LGP History pt 1: How LGP came to be

We get asked this quite often, just what made me start LGP.

Back in the day, 1999, around august time to be exact, I was working for a fairly horrible company in London. I had been a beta tester on Loki’s Civilisation: Call to Power, but I couldn’t easily buy a copy from anywhere in the UK. Finally, a friend and I ordered it from the states. We waited weeks for the delivery, and finally a month or so after ordering, it arrived.

While I was waiting, I muttered and grumbled while at work about how I didn’t like waiting for weeks for a game, and someone in the office said to me ‘hey, why don’t you start up a company in England then, selling games for Linux.

I thought about it for a bit, and that evening, I registered tuxgames.com

I spent the next few months writing the website. It was a very basic website (some people accuse the current site of being basic, the old one was much much worse). I spent about £300 buying 5 copies each of the 4 Loki games that were available at that time.

Then I was ready, and at 10 seconds past midnight, Jan 1st 2000, the site launched, making us probably the first new company of the new millennium. I wasn’t there to watch it launch, I set up a crontab to remove the pre-launch index.html, and I was up at Colchester Castle watching the millennium fireworks {:-) I got back a couple of hours later and found that it had launched, so I sat back to wait for the orders to come rolling in.

It took days, and I admit I was getting a bit fidgety waiting to see if anyone would order. Mon, 03 Jan 2000 23:42:44 GMT is the timestamp in the database of the first order. For privacy reasons I will not name the individual who was the first to order, but if you ordered then, and you are in Morcambe, Lancs, England, you were our first order. He only ever ordered twice…

I used to run Tux Games more as a sideline while I kept up my day job, it didn’t sell too many copies, but there was a steady flow, and I was enjoying it. We sold mostly Loki titles, but a few others came along occasionally, games like Theocracy, or Reel Deal Slots, or the games from BlackHoleSun. The guys over at linuxgames.com and the Linux Game Tome had both spotted the domain before launch (how they found it, I do not know), and they gave us some great publicity, and really helped us get going.

Throughout 2000, we forged a close relationship with Loki, helping them out with their beta tests (we handled their beta test preorders, as their store was not set up to do it), and we had advance access to most of their releases.

During 2001, Tux Games grew quite quickly, there were three of us doing part time work on the company, and I was set to quit my day job to start on it full time. I had arranged to do that, when Loki started to hit the financial troubles that were to prove its downfall.

Loki almost took Tux Games down with them, when they withdrew our credit line, because they needed the money from us immediately, and we were left needing to find a LOT of money for games that we had sold in preorders, but our credit card processor had not sent us the money for yet. Thanks to a couple of friends who trusted me to max out their credit cards for a couple of weeks, we survived. My friends got their money back, and Tux Games stayed in business. I was fairly annoyed at Loki for breaking their word and putting us in the position though.

Although we never had advance notice that Loki was about to declare bankruptcy, we could kindof feel it in the air. At that point I had quit my job and was working full time on Tux Games, and the horrible thought crossed my mind that, if Loki went under, Tux Games would have nothing left to sell, and I would have to go and get myself a new job! I didn’t like the sound of that at all!

I had heard of a few games that Loki had been talking about maybe porting, and so I got in contact with Creature Labs, and Cyberlore, who were both really quite helpful. We got our first 2 publishing deals, and I launched Linux Game Publishing on Oct 15th 2001, and announced our first title on 12th of November, Creatures: Internet Edition.

LGP was officially in business.

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20 Responses to “LGP History pt 1: How LGP came to be”

  1. kayman says:

    It’s nice to read how had start one of my favourite company :-)
    Thanks for that story (and I am wating for second part :)

  2. Max says:

    Quite an interesting story.
    Now let’s hope for at least another millenium of LGP. :P

    Seriously, it’s so hard to wait for the announcement of that new title you are porting. :/

  3. Anonymous says:

    Interesting story. Awaiting the second part.

  4. Maxim says:

    I had no idea that LGP and Tuxgames have the same owners.
    It’s kinda strange … they both sell the same games (Although Tuxgames sell more) , could you explain how both of your sites sell the same titles and at different prices ?
    Wouldn’t it be more logical to have only one major website ?

    You started the article with :
    “Back in the day, 1999, around august time to be exact, I was working for a fairly horrible company in London. I had been a beta tester on Loki’s Civilisation: Call to Power, but I couldn’t easily buy a copy from anywhere in the UK. Finally, a friend and I ordered it from the states. We waited weeks for the delivery, and finally a month or so after ordering, it arrived.

