The LGP community

Greetings! My name is Eskild Hustvedt (aka. Zero_Dogg), and I’m a junior developer and community manager at Linux Game Publishing. This is the first of hopefully many (community-related or otherwise) blog posts from me. This time I’ll be writing a bit about the LGP community.

One of the great strengths of Linux in general is the strong communites that has been built up around it. Linux gaming is no exception, and we at LGP are very proud of the community that surrounds us, not merely because it is the community that pays our bills, but also because it is very friendly and helpful, and as such a great motivation while we are working on bringing great commercial games to Linux.

One of our most active community communication channels is IRC. We have one rather active IRC channel on the IRC network, namely #LGP, our general chat channel. Recently we have also started a channel for our new PenguinPlay games matchmaking service on the same network called (quite obviously) #PenguinPlay. The latter is still in its infancy, and as such not as active as the primary #LGP channel. In both of them you will be able to communicate with other members of the community, as well as numerous LGP employees. You will find our beloved dictator CEO Michael Simms (as lgp-michael), and yours truly (as Zero_Dogg) idling there pretty much 24/7, and most other LGP employees regulary (pretty much daily) stopping by, not to mention the large croud of friendly regulars that are usually more than happy to help, or just chat (about Linux games of course, though we *cough* some times tend to drift somewhat off topic). IRC is also a great way to quickly get support concerning our games (although it should be noted that it is not an official support channel). Not only is our IRC community helpful in answering questions about our games, but it also deserves our gratitude for assisting us. Just this week we recieved numerous reports about our recent Candy Cruncher patch breaking sound for many players, as a result of this we were quickly able to diagnose and subsequently issue another patch that fixed the issue.

Another good example as to how our community can affect our decisions is how we treated the community reactions to our announcement of the addition of DRM to our new games. The community had strong feelings and opinions concerning the subject (and rightfully so), but we felt that at this point adding a form of DRM was something we had to do. What followed was a storm of feedback from our community, which we greatly appreciated. Because of you we made large changes to the DRM scheme, in order to ensure that the rightful owners of our games would not be blocked from using their own game, even during very long periods of no internet connection. The input was received primarily via e-mail and on our public IRC channels (but also partly through comments on articles concerning the subject).

In the end, the community and our love for gaming in general, and on Linux in particular, is the reason we keep doing what we do. Without all of you, there would not be any LGP.

If you have any input, suggestions or questions for me, feel free to ask them here in the comments, on IRC, or via e-mail (to eskild at the domain linuxgamepublishing dot com).

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12 Responses to “The LGP community”

  1. Clean3d says:

    Another interesting post! While I have my own set of concerns about DRM, I think it’s fantastic that you are tackling the issue and listening to the community’s input as well. Having such a system (which I assume is a part of Penguin Play?) is definitely a sign of Linux maturing as a gaming platform, IMO.

  2. Tom says:

    I don’t see the DRM example as “good” at all. I don’t know what modifications you did, but the fact is: it’s still DRM. And DRM is never something a “rightful owner” wants.

    I bought World Of Goo last week after the Linux version was released. I had already played through the beta because it was made available to me for free. Still I bought the game. 2dboy got the point -> no DRM. And as you can read on their website today, people ARE buying… actually, lots of people are buying. And lots of comments about how they love the fact that 2dboy does not force any anti-customer technology on them.

    I bought a lot of LGP games in the past. Actually I think I own them all right now. But I will not support DRM technology :(

    Some time ago (shortly before LGP announced that they would publish the game) I contacted the Shadowgrounds porter. I was looking forward to buy this game and I’m really sad now that I won’t be able to do this because of the DRM issue.

    Face it: a few people copying your game is NOT the problem. Low interest, outdated “B” and “C” type games are you problem, as well as (in most cases) totally ridiculous prices. Take Sacred for example. While still not available, Tuxgames lists it for $50.00. GOG.COM (no DRM!) sells the windows version for $9.99. Recently the windows version was bundled with a gaming mag for 4.7€ (!). Really, having to pay $20 for this already hurts, but $50 plus DRM has to be a joke.

  3. michael says:

    What exactly is so bad about DRM?

