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James Hills talks with Mathieu Pinard, the head of Tribsoft, about porting European and US games to the Linux platform.
By - James Hills

Each day Linux and the expanding field of Linux gaming continues to impress me. id Software released Doom, and then others followed as the fledgling OS gradually attracted the attention of those computer users wishing to be on the bleeding edge of technology. As Linux gaming begins to attract new people, not hardcore Linux users but gamers who want to experiment with Linux, it is essential that new players enter the field and bring to it different points of view and different concepts of what games will play well on Linux. Tribsoft is the second porting house to rise out of the murky PR world of companies perpetually working on stuff and never producing a product. They have produced a product and are now underway porting several future titles.

While they might not have the name and infrastructure developed that Loki does today, I believe that they will provide a fresh perspective on Linux gaming. Instead of focusing almost exclusively on triple-A titles from US developers, they are also focusing on excellent games that many US gamers may not have played yet. I for one have never played Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business, Europa Universalis, or Majesty, which actually was a major US title published by Hasbro Interactive earlier this year. However, after looking at reviews of the games from Euro magazines and talking to people who have played them I am very excited to check them out. This is a great opportunity for Linux, so I am extremely excited to see them come to the OS where they might not get lost in the plethora of PC titles from publishers with multi-million dollar budgets.

This is a significant step in the right direction. Many small European developers today produce extraordinary content that somehow fails to come to the United States as fast as it should, and many times not at all. In the last two years I can name numerous titles that prove this, two in particular stand out. The first is Independence War. This game was a work of art and it, along with Freespace, managed to thrust space-sims back into the mainstream several months later when it finally made it to the United States. Another title, The Longest Journey will finally be coming to the United States shortly. Recently I heard that initially several publishers rejected the game because they said the genre was "dead." To a hardcore fan of adventure gaming from the 1980's I can tell you from playing a beta of it over a year ago that this was the first game in many years that did a service to the genre. Unfortunately, marketing people in the US often have their heads in their trashcans for some reason and fail to see the importance of these titles.

I am sure that there is a gold mine of European, South American, Russian, and Asian titles that never make it to the US, and NEVER will on the PC. However, this is where I can see Linux shine. If more developers like Tribsoft can bring titles such as these to the Linux market, promote them correctly, and help to carve out a niche for Linux as the OS for the indie developer and gamer, then Linux will have a strength that can not be taken from it easily.

Imagine if Independence War (I War in the UK) and The Longest Journey had come to the US on Linux before PC. I guarantee you that people would have purchased the titles and installed them on Linux. Most are not going to install Linux simply to play a port of a game, but if it is introduced via Linux first, then Linux has created a new market for itself.

Why Linux? Because that is where the innovation is!

Next: An interview with Mathieu Pinard...

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