Why Do Game Devs Hate Linux?

The video game business insider show Monty’s Minute answers your questions about the gaming industry.  If you have a question for Monty you can email him at monty@gamebreaker.tv

Topics on this weeks show:

  • Why game developers don’t build on Linux.
  • Should distribution platforms offer this sort of incentive to new users
  • Piracy and how it affects the industry
  • Which business model will reign supreme?
  • Will Artificial Intelligence ever get better?
Aliens...It's all about the aliens.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=706513777 Luis A. Perez

    I’ma pioneer for posting! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/sr7olsniper Andres Jaramillo

      Oddly enough I don’t hate you at all compared to how much I would’ve been mad if you had said “First”

      • http://quintlyn.com/ QuintLyn Bowers

         Had he typed “First”, it would have been deleted. But this was creative so I left it.

        • http://twitter.com/Skylerbradsby Skyler Bradsby

          Nice, lol

  • Krzysztof Kotarba

    Gary reading my name, nice job, went smooth :P

  • P V

    next week: Why do devs hate Windows 8 :) figure that one out :) .

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      They started that discussion last week. 

  • Dodgycookies

    really interesting bit about AI’s. I never thought NPC’s playing badly was because of the dumbing down process because they are too good when unchecked.

    • jayremy

      Typically you have to implement delayed reactions in their responses, chances of failure or making random sporadic behavior. The problem with randomizing AI or making it have probabilities to play flawed is… it bugs out. At that point it’s not a matter of an AI playing like a human, but just being broken and an exploit. This happens enough as is without making them with a chance to act unusually.

      I am no expert programmer but I have successfully coded some rather intuitive AI to respond to a player. More of the time spent working was balancing and AI bug fixing, not actually creating the algorithm. AI unlike the player has the potential to play perfectly with instantaneous response time.

      Think of AI in FPS games, without developing additionally in the AI to make them play bad, they will get instantaneous head shots every-time= you will never win unless you exploit a coding weakness.

      That all being said I don’t think it is too hard, as many lead on. It’s a matter of developing all the checks and balances in the AI which can get a big complex and tedious, but definitely not too hard for anybody to do in good time.

      The challenge I think many programmers forget is you have to make the AI think like a human, which sounds obvious, but you have to factor in all the human flaws, and why/what causes us to make mistakes and how we may judge or adapt to situations. Pattern recognition and developing a response is difficult but the AI most like a human also learn to forget and possibly mess up or slightly miscalculate.

  • http://twitter.com/izumicookie Izumi

    I’m not effected by the forced Origin DRM because I will never buy a game associated with EA ever again. Has been that way for the past few years and isn’t about to change for me any time soon. :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hamad-Ali-Al-Jalahma/512893526 Hamad Ali Al-Jalahma

    Great episode

  • http://www.facebook.com/inkogni.alex Inkogni Alex

    DAMN YOU FAIRY CANNON (Gary Gannon), why didn’t you post anywhere how great this show was. 11 Episodes in and i haven’t seen a single one of them, guess what im going to do now

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jim-Bergevin-Jr/1393526370 Jim Bergevin Jr

    They did a good job answering a question I didn’t think needed to be asked. To me, as a tech geek (but still a Windows guy), it’s obvious why Mac and Linux are not well-developed-for platforms. Get all geeky you want on Linux vs. Mac vs. Windows, but common sense tells you that the larger market share will be the one with more standards in place that (not only because it is the larger market share) allow for much cheaper and easier development. If Linux people want more developed for Linux, then Linux needs to have more common standards … and gasp it thus becomes Windows!!

    • P V

      There plenty of games that run under wine. It is just that linux likes Open-GL and consoles (Wii and PS3) use Open-GL as well.  

      But how much sense does it make to “develop” for linux not making any money, these days MAC and Linux are easy to port to since both do X86 . 

      Porting yes , developing no. Linux holds shuch a small margin of users that gamedevelopers never go there, they flock to where the money is.

  • Kasey Speakman

    Most computer games don’t have real AI. They have decision tree scripts, which mostly react to current conditions, and have preset error margins (e.g. accuracy error) based on difficulty settings. Unpredictable behavior can be simulated by having some decision branches based on random rolls. (e.g. 50% chance to dodge left, 50% chance to dodge right)

    A real AI would learn, adapt, and plan (build it’s own decision tree based on experience with the opponent). The next time you faced it, it would be harder or at least would try different tactics if it previously lost. Players don’t typically want a game that hard. Also, developers have to be concerned with memory/CPU overhead. Not only are learning/planning AIs difficult to develop, but they require no small amount of resources to operate.

    As for developing on Linux, it’s a decision made purely by executives based on projected profitability. Basically if Cost + Target Profit Margin < Projected Earnings, then they don't do it. Developing for Windows is a no-brainer since it has the largest market share. With that as a base, the cost of adding the Linux platform is relatively high: Development Cost is high due to existing graphics resources being invested on DirectX which must be migrated to OpenGL on Linux. Support cost is higher than Windows, because distributions can be highly fragmented (configuration files in different places, different versions of libraries used, etc.). There is a Maintenance Cost because fixes developed for the base platform have to be ported.

    The Mac platform has a bit less Support Cost than Linux since the platform is not fragmented, plus the market share is higher than Linux. But for many games, it still doesn't score high enough profits to overcome the cost. Large / popular games (like Blizzard games) still do a Mac port because the projected sales volume is still high enough. Some game developers also take advantage of the Mac platform to capture market share that they couldn't break into on Windows. For example, Bungee did this with the Marathon game years ago. Once it became successful, they had enough momentum to be competitive in the larger Windows market, and they switched completely away from the Mac platform.

    • Evropi

       Someone who’s never developed on Linux. Most proprietary developers, or people who don’t care about standards chuck everything in /opt, which is for software that doesn’t follow standards. Otherwise, there’s the XDG directory specification which covers everything from where configuration files to pictures are stored. There’s also the LSB, which is the ‘Linux Standard Base’, basically is a standard to make everything really predictable. It doesn’t cover files for users though, only libraries and so on (the alternative is to bundle every library, which means a bigger download.

      Assuming everyone uses DirectX is wrong on many levels. If game developers wrote portable code from the start, this would not be a problem at all. Or they could use a game engine like Unity that hides all that stuff and just works across all platforms the same way.