Category: Games – Non Free


A lot of entertainment news has hit Linux over the years.
From XBMCbuntu some years back to the up and coming SteamOS, Linux is the place to be.

But as I was watching boring old standard TV a few weeks back, with my laptop by my side and the Wii (yes, I like the Wii) next to the TV, I thought to myself: ‘What if I had one place that would rule all of these’.

I mean, XBMC is great for all those movies, and the Wii is great for the old reliable games, and those great titles for the PC are on steam, why don’t I combine that.
The thing is, all of these products are perfect in what they do, but they don’t do all of it (though modern consoles have tried).
But ultimately, all of these can run on Linux. This would be the glue that would bind them.
So if you are intrigued into building the perfect entertainment system, then please read on and follow my journey.
Please note though, that this isn’t a guide, more of post that should spark some inspiration (though there may be an actual guide in the future.)

 

So my goals were simple.
1) I should be able to watch movies
2) I should be able to watch TV Shows
3) I should be able to listen to music
4) I should be able to play console games
5) I should be able to play PC games
6) All should be integrated
7) All should be controlled with a controller (wherever possible)

The first few goals are very simple to do, but the latter (controller), that would be a real challenge, especially considering not all PC games are controller compatible, especially when things must be typed in.
The main aim with the controller would be to play Crusader Kings II with a controller (note that this game is entirely played with a keyboard and mouse for obvious reasons).

Before I begin, it’s worth noting that you need to have some hardware, but the limit is entirely up to you, just note that the better hardware, the more you gain.
In my case I had a spare all-in-one computer, since I wanted to just have that by the bed to be lazy. But, if you are going to use your widescreen TV (you want that right?) then you might opt for a fairly small and not so noisy computer. Something you can hide away behind the TV.
For what I will describe, the Raspberry Pi won’t cut it, unless you are willing to sacrifice some things.

For my Linux platform, I chose Ubuntu 13.04.
My reason is that it is out of the box compatible with most Linux applications, requires least amount of set up and I’m a big Ubuntu fan.
You could also opt for XBMCbuntu which is an Ubuntu spin-off with XBMC as it’s focus. It uses XFCE as it’s Desktop environment (which you will almost never see), so you save on that juice.

After I installed Ubuntu, my first step was to install XBMC.
If you don’t know what XBMC is, let me give it a well-deserved introduction.
XBMC stands for XBox Media Center, and started life of as that, a media center for the original Xbox.
But it soon stood all on it’s own, and is the best (in my opinion) open-source media center which sports not only those features you expect out of the box, but also add-ons created by many people to make it even more powerful.

XBMC is available for free here: xbmc.org

Once XBMC was installed, I first created two folders inside my Videos folder: ‘Movies’ and ‘TV Shows’.
I threw my collection of Movies into the movies folder, and TV shows into it’s corresponding folders, and each individual movie was placed in it’s own folder bearing the name of the movie. For instance ‘Zodiac.mp4’ would go into a folder called ‘Zodiac’ which was located in the Movies folder I had created earlier.
For TV Shows it was essentially the same, except, all episodes of a season were all dropped into a folder with the name of the TV show, not in separate season folders.
I will explain why in a moment.

After this, I dropped all my Music into the Music folder.
I didn’t bother with Pictures.

Once that was done, I selected Movies on the main screen and was asked for a ‘source’ for these files.
At this point, I used XBMC’s file manager to navigate to the Videos>Movies folder, and then, I selected the option that the movies were in the folders by their respective name.
I did the same for TV Shows.
After that was done, it automagically added the movies and tv shows to the list and they were now selectable through the ‘Movies’ or ‘TV Shows’ option at the home screen. And because the titles were in their right folders, it got all the information from the internet, so I was able to see a screenshot, and description of the movies in the list. NICE!

My next step was gaming – retro-style!
I wanted to be able to play all those old classics.
From the original Mario on the NES, Final Fantasy III on the SNES, and even Gran Turismo II on the original PlayStation.
For this to work, I began with the easy bit.
I created a folder in my Home folder called ‘ROMS’, and in there I created the folders ‘NES’, ‘SNES’, and ‘PS1’.

The next step was to get the emulators.
There are a lot to choose from, and to find the one best suited for you, have a look on Google, but here is what I used.
For the NES I installed FCEUX.
For the SNES I installed ZSNES.
And for the PlayStation I installed PCSX.
For more emulators, try this site: http://www.zophar.net/linux.html

Whichever emulator you install, please make a note of where the binary gets placed. They tend to install them in a few different places but if you are unsure, try searching for it using the search feature in Nautilus File Browser, or Google. You will need to know this later.

Ok, so next we go into XBMC and I then selected Programs, then Add-ons.
A list appeared with a few add-ons that were installed, but I selected ‘Get more…’
In that big list that appears, you will want to look for ROM Collection Browser.
Select it, and select install. That’s it.
Next time you go to Programs, it will appear in the list.
So, that’s what I did next.
The thing is, right at that moment, we have no games, and no emulators to even run them on, so it will be blank.
You probably will find that on the first run, it will ask you to create a collection. If not, press ‘c’ on your keyboard and create a new collection.
Here it will ask you some questions, most of which you can leave empty, but you will want to select the correct collection type (NES, SNES, PlayStation) and select the source.
One thing I found unclear, so I will try and save you some confusion is that the screens for the location of the emulator and the roms is identical, and it makes you think it didn’t take your first imput.
So, keep a close eye on the top when you get to this step.
If it asks for the emulator, then that location of the binary you wrote down comes in here, just browse down the location of the binary and click it.
Then when it asks for the location of the ROMS, select ~/ROMS/NES for instance. This is where our games will be.
The rest can be left as it is for now.
It will also ask you for extensions of files.
Have a look through the ROMS or copies of the games you have, and type the asterisk (*) followed by a dot (.) and finally the extenstion. Do this for both upper and lowercase. So for instance, I had two type of files, ones that ended in .bin, and those that ended in .img.
So, here I entered this: *.bin, *.BIN, *.img, *.IMG
Linux is case-sensitive, so by having added both the upper and lowercase, I stop the chances of the files not being added.
Any files inside the ROM folders that don’t have these extensions, will NOT be added to the list.
To add a game at a later date, press ‘c’ on the rom list screen and select ‘import games’, then click on the down arrow on the small box that comes up to change from ‘ALL’ to either ‘NES’, ‘SNES’, ‘PLayStation’ or whatever list you have added and whose game types you want to add.
To make a new list for a new type of console, press ‘c’ and opt for a new collection.

