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Updated: 3 hours 51 min ago

Cyberspace first-person shooter 'Black Ice' just had a massive upgrade

5 hours 48 min ago

Tags: Steam, Indie Game, FPS, Early Access, Cyberpunk, Update

Currently in Early Access, it has been a long time since Black Ice had an update to the "stable" version but the developer hasn't been sat idle. A massive update to the entire game just landed.

Featuring some of what I showed off recently, Black Ice has come a very long was since the initial few releases making it a vastly more interesting game. One of the biggest changes, is an overhaul to the entire world design full of new areas, combat arenas with even more to come. Additionally, there's now some random events that will happen to also make the world seem a bit more lively. One server might try to hack another, so you can jump in and fight them all or sit back and watch the fireworks.


Watch video on YouTube.com

The types of servers you will come across has been expanded too, so you might now be facing servers where the enemies can regenerate and all sorts of new tricks. Some even have multiple types of security, so you might find yourself biting off a little bit more than you can chew, but it does make the combat more exciting overall so it's a great addition.

Also making it into this release are new weapons and item types:

  • Pulse Rifles, which are a fourth modular weapon type which can use the dozen or so modular projectiles
  • Executables, spell-like abilities with longer cooldowns that can be used instantly to fire a burst of projectiles without swapping to the item, allowing for a new type of build we call "Wizard"
  • Exploits, a subtype of Executables that have a bonus ability that triggers when they hit debuffed enemies - like a huge explosion, a burst of projectiles, or calling in a mortar strike
  • Barriers, which are tough summonable shields to defend from projectiles
  • Specialized Mods and Scopes, which focus specific stats
  • Micromissiles and Seekers, which are new types of projectiles with wobbly and homing behaviors 

Enemies are smarter and can take cover, there's tons of new sounds, lots of UI updates and the list goes on. An absolutely fantastic update, can't wait to dive in again!

You can find Black Ice on Humble Store, itch.io and Steam.

Littlewood hasn't been out for long, but this peaceful RPG has a lot to like about it

6 hours 10 min ago

Tags: Indie Game, Steam, Early Access, Casual, RPG, Initial Thoughts

Entering Early Access last week, Sean Young's peaceful RPG Littlewood is a game for those who like to relax a little. Note: Key provided directly by the developer.

What happens after the world has been saved, after all the major battles have already been fought? That's exactly what Littlewood is all about, you saved the world and lost your memory so you're helping to re-build the town.

In some ways, it actually reminds me of my experience with Forager. It's small, it's sweet and it doesn't feel like it's constantly begging for attention. Quite different in setting though of course, more along the lines of Stardew Valley but with less emphasis on constant farming. I love the building interface too, while it's quite simplistic it allows you to pick up trees, stones and move everything out of your way. Nothing feels annoying, so it's really sweet.


Watch video on YouTube.com

To earn money in Littlewood, you can build the Marketplace to sell all sorts of items you come across or craft to give you Dewdrops, which is the currency used throughout the game to unlock more and upgrade things. You can also speak to someone in your town and ask them to hang out with you, doing so might enable them to find you some of those precious Dewdrops while you're gathering.

The way you unlock things is quite interesting, as you can level up buildings like the shop to gain more interesting wares and once you build you own Office, you can use your Dewdrop currency to perform Wishes, which can do things like spawn more fish or bugs. There's lots of little sweet features that gradually open up the game as your play more.

A huge amount of charm, impressive work from a single developer and I want to play a whole lot more of it. I will be keeping a close eye on this one to play through the final content when ready, especially the card battle game which interests me too. There's a few areas it needs work though, like allowing you to re-read tutorial content and stairs only seem to work in one direction, which is a little annoying.

The developer is currently estimating Early Access to last for only around two months and it will not be priced differently at release.

Not a single problem playing it on Manjaro, very smooth. Check out Littlewood on Steam.

Prison Architect gains a new warden with Double Eleven, free update incoming

7 hours 16 min ago

Tags: Update, Steam, Upcoming, Strategy, Simulation

After Paradox Interactive acquired the rights to Prison Architect from Introversion Software, they've now announced that Double Eleven will be handling future updates.

Double Eleven are a well-known developer and publisher of quite a number of titles, with them also previously been responsible for the console versions of Prison Architect so it seems like a pretty good fit as they already worked with the game.

As for the free update that's planned to release on Thursday this week, it will include:

  • 4 new floors
  • 4 new walls
  • increased foreman cap
  • guard response button
  • fixed scanners
  • more quick rooms
  • tunnel search button
  • full rotations for items

They also said a few other minor updates and fixes will be included, but this is just the beginning of "lots" of free updates and content. They're also interested in what paid content players want in future, so they will be taking on suggestions during their next livestream at 3PM UTC on Thursday which you can watch here.

Personally, I'm really glad to see it will continue on rather than get a sequel. There's tons of life left in Prison Architect and it is a very fun game. Going by SteamDB, looks like the update is being readied and Linux is still included.

You can find Prison Architect on Humble Store, GOG and Steam.

Retro themed city-builder 'TheoTown' has now added Linux support

7 hours 38 min ago

Tags: City Builder, Indie Game, Steam, New Release, Pixel Graphics

TheoTown, developed by blueflower is a city-builder with a retro style that looks to be inspired by the classic Sim City 2000 and it's now available on Steam for Linux.

Released on Steam earlier this month, TheoTown is also available on mobile but the PC version is a full and proper game with no in-app purchase nonsense. On Android at least, the game is very highly rated and I imagine a number of readers have played it there so now you can pick it up again on your Linux PC and continue building the city of your dreams. So far, the Steam user reviews are also giving it a good overall picture.

While it doesn't have Steam Workshop support, it does have its own plugin system built into the game so you can mod-away. Looks like it pulls the mods from the official site for the built-in downloader, although you can also add them manually into the plugins folder.

