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Thoughts on POL and the state of Linux Gaming

As requested in article in News

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MustangPC Dimanche 17 Aoüt 2014 à 3:05
MustangPCAnonymous

I read your post in the "News" section about where you think PoL should be headed.  Here are some thoughts.

I've been a gamer since the PC came out.  I used to love to manage my DOS environment to get a game to play just right and maximize it.  Those days are long gone though, and when Windows gaming started to take over, the environment got a lot simpler, and the games got better.  Then, somewhere along the way, Microsoft became evil.  They got too big and started doing things that just didn't make sense, using the OS to manipulate the market in various products.  About that time, little o'l Linux started popping up more and more.

I made the plung somewhere in the early 2000's, having used Redhat 4.x at work.  Back then, I had to dual boot Windows and Linux.  Little by little, everything I did moved to the Linux box, except gaming.  No matter what I did, I couldn't get a stable platform on Linux to support gaming, while my Windows build was always stable and played everything I had and wanted.  I eventually settled into a mode of having a high end gaming system running Windows, and a lower end system runing Linux.  When I built a new gaming computer, my old one would become my Linux box.  I've been runing that way for years now.

So this weekend, I decided to see how well my Gaming computer could handle Linux, and just what I could get running.  My games of choice these days are World of Tanks, Star Conflict, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Lord of the Rings Online, and to top off my Steam setup, Wasteland 2.  I used an old hard drive for Linux and swapped my windows drive out for safe keeping.

Sad to say, it has not been a very productive weekend.  On the positive side, Wasteland 2, running in Steam, ran perfect.  I was able to get Star Conflict to work in Steam, and even figured out how to export my Steam environment so I could log into Star Conflict without having to use a Steam account.  This was all better than I'd managed to get before, though I used to be able to get LotRO to run on Wine very easily.  Sadly, that broke a few years back and I haven't had much luck since moving to 64 bit.

I always downloaded Wine from the site and compiled it from source.  When everything was 32 bit, it always was pretty easy.  Since it moved to 64 bit however, I've had a lot of trouble getting anything to compile and run and get a stable build.  I tried downloading from Mint repositories though, and installed 1.6.2, what they had.  I tried to run a few programs, but nothing really worked. 

So then I loaded up PoL.  This was the first time I had tried to use PoL and when I took a look at it, I thought, man, this looks great!  I chose the script for World of Tanks, ran it, was able to pick the latest Wine version, everything installed, and then I'm looking at the play button.  I hit the play button, log in, watch the status messages start to display... and then it crashed.  Came here, signed up, did some looking, and yep, bugged (I think this is more of a Wine problem though than a POL, but I've posted it here).  I tried a few other games that I play, but couldn't get anything to run, either in PoL or by exporting Steam environment or by runing with native wine. 

I think I'm getting old.  I used to love to tinker with this stuff, but now, I just want it to work.  The biggest problem with gaming in Linux has always been getting a stable platform.  I'm hoping Steam will take care of that, but I also don't want everything to be done in Steam, or else they'll just turn out to be another Microsoft.  They need some competition.  PoL could be that check on the system.  Even though it's still another system I have to learn (I'm an engineer btw with a good background in programming), I think PoL is still worth something.  The native Linux gaming environment if you try to keep a multipurpose desktop system, is difficult to maintain.  PoL gives us something beyond Steam to manage and try to stabilize the environment, and that's important.  I like how you've kind of taken the virtual machine concept and integrated it into your interface.  I think it needs to be clearer as there are some pretty confusing aspects to it, but it's a good start and has a lot of potential.

What I have seen in the industry though, is that cross-platform is very big right now.  Native Linux clients are coming out all the time, and that's great.  But let me point out the dark side.  Linux is great at breaking things.  All it takes is one developer somewhere to change a library, and your whole gaming library is broken.  Right now, POL is focused on Wine, but let me give you another area to focus in if you think Wine might be losing it's "Steam" (pardon the pun).  If you could extend PoL to the environment, capture the libraries that are working, extend PoL into a kind of virtual machine, but just focusing on the environment and less on the kernel, you might help stabilize the gaming market some.  I would think something that you could capture all the libraries a game is using when it's working correctly and just maintaing that environment so that if someone changes something in the main system, the game would still run, that would be huge.  It's still tricky, and you'd still need someway to upgrade the libraries safely, but it's something to think about.  I think you've moved in that direction right now, so you're kind of setup for it.

