Blizzard, build a Linux port of Diablo III

Official support please, we have been waiting for years.

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Many people within the gaming community are still debating the Diablo III bans for Linux gamers using WINE. Instigated by posts like this one from Blizzard:

“Playing the game on Linux (although not officially supported) and/or using Wine will not result in being banned, but cheating will. We’ve extensively tested various scenarios related to this situation, including replicating system setups for those who have posted claiming they were banned unfairly, and have not found any situations where players were banned solely for using Linux or Wine.”

Obviously we can deduce that within the game itself, Blizzard has included some content verification to ensure there is no “modding” or “cheat” capability.
Plainly said, this explains many of the widespread complaints about having to be constantly connected online to play Diablo III.

End-user protection and a game company who goes out of their way to keep everyone on the same playing field. Excellent. Kudos Blizzard.

We can further verify their directives from the Blizzard Community Manager Bashiok. Offering the following explanation on the bans, noting that using Linux won’t get you banned but using WINE will:

“We’ve extensively tested for false positive situations, including replicating system setups for those who have posted claiming they were banned unfairly. We’ve not found any situations that could produce a false positive, have found that the circumstances for which they were banned were clear and accurate, and we are extremely confident in our findings. Playing the game on Linux, although not officially supported, will not get you banned – cheating will.”

Running a video game in WINE is cheating? News to me.
However, I can understand how code and modding can occur in the sub-set of the game using an emulator.
So a more “authentic” code verification system should be in place to compensate your copy of Diablo 3, correct?
Actually, no. Not unless there was a native application, one that could be installed alongside the game files to ensure an exception can be accounted for. Inevitably having to be “supported” by Blizzard.
Failing that, any outside solution supported through an open source community contribution would constitute as a third party application, and still deemed “unsupported”.

The Solution

Build a Linux port of Diablo III.

Anyone who plays Diablo 3 in Linux, using WINE, will most-likely not deny this being the ultimate solution.
In fact, it would have been the most viable means for Blizzard from the beginning. Having already generated a tremendous Linux following through World of Warcraft. Again Blizzard banned Linux gamers back in 2006.

One of many game companies completely missing this essential platform and a wide open community for their AAA game titles.
Today over 60 million computers are running free Linux. And official numbers showed that nearly 20 million people are using Linux all over the world. This number will increase to 50 million on 2020 and 100 million on 2050 as predictions.

However, Linux users have been looking for alternative methods to run their favourite PC games for years. Trying to avoid PC game issues such as constantly updating drivers, game stability problems, and my personal favourite…operating system and/or filesystem issues.

WINE on the other hand has played a massive roll in streamlining this process and continues to be the core utility, both on it’s own and within pivotal applications like PlayOnLinux, Cedega, and CodeWeavers’ Crossover software. Working through WineHQ and the Linux community for both support and resolving compatibility issues.
We can even go back as far as the very late 1990’s, were Loki Entertainment Software had been porting PC games Rune, Rune: Halls of Valhalla, Soldier of Fortune, Tribes 2, Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.2, Unreal Tournament, Civilization: Call to Power, SimCity 3000 Unlimited, etc. Until financial factors inevitably prohibited their endeavors. A huge blow to the Linux community.

So what’s the deal, both PC and Mac editions exist for Diablo 3. Right?
Why would a game company somehow avoid creating a Linux build?
The most common answer: “Linux users do not want to pay for games.”
I have personally heard this statement more times than I care to admit.
As many in the development community have assumed, since Linux is free, games under the platform would be pointless to even develop.

Not the case:

Have these developers and companies not seen the prior Humble Indie Bundle statistics?
This is a perfect example of how Linux gamers DO support their platform and Indie game titles. While exceeding the average donation over both Windows and Mac. Consistently.

But not everyone is taking a back seat to Linux. Valve is developing a Steam client for Linux, says Michael Larabel of Phoronix. While the Next Generation Unity 4 Game Engine makes further cross-plaform development available. Along with Moai, Microsoft’s Monogame, and reportedly CryTek’s CryEngine 3.

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Conclusion:

Taking a closer look at the Diablo 3 Wiki, we can see below, the game itself uses an in-house game engine. Originally Blizzard used the Havok Physics engine but eventually created their own so they could do anything they needed. Such as allowing Diablo III to have destructible environments. Something which the company itself has spent years in development to ensure a smoother more comprehensive game play.
The physics engine Havok, which does indeed have full cross-platform and console support would make porting possible. How much of that engine is actually being used in the final product is anyone’s guess?

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Still keen to see how Blizzard will handle the Linux support issue. I can’t help but reflect Activision Blizzard’s First Quarter 2012 Results Transcript, where Chief Financial Officer, Dennis Durkin goes on to explain Blizzards position in the video game industry.

“We began 2012 which financial strength, strong market fundamentals for digital and an expanding portfolio of category-leading franchises and unique online service capabilities that offer expansion opportunities for the long term. We remain focused on strengthening our operations at retail, expanding our digital footprint and adding innovation and new business models to each of our properties to continue to drive growth.”

Furthermore…

…we expect growth from Blizzard, driven by the expected launch of at least 2 titles this year including Diablo III, which we’ll launch next week with this real money auction house.

I would like to conclude, these statements are not being outlined in any derogatory term. Rather as a means of encouragement for Blizzard to expand the Diablo 3 capabilities across ALL platforms and take Linux support seriously.

Todd B.
Linux Game News

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