High-end and low-end desktop games

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 :roll: ).

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.

Aesthetics aside, I’m looking into xmahjongg and PySolFC, which are two games with about the same hardware demands, and are rather fun too. And they’re not terribly ugly either.

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.

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9 Responses to “High-end and low-end desktop games”


  1. 1 xabbott 2008/02/21 at 1:12 AM

    Have you tried emulators and roms for the low end? While using the roms does present some legal issues it would be neat to see what you could get running. I know I was able to get everything up to the Nintendo 64 running back in 1999.

  2. 2 matt 2008/02/21 at 2:09 AM

    Part of the fun of using emulators was discovering Japanese roms like Umihara Kawase or Rockman and Forte. On my P2 200 I’d use them in windowed mode with the audio disabled and listen to podcasts. As a side-note, some Sonic the Hedgehog prototypes are going to be released this Saturday.
    http://www.downloadsquad.com/2008/02/17/mindblowing-gaming-enthusiast-to-release-hundreds-of-sega-proto/

  3. 3 Tony 2008/02/21 at 6:09 AM

    I enjoy your site and saw your desire for more games. Have you tried http://www.playubuntu.com/ as a games source? I have yet to get into that site, but I hopefully will soon.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. 4 Dirk Gently 2008/02/21 at 4:12 PM

    I’ve been getting into opentyrian lately. Its a ported to Linux and it just fine on my 300Mhz laptop.

    http://linuxtidbits.wordpress.com/2008/02/05/light-burden-gaming/

  5. 5 K.Mandla 2008/02/22 at 10:27 AM

    Wow, these were all great suggestions. OpenTyrian is very cool — unfortunately, the screen on the XO makes it a little difficult to see what’s happening. I might save that one for something with a larger, less detailed resolution. I definitely added KoboDeluxe and PowerManga as well.

    I’m working on the emulator side too, but I’ve usually found that VICE is a big sluggish below 500Mhz. Not unusable, just not much faster than the real thing … and the speed of the emulator is one advantage for me.

  6. 6 James 2008/02/22 at 2:37 PM

    Definately check out ABA games[1]. Very fun, stylish shoot ‘em ups. Most of them are Windows-based, but they’re all open source. :-) People like Evil Mr. Henry[2] and myself[2] have made Linux compiles of several of them. I’ve run some of them on machines as slow as 300MHz; they play quite smoothly. (The slow down with lots of bullets is intentional, even on faster computers.)

    Also, check out Cave Story. Metroid meets Castlevania meets Megaman, or something like that. It’s a retro platformer. Closed source, but absolutely amazing. Some guy got permission to make a Linux binary; it’s been floating around for a while in various forms. Some person posted a link to a DEB[4] on my blog a while back. I haven’t tested that package on low end machines (or, indeed, at all), but the game ran decently on my 300MHz machine when I played the game in Windows two years or so ago.

    1. http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~cs8k-cyu/index_e.html
    2. http://www.emhsoft.com/
    3. http://ninjafrem.googlepages.com/Titanion
    4. http://www.box.net/shared/gu3bdo0vds

  7. 7 matt 2008/05/01 at 12:00 AM

    I’ve been enjoying teeworlds very much lately. Open-source multi-player, platform, action game reminiscent of Bionic Commando and Umihara Kawase. Double-jump, grappling hook, capture the flag, deathmatch, and team-deathmatch. No single-player and I can’t comment on performance other than it runs fine on my P4 2.4, 256 meg ram under Ubuntu and WinXP. It’s just extract and execute, I initially assumed checkinstall because ‘tar.gz’…

    teeworlds.com

    Recently changed the name from teewars or something.

  8. 8 Sean 2008/12/10 at 3:22 PM

    You might like vitetris. It’s a pretty configurable tetris clone that runs under the console. Dependency wise it only pulls in ncures. I always make sure to get this before I download heavier games.

    vitetris:
    http://victornils.net/tetris/

    AUR for vitetris:
    http://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=14702

  9. 9 Teeworldsder 2010/06/05 at 7:20 PM

    I invite all of you to play this very nice game!

    See you at TeeWorlds


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