Wargaming.net’s World of Tanks has blown a hole in the MMO world, but where does Linux fit in with the company’s future? Chris Thornett interviews Maksim Meinikau, Solution Architect to find out.
Linux Format: Why do support Linux?
Maksim Melnikau: It’s the world’s fastest growing platform and foundation for the most innovative solutions of today. Supporting Linux is an investment in the future, a continuous enhancement of a time-proven technology that we will use for years to come. Whether you play World of Tanks on PC, Xbox 360, iOS, or Android devices, all our games have Linux-based servers. We are extremely pleased with the current platform and will continue to work with it in the future.
With rapid technology advancement these days, it’s important to be several steps ahead of the competitors to maintain success. As one of the most exciting solutions available on the market, Linux offers the ability to outperform other developers, which is why we devote so much time to evolving it.
LXF: When you think of Linux gaming do you think of a particular service or distro?
MM: The game distribution services are far less convenient for Linux-users than apt-get, yum, emerge and other applications built specially for Linux.
Steam, Desura and Humble Bundle are not universal tools which is why we use our own Windows solutions to distribute World of Tanks, World of Warplanes, and World of Warships. For me, there’s so much hype around game distribution services. In the end, it all comes to the product itself—a deep immersive game will always find its audience, regardless of platform and distribution methods.
LXF: Are there any FLOSS technologies available that you credit as being pivotal to you being able to offer games?
MM: First and foremost, I’d name its hypervisors (for instance, KVM and Xen) and container-based virtualization tools such as LXC and OpenVZ. With the platform’s flexibility, it’s possible to use several of them on one physical server. Another argument in favour of Linux-based technologies is the ample options for tweaking settings starting from choice of the filesystem up to tailor-made setups of network subsystem. Administrators working with these solutions also benefit from extensive documentation available on the Internet, and can address other members of the Linux community to get advice or assistance.
LXF: Have you faced any challenges getting your game on Linux? Have you considered a Linux version?
MM: Although Wargaming doesn’t have a native client for Linux yet, World of Tanks runs smoothly on Wine and we even have a detailed WoT for Linux manual. Developing a separate game client for a free-to-play project is an expensive, long process. It’s only reasonable if there’s a large community that will play the game on Linux-powered devices.
LXF: What do you think is currently preventing Linux from being an unstoppable force for good in the gaming industry?
MM: It’s similar to the chicken or the egg dilemma; the question is whether to attract a lot of players to build a quality game, or create a quality game to attract a lot of players.
Linux is a great choice if you consider the technology it offers. Its main weakness is its drivers. Intel, on the other hand outperforms it in terms of drivers, but lacks a powerful video card. Nvidia and ATI have great hardware, but are troublesome when it comes to installing drivers from vendors, while open-source drivers supported by various Linux distros are mostly underpowered.
LXF:What's your best guess as to the future for Linux gaming? Or maybe just your best hope for it.
MM: With the rapid advancement of cross platform games operating on PCs, consoles and smartphones, developers will ship more projects for Linux OS. As for now, I consider emulators like Wine the most convenient way to run Linux games. Some MacOS and Linux titles come with a built-in Wine, offering an accessible solution for gamers.
LXF: In that vein, what's your take on SteamOS?
MM: Let’s see how many users SteamOS will attract. As for me, I believe that the free console concept is a perspective one but, once again, I’d rather watch how it launches before drawing any conclusions about it.
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