    While I was waiting, I muttered and grumbled while at work about how I didn’t like waiting for weeks for a game”

    Now it’s 10 years later 2009 and still nothing has change except the name of the company.
    We still have to wait weeks for shipping without the option to “pay and play” immediately.
    Well it could be worse … it’s hell to order something from RWS if you live outside of U.S.

    • The reason we have 2 sites is simply because, LGP sets the prices of its games and makes them. Tux Games is just a reseller. It has to pay LGP for every copy sold. It is done this way so that the other resellers can compete on a fair basis. As they are separate legal companies, Tux Games has no advantage over other resellers. It even pays shipping to LGP, even though the stock stays in the same place, just to ensure it pays the same as any other company would.
      If we did it any other way, I expect our resellers would quit en-mass.
      As for ‘pay and play’ we are evaluating the situation. These things can’t happen overnight {:-)

    • Liam Dawe says:

      I hate to break it to you but i received my copy of sacred gold outside the us in less than a week about 5 days to be exact (including sunday) i fail to see how that is at all bad?

      I also never knew tuxgames was the same owner heh.

      • Maxim says:

        Well, it off course depends on where you live…
        As far as I know LGP and Tuxgames game stocks are in U.K .
        So people from the U.S ordering from LGP or Tuxgames should actually wait more then those who live in Europe ;) .
        In my cease I live between Europe and Asia (Israel) so I don’t really know when the shipment should arrive.
        Michael – have any ideas ?

        • Maxim says:

          P.S
          Liam : I’ve wrote : “Well it could be worse … it’s hell to order something from RWS if you live outside of U.S.”
          So I mean RWS (Running With Scissors) games (Postal).

          Just look at their order page for people who live outside U.S and Canada :
          http://gopostal.com/store/international.php – not to mention you have to add $18 for shipping alone.

        • Its all in the hands of fate if you ask me. Even after 9 years of working with them, it still sometimes amazes me when sometimes someone in australia gets a shipment in 2 days, and when it then takes 2 weeks to get a package 100 miles. We have to quote a pretty broad timescale for shipping. Id expect Europe to be within a week (tho give it an extra couple of days to be sure), Asia within 2 weeks (it really should be faster but, usually it isnt).

          • Maxim says:

            I never actually got it – where is Israel located in terms of shipment – Asia or Europe ? Could you check it out for me please.

            The thing is that Israel geographically “belongs” to Asia but in all world wide events like sports (Euro league) or Eurovision we “belong” to Europe because the many Arab countries doesn’t want to “play” or “participate in world wide events” with us – politics go figure…

            Also I want to say that communication with the community is VERY important and I’m happy that you made this blog.
            Also as you notice some of the questions in your blog are off topic , that is because there is no “good place” to ask them, emailing you about every question isn’t the best solution.
            Maybe you want to open a General Forums about LGP and Tuxgames ?
            That’s why you can bound more with the community and we won’t have to ask “off topic” question ;)

            P.S
            You got to do something with this anti-bot thing… it’s not working properly and sometimes unreadable for humans.

          • Nath says:

            I got my copy of Sacred Gold yesterday. The order was placed on 29th of April and it has been in shipping since the 2nd of May. More than two weeks shipping to Germany – slow mail.

  5. Maxim says:

    Thanks for your replay…
    But then why LGP which is not a reseller also sells the same games as Tuxgames ? isn’t it called “cheating” as both of the companies are yours ? (as far as I understand it).

    P.S
    This anti-spam is more like anti-human.

    • LGP sells them at the recommended retail price to set the expected price. To start with LGP didn’t sell direct at all.

      LGP is just one of several suppliers for Tux Games.

      It isn’t in any way cheating, both companies are separate legal entities, and they do different jobs.

  6. Maxim says:

    Hello again…
    On other topic…

    Except the many indie developers who sell their games directly from their sites (usually) could you please list all of the Linux games resellers (not necessary LGP games) that you know ?

    I did look at your links but found very few resellers that specialize in Linux games.

    I’ve bought Knights and merchants from LGP (along with other games) and I want to ask you why you ported “The Shattered Kingdom” and not the expansion and the complete game “Knights and Merchants: The Peasants Rebellion” which also includes in “The Shattered Kingdom” ?
    (unless I’m wrong – I haven’t got the shipment yet).

