Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

PC-BSD Day 27: Gaming under PC-BSD, part 2

One might almost think that gaming under PC-BSD is predominantly for those who like shooters. Well, not completely. There are other games, but I have found the FPS games to be among those who are well-developed and interesting. Other games pale in comparison to most of their commercial proprietary counterparts. Like the first two of today.

T.O.R.C.S.

When it comes to racing you can call me a fan of the xBox. I have various Colin McRae games, Project Gotham 1 and 2, Need for Speed and a couple more. Racing games should look slick and feel fast. When you race with a speed of 252 km/hours you should experience that.

TORCS is a racing car simulator.

TORCS is a highly portable multi platform car racing simulation. It is used as ordinary car racing game, as AI racing game and as research platform. It runs on Linux (x86, AMD64 and PPC), FreeBSD, MacOSX and Windows. The source code of TORCS is licensed under the GPL (“Open Source”). You find more information about the project in the menu bar on the left. If you need help have a look at the FAQ first. You can contact us on the torcs-users mailing list (you need to subscribe to use it because of spam).

There are various sites on the Internet dedicated to TORCS with additional content (cars, tracks, documentation, patches, etc.), you can find them in the “Related Sites” section in the menu on the left. If you are interested in racing visit the sites listed in the Racing section.

Well, you can race with these cars but it is far removed from the game experience I look for when racing. The graphics and speed experience are reminiscent of the mid 1990s.

TORCS

Vdrift

Vdrift is another racing game. The lingo is fascinating:

VDrift is a cross-platform, open source driving simulation made with drift racing in mind. It’s powered by the excellent Vamos physics engine. It is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) v2. It is currently available for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X and Windows (Cygwin).

Right. I must say I might the impressed purely from the technological viewpoint that it isn’t easy to create a cross-platform game. I was far less impressed with the game description on the PBI site that failed to mention that keyboard support was not yet available and that you neede a joystick, gamepad or steering wheel to play the game. And it would be nice if the game would actually launch with visuals and audio. Barring that it becomes a bit tedious to play. If you get my drift.

Vdrift

Sauerbraten

sauercomp If there was one game in the last year that convinced me that gaming had come to the Linux platform it was Sauerbraten. Maybe there were games before (and I still like my Neverwinter Nights hours), but Sauerbraten was simply great. It could have something to do with the fact that it was one of the few online FPS where I wasn’t fragged in seconds.

Sauerbraten (a.k.a. Cube 2) is a free multiplayer/singleplayer first person shooter, built as a major redesign of the Cube FPS.

Much like the original Cube, the aim of this game is not necessarily to produce the most features & eyecandy possible, but rather to allow map/geometry editing to be done dynamically in-game, to create fun gameplay and an elegant engine.

Unfortunately this turned into another PBI disappointment for me. The game would install, it would launch and then crash. Again and again.

America’s Army

Should we call this a game or a piece of propaganda? It’s both but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to test it out. Downloading the PBI does take some time. It 800 Mb plus which means you don’t get America’s Army on your desktop quickly.

The America’s Army game provides civilians with an inside perspective and a virtual role in today’s premier land force: the U.S. Army. The game is designed to provide an accurate portrayal of Soldier experiences across a number of occupations.

When a PBI is so huge it takes ages for it to launch. Please, take this literally. It takes ages, in my case almost an hour. When it finally launched it looked like the install was stuck at 92%. It isn’t, it is busy unpacking the linux-americasarmy.2.5.0 package. After almost two hours I was ready to get my first taste of America’s Army, only to be met by a crash report explaining the system couldn’t find the /bin/armyops file.

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory & True Combat: Elite

After a string of disappointments there were two games left to try: Wolfenstein Enemy Territory and True Combat Elite .

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory (W:ET) is an online first person shooter. Some lingo:

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory is a full free multiplayer first person shooter game. The game was originally going to be a retail expansion pack for Return To Castle Wolfenstein but the project was cancelled and the good folks at Activision decided to give it to us for free!
It’s a team game; you will win or fall along with your comrades. The only way to complete the objectives that lead to victory is by cooperation, with each player covering their teammates and using their class special abilities in concert with the others.

And I was impressed. The graphics in the game are crystal clear and it runs fast. I had a framerate of 90 and that is not bad on the mediocre hardware I am using. When you connect to a server you the program will download multiple pak-files (.pk3). The screen to select your server has various filters and there is plenty of choice. When you hop from server to server you notice the variety of gaming environments, which is a tribute to the map developers.

tce2_1024x768

True Combat: Elite is a complete mod of W:ET, changing the theme from World War II to a more modern Special Ops versus Terrorists.

Now, the most important question: “What can you expect from TC:E?” TCE is a tactical-team shooter, set up in a modern-world environment. TC:E puts you into the role of elite mercenary soldier in the conflicts of two internationally operating forces.
SpecOps vs. Terrors SpecOps vs. Terrors
The Global Intervention Force (GIF626) is a special force formed of the top of the world experts joining from US Delta force, UK SAS, German KSK and GSG9, to mention a few. An international mercenary organization known as “The Unit” is their opponent. It is reported that some of these dudes are were once with the above forces, but the lure of money is strong. You say “Yet another terror counter-terrorism shooter. Why the hell should I go for it?”. We say “Cause you don’t have to spend a cent and it features:”

The more modern settings demand different environments and I was stunned by the level of detail I found. The list of available servers is significantly smaller than W:ET and when I went online nobody was playing.

Playing some time with W:ET (and browsing throught the TC:E servers) left me with a very positive feeling that open source gaming can be very, very mature and of competitive quality. It was fast, responsive and stable. It was as close to perfect as I can imagine. If only there was sound to accompany the gameplay. There was sound with most of the other games, so it couldn’t be a hardware problem.

Conclusions

This isn’t a review of the quality of the various games themselves, but about how easy it is to use them under PC-BSD. The PBI system is a the heart of the PC-BSD marketing and then -in all honesty- a better performance was expected. Some games (Sauerbraten, America’s Army) simply wouldn’t run and that is unacceptable. Maybe the PBIs were made for the previous release, hence I can only suggest to update the information on the PBI website and add information about which release is supported. That alone would save some disappointments. Other games did run but with a glitch here and there. Again, this really needs improvement.

The games that did run fine (and I wish to include both W:ET and TC:E among these) deliver a good performance. TORCS has a dated look and feel, but it performs as promised. For W:ET and TC:E I look forward to playing these games with sound.

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3 thoughts on “PC-BSD Day 27: Gaming under PC-BSD, part 2

  1. The download size of Team America is not 800 Mb, it is 2,89 Gb. I think you downloaded the upgrade patch because that is a 879 MB download.

  2. Hi Jos. That could be an explanation, but the PBI download page doesn’t reveal that tidbit of information: http://www.pbidir.com/packages.php?code=505

    What I forgot to mention in the part about America’s Army is that the webpage wouldn’t load in Konquerer (default PC-BSD install).

  3. I’ve been following your 30 days with PCBSD and trying to replicate it on my own. As far as the games go… I tried America’s Army and it worked great for me, using just the 806Mb pbi file. I had the same problem waiting on the large pbi’s to do anything and thought they were corrupt at first, but in the top left of the screen it showed that the pbi was doing something. Anyway, I really like America’s Army. I tried it a couple years ago on windows, but haven’t played much. I played through a couple training missions the other night.

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