experimental version). I'm not sure if it was a 64-bit version for Sparc.

Music from the CD has never worked for me in this game - I'm not sure what I was doing wrong.

Last edited by gbudny on 19 December 2023 at 12:36 am UTC
StoneColdSpider Dec 19, 2023
Nice article as always Hamish.....

I have never gotten on well with snow games...... Maybe because im an aussie and ive never seen this mythical thing called "snow" in real life........
Hamish Dec 19, 2023
Quoting: StoneColdSpiderI have never gotten on well with snow games...... Maybe because im an aussie and ive never seen this mythical thing called "snow" in real life........
I would make some smart-arse Canadian comment, but we got a dump of snow the week before Halloween which then all melted, and have not had another real snowfall since. El Niño is working overtime this year.
gbudny Dec 19, 2023
Quoting: StoneColdSpiderI have never gotten on well with snow games...... Maybe because im an aussie and ive never seen this mythical thing called "snow" in real life........

I like winter in Poland more than summer.

However, you can hurt yourself if you walk too fast on sidewalks during winter. It's easy to lose balance and fall.

Puddles covered with snow that don't want to step on any of them. Especially, when you are far away from your house or apartment.

Drivers need snow tires during this season.

Last edited by gbudny on 19 December 2023 at 11:57 am UTC
damarrin Dec 19, 2023
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I did fall when walking the dog a couple of weeks ago. All the snow is now gone, unfortunately, and the forecast says we won't be having any before the year is out. Which means a muddy, rainy, soppy Christmas.

Last edited by damarrin on 19 December 2023 at 12:08 pm UTC
gbudny Dec 19, 2023
Did you try to contact them and ask about the catapult?
Hamish Dec 20, 2023
My main concern with the lack of snow here is we were already coming out of drought conditions, and with how bad the wildfires were last spring and the fact I need to regrow my pastures, we need all the moisture we can get. Hopefully the heavens will open up at some point in the new year.

Quoting: gbudnyDid you try to contact them and ask about the catapult?
I picked up my copy of Soul Ride for quite cheap on eBay so I have had no contact with Slingshot Game Technology themselves. Based on the Wayback Machine it looks like they took their online store down sometime in 2016 but were still selling both The Catapult and Soul Ride up until that point. I would hazard a guess they are no longer in business.
whizse Dec 21, 2023
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Another excellent article! I remember reading about Soul Ride back in the day but between the custom controller and my lack of interest in snowboarding I never tried it out.

A pity they didn't make the gane data available somewhere when they stopped sales (or just put it up on itch). Someone clearly cares for the game though. At least enough to foot the bills for that's still up but stuck in a 2003 time warp.
Hamish Dec 22, 2023
Quoting: whizseA pity they didn't make the gane data available somewhere when they stopped sales (or just put it up on itch).
The Virtual Resorts are freeware so you could just use those along with the source release if you wanted. Virtual Jay Peak even has a standalone Linux release available on the website:

It would also be a good candidate for a free content makeover in the style of Freedoom if anyone was inclined to make one.
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