Note: It requires you to have Java installed, I've mentioned to the developer about including it to make it easier. However, it works perfectly with OpenJDK 11.

I've not had much time with it myself other than to check it works but it seems quite nice. Seems a lot more basic when compared to games like Cities: Skylines but that's to be expected of a much smaller developer.

You can find TheoTown on Steam.

OpenVIII, an in-development open source game engine for Final Fantasy VIII

7 hours 59 min ago

Tags: Game Engine, Open Source

Any fans of Final Fantasy VIII reading? You're going to want to keep an eye on the in-development game engine OpenVIII.

While it doesn't seem like it's currently playable, plenty of work has already gone into OpenVIII to work with "video support, music support, audio support, in-game menu" and more. The project is currently classed by the developer as a "pre-prototype" so don't go getting any hopes up yet about playing Final Fantasy VIII natively on Linux.

Linux support is part of the plan, as the OpenVIII game engine is built with Linux in mind using OpenGL along with plans for modding support, unlocked frame-rate, higher resolution support and more.

This is why open source is awesome, people coming together to revive old classics for everyone to enjoy on modern systems. I will be keeping an eye on this one to give it a test when it's playable.

You can find it on GitHub under the MIT license, with more info about it here.

Hat tip to Retro_Crossbows.

Reminder: Update your PC info for the next round of statistics updates

9 hours 43 min ago

Tags: Site Info, Survey

This is your once a month reminder to make sure your PC information is correct on your user profiles. A fresh batch of statistics is generated on the 1st of each month.

You can see the statistics any time on this page.

If you want your details to actually be included in the monthly survey, be sure to head here and tick the box labelled "Include your PC details in our Monthly User Statistics?" and hit the "Update" button at the bottom, it's opt-in and you can uncheck it at any time not to be included in future statistics gathering.

PC Info is automatically purged if it hasn't been updated, or if you don't click the link to remain in for 2 years. This way we prevent too much stale data and don't hold onto your data for longer than required. If this is still correct and it has been a long time since you updated, you can simply click here to continue to be included. If this isn't correct, click here to go to your User Control Panel to update it!

 

Linux Gaming News Punch - Episode 18

Monday 24th of June 2019 09:43:05 PM

Tags: GOL Podcast

Coming in on the newly scheduled day of Monday, the weekly round-up podcast Linux Gaming News Punch Episode 18 is now here.


Watch video on YouTube.com

Audio feeds:

MP3: Download | RSS Feed

OGG: Download | RSS Feed

Also available on Spotify.

Topics covered, click me

Canonical, Ubuntu, Valve and 32bit [1 - 2 - 3 - 4]

Streets of Rogue

Dota Underlords

A Year Of Rain

ISLANDERS

Eagle Island

Epic Games, Wine and stuff

What a week! I'm exhausted.

Oaths, coalitions and betrayal — some thoughts on Total War: THREE KINGDOMS

Monday 24th of June 2019 05:49:00 PM

Tags: Feral Interactive, Review, Steam, Strategy

The latest entry in the Total War franchise has had me battling all over China in a bid to obtain the mandate of heaven. Becoming emperor is easier when you've got good friends.


Watch video on YouTube.com

 

Note: Key provided by Feral Interactive

Total War: THREE KINGDOMS was released in its all-caps glory about a month ago and saw a same-day Linux release thanks to porters Feral Interactive. The action this time around is centered in China during its fractious Three Kingdoms period of history that saw the end of the Han dynasty and warlords and coalitions battle it out for supremacy. More specifically, this Total War title also takes inspiration from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel and its larger-than-life heroes and villains. Developer Creative Assembly has put in plenty of time and effort to capture the feeling of both novel and the historical conflict.

At the heart of this design philosophy is the option to play the turn-based campaign in Romance mode. Veteran players that have played other Total War titles such as the Warhammer entries may be familiar with the prominence that hero units and leaders have come to take in the series. Romance mode continues this trend by making it so the commanders of retinues are key to warfare. They lead troops, use abilities to buff allies and hamper enemies, can stand up to dozens of regular troops and fight duels with enemy commanders. A more classic mode, where regular troops feature more prominently, is also available but I spent the majority of my time with the game playing in Romance mode.

The character-heavy approach definitely feels like a good call. They may be outsized influences in battle but characters also play important roles outside of it. As turns pass and factions expand or are wiped out, characters develop traits and affinities for other characters. Friendships and rivalries spring up and may have consequences beyond the immediate; the most obvious result is that an unhappy character may be more willing to betray their master or a foe that’s been treated with honor may be more willing to accept a player’s overlordship later in the game. Titles, higher salaries, technology, items and other factors may also influence how characters feel and contribute to the emergent storytelling.

When it comes to these characters and their relationships, the game competently balances micromanagement potential and the amount of time you need to worry about them. The end result is that I felt invested enough to care that my characters got on well together and that they worked towards a common goal. Small details like characters going berserk if their oathsworn brother falls in battle are a great touch and reward of sorts for caring. It’s simple to tell when two characters don’t get along as well, and not that costly to reassign them elsewhere. So it should never come as a surprise that the more ambitious and imperious characters may eventually alienate most other characters in events and through other means before staking it out on their own, perhaps founding their own faction in the process.

Most of your faction’s objectives are completed in stages with some level of historicity thrown into the mix. As might be expected, most of these are about warring and hegemony. From time to time, things may be shook up by special events particular to your faction or characters in your employ, following story threads from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. These are mostly for flavor’s sake and some of the decisions are serious no-brainers to choose because they have no downsides other than changing history. Which, you know, you’re probably doing anyways by conquering up China. It’s a system that could do with some better trade-offs for the sake of variety.

