LGP History pt 3: The long haul

With Majesy out of the door, and releases complete for Mindrover and Candy Cruncher, we began what turned out to be the long slog.

At that point, fresh from our completion of Majesty, we were convinced world domination was just around the corner and we would all have our ferraris quite soon. We had a number of copies of Majesty printed (no, I’m not saying how many), and expected to have to get a reprint within 2 months, judging by the number of applications for the beta test, and the enthusiasm shown by people.

Over the next few months, reality, and a certain level of depression set in. We didn’t need to reprint Majesty. In fact in the first 3 months we didn’t even sell a quarter of the copies we had produced, and after the first few months, sales begin to slow down, so it didn’t look likely that we would suddenly see a huge rush of orders. The optimism pretty much evaporated.

So, realising it wouldn’t all be parties and glamour and free money by the bucketload, we settled down to some real work. We had more projects going on, with NingPo, Soul Ride and HDB, and we had new ideas. One of the new ideas that we went with was to open a physical shop.

Not a lot of people know we did that. We opened a shop in Nottingham, that was selling games. I admit we didn’t just sell Linux games, we sold all kinds of games, but the idea was to get a bit of local publicity for Linux games, while raising money using sales of other games, to fund the development of Linux games. It also didn’t feel horrible to see a shop where Linux games were on the same shelves as Windows games.

To be honest it didn’t do that great. The shop was small, and the people we rented the premises from made vastly inflated claims of how busy the mall we rented in was. Oh they didn’t lie, but they neglected to mention that the figures for mall visitors also included people walking in one side and straight out of the other side, as it was the only direct route from the city centre to the train station… However we sold a few Linux games, and increased company turnover (which always looks good on the books). In the end though, it was fairly obvious it wasn’t going to be the cash cow we had hoped for, in fact it was more a cash sink. So we closed it down after a few months.

Shortly after, I had been invited to talk at LinuxWorld Expo in San Francisco, and on my return to the UK, found we had had a disaster. Overnight on the day I returned, our stock room (also our server room) flooded. Our premesis is on a hill, and a severe rainstorm caused a building uphill from ours to flood, and the flooding cascaded downhill until reaching our stockroom, which seemed to be waterproof on the downhill side and not on the uphill side. End result was that the water pooled there, causing thousands of pounds of damage, and days of downtime. 6 inches of water took several days and a quite elaborate pumping system to remove, and obviously while half of the electrical system was underwater, we couldn’t fire up the servers!

Luckily, the damage wasn’t catastrophic. while hundreds of games had been destroyed, and computers had been submerged, no game was completely wiped out of stock, so we had no mad rush to reprint, and no orders were delayed. Backups ensured no data had been lost, but it was a bit of a scare! We spent a good few days raising everything in the room up by 6 inches, so that if it ever happened again we wouldn’t have a big problem, and we even installed a pumping system just in case!

Following one disaster, it is only appropriate that we mention another company disaster at this point. Disciples, a great game, but unfortunately LGP’s DNF. It was around this point that Disciples caused the first of many resignations from LGP. Mike Phillips left the company after one too many late nights trying to beat the game into submission. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with Disciples, it is simply that you need a developer with just the right development style to be able to port it, and they have proven hard to find over the years. And so over those years, Disciples has been part-ported several times, leading to belief it will never be released. I can say for sure it will be released, I just cannot, still to this day, say for sure when!

Despite the downsides, the flooding, the game that refused to be ported, and the staff that left, we had successes. Postal 2 became the fastest selling game in its first month, and when we looked back at the accounts we found that we had, in many ways done it right. The company had proven itself sustainable. Where Loki had come in in a blaze of glory and burned out just as quickly, we had been around for as long as Loki, and we were still here. We were not as high profile, the games we ported were not the ones you see advertised on TV, but they were all undoubtedly as good as the games produced by Loki. Just because a game is high profile doesn’t make it good, and just because a game is less well known doesn’t make it bad.

So, we were stable, we were ready for the future, and we now had to make some decisions. How could we grow. What could we do to drag Linux gaming into the mainstream. And how could we do it without the blaze of glory ending…

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38 Responses to “LGP History pt 3: The long haul”

  1. Thomas says:

    It’s really heart touching to read all this. So happy that you didn’t let go despite everything that happened.

