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Snapshot Games have cancelled the Linux version of Phoenix Point

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Some news that I'm not particularly happy about. Snapshot Games, which includes X-COM creator Julian Gollop, have announced they've cancelled the Linux version of Phoenix Point.

As a reminder: After having a succesful Fig campaign last year, where they raised well over $750K which went up to over $780K after it finished, Snapshot Games also gained over $1.2 million in pre-orders from their own store. Linux was a platform advertised during their crowdfunding campaign along with it being clearly listed as a platform on their official website's FAQ. They went on to release two backer builds, both of which had Linux support and ran quite well. After spending quite a number of hours in their second backer beta, I was extremely keen for the third build which was expanding the feature-set quite a lot.

I ended up speaking to Snapshot Games, who gave me the news ahead of time so I've had a little time to think about this. Even so, I'm really not happy with the situation.

They put up a dedicated page to talk briefly about it, after I told them not to leave the reasons why up to people's imaginations. Citing reasons like Linux requiring "specialised graphics programming" as it uses OpenGL and not DirectX, they also mentioned that Linux drivers are "not as comprehensive as for Windows and Mac" requiring them to make "adaptations to graphical shaders" to get them working. Additionally, they mentioned the issue of Linux having many distributions, Linux-specific Unity bugs like "not being able to correctly render the video player" and input issues. I won't comment much on those points, since I am not a game developer and so I've no idea how Unity handles different APIs and everything else Unity does. It's clear Unity has had plenty of Linux issues in the past year though.

I consider myself a big fan of Gollop's work, after discovering UFO: Enemy Unknown/X-COM: UFO Defense when I was younger on the Amiga. So when Phoenix Point was announced, I was incredibly excited. I actually put my own money down for their "Luxury Digital Edition" without using their discount code (not exactly cheap) as I wanted to support them. So for me, this stings quite badly.

Hopefully they will properly reconsider this in time. In the grand scheme of things, it's only one game. We do have a lot of strategy games as well, so it's not like it was serving Linux gamers something we have a complete lack of. A very unfinished game too, but it's still not great to have news like this. Disappointing is a wild understatement.

Anyone who backed it for a Linux build, should contact them to seek an immediate refund. I already have and that's not me being malicious, but if they're not currently doing what you paid for, that money should be put to better use. If they do support Linux properly in future, I will likely be the first in line to pick up a copy.

Obviously, it's a reminder that during development anything can happen. When you support crowdfunding, Early Access and so on developers priorities can and very often do change. Although, that can happen after you release a game too like with Human: Fall Flat so it's not something that happens only here. It's also a reminder about being realistic. Sadly, with our current market share developers find it all too easy at times to leave Linux in the dust. There's not a whole lot that actually treat Linux as a first-class citizen outside of dedicated porting studios and individuals. This has happened around 8 times this year now, hopefully next year things will improve. I could argue that 8 games out of well over 1,100 released for Linux this year isn't a lot, but it's still 8 too many for my liking.

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125 comments
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PJ 9 November 2018 at 11:26 pm UTC
Sad news - as an Xcom fan I've been looking forward to this one.

ScooptaI think the real solution to this problem is making steam behave more like flatpak.

+1 . Atm I'm using Steam through Flatpak and all the issues I've had because of Steam runtime / different libraries etc are gone. Smoothest Steam experience I've had. IMO if Steam would back it up officially and embraced this form of packaging we would be in far better shape (not only in terms of gaming).


Last edited by PJ at 9 November 2018 at 11:27 pm UTC
Patola 9 November 2018 at 11:41 pm UTC
omer666(...)
Two overlooked facts about using other distros than Ubuntu:
- users running into trouble with these distros are willing to troubleshoot things themselves because they know they aren't supported (...)

In the end, that factor does not matter. Because not all users of other distros will stay quiet or troubleshoot themselves; at least some will ask for support which the vendor won't be able to give. And that still counts as the perception that all distros must be supported.
Salvatos 9 November 2018 at 11:57 pm UTC
Patola
omer666(...)
Two overlooked facts about using other distros than Ubuntu:
- users running into trouble with these distros are willing to troubleshoot things themselves because they know they aren't supported (...)

In the end, that factor does not matter. Because not all users of other distros will stay quiet or troubleshoot themselves; at least some will ask for support which the vendor won't be able to give. And that still counts as the perception that all distros must be supported.
I don't get this. Even the SteamOS + Linux tab on Steam's store has a field for the mininmum and recommended OS. For instance, The Long Dark (random example) lists "OS: SteamOS or Ubuntu 16.04 or 17.04" as a minimum. It's pretty obvious that only those are supported and anyone on any other distro who complains about a distro-specific issue can be told that it was always made clear that their OS was not supported.