Diplomacy has traditionally been a weaker part of these games but Three Kingdoms makes a good effort to change things up. Relationships can be more complicated than the usual alliances and vassalage with temporary coalitions and actions dominating the early game. You can haggle with and bribe the AI as always but the faction leaders are swayed by more than just money and the relationship between characters can also be a decisive factor. Things are much more organic and from humble beginnings a haphazard coalition of shared values can become an ironclad military alliance up until the end of the game. It pays to play the diplomatic game and, while military conquest remains the easiest way to expand, having good allies and trade relations can mean the difference between a successful campaign outcome and a stalled one.

The espionage system promises similar complexity and depth. By embedding a character into a faction, you can manipulate their standing and their career path and perform various actions that might be to your advantage. In other words, you can do things like to tell a general that secretly works for you to leak the location of an army or an administrator to encourage corruption in a province. The problem with this is that it’s both time and cash-consuming. However cool the idea of having a man on the inside to bring down a rival might be, the results aren’t sure certain. There’s a risk your agent can get in too deep and defect. A lot of the time the wage you’re paying these spies is money better spent on armies and upgrades.

Let’s not kid ourselves—this is still a game about warfare. Beating armies, taking settlements and selling your loot continues to be a major source of resources throughout most of the game. Some factions have special characteristics that allow for better trade, diplomacy and whatever else but the only way that you’re going to win things in the end is by making sure you have the best and strongest armies.

The large emphasis on battle almost dwarfs the empire-building economics side of the game. Provinces and settlements can get upgrades and improvements, with branching build chains and specialization options. I played several campaigns as different factions and my overall impression is that very little of this actually matters. So long as you have ae surplus of food and income, it doesn’t matter which cities have decreased recruitment costs or specialize in commerce instead of industry. Retinues recruit globally and reinforce in friendly areas so all that is really required from your cities is to be a net contributor to your faction. Investment is a balancing act done to make sure cities don’t rebel, that they generate money and have sufficient defenses. That said, I never really cared about conquering or defending a city other than what it meant for its strategic position.

At higher difficulties, maximizing profits and minimizing corruption and waste can be a life-or-death issue. But that’s just not going to be the experience of the average player and so it’s mostly safe to spend most of your attention elsewhere. Likewise, the technology tree feels bolted on and static—every several turns you unlock something new along a branch. The technologies themselves can be big boosts to under-performing areas of your faction but aren’t game-changers in of themselves. It doesn’t pay to specialize too much as you’ll miss out on basic units and buildings if you simply dedicate yourself to one branch. As opponents also unlock things with you, these tend to feel less like milestones and mere regular powerups.

All that said, sense of challenge and competition remains constant until the later stages of the campaign. It’s only once the titular three kingdoms come into play and one of them is battered beyond recovery that the familiar Total War endgame slog rears its head. The increased distances, the proliferation of vassals and stronger economic base can make humbling your last rival a drawn-out affair. By the time the AI is willing to abdicate its claim to emperorship, it is usually already been reduced to a shell of its former glory by your experienced armies.

For your armies to get experienced, they’re going to fight a lot. And the core warfare experience is one of the best in the series. Moving armies around on the map, minding supply levels, reinforcing retinues, and advanced actions like ambushes are easy to do and understand. The emphasis on characters in Romance mode makes it easier to specialize armies as each character is classified as a different type of leader. These leaders may specialized in ranged units, shock cavalry or whatever else and managing their strengths and weaknesses by pairing them with other complementary types of generals is vital.

As usual, the turn-based strategy yields to real-time battle whenever two armies clash. Things like terrain, unit morale and commander’s bonuses come into play as battle is joined. While some features like delegating part of your army to AI control are missing, the core Total War gameplay remains intact. Ordering around units is simple and these tactical engagements remain as exhilarating as ever. Winning total victories because of good use of archers and shock cavalry against a stronger opponent is satisfying no matter if the battle is set in ancient China, dark ages Britain or a fantasy setting. There’s a few idiosyncrasies when it comes to unit types and a abilities as always but this remains part the polished core of the strategy title.

Fighting is overall fun but not without its pitfalls. The tactical battle AI is a competent opponent most of the time but it’s not brilliant by any stretch. It can be baited by units to expose cracks in its line without difficulty and it can be stupidly inflexible about positions on the map. On one occasion, I was attacked by a superior force on the AI’s turn and forced to do battle. I arrayed my forces, decided to wear them down as they advanced before trying to use cavalry to hit the flanks when they were charging at my battle line. I positioned my forces only to find out that the enemy refused to move at all. The attacking force stayed still, staring beyond the field at my lines. Taunts of varying levels of wit were exchanged with my generals but, for the entirety of the 60 minute battle, the AI stayed still. My generals got to enjoy a really beautiful sunset as a result but that’s not typically the real objective of an enemy attacking you, right?

Incidents like that are few and far in between in all fairness. I can only think of three or so battles that the AI was completely hopeless at in several dozen hours of gameplay. The greater point is that Creative Assembly has yet to truly nail it. This is something minimized by playing against a human opponent but given that the Linux port segregates fellow penguins and macOS players from the general population, it’ll probably take a lot more effort for a casual player to find a fair match. Let alone organize a multiplayer campaign with anything but a friend on the same platform.

I think that the atmosphere of the game has deftly found its mark. The music, art style and voice overs are all great. I appreciated the fact that I could switch the voiced language to Chinese. This is one of the more immersive entries in the Total War franchise and it’s lovely to see the important landmarks and features of China rendered faithfully. Armies also look good and zooming into the action during a battle is a treat.

I don’t really have any complaints regarding the technical side of things. While I haven’t bothered to do comprehensive benchmarks, Feral’s port is consistent with little in the way of dips. I took a few glances at random Windows benchmarks floating on the net and my performance is in the same ballpark. I did experience some crashing while I was playing some of my campaigns but it was rare and possibly already fixed by the several patches since I started playing.