  2. Patrick says:

    It has nothing to do with this article (although: History of the banner on top of LGPs website), but I just noticed those mouse over effects in the banner on the top of this website.

    Have these effects just been added or is it really the first time I place my mouse on top of that banner? I can’t imagine I’ve never moved my mouse over that banner, as I have to cross this banner to close tabs.

    • Hehe, no, they were actually added to all LGP sites over the weekend. I hope people like them, as I spent all weekend working on the JS for it {;-)

      People keep saying that the LGP and TG sites are a bit old, so in my spare time, Im working on it!

      • Patrick says:

        Ok, I thought I was going insane. :P

        In my opinion it’s a nice effect you’ve added. Now it’s also easy to see to which game a picture belongs and you can directly go to its website. I like it.

  3. Max says:

    By the end of the century, LGP will have bought all the other companies, including google and be the biggest and most profitable company in the world. :P

    Hm, the stuff with the flooding was pretty bad I guess, but you’ve survived it after all.

    Ah, btw. could you take a look at RAGE by Id-soft?
    Now it’s probably considered a high profile title, but Id-soft is also not know to be Linux hostile, but rather Linux friendly. They just say that they probably won’t have the time to port it and that they don’t want to have the hassle with the ATI drivers.
    It might be possible to obtain their source without having to pay licensing revenues.

    Could you also tell me if “Shadowgrounds: Survivor” has ingame vsynch?
    My NVIDIA card is kind of broken and I can’t stand to play stuff without vsynch anymore (like X3), because that makes the card squeal like a pig…

  4. mateo says:

    Can you make Wolfenstein for Linux?
    That is great game.

    • Patrick says:

      Ááááááááárgh!!! I entered the wrong anti-spam word. Now I have to retype my whole reply. :(

      I’d also like the new Wolfenstein and the above mentioned RAGE (and the upcoming Doom 4) to be released by LGP.

      I don’t like id Softwares way of releasing games for Linux. They release their games for Windows and when an employee has some spare time an downloadable installer for Linux will maybe be released.

      This way I’ll have to buy the game for Windows and I’m supporting the Windows platform, instead of the Linux platform. I want to support Linux, not Windows, but buying a game for Windows counts as a sale for Windows, so you’re supporting Microsoft and their ‘operating system’.

      id Software now also has a new publisher, EA, who will release RAGE and id Softwares other upcoming games. I hate EA, because of the way they threat their customers. Their copy protection system is ridiculous.

      When LGP announced their copy protection system, a lot of customers started complaining, but LGP is a totally different company. Michael listens to it’s customers and proved he’s a human being. He changed the copy protection system in a way the customers like LGPs copy protection system.

      EA is a big selfish company that doesn’t listen to it’s customers. Complaining is completely useless. They just ignore you and when you keep on complaing, they’ll just ban you from their forums. Instead of making their copy protection system better, they even make it worse. When playing the upcoming Command & Conquer 4, you’ve always need to be connected to the internet, even when playing the single player campaign.

      I don’t want to support companies like EA and Microsoft, I want to support LGP and the Linux platform. I want id Softwares games to be released by LGP.

      Michael said:
      “As for the id games, I doubt it will ever happen, but we can always hope!”
      That’s what I’m doing: Hoping there’ll be an LGP release of id Softwares upcoming games.

      • OK OK I cave, Ive removed the capcha

        IF it makes the site unmanagable cos of spam, I’ll add in a different capcha. But for now, its gone!

      • kayman says:

        Rage is the first and last idsoft game released by EA. All their later games will be released by Zenimax (Bethesda)..

        @Captcha: Just go back in browser, reload captcha picture, write it to the form and send again. It do not clear forms for me (opera)

        • Patrick says:

          That’s great.

          @Captcha: That doesn’t work in Firefox. Firefox clears all forms when going back. At least, at this website. I don’t know why, but on a lot of websites you can press the back button and the contents of the forms will be saved, but on some websites the contents will be lost.

          • Thats odd cos using firefox I can go back without a problem on this site. Maybe some settings difference…

          • Patrick says:

            I’ve just tested this by entering some nonsense in the anti-spam box to get the error, then clicking back and indeed it works now.

