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Speculation: BioShock Infinite Might Be an eON port

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After the BioShock Infinite SteamDB entry was found by Linux users we've been debating who's going to be behind the port and it might very well be Virtual Programming. Prepare for some speculation.

To be clear with you guys, this is an editorial, meaning that it's an opinion piece. Please treat it as such.

A Virtual Programming employee has hung around on our IRC channel from since The Witcher 2 was released. During the past few days he also participated in the conversation about the BioShock Infinite port with some cryptic comments, which seem to indicate that Virtual Programming and their eON wrapper have something to do with the Linux port.

Following screenshot is from a conversation that took place on the 7th of December at half past 5 PM Finnish time.

image

Notice: we didn't "leak the story" unlike some people seem to think. All of the information available to us regarding the BioShock Infinite port was public. We can thank SteamDB and Reddit for that.

Some of these lines seem very odd to say the least. When asked about involvement with the BioShock Infinite port the developer stuck mostly to “no comment” line with an occasional smiley in the end. That alone wouldn't say much of course but used this way “no comment” can almost be interpreted as “yes”, especially if we contrast it to Aspyr Media's response regarding the port:

QuoteWhile Aspyr is working on a multitude of Linux titles right now, BioShock Infinite is not one of them. That said, this is exciting news and we are looking forward to a great title coming to a great platform.

Source

The developer also mentioned that he doesn't wish to do or say anything that would damage their relationship with 2K. This is where I got extremely suspicious. “No comment” is still an understandable answer but why would someone bring up relations to a publisher if they have nothing to do with it? He has also made numerous remarks about Steam depots and the space requirements of BioShock Infinite which would suggest that he either checks the disk space usage of games basically by random or he has recently installed the game / worked with it.

But the oddities don't end here. A GOL user Daverball noticed that the Steam depots for BioShock Infinite look similar to the ones for Witcher 2 and Stronghold 3, the two Linux wrapper ports Virtual Programming has done so far. Aspyr's Mac port uses a separate depot, which contains both the binary and the data while the Linux depot shares game data with the Windows build. It could be argued that sharing the game data between builds makes sense, but Aspyr (and Feral) have in the past shipped their own data alongside with the binary. I believe Feral actually re-encoded some video files of XCOM: Enemy Unknown to better suit Linux.

After the Witcher 2's rather catastrophic launch Linux gamers have been very careful with AAA ports. For example the recently released Dead Island port was a topic of debate for a short time when people suspected that the unusually large binary file might contain a hidden compatibility component and was not really a native port. The game ultimately turned out to be a native game, with the binary being inflated by debugging symbols that were, for some reason, left into the release build. But this shows the amount of distrust Witcher 2 caused when it was released in a barely playable state and even today after numerous patches to eON by Virtual Programming the game runs with bad performance for many people who have hardware configurations that exceed the requirements mentioned on Steam and GOG. Personally I have nothing against the idea of using compatibility layers such as Wine or eON to ship some games, especially older games with lost source code, but so far I haven't been all that impressed by eON's performance. And I'm not just bashing either, we've had months to test and tweak with Witcher 2 and Stronghold 3 and the performance is just objectively bad and for some people just completely unacceptable.

So, will BioShock use eON to run on Linux? I don't really know. This article is mostly just speculation and I might just very well be paranoid and completely wrong here. But I do suggest that you remain cautious about AAA ports when the person/company porting it is shrouded in mystery. In this day and age broken ports are not rare and the “buy it before it's out” mentality seems to be going strong.

What are your predictions of the port? Will it use eON and most importantly, will it matter if it does? Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial
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I'm a Linux gamer from Finland. I like reading, long walks on the beach, dying repeatedly in roguelikes and ripping and tearing in FPS games. I also sometimes write code and sometimes that includes hobbyist game development.
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compholio 8 December 2014 at 6:33 pm UTC
I honestly didn't have any trouble with the Witcher 2, so I have no problem with eON potentially being used here. I have an nVidia card though, so I would suspect a lot of the issues are not really eON's fault but are a result of crappy drivers.
Liam Dawe 8 December 2014 at 6:40 pm UTC
Of course this comment is 100% my opinion based on my own experience, so with that in mind...

I am one of the people that find the performance unacceptable. I still can't play TW2 many months after release due to it constantly dropping to low FPS at a low resolution even on medium graphical settings. Even Stronghold 3 Gold which also uses eON couldn't hit a solid high FPS and dropped down quite often, and the game isn't even intensive.

I don't care about the porting technique. I used to until I decided the tech doesn't mater, but performance does. Now that we have first-hand experience with the level of performance expected from ports using eON; I am not expecting much.

