TUXFACE: CryEngine Adds Linux Support

The mythical ‘Year of the Linux Desktop’ never arrived as explosively as many predicted (surprise surprise) but the open-source operating system (don’t even start, pedants – it’s been a long week and I will tear your windpipe out with my own gnarled hands) has steadily become a fairly attractive alternative to Windows. Games were always a big problem, but look at us today: most major game engines run on Linux, and Valve have made a dedicated gaming OS out of it.

You can now add CryEngine to your list of Linux Game Things, as Linux support arrived in its latest update. Crytek also added native Oculus Rift support.

CryEngine 3.8.1 brings OpenGL support, which also lets it have native Linux support. For games, anyway. If you’re making a CryEngine game yourself (which you might be, for all I know, now it only costs $10 per month), you’ll still need to rely on Windows for the Sandbox Editor.

I wonder if many folks will release Linux versions of their old CryEngine games.

The latest version of CryEngine also brings support for Oculus Rift cybergoggles, voxel-based volumetric fog (no way!), 8-weight GPU vertex skinning (double no way!), POM self-shadowing (cowabunga!), and other things that might excite techy folk.

Mark my mocking words: 2016 will be The Year of the Linux VR Desktop.

64 Comments

  1. axfelix says:

    This is actually great news. As a Linux user, I’m often appalled by the entitlement of other Linux users demanding ports on various titles on Steam forums — I don’t think they realize just how little money devs see from it — but more and more middleware supporting OpenGL builds is absolutely the best way sustainably forward.

    • jrodman says:

      Surely communicating interest is better than being silent?

      • Cockie says:

        Well…demanding ports in an entitled way might dissuade the devs from doing it rather than urging them to. Asking friendly, definitely good.

        • anark10n says:

          Apparently you have some sort of objective means of discriminating one form from the other. Please, pray tell.

          • Cockie says:

            Really? You can’t discriminate between a friendly question and an angry demand?
            “Hi! I use Linux and I was wondering if a Linux port might be an option? I understand if it’s not of course, I know it’s a lot of work.”
            vs
            “Make a Linux version! Don’t you idiots know not doing that is stupid? With SteamOS soon everyone will use Linux!”

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            Phasma Felis says:

            God has blessed me with the magical ability to tell when someone is or isn’t acting like an asshole, yes.

        • jrodman says:

          I’m a little doubtful that the civility-impairment level among gamers asking for Linux id very different from their civility impairment on other topics.

          • Cockie says:

            Well, keep in mind we’re talking about the steam forums here.

  2. Punning Pundit says:

    I wonder if DX12 is a response to the SteamOS competition? I imagine the hope is that DX12 is so much better than any other API that it would be easier to ignore OpenGL than to annoy Linux and Mac people.

    If CryEngine supporting OpenGL does nothing more than make MS panic and make a better Windows gaming experience, that’s good enough.

    • MadMinstrel says:

      No, DX12 is a response to Mantle/Vulkan and console APIs.

  3. LionsPhil says:

    open-source operating system (don’t even start, pedants…

    I’m struggling to see a nit to pick here!

    …has steadily become a fairly attractive alternative to Windows.

    …helped in no small part by Microsoft trying their damndest to meet them half way by runing the latter.

    • Akbar says:

      Please don’t kill me Alice! I only mean to answer is question and am not using this pedantry as an attack on you or your article.

      Linux is a kernel not an OS (link to gnu.org), and many distributions of the operating system(s) commonly referred to as Linux and which Richard Stallman &co want us to call GNU/Linux (another thing she might have been referring to) contain some non-free software, making them, at least in the eyes of rms, not open source.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Stallman is the only person who cares, but regardless that is a nitpick of the phrase “Year of Linux on the Desktop”, not of “open-source operating system”.

        I will nitpick your nitpick, sir!

        • Akbar says:

          Fair, but the last part about distros containing non-free software still applies. (Oh, and don’t underestimate the size of rms’ army of followers).

          I took the disclaimer as referring to the everything that preceded it.