I’ve critiqued systems and AI plenty but the biggest issue I’ve had with this game has to do with its learning curve. Simply put: there’s too much for players to absorb at once in the beginning. The game tries its best to mitigate that by having its usual advisor character pipe up and for the early missions to introduce some mechanics, but there’s still too much for players to discover on their own. The ever-popular tooltip exists for just about everything in the game and the help menu is incredibly comprehensive but they just aren’t enough. There needed to be a more directed tutorial for first time players. I can see some beginners possibly spending a dozen hours in a campaign before concluding that some of their earlier moves made things too difficult for them down the road. I like figuring out things for myself but there’s a fine line between that and having players flounder about. I think people not too sold on the concept might bounce off the game because of it at first.

Persevering does reward players with a fun game. For all of the flaws I’ve mentioned in this review, it does so much more right. The action and tension paced steadily and the campaign feels competitive until its last stages. The setting is brought to life wonderfully and the heroic tendencies of the novel are translated into engaging gameplay. The character-based system isn’t as deep as, say, Crusader King II’s but it doesn’t have to be. It does a good job of creating enough context so that it doesn’t just feel like you’re painting the map via conquests all the time.

It’s easy to recommend this game to both Total War fans and lovers of strategy titles. Despite its mixed accessibility, it’s also a good jumping in point for anyone as well. Three Kingdoms’ character and retinue system makes it easier to actually play competently and provides a good anchor point for the rest of the strategy that’s required. It sure doesn’t reinvent the wheel but this is an attractive and well-rounded game nonetheless. I look forward to seeing how Creative Assembly will build off its massive success.

You can get Total War: Three Kingdoms through Feral’s webshop, the Humble Store or Steam.

Canonical have released a statement on Ubuntu and 32bit support, will keep select packages

Monday 24th of June 2019 05:16:42 PM

Tags: Misc

It seems Canonical have done a bit of a U-turn on dropping 32bit support for Ubuntu, as many expected they would do. Their official statement is now out for those interested.

The most important part to be aware of is their new plan:

Thanks to the huge amount of feedback this weekend from gamers, Ubuntu Studio, and the WINE community, we will change our plan and build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS.

We will put in place a community process to determine which 32-bit packages are needed to support legacy software, and can add to that list post-release if we miss something that is needed.

That's not the end of it though of course, eventually 32bit will be dropped which is inevitable really. Just not fully this time. Touching on this, they said in the post about using "container technology" to address "the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries" so hopefully by that time everything they need will be in place to make it super easy for users.

I'm glad Canonical have seen some sense on this, they clearly didn't communicate it well enough to begin with but they at least understand when they've made a big mistake like this and owning up to failures is part of what builds trust, so I'm happier now. Next time this happens, I just hope they give a very clear roadmap giving everyone proper time to prepare, which they didn't this time.

Their full statement is here. It will be interesting to see how Valve react, after announcing an end of Ubuntu support for Steam for Ubuntu 19.10 onwards.

Open-world space arcade-action game "Underspace" is on Kickstarter with a Linux demo

Monday 24th of June 2019 02:02:32 PM

Tags: Crowdfunding, Indie Game, Community, Action, Arcade, Open World

Oh goodie, more space action goodness! Underspace from Pastaspace Interactive is on Kickstarter looking for funding and it seems like quite a promising game.

Underspace is about exploring an alien galaxy filled with vast interstellar wonders, and confronting the terrors that lay within them. It is an open-world space arcade dogfighting game, where every star system is crafted by hand, and every star system has something to see or do. But beware! Any star system you end up in is ruled by the storms.


Watch video on YouTube.com

What features it's planned to have:

  • Open-world: Traverse where you want, how you want.
  • Action-based: Fast fluid gameplay that emphasizes and rewards speed and aggression.
  • Hand-crafted: Every star system was made by a real person, and each has delicious discoveries, context and history.
  • Filled with unique content: There are over 70 star systems in Underspace, and every single one has unique wonders and challenges, be it a unique quest, a harrowing bossfight, or a revealing vignette.
  • Singleplayer and multiplayer: Pursue the extensive main campaign on your own, or go online to tackle unique challenges with friends. 

Yesterday, the developer put up a Linux demo which I've given a spin and it works great on Manjaro. It's a little confusing since the tutorials are basic pictures and text you flick-through but I liked the feel of it. It's rough but then it is an early demo and it's promising enough that I'm keen to see this one nicely polished. I like that it's not randomly generated too, so it will be interesting to see what kind of encounters they will be adding into it.

They're not asking for a big sum, the campaign total is only $10K which is pretty low. This seems to be due to the game already having all the core features in place. They said their aim now is to just finish all the actual content for you to explore as some of it is a bit basic right now to show it off.

Find the Kickstarter here, Linux demo here.

Hat tip to iiari.

Tense Reflection sounds like pretty original take on combining a shooter with a puzzle game

Monday 24th of June 2019 12:49:44 PM

Tags: Steam, Indie Game, Upcoming, Puzzle, Action

Tense Reflection will ask you to think, solve and shoot as you need to solve puzzles to reload your ammo making it a rather unique hybrid of game genres.

Developed by Kommie since sometime in 2016, the gameplay is split across three different panels you will need to switch between. A colour panel to pick the colour of your shots, the puzzle panel you need to solve to apply the colour and then the shooter to keep it all going.


Watch video on YouTube.com

Love the idea, looks like it will keep you on your toes. Hopefully the panel switching isn't too confusing, although it looks simple enough from the trailer.

What's also nice, is that it will include a level editor with Steam Workshop support so I've no doubt players will come up with some pretty fun extras for it.

