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The Funding Crowd 23 (Oct 29th - Nov 13th)

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Welcome to The Funding Crowd! In fact, the 23rd edition of The Funding Crowd no less. The astute amongst you will note that we're a couple of days late on this edition. But fear not! That simply means that there's even more urgency to each of this issue's wonderful picks from the worlds of Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Some have, literally, scant hours left to pledge. So without any further ado, read on!






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It is a very encouraging sign of things to come when we're able to cover so many projects by developers already bringing games to the Linux community, including this cool adventure dialogue puzzler from Owlchemy Labs. The devs responsible for Snuggle Truck and Jack Lumber have decided to bring their DYSCOURSE concept to Kickstarter.

The concept is an unusual game of survival meets adventure-game style dialogue puzzles. The player must explore branching narrative trees and face the consequences or rewards of their choice. In the example given us by the pitch video, our fearless leader, Rita, must choose how to deal with an aggressive rattlesnake creeping into the camp. Do you handle it yourself, or send your toughest survivor to deal with it? By sending tough guy to get bitten, rather than whacking it with a frying pan, you doom the party to later downfall due to a wild boar attack that tough guy would have been best equipped to deal with.

The geometric expansion of potential play-throughs nearly lands the title in rogue-lite territory, but with the element of randomness diminished in favor of vast player choice. The team promises elements of sneaking, hunting, projectile weaponry, and fight-or-flight response. Days pass as you guide Rita's leadership as you see fit, each decision branching the story and affecting your fate. Perhaps you last through day five, but a friend of yours meets their demise on day three. The geometric progression of your chain of decisions is what defines the specific, and potentially hilarious, outcome of each specific run.

Emergent story structures arise out of this absurdity, giving you something odd and funny to go talk about with the community. Or with us... you can tell GOL all about your madcap DYSCOURSE runs in our forum community, swapping stories of your epic blunders and triumphs, but the game must be funded first. A $15 pledge will help Owlchemy bring the game to life, and as a reward, backers receive a DRM-free download as well as a mention in the game credits.










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Oceania is a fantasy-themed MMORPG based on the Unigine game engine, which is a great choice for graphically advanced games on Linux. Oceania is not a free-to-play style of MMORPG, since it will require initial purchase of the game, but a paid account will not be mandatory. It will be a sandbox style MMORPG with extensive crafting and trading systems, offering players great power to shape the world. Real estate prices are comparatively affordable here -- 64% of the cost of a simple citizen home in Lord British's domain will buy you a whole flying island in Oceania. ;)










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Fans of atmospheric horror puzzlers should take a look at Between Me and the Night, a surreal exploration puzzler with action elements. Rain Dance Studios intends to exploring a number of opposing themes, mirroring the day and night cycle as an allegory to other classic dualities, such as good and evil, sanity and madness.

For example, one design choice divides gameplay between a daytime cycle featuring environment puzzles similar to point-n-click adventure tropes. At night, our protagonist faces his nightmares in an action combat mode, suited up in the trappings of a medieval knight.

Between Me and the Night promises to feature colorful surrealist-styled hand-animated vector art with the action bits influenced by titles like Another World. Super Hexagon's empress of the chiptune lowlands, none other than chipzel herself, will be contributing tracks to the highly "meta" in-game console play segments as part of the OST.

Thematically, it will appeal to the same audience as recent titles Knock-Knock, Neverending Nightmares, or Whispering Willows. The game can be had by Indiegogo backers in the $15 perk, provided it can wake up from the nightmare of zero publicity. As Hidden Gems go, this odd jewel is quite hidden indeed.










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Broken Rules Games, creators of Humble Indie Bundle 3 title And Yet It Moves, have come to crowd-funders to share a flight of fancy... literally. Secrets of Raetikon is an aerial exploration game, inspired by the team's own nighttime dreams of flying. The title explores the intersection of civilization and the natural world, as well as the freedom of flight and an environment inspired by the beauty of the Alps. The art style is organic but angular, composed entirely of triangles, but with a color palette borrowed from an Impressionist's easel.

