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Linux, AMD64, and 3D console games

Discussion in 'Intel' started by Yousuf Khan, Oct 6, 2003.

  1. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    The following story contains some very tantalizing combinations of things
    that have never been associated with each other before:


    It's a demo of the shoot'em'up game America's Army, running on a 64-bit
    Linux kernel, running on an Athlon64, and booting up completely from CD just
    like a console game. The interesting bits here are that it's a game running
    on any Linux kernel, let alone a 64-bit Linux kernel, since most games are
    brought out for Windows/DirectX. Demonstrates the feasibility of Linux as a
    gaming platform. It also demonstrates a more or less full-feature Linux
    kernel which detects and loads drivers for hardware rather than assuming
    what kind of hardware is onboard, while still running from CD. Also it's a
    demo of the potential of Athlon64 as a full 64-bit gaming platform, not just
    a 32-bit gaming platform.

    This may also prove to be a generic competitor to the Microsoft Xbox
    console. Can you imagine, everybody from white boxes to HP or IBM (but not
    Dell, of course) putting together consoles derived from generic PC hardware,
    and just equiping them with nothing more than a CD or DVD drive just to boot
    up games? Each one would be equiping their systems with slightly different
    video cards from ATI, Matrox, or Nvidia, and the OS just detects and loads
    the proper driver.

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, Oct 6, 2003
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  2. Expect it to got the way of NSA-Linux. Some unnamed company will
    protest that the government should not be allowed to use or make
    available software that competes with private corporations.

    WolfgangS. Rupprecht, Oct 6, 2003
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  3. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    "Wolfgang S. Rupprecht"
    Well, actually the game was developed by a private corporation under
    contract to the government.

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, Oct 6, 2003
  4. Yousuf Khan

    Telcontar Guest

    Wow... to think they have come so far and gotten to the single task
    level, amazing. What's next, DOS?
    Telcontar, Oct 6, 2003
  5. And America's Army is also available for Windows...

    I think Loki proved that it was certainly possible to use Linux as a game
    platform. They developed most of the software you need to port a game to
    Linux. All the native games I use in Linux work great: the new stuff like
    Enemy Territory and even the old Loki games still work fine.

    The question is whether there is any money in this. For now, the answer
    seems to be no.
    Douglas Bollinger, Oct 6, 2003
  6. Wouldn't this totally defeat the idea behind the game consol? One static
    platform allowing game developers to take full advantage of the under lying
    hardware with out fear if some version of the consol is not going to support
    any particular feature...

    Carlo Razzeto, Oct 6, 2003
  7. Yousuf Khan

    Tony Hill Guest

    Note that simply running America's Army on a bootable Linux CD is
    nothing new, it was only that it was ported to AMD64 that is new.
    Gentoo Games (an offshoot of Gentoo Linux) did all the initial work
    for this port. Here's their website:


    As you can see, they have a bootable CD out for both America's Army
    and Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, and they are working on others. SCI
    just released an AMD64 port of the Gentoo Games version.
    This also isn't really all that new, all modern Linux distributions do
    just that by default, though occasionally it's beneficial to disable
    some of the auto-detect features in order to speed things up.

    As for the gaming aspect, if the game uses OpenGL, then porting it to
    Linux is easy because OpenGL is an open spec and can be supported on
    Linux (though until recently nVidia was the only company with any
    meaningful OpenGL drivers in Linux). The problem for Linux developers
    is that most people develop for DirectX, as you mentioned above, and
    DirectX is neither open or documented. Implementing DirectX on Linux
    has been a rather long and slow process, though progress is still
    being made. WineX allows most popular Windows games to be run on
    Linux, albeit often at a greatly reduced level of performance and
    sometimes with a lot of bugs.
    Tony Hill, Oct 6, 2003
  8. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    Yeah, nobody said it wasn't, just that usually these same titles aren't also
    available for Linux. Anyways, this version of AA is also 64-bit, which isn't
    yet possible with Windows.
    This is a demo, you're not supposed to make money off of it. But it's a
    proof of concept that this is something that can eventually be made to make
    money from.

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, Oct 7, 2003
  9. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    I thought the only purpose of a game console was to be able to play low-res
    games on a TV screen? :)

    You mean to tell me that these console game developers were actually doing
    this so they could optimize something? :)

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, Oct 7, 2003
  10. Well, it *was* one of the idea's behind it.... A not all too terrible one...
    Halo looks just so damned good thanks to it... And damn I can't wait for
    Halo 2 :)

    Carlo Razzeto, Oct 7, 2003
  11. Yousuf Khan

    Robert Myers Guest

    Can you provide a couple of examples (for someone who *never* plays
    computer games)? What features were the developers obviously able to
    use that they wouldn't have been able to on a PC game platform?

    Robert Myers, Oct 7, 2003
  12. The XBox. Unified memory architecture allows a few tricks to get much
    higher geometry throughput than on a conventional CPU<->AGP<->GPU setop.

    The XBox GPU has register combiners that aren't exposed in DirectX 8.

    Predictable (and repeatable) performance allows game levels to be
    tweaked to always hit your frames per second target.

    If you look at Halo that has just come out on PC: The XBox has a
    P3-733MHz (but only with 128KB lvl 2 cache) and a Geforce 3/4 GPU. To
    get the same performance level you have to have a >2GHz CPU with a (more
    or less) state of the art GPU.