But, the console games aren’t entirely ready just yet.
The problem is that if you start the game now, you might find the controller not to work.
So that’s what I tackled next.

Outside of XBMC, open the emulator, and usually at the top where you have file, edit etc, you want to look for an option for joypads.
Open that up and configure your joystick.
I can’t really help you here since I don’t know which emulator you use, but it should be straight forward.
Whilst you’re there, also set the option for full-screen mode since that was my next step.

Okay, at this point, go on, test it out.
Inside XBMC, open ROM manager, press up on your keyboard to set filtering options, select a game and press enter.
If all was well, like with me, XBMC should go into windowed-mode and a full-screen game should appear.
If you want to go back, simply hit ESC and XBMC goes back to full-screen.

Okay.
Next step was for all those PC games.

This is easy, install Steam if you haven’t already done so, and click on ‘Big Picture’ in the top-right hand corner.
Now Steam looks more like a media center, and next I clicked on the gear at the top to enter the settings, clicked on controller, and then the option to edit the controls.
Just click on the list and configure each button, and at the end click done.
Steam is now compatible and can be controlled with your controller.

But I still have to use my keyboard and mouse when using Crusader Kings II.
I went ahead to fix that next.
For this, I went for AntiMicro.
This application basically maps controller buttons to keyboard input, or mouse input.
I simply created a ‘Crusader Kings II’ profile, then pressed a button on my joypad to see which button that was (it lights up the button you pressed), and mapped that to keyboard keys. I did the same for the digital sticks to map mouse movements, tested, and done! Then saved the file.
Now Crusader Kings works perfectly fine (still not the same as keyboard and mouse but that’s expected).
I could do this for every game I want and fire it up when I play.

The exciting moment came when I installed AutoKey for XBMC.
With this add-on, I was able to start Steam right from XBMC, and when it closed, it would come back to XBMC. Therefore, all integrated.
The details of which I got from here: Integrating Steam and XBMC

But for some bonus points, there was one factor that would limit people, so allow me to share.
I am obliged to say that I tell you this since knowledge is power and all that.
So that out of the way, let’s add even more crunch.

What you might want to do next is add 1Channel to XBMC.
1Channel is an add-on that allows you to watch any movie, or TV Show through XBMC from the internet.
It saves space on your hard-drive, and it still has support of those descriptions and pictures.
If you want to add it, it’s probably better to follow the guide here since it has pictures and does a great job at explaining.

With all this done, I accomplished all my goals.
And since I also mapped AntiMicro for XBMC, I can stay in bed and watch a movie, play a game, listen to music and even talk to my friends without leaving my bed.

Now all I need to do is build a servant robot and I’ll never see daylight again.

I hope to find the time to actually build this again and record the steps, but this was more a sharing of my ramblings.

So, why not have a go too, and show all your friends

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I am rather excited about writing this one, especially with the passion I have for this game.

Paradox Interactive, the company behind grand-strategy games such as Europa Universalis III (and soon IV), Victoria II and Hearts of Iron III have made their debut on Linux.

For those who don’t know what grand-strategy involves or what makes Paradox a company worth noting, let me begin by explaining a little bit about their games before I continue.
The Strategy genre in gaming is a very broad one, and the term is very vague. Spanning from real-time strategy like Age of Empires franchise, to turn-based strategy like the Total War series and the Civilization series.
The majority of Paradox games and Crusader Kings II included falls something along the lines of the Total War series.
The idea is that you are a king of a nation and you effectively rule every aspect of the kingdom.
But here is where the grand-strategy comes in.
Unlike Total War, Crusader Kings II does not really have a set goal, other than survive that is.
Sure it has a scoring system, but that’s more for those who find such a thing important.

You rule your kingdom between 1066 and the 1300’s (that is if you have no add-ons), and your role includes choosing the people in your court, arranging marriages and betrothals, waging war, making peace, set taxes, change laws, keeping your subjects happy, keeping the dukes and counts happy.
But the real objective of this game is to keep your line alive.
You start with a king of your choosing, whether you pick king William the conqueror of England, or the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, it is up to you. But you can also go more low-profile and become a simple duke of a small region.
Then you marry, have children and rule.
However, make sure you keep having children to take over your kingdom or region when you pass to the realm of the dead, because if your direct line dies out, it’s game over.

Sound simple?

Not really, children could contract diseases and die early, or in my case, your 24 year old heir dies months before your king dies, leaving your 1 year old grandson to take over. And as you can imagine, nobles find that a nice opportunity to really stir up trouble.
And don’t think that brothers and cousins are nice either. They are more than happy to kill you and take over the crown.
And finally, make sure you think carefully about who you pick to give titles to, their descendants might make you regret that move 100 years later.

I wish I could write more about this but it will simply take up way too much time, but if you are the type of person who would love to be king, this is a game for you, but it’s definately not simple!

Now, let’s get to the point.

Paradox Interactive decided to be the first (major 3rd party) company to embrace Linux and release one of their best games for Linux.
They have also released all their current add-ons and expansions for the Linux version, and their up and coming ‘The Old Gods’ expansion pack will be released the same time as on Windows.
But, they have also announced that the up and coming title ‘Europa Universalis IV’ will also be released for Linux too.

