When Loki Software, Inc. closed its doors a few years ago, the landscape of commercial gaming in Linux changed. Loki produced Linux ports of popular games, including Myth II and Civilization: Call to Power, to name a few. Today, commercial games that run natively are lead by several popular games from id Software (described in the next section).
In the wake of Loki's demise, TransGaming Technologies has been working on an approach to bringing popular games to Linux that relies on a version of WINE called WineX. In most cases, instead of having different ports of popular games (as Loki did), Transgaming lets users run existing Windows games in Linux by adapting WineX to each game that needs a tweak here and there.
Although Loki Software, Inc. is gone, certain Loki Games are still available for purchase on the Web. Although they sell for a fraction of their original price, you are on your own if they don't work since Loki Software is no longer there to support them. The Loki Games Demo is still around, if you want to get a feel for a particular Loki games before it disappears completely (I describe how to find demo and packaged Loki Games later in this chapter).
Among the most popular games running natively in Linux are Quake III Arena, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and Unreal Tournament from id Software, Inc. You can purchase Linux versions of these games or download demos of each game before you buy.
If you have trouble getting any id Software games running in Linux, refer to the Linux FAQs available from id Software at: http://zerowing.idsoftware.com/linux.
Quake III Arena is a first-person shooter-type game where you can choose from lots of weapons (lightning guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, and so on) and pass through scenes with highly detailed 3D surfaces. You can play alone or against your friends. There are multiplayer death-match and capture-the-flag competitions.
A demo version of Quake III Arena for Linux is available from id Software's FTP site (ftp://ftp.idsoftware.com/idstuff/quake3/linux). Look for the file linuxq3ademo-1.11-6.x86.gz.sh. Figure 7-4 shows a screenshot from Quake III Arena.
In Unreal Tournament, futuristic gladiators with super-human strength and advanced weaponry battle each other to find the ultimate warriors. The latest version is Unreal Tournament 2003. You can choose single-player or multi-player games where you compete by yourself or in teams.
Unfortunately, Unreal Tournament 2003 requires an OpenGL extension that is currently only available in NVIDIA cards (GL_EXT_texture_compression_s3tc). If you have an NVIDIA card, be sure to download the binary-only Linux driver for your NVIDIA card before running UT 2003.
A demo version of Unreal Tournament 2003 for Linux is available from id Software. As with the full version, the demo requires you to have an NVIDIA video card. You can get the demo from the following downloads page: www.unrealtournament2003.com/?downloads. Figure 7-5 shows the first screen of the Unreal Tournament 2003 demo for Linux:
Mixing World War II action with creatures conjured up by Nazi scientists, you battle with the Allies to destroy the Third Reich. Return to Castle Wolfenstein is based on the Quake III Arena engine. The game offers single-player mode as well as team-based multiplayer mode.
If you purchase Return to Castle Wolfenstein for Linux, you actually get the Windows version with an extra Linux installer. If you already have the Windows version, you can download the Linux installer and follow some instructions to get it going. I downloaded the installer called wolf-linux-1.33.x86.run from ftp://ftp.idsoftware.com/idstuff/wolf/linux. The INSTALL file (in /usr/local/games/wolfenstein) describes what files you need to copy from the Windows CD.
To get a demo of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, visit ftp.idsoftware.com/idstuff/wolf/linux/old. The demo I used was a single-player demo (wolfspdemo-linux-1.1b.x86.run). A multiplayer demo is also available.
As with Unreal Tournament 2003, you need an NVIDIA card to run Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
Figure 7-6 is a screenshot from Return to Castle Wolfenstein running in Linux.
TransGaming Technologies brings to Linux some of the most popular games that currently run on the Windows platforms. Working with WINE developers, TransGaming is developing WineX, which enables you to run many different games on Linux that were originally developed for Windows. Although TransGaming is producing a few games that are packaged separately and tuned for Linux, in most cases it sells you a subscription service to WineX instead of the games. That subscription service lets you stay up-to-date on the continuing development of WineX so you can run more and more Windows games.
Unfortunately, the kernel that ships with Red Hat Linux does not work with WineX. To use WineX in Red Hat Linux, TransGaming recommends that you download a vanilla kernel from kernel.org and boot that on your Red Hat system before running games with WineX. Refer to Appendix A for information on rebuilding the Linux kernel.
To get Windows games to run in Linux, WineX particularly needs to develop Microsoft DirectX features that are required by many of today's games. There are also issues relating to CD keys and hooks into the Windows operating system that must be overcome (such as requiring Microsoft Active Desktop). In fact, a WineX subscription has value, in part, because it lets you vote on which games you'd like to see TransGaming work on next.
A full list of games supported by TransGaming, as well as indications of how popular they are and how well they work, is available from the TransGaming site (search for the games that interest you by going to www.transgaming.com and clicking on Games). More than 100 games are currently listed with a rating of 4 out of 5 (meaning that the game will run well, if not flawlessly). One game, The Sims, which is available in a separate, optimized Linux version from TransGaming, is rated a 5 (meaning that it runs flawlessly).
The Windows version of Sims doesn't run under WineX. You need to purchase Sims for Linux. Although TransGaming believes that Sims for Linux will run on any recent Linux distribution, such as Red Hat Linux, that supports installation of RPMs, the product was optimized to run under Mandrake Linux.