Heck, trying to support all distros would be utter madness!
slaapliedje 10 November 2018 at 12:17 am UTC
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TemplarGR
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Patola..or SteamOS which is essentially a customized Ubuntu.

SteamOS has nothing to do with Ubuntu

They are both Debian based. And SteamOS is based on exactly the same versions UbuntuLTS is based on. I am pretty sure SteamOS is more or less Ubuntu for all intends and purposes... Well it does not have the same desktop theme, i give you that...

Someone else probably already said this, but Ubuntu being based on Debian and SteamOS being based on Debian does not equate to SteamOS being based upon Ubuntu LTS. Steam is currently (if I recall) based on Debian Jessie and is in beta for the Stretch base. There are a LOT of differences between Debian and Ubuntu. Ubuntu tends to compile experimental drivers into their kernel for one.

Ubuntu's procedure is every 6 months they pull a bunch of packages from Debian Testing, build them up and test them for a month of that then release. But because of that, there are certainly a lot more bugs that creep into Ubuntu.

Valve rebasing on Debian was a good move, since it gives them a much more stable platform to develop upon, and they do some kernel tweaks and pull in newer drivers.
pb 10 November 2018 at 12:21 am UTC
SalvatosI don't get this. Even the SteamOS + Linux tab on Steam's store has a field for the mininmum and recommended OS. For instance, The Long Dark (random example) lists "OS: SteamOS or Ubuntu 16.04 or 17.04" as a minimum. It's pretty obvious that only those are supported and anyone on any other distro who complains about a distro-specific issue can be told that it was always made clear that their OS was not supported.

You would think that, but some people don't (want to) accept it and they will still complain that it doesn't work on Arch for example (I have Arch and SteamOS and I am perfectly aware that some games work fine on one and don't even launch on the other, and it works both ways). Then again it's not a Linux-specific issue, go browse some older games on Steam and you will see a flood of negative reviews saying the game doesn't work on Win10 - while sometimes (but pretty rare for now) the game *only* works on Win10 so Win7 users will rage. Everyone wants to play but nobody wants to comply. Bless Valve for Proton.
Cybolic 10 November 2018 at 12:28 am UTC
I'm both saddened and angry at this news. Their reasons sound like either poor excuses or bad planning. In any case, I've requested a refund for my Fig contributions as this is straight up not what they promised to use the funding for.
mortigar 10 November 2018 at 12:58 am UTC
Surprised they managed to break their own game so badly between backer 2 and 3 beta that they have to drop support...
GustyGhost 10 November 2018 at 1:18 am UTC
ScooptaI'm trying to make out what your profile picture says. Is convenience the left stand?

Yup. I had to whip that up in a rush since my last masterpiece of an avatar got nanny-state'd by the resident snowflakes. Maybe I should reframe the shot for readability.
F.Ultra 10 November 2018 at 1:50 am UTC
slaapliedje
TemplarGR
PlayX
Patola..or SteamOS which is essentially a customized Ubuntu.

SteamOS has nothing to do with Ubuntu

They are both Debian based. And SteamOS is based on exactly the same versions UbuntuLTS is based on. I am pretty sure SteamOS is more or less Ubuntu for all intends and purposes... Well it does not have the same desktop theme, i give you that...

Someone else probably already said this, but Ubuntu being based on Debian and SteamOS being based on Debian does not equate to SteamOS being based upon Ubuntu LTS. Steam is currently (if I recall) based on Debian Jessie and is in beta for the Stretch base. There are a LOT of differences between Debian and Ubuntu. Ubuntu tends to compile experimental drivers into their kernel for one.

Ubuntu's procedure is every 6 months they pull a bunch of packages from Debian Testing, build them up and test them for a month of that then release. But because of that, there are certainly a lot more bugs that creep into Ubuntu.

Valve rebasing on Debian was a good move, since it gives them a much more stable platform to develop upon, and they do some kernel tweaks and pull in newer drivers.

I think most of the confusion comes from that SteamOS and the Steam Runtime are two different things. The thing that matters for the games are the runtime and the Steam Runtime is from Ubuntu (the folders are even named ubuntu12_32 and ubuntu12_64 since they where taken from Ubuntu 12.04).
qptain Nemo 10 November 2018 at 2:56 am UTC
I can't express the extent of my disappointment.
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