Currently the game is available from Steam for $40.
But at the time of writing this article, there is a 50% off sale on this game directly from the Paradox site, for only $20.
The link for this is: http://www.paradoxplaza.com/games/crusader-kings-ii#buy_game-tab 
You will receive a Steam code when you purchase it, so all the usual Steam goodness is included.

Now finally, something worth noting is that I also have the Windows version of this game which I have ran through Wine for some time.
But unlike a lot of other games, this game is unbelievably smooth compared to it’s Wine equivalent.

If you have some issues with speed with this game, please go to your ‘Documents’ directory, navigate to the Paradox Interactive and then Crusader Kings II folder, and then open up the settings.txt file in Gedit (or vim or whatever you prefer) and turn off trees, this will help most definately.

I hope you enjoy the game as much as I do and why not look me up on Steam.
Feel free to add me: ViaNocturna85

Enjoy!

If you are getting a little bored by the ‘Steam posts’ lately, please do let me know, but I thought it would be nice to be ahead of the game.

If you are one of those people who is super-excited about Steam natively on Linux, then you will soon run out of excitement when you realise that most games, and the really popular ones, are not yet available for us Linux users.
So how cool would it be if we could play Windows games through Steam on Linux so you have all those features of Steam whilst playing those games, and having your Steam friends know that you are playing those games?

As you can imagine, we will be using Wine for this to be possible, and in particular: PlayOnLinux, when you are done you should have something like this:

As the screenshot above shows, here I have Europa Universalis III inside the native Steam client. This obviously isn’t an official Steam game, therefore it is limited. However, when you play the game, you still have the Steam features

And when you are playing this Wine game, it does show up in chat exactly what you are playing:

Note how it states that I am playing the non-Steam game Europa Universalis III.

Funny enough, this isn’t difficult to do, and has many advantages.
Rather than having your games scattered around, you can have all your games, Linux or Windows inside one client: Steam.
So let’s look how I did it.

For ease and convenience, I used PlayOnLinux.
This is a pretty Wine GUI and allows you to make seperate Wine bottles and install games from a list or manually with minimal effort. For more information on PlayOnLinux, have a look at another post as I won’t be covering that here.

If you have PlayOnLinux installed and have some games running on it, you are ready to go. I do recommend having a few games (or just one) installed through PlayOnLinux before you begin.

Begin by creating a directory in your home folder which I am calling ‘.POLGames’.
I am using the .(dot) in front of the folder name to keep it hidden and keep my home directory clean.

Next, you will want to keep that folder open, then fire up PlayOnLinux.
Select the game you want to add to Steam and click on ‘Create a shortcut’ on the right-hand panel.
This should have created a shortcut to that game on your Desktop.

Right-click on the shortcut and click on ‘Properties’ and then you should see ‘Command’ under the name, and description. This should be filled in by a line typically starting with ‘/usr/share/playonlinux –run …’.
Select that entire line and copy it (Ctrl+C) as we will need this later.
Then close that window and drag the shortcut to the directory we created, in my example ‘.POLGames’.

Now open Steam for Linux.

Click on ‘Library’ and at the bottom click on ‘+ ADD A GAME’ and then ‘Add a Non-Steam Game’.

You should have a window open which takes a moment to populate.
When it is done, look through this list and see if the game is listed and add it, if it is not listed, don’t worry, we will add it manually.

Click on ‘Browse’ and go to ‘/home/USERNAME/.POLGames/’ (if you used .POLGames, otherwise whatever you called the directory). You can move up a directory by clicking on the icon of a folder and an up arrow at the top.

You should find all the .desktop files of games you have added there earlier from the created shortcuts you placed in there earlier.

Select the game you want to add and click ‘Open’.

If all went well, then you should have it at the bottom of your games list.
If the name is incorrect, you can change it in a minute.

Next we need to change the run command since it will just open PlayOnLinux if you click ‘Play’.

Now right-click the game you added to the list in Steam and select ‘Properties’.
This should open the ‘shortcut’ menu.

Here you should see a button named ‘CHOOSE ICON…’, the name of the game, ‘Target’, ‘Start In…’ and a button named ‘CHANGE…’.
If the name of the game was incorrect, change it in the text-box underneath ‘CHOOSE ICON…’.
Now then, underneath target you need to remove what is in that box and replace it with the line we copied earlier from the PlayOnLinux shortcut command.
We can leave the rest alone, just click ‘CLOSE’.

Now you can click ‘PLAY’ and you are able to play the Windows game inside Steam.

Have fun!

I am slightly behind with this news article, but if you weren’t yet aware let me explain about the news.

As you might be aware, Valve has begun their work on a Linux client for the popular game service Steam.
And not too long ago they were looking for experienced Linux users for their closed beta.
I signed up like thousands of others but did not make the cut.

The beta started a few days ago and some users on Reddit have already breached it.

This breach allows non-beta accounts to access the Steam client and use it.
BUT, before you get too excited, Valve already discovered this breach and it’s not much use anymore.
You are able to use this client to run games you already have installed on your system using the ‘Add non-Steam Games’ feature. But games on Steam for Linux are unavailable for those who do not have a non-beta account.

The question has become whether this will have repercussions or not.
Will this breach make Valve think again about Linux and it’s users?
My personal opinion is that this will make no change to their idea of Linux users at all.
The reason for this is that anyone who signed up for the beta will have been asked how many years experience they have with Linux, and those with longer experience had more of a chance to gain access. Also, those attending Ubuntu Developer Summit gained automatic entry.
Therefore, for Valve to be annoyed by this seems illogical, after all, any Linux user with more than 7 years Linux experience will be a hacker.

Then the question becomes, was this a publicity stunt?
Yes, this question has also come up, and I think it has already been answered.
I don’t think it is, purely because they closed this loophole very quickly and if it was a publicity stunt, they would have allowed it to be used, or at least by a few more people.

But, regardless of the limited functionality for non-beta users, let’s have a look at what to expect and what is already available.

Finally we can have our own Steam icon on the panel as expected, which integrates perfectly with Ubuntu, allowing you to access your friends list, store, library and more by a right-click on the icon. Unfortunately I couldn’t show you the quick-list, but here you see the icon in full glory on the bar.

