Jun 072015
 

Kung Fury: Street Rage logoSo after the release of that crazy crowdfunded (and free of charge) movie [Kung Fury], there is also a game! Now that was fast. Made by the Swedish game developers of [Hello There], the game is basically a clone of [One Finger Death Punch], as many gamers have already pointed out. Not that anybody seems to mind that – me included. It’s a superficially very simple 2-button street fighting game, where one button means “punch/kick/whatever to the left” and the other “punch/kick/whatever to the right”. Don’t let the seeming simplicity fool you though. There is more skill involved than you might think…

So let’s have a look at the intro of the game, which strongly resembles an 80s arcade machine style:

Kung Fury: Street Rage; That's our Hero!

Kung Fury: Street Rage; That’s our Hero!

So with the use of some Direct3D 9.0c shaders, the game simulates the look of an old CRT monitor, just like the arcade machines of old had! At the press of a button or after waiting for a bit we’re greeted with this:

Kung Fury: Street Rage - Insert Coin

Insert Coin!

Another button press and we can hear our virtual player throwing a coin into the machine, which gives us three lives (after being hit three times, we’d go down for good). And then, whenever any enemy approaches us from either side, you just press left or right to punch, kick, shoot or electrify the guy. It’s ok, they’re all Nazis anyway. We do this with our pals Barbarianna, Triceracop and Hackerman standing around in the background – all three as seen in the movie of course, just like all the enemies we’re beating up:

Kung Fury: Street Rage; Beat 'em up!

There are splatter effects even!

That screenshot is from the very beginning of the game, where we can only see our lowest-end Nazi foes. There are some Swedish Aryans too, which can take two hits, then that clone chick with Kung Fury essence infused into her, which needs a more advanced left/right combo to put down, and more. Like the kicking machine and the mysterious Ninja, all as seen in the movie. As long as you don’t miss too much (you have limited range) or get hit, you’ll build up a score bonus too. Not sure if there are more enemies than that, I haven’t really gotten that far yet.

Actually, I did reach a new High Score while doing those screenshots accidentally, leaving both chicks behind me, pretty neat:

Kung Fury: Street Rage; New High Score!

A new High Score!

Now Thor might still be doable, but Hackerman will be one tough nut to crack. I don’t think I’ll ever make it to the top though, the game is pretty damn hard. As it progresses, it starts speeding up more and more, and it’ll also throw more of the harder enemies at you, which will require quick reaction and sharp perception to get the combos right. “Just mash two buttons” may sound easy as said, but don’t underestimate it! Like with “One Finger Death Punch”, only the most skillful players will have a chance to reach the top!

When you’ve got enough, just press <Esc> (on the PC), and you’re asked whether you really want to quit. In an interesting way:

Kung Fury: Street Rage; Quitting the game.

Quitting/bluescreening the game.

If you confirm to quit the game, you’ll get another shader-based CRT effect thrown in:

Kung Fury: Street Rage; Quitting the game

It’s shutting down…

I haven’t really managed to play this for more than 5 minutes in a row, which sounds like very little, but this game is extremely fast-paced, so I can’t take much more in one go. ;) It’s quite a lot of fun though, and while not as sophisticated as “One Finger Death Punch”, it’s awesome in its own right, given the Kung Fury cheesiness, the CRT look and the chiptune-like soundtrack of the game.

The game is available in both paid and partially also free editions on several platforms now, and while I’ve read that the free versions do have ads, the paid ones definitely don’t, as I can vouch for on the PC platform at least. So here are the links:

  • [PC version] @ Steam for 1.99€ / $2.50. Supports >=Windows XP, >=MacOS X 10.6 and SteamOS plus regular Linux on x86_32/x86_64.
  • [PC+ARM version] @ Windows Store for $2.29. Supports Windows >=8.0 on x86_32/x86_64 and ARM architectures.
  • [Android version] @ Google Play for free or for 2.46€ with ads removed. Also available as a [separate APK file]. Supports Android >=2.0.1.
  • [iOS version] @ iTunes for free or for $1.99 with ads removed. Supports iOS >=6.0 on the iPhone 5/6, iPad and iPod Touch.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll take another shot at number 3! :)

Jan 112014
 

SteamOS logoYep, it’s SteamOS time again. Last time I’ve tried to cover its basic operation, running Steam itself and a few independently developed Steam games. But what I felt was still lacking was support for any average Linux application. Don’t get me wrong, SteamOS isn’t meant as a general purpose desktop operating system, I know that, but since the game selection is still somewhat limited, you might want to look into other things you can do with this OS. Initially, the system is configured to fetch binary packages only from Valves own server. Let’s have a look at the /etc/apt/sources.list which defines the package sources for Debians apt package manager:

## internal SteamOS repo
deb http://repo.steampowered.com/steamos alchemist main contrib non-free
deb-src http://repo.steampowered.com/steamos alchemist main contrib non-free

So as you can see, everything you’ll install using apt will come from the Steam server itself. And let me just say that ain’t very much. Last time I mentioned that SteamOS is a modified Debian 7.1, so now we’re going to try and see how compatible the userlands of the two operating systems really are. As user root, let’s add the following package sources for Debian stable generated by [this web tool] to /etc/apt/sources.list:

## Debian repos:
deb http://ftp.at.debian.org/debian stable main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.at.debian.org/debian stable main contrib non-free

deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://ftp.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-updates main contrib non-free

deb http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main contrib non-free
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main contrib non-free

(This will become invalid as soon as Jessie becomes the next stable Debian release, replacing Wheezy. If you want to stay on Wheezy with SteamOS, change the “stable” strings to “wheezy”)

After that, also as root, run the command aptitude update to make apt aware of the newly added package sources. Now I tried to install a few typical applications, starting with a seriously fat one: LibreOffice, just like that: aptitude install libreoffice. This one was tricky, as it somehow depends on the proprietary AMD/ATi video card Xorg driver fglrx. Luckily, aptitude can suggest some alternative routes to solve dependencies, and one is to just replace the driver with the one from Debian. This might be suboptimal, but it works.