    We are DEFINITELY losing money on pirated copies. Oh I know all the arguments about how ‘these people wouldn’t buy the game anyway so they aren’t costing you money’. BULL. Utter BULL. For starters, we have had support requests for games we KNOW are pirated. THIS costs us money. Our staff don’t work for free. At the same time, the bittorrent site we found our games on advertised their stolen version with an image loaded DIRECTLY from our site (costing us money on bandwidth), and so we changed the image to a message about how people were breaking the license and we would be taking legal action. Many people had no idea it was commercial software, and paid for a license. So I’m sorry NONE of the defences of these people hold up, and you know what, the argument is FALSE anyway. If they are pirating the game they are breaking a license agreement. The same people who do this are (sometimes, obviously not always) the SAME people who are up in arms in horror when someone violates the GPL. A license is a license, We do not violate the GPL, why should other people violate our license? Are you saying that we could just say ‘as we wouldn’t agree to that license anyway’ we can then go out and violate the GPL all we like?

    If people want to find out what the game is like – play the demo! We have a demo for most of our games.
    Our license is reasonable. We aren’t out go ‘gouge the customer’ we are making a loss every year, a loss that I make up the shortfall from from my own pocket. The estimate is that if half of the people that pirate games had paid for them, I would have had to spend TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS less money. That’s a lot of money and, I’m sorry, but its a damned good reason for me to want to add a little DRM.

    I want to know why you are so against DRM that you refuse to buy games because you have to enter a numerical key from the back of the manual. Do you also refuse to buy from stores that have security scanners at the doors? How about websites that encrypt your card details. do you live in a country that has police? All of these things are enforcements of rules. DRM is nothing more. We tried for YEARS to make people not violate the license agreement by asking nicely, and you know what, people don’t give a damn. If you want someone to blame, blame those people.

    But I would like you to justify how entering in a CD key is ‘anti-customer’. I would like to know what is so evil about entering a key from the manual? 20 seconds of time. That’s all it takes.

    You make a number of proposals to what the ‘problem’ is in your eyes. So lets follow your proposals.

    Proposal 1)
    We should license AAA titles.
    Cost $100,000 per title. Revenue from this – less than that. Result: we go broke within a year

    Proposal 2)
    We should charge less money because the games are already out on windows
    Effect: We will NEVER be able to keep up with the windows cost, as we have to add on porting time etc to the time of the windows release. We end up charging $10 per game, and after license fees, production costs, costs to pay developers, we lose money. Result: We go broke within a year

    If you have a better way, please tell us. We would love to hear from you. Seriously.

    Our target audience is not people who have Windows. It is not people that dual-boot. It is people that use Linux. For these people, who cares if the game is 4 years old on Windows, is is new on Linux. It is the first time they have had the chance to play the game, and at that point, the prices we charge are very fair. If you want to go order it on Windows and play on Windows, feel free. And as long as people KEEP doing that, we will never be in the financial position to be where people want us to be, and Linux will always be the second rate desktop for game playing.

  4. Patrick says:

    I’m glad you listen to the community. I’m really happy you changed your DRM scheme.

    For me the copy protection being used on a game is very important while buying a game. I’ll never buy a game that requires an internet connection. There are still a lot of people in the world that don’t have an internet connection at home (or at the system they play games on, think about someone who has a special game room and has another PC (for e-mail and browsing the internet) in the living room). How will these people ever be able to play those games?

    I don’t agree with such kind of DRM and that’s why I’ve never played the following Windows games: BioShock, recent EA games, games from valve or any other game that require an internet connection.

    I was shocked when I heard LGP’d be using DRM in the future. Luckily LGP listened to the community and you can now use another system to activate the game. I don’t have much problems with the current system, because everyone in the world will be able to activate the game at work, at school, at a friends home or somewhere else. You can install the game as many times as you like. Although I prefer the games to be released DRM-free, LGPs DRM scheme is way better than those from EA, 2K or valve.

    Because LGP listened to the community and their DRM scheme is way better than those of other companies, I’ll continue to support LGP. I’m not buying any any games EA, 2K or valve, because I don’t agree with their DRM-scheme. If LGP didn’t change their DRM scheme, I’d have stopped supporting LGP, but with this new DRM scheme I’ll still support LGP and continue buying their games.

