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Techland Presentation On Porting Dying Light To Linux

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In the comments of our recent Dying Light article, a video was posted showing two Techland developers talking about their porting of Dying Light to Linux. It’s quite interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFdgOBniQB4

One of those developers speaking is actually my personal contact at Techland, so it’s nice to put a face to the emails.

The start isn’t in English, but it seems the rest of it is, and it’s quite informative.

First of all, I found it amusing that they were having problems with their presentation on Windows, while trying to talk about Linux porting.

A key fact here is that out of around 300 people, only two people work on the Linux version (the two presenting). While it’s true that throwing more people into it doesn’t always help, it’s hard to imagine the colossal project they had to port. This presentation will give you an idea of the struggle they had, and kudos to them for their work.

They were only given 4 months to prepare the Linux version, so it’s easy to see why they had a hard time getting it right. You will understand why when you see what they had to deal with too.

The developers talking are both very likable, and very honest. I especially loved one’s comment of “I have no idea what it is even now, it enables something, i have no idea what it is”, that made me chuckle. His comment above the slide’s picture was even “Ugh...what?”

The talk is very technical, but one thing I did find quite striking is the build time difference between Visual Studio (8 Minutes) and Make (70 Minutes). They did find an alternative to make, but it still doesn’t come close to VS’s time.

The Dead Island port was also mentioned, and the problems with the loot system not working correctly on Linux.

Their video around the 25 minute mark was amazing, showing little comments for Linux gamers like “with ssao disabled game looks terribly”, a shot on the main menu completely messing up, and after a comment of “after patch game doesn't start when using primusrun”. There’s also the golden “game doesn’t start” comment and a few others. It’s mostly poking fun at themselves, and shows they have a sense of humour.

A lot of it went over my head, but it’s all still very interesting.

Many thanks EKRboi for pointing it out in the comments
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minj 23 April 2015 at 8:27 pm UTC
Quote of the day:
QuoteWas forced to use Linux and loved it
stan 23 April 2015 at 8:34 pm UTC
MaxPowerI assume that the dev you are in contact with, is the first guy as he seems to enjoy Linux. The other one used Windows while doing the port to Opengl.
I don’t know if "the other one" likes Linux or not but he had to use Windows if he wanted to get any work done before the other guy managed to make the game build on Linux! It’s also easier to focus on one problem at a time (in this case, just porting to OpenGL.) And of course *he* could build the game in 8 minutes…
skry 23 April 2015 at 8:41 pm UTC
I can't believe no one told the other guy about distcc and ccache.. Anyway, awesome video. Might even buy DL thanks to it.
EKRboi 23 April 2015 at 8:41 pm UTC
QuoteMany thanks EKRboi for pointing it out in the comments

No problem! I like watching videos like this, while I wouldn't call myself a programmer I know a thing or two. This one was really good though. Love their humor about the whole thing. You can never go wrong with some Nick Cage thumbnails I like that they came to the realization that if they had just used cross platform libs for audio, input, etc from the start it would have made things much easier.
BdMdesigN 23 April 2015 at 9:09 pm UTC
"The talk is very technical, but one thing I did find quite striking is the build time difference between Visual Studio (8 Minutes) and Make (70 Minutes). They did find an alternative to make, but it still doesn’t come close to VS’s time."

They use Intel to compile under Linux. An AMD FX is very much faster to compile under Linux.
DrMcCoy 23 April 2015 at 9:15 pm UTC
mirvI can only hope that higher ups noticed everything, and have put in place procedures and coding guidelines to ensure a smoother ride for their next title.

This.
Commander 23 April 2015 at 9:23 pm UTC
Here are the translations by me of the Q/A.

Q/A
Q. Why didn't you create the game from beginning on OpenGL since OpenGL also is available on Windows?
A. I tell you this, the situation is that the engine from the beginning has been developed with previous games on Direct X as focus. And the situation with OpenGL does vary, right now it is evolving but previously it has been varying and also there are probably some lobbying from Microsoft to use Direct X and tie people to Windows. Xbox also use Direct X so there is some "bonus".

Q. You said that you can't compile on Linux faster than 45minutes and on Windows with Visual Studio you compile during 5 minutes however distributed across other computers. Haven't you thought about bigger build server?
A. Discussions about investing in servers are complicated in our company. (Money).

Q. About this matter there is also a solution called !??! and this could work for you because it requires only couple of machines with Linux same architecture not required you easily drop a distributed compilation.
A. It's something like our previous solutions talked about in the slide and would probably work but the issue is that amount of Linux computers are quite low in the company.

Q. Hi out of curiosity, does Dead Island and Dying Light use any homegrown engine or does it use an ready engine with own modifications?
A. Both games use an engine that authors from Techland that has been in development since the 90s, its an homegrown engine.

Q. How does the performance compare on Linux and Windows?
A. Here it is quite interesting since Direct X got a allot of people developing it and about OpenGL it's performance is drasticly rising. The is also that OpenGL on Windows is slower compared to OpenGL on Linux and its hard to investigate these issues from Windows from the performance view. The only way to make sure is to make ready builds for Linux to investigate and see if the performance actually has gotten up or not. OpenGL on Linux is definitely faster since we tested it on Tomek's Linux computer with 780 and it was faster than a Titan on Windows....What more.... The performance will probably be allot closer since at this time we got couple of things ready to implement that will rise the performance by 50 to 100% more.

Q Out of curiosity what graphics backend does it use on PS4 since we know that on Xbox its dx and PS4 is running BSD.
A. I don't develop for PS4 and for PS3 we were able to use something close to OpenGL or actually OpenGL but noone really did it right since it created more things to crunch. When calling glBindBuffer we actually ask the driver to find this buffer, check if it was actually created, if it was allocated, if it has the right size and after all this it's gets actually binded. Currently you go to a lower level that is another language don't remember what its called but its reason is for being faster then previous. Thanks to this consoles are nerfed since they got lower end hardware compared to computers.

Q. As I understand you got one shared baseline of code for each platform and introducing a new platform (Linux). Did it increase any development time or compilation time for other platforms?
A. Our code is quite defined and code path during compilation ignores and does not matter for the Windows platform.
edo 23 April 2015 at 9:39 pm UTC
minjQuote of the day:
QuoteWas forced to use Linux and loved it
minute?
minj 23 April 2015 at 9:43 pm UTC
edo
minjQuote of the day:
QuoteWas forced to use Linux and loved it
minute?
59:05
drmoth 24 April 2015 at 2:13 am UTC
Thanks for the translation Commander!

QuoteThe performance will probably be allot closer since at this time we got couple of things ready to implement that will rise the performance by 50 to 100% more.

This sounds really promising...these guys are awesome!
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