I have two machines I’m screening games for — the OLPC XO-1 running Arch, and the AMD64 running Ubuntu 32-bit. The OLPC is partly for my own amusement, and because its hardware limitations seem to limit it to anything pre-GTK2, which makes it interesting to me. And I’m revisiting a lot of games that are easily installed and configured on a 32-bit Ubuntu system, because one of the Ubuntu newcomers I am mentoring is a gamer using a machine that is close to that (closer than anything else I own, that is — my lowly 2Ghz with an XPress 200m doesn’t really compare to a dual core with an X1400 ).
For the XO I found that xgalaga++ out of the Arch repositories is just about perfect. It looks good, installs easily and doesn’t suffer a performance hit at 430Mhz. (The Hyperspace version is a better game, by the way.) This is what I will play when I’m traveling around on the train (Japanese trains are magnificent, by the way. I love them).
Originally I had wanted to put GTK2-type games on it, but they seemed rather sluggish. Things like Freeciv and some others installed fine, but sputtered along at an unacceptable rate.
The problem that I have with games at this level is that they either (a) look like crap, or (b) are unmaintained and not really in a usable state. Both are dealbreakers for me, since I want something that looks fairly good and is fun to play too. Part of this is for my own offline amusement, and part because the machine is occasionally a topic of discussion. Something that looks crappy or isn’t really functional doesn’t impress.
On the Ubuntu side of the house, I want anything that installs easily (in other words, through Add/Remove Programs, when possible), and is a hoot to play. Things like Armagetron AD, Warsow, Wormux and Tremulous are perfect, since it’s really only a matter of downloading and clicking the icon. For a newcomer, that’s ideal.
I’ve tried Chromium and Critical Mass, Neverball and Neverputt, and a few others. They all run smoothly for me, so I expect they’ll be like liquid glass on a still-faster machine. Since the owner is a veteran FPS gamer (and a Halo3 guru, I should add), things like Wolfenstein ET and Sauerbraten might also be interesting.
I looked over my old post about games, and I’m considering things like Astromenace and vDrift, but those require a little more effort to get into place. My goal at this point is to make Linux as painless as possible, until natural curiosity causes the press of desire to outweigh the frustration of technical inexpertise.
Either way, for either machine, if you have any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them. Low-end games would be more for my own amusement, but the high-end games would be perfect if they don’t come with an egregious learning curve.