When indie game companies/developers get asked ‘Why aren’t you making your game available to Linux?’, the most frequent response is ‘There is no market for Linux.” And because of this, many gaming companies do not take the time to port their titles to Linux, not just indie companies, but big commercial companies as well. The ironic thing is, there are some huge commercial companies that DO make Linux ports of their titles. If there is no market for Linux, then why are they porting their games? Maybe it’s because there really IS a market for it.
What I want to do with this post is to showcase the games which I think should be mentioned at every chance when talking about gaming on Linux. This list is not exhaustive, but is large enough to make any hardcore Windows gamer do a double take.
Regnum Online (Free, pay for content)
A 3D fantasy based MMORPG. The game is an RVR (Realm vs. Realm) based game. There are three faction to play as where you need to fight the other realms for control of the war zone. Graphically, it is dated, looking more like Everquest, but the game play is all there.
Daimonin (Free, pay for content)
Isometric 2D fantasy based MMORPG. This one is a little hard to get into because the controls are very keyboard oriented and some of the keys don’t really make sense. But, for those who enjoy games like Ultima Online, this is worth a look.
Eschalon: Book 1 ($19.95)
Isometric 2D fantasy RPG. Even though this is a single player game, the story line is top notch. The soundtrack is breath taking and the game play is spot on. With Book 2 on the way, it made me replay the game.
KQ (Free, open source)
Top down, Final Fantasy-style RPG. Even though this game is incomplete, it is open sourced, so if someone wants to add to it, they are more then welcomed to. Even though it’s incomplete, there is a good solid 3-4 hours of game play, which, is very close to the old school NES RPG’s.
Adventure/RPG game that will have you rolling on the floor laughing. Brought to you by Hothead Games and developed by non other than Penny-Arcade, these games, even though short in length, will have you enjoying RPG’s again.
The Mana World (Free, open source)
Top down, 2D MMORPG. The game resembled Ragnarok Online, only, not in 3D and still very early. This is another open sourced title that is constantly being added to. New updates are coming out every few months and with each update is added material, whether its new towns, equipment, quests, what ever.
Vendetta Online ($9.99/month, bulk rates offered)
MMO that takes place in space. This game is more combat driven, but does have plans to expand more on the other various skill sets. This is a commercial title, but because of the small size of the company, the 4 developers they have are actually a part of the community and do listen to feedback.
Battle for Wesnoth (Free, open source)
Turn based strategy game with a fantasy theme. Quite possibly the best example for what can be done with open source and gaming. Game play is top notch, the logic behind the strategies is similar to other TBS games. Best part is, they provide everyone with the tools needed to make content such as campaigns and multi player maps.
Bos Wars (Free, open source)
Futuristic RTS that is based on the Stratagus engine. For those who are unfamiliar with the Stratagus engine, this was an open source implementation of the same engine used for Warcraft II. They wanted to make it possible to use the art work from the Warcraft II installation CD but to not have to use the Windows only Warcraft II binaries. Needless to say, the project was told to stop development right quick. So they did, but forked their project to make it a stand alone game.
Glest (Free, open source)
Fantasy based RTS very similar to Age of Empires (if AoE was fantasy based). My only quip with this game is that there either needs to be more than two different tech builds or make it more diverse. Other then that, has all the elements one would expect from an RTS.
Globulation 2 (Free, open source)
This one is on its own. Globulation 2 is one of those RTS’s that introduces a totally different game play than what most people are used to. Because of this, the game does have a slight learning curve, but is still quite possibly one of the best FOSS examples for RTS gaming.
Spring (Free, open source)
Do you remember the commercial game Total Annilation? Spring is the same exact game, only cross-platform and updated to add features not present in the original. Futuristic RTS that focuses on building the biggest army to just crush everything that stands in your way.
Warzone 2100 (Free, open source)
This is my new addiction for RTS games. I originally played this game on the Sony Playstation and was hooked. Today, this game is open sourced and is actively being developed by a group of developers who are just as passionate about this game as I am. It is a futuristic, post-nuclear RTS that has more upgrades than most could even count to, more game play features and build branches and is always coming out with new content.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars ($29.95)
Yes, that says “Quake”. From Id Software, the latest in the Quake series brings about a mission based online FPS. It’s the GDM (Humans) verse the Strogg. You select which faction you want to play as at the begining of each mission and have at it. There are different jobs and each have their own special abilities, like the engineers can deploy gun turrets and the snipers can deploy radars. I would also list the other titles in the Quake series, but just know that everything Id Software does, they do completely cross-platform.
Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (Free)
This was also created by Id Software, but I felt that I had to mention this one because there are some people who like to complain about FPS’s having futuristic weapons and how it’s “not real”. So, with that, I bring you this lovely gem. It is the same squad/mission based game play as ET:QW, only it is set during World War II. You can play as either the Allies or the Axis as you perform various missions. The only catch is, the jobs don’t mean much. They just determine what weapons you can carry. However, for being a free download, it’s so worth it.
Nexuiz (Free, open source)
Speaking of Id Software, did you know that they released the source code to all of the Quakes up to 3? That is right. Now, Quake 3 is considered to be outdated in terms of graphics. But, the game play is still solid. So, what are independent programmers to do? Take the code and include that which was missing. That is what happened with Nexuiz. It is a Quake 3 fork that has updated graphics to make it visually compete with most deathmatch based FPS’s out there today.
OpenArena (Free, open source)
Now, with Quake 3 being open sourced, this made way for OpenArena. This is an open sourced version of Quake 3 while stay as close to the original as possible. All the same game play and game types are included, bots, DM, TDM, CTF, the only thing is that the graphics maybe be looked at as being outdated. But, if you are the type of person to throw a game away because of its graphics, you shouldn’t call yourself a gamer. ;)
Sauerbraten (Free, open source)
This game is not only open source, so is the game engine. This is actually the second game using the Cube engine and because of it, the real name of this game is Cube 2: Sauerbraten. The first game (Assault Cube) should be on this list too, but I havent gotten around to installing it so I can not comment on it’s merits. I can say, however, that Sauerbraten is a pretty good game. When it comes to single player, it will remind you of the old Doom and Heretic games. Having to run around and open doors and pathways while killing everything that tries to kill you. When it comes to multi player, all the same game types are included.
Savage 2 (Free, pay for content)
The sequal to the widely popular Savage: Battle for Newerth. Many features have been added and improved on from the original (which is now open sourced). You can play as either the humans or the beasts in an attempt to take control of the land and kill off your enemies. New features to the sequal include the Hellborn Units which, if up against a team who don’t know how to fight them, will all perish. My favorite feature of this game is how they blend Action and RTS together. If you are good at commanding and controlling your army, take the commander seat and oversee your factions operations and control how your side progesses. If you like to fight, take up the fighting seat and get your face into the dirt.
Urban Terror (Free)
Even though this is a Quake 3 fork, the game play is nothing like Quake. In fact, the game play is reminicant of Counter Strike. That is mainly do to the fact that the creators of Urban Terror wanted to create a CS clone to get people on Linux and Mac to enjoy DM type games like CS. Everything is pretty much there. Decent graphics, current type guns, pretty much what you except from an FPS. The only quip I have with UT is that the maps are pretty small when compared to that of CS.
Doom 3 ($9.99 – $19.99)
So, remember when I talked about Id Software and how they make everything cross-platform? Here is another title that they have ported to Linux. The latest in the Doom series. Even though this title came out a few years ago, the game is still played today. With modding communities making content and add-ons to this game, this is a title that will be staying around for a good while longer.
Warsow (Free, open source)
This FPS has a slight spin on things. First off, it’s cell shaded, giving it a slight cartoon look (If you remember the game XIII). But, there is something else about this game that adds a different kind of game play. You need to keep on jumping. When you jump, you build up speed, making you harder to hit. That is not to say that you become unstoppable. Against experienced players, jumping or not, you will get hit, since a lot of the weapons have splash damage. If anything, I would recommend this game to someone just wanting to check out free games.
I know some of you might look at this post and think that this is an exhaustive list of games on Linux. You would be wrong. There are so many more titles that I did not mention such as World of Goo, Unreal Tournament 2K4, the original Doom and Heretic, Uplink, Defcon, Abuse, Scorched 3D, let alone all of the top-down and side scrolling shooters that I have become addicted to, basically, the list goes on and on. Maybe I will save those for another day. But, as it stands right now, I am quite happy with gaming on Linux. You just have to know where to look.