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GOL World Tour: Linux Gaming From Norway

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This week the GOL world tour leaves Argentina and heads for Norway after a longer-than-expected visit due to the vast quantities of awesome steak and red wine.

Some History and Culture

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The Fjords of Norway have inspired the settings of many video games. (Photo: ErikD)

Rather than going into hundreds of years of history from the Vikings to personal unions between Norway and its neighbours Denmark and Sweden, it is perhaps better to begin from modern independence (even though Vikings are awesome). The union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905, marking the beginning of what we today know as Norway. Even in this early period, Norway led the world in terms of social reform, introducing sick pay, maximum work hours and worker protection laws, as well as laws preventing foreign companies from controlling its natural resources.

Following a long period of neutrality, Norway was invaded by Germany in the Second World War, with Hitler hoping that it would become part of the greater Germanic state and block the vital supply route between Western Europe and the USSR. During this period, a resistance movement was established and Norwegians openly mocked the Nazi ideology along with its puppet regime. In the post-war period, the roots of what we now regard as progressive Scandinavian democratic socialism began to take hold, with the ruling party establishing state-owned industries, universities and broadcasting companies. However, compared to Sweden, Norway still remained a far more rural country with an economy largely dependant on its vast (and delicious) fish resources. This all changed in the early 1970s when North Sea oil and gas re-invented the Norwegian economy, and this resource still makes up 50% of exports and 20% of GDP.

Unlike some less wise European countries, Norway hung on to its oil resources rather than privatising them, using the money instead for public works and services and even a state pension fund which makes investments (following a strict code of ethics) for when that oil runs out one day. This fund owns approximately 1% of all publicly traded shares in the world and the government enjoys a 9% budget surplus, despite its huge public spending. As a result of this unique Scandinavian socialism, Norway continually tops world rankings including Human Development Index, press freedom, Prosperity Index and also ranking 4th in terms of GDP per capita and 6th in the Corruption Perceptions Index. All of these things, combined with its outstanding natural beauty and friendly people make Norway one of the best places in the world to live (if you can put up with a daunting 5 hours of daylight per day in the winter).

Overview of the industry

Video games are a more respected art form in Norway than in many other countries, so much so that the Norwegian Film Institute has given grants to indie games in the same way that it would to independent cinema - which is pretty cool. Norway’s game offerings to gaming remain somewhat less than its neighbours Sweden and Finland, which have given the world the likes of Minecraft, Paradox Interactive, Angry Birds and Linus Torvalds, but there is nonetheless a strong indie scene there with a couple of more mainstream developers. It is only more recently with the advent of crowdfunding and self-publishing that Norway has really burst onto the scene. There are around 100 companies involved with game development on some level in the country.

Krillbite Studio

We first saw this young indie studio at the beginning of 2014, with the release of the very short but very cool and very free The Plan, where the player takes control of a fly and… well I won’t spoil the ending. Krillbite grabbed far more attention with the release of Among The Sleep, a creepy first person horror game where you play as a toddler. Despite some early Linux issues with the game, given that this studio’s games have both been on Linux at launch, they deserve a lot of credit and hopefully we will see more from them in the future.

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Download The Plan on Steam

Buy Among The Sleep on Steam or DRM-free

Rain Games

This is another new studio, founded in 2010, which jumped onto the scene with the release of Teslagrad. This puzzle platformer's beautiful graphics and non-verbal storytelling has received much praise from critics. Rain was also instrumental in the creation of the Norwegian Game Makers Guild, which represents developers in the Hordaland county (whose capital is the beautiful city of Bergen).

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Buy Teslagrad on Steam

D-Pad Studios

The indie developer is best known for Savant - Ascent, released in December 2013. The game has been praised for its fast-paced platforming action and electronic soundtrack. Their upcoming game Owlboy is unconfirmed for Linux, but since GameMaker: Studio added a Linux export feature last year, this now seems far more likely.

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Buy Savant - Ascent on Steam

Red Thread Games

This promising studio is set to release their upcoming adventure game Dreamfall Chapters this Autumn/Fall (depending on what part of the world you are in) with Linux support at launch. I have to say, based on the trailer, this game looks very interesting. Their next game Draugen looks equally as promising and is due to start a Kickstarter campaign soon, so Red Thread is one to keep an eye on in the future.

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Check out Dreamfall Chapters on Steam

Snowcastle

Following a successful Kickstarter and Greenlight campaign, their game Earthlock: Festival of Magic is set to appear on Linux early next year. This turn-based RPG features many of the elements which came to be known in the golden era or RPG games, including a world map (but with visible enemies rather than random encounters), minigames and an epic save-the-world style story, but with more modern features such as crafting and non-linear story.

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Artplant

This is the studio behind the Early Access space MMO Entropy. The studio had previously worked on the Battlestar Galactica MMO, but Entropy is the first game Artplant has developed independently and which is available on Linux.

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Buy Entropy Early Access on Steam

That about wraps it up for Norway. Once again, it’s surprising just how many games there were from Norway and again, the majority of (PC) developers had at least one game on Linux. Don’t forget to check out the last instalment of the GOL World Tour and make suggestions for what the next stop should be. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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About the author -
After many years of floating through space on the back of a missile, following a successful career in beating people up for not playing Sega Saturn, the missile returned to earth. Upon returning, I discovered to my dismay that the once great console had been discontinued and Sega had abandoned the fight to dominate the world through 32-bit graphical capabilities.