The release is due sometime this "Summer" according to Steam but their press info says August, will keep you posted on the exact date. You can follow/wishlist it on Steam.

The survival game 'SCUM' seems to still be coming to Linux, no date yet though

Monday 24th of June 2019 12:30:49 PM

Tags: Survival, Steam, Upcoming, Early Access

SCUM, a survival game from Gamepires, Croteam and Devolver Digital that was previously confirmed to eventually come to Linux is still planned.

They never gave a date for the Linux release and they still aren't, but the good news is that it still seems to be in their minds. Writing on Steam, a developer kept it short and sweet by saying "Its not to far" in reply to my comment about hoping the Linux version isn't far off. Not exactly much to go by, but it's fantastic to know it's coming as I love survival games like this.


Watch video on YouTube.com

It seems very different to games like Rust and 7 Days to Die, with a heavy emphasis on character customization, control and progression. Apart from the usual survival mode, it also includes traditional gameplay modes like Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch along with NPCs to come across, “realistic” bullet physics, animal tracking and hunting, vehicles and more.

It’s currently in Early Access and there’s plenty of reviews talking about the roughness of it, but there’s plenty of others that see a lot of promise in it. Either way, I shall take a look when Linux support is out.

You can follow/wishlist SCUM on Steam.

In the real-time strategy game "Moduwar" you control and change an alien organism

Monday 24th of June 2019 11:08:57 AM

Tags: RTS, Steam, Indie Game, Upcoming

I absolutely love real-time strategy games, so Moduwar was quite a catch to find. It seems rather unique too, especially how you control everything.

Instead of building a traditional base and units, you control an alien organism that can split and change depending on what you need to do. It sounds seriously brilliant! Even better, is that it will support Linux. I asked on the Steam forum after finding it using the Steam Discovery Queue, to which the developer replied with "Yes, there will be a Linux version, that's the plan. Thanks :)".

Just look at how delightfully freaky and weird it is:


Watch video on YouTube.com

It's going to start off in Early Access, which the developer Biohex Games said should last for 6-12 months. Could be very interesting to play such a strategy game online against others.

Planned features:

  • Customizable Units: Grow your Modu, a base-unit that can split and reassemble, depending on your strategic needs and personal preferences.
  • Explore Arkadia, a magnificent planet full of alien flora and fauna.
  • Learn more about the Modu in a Single-Player story driven campaign, or play against your friends in Multiplayer mode.
  • Grow weaponized organs or biological power-ups, to unlock dozens of unique combinations.

Check it out and wishlist/follow on Steam, due out in "Q4" this year.

Raspberry Pi 4 announced and available - sounds like a pretty nice upgrade, Raspbian now based on Debian 10

Monday 24th of June 2019 10:10:14 AM

Tags: Hardware

Not something we usually cover here, but it's a fun bit of hardware news. The Raspberry Pi 4 is now official and it's out and ready to pick up.

Interestingly, they also overhauled their home-grown Raspbian Linux OS, as it's now based on Debian 10 Buster. To go along with this, their original graphics stack is being retired in favour of using the Mesa "V3D" driver developed by Eric Anholt at Broadcom. They say it has allowed them to remove "roughly half of the lines of closed-source code in the platform" which is a nice win.

Here's the breakdown of the hardware:

  • A 1.5GHz quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A72 CPU (~3× performance)
  • 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 SDRAM
  • Full-throughput Gigabit Ethernet
  • Dual-band 802.11ac wireless networking
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • Two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports
  • Dual monitor support, at resolutions up to 4K
  • VideoCore VI graphics, supporting OpenGL ES 3.x
  • 4Kp60 hardware decode of HEVC video
  • Complete compatibility with earlier Raspberry Pi products

You can see their quick announcement video below:


Watch video on YouTube.com

The price still sounds great too, especially now with different RAM options (price may be slightly different in various shops stocking them):

  • 1GB - $35/£34
  • 2GB - $45/£44
  • 4GB - $55/£54

For those who love to tinker, it really sounds like a great little unit. I've still never picked one up but I've always wanted one to play with. Sounds like my wait was worth it, might have to set one up as a little media centre of some sort. The additional performance should be quite interesting for gaming too, could also make a good streaming unit with the Steam Link App for Raspberry Pi.

You can read their full announcement here.

Epic's Tim Sweeney thinks Wine "is the one hope for breaking the cycle", Easy Anti-Cheat continuing Linux support

Monday 24th of June 2019 09:39:34 AM

Tags: Epic Games, Editorial, Wine

Here's something interesting, Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games has been chatting on Twitter again and what he said is quite interesting.

In reply to a user on Twitter who said about users not liking change, Sweeney said this:

Actually I think WINE is the one hope for breaking the cycle. If most PC games were automatically compatible with Linux, it would greatly increase the viability of Linux as a consumer platform.

This is as a result of this article on Wccftech, which highlights a number of other interesting statements made by Sweeney recently. The funny this is, Valve themselves are helping to improve Wine (which Sweeney touches on below) with Steam Play (which is all open source remember) and a lot of the changes make it back into vanilla Wine.

Another very interesting statement for Linux gamers, was a mention of Easy Anti-Cheat:

No, that was a misleading article. The Easy Anti Cheat team is continuing to work on Linux support. Native support is in a beta state and works for some games, however we’re quite a ways from the ideal of a WINE/Proton solution for emulated games.

Note: Not sure what article he is referring to, as he didn't link to any.

Easy Anti-Cheat support in Wine really would be quite something, it would overnight make a huge amount more games work on Linux so fingers crossed something actually comes out of it. What I get from all this, is that Sweeney does seem to be keeping a close eye on Steam Play/Proton and Wine, to the point of even replying on Twitter about the Ubuntu situation:

The problem isn’t Steam 64-bit support - Valve is working prodigiously to advance Linux and Proton - the problem is that Ubuntu dropping 32-bit support breaks all 32-bit Linux and Wine/win32 games, which comprise a huge fraction of the legacy game library.