    About Postal2 , as you may know Postal Fudge pack has been released some time ago by RWS (that includes Postal1+postal2+expansions and mods), do you have any plans to publish this game (from tuxgames or other resellers) because it’s not easy to order directly from RWS for those who live outside U.S .

    About older ID software games like RTCW and others – unfortunately ID Software won’t ship their games to my country – do you plan to resell them ?

    And do you know when “Serious Sam 2″ Linux post will be out ?

    Thanks.

    • Well, Im not going to list all the ones I know, Id have to go through my site anf the tome and linuxgames.com and you can do all that as easilly as me {:-)

      We didnt port Knights, we merely licensed it from Runesoft, and then finished the port when they were unable to.

      We probably won’t be doing the postal expansion pack as the license for that is exclusively someone elses.

      Tux Games and ixsoft used to resell those older id titles, but they are now unavailable from distrbutors, and so we are probably never seeing any more.

      SSam 2, I don’t know as we werent part of the process. We have only guesswork, and the fact there was a beta, however the beta was a long time ago, and they did this with SSam 1 also, put out a beta and then didnt release the final… However I do not KNOW what the situation is.

  7. Maxim says:

    Sorry for bugging you too much…

    I’ve noticed that Prey at tuxgames costs only $15 although it’s Linux version was released only at 2008 (off course I couldn’t not to order this game at this price).
    Why it’s cost so low while other older titles costs so much ?
    Is it because it’s icculus port and not LGP port ?

  8. Max says:

    Hm, seriously, the shipping times of LGP, Tuxgames and other resellers are pretty strange.
    I ordered X3 a few months back with a german reseller and it took like 1 or 2 weeks to finally reach my place which was extremely long in my oppinion.
    Then i ordered Sacred at Tuxgames and it took 1 or 2 weeks, which was also pretty long but since it was shipping from the uk and so on, it was more acceptable.

    With the german reseller i had the feeling, that they were ordering their games at LGP first and then shipping them to me…
    The stuff i ordered with LGP (for example another copy of X3 :D, next order is gonna be a limited edition so that i own 2 standard version and one limited version) took 18 days from the day of order to the day of arrival…
    In fact it arrived today.

    Compared to huge companies like amazon, the shipping times are very poor, but i doubt that neighter LGP/Tuxgames nor any other reseller have a professional packaging and shipping system as amazon does….
    When buying something at amazon.de the shipment takes 1 day and when ordering something with amazon.co.uk the shipment takes two to three days.

    So well, the only thing I have to criticize are those shipping times..
    Well, of course, when ordering with Tuxgames you can download the games, which is a great service.
    I think I’ll just stick to ordering with Tuxgames as long as there are no promotional sales at LGP. Lets me download the game right away and then after 2 weeks I get my beautiful box with my disc and all the nice stuff.
    Although holding the printed manual in your hand right away is pretty nice too.

    And then let me remind you of making sure to bring us X3: Terran Conflict, Michael!
    I really can’t wait to conclude the story.

  9. Israel counts as Asia for shipping.

    We probably wont be opening a forum too soon. The whole of this blog is moderated (I just want to keep it from becoming a flamefest for the trolls), and we don’t have time to spare for an entire forum. I agree that it is important to communicate with the community. Before the blog we used to keep an eye on other forums and respond there exclusively, its nice to have something of ourown to pick and choose the topics (although, suggestions for topics gratefully welcomed, my mind dries up sometimes). I think that that may be the best idea for off-topics. Poke me and either I or someone else in the company will post a blog posting about it, if we can.

    I’ll try and find a better capcha system but this one seems to be the standard one used by all wordpress blogs, we didnt write it ourselves.

  10. Maxim says:

    Thanks for your replay.

    I understand you don’t have much time to spare for Forums – which has it’s good thing about it – you got work ;)

    In the meantime we are waiting for Part2 of the LGP history.

    BTW are you planning on porting some more RPG games for Linux ? tell us if you can (or at least hint on a game ;)).
    I think Linux gaming misses RPG games most, except NWN and now Sacred (book1 wasn’t that great imo) we don’t have any descent RPG games
    But I know of 3 quality RPG gaming in the making that will have a Linux client (not LGP port), Book2, “The Broken Hourglass” and “The Age Of the Decadence” which promises to be a true hardcore RPG. all should be released between 2009-2010.

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