            With the old ant-spam method it didn’t work and I always had to retype my whole reply when entering a wrong answer in the anti-spam box. The reply of August 27th I had to retype, because of the wrong anti-spam word. At that moment the forms were cleared when going a page back. With this new anti-spam method it works great. Entering a wrong answer and then going back, just remembers the contents of the forms.

  5. Arnaud says:

    I am also a little bit worried about the sales on Tuxgames.
    In fact, I just counted the number of X3 Special edition sold to Tuxgames (http://www.linuxgamepublishing.com/info.php?id=36&) and the copies available today at Tuxgames (http://www.tuxgames.com/details.cgi?&gameref=144)
    I am not accurate, but I would say a little bit less than 100 copies were reserved for Tuxgames, and there are a little bit more than 50 boxes yet available. Than means only 50 boxes sold.

    And when you look at the Tuxgame Overall Top Sellers, X3 Special Edition is well ranked (top of the second page), that means other games like Ankh 2 or Gorky 17 sold less than 50 units.

    OK, Tuxgames is may be not the main online retail shop, but this is shocking !

    • To answer this one I will have to answer wearing both my Tux Games and LGP hats on

      Firstly yes, sales of X3 special edition could have been better, but, thats life.
      Secondly, Tux Games had a bug that allowed us to sell the same copy many times. We sorted out the bug, but it still recorded each sale. We have way more than 50 sales recorded on that list to get it to that number. We sold number 3 about 20 times for example. We probably should repair the number on the highscore chart but really, its never been an issue.

  6. Max says:

    So, would you mind to answer the vsync question concerning Shadowgrounds Survivor, that I posted above?
    Or don’t you know if it has a built in vsync option since LGP did not do the port?

    And yeah, you should really go with recaptcha, I’ve never had trouble with it, there is even a version using audio material, for people who are visually impaired.

    The math stuff you’re using right now should be easily bypassable by bots.

    • Sorry I missed the question

      Survivor has a vertical sync option

      • Max says:

        Sweet, so what’d be the fasted way to get it? Ordering it directly at LGP or would Tuxgames be just as fast since LGP and Tuxgames are sharing the same physical building anyways as far as I know?
        Once a game is released for some time it shouldn’t really matter where it’s ordered, but right at the release date, there might be a delay of a few days between the different vendors I guess.

        Ah, nevermind, while writing this and thinking about it, it just came to my mind that it’s also available for download, so I’ll order the box with download option at tuxgames, play right away and get the box like a week later.

  7. Max says:

    I just informed myself intensively about the recaptcha service and the only downside I could find, is that they log all the IPs associated with the Captcha. (so they basically see at which time what IP accessed a certain site that is using repatcha, they log the 3rd party IP together with the website data)

  8. liam dawe says:

    Just a note, will we ever get an X3 demo at all?

  9. MaximB says:

    The new anti bot thing is so much better.

    I just wanted to know who’s idea was it to port “Candy Cruncher” and were the sells good enough to make profit ?

    Sorry people, but some ports really asking for an answer to “WHY ?” ;)

    • We didnt port it, we did the publishing only

      One of our stated goals is to help people get their Linux games to market, and we allow a certain percentage of our games to be smaller indie games if they are good enough.

      CC is a good game of its genre, so we were happy to release it.

    • Max says:

      Hm, I seem to meet you everywhere, Maxim, like on the Venetica Forums, there only seem to be you, me and the “Linux-user” guy who try to get a Linux port though. :(

      I wonder if tuxgames or LGP could organize a preorder action like ixsoft did for Ankh and Ankh 2 and also for Jack Keane. That preorder stuff was part of some “More games for Linux” action by Runesoft, Ixsoft and so on, which seems to have stopped now. At least I saw no actions by them whatsoever during the past few months.
      What they did back then was getting 250 preorders for each game, so that the game could be ported to Linux.
      Ah, well, apparently it was not just that preorder action that was organized by Runesoft, the port was also done by Runesoft, I thought Deck 13 would have ported it.
      Uh, well, I just did some research on the Runesoft website and I’m not sure whether they still port or not. They are working on a Mac port of some other Ankh title right now but obviously only for Macs.

