LGP History pt 4: The end of the ride, but not the end of the company

January 31st, 2012 by Michael Simms (CEO and head of Development)

It has been 12 years since I started Tux Games, and a little less since I started LGP.

These last 12 years have been, to coin a phrase, “interesting”. There have been highs and lows, great times and bad times. But always fun.

The last year or so, LGP has been quiet, too quiet some have said, and they would be right. I will hold my hand up and say, ‘My bad’.

You see, 10 years of working 7 days a week had taken its toll. You can’t continue on a high energy rampage for 10 years without something breaking, and in the end I burned out. I started letting things slip, and I started to neglect the companies.

I take no blame for this, it was bound to happen, as anyone knows when they work so hard they neglect social life, sleep, proper eating habits, the outcome is inevitable. I have put in a massive effort into Linux gaming, an average of 60-80 hours a week for 10 years and an investment that totals close to half a million pounds out of my own pocket, so I consider blame to be the wrong word. Probably, responsibility is more the correct word.

It took me some months to notice what was going on, and even longer to accept that my burnout was going to kill LGP unless I did something about it. The lack of drive slowed down production of new titles, shipping, customer service, everything that I either handled or had a big part in helping with, was all being compromised. The answer didn’t come from Dr’s, and it didn’t come from telling myself to ‘just stop slacking and get on with it’. The answer came by accepting the new reality that my burnout was not going away and I was no longer the right person to be at the heart of Linux gaming. I still love Linux and I love Linux gaming. LGP is my baby, and you don’t devote 12 years of your life to something like this without being proud of, and attached to, your creation.

And so in recent months I took the decision to stop. Difficult doesn’t even come close to how hard the decision was. I lost a lot of sleep over it, and it was depressing, stressful, and disheartening, but I knew in the end it was the best thing for me to do for myself and for the company.

But I didn’t want to let the company die. Of course not, I have invested too much time, money, blood sweat and tears into LGP to just say ‘That is it, bye’. And so I sat down and had a long think about how to save it.

The decision was made to find and hand over control of the company to someone new, someone who could move it forwards where I no longer had the drive and energy. To that end, I selected Clive Crous to take over my position in the company.

Clive has been a part time developer for LGP for many years, having a hand in quite a few games. But his primary qualification for the job comes with his unrestrained enthusiasm for Linux gaming. I selected Clive not because he offered the most money for the company, as the decision was made that only a token payment would be made, so don’t worry I just decided to ’sell out’ . I chose Clive as he will bring about new energy and drive to LGP, the main thing it has been lacking in the recent past. He has some big plans, and I won’t steal his thunder by telling you what he is going to be doing, but I think you’ll be happy with the new and revitalised LGP. Give him some time though, things won’t change overnight. He has a lot of work to do, and a lot to learn about the industry. Treat him gently!

So, as I say goodbye, I would like to thank the many many people who have supported me over the years in keeping LGP alive. Not in the least I need to give special thanks to Mel, Gareth and Eskild, who have been there offering support, a dose of reality, and a kick up the backside whenever it was needed, and to all the dozens and dozens of others who have given up their time, often for nothing in return, to keep LGP and myself running.

I know Clive is preparing a hello speech, like this is my goodbye speech, and his posting will follow this one in a day or two.

And with that, I give you, Clive Crous, CEO, Tux Games and Linux Game Publishing.

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Server Maintenance

September 15th, 2011 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

In order to address some ongoing network issues we will be performing a hardware migration on some of our servers during the course of this week. Please note that our website and other services will experience downtime during this migration which could last a day or two. We’re sorry to interfere with your gaming, be assured it’s for the long-term good and we’ll try get it done as quickly as we can!

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New support system

May 16th, 2011 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

In order to improve our handling of support we have switched to using Tender as our support system. The old system, while it worked fine in most cases, did have some issues, and did result in some people waiting too long before they got any reply. The switch should result in faster responses and an overall better experience for anyone contacting LGP support.

While we have migrated the old support requests over to the new system, the old one had a few bugs which may have resulted in some of them being lost. If you have contacted LGP support and have been waiting a long time without any reply, feel free to re-send your support request to ensure we have it.

You can still contact LGP support using the usual e-mail address (support@…) and it will automagically be entered into our tender instance.

If you have any input, suggestions or questions for me, feel free to ask them here in the comments, on IRC (Zero_Dogg in #lgp on irc.freenode.net), via identi.ca/twitter or via e-mail (to eskild at the domain linuxgamepublishing dot com).

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Still alive and kicking

May 3rd, 2011 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

So, we’ve been a bit too quiet lately. That’s partly my fault, and partly because we’ve been busy working on our next port. I’m pleased to inform you that we now have a working build of it in internal alpha testing, and we should open applications to the beta test “soon” (for sufficiently vague values of “soon”). We’re also working on a few other things that we should be announcing in the near future.