Thematically and stylistically, Raetikon borrows heavily from the group's prior title, Chasing Aurora, the concept of which was teased to fans following the Humble Bundle release of their first title. Sadly, it turned out to be an exclusive console title, much to the chagrin of this member of The Funding Crowd.

This time around, Broken Rules has rejected exclusivity, and is calling on Linux gamers for their trust and generosity... again, literally:




No Linux alpha is currently available, but the campaign page promises that it will be coming soon. Basic access to the alpha, as well as a download of the final game, become available at the $10 pledge level, and in the second campaign update, the team has confirmed that both alpha and the final game will be available DRM-free.










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Interested in a chilled-out music puzzle experience? Sentris offers a creative music builder, encouraging constructive solutions by allowing players to compose their own music within the boundaries of each puzzle. The play field, or canvas, is a colorful polar grid, rotating gently to the musical tempo, and encircled by an instrument bar. We've never seen a game quite like it before, mashing up Tetris-like shaped block dropping with the rhythm genre, and adding plenty of its own tricks.

Challenge, tied to tempo and the expanding instrument library, is dialed up as the player grows in skill, in familiar arcade progression. Instruments unlock delightfully as the player solves each puzzle, enriching the palette they can draw from to compose their soundscape. As each colored instrument block falls in place, the player's song begins to incorporate it into the melody, resulting in a beautiful visual kaleidoscope as well as an audible one. Each puzzle's solution is the player's own new song, composed in real-time, and inspired from within!

It should also be noted that the campaign creator, Timbre Interactive, have reached out to the Linux community to produce a version of the prototype for us as well, and although it is not quite working yet, the developer has been very responsive and is eager to help us enjoy the game. We like to reward that sort of pro-active engagement, and encourage interested readers to consider supporting the project, where a DRM-free copy can be had for $20.










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The LucasArts alums at SeaCliff Interactive are trying to craft a new kind of RTS experience, one that binds the retro-simplicity of side-scrolling 2D lane-offense, with the 3D landscape of an isometric tactical RTS, and they believe they've cracked this formula with Super Roman Conquest. As the name suggests, it's a retro-styled title set in Ancient Rome during a period of imperial expansion. To simulate a 3D environment with 2D pixel-artwork, SeaCliff has built a unique layered design, incorporating three separate lanes of play, each on its own 2D plane. The player can zoom between these to monitor the progression of each segment of battle. Each lane features transition points linking them together, which opens possibilities for more advanced tactical strategy, such as flanking, ambushes, distractions and tactical retreats.

The existing set of historically-inspired playable units is set to expand due to campaign funds, addressing a crucial aspect of any RTS. Additionally, the game will include unit progression and customization features, allowing players to nurture a crack squad of Centurion veterans, or perhaps a veteran war elephant division. Beyond the tactical feature list, a campaign meta-game is part of the core design, making player decisions on the macro scale as important as unit micro-management in battle. This feature adds greater depth by introducing a decision tree to most actions and movements, testing the player's leadership capabilities. Perhaps you'll choose whether to annex or raze a property, whether to absorb and tax the inhabitants or simply sell them into slavery. A master tactician may win every battle, and still lose the campaign due to blundering in the meta-game.

It's important to note that the pre-alpha gameplay footage in the pitch video and on the campaign page features mostly placeholder artwork at this point, and doesn't reflect the final graphic design. In fact, that is a major portion of the teams financial requirement. SeaCliff are aiming for a hand-painted pixel landscape of similar quality to that of 2.5D pixel art title FEZ, and have promised an update soon in which concepts of final art-direction will be revealed. This title has so much potential to tap into the deceptively simple and addictive niche filled by the FTL's of the world, and indeed it is quoted as an inspiration by the team, along with a few other great games. A DRM-free copy of SRC can be pledged at $10, and will include a potential Steam key, as well as a forum badge and listing in the game credits.