I also dislike it when people decide to hide details like who is developing it. Fair enough that it wasn't meant to be known this early, but why continue to hide it? That to me shows a lack of confidence. I always say to developers and publishers they need to be more open, and to a technically minded audience like Linux gamers it matters even more so.

Personally, I wish 2K went with Aspyr who did the Mac version.
adolson 8 December 2014 at 6:56 pm UTC
liamdaweI don't care about the porting technique. I used to until I decided the tech doesn't mater, but performance does. Now that we have first-hand experience with the level of performance expected from ports using eON; I am not expecting much.

We had first-hand experience with Wine-based ports too, even back as far as when Transgaming "ported" Kohan, The Sims, etc. Maybe you didn't use Linux that far back, I don't know, but the ports sucked. And the fact that they "re-ported" Kohan Immortal Sovereigns was a bit of a slap in the face, considering Loki had already ported it and, despite them having gone under, it was still readily available at the time.

Things haven't changed that much when you consider broken crap and rushed jobs like Eador, Braid, etc.

And thus, I will continue to do my best to buy only native games (accidents notwithstanding), where the performance SHOULD be good (if the devs actually do more work than just clicking the "Shit Out Linux Port" button in Unity3D).
sev 8 December 2014 at 6:56 pm UTC
I never had issues with Witcher2 (I also have Nvidia, and am using the Nvidia drivers rather than nouveau). So if Bioshock:Infinite is eON, I have no problem with this. If it's easy to port games with eON, bring them ALL on. Seriously, I don't see a downside here.
compholio 8 December 2014 at 6:57 pm UTC
liamdawe...
I am one of the people that find the performance unacceptable. I still can't play TW2 many months after release due to it constantly dropping to low FPS at a low resolution even on medium graphical settings. Even Stronghold 3 Gold which also uses eON couldn't hit a solid high FPS and dropped down quite often, and the game isn't even intensive.
...
That really sucks, I had some minor issues at high quality settings when it first came out - but it looks like they've fixed those since release. I just think that as a community we were a little rash with blaming eON when some systems don't have any problem with the game.
liamdawe...
I also dislike it when people decide to hide details like who is developing it. Fair enough that it wasn't meant to be known this early, but why continue to hide it? That to me shows a lack of confidence. I always say to developers and publishers they need to be more open, and to a technically minded audience like Linux gamers it matters even more so.
...
This I agree with 100%.
opera 8 December 2014 at 7:09 pm UTC
I was so glad when I heard Bioshock Infinte is coming to Linux. It was my most wanted game to be ported. But this news is a real downer for me. Since 2K is behind the game i was expecting a native and quality port like previous ports from by Aspyr or Feral. From my point of view these wrappers are not "Linux Gaming". It's just the wrong way and sends bad signals which may lead to more ports of that kind. Therefore it should not be supported so this way of porting stops pretty soon.
afettouhi 8 December 2014 at 7:09 pm UTC
Bioshock Infinite is a DirectX11 game and as far as I know eON only supports DX9. So that seems rather unlikely that the port uses eON technology.
Samsai 8 December 2014 at 7:11 pm UTC
afettouhiBioshock Infinite is a DirectX11 game and as far as I know eON only supports DX9. So that seems rather unlikely that the port uses eON technology.
As it happens, person also mentioned that they were in fact working on making eON compatible with DX10 and DX11. We don't know if that functionality is yet in place, but they've at very least thought about it and experimented with it.

Edit: This happened months ago on the IRC channel.
Maelrane 8 December 2014 at 7:12 pm UTC
I already own BioShock Infinite. Nowadays I don't maintain a Windows partition anymore so I can't finish it. If it's EON I probably won't be able to finish it anyway, but for me it doesn't really matter here.

Still I hope I can finish it, it's a great game.
sgtGarcia 8 December 2014 at 7:14 pm UTC
afettouhiBioshock Infinite is a DirectX11 game and as far as I know eON only supports DX9. So that seems rather unlikely that the port uses eON technology.

I don't have anything against VP guys ( for Me Witcher 2 works really good, but always could be better ), but I really would like to see native port of Bioshock:Infinite, so this lack of DX11 support from eON keeps my hopes little bit higher.

EDIT:
SamsaiAs it happens, person also mentioned that they were in fact working on making eON compatible with DX10 and DX11. We don't know if that functionality is yet in place, but they've at very least thought about it and experimented with it.

Edit: This happened months ago on the IRC channel.

Let me quote Luke Skywalker on this:
QuoteNooooooooooooooooo.....
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