GOG Games on Linux, Featuring Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a point-and-click adventure, a genre that was still very popular on PCs at the time of its release. Games like Beneath a Steel Sky had already used the format to tell Blade Runner-inspired cyberpunk stories. Given the usual state of movie adaptations, a Blade Runner adventure game wouldn’t necessarily have been anything to get excited about.‘Blade Runner’ really does make you feel like a detective

What Westwood did with the license, however, was inspired. The game isn’t a straight retelling of the movie. (Harrison Ford’s Deckard is nowhere to be seen.) You play a detective named Ray McCoy on the tail of replicants linked to vicious animal murders. While the story takes place at the same time as the movie and involves some of the same locations and characters, it plays out in parallel without intersecting too strongly. This was a great decision for a narrative adventure, allowing the game to evoke the movie without feeling predictable.

-Sam Byford, “The resurrected Blade Runner game is a genuine classic.” The Verge. December 18, 2019.

Blade Runner is currently on sale for $8.99 until January 2nd, 2020, at 2 PM UTC. And, if you are into free (as in beer!) games, and who isn’t, you could also download the previously mentioned Beneath a Steel Sky for nothing.

But, there’s a catch. GOG doesn’t provide much help getting these games installed on a Linux system. I didn’t see any instructions, but let me save you some time. I documented what I did to get it to work, and now, you have the very instructions that should be on the GOG website, but are somehow, inexplicably, not there. We’re going to use Blade Runner as our example, but while I was looking into how to get this thing running, it was apparent that these problems happen on the Linux platform with many of GOG’s games.

Installing & Getting the Games to Work

Before starting, let’s make life easy for ourselves and get an outdated audio library that is needed in order for the game to launch.

$ dpkg -i libsndio6.1_1.1.0-3_amd64.deb

You’re also going to need Simple DirectMedia Layer 2, which you can install the standard way, through the repository:

$ sudo apt-get install libsdl2-net-2.0-0

Now, with those preliminaries out of the way, let’s get to the task at hand, shall we? Download the Blade Runner file from the GOG website. Open a terminal:

$ cd Downloads
$ chmod +x blade_runner_1_0_varies.sh 
$ ./blade_runner_1_0_varies.sh 

After installation, it should be in your Show Applications, which is in the bottom right corner for people using the standard Gnome window manager, and then, select the game you’ve just installed, if it isn’t Blade Runner.

Or, maybe you’ve learned to love the terminal, you could launch the game from the command line by opening a terminal:

$ cd GOG\ Games/Blade\ Runner/
$ ./start.sh

The game should launch from this point. If not, contact GOG and …Good Luck!

Castles of Burgundy

“The Castles of Burgundy has long been one of my favorite strategy board games, a 90-120 minute game of tile-laying with a complex scoring system that is often derided as “point salad,” meaning you can get points from so many different paths that there might seem to be no logic to it. I mention that up front because I think it’s a fair criticism of this style of game. Still, Castles of Burgundy is the best implementation I’ve seen of that sort of scoring, especially since designer Stefan Feld, who specializes in this sort of game, connects the different tile types in multiple ways, creating a game that scratches that complex scoring itch but is also well-balanced and coherent.

Digidiced has now brought Castles of Burgundy to Steam and to mobile platforms in a great-looking app that uses new artwork and allows for quick gameplay against AI opponents.”

—Keith Law, “Review: Beloved board game Castles of Burgundy is now an app.” arstechnica.com. April 13, 2019.

Available on iOS ($9), Android ($10), and Steam ($15).

Interactive Fiction & Text-Based Games

Interactive fiction is text-driven games and stories most commonly associated with the dawn of the computing age and games like Zork. Depending on one’s definition, you might be able to stretch the category to include games like Nethack.

Today, it is a thriving sub-culture with new works being created by independent creators. The Interactive Fiction Database is a good way to find great games or genres. The Interactive Fiction Competition a good place to look for new works. For a gentle introduction, try one of the many guides available.

Play Now

The game 9:05, playable via the link, is a commonly referenced entry point to interactive fiction and is also used by English as a Second Language teachers to teach basic English vocabulary.

If you’d like to go old-school, some have been made playable in a web-browser. Want to play Zork without installing any software? Now you can.

Or, if you want to get a feel for these types of games but still want some graphics, try Nethack, a dungeon exploration game with permadeath which has recently been updated. Easy to learn to play, but very difficult to master. “Internet user needs food badly!” Best played cold, but it is also interesting to play if you read the spoilers.

The Game of Everything, Part 1: Making Civilization

“Why, we might ask, did Civilization turn out differently? A big piece of the reason must be Sid Meier’s unwavering commitment to fun as the final arbiter in game design, as summed up in his longstanding maxim of “Fun trumps history.” Meier, Bunten, and Crawford actually met on at least one occasion to discuss the games of everything they each had in progress. Crawford’s recollections of that meeting are telling, even if they’re uttered more in a tone of condemnation than approbation: “Sid had a very clear notion: he was going to make it fun. He didn’t give a damn about anything else; it was going to be fun. He said, ‘I have absolutely no reservation about fiddling with realism or anything, so long as I can make it more fun.’”

—Jimmy Maher, “The Game of Everything, Part 1: Making Civilization.” The Digital Antiquarian. March 16, 2018.

Interesting throughout.