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Ah, the pixels! Glorious pixels! This edition's award for Gem Featuring Most Perfect Pixel Art goes to Asthree Works 2D side-scrolling stealth title, Paradise Lost: First Contact. Well, that's not a real award, but if it were, Paradise Lost would certainly be the recipient.

This retro-styled Metroidvania cum Metal Gear platform/stealth-puzzler pits the player against the human race by flipping the alien abduction trope. *You* control the alien specimen and crawl, droop, jump, and scramble for your very survival, as you guide an alien plant-squid dubbed Subject W out of a secret bio-engineering facility, past all of it's armed guards, and try to stay out of trouble. As you meet other species along the way, ostensibly Subjects A through V, you quickly realize that nobody is your friend, and perhaps even discover the purpose of your containment along the way. Skills that can come into play include mind control, decoys, gravity inversion, and organic bombs in addition to classic platforming.

Replay value is designed in a number of ways, from the inclusion of RPG elements to placement of collectible rare items. RPG aspects lie along the lines of character customization, allowing the player to direct the evolution of Subject W to adapt it to their own strategy and play style. Also, amongst the hidden unlockable things will be a legitimate Octodad skin... with permission from Young Horses. We're not joking! You can't make this stuff up.

$12 will snag you a nice DRM-free download code for any platform of your choice, as long as it's Linux. So, go pledge now, before we start quoting Milton!










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SCALE, by Steve Swink, is one of the most inventive first person puzzlers we've come across in a long time. Reminiscent of Portal, you play a female protagonist armed with an unusual gun... but at least it doesn't create portals! Instead, it can scale things up or down according to the amount of juice your gun has left. Scale down a house, pick it up, move it somewhere else, then scale it back up again and walk inside. Or scale up the moon and watch the tides rise! Or scale up a butterfly and jump on top to cross a ravine! The act of scaling can also be used to throw objects, or even yourself, by placing one object on another then scaling it up. The puzzle possibilities could be endless.

Scale has another trick up its sleeve - professional voice acting. In fact, the main character will be voiced by none other than Ashley Burch who is the voice of Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2, one of the most interesting and amusing (yet tragic) characters in that game! Also on board is the excellent Sarah Maleh who did the voice work in Gone Home, a game notable for its excellent voice acting (and worth picking up for Linux if you haven't played it yet). So high hopes for the voice work in SCALE then!

There's only a couple of days left to put $15 on this one and, having already conquered its reasonable $87k target, it needs a small push to make its first stretch goal (Oculus Rift support), so you'll make a big difference if you decide to pledge.






Let's now review the recently finished campaigns and their outcomes:





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The Losers


The Living, Raindrop, Super Dwarf Madness, and Lords of Discord campaigns all ended failing to meet their goals by a substantial margin, and Shaman project was cancelled a bit early when the creators saw the writing on the wall (40% funding with only a week to go).


Playir project creators are trying again to fund their open-source game design tool with a fixed-funding Indiegogo campaign that has a lower goal than the level of backing achieved in the Kickstarter ($20k vs $32k pledges).


Being a flexible-funding campaign, Worlds of Wanda will get to collect about $1k worth of pledges, which will help out an Indie developer wanting development tool licenses, so it's not a total loss, though not quite an impressive enough result to fall under Winners.





The Winners


City of Titans, the City-of-Heroes-inspired MMORPG ended up with $678k pledges, which could lead to another historic advance for Linux gamers made possible by crowdfunding -- hopefully it means Nate Downes will be well-funded enough to whip the sadly-neglected Linux port of Unreal engine back into shape!


Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim ended its campaign with an exciting photo-finish victory in the last few hours!


Space-themed games had a good run this time around, with Cosmic Star Heroine,
Universum: War Front, and PULSAR: Lost Colony all exceeding their goals by healthy margins, while RimWorld blew its goal to smithereens (wherever that is)!


GoD Factory: Wingmen is a former space-themed Hidden Gem that was not a winner in the sense of hitting the Kickstarter goal, but development has been continuing to progress without the additional funding and the game was Greenlit on Steam October 29th.


