Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gamer's Diary 2009-02-10

Over the weekend I started a new gaming project: Get most of my PC games working in Linux, so I would only rarely have to reboot to Windows. Along the way I play-tested each game to see if it worked, so I played a lot of games.

Friday night I got the Good Old Games versions of Fallout and Fallout 2 installed in Crossover Linux Professional. I play-tested Fallout, and it ran great.

I also installed Frederik Pohl's Gateway and Gateway II: Homeworld, a couple of old DOS games that were made freeware by the publisher before it went under. These I installed in DosBox, a program for many platforms (including Linux and Windows) that emulates a PC running MS-DOS, and used DBGL to make them easily launchable. They ran very well in Linux.

I did not, however, play enough of any of the four games to form an impression of them. I'll write about them when I've played more of them.

Saturday I reinstalled Crossover Games, then installed Steam in it and started trying again to get my Steam games running in Linux. I had success in installing X-COM: UFO Defense and Half-Life and getting both to run properly, but Half-Life 2 was another story - and not a happy one.

It kept hanging after the initial loading screen. I tried many different combinations of command-line and in-game video options, to no avail. Finally I gave up and called it a night.

Sunday I tried varying my video driver - again without success - until I remembered that the way to deal with proprietary ATI video drivers in Linux is to use Envy. So I did, and noticed during the installation process that Envy relinked the driver to the Linux kernel. Aha! This was why I'd been experiencing issues with video for a while; I'd updated my kernel a couple of times since I last installed the video driver, and now they were out of sync.

After I updated the video driver, Half-Life 2 started working. Steam didn't work that well though; I started getting "server too busy" when trying to download a game, and "application unavailable" when trying to launch one. I managed to find workarounds for both problems, and command-line options that worked reasonably well for running the game, but eventually encountered settings that hung the game and prevented me from getting back to Linux. So I did a hard reset of my PC, and after that Crossover Games didn't work right. So I uninstalled it, reinstalled it, and started the painful downloading process once again.

Monday I tried Half-Life 2 again, without much luck, and decided instead to focus on getting two kinds of games to work: single player games I don't have on other platforms, and multiplayer games. So I gave up on Half-Life 2 and instead tried to run Half-Life 2 Deathmatch.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work either. It simply refused to go past the menu screen and start a match. So I gave up on it too. When I'm at a lan party, I'll just have to boot Windows.

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