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Interview with Keith Poole from Desura Part 1

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Okay so here is the first part of the interview I have done with Keith Poole one of the Linux engineers over at DesuraNET about porting over Desura to Linux.

Q) Can you introduce yourself a little and how you got into working with Desura?

A) Hey I’m Keith, I was born and live in Perth, Australia but want to travel more in the next few years. From around the age of 10 I was interested in computers, and this led me from job to job, gaining experience and contacts before I eventually became a qualified System and Network Engineer. I was always a hobbyist programmer though, and have created many little interesting projects which I may put online at some point. Not long after I finished my certifications I sort of slipped and fell into a software development role with my previous employer, and that's where I stayed. I had known Scott (Desura) from a few years back through a mutual friend, and bumped into him a few times here and there. Earlier this year I caught up with him for this mutual friends going away drinks, and was discussing some of the Linux and software related ideas and projects that I had, and also let it drop that I was looking for new scenery as far as employment goes. Shortly there-after I signed a contract with Desura, and we embarked on this mission to bring the platform to Linux. Not as much to it as you'd think really, although there may have been some lengthy negotiations and a hefty planning stage (how, who, when, etc).

Q) Did the "higher ups" need much convincing to port it over to Linux?

A) No, not at all really. The 'higher up' (Scott - Founder / End Boss) already saw Linux as an available market with a very promising customer base. Some of the stats from the last 3 Humble Indie Bundles show that Linux users are happy to pay for software if they are given the option, and as one myself I can confirm that!

Q) Do you expect Desura being ported to have any impact on the Linux Gaming scene?

A) It's a hard one to say, but I hope so, because if it doesn’t it means we are doing something wrong. I think there's a lot of Linux gamers out there who struggle due to the segregation of game stores, platforms, and even just information resources. What I personally want to see is more Linux gamers coming together to support the community as a whole, help the indie developers with their games, and push AAA title developers to release more games for Linux. We've already got a growing Windows userbase, and porting Desura to Linux will hopefully bring a lot of supporters/gamers/developers out of the shadows when they see this.

Q) What makes Desura different than say Steam, Stardocks impulse and the others now cropping up?

A) I think I could ramble on for hours on that topic, but the key ingredient is probably our ties to the indie community. As you may know, Desura is part of DesuraNET, which also runs ModDB and the spin-off IndieDB. This is something that no other game distribution platform has, and really does give us a niche market and more direct ties between us, the gamers, and the developers. With this, developers get better feedback on their games, have more resources at their fingertips, can push information out to the public easily, and get to know the people that make up their target audience. The way I feel with Steam is that the community is purely users. There's little to no interaction with the game developers, especially non-Valve or small time/indie developers. Don't get me wrong, this may not be the case, but it's the feel that I get. The other major aspect is that we strongly support mod developers, as opposed to just game developers, which are just as important! There's many modders out there who have a hard time with advertising and distribution, which can often be a show-stopper as far as development or support goes. With ModDB and Desura's support for installing mods, we're helping these developers connect to potential players, and vice versa.

Q) What operating system do you actually use and why?

A) Finally, an easy question! At the moment I'm running two main operating systems; Ubuntu Linux 11.04 on my MacBook Pro, and Ubuntu Linux 10.10 on my ASUS Lamborghini. I am triple booting on the MacBook Pro though, Occasionally I'll boot to OS X to sync my iPhone or twiddle in XCode, and sometimes I'll boot to Windows to see how Desura is supposed to look, or to play a game that doesn't run under wine well. Also the reason for running two different versions of Ubuntu is that I installed 11.04 and didn't like it, but it took a fair bit of effort to get running on the MBP, so when I cleaned up my ASUS, I just wiped it and installed 10.10 which is running well.

Q) How do you plan to separate Windows and Linux games?

A) That one is relatively simple, as our backend allows games to be flagged as Linux or Windows, which is how the client knows what to show and download. Over time we will most likely expand the developer/publisher interface on the website to provide more access to Linux stats and resources, but that is more on Scotts side of things. He's the web developer that maintains that side of the UI and interacts directly with the developers and publishers.

Q) Will the install path of games be user definable or will it be where you guys feel is best to store the games?

A) This is one of those questions that I was going to answer in my next blog entry, as there has been some heated controversy over it on Desura Linux Development blog #2 (http://www.desura.com/news/desura-linux-development-we-have-ui), but I don't have any set timeline for writing the next one so I guess I can express our plans here. Simply put, we are for now going to set the game install path as static, and contained within the main Desura application folder. There's quite a few reasons for this, but the main three would be A) It doesn't break the Linux Filesystem Heirarchy Standard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filesystem_Hierarchy_Standard), B) It makes the entire Desura folder easily portable, and C) it means that each user can have their own installation without mod and patch-level conflicts. Yes, it may consume more disk space, but these days you can get a 2TB hard drive for under $100 AUD. Many people suggested using /opt/games, but this is simply a possible solution and leaves many problems unaddressed.

Q) (slightly off-topic but with a point) Websites like gog.com sell a lot of games that come with dosbox so could easily run on Linux, do you guys plan to allow Linux gamers to buy these older titles and in some way bundle dosbox like they do? It's something i have seen the community request from them, thought it might be interesting to see if you have any thoughts on the matter.

A) That's an interesting point Liam and I hadn't seen gog.com before, thanks for that link! I don't see how this would be a problem if there aren't any legal issues, as Desura allows a wide variety of game structures and we are constantly expanding it to meet the needs of different developers and game configurations. Either way, I really would love to see some of those old classic games on Desura, as I'm a big fan!

Part 2 link - click me.
Part 3 - click me. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Misc
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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6 comments

MaximB 28 Jun, 2011
Nice interview, but I've already bought most Linux games that I want directly from the developers or with the Humble Indie Bundle.
Also I bought many games from gog.com that run on Linux, so at the moment I don't really know what games Desura can offer me.
Hamish 28 Jun, 2011
Yeah, but if it is like the Windows version, even if you purchased your version from a different source, I believe you can still use Desura with many titles to manage the install and use it to install and manage mods for it. So if they offer support for say Doom 3 or UT2004, even if they do not sell them, that would be quite a few interesting mods.

This is just the impression I got, but I know for a fact that you can do this with Doom 3 on Windows, so I assume it will be the same with the Linux version (or I at least hope). :D
MyGameCompany 28 Jun, 2011
As a developer, I look at it as just another distribution channel. On the PC side, I know people who buy direct from developers, and I know people who refuse to buy a game if it isn't on Steam. As a gamer, I personally don't see what Steam does for me, as I can always get the latest/greatest direct from the developers the very moment an update is released. But to each their own...
Liam Dawe 28 Jun, 2011
Hamish - Prepare to be dissapointed. Your question was answered in the next coming parts.

Troy - Steam for me is all about automatic updates without setting up repositories, about having the friends list communication, if i play a game they can see and join me. Steam does a lot of sales too, easy to pick up cheap games, etc etc.

I hope Desura can fill the void eventually.
Gnaag 4 Oct, 2011
Quoting: "MaximB, post: 1859"Nice interview, but I've already bought most Linux games that I want directly from the developers or with the Humble Indie Bundle.
Also I bought many games from gog.com that run on Linux, so at the moment I don't really know what games Desura can offer me.

Desure offers you th integration with all humble bundles. So as soon as it is out, you can forget your humble bundle links :)
Liam Dawe 4 Oct, 2011
Yeah that is true there is that, they will also auto-update for you. It's more of a convenience thing.
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