Even More Multiple Monitor Gaming On Linux

It’s been a while since I rehashed this idea as a sad attempt to drive eyeballs to my blog, which these days mainly serves to shill for my Open Source webmail project Cypht (pronounced “sift”). Not, sure, you, have, heard, of, it. You should go check it out, download it, install it, send me questions because the install is hard, really dig it once you get it working, then give me money for a security audit. Or whatever it’s no big.

I haven’t played a lot of these games extensively, many just for a few minutes to test compatibility. Mainly because one of the games in this group is consuming all my “free” time. I’m going to make you read the whole list to find out which. Just kidding, it’s called Rocket League. You should stop reading this post now and play it. Come back later and thank me.

Back already? You’re welcome! Let’s get on with the list

Wasteland 2 Directors cut

https://wasteland2.inxile-entertainment.com/
Steam tells me I have played 4 hours of this game. Having just dusted it off after a year I’m a bit concerned about my memory, because I have no idea what’s going on. It is cool though. Pretty standard point and click RPG to move your group of weirdos, examine stuff, and pick up strange I-don’t-know-how-I-will-use-that items. Fights are turned based on a hex grid with the ability to move/attack within some limitations I don’t remember.

Universe Sandbox

http://universesandbox.com/
Not a game really, but works on my rig and is included for the following reasons:

  1. It’s called Universe Sandbox, which is rad.
  2. Science is awesome, astronomy especially so.
  3. You can do really neat stuff most of which I have only seen on the menus but I did zoom into Saturn and check out the ring rotation.

Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball

http://www.82apps.com/DiscoDodgeball/
Retro first person “shooter” except it’s dodgeball. The roller derby part basically means you can’t stop moving when you want. I think there are power-ups and leveling up and you can even catch a ball thrown at you. The court has ramps and platforms, and one time I made it to the upper level before a bot nailed me instantly. I have not played it much but it’s pretty fun as far as retro disco dodgeball games go.

Niche

http://niche-game.com/
Everyone knows you have to get up to get down. This game is all about getting down. Seriously. It’s a sim where you have to furiously procreate to survive, hopefully passing on some worthwhile chromosomes. My crude description not withstanding, this is actually a really interesting (and educational) turn based game. It’s also safe for work so to speak, but you really should not be playing games at work.

Martial Law

http://store.steampowered.com/app/346150/Martial_Law/
You are alone in a seemingly abandoned and desolate photo-realistic landscape. Minutes after venturing out into a field, you are near starving. When you approach any potential resources, you are gunned down from unseen locations. This basically sums up my experience.

Madout

http://store.steampowered.com/app/352170/MadOut/
Sort of like Twisted Metal meets Mario Cart. Flashy graphics, simple physics, and easy controls. Like many others on the list, I downloaded, I configured, I played – but then moved on. I’m not sure if it’s because the game itself was lackluster or if I just did not give it a chance because I rushed through it to play Rocket League.

Distance

http://survivethedistance.com/
Another racer with nice graphics and a futuristic beat-the-track/clock type of game play. Like Madout the driving physics are pretty easy to get the hang of, on early levels anyway. Probably has lots of other features I could not be bothered to dig into during my short revisit. I did notice giant pumpkins strewn about the level that slow you down when you plow through them, so there is that.

Divinity Original Sin Advanced Edition

http://www.divinityoriginalsin.com/
Another point-click-to-move RPG with nice graphics and sort of a Diablo feel to it. I have a vague recollection that I enjoyed the 30 minutes I played months ago. I’m putting this one on the get back to it later list for sure.

Besiege

http://www.besiege.spiderlinggames.co.uk/
This is a unique game. Each level requires you to build a war machine that you let loose to destroy enemies or fortresses. There is a huge variety of components to build your machine with. Watching my creation fall apart in seconds because of my comically poor structural engineering skills is hilarious. 100% recommend this one, it’s a gem.

Rocket League

https://www.rocketleague.com/
Many of the games I like tend to be complicated, and increase in complexity as you level up and gain new abilities. Rocket League is one of those rare games with a simple concept, simple controls, playable right away, with endless room to improve. The premise is soccer (as well as other game modes) with a giant ball that you smash into with a car to move down the field. Calling it demolition derby soccer doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s accurate.

The real fun (and frustration), is combining the simple controls to blast your car into the air for “arial” hits. Trying to accurately hit the ball in the air is like trying to get 10 meters in QWOP – surprisingly difficult. You can play with bots offline, or against human opponents online (as well couch co-op with split screen). Be warned – the online community can be iffy (but you can mute the chat thank god). Another online warning – a surprising number of players are seriously good, like stupid good. Of course It’s also possible I’m just stupid bad.

Multiple Monitor Gaming On Linux

I remember when I first got Quake3 installed and running on Linux. Ancient though it already was, it represented a glimmer of hope that modern games might be possible for my favorite OS. I wondered if companies like¬†Loki¬†could really start a commercial game market for Linux that would take off. Turns out, no, they couldn’t. They went bankrupt over a decade ago. But they did help plant that seed of hope in the game-deprived hearts of naive Linux users like me.

