Over the past few weeks, I've been corresponding with Protektor (Tim Jung), who has recently been appointed Linux Games Lead for Desura and is overseeing title acquisition for the upcoming Desura Linux client.
In this three part interview, Protektor shares his thoughts on Linux title scouting, community interaction and how Desura's Linux client might impact on Linux as a desktop platform. Part two and part three of the interview are also now live.
How long have you been a member of the Desura community?
I became a member of Desura in April of 2011, when the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle came out. The Desura community is great and I have enjoyed being a member.
How did you come about landing the role of "Linux Games Lead", and can you sum up what that entails?
I started emailing Desura to encourage them to do the Linux version of the client. I sent them a huge list of Linux games that have the potential to sell if deals can be worked out with the developers. Desura was already working on the Linux client, and the founder, Scott Reismanis asked me to be the Linux Games Lead. It is my job to assist developers in the packaging of their Linux games for the Desura platform, or if the developer chooses, I can simply do it for them. My second responsibility is to recruit Linux game developers to offer their games for sale through Desura.
Can you give a rundown on a typical exchange you might have with a game developer when trying to convince them to release a game on Desura for Linux?
Needless to say I am going to point out the benefits of offering their games on Desura. Those benefits include providing one stop shopping for both Windows and Linux platforms, and eventually Mac as well. Developers can focus on developing and use Desura to interact more closely with their customers. We manage the sales for a very reasonable cost to the developer. When downloaded from Desura, games are set to auto install, and updates will also be auto installed for games purchased from Desura.
Are there any Linux native titles that will be on Desura that you can mention at the moment?
We have a number of developers under contract. The catalog currently includes:
Can you describe (if it's appropriate) the milestones leading up to the release of the Linux client. Are there lessons learned from the Windows launch that have been helpful in avoiding pitfalls in development of the Linux client?
Keith (Platima) here, I thought I'd respond to this one as it's more about the development process itself than the games. I personally wasn't around for the Windows development as I only joined the team this year, but as far as porting an existing application to a new platform goes I'd always recommend to design and document the program with cross-platform in mind from day one. Luckily a fair bit of this was already in place with Desura which made things a little easier. It's of course always best to support cross-platform from the start. Not doing so is like trying to eat your steak with a spoon when there's a perfectly good knife there for you to use, and just as difficult too.
When looking at prospective titles, what sort of things are taken into account? Are there any special considerations taken for Linux titles?
Well first and foremost we want the game to be able to run bug-free on as many platforms as possible. So for Linux that will mean the game runs on newer distros (hopefully in 32bit and 64bit mode). Beyond that we consider all games using the same criteria that is currently being used for Windows games. Does it fit the Desura community, ease of game play, popularity, quality of graphics etc. Of course we will be looking at demand for the game as well.
Do you think that there is a demand for older Linux native games that are now harder to find (eg: anything published by Loki games)?
There probably is a demand for the older games, but in the case of Loki acquiring the necessary source code/rights could take an extended period of time to research who actually owns the code, and then the rights for distribution. The short answer is I don’t see Loki games being a part of our catalogue in the near future.
Will you be looking at Free/Open Source games as potential titles to be delivered via Desura? Will the selection/approval process differ from the process for proprietary/closed source titles?
In terms of Open Source or free games we will be using the same criteria, however instead of considering purchase demand, it will be a question of the Desura community wanting to download and play the game. The more likely that is the more likely a release, as we only have time to do a few releases a day at the moment so we have to be selective.
There are many good games in many genres available on Linux. We hope we will be able showcase some of the lesser known but still very good games available on the Linux platform. We want our users to know that there is thriving market of games for the Linux Desktop just as there is for Windows or Mac.
If you could choose one game to magically (we all know it doesn't work like that!) support Linux tomorrow, what would it be and why?
Personally the one game title currently I would love to see magically appear for Linux would be "Deus Ex: Human Revolution". I have been a fan of the series, and the cyberpunk genre in general, for years. I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but the reviews for it have been good and it looks great. I would love to see it happen, but somehow I doubt that Edios and Square/Enix are sitting in their offices thinking if they should port it to Linux or not.
If we just wanted to talk most popular games that were more likely, it would end up being The Sims series, Guild Wars and then the Battlefield series. I assume those would be big sellers for Desura if they were available, given the numbers they have sold for Windows/Mac. Personally, I love Guild Wars and the Battlefield series and I used to play both of them with some regularity.
For the big publishers it is always a numbers game. If it costs them X to port the game to Linux knowing it will earn them Y, we just need to make Y a much bigger number than X and it’ll happen. It’s a challenge and one we don’t expect to solve overnight, but with the Linux gaming communities support we aim to make it happen one game at a time.
Meklu: How is packaging of the Desura Linux client likely to be handled? *
Initially we are only distributing the self-installer as a single binary compressed in a tar.gz, however we are looking at doing a MojoSetup style installer and distributing .deb packages as things settle down a bit. This will hopefully lead to us being able to get Desura into the Ubuntu Software Center, and other repositories.
Meklu: Are you able to give a rough estimate of how long it will take to add mod support? Where does this fit within the Linux client roadmap? *
Mod support isn't something that we're looking at right now, but of course it is a feature on our minds. I couldn't begin to estimate how long it will take, as there are a lot of factors that would have to be taken into account, and more research will need to be done. We have initially launched without mod support as the complexities in Linux far outweigh those in Windows.
That's it for part one. Read on for part two, as we look at matters relating to the Desura and Free Software communities,
Thanks for reading! This has been a particularly exciting interview for me, which is a bit of a doulble edged sword - it can be awfully difficult to write non-leading questions when discussing something you're passionate about, and knowing when to stop can be a challenge (this was originally meant to be a single page interview).
Questions marked with an asterisk (*) have been submitted by community members/friends/people who are not me.
If you'd like to know more about Desura, the official Desura website is probably the best place to start. At the time of writing, Desura is only available for Windows with a Linux beta in the process of being rolled out.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This interview was first published on the of 22nd of September 2011.