The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Linux Users Speak...., Devs Open Source Their Games...

Now this is simply amazing.

Nils Grotnes emailed me about 20 minutes ago with some pretty cool news.

Aquaria by Bit Blot ,Gish Published by Chronic Logic, Lugaru HD by Wolfire, and Penumbra Overture of course by Frictional Games have pledged to go open source.

Free as in speech open source...not necessarily free as in beer.  Devs need to make a living to0.

Regardless, this opens the source up to the community.  Problems like audio conflicts that have been "fixed" in these games can be seen, learned from and implemented.

If you seem to recognize these games, it's because we mentioned the Humble Indie Bundle when we talked with Dave Burke of Hemisphere games.

To quote the Humble Indie Bundle website:

"The Humble Indie Bundle experiment has been a massive success beyond our craziest expectations. So far, in just over 7 days, 114,049 generous contributors have put down an incredible $1,032,684. Of this, contributors chose to allocate 31.02% to charity: $320,343 for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play Charity. I have made a page for the full breakdown including credit card fees in a JSON format here (json)."  

I am just now starting to make contact with the Devs of these games to get their input, however the news should go forward.  Regardless of motive, these games are now being open sourced to the betterment of an entire community. From what I have gathered so far, the folks from Wolfire came up with the idea to open source their Luguru code and approached the other companies and developers within the Humble Indie Bundle group.   So far Wolfire's Lugaru and the three other Indie houses mentioned above have pledged to open their code or engines.

Frictional Game Penumbra should be of particular interest due to their surprisingly agile engine.  The razor-edged engine for Penumbra was greeted with acclaim due to the new levels it allowed players to manipulate the game field.  Frictional had this to say about open sourcing Penumbra.

We have been thinking for quite some time to release Penumbra as open source but never gotten to it. When we where approached by Wolfire regarding the Humble Indie Pack, there was some talk about releasing the games as open source too. This sounded very interesting to us and we felt that it was the right time for it as well. Even though the source contains a lot of useful base code (several years of work), the engine itself is not something that we used and where just rotting on our hard drives. Because of this we felt that it would be better to release it to the public and hopefully someone will have use of it. We are extremely interested in seeing what people can do with it and are hoping to see some cool stuff pop up in the future!

Stay tooned for further news

All-Righty Then


Unknown said...

It was totally awesome being in #wolfire irc channel, watching the money flow and counting it's speed.

Before 900k was in, speed was about 7k/h and it didn't seem to make even 950k, then it got to 15k/h and 10k came exactly every 40 mins for like 50k, but all that time it was gonna be just 5k short (read: 20min).

Then it broke and the rest came in like a flood, and the last payment was an Epic 3333,33$! There was still almost an hour left after the million bucks.

Huzzah for Wolfire, and the others!

Unknown said...

Ah, forgot to mention. People at #wolfire are already digging in the code, making building it easier and doing all kinds of fancy stuff. :) Loving the community.

tracyanne said...

Excellent. Now perhaps some issues at least can be fixed by the community. Now if only the other proprietary games developers would at least look at how those problems have been solved.

Gavin said...

Wow! Incredible news all around!

Congrats on breaking the $1M mark! Those games are well worth it, to say nothing of the charities.

Although, to be honest, I like the second part better. Open sourcing four major multi-platform games all in one fell swoop? That makes the rainy weather outside my window look like a sunny day! I am so glad I bought a bundle! Maybe now we can make the last couple of Ken's blog posts into another of those "Linux myths" that disappears. If the GNU/Linux system can grab some game dev credibility...

Imagine if the current crop of proprietary Windows educational games for children could be ported to the GNU/Linux system. An entire generation could be hooked just like that! (Hey, might as well wish BIG, right? Haha!)

Karl said...


As a former game developer and current Linux developer I can say with some confidence that there will be no new information gleaned on how to fix Linux audio in the source code to any of these games. The source to high quality commercial games (e.g. the Quake series) has been available for years. The audio problems will only go away when the Linux community makes a concerted effort to fix them. Members of the community need to take currently open games, root out the issues, and get them working flawlessly with a single API which the commercial developers can target.