  5. michael says:

    Thanks Patrik, its nice to know that we didn’t do it all in vain. I also hate DRM that requires internet connectivity. The idea of the new DRM that is being used on games like Spore or Red Alert 3 is just nasty, limiting the game to a certain number of installs. We would never go that way, ever! If I ever do, point me to this post and beat me round the head till I see sense!

  6. Tom,
    I am sorry to hear that you feel that way. Though I would like to hear what the DRM scheme limits you to do. You are able to install the game on as many computers as you like and you are able to copy the disc. The system assumes that you’re a legal customer if there is any doubt.

    I myself will not buy ie. music that has DRM, because that severely limits what I can do with it (I can’t play it on any of the operating systems I’ve got for one, and I can’t easily make copies), however this scheme does not limit any of those.

    In the end though, it is up to you what you chose to do, and you are in your full right to stop buying LGP games. We still believe that we listened to the community however, and made this DRM as unobtrusive as we could. We tried to stay without DRM for as long as we could, but sadly, as Michael pointed out, that proved to be a losing battle and thus we developed this DRM to include in our games.

    thanks – that’s the sort of constructive feedback that keeps us going :)

  7. Stephan says:

    Sure you are right on piracy hurts.
    > But I would like you to justify how entering in a CD key is ‘anti-customer’.

    And here is the point, what I think. Entering a CD key to start the game is one additional step, which isn’t needed if i would have a cracked version. It sounds strange but the joke on most moderen pc games is. It is “harder” to install a legal game, then an illegal. This is never good. I swiched to a console, because there you don’t need to type any keys or need of validating online or something else. Of course there are other copy-protection system installed. But they aren’t visible to the user.

    I have no solution for “your” problem, but I like the solution of lot of games wich are focused on multiplayer. if the user want to play online, validate the software then.

  8. Torbjörn Andersson says:

    > What exactly is so bad about DRM?

    There is, of course, the unspoken accusation that you’re a thief, but I reserve most of my bile about that for the super-annoying “You Wouldn’t Steal A Car” video that I get when playing some of my DVDs. (And now the web site they’ve been *begging* me to visit for more information since back when it still said “Under Construction” claims I probably only went there there because my ISP sent me warning to stop pirating.)

    But really, my main complaint about DRM is when it makes things more difficult for me. LGP seems to have made a real effort to make it as painless as possible, so I’m cautiously optimistic about it. At least, the Jets’n'Guns installation worked flawlessly after only one failed attempt at entering the product key. (I think I misread a “6″ for a “G” or something like that.) So when a game comes along that interests me, and it works on my hardware (and I can find it on the increasingly hard-to-navigate products page) I will probably buy it. And even if I don’t, I have no intention of pirating it.

    I still plan on buying Disciples 2 when it’s released. ;-)

  9. Patrick says:

    Thanks Michael. Very nice to hear you’ll never use a DRM scheme like EA ones.

  10. tuxedup says:

    I am interested in buying some of the LGP games, however I have some concerns about the DRM mechanism. I must make it clear though, that I have no objections to the DRM as described above. I think be able to to install the game as many times as I see fit on my own computers is a fair deal.

    However I am concered about internet access? When is internet access actually required? During the intallation of the game?, or during it’s running all of the time?

    Thanks in adavance.

    Just to note the games I am interested in being,

    Cold War, Gorky 17 and X3: Reunion

  11. michael says:

    None of the games ever require internet access for validation. They will use it if it is there, but if it isn’t, they will work with local validation only. This is one of the things we changed after feedback from the community.

    We have a FAQ at

  12. Patrick says:

    So, if I understand correctly you changed the DRM scheme for a second time.

    When you announced the use of DRM you said an internet connection was required.

    A few weeks later, I read somewehe you could now use another computer to activate the game. On your website there was a form where you could fill in your serial number, an activation code and your e-mail address to activate the game from your work, school or a friends computer.

    Do understand correctly and is the DRM scheme changed again? Is it not required anymore to go to another computer to activate the game if the computer you play the game on doesn’t have an internet connection? Can I just insert the disc, install the game and start playing without activating?

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