"The Steam Icon"

Once you click it however, you get an error because you are not a beta user (at the bottom you will find the work around) as you can see below.

After you run the command from the terminal to gain access you will find it in it’s full beauty.
This is exactly the same as you can see in the Windows client.

What you will notice is in the top right corner you see ‘Big Picture’.
This allows you to switch to a full-screen mode which is similar to what you expect from a console version or a media center like XBMC or the like.
It was a little laggy at loading (Intel integrated graphics) but once you get to the main screen it was very responsive and fluid.
This feature is absolutely gorgeous and I can imagine many will use it a lot.

As part of the work around it was initially possible to install games like Team Fortress 2 using a terminal command. However, whilst it begins installing, it will stop with an error about the servers being busy.
I suspect that this is a polite way of Valve telling the hackers they won’t get very far.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, this is not going to allow you to download and install Games.
However, it is a nice glimpse into what we can expect from Valve very soon.
And if (like me) you want your games that you already own organised neatly, then you will find some use in Steam now, as you are able to play games you have added manually.

To install Steam Beta, get access, and attempt to install TF2 yourself:

Firstly open up a terminal and you can install the client by using these commands:

wget http://media.steampowered.com/client/installer/steam.deb

This will download the client, to install:

sudo dpkg -i steam.deb && sudo apt-get install -f

If you are using 64-bit Ubuntu, you will need the extra 32bit library and run the following command:

sudo apt-get install libjpeg-turbo8:i386 libcurl3-gnutls:i386 libogg0:i386 libpixman-1-0:i386 libsdl1.2debian:i386 libtheora0:i386 libvorbis0a:i386 libvorbisenc2:i386 libvorbisfile3:i386 libasound2:i386 libc6:i386 libgcc1:i386 libstdc++6:i386 libx11-6:i386 libxau6:i386 libxcb1:i386 libxdmcp6:i386

Once you have done that, you can run steam by using this command (please do not run it from the icon as this will not work):

steam steam://open/games

This will allow you to enter Steam without errors about being a non-beta user.

If you want to have a go at installing TF2 or at least trying, the command is as followed and needs to once again be entered in a terminal:

steam -dev steam://install/440

This resulted in a failed install for me, but feel free to try yourself.

A few years ago a picture was leaked from a Microsoft course for businesses selling computers.
The picture showed a slideshow regarding Linux. It gave mythological ‘facts’ about the limitations of Linux compared to Windows.
Mentions of no MP3 player compatibility, no DVD support and Word documents support, there was also the lack of games.

Nowadays we know that MP3 players work perfect and DVD support is most often out of the box.
But gaming seems to still be a reason for many people to not use Linux.

I want to introduce those new to Linux to the choices they have for gaming on Linux.
It’s actually a lot easier than you may think.

So, let’s see what options we have!

Native Linux Games

By native we mean games that were made for Linux.
These usually come in the form of .deb files (or .rpm if your using a RedHat based system) a .bin file or a .run file.
The good side to this is that there are no difficult steps to follow, and you know they run optimally on Linux.

The downside to native Linux games are…well…the real popular games are mostly absent in this list.
But really, that depends on what type of person you are.
I have to admit, I play games neither for their graphics, nor their popularity.
If a game has a great story, or is just great fun to play, then I’m very interested.

If you are a person who absolutely loves first person shooters. Then Linux is heaven for you. As the amount of FPS in the Software Center and websites for Linux is rediculous.
But, if you are a person who wants to keep up with the latest trends in games, then you will find Linux somewhat lacking.
But, there are other options for you.

Wine

Wine stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator.
And what it does not do (since so many people seem to think this), is to emulate Windows a bit like VirtualBox or VMWare.
What it does is convert the signals it gets from programs or games to native Linux equivalents.
This makes sense, since many report that many programs and games designed for Windows run better through Wine. This would not happen if it was an emulator since it would require the Windows system resources which run on top of the Linux ones, making it do more than Windows alone, and therefore run slower.

However, Wine runs Windows apps on Linux, that’s the point.
But before you get all excited, this does not mean that whatever you throw at it will work.
There are a few programs and apps that simply do not work.
Luckily for you, Wine has come a long way since it’s beginnings and there is a far greater chance in something working, than not working.

The upside to Wine is that it’s free, works for games and programs alike and has a fantastic community behind it.
They have an AppDB(Database) which means you can search for a program or game on there to see if it works well or not.

The downside to Wine is that it’s not for the faint hearted.
Whilst it’s not rocket science and if your quite comfortable on Linux it’s not too difficult to use, for new beginners it’s quite difficult.
Also, it’s fairly bare boned.
Especially with games you will find that you need to install extra components such as DirectX in order to get games to work.

Crossover Games (Non-free)

If you are willing to pay money to get games to work with minimal trouble and some commercial support for when it’s not working, then maybe Crossover Games is something worth considering.
Crossover Games is an application built on top of Wine.
It allows you to select a game from a list within the application (not all games are listed) and follow three small steps and it will set up the game with the correct version of Wine, all necessary drivers or additional programs it needs, and without needing to grab headache tablets your game will be set up ready for you to play.
You can also visit their site (all links at the bottom of this post) and if you find a game you want to install, there is a possibility you only have to click on a button on the page and it will install it for you. It couldn’t be easier.

The upside to Crossover Games is the ease with which you can get games to install and work. You don’t need to worry about using Wine, installing extra components since it’s all done for you. You also get great support, and because you pay, it’s like any commercial support, it is answered as quickly as possible.

The downside to Crossover Games is that it costs money. Although there is a demo available, the fact that it’s based on Wine (which is free) and you basically pay to ease it’s use, makes you want to think again. Don’t get me wrong, support is good, and I have used it happily for sometime, but if you already paid for the game, you might not want to pay for having to play it.

