tobias_platen's blog

Archive for December, 2023

Avoiding nonfree DRM’d Games on GNU/Linux – International Day Against DRM

Friday, December 8th, 2023

As a proud user of an FSF-certified Talos II Mainboard and some Rockchip SBCs, I find that is has become easier to avoid using Stream, Valve’s platform for distibution of nonfree computer games with Digital Restrictions Management.

Since I cannot (and don’t want to) play any of the non-free games from Steam, I have begun developing my own games that bring freedom to the users. Some of those games are “clones” of popular nonfree VR games such as Beat Saber and VRChat.

I’m also going to sell copies of those games and hardware that I am currently working on. The games are copylefted Free Software and the hardware is designed with the Respects Your Freedom Certification in mind.

For me there is an ethical imperative to make the game art and hardware designs free too. I don’t think that those things have to be copylefted, as most GNU software is. The distribution service/site must also be ethical, which means that it is not SaaSS and does not send any non-free JavaScript.

I also plan to provide Windows binaries, cross compiled using MinGW and tested on Proton on my Opteron system. My goal here is giving users of Windows a taste of freedom.

I replaced Windows with GNU/Linux long time ago and want to encourage gamers to do the same. The first free game that I had on a Windows 3.1 as a child was GNU Chess. At that time I never heard about Linux and did not know what GNU is. But I started learning to program and wanted to make use of freedom 1.

Today I use GNU Guix which can run on any GNU/Linux distro and even Android. No nonfree software is needed to run libsurvive and spreadgine, so both can be included in Guix. Instead of Steam, I now use Guix for gaming.

When games included in Guix respect Freedom, this does not mean that users do not have to pay to play the games. Guix has substitutes for local builds, and users could either pay for those substitutes or build the game locally. Even when the artwork is non-free, downloading the artwork could be done without running any non-free javascript or other proprietary malware. The FSF* could run Crowdfunding campaings for freedom respecting games and host game servers on hardware that has been RYF certified.

People often think it is not feasible in the current situation to develop a free replacement for some of the most popular nonfree VR games including “VRChat”. But projects such as V-SekaiV-Sekai have proven that this is not the case, free games can be developed and users who value freedom will only play those free games and reject the nonfree games.

Since I want to promote the cause of freedom in gaming, I am settung up a website which lists only libre games that can run on GNU/Linux and/or liberated
consoles. The page includes integration for GNU Taler so that users can donate or buy games and/or RYFed gaming hardware, including a future Guix Deck.