After spending some years breaking breeze blocks with my head for money and being mocked by strangers, I have found a new purpose: to beat up people for not playing on Linux.
See more from me
The comments on this article are closed.
19 comments
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chrisq 4 September 2014 at 6:18 pm UTC
You forget to add that the fantastic social welfare state and monopolistic agricultural protection has left us as the highest cost country in the world. Effectively killing off just about all industry and production besides oil, pushing us towards a horrendous fall when the income from oil and gas subsides.

On top of this our socialist governments have led a catastrophic immigration policy, mostly importing people from africa, the middle east and asia with no schooling. Calculated by the government to have a net cost of $700.000 each, this also because of the magnificent welfare state. Mohammed is now the most common name in Oslo, the capital.

Yes, you can fool a lot of people into thinking your policies are good and the governement efficient, when you can throw basically unlimited amounts of money at any issue. The problem arises when there is no money left and all production has moved to lower cost countries.

You're wrong about privatization, the governement holds most stocks in a partly privatized company (Statoil), but its income mainly comes from taxing the production of oil and gas, something that could be done regardless of state ownership, which is ridiculous.

I could go on about how the welfare state as we know it today was largely just a continuation of the policies forced on us by Nazi rule during WW2 (e.g. child support was their idea), but this should be enough to dispell the faery tale you have been told.
seven 4 September 2014 at 7:12 pm UTC
its a gaming site, not a politics site
chrisq 4 September 2014 at 7:15 pm UTC
sevenits a gaming site, not a politics site

Then you should point at to the author of the political content in th article, which is what I responded to. The games overview I have no problem with.
Liam Dawe 4 September 2014 at 8:32 pm UTC
It's meant to be a fun and brief overview, not an in-depth analysis of the country itself chrisq, so just take it as it is, a bit of fun.

Can't wait to see the next country!
seven 4 September 2014 at 9:13 pm UTC
i think this country series is really great, gives u a new perspective on otherwise faceless gaming companies.
Segata Sanshiro 4 September 2014 at 9:21 pm UTC
Yeah, sorry I know it's a gaming site, I try and leave politics mostly out of it (I'm a politics graduate so can't help it sometimes). The reason I went more into it in this one is because that's probably the most interesting thing about Norway and the one people talk about the most and what struck me most about the country (equal paternity/maternity leave, very high salaries, very high literacy, excellent healthcare, excellent transport, very high transparency, etc.). But then those are just the things which I notice more, given my background. Go compare some basic metrics with the rest of Europe and the world and Norway comes out winning in so many things, you can't deny the facts - and those facts are interesting.

With the next one, it will most likely be less political in the overview and like I said, this was just a case where politics/society is very interesting. The Argentina one was more about the history of immigration and its influences on culture because that's interesting. It's not intended to be a gripping ideological argument, just an interesting overview of a country based on my limited knowledge of it. It may be simpler to just write a list of 5 interesting facts or something next time because that's less controversial.
Hamish 5 September 2014 at 12:07 am UTC
Speaking as an Albertan, you should just be glad chrisq that your government and people actually do receive any income from your oil, unlike here were we get our environment and other industries trashed while receiving almost no royalties and dwindling services due to our decadent entrenched government who also allow work to be done by inadequately trained temporary foreign workers who can simply be deported if they demand even basic labour rights, as to allow that would suddenly make it acceptable for them to hire Canadian workers instead. Incidentally, they are also allowing train cars full of LPG to blow up only a few kilometres away from my farm while at the same time failing to ship grain due to the end of our formally monopolistic agricultural protection system.

I know, I know, this is not a political website, but I could not let that stand without comment.
GoCorinthians 5 September 2014 at 3:05 am UTC
Wow...some great games there...thx!
Beamboom 5 September 2014 at 4:12 am UTC
chrisqYou forget to add that the fantastic social welfare state and monopolistic agricultural protection has left us as the highest cost country in the world. Effectively killing off just about all industry and production besides oil, pushing us towards a horrendous fall when the income from oil and gas subsides.

On top of this our socialist governments have led a catastrophic immigration policy, mostly importing people from africa, the middle east and asia with no schooling. Calculated by the government to have a net cost of $700.000 each, this also because of the magnificent welfare state. Mohammed is now the most common name in Oslo, the capital.

Yes, you can fool a lot of people into thinking your policies are good and the governement efficient, when you can throw basically unlimited amounts of money at any issue. The problem arises when there is no money left and all production has moved to lower cost countries.

You're wrong about privatization, the governement holds most stocks in a partly privatized company (Statoil), but its income mainly comes from taxing the production of oil and gas, something that could be done regardless of state ownership, which is ridiculous.

I could go on about how the welfare state as we know it today was largely just a continuation of the policies forced on us by Nazi rule during WW2 (e.g. child support was their idea), but this should be enough to dispell the faery tale you have been told.

There's so many errors, myths, politically motivated misinterpretations and twistings of facts in this summary that I won't even start to correct them, other than to say that this is *not* the place to discuss this. But coming from one of the safest, highest welfare, high standard of living, lowest unemployment rating nations in the entire *world*, you do come across as one seriously disillusioned spoiled brat.

Kind regards, another Norwegian
Beamboom 5 September 2014 at 6:25 am UTC
On topic:
You forgot Funcom, the makers of The Longest Journey, Conan and Anarchy Online!

Generally speaking, this is one of the things that really excites me about the gaming industry: It's not as centralized on US/UK productions as most other entertainment media is. We find some of the very top, AAA productions coming from all over the world, countries like Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, small countries in most contexts.

I really dig that. It's awesome!
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