Meanwhile, feel free to contact me with any questions or feedback you have (other than “what’s the port?” that is, because I won’t be able to tell you that yet, no matter how hard you try :).

If you have any input, suggestions or questions for me, feel free to ask them here in the comments, on IRC (Zero_Dogg in #lgp on irc.freenode.net), via identi.ca/twitter or via e-mail (to eskild at the domain linuxgamepublishing dot com).

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Patches available for X³: Reunion, X²: The Threat, Sacred: Gold and Jets’n'Guns

August 24th, 2010 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

Today we have released patches for X³: Reunion, X²: The Threat,  Sacred: Gold and Jets’n'Guns, to address issues with sound, and issues with some Linux kernel changes. These patches also fix the problem mentioned in the last customer service update. Use the lgp_update tool to update your games. Other games will be receiving patches as they become available.

Updated 26th of August: Patch for Jets’n'Guns released

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Upcoming community event

August 19th, 2010 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

Right, so, obviously this is long overdue, and I take the blame for that, been too easily distracted. But now it’s time. identi.ca/twitter giveaways was obviously the most popular choice at 65% of the votes, so that’s what we’re going to do. For those of you that don’t already follow us, now would be a great time to do so. We’re LGP on identi.ca and L_G_P on twitter. We’re going to be running a retweet giveaway this following Monday, the 23rd, ending on Wednesday the 25th at around 18:00 CET. We will draw one random winner that will be given a free copy of a downloadable LGP game of his or her choice (our current downloadable titles are: X²: The Threat, X³: Reunion, Sacred: Gold, Jets’N'Guns, Ballistics, Majesty: GoldShadowgrounds and Shadowgrounds: Survivor).

If you have any input, suggestions or questions for me, feel free to ask them here in the comments, on IRC (Zero_Dogg in #lgp on irc.freenode.net), via identi.ca/twitter or via e-mail (to eskild at the domain linuxgamepublishing dot com).

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Customer Services Update for August 2010

August 18th, 2010 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

Welcome to a issue 3 of the LGP customer services report for the LGP Blog.

Update: Patches are now available for X² and X³, the workarounds for these games are no longer needed. Ballistics might still need it.

Ballistics, X2 & X3: Problems starting on Ubuntu 10.04

Several users have contacted us concerning problems starting Ballistics, X²: The Threat and X³: Reunion.The problem is due to Ubuntu changing their system for managing ld.so paths and the games not handling it like they are suppose to. A patch will be released soon which addresses this problem, meanwhile you can use the following workarounds to play the games. Instead of just using the “ballistics”, “x2″ or “x3″ commands, use one of these to launch the game instead:


ballistics --withgl $(\tail -n 1 /etc/ld.so.conf.d/GL.conf)

X²: The Threat:

x2 --withgl $(\tail -n 1 /etc/ld.so.conf.d/GL.conf)

X³: Reunion:

x3 --withgl $(\tail -n 1 /etc/ld.so.conf.d/GL.conf)

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Which community events do you want?

April 5th, 2010 by Eskild Hustvedt (Community Manager and Junior Developer)

We have been hard at work on our unannounced ports the last couple of months, and I know some of you get rather impatient waiting for news. So, to help pass the time we’d like to see if there are any particular community events that you’d like to see. If you have other good ideas, feel free to suggest them in a comment. Please vote only for events that you’d be likely to attend, you may select up to three.

Which community events would you attend?

  • More identi.ca/twitter giveaways (65.0%, 43 Votes)
  • LGP trivia contest on IRC (26.0%, 17 Votes)
  • LGP trivia contest on identi.ca/twitter that is spread out over a week (23.0%, 15 Votes)
  • Play Majesty on PenguinPlay with LGP staff (18.0%, 12 Votes)
  • Play Ballistics on PenguinPlay with LGP staff (15.0%, 10 Votes)
  • Play Knights & Merchants on PenguinPlay with LGP staff (9.0%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 66

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If you have any input, suggestions or questions for me, feel free to ask them here in the comments, on IRC (Zero_Dogg in #lgp on irc.freenode.net), via identi.ca/twitter or via e-mail (to eskild at the domain linuxgamepublishing dot com).

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Getting gcc to warn you when you mess up stdargs

January 20th, 2010 by Michael Simms (CEO and head of Development)

Sometimes, you may write functions in C that do things in the same way as printf, using stdargs.

An example of this would be something like this short debug function

int ptf(const char *fmt,...)
  va_list varlist;
  FILE *fp=fopen("/tmp/debug","a");

This function isn’t rocket science, it just simply appends your string into a file. It is a simple time saver utility.

However, using it can be a problem. You can do something like this

int x=1;
ptf("Error %s\n",x);

And gcc will say ’sure, no problem’.

But running the code will always crash. It tries to interpret the integer as a string.

This is the kind of thing that should be picked up on by the compiler. And in fact it can be, quite easily.