          • Akbar says:

            Oh and, “operating system” refers back to Linux, so I think the part about it not being an OS applies. “Year of the Linux desktop” would be a fine statement to make regardless of whether Linux is an OS, as it’d be perfectly reasonable to refer to the class of OSs that run the Linux kernel as “Linux desktops”.

        • joa says:

          The joke is it’s the Linux kernel part that’s good, and the rest of the software stack that’s rubbish. And most of isn’t even GNU these days. X11 isn’t GNU. Gnome isn’t GNU. None of the desktop applications are GNU.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Linux is the worst desktop kernel going, and the only one clinging on to an obsolete monolithic design. Both NT and Mach are hybrids. Linux gets everywhere because it’s free, not because it’s good.

          • joa says:

            I think you are rather confused. XNU and NT kernels are also monolithic. None of them use anything comparable to a microkernel design.

          • LionsPhil says:

            I didn’t say microkenel; I said hybrid. They take a microkernel design and put everything within the same address space. It still leaves you with a cleaner design. Here’s Apple’s stance on that (which is obviously going to say “what we do is best”).

          • joa says:

            You take away the kernel components running in userspace and you lose the defining feature of a microkernel. What are you left with? Modularity and interfaces between the components? Monolithic kernels have that anyway.
            I suppose you could make an argument that the instability of Linux’s kernel interface may make it less attractive to driver developers — is this what you’re talking about by ‘hybrid’ vs monolithic?

          • Nouser says:

            Neither NT nor Mach are real microkernels, they are in the “monolithic kernel with modules” bag, and nowadays Linux is mostly in that category too.

            As a side note, GNOME is a GNU project. Also, X11 is fortunately dying in favor of Wayland, if only it were dying faster.

      • jrodman says:

        Yes, that’s the obvious pedantry.

        Which is of course wrong. The error here is the failure to understand that words have more than one meaning.

  4. Punning Pundit says:

    Post script:
    I my ideal world, Linux becomes the default kernal of all OSes and a few different companies compete to provide us a great OS experience, which all our existing software can be brought to. Switching costs are anti free market, yo.

    • jrodman says:

      A technical monoculture has its own costs.

      • joa says:

        All kernels these days are basically identical anyway – Windows, FreeBSD and Linux. All the work now is just in optimization.

        • jrodman says:

          How remarkably ignorant.

          • joa says:

            Aside from cosmetic differences, it’s true. The goal is just to provide userspace with a useful and efficient interface for talking to the hardware — and all current kernels are very similar in that respect. Can you point out any defining factor in one kernel that makes it hugely different from any of the others?

          • jrodman says:

            Don’t mind me, I’m just hooking up a turbine for you to power with this furious backpedaling.

        • Solidstate89 says:

          You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

  5. tcmJOE says:

    Can’t read my, can’t read my, can’t read my TUX-ER-FACE! (I have got to open-source it…)

    This is welcome news! I know it’s been hard to make the economic case for making games Linux-friendly, but I’m definitely happy with those who do.

    And in other news, “Spec Ops: The Line” now loads on my Linux machine!

  6. vorador says:

    I believe this will help Steam OS quite a bit.

  7. SuicideKing says:

    The latest version of CryEngine also brings support for Oculus Rift cybergoggles, voxel-based volumetric fog (no way!), 8-weight GPU vertex skinning (double no way!), POM self-shadowing (cowabunga!), and other things that might excite techy folk.

    Hahaha best paragraph ever.

  8. turtle says:

    Allow me to interject for a moment. What you’re referring to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux. Linux is not an operating system unto itself, but rather another free component of a fully functioning GNU system made useful by the GNU corelibs, shell utilities and vital system components comprising a full OS as defined by POSIX.

    • LionsPhil says:

      In other news, BSD is dying.

    • Awesomeclaw says:

      I dream of one day building a Linux userspace called UNG: UNG’s Not GNU.

    • jrodman says:

      Did you just get out of that time capsule from 1998?

