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An update on the status of porting Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation for Linux

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Writing an update on what's happening with Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation [Steam], the Stardock CEO mentioned Linux support again in a recent post on Steam.

Here's what they said:

We also have a base engine app now in Linux (not Ashes itself but one step at a time). 

Now, someone might argue why support Linux? Here's a reason you can share: You really can't port your engine to consoles without going to Linux first. It's really that simple. No Linux port, no console versions because you need a "clean slate" version of it.

I don't have any ETA on the latter part.

We may still be in for quite a wait on this, especially since they're still not giving an ETA. This is after they put out a call for people interested in a Linux version to post in this Steam thread, which was opened in May last year.

We don't have many strategy games like this, so it would be good to finally have it on Linux. The closest things we have right now are Planetary Annihilation and games like Zero-K on the Spring RTS game engine. That's not exactly much of a choice!

Hat tip to voyager.

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19 comments
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YoRHa-2B 22 September 2018 at 10:17 am UTC
QuoteNo Linux port, no console versions because you need a "clean slate" version of it.
Interesting statement. Very interesting statement indeed. I'd love to know what exactly they mean by that.
Pikolo 22 September 2018 at 10:18 am UTC
It will be very interesting how Ashes of the Benchmark Vulkan performance compares between Linux and Windows. I've heard Stardock literally set the bar on performance optimizations in the Windows version of the game, so it should give us another interesting comparison between different Vulkan drivers.

And obviously, it's lovely to hear about their "Linux as a bridge to consoles" approach and I hope more studios take it - more games are always welcome
Ehvis 22 September 2018 at 10:26 am UTC
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YoRHa-2B
QuoteNo Linux port, no console versions because you need a "clean slate" version of it.
Interesting statement. Very interesting statement indeed. I'd love to know what exactly they mean by that.

I suppose they mean that they're separating the Windows only stuff from the rest of the game so they only have a back end to port. Seems like something you would want to do from the start though.
mirv 22 September 2018 at 10:29 am UTC
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Meh.

If they were even half way serious about it, they'd have much more than "a base engine app" by now. There just seems to be reasons always in the way from them to bring the game to GNU/Linux.

So while they might internally play around, I doubt there'll be a more official game release for GNU/Linux - and if there is, it won't have much QA given to it. If they're using it as a way to test for consoles, then their goal is for consoles, and that's where the effort will be.
TwistyTrev 22 September 2018 at 10:37 am UTC
The PS4 OS is based on FreeBSD which isn't too far from Linux. He probably meant something along those lines. Nintendo Switch also references the FreeBSD Kernel in it's licensing info.
Psychojau 22 September 2018 at 12:02 pm UTC
YoRHa-2B
QuoteNo Linux port, no console versions because you need a "clean slate" version of it.
Interesting statement. Very interesting statement indeed. I'd love to know what exactly they mean by that.

First, Japanese consoles are using BSD and llvm. And many "Open source" libraries".
Then you have to optimise everything. You know, to be very honest, on Desktop, there are many hardwares, softwares and people setting them up differently. People don't usually get angry if everything is not... well "perfectly in order". Most of the time, you can even publish a game with some useless remnants of assets you removed. You don't really care. Destop players buy new hardware. Sorry, it's not disrespectfull, at least from me, it's just the bare truth.
On Console, people expect your product to be veeeery well optimised.
Ananace 22 September 2018 at 12:12 pm UTC
YoRHa-2B
QuoteNo Linux port, no console versions because you need a "clean slate" version of it.
Interesting statement. Very interesting statement indeed. I'd love to know what exactly they mean by that.

If you've written a game against Windows, using the Windows API's directly, then you need to build a "clean slate" version where you strip away all direct calls to the Windows (or POSIX/Linux if that's where you started) API. Instead replacing all of it with either cross-platform APIs (like SDL) or a platform abstraction layer of your own making.

Porting a game between platforms while there's still direct calls into platform-specific APIs is going to be a mess and not sustainable for future development.

Most software development tends to start with talking to the development platform APIs directly, to keep the dependency list light and avoid potentially blocking away customers in the future due to the dependency choices. This also means that unless the development started on a platform-agnostic base then it'll just continue to dig itself firmer and firmer into the starting platform the further development goes.
This is also just as true for development of things on Mac or Linux, where if you start developing directly against the platform-specific APIs then you'll have a harder time making it cross-platform in the future.

Admittedly, Linux is a much lesser example as many of the APIs you get there can be used in lesser extents on both Windows and Mac, though it would still require actual work to port your software between them as the Windows and Mac implementations of POSIX APIs are not 100% identical to the Linux ones.
ShoNuff!!! 22 September 2018 at 1:07 pm UTC
is this game able to be played with dxvk/wine?
Doc Angelo 22 September 2018 at 1:14 pm UTC
PikoloIt will be very interesting how Ashes of the Benchmark Vulkan performance compares between Linux and Windows. I've heard Stardock literally set the bar on performance optimizations in the Windows version of the game, so it should give us another interesting comparison between different Vulkan drivers.

I'm not sure what "Ashes of the Benchmark" means. I know that I tested AotS and it was one of the worst performing games I've ever seen. I had to play on the lowest settings in order to get playable frame rates. The game looked like some kind of badly done remaster of a decade old game. Just one explosion of a building resulted in single digit frame rate. It was awful. Did it get better?
MayeulC 22 September 2018 at 2:10 pm UTC
ShoNuff!!!is this game able to be played with dxvk/wine?

apparently not. Interestingly, I didn't find it on WineHQ. I also learned that the game had a DX11 renderer, I thought it was only DX12/Vulkan. If it's borked on spcr it could be due to one of two things:
  • The users didn't know how to force the vulkan renderer before starting the game trough a config file or argument (it might not be possible?)
  • Wine itself broke something.


Last edited by MayeulC at 22 September 2018 at 2:10 pm UTC
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