Hey everyone! You remember that funny operating system called Linux? Well, earlier this year Valve launched a Steam client for Linux and it’s been getting more and more traction. There are now more than 100 games available for Linux gamers and an overwhelming majority of these are Indie titles. Valve has just a few of its own titles available though – Half Life, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike being the ones really worth buying. Now they’re adding a new one to that and it’s going into beta this week – Left for Dead 2.
The game will be released in beta mode for existing L4D2 owners and those already using the Steam for Linux client. The beta is a test for the Source engine to see how well it scales up to the levels of insanity that only a multi-player Co-Op Zombie-fuelled first-person shooter is capable of, as well as test out some new elements to the Source engine that enhance playability. You may recall that we first heard about the Steam for Linux client when it was confirmed that Valve had a working Linux port of Left for Dead 2 and actually showed it to Phoronix writer Michael Larabel.
The beta also includes a new feature – a scripting mode that players can use to control elements in the game. That means that you can control things like spawn points and build barricades to keep the zombies out of your little hidey-hole for a few minutes, giving you some time to mount an attack strategy against the undead horde. The Enhanced Mutation System (EMS) won’t allow players to create new content for the game, though, it’s just a way to mass-test upgrades and improvements to the Source code itself as well as adding an extra layer onto the game.
But this, I believe, is more than that. Steam for Linux had a very short beta run because so many people went through it, helped with identifying bugs and the client got to gold status even faster than Valve originally predicted. Beta testing for the client opened to the public through a sign-up process in October 2012. A public beta test started in December 2012, even though those already in the beta were already sharing the required files for the client and Valve saw quite a jump in the number of Linux installs between those two months.The client, not fully featured, has been available since mid-February.
The rapid adoption of the client on Linux installs, even if only accelerating in 0.1 percentage increases, is a good sign. And the beta of L4D2 is another one – this means that Valve may be releasing their other Source-powered titles later this year. That would mean both games in the L4D series, Half-Life 2 and its expansions, Portal 1 and 2 and even Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Linux gamers still don’t have mainstream support for AAA titles, but if Valve puts their entire catalog on it and supports the platform with future titles, that may change.
If you’re on Linux already with the client, you’ll see the Beta available to download pretty soon. Valve has also acknowledged that it needs just as many Windows and Mac OS testers for the beta, so if you already own L4D2 you’ll be able to try it out it pretty soon.