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Comment: Why the Linux Port Will Flop

During early December we saw a surprising image of what appeared to be a port of Game Maker to Linux. Yet the excitement YoYo may have wanted to build, using the screenshot of the program running on a Fedora distribution, may not be manifesting itself as strongly as they had hoped.

I for one saw nothing but another opportunity for Game Maker Studio to be delayed when I saw this announcement. And I don’t believe I am alone in this point of view. Aside from Studio, YoYo are already having to deal with PC spin-offs of GM, such as the HTML5 edition. And lets not disregard the ol’ faithful Standard edition.

If we all sit back and take a moment to recall Game Maker history, there was a time when a port to Mac was the “big plan of the future”. It had Macintosh users purched on the edges of their seats, regularly looking for news of the release. And then out of nowhere a good year or more after the announcement, out plopped a half backed, outdated port for Mac that left few impressed. GM4Mac has grown to be a little better over time, but it still needs work, and fast. So why exactly are YoYo trying to cover more platforms when they haven’t refined their last endeavor?

YoYo may feel that this approach equals more cash. Hopefully this isn’t their thinking.

Mac users take up a significantly bigger market share than Linux does, and there is arguably more opportunity for exposure when creating games for OSX. Apple also has a distribution system making the process a whole lot more enticing. However GM4Mac hasn’t been received as well as many may have expected. So how will a Linux port do, in a “niche” community, that is filled with freeware indulging cheapskates (myself included)? Not so well I feel. I believe a Linux port, assuming it comes out  in 2012, will be a flop (though if the Mac development history is anything to go by, we won’t be seeing a port to Linux for quite some time).

In saying this, an eventual port to Linux is welcomed. But is now really the right time? Probably not.

I sometimes wonder if YoYo is getting a bit carried away with their plans for extending the GM product range. The concepts seem good enough, but why does it feel like everything is being rushed and has to happen all at once? Even from an enduser’s perspective, its getting messy. Or at least it feels that way.

Though lets be fair to YoYo and their plans for Linux for just one moment. Sure, while we selfish Windows users may have to stretch our patience further when it comes to updates (unless YoYo becomes neglectful and caves into updating for PC more often than other ports) it is hard to not be a little excited about the port. After all, unlike the Mac edition, everyone will be able to test the Linux port when the time comes, since its a free OS accessible to anybody. Though one can’t help but feel this is a pointless exercise in covering more ground with operating systems.

Maybe the accessibility of Linux to the existing PC user base will be the secret weapon the Linux port needs to outdo the response that GM4Mac received.

Time will have to settle this one, but for now, it might not hurt to get your Ubuntu discs in order (or OpenSuse if you care to look past your doorstep– gotta love that green lizard).

What do you think?

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  1. >Mac users take up a significantly bigger market share than Linux does.

    Now i particularly disagree here, as am not sure where you’re getting your numbers from (browser stats?).

    Those does not mean anything for indie game developers.

    the humble bundle has real figures of indie game interest by platform. Shows that the mac market is just “slightly bigger”, but linux users show more interest and “monetary support”, which equals the equation.

    from wikipedia.

    “About half of the sales were to Microsoft Windows platforms, while the MacOS X and Linux sales roughly equally split the rest. By tracking pricing, Wolfire Games found that Linux users were the most generous, paying about US$14 per bundle, followed by MacOS X users (US$10) and Windows users (US$7—8)”.

  2. @freddy, I program in many languages and am on many forums other than GMC. I don’t just “talk about it”…I AM doing it, I’ve BEEN doing it, it just seems like I haven’t because I actually can separate/filter what I put for GM is GM (just like when I’m on my C++ sites, I write C++ code for those coders). Exactly how am I suppose to “lead the way” when I am everywhere already? If you mean “what have I made”…I dived into artificial chemistry (original for GM users, no one followed), net39 with udp connectivity (very very few interests), 3d with throttling capabilities (a few on the GMC chat are interested, so I’m continuing it), new language (no one interested), etc. A few of my projects were GM-related, the rest are not. I don’t “think” I know a lot….it’s not up for debate really considering I’ve shown many my abilities, and I don’t have to continually prove it.

    I’m banned from the GMC anyway, probably from that statement, I don’t care….one less knowledgeable programmer for the community to get help from. Too bad it came to this, I only made the statement as a wake-up call for them to stop being stupid, but now they just look like fascists.

  3. Sabriath, you really are a tit. If you really don’t like them then move on, pick another tool or language, and stop just talking about it!!
    For someone who thinks he knows so much, you’re not exactly leading the way are you?

  4. I hope the entire company folds, maybe then they will learn their lesson of who actually pays their checks. Instead of looking for new audiences, they should cater the ones they shoved in a pen….eventually the animals will escape, and they’ll have no one left backing them.

