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The news doing the rounds right now is that the Nintendo Switch, the new gaming device from Nintendo, will use Vulkan. People are getting rather excited and thinking it will mean more Linux ports, but right now it won't.

For one thing, the Switch hasn't even been released yet and it remains to be seen if it's even successful. It seems obvious, but people aren't even thinking about that.

The second most important thing to remember is that this is a brand new API, it's not proven itself just yet and not that many developers are actually using it. It's been out for nearly a year and so far on Linux only two games use Vulkan.

For the record: Using an open API is amazing for the success of the API. I think this is a great thing for it, but I don't want people to be unrealistic about what this means for Linux gaming. I also want to state for clarity I am not being negative here, but trying to help people be realistic for now.

This could push Vulkan forward some more, because it will be in the minds of more developers and hopefully more will end up using it. This is good for the stability of the API too, since more feedback will be sent off for the drivers and so on. For the API itself, it's going to help it. If more games eventually come to Linux and use Vulkan, it may mean we get a more stable experience too. What it doesn't mean is that by using Vulkan more games will come to Linux.

There is far more to a game than a graphics API. Sure, it gives developers a lower barrier for entry, but when has that alone suddenly meant more Linux ports? Not often at all. We are still to this day dealing with tons of developers using Unity that don't want to bring their games to Linux, for example.

You still have to worry about:
- Vulkan itself
Vulkan is more complex than both OpenGL and earlier versions of DirectX, it will take quite some time to learn.

- Development for every other bit of the puzzle
There's still tons of middleware that doesn't support Linux, for example.

- Testing for the above
People like to claim distribution fragmentation isn't an issue, but I see a lot of support requests of games not working on certain distributions for a variety of reasons.

- Post-release fixes
No game is really finished at release

- Marketing (if they actually want to make any money at all)
Just being on Steam doesn't make a game sell any more.

The biggest issue however, is the same as always: publishers and our market share. We still have that small market share to think about, so do the publishers.

To wrap up all of the above: It's good for the API, everything else people claim about it meaning more Linux ports are speculating.

What can we do about it? We continue on as we always have without getting too hyped about things that, right now, don't really concern us directly.

Buy Linux games from legitimate stores (Steam, GOG, itch.io, Humble, directly from developers), as that helps Linux gaming directly. Don't buy games before they are released on Linux (be sure your money counts!), and make sure developers know you want their games on Linux.

Also, make sure developers know to get in touch with us directly, since we have a rather big reach nowadays.
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Luke_Nukem 19 December 2016 at 10:45 pm UTC
Shut-up Liam. You don't know what you're talking about.

*sticks head in sand*




/edit/ sarcasm


Last edited by Luke_Nukem at 19 December 2016 at 10:46 pm UTC
dmantione 19 December 2016 at 10:49 pm UTC
Anything that reduces the cost of ports helps. As long as we are small, the economics of a port play an important role. Growing helps, cheaper ports help.
Shmerl 19 December 2016 at 11:33 pm UTC
It is a major milestone development. No point in downplaying it. Of course it doesn't automatically mean more Linux ports now, I didn't see anyone suggesting that. What it means is that Vulkan is closer to becoming universally adopted. And that would be a breakthrough milestone, which will help Linux in more obvious ways already. Same as happened with HTML replacing incompatible browser / platform specific technologies.


Last edited by Shmerl at 19 December 2016 at 11:36 pm UTC
liamdawe 19 December 2016 at 11:38 pm UTC
ShmerlIt is a major milestone development. No point in downplaying it.
For Nintendo, not for us.

I don't see the point in getting hopes up over a different platform using the Vulkan API, for all the stated reasons.

To blindly say it will mean more Linux ports just because a barrier is lower, is dangerous to the hopes of the many.

Unity, Unreal and CryEngine all support Linux, yet we are still battling with developers using them to bring out Linux builds. How many times have we heard lines along "Linux won't make enough money" or "Linux market-share is really small" and so on, this is the key point and no matter how people try to wash over that, the fact is that's the real issue we face.