Beyond Eyes also is not a winner in the conventional sense of hitting the goal, but with flexible-funding almost 50% of the needed amount was raised, rather than the pathetic amount raised by the typical flexible-funding game campaigns. The developer can go back to working full-time on the game for a while, and hopes to raise more via direct Paypal backing on the game website.













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· The Solar Games, which aims to raise money to provide solar power in poorly accommodated areas like Haiti, is a Mad-Max style Kart Racing game. Playing the game in various locations will trigger solar delivery engineers to geotag your in game progress with actual solar roll outs as they are installed. The Solar Games campaign was earlier granted a rare extension from Indiegogo, with about a week remaining in that extension. This is a flexible funding campaign so pledges will be collected even if the full goal of $9,250 is not reached (which frankly doesn't look likely at this point).


· Bolt Riley is a Reggae-themed adventure game campaign that has attracted a very loyal following on Kickstarter -- not too surprising given that it was created by fellow adventure game backer Oded Sharon and co-designed by Lori & Corey Cole, original designers of the Quest for Glory. The past week brought an interesting update on the music front, in which the composer was announced to be Omri Lahav, composer for GOL favorite 0 A.D.! If the project funds, perhaps it could end up giving a paid gig to a talented contributor. There are still a couple weeks to go, but this week will be a critical one for the project because a large influx of backers would boost the credibility of the project during the end rush, persuading those who check in during the final hours that success is not completely out of reach.


· Timothy Zahn's Parallax is still recruiting backers among fans of classic turn-based 4X games, such as the original Master of Orion, that had gameplay focusing on strategy more than low-level micromanagement. Per the proposed title, popular science fiction author Timothy Zahn (Cobra, Thrawn, Quadrail...) will be ultimately responsible for the lore of the Parallax universe, including a wide variety of alien factions and mysterious galactic events that trigger randomly during a game. Unfortunately Parallax did not get the PR blitz and corresponding initial spike needed for a project of its size, so it seems likely that it will have to turn to "plan B". Backing now is still an opportunity to get more Linux fans into the core Parallax community, with our feedback taken seriously and helping ensure Linux will be well supported with this classically-inspired sci-fi 4X.


· SKYJACKER Space Combat Sim is another promising sci-fi biggie that has not gathered sufficient momentum yet among crowdfunders to hit the goal, but at least it has found favor among Steam members -- climbing the Greenlight rankings up to #4 at last mention!! If a larger proportion of Steam gamers were in the habit of donating in order to make innovative games happen, SKYJACKER would be all set for victory, but it goes to show that at the moment we crowdfunders are still far in the minority.


· In contrast to the previous two sci-fi biggies, The Mandate seems to have a PR plan worthy of its ambitions. A steady stream of online articles and project updates have kept a good amount of momentum going during the often-dead middle period of the campaign, which is a key part of their strategy with an unusually long campaign. At this rate, reaching 10k backers is looking quite plausible by the end of the campaign, which should ensure victory is possible with a final pledge-raising push. Backers who like exciting finishes should have a good time with this one!


· Magicite, a multiplayer RPG/platformer cross-genre title, is another current campaign to find favor among the Steam crowd -- in this case, already being Greenlit! As a Hidden Gem with modest target, the base goal and the first 4 stretch goals have already been crossed off the list, with about a week remaining to add the $15k stretch goal of increased character customization.


· Churbles multiplayer RPG has "adorably tough heroes" that have earned themselves a Hidden-Gem success story, having met the base goal with a week to go. The first few stretch goals have been reached as well, including a new druid class to be added to the existing rogue, warrior, and mystic classes. The stretch goal for additional multiplayer modes (a survival arena, customizable boss battles, and a PvP arena) is also within sight; less than $3k away with a week left on the clock. Churbles backers who intend to team up with Steam buddies would be advised to give it a Greenlight thumbs up.











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Don't be fooled by the generic-sounding title; "Deathfire" itself is a plot-relevant term for a forbidden magic thought lost to the mists of time and terrifying legend, a spell able to burn the soul from a sentient being and destroy their free will.

