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Editorial: An open letter to Valve on why they should keep on embracing Linux
9 December 2018 at 9:45 pm UTC Likes: 14

mao_dze_dunThere are tons of Steam only games. Why is all of a sudden Epic evil for having 3rd party esxclusives?
Nothing is stopping those developers/publishers from releasing on other platforms. At least on Valve's end. It's up to them. If you follow the link in the article you'll see examples of developers who previously released in other stores (like Supergiant) who have, for now, only exclusively launched their games on Epic's store. Presumably, they've signed a contract with Epic for full or limited-time exclusivity. That's an important distinction.

Mesa 18.3.0 for those of you using the open source drivers
7 December 2018 at 7:10 pm UTC Likes: 1

DorritHi all.

As far as I understand (from Wikipedia mainly) Mesa is sort of a translator between APIs and graphics drivers, is that it?
AMD's opensource drivers are included in the kernel, so a newer kernel will bring newer drivers. But what about Mesa? Is it updated independently?

There's a lot of similar names here so I'll try to give you a quick summary: Mesa is FOSS an implementation of various APIs (OpenGL, OpenGL ES, Vulkan etc) that also contains user-space drivers for various bits of hardware. The RadeonSI/amdgpu and radv user space drivers in Mesa are what I use every day to play games and render things correctly according to specs. There's several other drivers there correspond to other hardware like anv (which is intel's vulkan driver) as well as software drivers like llvmpipe. The Mesa project also has a close relationship with DRI and other things used for graphics but for the sake of simplicity I'm going to gloss over the finer points. Things like game compatibility, hangs and poor performance are usually fixed with Mesa's drivers (the mailing list is pretty interesting if you're into that sort of thing).

Now, there's a distinction to be made with the kernel-space drivers (ie AMDGPU) that provide the kernel with a means of correctly interfacing with the device and using its features. Again, I don't want to get too technical, but things like the recent addition of the display code allow for atomic mode setting and sound over HDMI on newer AMD cards. There's more that's in the kernel side of things like the DRM which, for example, should add support for Freesync in Kernel 4.21/5.0 (whatever they choose to call it). The monolithic nature of the Linux kernel means that these types of drivers are usually loaded up as kernel modules and not in user space.

Both user and kernel space drivers are useful to get the most out of your card and, in AMD's case, even their proprierty AMDGPU-PRO user space drivers use the AMDGPU kernel drivers as well. I know it's confusing because of all the "amdgpu" and variants thereof but the bottom line is that you need both a relatively up-to-date kernel and recent Mesa to get the best performance out of your card and use of features. I know that other, more technically-minded, users can give you a more complete answer and point out where I've oversimplified things too much but I hope that this summary has helped you understand things a little better anyhow!

The chaos and action of Total War: Warhammer II makes for a gripping strategy title
5 December 2018 at 7:02 pm UTC Likes: 1

lunixFor me, this game was running very poorly and also crashed a lot. I was really waiting for it but it turned out to be a disappointment...

I'm thirding the bewilderment at your poor performance. Liam's own benchmarks on a 980 Ti as well as other people in the comments with varying hardware show that it's working just fine for most people. Maybe it's a driver issue on your end? If you think it isn't, email Feral about it.

BATTLETECH for Linux updated, releases Flashpoint expansion – some thoughts
28 November 2018 at 3:25 pm UTC Likes: 1

FaattoriHow is the performance compared to Windows release? I take it that it's nothing to worry about since the article doesn't mention that sort of stuff.

No issues at all in my playtime. Steady 60 FPS (I played with vsync, though). Didn't compare with Windows because I don't have a Windows installation

einherjarThe only thing that really makes me worry is the "Season Pass Thing" and the DLCs that short after release.

Just to put it into perspective: The game released 7 months ago. That's about the same gap between the original Starcraft and Brood War if you're a fossil like me The next DLC is scheduled to come out in "Summer 2019" which probably means July, at earliest. Still, you'd do well to avoid a season pass, especially if all the content hasn't been announced yet. GOL always advises against preordering.

BATTLETECH for Linux updated, releases Flashpoint expansion – some thoughts
27 November 2018 at 8:31 pm UTC

It's an unfortunately confusing situation. I was told in an email that:
QuoteFlashpoint will launch next Tuesday, November 27, alongside a free update, adding a slew of new content, as well as Linux support on all distribution platforms!

