Rage3D Kombuting // Linux Mint edition

Author: Pete Vagiakos
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: March 13th, 2013


Wee, games... or not so much

Days passed, and I continued to tinker with configuration options and theming; it's one of the beauties of Open Source. There's so much variation that you simply have to try 10 different music players, and 20 different themes and whatnot. But, after so many days; I had to play a game :p As an avid basketball fan, 2K Sports' NBA 2K13 is a must for me. Every year, with every iteration of the game (in older times, it was NBA Live), I start a new season with my favourite team, the Phoenix Suns, and try to win the championship (please, no jokes about Phoenix's current state of affairs). So my first concern was to see whether I could play the game under Linux.

As you've probably guessed by now, NBA 2K13 doesn't have a native Linux port (as most games don't), so I had to see whether I could run it with Wine. And to do that, I headed over to WineHQ (http://www.winehq.org) the single most important source of information to see whether a game is supported. Guess what: it is! According to the site, the game has gold status support, which means it should work without any major issues.

So I proceeded to install PlayOnLinux, which is a Wine front-end that essentially creates a mini-Windows environment, different for every game you install. I made a new entry for NBA 2K13, copied the proposed settings from the website, installed the dependencies it needs in order to run, namely dsound (aka DirectSound), DirectX 9 and .NET Framework 2.0 and proceeded to install the game. This went down without any problems, so I run NBA 2K13. After installation, I was glad to see that the game run fine, with performance too. Slower than natively running it on Windows of course, but since the game didn't tax my GTX680 that much in the first place, I was able to run the game with full detail and acceptable framerates.

... not so fast. Up until last year, I used to play with keyboard and mouse only. Yes, proud member of the Glorious PC Gaming Master race here. Only console I've ever owned is the Nintendo Wii, and that's because I won it a couple of years ago in some competition I entered. To be honest, I was unable to use any kind of gamepad. I suck with them, always have, and it is the reason for not owning any console all these years. One of the reasons anyway... Anyway, this year, I decided that this should finally change. So I went ahead, and bought a Microsoft Wireless Xbox360 controller for Windows, in order to play NBA 2K13 because let's face it; playing sports games with the keyboard these days is brutal. Did I just say brutal? Well, you should have seen me playing before I finally got used to the gamepad. I had a 0-8 score in the beginning, and my first victory, against the Pistons? I actually jumped off my chair, celebrating :p

So, it was time for me to see whether I could replicate my success and my controller worked with the game out of the box. It didn't, hardly a surprise there. I started googling it, to see what I can come up with. To be honest it took me a while, until I saw that there was this driver, called xboxdrv, designed specifically for my gamepad. You see, there's already a driver installed in the system (using Windows-like terminology here on purpose) which doesn't work very well. So I downloaded xboxdrv, and installed it - you can find a nice little how-to here. Of course you would be surprised if everything went well, and I aim to please. So in order to load xboxdrv, you need to unload the xpad driver, which is loaded by default by the kernel and is not very compatible with the Xbox controller. In order to do that, you need to issue the command sudo rmmod xpad to unload the previous driver, and then load up xboxdrv. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't make the trigger buttons work within game, making my gaming sessions frustrating - the gamepad kept losing connection to the wireless transmitter too, which was also not very good. Finally I gave up and started playing with the keyboard, where I had other problems, since I couldn't map the Windows key to Shoot, as I always do. So I had to use another one, but at least I could finally play the game. At some point I will try to make the gamepad work properly, maybe I will have to make a special configuration file and load it with xboxdrv. If I make it work, I'll update this article with a nice how-to.

My next stop, after I settled playing NBA 2K13 with the keyboard was to see what the fuss was all about concerning Steam. You probably read on my past installations of Kombuting about how Valve wants to make Linux a viable platform against Windows, and porting Steam to Linux was a logical step. So I went to the SteamPowered website, downloaded the .deb file and installed it. And voila! Steam for Linux!

Of course the lack of games actually available for Linux is still an issue, but some games from my library were already compatible. So I decided to play some Shank 2 just for fun; I love both Shank and Shank 2 from Klei since I am an avid platform game fan and I thought it'd be a good idea to try it out under Linux. So I proceeded to download the game and try it out to see whether I could have any problems, which I didn't. The game installed and played just like its Windows version and the whole experience was trouble-free. I even tried Big Picture, which also works remarkably well.

So what's left for me to try? I also play Tomb Raider these days, and people have already reported running it with success under Linux (here's the video evidence) - it needs some tinkering with the Wine versions, since the latest version has a bug which prevents it from running, so you need to be running an older build. If I manage to play it, I'll let you know :)