On top of that – and much more flawlessly so – I installed the Filezilla FTP/SFTP client, The Gimp for graphical content creation and even Wine, in the same simple way. Also, I did something really wrong, vile and perverted with Wine, installing the Apple Safari browser in its MS Windows version on SteamOS Linux. ;)

See the following screenshots:

So, I assume the answer is: Yes, you can turn SteamOS into a more versatile platform rather easily. There may be caveats and you may actually wreck your system doing stuff like that though. So whenever you’re installing new software using apt-get or aptitude, you should pay very close attention to what the package manager is telling you. Otherwise you may accidentally remove or break important packages on your system, worst case being an unbootable machine.

Real Steam Machines will of course ship with a recovery medium to restore the OS into factory condition, but I feel the risks should be mentioned at least. Oh, and running Apple Safari on Wine 1.4.1 really sucks by the way, crashes all the time. ;) Bad luck Debian doesn’t seem to have Wine 1.7. But smaller and older Windows tools should work rather fine.

So yeah, this opens up SteamOS to a wider range of possibilities. In my opinion, Valve should include the Debian package repositories to begin with, or rather mirror them to their own servers and protect their own modifications using repository priority protections to not let the user mess up things too easily.

On top of that – if I were a project leader for that – I’d make my team develop something like the graphical apt frontend “synaptic” in a simpler fashion, maybe like PC-BSDs “AppCafe”, so that people can install software in a super easy way.

I hope Valve is aware of its OS needing some more software variety for the targeted user audience. Most of the people buying Steam Machines are probably not experienced Linux users, so an easier way would be a good idea…

Jan 092014
 

SteamOS logoI’m usally always willing to try and play around with a new operating system, as I’ve now explored many Linux distributions, BSD UNIX distributions, OpenSolaris, Haiku OS, Windows etc. Now I wanted to give Valves SteamOS a chance to show me what it can do. The [Steam] platform is still the leading platform for digital game distribution besides services like Electronic Arts [Origin] or [GOG]. Other than EA, who focuses on Windows exclusively, Valve Software dared to move its client application onto MacOS X and Linux as well. While rather limited to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and higher, it was still an important move for gaming on Linux.

Sure, far less games are available on Linux than on Windows, but some AAA titles like X3, Serious Sam 3: BFE or Metro: Last Light are actually available amongst many Indie games. Some use a packaged Wine distribution, some are native ELF binaries.

Now Valve wants to let OEMs like Alienware, Falcon Northwest etc. build dedicated [Steam Machines] (PDF), that will ship with SteamOS (and Steam, naturally) preinstalled. Since SteamOS is not based on Ubuntu Linux, but rather Debian 7.1 Wheezy, a Linux compatibility layer – likely just a set of libraries – has been included to ensure that Linux capable Steam games targeted at the Ubuntu platforms can still work out of the box.

Steam Piston

The original “Steam Piston” prototype machine

But the funny thing: Users may just modify SteamOS to their liking as it will be distributed freely by Valve. Well, it’s a Debian fork after all! So you can already get the official [beta version] or some modified ones that loosen the restrictions like UEFI+GPT booting a little, and build your own Steam Machine if you so desire. Now I had this running on VirtualBox with 3D passthrough via OpenGL enabled. It sucks, but I can at least show you a few indie OpenGL games running, plus my notorious x264 benchmark:

The only game severely misbehaving was “Hotline Miami”, as it would make the whole display manager constantly switch resolutions, making the system almost unusable. Also, other games had problems running in fullscreen, all probably by courtesy of the VirtualBox Xorg driver. I suppose with a native machine and a “real” graphics card driver like nvidia or radeon/fglrx these problems would disappear.

As for other software, the Valve apt repository does give you a very few things, most importantly stuff like their modified Linux kernel source code, but if you’re looking for a wide range of applications like maybe Mozilla Thunderbird, or LibreOffice etc., all that stuff is simply not there yet. You do get a compiler plus toolchain, but what about easy binary package installation? It may be possible to just add the Debian 7 repositories and install stuff from there, but I haven’t attempted that yet. Not sure if that would be safe, as Valve backported a newer kernel and more importantly a newer libc to SteamOS. But I’m gonna try soon and let you know how it worked out.

Maybe I’ll also come up with an installation guide for the x264 benchmark on SteamOS, although it’s naturally quite similar to any other Linux system, given that an almost complete build toolchain is provided by Valve.

Now, given the still meager availability of top-tier games on Linux, the BIG question is: Can Valve succeed with their “Steam Machines” and really make game developers finally go for Linux, or will they fail with the big commercial game studios? Time will tell, but for the first time there is a really big player going for it, so we can have some hope at least, even though some people including myself have reservations about the trustworthiness of Steam. But if this works out, others will surely follow, and we might see bigger Linux game releases even outside of Steam once again!