      So, well, maybe you should take a look at “Venetica” and write some “important LGP business email”?
      I’d say that it’s worth investigating.
      It’s a role playing game, using a modified version of the Ogre engine.
      As far as I know there is no English version yet, but it’ll be released in October, if things go right.

      • The whole ‘250 sales and we’ll do the port’ did MONUMENTAL damage to Linux gaming.
        Can you imagine that any serious company would care less if we do a Linux port for 250 sales? Can you expect EA to even give us the time of day with 250 sales… That whole thing took Linux gaming back years in appearence with any big company that may have seen it.

        • Max says:

          Well, true words.
          It did bring three games to Linux though, which probably wouldn’t have been ported otherwise. (although those ports did not reach the quality that the LGP ports have at all. Shadows not working on high detail settings in Ankh, would only be one of many examples here.)

          250 Sales obviously are a joke compared to “Blockbuster Games” like Fallout 3 that sold millions of times.

          I bought Ankh and Ankh 2 but due to the lousy port quality I did not bother to buy Jack Keane, although I like the setting more. Additionally I found that the riddles were too easy when I tried the demo of Jack Keane.
          I might buy it when the price finally drops or when I happen to have too much money.

          Right now there is basically LGP which keeps picking decent games to port, then there is the hope that TTimo at Id Soft ports Rage and also the hope that someone (Icculus maybe?) might port the new Wolfenstein title (pretty unlikely), then there is the hope of eventually getting the UT3 client…. (lol, might become an inside joke like Duke Nukem Forever), Overgrowth will probably be ported by Icculus in his freetime (one of the Wolfire Devs is a friend of Icculus, so he ports their stuff) and then there is also that upcoming game by the Unigine Developers which actually looks quite interesting.
          And the only really reliable factor here is probably LGP.
          Overgrowth is pretty likely to happen (I talked to John from Wolfire about the port) and if the Unigine guys don’t drop their Linux support, then it’ll probably also happen. I wouldn’t bet anything on future Id titles though (especially due to the whole Zenimax thing) and the UT3 client has just been delayed so ridiculously long, that it doesn’t seem as if “Epic Games” had any interest in actually porting it.
          There also is the possibility of Natural Selection 2 being ported. (they use a self written engine and have been watching for portability throughout all their development, there is no plan of a Linux version at release, but if they have time they’d like to see their game on Linux)

          Eventually it’s not too bad to not get every game out there, since the general quality of games has dropped rapidly over the past few years, they all have shiny graphics but crappy gameplay.

        • Maxim says:

          I kinda have to agree with you, BUT if 250 preorders will get the GNU/Linux port – then we have no better choice.
          I guess for Deck13 , 250 orders is enough to do the porting.

      • Apopas says:

        If you check older “news” you’ll see that the mac port of the other ANKHs came few months prior than Linux port. So I believe we’ll see a Linux version of ANKH3 as well.
        Hmmm but on the other hand they said the mac version would be out by xmas 2008 but yet to be released and they don’t have it in their in development section as well :/

        Anyway, Venetica is indeed looks promising.

  10. Max says:

    Hm, I was kinda surprised when I tried to buy Shadowgrounds yesterday. I thought the released date was the 10th and checked out tuxgames.com, it said that it’d be sold from 17th and so I thought that for some reason tuxgames.com might get their stock later, so I checked out the LGP site and it also said 17th. I must have mixed up something there in my head, so I gotta wait another week.

    Could it be that the release date was set to the 10th at first and got pushed back to the 17th or am I just getting old?

  11. Kingpin says:

    1. Will that new Majesty be available in rental mode ?
    2. Will Soul Ride be available in download/rental option ? What with other games that you are only a publisher, not a developer (ColdWar, Creatures) ?

  12. Arnaud says:

    Michael,

    Just a question about Rune Soft Catalog :
    - 8th wonder of the world sould have ben ported to Linux, but due to poor sales of Northland, RuneSoft called it off.

    Why not try a port of this “budget” game, for 25$ for instance ? RuneSoft has a tool to port a game from Windows to Linux easily, even if some tweaks need to be done.
    Northland is very addictive. 8th Wonder of the world with multiplayer would be fine for those liking RTS games.

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