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 your recent post on the Desura blog, you mentioned your interest in seeing which community requested features will be implemented. What role do you see for community input, and what approaches do you expect to be using to handle that?
The community is the backbone of Desura. We value that community and their input in all areas. When making decisions on what needs to happen and in what order, we will be relying heavily on the want and needs of our community. Our aim is to be 100% transparent with our users, as well as the developers on the service. We don’t intend on hiding information, after all openness is the Linux way. The main challenge is managing users expectations, which is why we are not setting dates until we know it is ready. Plus it is beta, it is complex, so we want to ensure users know that when it does go live.
You mentioned managing user expectations. Can you expand on what specific issues you see needing attention?
There will be those gamers who are looking for the big name titles like Doom, Quake, Unreal Tournament, Neverwinter Nights and others. Because we come from an indie background, and want to help indie developers get their product out there and develop their own big name, that is where our focus is at the moment. Of course we are contacting the major players as well, but making those games available is going to take time.
Our goal is to expand the Linux gaming ecosphere, by promoting independent developers who can help it grow.
What kind of response from the Desura/Linux community have you had so far? Are there any specific suggestions/feedback that stand out in your mind?
There has been a lot of good feedback from the community and developers. The Linux gaming community is anxious for the release, which will offer one stop shopping for Linux games. Linux developers are excited to have the exposure, and means of distribution provided by Desura. Developers and gamers are contacting us frequently to be sure they don't get left out when we release the beta. I think that is a sign that the community for both Linux, gamers and developers have a very strong interest in Desura and the Linux client.
Are there any features or characteristics of Desura that you feel match well with Linux as a platform and/or the Free Software community?
Desura is very responsive to the community and community driven, not unlike the Linux and free software communities. We are very committed to continuing to support and build those communities, while also building a strong community for those developers who wish to charge for their applications. We want feedback and input from all communities and like the aforementioned will use the feedback to develop an even better experience for our users. You will see many similarities in how Desura and Free Software communities work.
Where do you see Desura for Linux and the Desura platform/community as a whole in two years' time?
I see Desura becoming the place to release all your games on regardless of platform. Our Windows platform is already up and running. The Linux beta is about to be released, and we will be working on the Mac platform eventually, just taking it one step at a time. For developers it will be an easy way to make all versions of their games available in one shot. With developer approval users will be able to make one purchase that includes all three platforms.
What sort of impact do you imagine Desura's delivery of Free/Open Source titles might have on their development/user communities?
The more developers can communicate and get feedback from the community the better the game will be in the long run. Desura allows a close connection between developers and users. It is our hope that developers will take advantage of this feature to get the best possible input from users.
Given Desura's roots and its mod-friendly focus, in what ways do you think that a cross platform distribution framework might impact on mod development (when mod support is rolled out)?
It should make it clear to mod developers that they will get more users/players if they support all the different platforms, given that it will be so easy for people to install mods, once the mods are on Desura. It would only take a few simple clicks to install, setup and be able to play a mod. People would be more likely to install and check out mods if it only took a few clicks to get it running. It would be to everyone's advantage to support Desura and to support all the platforms.
You've been using Linux for over fifteen years now. Are there any people in the Free Software community and Linux gaming circles that you look up to or are inspired by?
There are a lot of people I could list, but here is the short list.
Short answer Linus Torvalds. He is about the development and stays out of the politics of open source. He manages Linux very well.
Ryan (Icculus) Gordon. He is a phenomenal porter and he cranks out ports like no one else I know.
I don’t necessarily agree with Richard Stalman, but he has done a lot for the open source community over the years, and he is very consistent in his views about open source, and for that I must mention him.
Xpander: Will users be able to choose a location for installed games? *
No, they will automatically be installed under Desura.
Mimness: Many Linux users have been running Steam under Wine for some time. We are excited by the idea of a native game delivery platform, but our existing games libraries and friends lists are likely to be keeping us on Steam for some time. Will Desura for Linux have any features to help those of us spread across two platforms? *
It is a difficult one, because while Steam exposes some information via API’s and supports OAuth, everything else is locked down. Our belief is that you should be able to “buy once and play anywhere” so if there is ever a way for portability between services we will implement it, as we want to make Desura as open as possible. We’ve done some work in this area already, for example if you buy a Windows game you also own the Linux version and vice versa. Same applies to the Humble Indie Bundle, if you have activated any of those on Desura, you will find all of these games on your account when you next login. We intend on continuing to do this and encourage people to get on board and tell their friends to get on board, as the service will only get better as a result.
Flibitijibibo: Have you seen any support specifically from developers, not just users? *
Yes, we have seen quite a bit of support, and they are excited to see a Linux distribution platform and they see it as a way to sell more games. For some developers it is a matter of users not even knowing they exist. Being a part of a central distribution will give them more visibility.
This concludes part two of my interview with Protektor. Read on for part three to read Protektor's thoughts on how the Desura Linux client might impact on the Linux desktop. Don't forget to check out part one.
Thanks for reading! Part two of this interview has yielded some interesting thoughts on communities and developers. In the meantime, I've been given access to the Linux client beta, which I'm hoping to write an article about soon.
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 email@example.com
This interview was first published on the of 23rd of September 2011.