Gaming on Linux

Like many computer enthusiasts I enjoy a spot of computer gaming from time to time. For most of this time it has required maintaining a Windows computer to play the games I want to play, but I would not regret an opportunity to simplify my life a little by moving all of my gaming onto Linux. A big step in that direction came with the release of the Steam platform for Linux. The problem that holds this back is that it is up to the developers to provide Linux-compatible versions of their games, and many publishers are not willing to do that. One wheeze I have learned to avoid is the indy developer who solicits funds and says that adding Linux is a “stretch-goal”. In my experience, they are happy to take your money, but somehow never quite get to that “stretch-goal”. So while I am generally willing to support developers of Linux software, this is one area where I now steer clear.

Still, there are excellent games available on Steam for Linux. And the Humble Bundles have offered quite a few to build out your game library. I now have a good number of Linux games in my Steam Library, and overall I like Steam. It has its annoying aspects, such as continually asking for logins and e-mail address verification, but the idea that I have a single place with all of my games is great, and it does make life simpler. But what about games that are not Linux-compatible, particularly older games that I love and want to keep playing? I decided it was time for me to learn about what could be done with these, and to generally look at some aspects of Linux Gaming.

I will focus on what I like to play, and how I like to play, and that may not match up with you. But if it does, perhaps some of my experience will be helpful to you. A few of points to make, then about what I like:

  1. I am not a social gamer. My schedule is busy and hectic, and when I get some down time I like to do a little gaming on my own. So I am not a player of multi-person games.
  2. I am really mostly interested in strategy games, though I do occasionally play an adventure game. That has implications for my setup. for instance, since frame-rates and high-powered graphics cards are not relevant to my gaming at all. I generally play on an average desktop computer that could just as easily be used for web-browsing or word-processing.
  3. Within the strategy area, I am almost exclusively a player of turn-based 4X games. I’ve tried RTS, and never enjoyed them particularly. I know some people love them. And sometimes they make stupid arguments for the superiority of RTS, like saying “RTS is more realistic”, as if it is realistic to fight World War II in an afternoon.
  4. My number one favorite which has absorbed more hours of life than I can believe sometimes is Civilization in its many incarnations. I got started with the very first Civilization, and have played some of every version since then, plus most of the offshoots like Alpha Centauri and Beyond Civilization. I also have enjoyed Master of Orion and Master of Orion II, and quite a few others.
  5. Most of the games I have mentioned are Windows games with no Linux-compatibility, and that is what I want to see about.

So, step one is that I want to build a dedicated Gaming machine. As mentioned above, it does not need the highest specs for the way I game, but I think we can have some fun with a dedicated machine and I want to see how I can make it work.