There's a lot of other things Sweeney talked about recently too, naturally exclusive games being a hot topic and something Sweeney certainly doesn't shy away from. Here's one such statement that actually did genuinely make me stop and think for brief moment:

I’d like to challenge critics to state what moral principle you feel is at stake. If it’s okay for one company to avoid the 30% Valve tax by selling exclusively through their own store, why is it wrong for multiple companies to work together to achieve the same goals?

Let's take Feral Interactive as an example of this, I've seen a lot of comments from people saying they buy directly through the Feral store, so Feral gets the full cut and that's just one of many such examples. However, the difference of course is the majority of the time the games are available across multiple stores, you still have the choice.

I'm personally torn on it all. I don't particularly like exclusives, as I don't like any kind of lock-in but I don't blame developers for doing it. Good games take a lot of time and money to produce and support after release. Offering developers the chance to earn more money from a smaller store cut, plus limited-time exclusive funds to help them finish their game and improve it, developers are obviously going to take it.

It's just a huge shame for Linux users, since the Epic Store is not available on Linux and it sounds like they still have no plans to change that any time soon. There's been a few times a game was announced with Linux support, to then later became an Epic Store exclusive which means they won't even be doing a Linux version until the exclusive time is over. For us, that really sucks and it's part of the reason I don't like it.

I do hope all of that changes eventually but I am glad that Sweeney seems to be quite positive about things like Wine and possible EAC support in future.

Epic's Tim Sweeney thinks Wine "is the one hope for breaking the cycle", Easy Ant-Cheat continuing Linux support

Monday 24th of June 2019 09:39:34 AM

Tags: Epic Games, Editorial, Wine

Here's something interesting, Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games has been chatting on Twitter again and what he said is quite interesting.

In reply to a user on Twitter who said about users not liking change, Sweeney said this:

Actually I think WINE is the one hope for breaking the cycle. If most PC games were automatically compatible with Linux, it would greatly increase the viability of Linux as a consumer platform.

This is as a result of this article on Wccftech, which highlights a number of other interesting statements made by Sweeney recently. The funny this is, Valve themselves are helping to improve Wine (which Sweeney touches on below) with Steam Play (which is all open source remember) and a lot of the changes make it back into vanilla Wine.

Another very interesting statement for Linux gamers, was a mention of Easy Ant-Cheat:

No, that was a misleading article. The Easy Anti Cheat team is continuing to work on Linux support. Native support is in a beta state and works for some games, however we’re quite a ways from the ideal of a WINE/Proton solution for emulated games.

Note: Not sure what article he is referring to, as he didn't link to any.

Easy Ant-Cheat support in Wine really would be quite something, it would overnight make a huge amount more games work on Linux so fingers crossed something actually comes out of it. What I get from all this, is that Sweeney does seem to be keeping a close eye on Steam Play/Proton and Wine, to the point of even replying on Twitter about the Ubuntu situation:

The problem isn’t Steam 64-bit support - Valve is working prodigiously to advance Linux and Proton - the problem is that Ubuntu dropping 32-bit support breaks all 32-bit Linux and Wine/win32 games, which comprise a huge fraction of the legacy game library.

There's a lot of other things Sweeney talked about recently too, naturally exclusive games being a hot topic and something Sweeney certainly doesn't shy away from. Here's one such statement that actually did genuinely make me stop and think for brief moment:

I’d like to challenge critics to state what moral principle you feel is at stake. If it’s okay for one company to avoid the 30% Valve tax by selling exclusively through their own store, why is it wrong for multiple companies to work together to achieve the same goals?

Let's take Feral Interactive as an example of this, I've seen a lot of comments from people saying they buy directly through the Feral store, so Feral gets the full cut and that's just one of many such examples. However, the difference of course is the majority of the time the games are available across multiple stores, you still have the choice.

I'm personally torn on it all. I don't particularly like exclusives, as I don't like any kind of lock-in but I don't blame developers for doing it. Good games take a lot of time and money to produce and support after release. Offering developers the chance to earn more money from a smaller store cut, plus limited-time exclusive funds to help them finish their game and improve it, developers are obviously going to take it.

It's just a huge shame for Linux users, since the Epic Store is not available on Linux and it sounds like they still have no plans to change that any time soon. There's been a few times a game was announced with Linux support, to then later became an Epic Store exclusive which means they won't even be doing a Linux version until the exclusive time is over. For us, that really sucks and it's part of the reason I don't like it.

I do hope all of that changes eventually but I am glad that Sweeney seems to be quite positive about things like Wine and possible EAC support in future.

Insurgency: Sandstorm for Linux not due until next year, with a beta likely first

Monday 24th of June 2019 09:07:38 AM

Tags: FPS, Steam, Upcoming

We're in for a sadly longer wait than expected for the first-person shooter Insurgency: Sandstorm [Steam], as it's not coming until next year for Linux.

On a recent Twitch broadcast during the free weekend, it was asked in their chat "Linux will be released along with consoles or after?" to which the Lead Game Designer, Michael Tsarouhas said (here) "We haven't really announced our Linux or Mac release either, but we will just have to update you later, right now we can say we are focused on the PC post-release content and the console releases.".

After which, the Founder & CEO Jemery Blum, also jumped in to say "I think for Linux and Mac it would be fair to say sometime next year is the likely window for that, it may start out first as sort-of like a beta, we won't necessarily announce that we support Linux and Mac on the store page immediately but we will roll out a Linux and Mac build and announce that to the community, it may not be fully stable and fully polished yet but to us the way that we develop and the size of our team, that really seems like the best way to go about getting our way to a Linux and Mac release".