    =?ISO-8859-1?Q?Martin_H=F8yer_Kristiansen?=, Oct 7, 2003
  13. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    Would that have anything to do with the fact that on Xboxes you're playing
    the games at 640x400 whereas on typical PCs you're play them at over

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, Oct 7, 2003
  14. Correction, WineX allows a very _few_ popular Windows games to be run on
    Linux. From their own database, there are only 5 games (out of several
    hundred in the database) that run well through Winex. One is really a
    special port (The Sims) and another doesn't seem to work anymore from the
    the forum posts (Kohan). I gave Winex a try; it's about completely

    Native games work fine.

    * Oops. The kernel tried to access some bad page. We'll have to
    * terminate things with extreme prejudice.
    die_if_kernel("Oops", regs, error_code);
    (From linux/arch/i386/mm/fault.c)
    Douglas Bollinger, Oct 7, 2003
  15. You are missing my point. Loki games was the porting house for linux, they
    created the gaming infrastructure in Linux, ported solid games that worked
    well, and went bankrupt. Linux gamers are cheap and practically
    non-existant; they would rather dual-boot than wait a week or pay a few
    dollars more for a native port. I read a quote from a game publisher who
    said they made more money from the Amiga port(!) than the Linux version.

    Nevertheless, a popular game that needs a dedicated server almost has to
    have a Linux version, and sometimes the company will throw in a native
    client if it's not a uphill battle (heavily DirectX). I'm happy for the
    few crumbs thrown my way, like et, Savage and the upcoming Doom game.

    Anyway, my point being that I don't think bootable Linux CDROM games will
    takeover the gaming world. Heck, last time I was in the store, it looked
    like PC games in general are on life support with console's taking the lion
    share of the gaming market.

    * Oops. The kernel tried to access some bad page. We'll have to
    * terminate things with extreme prejudice.
    die_if_kernel("Oops", regs, error_code);
    (From linux/arch/i386/mm/fault.c)
    Douglas Bollinger, Oct 7, 2003
  16. Yousuf Khan

    AD. Guest

    It could _potentially_ make tech support and development easier - platform
    differences are limited to hardware differences rather than driver or OS
    or dependency problems or conflicts etc etc.

    Of course the flip side is that is then becomes a lot harder to distribute
    updates for improved drivers or game bugfixes etc.

    Maybe it could be split into 2 disks - a standard industry wide freely
    available platform disk that boots into a game loading menu (an open
    source console almost) and then commercial game disk(s). That could also
    be too complicated I suppose.

    AD., Oct 8, 2003
  17. Yousuf Khan

    Yousuf Khan Guest

    Yes, but you're also missing my point here. This is not a game aimed at the
    Linux crowd, this is a self-booting game that happens to use a Linux kernel.
    The game doesn't even have to be installed on the local PC's hard drive it
    runs entirely from removable media (though it may need to cache savegame
    data to a local hard drive). With such a game, you don't even need a PC to
    run it, you can run it from a generic game console set-top box. You might
    even be able to play it on a PC by rebooting into the game, but you won't be
    able to install the game directly on the PC. You can create an appropriately
    closed file system that can't be read by any standard PC operating system
    which contains the game. It could be a new era of console games that are
    playable on either PCs or set top boxes, but when you play it on a PC you
    pretty much make your PC a set top box.

    Do you see the potential now? You won't need a company like Loki porting
    games from other operating systems, because the game developers will be
    targeting this common platform primarily, and not for any particular set top
    box or for a PC, but both. The only way to play it though is to boot into

    Yousuf Khan
    Yousuf Khan, Oct 8, 2003
  18. message
    Not Nessesarly.... The X-Box (and Halo I beleive) supports the full range of
    HD reselutions... So you could be playing Halo at Max HD reselution assuming
    you have the component A/V out pack and an HD TV.

    Carlo Razzeto, Oct 8, 2003
  19. Environment Bumped Mapping. The end effect of this technology is to allow
    game developers to apply more 3D, more realistic textures to any type of
    surface (walls, floors even fluids such as water) there by making the
    environment seem more realistic... Probably the best example of this is in
    the game Brute Force which makes extensive use of the technology. It's not
    that game developers can't use them on the PC platform. But they hesitate
    hesitate to add these technologies in because in many cases only the small
    minority of the people out there buying their products will get too see the
    effects. Therefore it's not worth it for them to waste all kinds of time
    adding these features when the average development time these days is
    measured in months and even years (we of course are assuming the developers
    are writing their own engine). Things are different in the world of
    consoles... Developers can are free to go ahead and make full use of the
    architectures features with out fear because they can rely on the fact that
    everyone out there is running the same hardware regardless of when they
    bought their particular unit.

    Carlo Razzeto, Oct 8, 2003
  20. One big issue is optimization. If you're targetting a game for the PC
    platform, you might be running on an Athlon system, or maybe a dual
    Pentium-3 system, or maybe a Pentium-4 system with hyperthreading. You might
    have 512Mb of memory but you might have 1Gb. You might optimize for an
    Nvidia GeForce4, but the machine might have a different video card. And how
    well will your Matrox optimization work along with your SSE2 optimizations?
    In other words, you can maybe test every combination but you certainly can't
    optimize for every combination.

    On the other hand, when you're targetting a console platform, you know
    exactly what CPU you'll be running on, how much memory you'll have and what
    its bandwidth will be, and what graphics chipset you'll be using. You can
    put all your tweaking effort into optimal performance on that combination,
    which is less effort than just making sure all the possible PC configuration
    combinations even work at all.

    David Schwartz, Oct 8, 2003
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