Creator Guido Henkel's narrative places player in a world cursed by the return of the Deathfire in the hands of a craven and powerful Nethermancer named Endergast. Players traverse the world in real-time via grid-based navigation, reminiscent of recent first-person crawler, Legend of Grimrock. Also like Grimrock, combat is turn-based once an encounter begins, but it's at this point that the two diverge, and where Guido goes back to his cRPG roots.

Known for his contributions to old-school classics like Planescape: Torment, Fallout 2, as well as pre-production on Neverwinter Nights, he's incorporating elements of classic Golden Age first-person RPG's such as selected games from Wizardry and Might & Magic, including party-based play and combat, loads of tunable and hidden character traits, as well as deep and adaptive storycraft.

To this delectable cocktail, the Deathfire team adds an Ultima-esque recipe-based enchanting and crafting system, along with a vast bestiary. Lush outdoor environments bring the player out of the dungeon and into a world of NPC's with which to interact. These encounters matter, as NPC political factions are affected by players choices which can result in plot-changing consequences... and it is here that it gets really interesting. Guido envisions an innovative inter-party reputation system based on the quirks and personalities of NPC's recruited into the party. Party members can encourage and support each other or squabble and eventually come to blows. Imagine that occurring during an encounter!

Fans of a new take on old-school RPG concepts can pick up an early-bird tier for $20, which includes a DRM-free download of the game as well as access to the closed beta.









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The original designer of the seminal first-person horror puzzler, The 7th Guest, has returned to the series with a proposal to Kickstarter fans. You provide the funds, and they will deliver you back to cursed and haunted mansion of Henry Stauf, evil toymaker and the stuff of nightmares. Rob Landeros and his team at Trilobyte Games are promising 20 fiendishly difficult puzzles, making the game roughly the same length as the debut title of the series. In a recent turn of events, the lush and atmospheric original themes composed by fan-favorite composer George "The Fatman" Sanger have been licensed for use in the game. Further, Stauf's original actor, Robert Hirschboeck reprises his kindly but terrifying role in this newest installment of one of the earliest FMV adventure titles to hit the market, one that has had a lasting impact on millions of adventure gamers.

Speaking of lasting impacts, the original title of this series was the one that caused this Funding Crowd member to swear off horror video games in general. Though, it must be admitted that the ground-breaking use of pre-rendered imagery, well-integrated video sequences, and some of the most challenging and well-designed logic puzzles of the era, still evoke fond memories amongst those of fright and frustration. The series is also remembered for over-the-top horror melodrama, in cinematic fashion. Like its predecessors, The 7th Guest 3: The Collector promises to be edgy, horrific, ghoulish, and deadly.

Rob promises that the Stauf story arc still has ghastly secrets to reveal, stretching back to the fateful events of the first game. In Trilobyte style, learn these secrets you must, of course, solve each of the mansion's puzzles before cracking the greatest puzzle of all; the mansion itself! It is a first-class character in the series, and in The Collector, this tradition is maintained. With its own mean and chilling motivations, players have their work cut out for them. If funded, The Collector will allow players to freely roam the Stauf mansion in HD resolution with an original soundtrack composed for it, and can be had DRM-free for $20.









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Pixeljam Games has been a friend to Linux gamers for years now, bringing us several titles and frequently offering up heavily-discounted bundles. To be clear, Pixeljam makes weird games; weird and niche, in fact. The recipe for a Pixeljam game starts with two parts gameplay mechanic, to which equal parts hand-drawn pixel-art and chiptune are added toss in a heaping spoonful of ridiculous humor, and serve over slice of rye toast. Dino Run is a consummate Pixeljam title, featuring an addictive mix of arcade platform runner with RPG elements and a little collect-a-thon to further add replay value.

The team is calling on the community to help them elevate the Dino Run formula by adding significant features, a facelift with even better pixel art and animation, and by growing the community itself, by way of additional platforms.