So whether you decide to keep going or not, thanks for at least taking it this far.  I can see that you've put a tremendouse amount of work into this.  Best of luck to you and your team.

booman Samedi 25 Octobre 2014 à 0:02
booman

Very nice read MustangPC.  I'm surprised none of your games worked in PlayOnLinux.  Maybe it was just an ironic choice of games?

I have most of my games running so well in Linux with PlayOnLinux I have charted them in my signature.  Everything DirectX 9 compatible runs pretty well.

There are a few games here and there that refuse to work because of DRM, or d3dx10 but otherwise I have a great track record so far.

One thing I have read over and over is AMD drivers for their video cards have a lot of problems.  Recently it sounds they are getting better, but most Linux gamers say "Get a GeForce" card.  I have a GeForce 550Ti and rarely have problems.  See my list (shameless plug)

I don't know if PlayOnLinux can compete with Steam, specially since Steam actually hosts the games and is a retail outlet, but it would be interesting if PlayOnLinux could do something like that.


† Booman †
Mint 19.3 64-bit | Nvidia 440 | GeForce GTX 1060
Linux for Beginners | List of Linux Games | My Games
PlayOnLinux Guides | PlayOnLinux Explained
Ronin DUSETTE Samedi 25 Octobre 2014 à 18:12
Ronin DUSETTE
Admin

Just to throw this out there; PC just means Personal Computer. Not a "computer with Windows on it". Macs run the same arch as every Windows system, as do most Linux systems. PC is just a personal computer. haha. 

I stay with Nvidia. All day. I have for years, and every time I try to use AMD stuff, it doesn't cut it. Nvidia all day. 

PlayOnLinux is not anything like Steam, so the comparison is moot. That is not what POL is for. haha. It is a front-end for Wine, not a retailer. 

Right now, POL is focused on Wine, but let me give you another area to focus in if you think Wine might be losing it's "Steam" (pardon the pun).  If you could extend PoL to the environment, capture the libraries that are working, extend PoL into a kind of virtual machine, but just focusing on the environment and less on the kernel, you might help stabilize the gaming market some.

That is not the goal of the project, though. Wine is NOT a virtual machine or an emulator. POL is a front-end that uses the functionality of Wine to give greater control over WINEPREFIX's, which are self-contained virtual drives. We don't focus on the kernel at all. In fact, POL is written in Python, and is a high-level program. Wine works more with that than POL does. No offense, but I don't believe you have a good understanding of how Wine and POL works. 

Also, with AAA titles starting to come out all now for Linux, more and more games will be coming out for Linux (just look at Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. First-day Linux support, right from launch.). 

The goal of PlayOnLinux is not to sell games or distribute media to compete with Steam or any other game retailer. PlayOnLinux is simply a front-end for Wine. 

Linux is great at breaking things.  All it takes is one developer somewhere to change a library, and your whole gaming library is broken.

hahaha. That makes no sense at all. Please site where you are getting that information, as I have never seen that happen, and I game on Linux all of the time (I am actually playing Brutal Legend right now). Developers have nothing to do with the user's system breaking. 9 times out of 10, it is a user error if their system is broken (likely because of lack of knowledge on package management).

PoL gives us something beyond Steam to manage and try to stabilize the environment, and that's important.  I like how you've kind of taken the virtual machine concept and integrated it into your interface.

Again, this absolutely not how POL and Wine work. Steam sells retail NATIVE games. POL and Wine help WIndows games run on Linux, i.e., games that have not been ported to Linux. If a game is native on Steam for Linux, we don't support it with POL, as there would be no point. 

 I chose the script for World of Tanks, ran it, was able to pick the latest Wine version, everything installed, and then I'm looking at the play button.  

lol. You probably picked the worst one to try. WoT is always broken, it seems. Also, WoT, is a free game, so the installer automatically downloads, but keep in mind, that we do NOT distribute the games. If you try that with, say, Assassin's Creed, it would ask you for the installer. 

You should really go through and read the Wine and POL documentation thoroughly, because, as much as I like certain parts of your post, there is much there that is conjecture and completely misguided. 

EDIT: I just saw that you said that you were a programmer. Read the source code for POL and Wine, as well. This will give you an understanding of how it works. You will quickly see that most of your assumptions about the functionality and purpose of the two programs is misguided. 

https://github.com/playonlinux/pol-pom-4

http://source.winehq.org/git/wine.git/

(PS: I am not trying to chastise you, so don't take it that way. lol. I am not saying any of this as an admin or as anything else. Just making sure that these main points are in the thread for those that have not learned how the voodoo of POL and Wine works, as it is a largely misunderstood area, and tends to be taken out of context.)

Edité par RoninDusette


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