John Carmack of id software chimes in on Wine gaming

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So doing it's rounds right now is news about John Carmack of id software chiming on on Wine gaming, here are his thoughts and my thoughts.

So let's start by showing you what he said:
QuoteImproving Wine for Linux gaming seems like a better plan than lobbying individual game developers for native ports. Why the hate?

This tweet has sparked posts over Reddit and other popular Linux related websites so it's time for my views.

I am as usual torn on the subject because I think Wine is important but bad at the same time. I will keep it short and just bear in mind as usual these are just my personal views and personal experiences using wine.

Good Points:
So there will always be developers who have been brought up on Windows and know nothing of the world outside of it, there will always be lazy developers who just don't care about other platforms and then there are old games which just will never get ported.

Those are for me the main places that Wine is great to have around so rather than having no chance we have a chance at running these games on our favourite platform.

I do personally use Wine so this really is from experience, I currently play Space Colony HD in Wine and it runs great.

Bad Points:
Wine creates a hidden file-system for where everything in Wine is installed which emulates the Windows file system - this can make an awful mess - but this is an issue for more advanced Linux users, most average users just won't care.

If there is a regression in a Wine update it can affect a huge amount of games. Imagine if the Wine developers look to fix a bug in a very popular game which then breaks it for a bunch of older titles - it becomes a pain as you need to check for reported regressions before upgrading - not everyone has the time to manually check if all their games installed via Wine will still work.

The above has personally happened to me, I’ve done an update without thinking about it which breaks every OpenGL game I’ve installed via Wine and no workaround has worked and so I either had to wait for the next version of Wine or try to downgrade (which isn't easy and can be time consuming).

Graphics Drivers - We all know how bad certain drivers are under Linux, I have personally had an awful experience using Wine with official AMD drivers which gives bad performance as well as bad graphical glitches - the kind of things a native port could work around without having to wait for people to update Wine installs (thankfully I am on Nvidia now).

To further the last post in the graphics drivers bit, imagine if your a developer and your game flat out doesn't work in Wine - what then? Do you spend more of your time to then go through the Wine code-base to fix it or report all your bugs hoping a Wine developer looks at them? This can create a lengthy delay for a "Linux version" of your game, in quotes because it won't be a Linux version at all it will be telling your customers to "just run it in wine".
Also if a developer does test their game in Wine and it doesn't work at all - that then makes Linux look bad again doesn't it since they have something to blame rather than themselves?

If you made a native port you know your own code, you can look to fix platform specific issues. You won't have to worry about Wine updates breaking your game either and you will get more respect from Linux users.
If you keep multi-platform in mind from the start it would make it easier for you to bring your games to other platforms in the future too not just Linux, keeping to Windows only libraries does not.

Wine in my eyes is not a replacement for a native port.

What are your views?

TTimo who used to work for id and did the Linux ports has chimed in as well giving his thoughts:
QuoteI wasn't able to allocate time to work on native Linux or OSX builds for idTech5 stuff in the last few years I spent there (basically after idTech4 Doom3/Quake4/ETQW). There were plenty of reasons that led to me leaving, but me staying wouldn't have changed much in that regard.
They simply lost interest towards the PC in general during the idTech5 cycle, and they don't have anyone there with Linux chops anymore. But Valve seems to be doing great at bringing AAA Linux stuff to the market now, and there's plenty of indies doing high quality stuff. So here's to the new generation :)
A side rant about WINE:
I appreciate the enormous amount of solid engineering that has gone into making WINE what it is today. I use it quite a lot. Running non-gaming software, and running EvE Online for internet spaceships awesomeness.
Keeping a working wine setup on an amd64 Debian sid system is awful though. I've switched to a new install a week ago, and I still don't have EvE working again. And I try to think that I don't totally suck at configuring that stuff.
I don't think running games on WINE is going to get much easier .. it's pretty much as good as it's going to be. It's such a complex piece of engineering that it'll always remain a rather frustrating barrier. So .. native is where it's at.
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Liam Dawe 5 Feb, 2013
I'm sure Steam will set the record straight for the Linux market, will be interesting to follow the market share it has on Steam.
malkien 5 Feb, 2013
"So there will always be developers who have been brought up on Windows and know nothing of the world outside of it".

Saying anything will *always* be is hardly realistic.
While the trend is slow, the importance of Windows has decreased in the last decade.
I don't expect it to go away in my lifetime, but OS awareness is on the rise among developers and Windows is looking more and more like an anomaly, technically speaking (it's either some-Unix-or-other with openGL or Windows with Direct3D).
What we can hope for in the near future is a culture where cross platform programming becomes the norm.
Of course in the meantime we will keep gratefully using Wine.
Vadim 5 Feb, 2013
The biggest problem is that Wine doesn't even work constistently. I get difrent results on the same machine depending on the distro, installation date and the configuration of the starts in the sky.

And it's only a compatibility layers. They're always two-steps behind and can never be flawless.

If Carmack wanted to judge the Linux market, they'd be doing proper ports, not as an afterthought. If you release some random biniries you don't even support, you cnt expect much!
Chuck Lanman 5 Feb, 2013
Why is that guy still making games!?? Wine will never be what we want it to be. You can still get windows viruses while using wine. He didn't see the Linux purchases from his products because he never charged for those Native Client installers. Ugh...he makes me so mad.
Charles Lanman 5 Feb, 2013
Non Native clients on any platform are no excuse for a solution.
Xpander 5 Feb, 2013
still wine is nice alternative to play the games that never get ported and it works really well with older games anyway.
i wouldnt mind if some good games are wrappen in wine, if we dont get limited features with it.
ofc i would take native ports over wineports every time.
sadly some of the native ports recently (hint HumbleBundle) have been so bad quality that the games run even better under wine :(
aaannz 5 Feb, 2013
I like wine and how it expands possibilities. However I also like the idea, that wine is sort of last resort. I'm all for improving wine, but I'm strongly against advertising it as preferred solution.

Funny how thinking about wine produce so opposite reactions. Maybe I should just start drinking :D
hardpenguin 5 Feb, 2013
From one side, this is a really good idea. Why? Look at the Mac - on this market, huge companies use Cider (utility from TransGaming which is basically something like CrossOver/Wine) to release official game ports. Companies like EA, Ubisoft, Activision and Bioware! Why wouldn't this work in case of Wine? This is also how PlayOnLinux works - it uses precise Wine version with precise settings, ensuring functioning on any Linux machine.

The failure with Limbo in Humble Indie Bundle V occured most likely just because they didn't beta-test the port properly before.

There are of course many drawbacks of this solution as well. Like, most of all, making game developers ignoring Linux as an independent platform. And, of course, the risk of Microsoft sueing CodeWeavers (CrossOver/Wine developers) for abusing on of their patents.


Oh, and here is the list of Cider-powered games:
Liam Dawe 5 Feb, 2013
Article updated with a view from TTimo former id employee!
eldersnake 5 Feb, 2013
Beginning to wonder if Carmack is just trolling now
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