As years passed the market for Linux games, commercial or Open Source, could best be described as bleak. Decent titles were sparse, compatibility an ongoing battle. I can recall a few shining moments during those dark years, but they always left you wanting more.

The tides are turning these days as more and more effort seems to be going into producing games for Linux. But what if you want to run a game across multiple monitors, because you know, that would be really cool? And what if you had 3 27″ Samsung displays each at a resolution of 1920×1080 connected to a system fast enough to accelerate the combined 5760×1080 resolution with sufficient frame rates to render virtually any recently released game? I don’t know what you would do in that “what if” scenario, but I would fiddle with it endlessly then write a blog post about it.
setup
First the fiddling. I’m using Nvidia video hardware so the proprietary driver is a must for performance. The poorly named “TwinView” option of the driver handles all three monitors so that the X server sees one big display. I have found enabling the X server’s own “xinerama” option to be more useful than the Nvidia driver’s Xrandr interface when it comes to making the entire screen usable for a game. Window managers can interfere with a games ability to utilize the whole display so it can be useful to fire up a second X server with a different configuration and WM just for gaming.

Aside from that getting things working really comes down to the game itself. It can be hit or miss as to whether or not a game can take advantage of the combined display, so even with everything set up properly it still might fail. In those cases hacking the game configuration files can be a useful last resort, if you can figure out where they are and what to change. Here are a few games I did manage to get working. Click the thumbnail image for the full size screenshot, but be warned, the file sizes are big :).

Salvation Prophecy

http://www.salvationprophecy.com/
sp3

One part first-person shooter, one part space combat, this is a fun game that starts off small and evolves into an epic galaxy-wide struggle against other factions and unknown alien races.

Metro Last Light

http://www.4a-games.com/metro-last-light.html
metro

This screenshot does not do Metro’s incredible graphics justice. It really is an impressively done post-apocalyptic first person shooter. I’m not too far into it yet, but the story is compelling and the challenges reasonably diverse, even if the premise is a bit played out.

Half Life 2

http://orange.half-life2.com/
hl2_final

An oldie but a goodie. I had never played Half Life prior to the recent Linux re-releases on Steam, but now that I have, I can understand the praise heaped upon it when it was cutting edge. It may not stack up to Metro Last Light in the graphics department but the game play is a blast, and having the wide-angle peripheral vision is a bonus when it comes to exploring.

Forced

http://forcedthegame.com/
forced

Forced is a top-down arena battle game with interesting co-operative play and pretty cool graphics. There are four types of characters to choose from, and a system for building up your fighter’s abilities as you progress from one challenge to the next. Battles feature equal parts hack-and-slash and puzzle solving.

Spectraball

http://shoreboundstudios.com/spectraball/
sb_final

This is the ultimate “roll a ball around” game out there with nice graphics and challenging obstacles. It is amazing how far we have come since the good old days of burning the skin off your palm working the trackball on Marble Madness.

Iesabel

http://iesabel.com/
ie_final

I have to admit this was a late entry to the list and I have only played this for a few minutes. So far it looks to be a pretty interesting action/fantasy RPG type of thing. I had to mess around with it to get the resolution right, but since then it seems to be running well.

Anomaly War-zone Earth

http://www.11bitstudios.com/games/7/anomaly-warzone-earth
awe_final

Anomaly turns the tables on the tower-defense genre — you are the evading force trying to destroy the enemy’s well placed tower defense systems. It’s a fun game and the extra screen real-estate comes in handy. Since the first release several add-ons and a sequel have become available.

Legends of Aethereus

http://www.aethereusgame.com/index.html
loa_final

This is a great looking first person adventure/RPG. The combat system is a bit clunky, and I have had some stability problems in the past, but the latest update seems to be an improvement over previous versions. I hope the development team stays at it because this has the potential to be a great game.

X3

http://www.egosoft.com/games/x3tc/info_en.php
x3_final

This is an open-ended space simulation game that looks really cool. It’s also another one I have not spent much time playing. I’m looking forward to a rainy day so I can dig into it more.

0AD

http://play0ad.com/
0ad_final

The best way to describe 0AD is to combine the game play of Glest with historical accuracy and better graphics. Though seemingly in a perpetual alpha state, 0AD is actively developed and should ultimately be an excellent simulation game.

Oil Rush

http://oilrush-game.com/
oilA polished and beautiful tower defense game. Oil Rush leverages the Unigine game engine to not only load up on the eye-candy, but also to provide detailed video setting options.

Brütal Legend

http://www.doublefine.com/brutallegend/
bl2This is a first person action title based on a mythology built on 1980’s metal bands. Jack Black voices the main character who is accidentally whisked away from his thankless job as a roadie to lead a rag-tag band of rockers against heavy metal demons suppressing the people’s ability to rock. The premise alone is worth the price, even if the game play gets a bit redundant.

There are plenty of fun games available for Linux that just don’t make sense stretched across multiple screens. For the ones that do make sense (and work) I have found that it enhances the depth of the gaming experience, which I will keep telling myself is enough to justify the cost of the hardware. Now I just need a modern racing title with multiple monitor support to be released so I can upgrade my video card!