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      This is terrific deadpanning, you beautiful bastard.

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      neffo says:

      I hate to be a pedant about this, but you haven’t actually interjected in this case.

      Interject (verb), comes from the latin form intericiō, which means “to place between”. Although you might, within the conversation subsequent, be interjecting. In this case you are clearly referring to Alice’s original post.

      What your post really is, is an addenum or, given you have taken issue with Alice’s (in your view, imprecise) use of nomenclature, an objection.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Depends, if they stopped reading halfway through to write the comment then in their own relative timeline of cause and effect, they did interject.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        That’s just a 4chan meme from their tech board.

  9. king0zymandias says:

    I really wish engines and their features weren’t marketed so publicly aimed at gamers. It’s essentially a business-to-business tool, the consumer shouldn’t factor into the marketing at all. Since most gamers are non-technical and have very little understanding of game programming, all this does is it glorifies game engines as some sort of magical all-in-one game creation device, resulting in some very erroneous assumptions about quality of the game based on the perceived quality of the game engine in question; both by the gamers and the gaming media.

    A game looks a certain way, well that’s surely because they are using this engine, a first-person/third-person controller feels a little clunky, that’s surely also because of some engine limitation, the animations are too simplistic, also because the engine is just like that, the characters look too stylized/too grey, once again, must be this stupid engine. Whereas in reality, most things related to the aesthetics and mechanical aspects of a game is completely independent of the engine. Especially with the introduction and recent prevalence of platform agnostic methods such as PBR, if you have the same assets (model, texture, animation, shader) your game will look the same on any engine.

    • Ashrand says:

      I sympathise to some extent, but this case (and many similar) is different because not every engine supports every OS, as a result devs who might want to produce games for non-windows OS’s have to carefully choose their engine and if they have to relearn a bunch of tools in the process it might not be an option at all.

      • king0zymandias says:

        True, but what I am getting at is that a significant update to a widely used content creation 3d app like Zbrush/Mari has the potential to change the course of game development much more significantly than an update to a specific engine like Unreal or CryEngine. However contrary to how game engines are publicized, new features for Zbrush or Mari will never be marketed to the end consumer and thus will never show up on gaming sites, and rightly so, since what gamers think of content creation apps is largely irrelevant.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      The funny thing is that engines do have certain significant limitations (eg, it’s difficult if not impossible to make a game world like Minecraft’s with Unity), but they’re miles away from the “problems” that gamers and game journalists will confidently identify with a certain engine, even though they’re just default shaders or whatever which can be easily changed.

      • king0zymandias says:

        I know it shouldn’t bother me, but every time I hear someone say something like, “it looks great considering it’s made with engine X”, or “all games made with engine Y tend to be like this, so no surprise there”, it kills me a little inside. Not only are these statements completely wrong, but they also end up completely undermining the creative intent and output of the artists/programmers involved. It’s equivalent to judging an artist based on the brand of painting supplies she uses.

    • Nouser says:

      Phisically Based Rendering is just an approach to design rendering systems. Game engine makers seem to sell it as an unified method that can only be implement in a single way and is completely agnostic of the rest of engine design, which is far from reality. In fact, most times “PBR” just mean they have dropped Phong shading in favor of some other surface reflection model which isn’t from the 70s.

      • king0zymandias says:

        I don’t think I have ever seen that happen, cube mapped environment reflection or even raytraced screen space reflection is something that is completely separate from PBR. Additionally cube mapped environment reflection has been in game development for more than a decade now, way before PBR, so I don’t think there’s anyone who will call that PBR. However as long as the shader system respects the law of energy conservation, it can be called a PBR system, even if it’s only doing phong based specular. It’s even possible to implement a PBR system that doesn’t follow the Disney BRDF shading model and uses the old specular and roughness map model.

        And also keep in mind that most developers are trying their best to keep the implementation very similar across platform, for example using the same cook-torrance BRDF algorithm for approximation of the specuar reflection. From my personal experience, I have imported the exact same assets to Substance, Marmoset, Unity and Unreal Engine without any noticeable difference between how they look.