As has been quoted previously, this bit is confusing:
QuoteLinux Beta update: The Linux Beta along with fixes and updates has been integrated with the main game version and is available on Steam, GOG, and Humble!

But to me, it reads as that the beta has been integrated into the main branch of the game, making it part of the main branch. They might feel that it's still experimental but we seem to have version parity with the other platforms now. I agree with Liam in changing the title of the article but as the game shows up on Steam with a SteamOS icon, I think it's safe to say that we've gotten official support as a platform. There may be a few lingering issues, though I can't say I've experienced any of them in my 40 or so hours with the game.

As for GOG, it wouldn't be the first time that they took their time to provide Linux builds or patches of games as they typically test things themselves before pushing on their storefront.

Total War: WARHAMMER II released for Linux, port from Feral Interactive
20 November 2018 at 7:56 pm UTC

mirvDon't suppose you can compare that to the first game? Just interested in how much difference their Vulkan backend makes, even though I'm aware there are underlying engine changes between the two.

I detest benchmarking with a passion

But, yes, I was thinking of checking out the performance difference with the first game as that ran pretty well with Mesa also. And seeing the difference between Vulkan/OpenGL is interesting though as you correctly point out, I will probably have to take into account the differences in the engines. Just need to free up space as these games are massive. I might have a note on that whenever I post up my review.

Total War: WARHAMMER II released for Linux, port from Feral Interactive
20 November 2018 at 7:45 pm UTC Likes: 3

Since someone always asks: works fine on Mesa 18.2.4 on Arch.

I'm not going to steal Liam's thunder and leave the 'fun' of proper benchmarking to him but, on my RX 480 and 2700X CPU, with most things on ultra (no AA, shadows on high because they're a resource hog and I don't really see much of a difference in quality) my averages are: 56 FPS in the battle, 65 in campaign and 60 in the skaven benchmark. My minimum FPS was 50. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up in actual gameplay.

War Thunder’s “Masters of the Sea” update places naval forces in open beta testing
24 October 2018 at 9:30 pm UTC

m0nt3Have you tried a match? About 2min into a match is when I get the crash. Otherwise it is fine. I tried mesa-git as well as the default mesa for ubuntu 18.10. I get a couple of pop-up windows about submitting a crash report and one is about the error, but does not give any detailed message. I cannot remember what the error was, but I can check when I get home.

Yeah, you seem to be right, sadly. It crashed for me when I tried just now.

War Thunder’s “Masters of the Sea” update places naval forces in open beta testing
24 October 2018 at 5:19 pm UTC

m0nt3Unfortunately this new updates causes the game to crash when using vulkan.
Works well here with Mesa 18.2.3 on Arch running the Vulkan renderer. The thumbnail used for this article was taken by me when messing around in test drive mode with Vulkan.

Play as a huge corporation in the just announced Stellaris: MegaCorp expansion
24 October 2018 at 4:27 pm UTC Likes: 2

antisolI'd be very interested to hear opinions justifying how Stellaris represents value for money.

The game is over 2 years old now and I've sunk in hundreds of hours into it. Buying a DLC that interests me (they're pretty modular and often optional, I skipped the cosmetic DLC until they were heavily discounted) isn't that big of an investment given the returns in gameplay time. Paradox Development studios keeps their games updated (look at the changelogs, here's the one that came along with Distant Stars, a lot of free content there) in a way that most studios don't because of their business model. I mean, Crusader Kings 2 is still getting updates and that's a mostly singleplayer game from 2012. How's that funded? Well, since it's a niche genre where selling a million copies is a big deal, it's obviously due to DLC.

I probably have somewhere close to 2000 hours in Civ 5 personally, but both expansions as well as the scenario+civilizations DLC easily put the price of everything at around $200 if you bought things at launch. You can't really generalize about the value for money things in that regard except that buying things years later will usually be much cheaper. Dunno what else to tell you other than it's unlikely that Paradox games will ever have a "complete" bundle for $25, given that CK2 content is at most 75% off in their regular sales (average is probably 50% off).

And, well, when deciding whether to be excited for new DLC it helps that their games are generally tons of fun, mod-friendly and endlessly replayable

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