Gavin said...

Karl : "As a former game developer and current Linux developer"

It is good to hear from other developers here, if you really are one. (No offense - healthy skepticism and all that.) From a dev perspective, can you elaborate for us non-devs? Or perhaps you can give us some ideas of how best to get involved in order to root out the issues faster.

As members of the GNU/Linux community, we really do want to see this succeed. However, speaking for myself, those of us who are not devs are sometimes at a loss for how to help. I mean, other than buying some pom-poms and doing cheers in front of the keyboard. (Mine are purple! How about the rest of you?) If audio is really such a mess on the GNU/Linux system vs Windows & Mac, and if this mess is hampering game development, I want to know how I can help!

Amenditman said...

Fantastic news.

Thanks for bringin' it.

Unknown said...

@Gavin: I think I can point to this complaint, and it's semi-valid as a gripe- beings as I've been a Linux developer for some 17+ years and one of the Indie crowd for Linux game development. Sound's a somewhat painful thing. We've got OSS and ALSA as base environments for sound, we've got JACK, ESD, aRTs, PulseAudio, Phonon, and a couple of others.

None of them are really directly compatible with each other. Libraries like SDL/SDL_mixer, OpenAL, and others mostly make this work by abstracting away the sound issues in the large, but there's still gotchas with things like PulseAudio as some distributions don't quite have it right and there's latencies that are injected into the mix by the servers that you have to sometimes compensate for in your title.

Now, having said this, there's tons of sound libraries out there that the studios use (Like FMOD, Miles, and IrrKlang...) that do largely simply WORK when it all is tuned up on the machine right. The complaint's valid in that there's issues at the low middleware end of things that the system directly provides that need to be resolved. The bulk of his comment, though, which is that there isn't any single sound subsytem isn't as valid though. Most studios use OpenAL, Miles, FMOD (just look at some of the more recent PS3 and other titles...), and a few others- and all of those just go right straight on to Linux. Moreover, there are some that're working on making OpenAL a bit easier to use and more in line with the other commercial sound system libraries.

Gavin said...

In the comments of Ken's previous blog post, there was a lot of talk about, for instance, dropping PulseAudio and fixing OpenAL - presumably because the latter is cross-platform. Would this be a fair summary?

In which case, as a non-dev, should I be finding a way to contribute to the OpenAL project?

Kevin (Whizard72) said...

Over at, they're reporting that Valve has announced the imminent release of a Linux native Steam client. This means commercial quality gaming on Linux natively. Big news. Huge.

Not to mention one giant incentive for the Linux community to get the sound stack done right.

Hendro Wibowo said...

this is great. finally, game developers join the free software GNU/Linux environment, many people certainly are grateful for them. and free software movement keeps its pace faster and faster, no sign of of slowing down or saturation!

and the fact that a great sum of percentage of money goes to charities just shows what sort of persons they are made of, they could just take all the money for themselves! instead they think right and big.

on the technical side, of course any sensible game companies should make GNU/Linux version of their product. Games have such greedy requirement in term of stability and hardware. Games should be played in a stable and rigid platform like GNU/Linux, not like other shaky, crashy platform.

Kevin (Whizard72) said...

Well would you take a look at this:

If I'm to believe this food joint has POS systems directly exposed to the internet running Windows XP, then color me laughing hysterically.

Windows is known for vulnerability to malware and Windows XP especially so. While McAfee IS to blame for the issue to begin with, none of that would have happened with either an isolated POS network or choosing Linux as the POS system.

Reminds me of the time I went with the wife for an ultrasound and the tech had to reboot the ultrasound station (Running WIndows XP embedded go figure) and explained they just got it back from servicing and it's acting up "again". What a surprise. Turns they have a mix of winXP and unix-based ultrasound stations to see which performs best before awarding the big contract.

I can already tell you which one won based on my observations and what the techs told me.

Can You Tell?