Exploring Linux game engines and platforms
New game engines and platforms usher in a whole new era for Linux gaming.
Commercial successful games usually score high with their perfect blend of breathtaking graphics, well-animated characters, realistic lighting, spectacular sound background, and convincing effects. Although these features can be developed from the bottom up, game engines offer a more efficient solution for game development. Game engines can provide 2D or 3D graphics, and some come complete with powerful development modules.
The graphics engine takes care of textures, lighting effects, and object animation. The physics engine ensures that the game objects conform with physical behavioral rules (rigid body physics – or even fluid mechanics for liquids). The sound system ensures a full sound, so that the player feels part of the action. Additional modules can handle coordination with the network, provide a scripting interface, and control the opponent's level of intelligence. Although some engines provide all these things, others are more specialized.
Linux used to be a niche market for games, so gaming companies didn't spend a lot of time and effort porting their products to the Linux platform. Although it is possible to play some Windows games in Linux using WINE (see the article on the WINE API and toolkit elsewhere in this issue), you might be wondering what the native Linux gaming environment has to offer.
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