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is like Crossover Games in it’s aim, except it is built by a community rather than a company, it doesn’t have commercial support and it’s free.
PlayOnLinux is also built on top of Wine, and makes installing games a breeze.
You select a game from the list, and it will install the correct version of Wine, necessary drivers and components and makes it ready for you so you can just play the game rather than trying to get it to work.
Sometimes you will have a game that isn’t listed, and if you find it works on Wine through their AppDB, you also have the option to install it manually.

The upside of PlayOnLinux is the ease with which you can install games, and it’s great community support. The list of games is big and always growing with the latest games on the list. I also find an upside that you can remove the shortcuts on your Desktop if you like since it makes a nice list of the games you have installed available when you open PlayOnLinux, and you can just click on one and then click on Play to start the game.

The downside to PlayOnLinux is it’s support. Some installers are not always clear or sometimes outdated. However 99% of the times it works perfectly.

My recommended choice:

Since native Linux games are obviously the best choice, I’m going to exclude that from my choice as it would always be number one.

Out of the remaining three my choice would be:

PlayOnLinux

I have found myself using PlayOnLinux for all Windows games that work.
If a game is not in the list, I install it using PlayOnLinux manually just for organisation.
When a game is listed it’s a case of Next Next Next Finish and you can’t argue with that.
Whether you play World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Call of Duty series, Fifa or anything else, you will find PlayOnLinux perfect!

Regarding non-listed games:
If you have a game and it’s not in the list, don’t dispair. Go to the Wine AppDB in the link at the bottom and check whether it works, and on which version of Wine.
Then using PlayOnLinux in the games list at the bottom click on the link for non-listed programs and set up a new prefix (a prefix prevents one messed up app from messing up others), select the version of Wine to use, what extra components you need and then install the game.

Please note that the version of PlayOnLinux in the Ubuntu Software Center is almost always out of date, so please use the link at the bottom to use the newest version.

Links

Native Linux Games

www.lgdb.org
http://www.penguspy.com
http://www.happypenguin.org/
www.humblebundle.com

Wine

http://www.winehq.org/

http://appdb.winehq.org/

Crossover Games

http://www.codeweavers.com/products/cxgames/

PlayOnLinux

http://www.playonlinux.com/en/
http://www.playonlinux.com/en/download.html

I have received a lot of comments about people who were not able to install Lotro on their machine.

In order to make this as easy as possible, I have written a small script which will automate the entire process for you.
Please note that you are pretty much a guinea pig since I already had LotRO installed, I wasn’t able to completely test the script. I have ran it without errors, but it was more overwriting my existing install.

Please feel free to read through the script before you use it (can’t be too safe) but please don’t complain about how ugly the code is, it hurts my feelings.

Also, I am not able fix problems with this script, it just automates the install, but I will add some common problems at the bottom of this page, if you encounter any problems, they may help out.
If you have a problem I haven’t covered, then feel free to comment.

How to use the script

First download the FULL installer from http://www.fileplanet.com/213014/210000/fileinfo/The-Lord-of-the-Rings-Online-Client-%28Free-Game%29 .

Then download the my script from https://dl.dropbox.com/u/4330555/lotroInstall.sh and place it in the SAME directory as the Lotro Windows installer.
The Lotro Windows installer must be unzipped and then make sure the script is in the same directory as the unzipped files.

Open a terminal and navigate to the directory in which these files are placed (E.g. if the unzipped files and the script is placed in a LOTRO folder inside the Downloads folder you would type ‘cd ~/Downloads/LOTRO’)
Then type ‘sh lotroInstall.sh’ and hit enter, then follow the instructions.

Possible issues

If you get the error ‘hardware texture compression support was not detected’, then this is a graphics card issue. This can be fixed by opening a terminal and typing ‘sudo apt-get install driconf’. After that, open driconf, click on the Image Quality tab and change the ‘Enable S3TC texture…’ setting to ‘Yes’.
After that it should load.

If you have a black screen but hear the music, or when you get to the character screen it all goes black:
Then your graphics settings are set too high.
This can be resolved like this (Although tedious):
First open Regedit by typing ‘regedit’ in a terminal and hitting enter.
Then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software  > Wine > Direct3D (if it doesn’t exist, create it).
Create or change the key ‘DirectDrawRenderer’ to ‘gdi’.
Then go to a folder called ‘The Lord of the Rings Online’ inside your home folder. Not the one inside the .wine folder.
If you are unable to locate the folder, then search your home folder for a file named ‘UserPreferences.ini’.
Once you have located this, open it with your favourite text editor.
At the bottom of this file are the graphics options. Find all the options there that are set to ‘High’ and change them to ‘Low’.
Also change options like bloom and lighting to ‘Off’.
Save the file and try and login to LotRO using pyLotro and see if you still have this issue.

I hope this helps some people, and if it did, enjoy the game!

This page is outdated, although still relevant, an install script is available. Just look for the post on this site for the script.

About The lord of the Rings Online

Out of all the MMO’s out there, there is one that stands out in my opinion.
Lord of the Rings Online is a beautiful MMO based on the works by J. R. R. Tolkien, and not based on the films by Jackson.

What makes this stand out more than the others is it’s emphasis on roleplay.
Now don’t worry if your not a fan of roleplaying, since the game is built with features that make it perfect for roleplaying, it certainly isn’t designed for just that.

In the past Turbine (the company behind the game) had shared this game with Codemasters. Where Turbine concentrated on the American servers, and Codemasters on the European. The game had the usual pay per month subscription and everything you expect from a game of this kind.

Fast forward to now and Codemasters are no longer a part of this venture.
Also, all servers are merged into a long list of worldwide servers meaning you are able to play alongside Americans if you are European and the other way around too.

The pay per month subscription has now been altered to a Play For Free subscription.
This means that you are able to play for nothing and still have access to everything(however, with sacrifices which I will get to).
If you so wish you can get a VIP account, this means that you pay per month or per few months and have no limits to what you do.

