The Humble Bundle V has already been a huge success, mostly due to the incredible line up of games, but not everyone is entirely happy. One of the great things about the Humble Bundle is that it has brought a lot of games to Linux which might never have appeared on the platform otherwise. In return, Linux users have consistently been the top contributors on average to the bundle’s cause. It’s fair to say that an amount of trust has been established between both parties (the Humble Bundle and Linux users), but a number of people feel as though this trust has been “violated” due to the non-native Linux version of Limbo in Humble Bundle V.
The version of Limbo included in the bundle uses a Wine/CodeWeavers wrapper rather than running natively on the system. Those who have started and stood behind the online petition feel that this “sets a horrible precedent for the future, encouraging developers to merely put out unoptimized Windows binaries of their games running through a WINE or similar layer merely to con Linux users out of their money.”
A debate has been ensuing for the past few days about this. Some agree with the petition and demand to see a high standard maintain for Linux users, while others look to the history of Linux games – a noticeable lack of them – and are grateful that they can even play the game in the first place. The latter group fear treading on toes and scaring other developers away from making Linux versions for their games at all. Not to mention the show of disrespect towards Humble Bundle, calling it out for a loss of integrity despite the many games it has provided the platform’s users with. Many feel that the petition raises a valid point and support the cause, but perceive the online petition as a step too far.
The question about the Linux build of Limbo was pitched to the Humble Bundle organizers on Reddit and they gave some pretty valid reasons for the decision to go with WINE.
Jeffrey Rosen, the co-founder of Humble Bundle said:
“The LIMBO Linux build was created by CodeWeavers who basically take a custom version of Wine and tune the game to make sure it runs flawlessly. This is our first experiment with CodeWeavers and we are watching carefully.
If there are any bugs with the game, I don’t want people to think “oh well, it uses Wine” — these ought to be sent to CodeWeavers who should do their best to fix them.”
Richard Esguerra, also co-founder of Humble Bundle then added:
“We typically help organize porting for the games in the bundle, and it’s usually the toughest part! But we’re rabid about trying to provide the best experience possible, and native ports usually do that.
But in the case of LIMBO, our porting friends said there was some audio middleware that’s not easily supported on Linux, we decided to see if we could experiment with another solution that could provide a rock-solid Linux gaming experience. CodeWeavers took it on—they do highly customized Linux wrappers to optimize specific pieces of software—and the prototypes worked incredibly well. They spent a lot of time tweaking and optimizing, and it passed their QA and our QA (and seemed to perform more consistently than even some of the native ports we’ve seen).
But we get that software is hard, and so we’ll try to keep an eye out for any showstoppers. Hit up email@example.com with any issues and we’ll make sure CodeWeavers hears about any LIMBO bugs that need fixing.”
Ultimately it’s up to you decide where you stand with the petition – it’s not intended as a “smear” towards the Humble Bundle or the developers, just a means to raise awareness so that Linux users don’t get the short straw again if possible. Sympathies can lie on both sides quite easily for the reasons listed above, but where do you stand? Is the petition a step too far? Is WINE all that bad after all?