  10. KFee says:

    Linux support is a totally waste of energy and resources imo. Of course Linux users will tell me the opposite but it’s a fact. You might sell 1% of a multi-platform game to linux, wow…

    • Cockie says:

      Well, don’t you think their economists would have told them that if that were the case?

    • Devan says:

      @KFee
      “imo” .. “it’s a fact”

      You’re describing a situation that has steadily been getting better. The more engines that become multiplatform, the lower the cost is to develop multiplatform games. Also, the higher availability of games on linux, the higher market share there is and the more profitable it becomes.
      This isn’t just talk. Android is a linux distribution and and it has huge market share, meaning it is very frequently worthwhile for mobile apps to be developed for multiple platforms.

      As an aside, many desktop games have brought out Linux support after shipping, meaning the sales statistics don’t include those who use both platforms and already bough the game and played it on Windows. As it becomes more common to release simultaneously, this will again improve the metrics.

      • jrodman says:

        The fundamental accuracy of your points aside, I feel it’s somewhat misleading to describe Android as a “linux distribution”. Depending upon definition choice, it’s not wrong, but that’s not what people usually mean by that string of words.

        • Nereus77 says:

          Android is essentially Linux for phones. So yes, its a Linux distribution.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Except software “for Linux” won’t run on it, because “Linux” in casual conversation means your normal x86 or x86_64 GNU/Linux (hello Stallman!) distrbution with and X server and PulseAudio and glibc and a vaguely LSB-compatable filesystem layout and…

            You are technically correct. The most pedantic and useless kind of correct.

          • Cockie says:

            Lionsphil: most linux distro’s seem to have an ARM version too, and you can run e.g. Debian with XFCE on any android device using chroot (which uses the existing Android kernel and puts the rest of the linux stuff on top of it or something like that). I’ve used that to use Code::Blocks and Spyder on my tablet, so it’s not *that* wrong either.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Sure, but concrete example: that Shower Game on RPS’ frontpage right now offers a “Download for Linux”. And what you get is a pair of x86 and x86_64 binaries. Steam is another topical example. Not many people bother to build up proprietary “for Linux” software for non-x86.

            (Yes, yes, phones are proprietary software for a Linux-kernel-based OS on ARM. What am I just saying about the meaning of “Linux” in context?)

            I suppose you can call the addition of “proprietary” a goalpost-shift, but we’re on a gaming site talking about games, and specifically about a proprietary engine for them, so I assumed it was a given.

            Setting up a Debian chroot isn’t really a native Android experience. Yes, it’s technically running on the device, but the same is true of XFCE on my Windows laptop because it’s in a Linux VM. It’d be misleading to say “XFCE runs on Windows” just because that is possible because statements like that imply that they fit into the whole encompassing environment. Nobody likes “Linux ports” that are just a bundled copy of WINE.

          • Cockie says:

            Ok, fair enough. It’s indeed not relevant when talking about games.

          • jrodman says:

            Nexus77: way to go contradicting, instead of contributing.

            Linux distribution has been a term in use for decades now, and pretty much means a UNIX platform running around the Linux kernel. Android is basically not UNIX, except perhaps as a programming layer on top of which android is built. A stock Android build cannot be used by the user to run any UNIX programs. So calling it a linux distribution is in fact wildly misleading, as I already stated.

            But feel free to chime in with “nuh uh” again.

    • TauPhraim says:

      Ignoring the random figures, what if it’s 1% more sales, for 0.5% additional cost ? Not so much of a waste anymore ! That’s the point of using/making multi-platform engines.

    • manny says:

      Yeah this sounds like the cryengine kiss of death, once you’ve gone full lintard there’s no going back.

      Linux sucks and deserves it’s 1% market share with techheads and socialists.

  11. Nereus77 says:

    Very close to awesome news, however I’ve heard that the CryEngine running in OpenGL mode runs like crap. Awesome news would be native Vulkan support, which, when paired with Linux, would be unbelievably quick.