So it's very much still coming, but it won't be until next year and it will get a beta version first. I don't blame them for focusing on the larger markets but it's quite a long wait now, since it was released in December last year. Hopefully when we get it, the gameplay will be nicely polished.

Hat tip to Jolltz.

Canonical are now saying Ubuntu's 32bit is not being entirely dropped, 32bit libraries will be "frozen"

Sunday 23rd of June 2019 04:41:46 PM

Tags: Misc

As an update to the situation around Canonical planning to drop 32bit support (and Valve saying bye-bye to Ubuntu 19.10+ support), apparently they're not. Instead, the 32bit libraries will be frozen. Are you confused yet? I sure am.

Canonical's Steve Langasek has attempted to clarify the situation. Here's what they said:

I’m sorry that we’ve given anyone the impression that we are “dropping support for i386 applications”. That’s simply not the case. What we are dropping is updates to the i386 libraries, which will be frozen at the 18.04 LTS versions. But there is every intention to ensure that there is a clear story for how i386 applications (including games) can be run on versions of Ubuntu later than 19.10.

That's at least a little better, isn't it? They also said a little further:

[…] since the vast majority of i386-only software is also legacy (closed-source, will never be rebuilt), it also does not generally benefit from newer libraries […]

There's a pretty big difference from not being "included as an architecture", to having them available but frozen and still possible to use, isn't there? It's confusing, since that's not how it was originally explained. This is something that should have been said very clearly from the start.

Perhaps this might not be the epic disaster many people (myself included) thought it might turn out to be. We still have to wait and see how exactly they implement all this, and how it will affect gaming.

There's still going to be confusion and issues though, like upgrading drivers. Touching on that, Langasek said:

32-bit mesa will be available in the Ubuntu 18.04 repository. Note that mesa already gets updates in 18.04 which track the versions from later Ubuntu releases, as part of hardware enablement. If incompatibilities are introduced beyond 20.04 (which is the cutoff for hardware enablement backports for 18.04), we will need to address them on a case-by-case basis.

So it sounds like you're still going to be stuck in some ways. Seems like the proposal is still no good for Wine either (and so Steam Play too).

What are you playing this weekend and what do you think about it? It's mostly Dota Underlords for me

Saturday 22nd of June 2019 09:28:12 PM

Tags: Misc

Let's lighten the mood a bit shall we? It's question time here on GamingOnLinux! Let's have a talk about what you've been playing recently.

I will of course go first: Dota Underlords. I have quite the sweet spot for it already, even though I'm absolutely terrible at it. This might be the game to finally get me to kick my unhealthy Rocket League obsession, which is amazing considering how radically different they are. I adore strategy games though and unlike normal Dota, I don't need to think ridiculously quickly. Since you don't need any kind of reflexes for it, sitting back and relaxing with the Steam Controller is another reason I quite like Dota Underlords. In the evenings on weekends especially, I can be quite the lazy-gamer, so anything that allows me to kick back with it is likely to get my vote.

After only being out for a few days, it's already annihilated the player record for Artifact. Artifact's all-time high was only just over 60K whereas Underlords has sailed past 190K, although that shouldn't be too surprising since Underlords is free and isn't rammed full of micro-transactions (yet?) and it helps being on mobile as well of course (According to one of the SteamDB folk, the mobile players are being counted too).

Based on what the Underlords team have said, coming "soon" will be:

  • Full Scoreboard
  • Social features: Scrolling through the map, hearing other player's fights and full chat.
  • Hero VO.
  • Balance: Dragon Alliance, Dragon Units and Items (Boots)

They also said they're exploring a "Turbo Mode" for those who find games a bit too long. I also love the sound of that very much!

What else? ISLANDERS! An instant purchase the moment Linux support became available, what a beautiful city-builder that's not really like any other. Incredible style, with fun game-play that has you trying to get your score constantly higher and it doesn't take a huge amount of attention from a tired mind.

On top of that I also played the Linux Distribution-Hopping Game 2.0, with a full switch to Manjaro. So far, so good. Everything installed smoothly, grabbing extra software is easy and KDE shines on it. I also managed to get our livestreamer, Sin, to get rid of Windows finally too—result! Although her install wasn't so smooth, as the NVIDIA driver failed the first time much to my annoyance. A quick update, a second driver install attempt and all up and running once again.

So, what have you been playing recently and what do you think about it?

Valve looking to drop support for Ubuntu 19.10 and up due to Canonical's 32bit decision (updated)

Saturday 22nd of June 2019 05:13:34 AM

Tags: Valve, Steam

Update: Canonical are now saying 32bit libraries will be "frozen" and not entirely dropped.

Original article:

Things are starting to get messy, after Canonical announced the end of 32bit support from Ubuntu 19.10 onwards, Valve have now responded.

Speaking on Twitter, Valve dev Pierre-Loup Griffais said:

Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases will not be officially supported by Steam or recommended to our users. We will evaluate ways to minimize breakage for existing users, but will also switch our focus to a different distribution, currently TBD.

I'm starting to think we might see a sharp U-turn from Canonical, as this is something that would hit them quite hard. Either way, the damage has been done.

I can't say I am surprised by Valve's response here. Canonical pretty clearly didn't think it through enough on how it would affect the desktop. It certainly seems like Canonical also didn't speak to enough developers first.

Perhaps this will give Valve a renewed focus on SteamOS? Interestingly, Valve are now funding some work on KWin (part of KDE).

Looks like I shall be distro hopping very soon…

To journalists from other websites reading: This does not mean the end of Linux support, Ubuntu is just one distribution.