Support or major enhancements for the following games was recently added to WineX 3.1:
Morrowind (new support)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (new support)
Battlefield 1942 (graphical and speed improvements)
Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (corrected defect that caused game to crash)
Here is a list of some of the most popular games that are being used by the TransGaming community (though they may or may not have been tested by TransGaming) and that are said to run well in WineX (rated a 4 or 5). I suggest you check the TransGaming list yourself for additions and changes:
Half-Life and Counter-Strike
Baldur's Gate 2
Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
Return to Castle Wolfenstein
American McGee's Alice
Command & Conquer Red Alert 2
The Sims (Mandrake Gaming Edition)
With WineX 3.1, Transgaming has added a new Point2Play feature. Point2Play provides a graphical window for installing, configuring, and testing WineX on your computer. It also lets you install and organize your games so you can launch them graphically. Figure 7-7 shows an example of the Transgaming Point2Play window:
Other features in the new Point2Play window include the ability to select among different installed versions of WineX for running applications and tools for individually configuring how each game runs under WineX. (If a game won't run from the GUI, try launching it from a Terminal window.
To get binary copies (ones that are already compiled to run) of WineX and Point2Play, you need to subscribe to TransGaming. For details on how to become a "TransGamer," click on the Subscribe Here link on the TransGaming home page (www.transgaming.com). Benefits currently include:
Downloads of the latest version of WineX.
Access to WineX support forums.
Ability to vote on which games you want TransGaming to support next.
Subscription to the WineX newsletter.
Source code for WineX is should be available in the near future if you want to build your own WineX package. To check availability, try the SourceForge.net project site for WineX (sourceforge.net/projects/winex).
To encourage people to get to know their games, Loki offered a demo program that let you choose from among more than a dozen of its games to download and try. Although Loki Software, Inc. is no longer in business, you can still find some of its games for sale. For example, a recent search for "Loki" at Amazon.com turned up 16 different Loki games (including the ones described here), with many selling for $9.99.
If you try to download any of the demos described in the next sections, make sure you have plenty of disk space available. It is common for one of these demos to require several hundred megabytes of disk space.
The Loki Demo Launcher for downloading demos is still available from the Demo Launcher page (www.lokigames.com/products/demos.php3). From that page, there are links to FTP sites from which you can download the Demo Launcher. (If that page is gone, try ftp://david.hedbor.org/loki/demos.) The file that you want to save is loki_demos-full-1.0e-x86.run. Save it to a directory (such as /tmp/loki) and do the following:
Change to the directory where you downloaded the demo. For example:
# cd /tmp/loki
You may not need to be root user to install these games. However, the default paths where the Demo Launcher tries to write by default are only accessible to the root user.
As root user, run the following command (the program may have a different name if it has been updated):
# sh loki_demos-full-1.0e.x86.run
If you have not used the Demo Launcher before, a screen appears asking you to identify the paths used to place the Install Tool.
If the default locations shown are okay with you, click Begin Install.
Assuming that there was no problem writing to the install directories, you should see an Install Complete message.
Click Exit. Next, you should see the Uninstall Tool window.
If the paths for holding the Uninstall Tool are okay, click Begin Install. The Install Complete message appears.
Click Exit. The window that appears allows you to set the locations for installing the Demo Pack.
If the paths are okay, click Begin Install.
Next, you should see a box that shows the different demo games that are available. As you move the cursor over each game, the disk space is displayed for that game. Click the games you want to install and then click Continue. A window appears, displaying the progress of each download.
You may need to click an Update button to complete the update and Finish to finish it.
The demo should now be ready to start.
Either click Play or type loki_demos from a Terminal window to start the program.
Select to start the game, and you're ready to go.
The following sections describe a few games that may still be available. Again, these games may not be available for long.
You can build online civilizations with Civilization: Call to Power (CCP). Like earlier versions and public spin-offs (such as the Freeciv described earlier in this chapter), Civilization: Call to Power for Linux lets you explore the world, build cities, and manage your empire. This latest version offers multiplayer network competition and extensions that let you extend cities into outer space and under the sea.
If you like the Freeciv game that comes with Red Hat Linux, you will love CCP. Engaging game play is improved with enhanced graphics, sound, and animation. English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish versions are available.
The CCP demo comes with an excellent tutorial to start you out. If you have never played a civilization game before, the tutorial is a great way to start. Figure 7-8 shows an example of a scene from the Civilization: Call to Power for Linux demo.
If you like knights and dwarves and storming castles, Myth II: Soulblighter for Linux might be for you. In Myth II, you are given a mission and some troops with various skills. From there, you need strategy and the desire to shed lots of virtual blood to meet your goal.
Myth II was created by Bungie Software (www.bungie.com) and ported to Linux by Loki Entertainment Software (www.lokigames.com). This version of the popular Myth game includes improved graphics and new scenarios.
A demo version is available that runs well in Red Hat Linux. You can get it via the Demo Launcher described earlier. As usual, you will need a fairly powerful computer (at least a Pentium 133 MHz, 32MB RAM, 80MB swap space, and 100MB of free disk space). You need network hardware for multiuser network play (network card or dialup) and a sound card if you want audio. A screenshot of Myth II is shown in Figure 7-9.
Based on the Quake Engine, Heretic II sets you on a path to rid the world of a deadly, magical plague. As the main character, Corvus, you explore dungeons, swamps, and cities to uncover and stop the plague. The graphics are rich and the game play is quite engaging.
You will experience some crashing problems with Heretic II out-of-the-box. Be sure to check for the update to Heretic II at updates.lokigames.com, which should fix most of the problems.