Gaming and operating systems

UNIX Magic

I’ve noted here before that I have played MMORPGs since at least 2005. Actually, though, my history with computer games goes back about 30 years before that, including online gaming most of that time. BBS door games like Legend of the Red Dragon and Solar Realms Elite occupied huge amounts of my time when I was in middle and high school. In fact, I remember when Microsoft started pushing Windows as a platform for games. At that time, most games ran under DOS and we saw Windows as a resource hog. Our expectations that this strategy would fail turned out wrong, of course.

Since then, things have split for me. I do my real (professional) work under Linux these days. Most of my personal computer usage also happens in Linux, largely because I know it better. When I want to set something up or fix a problem, I can generally do so far more quickly and with less trouble in Linux. Unix in general lends itself better to hacking for fun. Compatibility for web sites and such hasn’t caused me trouble in a decade or so.

Gaming is the obvious and glaring exception to that statement about personal usage. But it occurs to me, as I’ve returned to tabletop RPGs, that almost all my gaming could shift to Linux too. Other than MMORPGs like SWTOR, most of the other games I play run fine under Linux. Dwarf Fortress, Kerbal Space Program, Shadowrun Returns and several other games accessible via Steam don’t require Windows at all. Quite a few others actually work fine using Wine or one of its derivatives. I do almost all of my RPG preparation in a browser, text editor, or GIMP. Some specialized software like Hexographer (a mapping program) runs under Java, making it cross-platform by nature.

I don’t want to stop playing SWTOR, though, at least not yet. Shadow of Revan, the next expansion, launches in December. It should provide several months of enjoyment before my next break from that game. When that happens, though, my kids might end up getting my gaming computer and I can shift everything back to my preferred environment.

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