September 12, 2007

New commercial Linux game slated by year end

Author: Joe Barr

Hothead Games will soon be launching a new title based on the popular online Penny Arcade comic strip. Even better, the new game will be available for several platforms at its launch, including Linux.

The dearth of new, popular, commercial games for Linux has long been a sore point for Linux users. For the most part, Linux gamers have been overlooked, forgotten, or ignored. What drove Hothead to include Linux as a supported platform? Joel DeYoung, Hothead Game's COO and also a founder and producer of the upcoming "Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness," said, "At Hothead we have a philosophy that gamers should choose the platform they want to play a game on, rather than the publisher dictating that to them. So in general we're always going to try to get our titles on as many platforms as possible.

"Our decision to support Linux was based on it being the right thing to do, not some in-depth analysis of the business case. We want to play a part in getting more games on the platform because we think long-term that benefits both Linux gamers and the indie development community that Hothead is a part of."

Originally announced in September 2006 for the Windows, Apple, and Linux platforms, the Penny Arcade adventure game was in the news again recently thanks to the Penny Arcade Festival (PAX) held in Seattle last month, when Hotheads announced that following the initial release later this year, it would also be ported to Xbox in 2008.

DeYoung says developing and maintaining code across multiple platforms is a more costly endeavor than simply focusing all the effort on a single platform. "It is definitely extra work. From an engineering perspective, we strive to structure our projects so that platform-specific code is abstracted to an appropriately low level. This applies to Linux but also to console platforms like the Xbox 360."

The company has no hard data on the expected demand from Linux users because, DeYoung says, "As you know, there haven't been many games. We've heard the demand for more games from the Linux community, so we're really anxious to see the response once our game is available." But since the game was announced, the feedback "has been overwhelmingly positive. There really is a pent-up demand for games that work natively on Linux, so we've been seeing a lot of good buzz in the community since we announced our intentions to support it."

"Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness" is slated to be the first in an ongoing series of releases based on Penny Arcade, with sequels appearing every few months thereafter. The expected launch date is late this year. Though the exact price of the game has not yet been set, DeYoung says it will be less than $20 per episode.


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