- All around the Internet
- Whatever you find
- If you don’t mind being illegal, a great way to fill in the gaps.
- I would safely say that about 95% of the gameplay mechanics and story archetypes gamers appreciate in games today originated in the games of the 90’s. With enough trawling of the world wide web, even someone not looking very hard can find an easily navigable ROMs site where they can download game file images of the greatest games of the early Nintendo and Sega game consoles. All you need is to install an emulator, such as ZSNES and you are good to go. Consider this an opportunity to catch up on all the classics, except instead of Tale Of Two Cities or Crime And Punishment, you get Chrono Trigger and Super Metroid.
This is by no means a complete list of good, well-polished, Linux games. These are just the ones that always seem to find themselves on my modest netbook, while still engaging me on a regular basis. In other words, these are the games I “return to.” Other games that are worth mentioning, though I do not play them on a regular basis, include Assault Cube, TORCs, Tile Racer, and many more.
There are some genre gaps that I do not see being filled with high quality content, sadly. Though there is the open source attempt at creating a 4x engine, I do not see a good space-based 4x game in the near future. Also lacking are Turn-Based Tactical RPGs in similar vein to Final Fantasy Tactics. And finally, I am surprised at the lack of any good Mech games, obviously not directly based on MechWarrior, but at least inspired by it.
Also common are some particular deficiencies throughout the entire ecosystem. For example, many games lack polished sound to accompany gameplay and graphics. Sound is what provides mood or in the case of repetitive gameplay, keeps the pace going, and is as vital to a complete game experience as any other part.
There is also a lack of solid single player experience. Crafting opponent Artificial Intelligence is by no means easy, but at the same time, finding human opponents can also be most difficult to do. Without single player modes, many games lack story and depth, leaving the player with a non-engaging experience. Though some may claim the game’s experience is intended to be multiplayer, finding players can be difficult, as there is a far smaller Linux user base than Windows or even Macintosh, thus making it hard to find opponents to play that suit your timezone, skill level and even language.
The Linux platform is growing and provides game developers with many opportunities to aid in their game creation. Support for multiple programming languages and game-oriented libraries and very good OpenGL support with many video drivers are commonplace. Sure sound is a problem, but even those wrinkles are getting ironed out. There are exciting rumors that Steam may be coming to Linux, and more and more independent game developers are supporting the platform, with some serious techie press coverage being given to the Humble Indie Bundle. As I have always stated, not all software needs to be free, but I am glad there are several examples of good, FOSS games to hopefully help create a vibrant game community of both paid-for and free games on the Linux platform.