In order to make money, there are some restrictions to the free user account, however, in my opinion they have been done perfectly.
There are a few MMO’s out there with a free play model where you can purchase additional elements. However, in my experience they have led to unfair advantages to those who put their hands in their pockets. An example of this is for instance where certain weapons can only be purchased or special buffs meaning that you can never be as good as your paying friend.

Lord of the Rings Online does not work like this.
Their system uses Turbine Points. This is seen as a currency system whilst within the game, not being a part of the game as it is only used for the Lord of the Rings Online store.
There are however no unfair advantages.
Every player will earn Turbine Points, whether playing totally for free, or paying.
Everytime you have completed certain deeds you will earn Turbine Points, for fairly easy ones you gain 5, for more difficult ones you gain 10 etc.
With these points you can purchase horses, outfits, accelerators(in order to gain XP faster for a certain amount of time for instance) and extra storage.
If you are a saver, and don’t use your Turbine Points whenever you get them, it is even possible to buy the expansion packs with TP.

I have also mentioned the roleplaying capabilities of this game, but I will now outline those for roleplaying fans out there.

Emotes are an essential part of the game whether roleplaying or not. And there are many included, from laughing, to crying, to fainting and clapping.
But sometimes you may want to emote something that simply is not there. Well they even have that covered.
Let’s say I want look shady around a room of Dwarves. Well, in the chat window I simply start with ‘/emote’ (no quotes) followed by my action. Eg. ‘/emote looks shadily around the room filled with Dwarves’, this will then result in that specific emote being sent.

But what about music?
Everyone within the game can play music.
You just purchase an instrument (with the real in-game currency, either copper, silver, or gold) for a tiny amount of money and in the chat window type ‘/music’ and it turns your number keys at the top of your keyboard into music notes allowing you to play a tune.
However, if you are musically disabled like me, then you probably don’t want to hurt anyone’s eardrums. Well, there is even a way for you to play music you can’t really play.
Simply go to http://www.thefatlute.com/ which has a huge selection of music for the game, download your favourite track in an ABC format and then drop it in the ‘My Documents/The Lord of the Rings Online/Music’ folder.
Then in the chat window first type ‘/music’ and then ‘/play <abc file name>’ and it plays that tune for you.

Looking good is also a major part of the game. It’s not all about having the strongest armour.
If you are going to walk around, at least walk around in style.
Cosmetic outfits are therefore a big part of the game, allowing you to customize your look.

And what’s more, cosmetic outfits stand alone from your armour, allowing you to hide your armour from view whilst showing your cosmetic outfit.
This means you look amazing whilst still being strong.
And if you buy a cape that looks great but isn’t your favourite colour, you can buy some dye in the colour you like and transform it.

You can also smoke and drink to your hearts content, but be careful, you can get drunk and it makes walking difficult.

Another element that makes this game so enjoyable is that there is always something happening. Festivals, concerts, everything to be social when you don’t want to be crafting or fighting.

Crafting I won’t go into much detail as most MMO’s have this ability.
You can get a crafting skill that is made up of three different directions.
Two of those you can just do entirely by yourself, but the last you will require someone’s help for.
For instance, I am able to mine for copper, silver, iron ore, gold or whichever, then smelt them into the right substance, and then create armour out of it.
However, my last of these vocations is Tailoring. The problem is that the needed provisions aren’t able to be collected with my vocations. So in order to tailor, I must ask someone to provide me the provisions.

All in all, this is a great game for both gaming and being social.

Give it a shot.

The system requirements are a little strange. I have had a few people who weren’t close to the requirements but encountered no problems playing this game.
But here they are anyway:

Minimum System Requirements

O.S.: Windows® XP
Processor: Intel Pentium® 4 1.8 GHz or equivalent
RAM: 512MB
Video: 64MB NVIDIA GeForce® 3 or ATI® Radeon® 8500
Disk Space: 7GB available
DirectX: DirectX® 9.0c
Optical Drive: 2X DVD ROM
Connection: 56kbps Modem

Recommended System Requirements

O.S.: Windows® XP/Vista
Processor: Intel Pentium® 4 2.8 GHz or equivalent
RAM: 1GB
Video: 128MB NVIDIA GeForce® 6800 or ATI® Radeon® X850
Disk Space: 10GB available
DirectX: DirectX® 9.0c
Optical Drive: 2X DVD ROM
Connection: Broadband DSL/Cable

 Installing The Lord of the Rings Online

Firstly, if you have downloaded the installer from the lotro website, please discard it.
Although it is possible to use this, it tends to be tedious and very long.

1)Download the Lotro installer, this can be downloaded from the following location, but this is a big download and will take some time. However, it is significantly faster than using the official downloader on the lotro website: http://www.fileplanet.com/213014/210000/fileinfo/The-Lord-of-the-Rings-Online-Client-%28Free-Game%29

2)After it has been downloaded, don’t install it yet. We first need to have everything needed to install it. Open up a terminal and type in the following:
‘sudo apt-get install wine1.3’ without quotes and hit enter

After you have done this, keep the terminal open and type the following(press Enter after each line):

wget http://www.kegel.com/wine/winetricks
chmod +x winetricks 
./winetricks d3dx9_36

This will install the VC++ libraries which can be installed in the terminal with this command:

./winetricks vcrun2008

3) First unzip the earlier downloaded EXE file (I am here assuming it’s installed in a folder called lotro in the Downloads folder). I recommend the terminal for this. To do that, open a terminal and type the following, pressing Enter after each line:

cd Downloads/lotro/
wine LOTROSetup.exe

Go through the steps and it will install the game.

4) Now to install the launcher. The official Lotro launcher does not work well at all, so we use a Linux launcher to run Lotro well.
Head over to https://launchpad.net/~ajackson-bcs/+archive/ppa/+files/pylotro_0.1.15precise_all.deb

This will download a .deb file which will install pyLotro for you.

5) Either using the Dash or menu find Lord of The Rings Online (pylotro) and open this, you will most likely find it does nothing at the moment.

