Thursday, December 15, 2005

What stratagus and bos taught me

I was looking up Linux games today, in the vain hope of getting my Command and Conquer (CnC) game to work under Linux. First I tried looking up Wine's database of compatibility, and then Cedega's. Then I chanced on Battle of Survival, a game that uses Stratagus' engine to make a CnC clone. And now I'm going to forget about CnC altogether. It's bos and stratagus for me now. They're where my next $20 bill is going.

So why did the programmers behind bos and stratagus spend their time reinventing the wheel? Why are there so many Open Source applications that are clones of existing software?

Because software manufacturers refuse to release these games for Linux. The sum total of CnC Red Alert 2 earning to Westwood in 2005 must be a little under $23.70, and yet there is no attempt to release it for Linux or release source code. As such, people who want a similar game must reinvent the wheel. OpenOffice, and KOffice both spring due to a big gap in Linux applications.

Doom's release as source by Id Software prompted a flurry of developer activity. It runs on the Ipod nano now, by the way. Yes, we love Id Software: true pioneers both in software design and release. People didn't go about making another Doom clone, but they built upon existing code. When this facility to build is missing, developers are forced to start from scratch.

I wrote about Wesnoth earlier, the game is marvelous! Yesterday Neha and played it while a DVD (Gandhi: a lovely movie) was ripping in the background, and I was downloading OpenOffice source. The gameplay didn't suffer in the least! And on more than one occasion we were thinking of our White Mage while having dinner.

I'm going to only buy games that run in Linux in addition to Windows or Mac. Windows only games have a bad habit of not working after a few years. Westwood gets no presents this Christmas: they've been very bad!

So my list of Linux games now is quite complete: OpenTTD, Monkey Island 1, 2, and 3 through ScummVM, Stratagus+bos, and my beloved Wesnoth. What a wonderful world we live in!