The new feature list starts with new playable dinosaur species and level elements designed around each of the new species. For example, a small, fast, raptor might have the choice of a challenge-path that involves fast classic platforming, or a species born with a bony helmet might be able to ram its head into a weak point in a wall to reveal a hidden tunnel. Further, a playable pteranodon brings the potential for flight-based levels, something very new to the game. Multi-player functionality is set to be platform-agnostic, as it should be, so that Linux gamers can race with OUYA players, Windows gamers with iOS players, Mac gamers racing Android users. Local co-op is planned as well, for that old-school console feel.

As an aside, Pixeljam are one of the quirkiest Linux studios, with an style and attitude all their own; case in point, the recent gloriously odd Potatoman OUYA release trailer on YouTube. If retro gaming and that brand of humor appeal to you, then these are the folks to support. Ten dollars brings a DRM-free download code to potential Dino Runners, and despite Pixeljam's protestations, their "exploratory platformer with an extreme sense of urgency" makes a great souped-up runner, and Dino Run 2 is sure to satisfy.









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Dragons of Elanthia doesn't need much of a description, as it speaks for itself. Beautiful dragon-riding combat flight simulation. Free-to-play, but not pay-to-win, financed by in-game purchases of cosmetic packs and the usual experience grind-boosting.

Funds are needed mostly to broaden the experience by adding new dragons, new maps, new riders, and skins. In addition, developer Simutronics wants to expand the community by improving international infrastructure, and of course, adding new platforms like Linux. Since the title is F2P, any pledge helps, but backers can increase their level of influence and impact on in-game features with higher pledge levels.

Any gamer itching to fly war dragons in F2P MOBA-style, and blast their friends out of the air, ought to take a look at this project.










That wraps it up for today! This column was brought to you by s_d, scaine, and Speedster (with yours truly, muntdefems, wrapping it up and publishing it). We'd love to see our numbers grow so we'll continue appealing to you, our regular readership, for new Funding Crowd volunteers. The more the merrier, but most importantly, the more quality content we'll be able to produce! Feel free to offer your services on the comments section of this article, or by contacting any of the aforementioned people by private message.


Expect us back in a fortnight's time, but until then remember to check our crowdfunding wiki for the latest news on the crowdfunding of Linux games. Bye! ;)


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DrMcCoy 13 November 2013 at 9:54 pm UTC
I'm sorry to say, but you're far too late for Oceania, which failed to reach its goal 4 hours ago.

EDIT: They do have some weird pre-order on their website though...
EDIT2: Hmm, wonky English, weird pre-order scheme, no information at all on who those people are and Russian-only forums... :/
scaine 13 November 2013 at 10:13 pm UTC
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Quote from DrMcCoyI'm sorry to say, but you're far too late for Oceania, which failed to reach its goal 4 hours ago.

EDIT: They do have some weird pre-order on their website though...

Yeah, I'm not sure why they're still advertising an expected delivery of Sep 2013, since we're now nearly halfway through November.

Funnily enough, Oceania only got in after a recommendation from a reader commenting on the last article, so it's a shame we couldn't quite get the word out on it.

So, as noted at the start of the article, we were a bit late with this issue, and a couple of the projects were always going to be a close call. Scale, for example, had to be rewritten at the last minute as they got a big push today and hit their target, and have less than 3 days to grab the final $18k to nail Rift support.

[EDIT : $8k. Dunno where I got $18k from!]
Speedster 14 November 2013 at 6:03 am UTC
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Well there's two more must-haves for me this week, SCALE and Deathfire. Somebody mentioned on another article that Deathfire sounds like it was named by a random RPG name generator, but the game itself has much promise. Hope it manages to gain enough momentum to get funded!
Lord Avallon 14 November 2013 at 2:50 pm UTC
All the hidden gems are awesome in my opinion, too bad Oceania didn´t make it, it is extremely beautiful and interesting, I hope Skyjacker and The Mandate get funded, they would be great additions to our Linux library and we have some very interesting games on the Biggies this week, I hope they make it too!
bcruz111 16 November 2013 at 5:34 am UTC
thank you for posting this article, best article series on the web for linux gamers
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