More in Tux Machines

Benchmarking The Experimental Bcachefs File-System Against Btrfs, EXT4, F2FS, XFS & ZFS

Bcachefs is the file-system born out of the Linux kernel's block cache code and has been worked on the past several years by developer Kent Overstreet. Our most recent benchmarking of Bcachefs was last year, so with the prospects of Bcachefs potentially being staged soon in the mainline Linux kernel, I ran some benchmarks using the latest kernel code for this next-generation file-system. Those unfamiliar with this copy-on-write file-system can learn more at Bcachefs.org. The design features of this file-system are similar to ZFS/Btrfs and include native encryption, snapshots, compression, caching, multi-device/RAID support, and more. But even with all of its features, it aims to offer XFS/EXT4-like performance, which is something that can't generally be said for Btrfs. Read more

Games: TheoTown, Prison Architect and More

  • Retro themed city-builder 'TheoTown' has now added Linux support

    TheoTown, developed by blueflower is a city-builder with a retro style that looks to be inspired by the classic Sim City 2000 and it's now available on Steam for Linux. Released on Steam earlier this month, TheoTown is also available on mobile but the PC version is a full and proper game with no in-app purchase nonsense. On Android at least, the game is very highly rated and I imagine a number of readers have played it there so now you can pick it up again on your Linux PC and continue building the city of your dreams. So far, the Steam user reviews are also giving it a good overall picture.

  • Reminder: Update your PC info for the next round of statistics updates

    This is your once a month reminder to make sure your PC information is correct on your user profiles. A fresh batch of statistics is generated on the 1st of each month.

  • Prison Architect gains a new warden with Double Eleven, free update incoming

    After Paradox Interactive acquired the rights to Prison Architect from Introversion Software, they've now announced that Double Eleven will be handling future updates. Double Eleven are a well-known developer and publisher of quite a number of titles, with them also previously been responsible for the console versions of Prison Architect so it seems like a pretty good fit as they already worked with the game.

  • Steam To Drop Support For Ubuntu

    Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution and that’s why it gets the attention of big companies like steam to design software for it. But recently, Linux community is kind of unhappy over Canonical decision on dropping Ubuntu 32-bit packages. The community already discussed that in case Ubuntu drops 32-bit packages support in upcoming Ubuntu 19.10 or future releases, it’d create big problems including Wine users and Linux gamers. And here comes the first news from Steam, the gaming platform. Pierre-Loup Griffais from Valve tweeted that Ubuntu 19.10 or any future Ubuntu releases will not be officially supported by Steam. He also said that the team will work on to minimize the breakage for existing users and thinking to focus on any other Linux distribution.

  • Canonical to Continue Building Selected 32-Bit i386 Packages for Ubuntu 19.10, Azul Systems Announces Zulu Mission Control v7.0, Elisa v. 0.4.1 Now Available, Firefox Adds Fission to the Nightly Build and Tails Emergency Release

    After much feedback from the community, Canonical yesterday announced it will continue to build selected 32-bit i386 packages for Ubuntu 19.10 and 20.04 LTS. The statement notes that Canonical "will also work with the WINE, Ubuntu Studio and gaming communities to use container technology to address the ultimate end of life of 32-bit libraries; it should stay possible to run old applications on newer versions of Ubuntu. Snaps and LXD enable us both to have complete 32-bit environments, and bundled libraries, to solve these issues in the long term."

  • OpenVIII, an in-development open source game engine for Final Fantasy VIII

    Any fans of Final Fantasy VIII reading? You're going to want to keep an eye on the in-development game engine OpenVIII. While it doesn't seem like it's currently playable, plenty of work has already gone into OpenVIII to work with "video support, music support, audio support, in-game menu" and more. The project is currently classed by the developer as a "pre-prototype" so don't go getting any hopes up yet about playing Final Fantasy VIII natively on Linux.

  • Littlewood hasn't been out for long, but this peaceful RPG has a lot to like about it

    Entering Early Access last week, Sean Young's peaceful RPG Littlewood is a game for those who like to relax a little. Note: Key provided directly by the developer. What happens after the world has been saved, after all the major battles have already been fought? That's exactly what Littlewood is all about, you saved the world and lost your memory so you're helping to re-build the town. In some ways, it actually reminds me of my experience with Forager. It's small, it's sweet and it doesn't feel like it's constantly begging for attention. Quite different in setting though of course, more along the lines of Stardew Valley but with less emphasis on constant farming. I love the building interface too, while it's quite simplistic it allows you to pick up trees, stones and move everything out of your way. Nothing feels annoying, so it's really sweet.

  • Cyberspace first-person shooter 'Black Ice' just had a massive upgrade

    Currently in Early Access, it has been a long time since Black Ice had an update to the "stable" version but the developer hasn't been sat idle. A massive update to the entire game just landed. Featuring some of what I showed off recently, Black Ice has come a very long was since the initial few releases making it a vastly more interesting game. One of the biggest changes, is an overhaul to the entire world design full of new areas, combat arenas with even more to come. Additionally, there's now some random events that will happen to also make the world seem a bit more lively. One server might try to hack another, so you can jump in and fight them all or sit back and watch the fireworks.

Android Leftovers

KDE Plasma 5.16.2 Desktop Environment Released with More Than 30 Bug Fixes

Coming just one week after the first point release, the KDE Plasma 5.16.2 maintenance update is here to add yet another layer of bug fixes with the ultimate goal to make the KDE Plasma 5.16 desktop environment more stable and reliable for users. In particular, this second point release introduces a total of 34 changes across various core components and apps. "Today KDE releases a bugfix update to KDE Plasma 5, versioned 5.16.2. Plasma 5.16 was released in June with many feature refinements and new modules to complete the desktop experience. This release adds a week's worth of new translations and fixes from KDE's contributors. The bugfixes are typically small but important," reads today's announcement. Read more Also: Plasma 5.16.2