We recently helped The Humble Indie Bundle and Playdead bring the game Limbo to Linux. By all reports, this has been a smashing success. Limbo is a fantastic game, and it is now easily accessible to Linux users. We are proud to have been part of this process; we made it possible to quickly and easily include Limbo in the bundle.
However, a small but vocal minority of the Linux community feels that this port is evil or wrong, strictly because it uses Wine. I understand their raw emotion; it feeds from three fundamental concerns. First, they fear that a Wine port will produce a lower quality result. Second, they feel that by encouraging game makers to use Wine, we are discouraging the use of alternate tool kits, and therefore discouraging 'better' ports. Third, they are upset that Playdead is getting the same street cred given to someone who did it 'right'.
This first concern is deeply frustrating to me. The presumption that Wine will automatically produce a lower quality result is false. It's an easy fallacy to develop. If you run development builds of Wine over a period of years, trying a variety of games, you will form the very reasonable opinion that Wine is cool, but flawed. However, when you have the best Wine developers in the world hand craft a Wine build to run a specific game you get a completely different result. You get a great port, which is what Playdead has done. I am aware that there are some users running into problems; we are working on fixes for those issues right now, and hope to have those fixes out shortly.
Here is a brutal truth - writing software that works well on all flavors of Linux on all hardware right out of the gate is @#$@#$ hard, no matter how you do it. That is a market reality for anyone trying to produce commercial Linux software. That's true for us, it's true for anyone using SDL or any 'better' tool kit. But I challenge our detractors to perform a fair comparison of the resulting game and how it runs. I have played many of the HIB titles on Linux through the years and I can say with pride that our work will stand well in that crowd.
Second, the argument that Wine ports will somehow stifle growth of 'real' Linux applications imagines that developers are going to decide to write a brand new application using only the Windows API because Wine has enabled them. That seems unrealistic to me. I think rather that developers are going to write a new Windows-only application because they don't care about Linux. What will persuade developers to target Linux is a strong, viable Linux user community. And the way to build market share is to have more of the applications users love. It really comes down to a simple choice: would our detractors really rather have had no Limbo at all than Limbo via Wine? I invite them to play Limbo on Linux. It's a great game, they would really be missing out.
Third, and now I'm really wound up, I dare anyone to find an organization with better Linux 'street cred' than CodeWeavers. We have always provided all of our work back to the community. Why do you think Wine works as well as it does? What do you think powered Cedega and now powers PlayOnLinux? Our work, freely given. Further, I have personally served in a variety of capacities from Xorg foundation, to the Portland desktop initiative, struggling to make the Linux desktop better. And finally, more than half of every penny given to CodeWeavers directly pays for patches to Wine. I doubt even Red Hat has a metric that good. So by spending money with us, Playdead provided material support to the Linux community. Their work with us has led to direct improvements in Wine, which will benefit every Linux user, whether or not they give $.01 to HIB.
I'll step off my soap box now. But I hope you will join me in playing Limbo on Linux!Cheers,