This simply does not mean we will get more Linux ports, it means the barrier for Nintendo will be lower, not necessarily for us.
Shmerl 19 December 2016 at 11:40 pm UTC
liamdawe
ShmerlIt is a major milestone development. No point in downplaying it.
For Nintendo, not for us.

It's like saying that MS IE supporting HTML5 first, and then MS Edge supporting open video / audio codecs is a milestone development for MS only and not for the whole Web. That's incorrect. Same here. Every usually lock-in oriented vendor adopting Vulkan is a milestone.

liamdaweTo blindly say it will mean more Linux ports just because a barrier is lower, is dangerous to the hopes of the many.

Again, no one said that, you seem to be arguing with your own counter arguments here.


Last edited by Shmerl at 19 December 2016 at 11:47 pm UTC
PlayX 19 December 2016 at 11:44 pm UTC
Not only Vulkan.
The Switch can use Vulkan 1.0, OpenGL 4.5 and OpenGL ES 3.2
liamdawe 19 December 2016 at 11:47 pm UTC
Shmerl
liamdawe
ShmerlIt is a major milestone development. No point in downplaying it.
For Nintendo, not for us.

It's like saying that IE supporting HTML5 first, and then Edge supporting open codecs is a milestone development for MS only and not for the whole Web. That's incorrect. Same here. Every usually lock-in oriented vendor adopting Vulkan is a milestone.
Web development is an entirely different beast and I'm sure you know that.

Shmerl
liamdaweTo blindly say it will mean more Linux ports just because a barrier is lower, is dangerous to the hopes of the many.

Again, no one said that, you seem to be arguing with your own counter arguments here.
You are implying it here and on reddit like a lower barrier due to one API is going to mean more ports, it just won't.
Edmene 19 December 2016 at 11:50 pm UTC
Probably won't produce more Linux ports but is good for the industry and especially in this case Nintendo, would be quite good for everyone if all consoles and os for smartphones and computers supported opengl and vulkan.


Last edited by Edmene at 19 December 2016 at 11:51 pm UTC
Shmerl 19 December 2016 at 11:50 pm UTC
Yes, lower barrier is a benefit. It doesn't mean more developers will start releasing for Linux because of market share. That's a completely orthogonal issue and there is no point to mix it into this topic. But, more developers can avoid various technical problems that could otherwise deter them from releasing for Linux, and there are easily demonstrable examples of that (Everspace, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and so on).

Web development is different, but the point of open standard is the same. WebGL is even more focused on this topic. Everyone supports it, so WebGL based application will work fine anywhere. Why does everyone support it? Because pressure on lock-in freaks (Apple, MS) was strong, and they budged and adopted open standards.


Last edited by Shmerl at 19 December 2016 at 11:52 pm UTC
liamdawe 19 December 2016 at 11:59 pm UTC
ShmerlYes, lower barrier is a benefit. It doesn't mean more developers will start releasing for Linux because of market share. That's a completely orthogonal issue and there is no point to mix it into this topic. But, more developers can avoid various technical problems that could otherwise deter them from releasing for Linux, and there are easily demonstrable examples of that (Everspace, Kingdom Come: Deliverance and so on).
It's pleasing to see you do at least understand and actually agree with me, which is weird considering your other replies (mostly on reddit).

Market share is the key point that is almost always goes down to. Time and time again we see developers not doing ports due to it.

ShmerlWeb development is different, but the point of open standard is the same. WebGL is even more focused on this topic. Everyone supports it, so WebGL based application will work fine anywhere. Why does everyone support it? Because pressure on lock-in freaks (Apple, MS) was strong, and they budged and adopted open standards.
Web development is an entirely different thing. The web is literally everywhere and can be easily accessed, Linux desktop gaming is completely different (again, market-share here).

That's without getting into how completely different it is deploying HTML to Vulkan-powered games to each platform. Anyone should be able to see how those topics don't really mix together.
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