    Personally, I’ll probably be moving to java, until other languages (that are not yet built) are available. I would rather be coding in lisp at this point than continue with anything YYG related….sorry, but you fail as a company, like Value City fail.

  5. Rick :Not so smart: Mac OS runs on a unix kernel. Time to check some information… Unix is almost the same as linux, so a port to linux will cost less than a port to Mac, for the reason is it already ported (to a Unix system). I can understand this step from YoYo. The only thing they have to change is the graphical part, because Mac OS X runs on another desktop environment than the most linux distro’s do.

    “Unix is almost the same as linux”.
    *facepalm* WHAT THE…?

  6. This program had better and faster updates under Mark alone than after this retarded company took over.

    Year after year they have done nothing but release a patch as a paid product, release expensive (and pointless) HTML5 product and completely destroyed a goldmine by screwing up a simple Mac port (which should’ve been integrated into main program, letting Windows users export games to Mac first and then creating the app port for Mac).

    They can’t get their sites to look good or work as they should. They make moronic changes community doesn’t want. They ignore the fact that majority of their audience has always been students and charge a fuckload for shitty HTML5 apps no one in their mind will use. Then they ignore calls by developers (like me) who are even willing to pay (reasonable amount compared to Unity like app) to add features like Mac port I just talked about or UI changes or hell, anything useful at all.

    I already redid my game in Unity and released it on app store few months ago but I am posting this because I always hoped for GameMaker to be improved into something worthwhile. Obviously YOYO is interested in making stupid decisions like separate ports of the same app instead of letting Windows users export to different OS like more complicated apps do (hell, I am using UDK for a bigger game right now and even it lets you export the game for Mac right from Windows version).

  7. I totally agree with @mcoot. YoYo’s been talking about and testing this “C++ Runner” for quite some time now and we still haven’t heard any new information on it. That being said, I was overjoyed when I heard about a potential “GameMaker PSP”, and I agree that YoYo should try to port to as many platforms as possible (ex: Linux). However, my main concern is that the more platforms that GM is being ported too, the more time GM Studio will be delayed. Also, porting GM7 without an actual “GM8 .gmk to GM7 .gmk converter” seems very obsolete for all GameMaker developers.

  8. I think that a Linux port of GM is a good idea.

    I don’t think a Linux port of GM4Mac is a good idea.

    They ought to focus on Game Maker Studio (or is cross-platform support coming in GM9, after Studio?) having full support for Windows, Mac, and potentially Linux.

    GM4Mac is already way, way out of date. They should work on making the next version fully cross-platform rather than wasting time porting an old version across.

  9. I appreciate the argument with Raspberry Pi, but I don’t believe the product will become mainstream or well regarded enough to support a whole new distribution branch of Game Maker.

    I also believe the device will be a technological fad that attracts techies looking to play with a gadget more than anybody else. It’ll be like the EeePC netbook– great at first, awesome novelty, everybody wants one; then suddenly sales turn to dust when people realize they aren’t that great.

  10. Raspberry Pi sounds like a very idealistic project, however the mass production and consumption of android devices will inevitably provide the cheapest alternative and I don’t see how a small relative unknown can compete.

    How long before we see an android pc for $200 or less?

  11. Not so smart: Mac OS runs on a unix kernel. Time to check some information… Unix is almost the same as linux, so a port to linux will cost less than a port to Mac, for the reason is it already ported (to a Unix system). I can understand this step from YoYo. The only thing they have to change is the graphical part, because Mac OS X runs on another desktop environment than the most linux distro’s do.

  12. I beg to disagree.

    The main reason for the port to Linux is not to support a niche community, it is preparing for the launch of the Raspberry Pi. A £15 PC running Linux that will be released next year. Based on the reception so far, Raspberry Pi is going to be huge, especially in schools where you could kit out a whole class of students with a PC for under £200. YoYo wants to support those kids, and therefore needs to port GM now.

    The Linux port won’t flop if thousands of kids around the world have access to it for free. I’m confident the free edition of GM will be offered to those kids alongside a paid-for version as is already seen for Windows users.

    As for development of other versions and Studio, hasn’t the GM project just had its source code overhauled and ported from Delphi to C++? Surely that will make it much easier going forward to perform ports, and something I believe Mike Dailly and team are working hard to achieve. We’ve also seen GM:HTML5 getting very regular updates showing some serious work is going into continuing development of the software.

    I used to look at the rate of GM development and wonder what was going on. Now all I see is a very busy team of developers hell bent on supporting kids making games on very cheap PCs as well as attempting to turn a profit on other versions so as to make Game Maker a viable business.

    If anything, I’m more confident than ever that GM has a bright future as a multi-platform game creation tool.

Game Maker 7 for Linux?

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