In your prototype for the function, you would have something like

extern int ptf(const char *,...);

This is pretty standard, and no surprises there. However, gcc has the capability to be given a hint as to how this function should be handled. You can instead prototype the function using

extern int ptf(const char *,...) __attribute__ ((format (printf, 1, 2)));

This tells gcc to treat the parameters 1 and 2 as the parameters to printf (which it knows how to check for errors). It will then check parameter 1 (the format string) against what is passed in starting at parameter 2 (the …). If an incorrect data type is used, this will now be detected and flagged up as a warning, in exactly the same way as an incorrect type used in a printf.

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Becoming an LGP reseller

January 14th, 2010 by Michael Simms (CEO and head of Development)

We get a lot of emails about becoming a reseller for LGP. So, after dozens of individual answers to people, I’ve decided to write it all up into a blog article, so that the customer service guys can just point people here instead. Also, I thought it may prove interesting to those who are thinking ‘what can I do to help the awareness and spread of Linux games’.

We have tried to make it as easy as possible to become a reseller, and we encourage any company or individual who is interested to apply. You do not need to be rich to start a store, we have resellers that started with no advance money needed.

The different types of reseller

When you decide to become an LGP reseller, you have a number of different options open to you.

  1. Traditional reseller
    This kind of reseller operates in the time honoured tradition of buying stock from us at a discount, and reselling it to their customers. The same kind of reselling that has been going on for centuries in all industries. We offer these resellers a discount of around 40%, and we ask that they buy at least 10 games at a time. Not a huge amount, we like to set the barriers  to entry low.
    Of course, for the bigger buyer, there is incentive to buy more and get bigger discounts. The more games that you buy at once, the bigger your discount.
  2. Dropship reseller
    This kind of reseller is the type with the lowest barriers to entry. If you have a website and would like to sell LGP games, you can simply list all our games, right now if you like, and if you get any orders, simply have us ship them to your customers. You simply login to your reseller account, and buy the game with your credit card, and leave the rest to us.
    This system was set up specifically for those who want to ‘give it a try’, and who don’t want to spend money buying games they aren’t sure they will sell. Of course, with less risk is less profit. The discount for this kind of reselling method is around 30% instead of the 40% we offer for standard resellers.
  3. Download resellers
    This is, as many of you will know, our newest method of game distribution. We offer the ability, with some of our games, to buy a downloadable version of the game. The system for this works a little differently.
    When you sell a downloadable copy of a game, it is the responsibility of the reseller to supply the download to the customer. Whether that be as a disc image (which is how we supply the data to the resellers), an RPM, or any other method, that is up to the reseller. The reseller also needs to supply a key to unlock the game.
    The keys are the bit that you as the reseller would pay for. The discounts on keys are similar to the discounts for standard resellers, but they work a little differently. Instead of asking resellers to buy keys in advance (which they may of course do if they wish), we offer them the ability to buy ‘key credit’ and then buy they keys in real time when a customer orders a game.
    The simple web-based system involves sending a request to our webserver, and if you have purchased enough key credit, then a new key is returned, and you can then provide that key to the customer.
  4. Private groups
    While not quite a reseller, private groups are also welcome to apply for discounts. Examples of such groups would be Linux User Groups, or companies that run Linux desktops who want to buy lots of copies of games for internal use.
    Private groups receive the same benefits as traditional resellers. The same discounts, but just aren’t listed on the website as places to buy our games (for obvious reasons). If you are part of a group that would like to buy games for your group at a discount, you should set up the standard reseller account with us.

So, now you know what the options are, lets get into the mechanics of how.

The task of creating an account is actually very simple. You simply go to our website and follow the ‘Account’ link that you will see on every page of the site. From here, you can follow the correct path, and apply for an account.

Once accounts are created, we check them out, and authorise genuine resellers or groups. We are happy for anyone to apply, but if you are an online reseller, we ask that you have some kind of web infrastructure available for us to examine before you create your account. We generally do not open accounts for people who ‘will make a website soon’. Accounts that are authorised are generally authorised within 24 hours, or we will send you an email to let you know why they have been rejected (which happens rarely).

Each account is capable of any of the resale options described above, you do not have to open a type of account for downloads or for dropship. Just a reseller account.

So, now you know what is available, and how to do it. The last thing to know is why would you.

For three reasons:

  1. For You
    If you own an online or physical store already, our products make a good addition to the lineup, and with the dropship system, you can add them at no risk.
    Even if you don’t, then starting reselling LGP games as a part time website owner, or even to your local Linux using friends, is a nice second income, and probably better than all these ‘get rich quick through Google’ ads that you see all over the place.
  2. For Us
    Simply, because LGP needs as many resellers as we can get. We need as many people talking about our products as possible. The more games we sell, the more games we can make, and the more games we can make, the better it is for you, us, and everyone.
  3. For the Community
    Because games are, without doubt, the big block to Linux adoption on the desktop. Do you want everyone running Linux? So do we, and games help to make that happen.
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