6)On the top click on Tools, then Options.
A new window will appear,  you should see ‘Game Directory’ which is probably empty, with a button and three dots in there. Click on that button.
First hit Ctrl+H to also display hidden files (those with a dot in front of their names) and go to the following directory:

.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Turbine/The Lord of the Rings Online

Then hit open until you are there, and save.
The program should refresh and you should have a server list, language etc.

What you could now do, is right-click on the icon in the Unity Launch Bar and  click ‘Lock to Launcher’

7) It is all set up now, but you will need to update it the first time it’s installed. To do this, have the launcher window open, click Tools at the top, then Patch.
Then when the new window has opened click on Start.
***NOTE*** There is possibility that you see a list of errors, ignore this, it does not affect the updates. You should also see a list of dots begin to appear, this shows it’s updating.

After you see ‘***FINISHED***’, then you are ready. You can make a new account at http://www.lotro.com or if you already have one, log in.

Extra notes:

I encountered two minor problems, both of which are easily fixed.

a) If you notice that when loading, your game displays a gray background and little squares, then you do not have the loading backgrounds.
I have taken my backgrounds and put them in a tar file which can be downloaded here: http://db.tt/OE9hvgAt

Simply extract the contents of that tar file to ‘.wine/drive_c/Program Files/Turbine/The Lord of the Rings Online/raw/en/logo

After that, you should have proper loading screens.

b) My character was just black.
If you have this, it means your graphics card isn’t totally dealing with the graphics, inside the game set the game to low graphics and it should be good again.

c) Adding ABC files – If you have downloaded ABC files, add a folder inside ‘.wine/drive_c/users/<YOURNAME>/My Documents/The Lord of the Rings Online’ called ‘Music’ and drop the ABC files in there. Then you can play them in game

d) When you start the game you see ‘hardware texture compression support was not detected’.
This is common with Nvidia and Intel graphics cards. If you have a Nvidia card, install the proprietary drivers.
If you have an integrated Intel Graphics card, open the terminal and type

sudo apt-get install driconf

After this, open driconf and under ‘Image Quality’ tab, set ‘Enable S3TC texture…’ to ‘Yes’

e) After logging in my screen goes black/screen freezes but can still hear the sound:
This one is a pain to fix, trust me, it took me the whole day to figure this baby out.
The problem here are the settings inside of LotRO, they are quite simply too high.
But the problem is that in order to set them straight, you need to be able to get to them.
And there's the catch 22.
If your screen goes black at the character select/character create screen, first start regedit from a terminal window.
Then click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Wine > Direct3D (if it doesn't exist, create it).
Create or change the key 'DirectDrawRenderer' to 'gdi'.
I am using PlayOnLinux to host my install, so the other options were preloaded and I'm not certain if they are important or not. I most likely will host my registry key some time.
The next step is to go to 'The Lord of the Rings Online' folder in your home directory, not the one in .wine or .PlayOnLinux.
Inside there you should find a file called 'UserPreferences.ini'. Open this file with your favourite text editor.
At the bottom of this file are all the settings for graphics. Wherever you see the word 'High' change this to 'Low'.
Also mentions of shadowing, blooms, and lighting set them all to false.
At the end, save the file, and close it.

Now open pyLotro and log in, with a bit of luck it should show the screen correctly and not freeze. From here go to the settings and select adv.graphics. 
There you can change graphics to your pleasing but I highly recommend setting them only as high as medium, and whatever you really do not feel you need, to leave them as low, or turn them off.
Otherwise, the higher you enable the graphics, the slower the game, and in worst cases, you get the crash again.
This is for both the black screen and the freeze screen.

Having looked over my previous post on how to get Lord of the Rings Online running nicely on Ubuntu. I noticed that a fair few things were left out or perhaps not explained well enough.
Therefore, this new updated post.

There are two ways you can install LotRO on Ubuntu, both require Wine.

1) Having the DVD box set and installing it from that.

2) Only having the free trial/free client from the website.

This guide is divided and the different parts of the guide also tell you whether it applies to DVD only, to the downloaded client only, or to both.

For a sidenote. I ask that if you are a person living in the EU, please don’t be worried that you can’t play for free. Just simply head over to the European site and download the 14 day free trial. I have been told that the trial is not 14 days but until the free to play implementation is in place (Although I cannot confirm this officially).

Installing Wine & Wine-addons (Both DVD and DL Client)

In order to play LotRO you will need Wine. Personally I recommend Wine 1.2. Although the wine version that is standard is also good. There is better support for more software with Wine 1.2, and is also the version this has been tested in.

If you do not already have Wine, you can install this using either synaptic or Ubuntu Software Center, or the Terminal if you wish to use that instead. No repositories need to be added. If you are using Synaptic or Ubuntu One Software Center, be sure to look for wine1.2.

If you are using the Terminal, simply enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install wine1.2

If you already have Wine installed, but wish to upgrade to Wine 1.2, just remove your current wine version, and install wine 1.2 using the above directions.

The next step is to install necessary addons which are not only needed for LotRO, but if you are a gamer, you will find these useful.

In order to do this, you will need the Terminal, you can start this up from Applications > Accessories > Terminal.

In the terminal type in the following command:

wget http://www.kegel.com/wine/winetricks

This will download ‘winetricks’ to your home folder.

After this is done, type the following command:

sh winetricks vcrun6 directx9 dotnet20 vc2005express win2k

This will download and install VC runtime 6, DirectX9, .Net 2.0, VC 2005, and set Wine to Windows 2000.

You will be faced with some familiar installation questions. Just follow them through and if you get error’s do not worry about them too much at this point.

After this, we are ready to begin installing

Installing LotRO from DVD (DVD only and requires Mines of Moria Expansion)

Insert your first DVD and wait for the icon to appear on the desktop.
Once it has, open the Terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal)

Now type in:

cd /media/

After you hit enter type in

ls

You should see something along the lines of the name of what is in the folder. In my case I got ‘CDROM’… if you have read it type in:

cd <name of CD>

In my case I had to type in ‘cd CDROM’ and hit enter.

now type in:

wine lot

And then hit tab…this will finish the rest of the exe file name.

After you hit enter, you will be faced with the installer.

Follow that right through and after it is finished, scroll down here to ‘Finishing installation’ in this guide.

Installing the DL Client (DL Client Only)

If you have downloaded the client from the website and it goes to your Download folder, you can follow this guide exactly as it is. If it downloaded in another location, you can still follow this guide as it is, just replace the references to the download folder, to the folder where you have downloaded the client to.

Open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal) and type the following:

wine ~/Downloads/lotro-setup.exe (please note that the installer file may have a different name, if this is the case, replace ‘lotro-setup.exe’ with the name of the downloaded file)

You should now be faced with an installer. Go right ahead and follow it through.

Finishing the Installation (DVD and DL Client)

Click on System > Administration > Software Sources.

(Please note, if you are using Ubuntu 10.10, this is found in Ubuntu Software Center, by clicking on Edit, then Software Sources).

Click on Third Party Sources and add the following line.

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/ajackson-bcs/ppa/ubuntu karmic main

If you are using an Ubuntu version before Karmic (9.10) then replace karmic with your version name.

Click on close and it will update the software list.

After this you are able to use either Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center, or the Terminal to install pylotro.

In the terminal just type:

sudo apt-get install pylotro

This will install a Linux LotRO login client.

After this, you click on Applications > Games > LotRO

If all is well, you should see the realm list being loaded, and you will be able to login.

Make sure that the first time you use this, that you click in the menu at the top, to apply patches. Once all pathes are applied, you are ready to play

Did anybody notice the hot deal called the Humble Indie Bundle?

Well, let me explain. Some indie games makers got together and produced a bundle of games which included Penumbra Overture, World of Goo, Aquarius, Gish and Lugaru HD.

These games were then sold together on Linux, Windows and Mac and you determined the price!

If you wanted to pay $20 or $0.99 thats up to you. Part of the proceeds went to the charities Child’s Play and EFF.

I wouldn’t try and get them now as they have stopped now raising over $1M!!!

Keeping with tradition however, they have now made 3 of these games open source with the other 2 being made open in the remainder of this year.

What I like about this except for the open sourceness of it all, is the radical back to basics approach that could change the way we do business in the future if it was adopted globally.
How often haven’t you bought a game for $40-50 only to discover it wasn’t even worth the money you would spend on a CD-R? Well this way you pay for what you think it is worth and it forces games to be of the best quality.
At the end of the day, people will pay serious money if they think it is worth it, and although many think piracy will continue to be just as bad if we went about business like that, you need to ask yourself the question, is piracy so bad right now because people want everything for free, or because they feel they are being ripped off when they pay retail price?

Well, I’m a fan of games…and in particular games that are up to date.
Thanks to the likes of Loki Games (no longer operating), there was a rise in games for GNU/Linux.
The only problem is, that despite having all those games, they are very much outdated.

Well, this led me to do a search around the internet for the latest games that are native to GNU/Linux. This is how they made my list:
I looked for games that were either addictive, highly graphical, up-to-date, or popular amongst modern gamers.

Let me begin with some old games from Loki Games, these need mentioning since I personally was very addicted to it. Please note that these are still available to buy online.

Railroad Tycoon II – For those that have played this on Windows, no explanation is needed. But if you have never played this game before, and like God-games, this is worth getting.
The funny thing is, I am not at all a fan of railway and train games, but I have spent countless hours on this game, it is extremely addictive and the graphics are not bad at all. The aim of the game is to create a company and by means of building railways across different maps (real world based) and the purchase of trains, you have to make as much money as you can. This game allows maps to be edited, and includes buying stocks in your company and upgrading stations etc.
All in all, it is a fantastic game!

Alpha Centauri – Another game ported by Loki Games is Alpha Centauri. This game is basically the same as Civilization (Also available from Loki Games), except it is based in the universe. You have to create a civilization to colonize planets and make once again as much money as possible.

A little less known game which is also extremely good is:

Penumbra – Currently Penumbra has 2 versions, Overture and Black Plague.
This is a first-person horror game. I have not played Black Plague as of yet, however I have had the pleasure to play Penumbra Overture.
You begin by finding yourself in a blizzard, you then have to go through the snow into an underground shaft and try and find your way out whilst also discovering clues to a mystery.
The physics and gameplay are amazing. The mouse pretty much acts as your hand and all objects within the game are completely interactive. You may find a chair and by clicking on the chair and keeping it clicked, then moving your mouse forward quickly and letting go of the mouse button causes the chair to be thrown. The background sound and dark screen completely makes this a very eerie game. You could compare the eerie feeling with the likes of ‘Silent Hill’.

Regnum Online – This has to be one of my most favourite games. For all those fans of popular MMORPG’s like World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. This may just be a great alternative.
The game is 100% free, which means you can download it for free, set up an account and play. No monthly payments. You can buy premium content, but unlike other games which are free but allow premium content, it does not give you a disadvantage if you don’t buy anything.
I think that this game is more like World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings online in look and feel. You have a choice of characters: Dwarf, Elf, and Human.
What is most groundbreaking is the division of the game world. The game has 3 small areas for beginners to level up and learn how to play, and then walking outside of that area just means you walk into an intermediate level where the monsters and creatures are tougher. And walking further lets you into a warzone where opposite ‘realms’ (these are like factions in WoW) meet and besiege forts and wage war. The overlapping areas are not noticeable only that I have explained may you be aware they even exist. The graphics are stunning and can be compared to WoW graphics and the music is beautiful. A highly recommended game!

Here are some games to get you started. They are by far not the only ones and I will be reviewing more. Most of these games that I have mentioned have to be purchased but the price is not high. Debian files are as far as I’m aware not available for any of these, but the installers provided should make it easy. If you have any problems, please feel free to ask me for instructions.