Wow - I checked the forum this morning and I was surprised to find responses already.
To address the questions raised, as well as clarify my proposal, let me state the following points:
1) The crux of the argument is leveraging the investment in technical work of porting the code (not creating an entire game from scratch) with the return on investment through purchases & subscriptions (i.e. getting a profit). My proposal was to ask the Linux community to put forth the money UP FRONT, to minimize the risk to GW and fund the necessary work to produce a Linux version of PFO.
2) The technical challenges CAN be met, and there is evidence of this:
2a) World of Warcraft has been able to run successfully on Linux (at least one flavor of it) through its Windows Emulator, WINE. So, a MMORPG can be implemented on Linux. See here.
2b) As was stated above (see theStormWreaver's comment) that the essence of cross-platform support comes from two things: standards compliance and intelligent coding. I can personally attest to this as well, since in my undergraduate days (way back in 1995) I was porting code from a Pentium (as in Pentium I) running Windows NT to run on a Silicon Graphics machine (an SGI PowerChallenge) running IRIX, the SGI version of UNIX. It came down to compartmentalizing all machine-specific calls into a generic procedure call to either the hardware or the interface from the core code engine. If something is incompatible, (say a variable is required in one and not the other, and was not passed from the main code through the generic procedure call) the porting team can request the core code programmers to amend their code to add that variable, and they in turn tell the other platform coders of the change. It can be done, if the programmers are worth their paychecks.
2c) Regarding the multiplicity of Linux's incarnations, that is a decision for the Linux porting team to tackle. Most likely, they will choose one platform to support (maybe Ubuntu due to its user-friendliness) and whatever else. As a point as well, there are a number of indie games that are available on Linux and can run on multiple platforms without issues, so if shoe-string budget companies can do it, surely GW can as well. See here.
3) As already stated, GW noted the challenges to porting the code to Linux. I simply argued that they must have an estimated cost in mind in order to make this decision. My suggestion was to put this cost to the community - whatever it was - and say "If you want it, speak now or forever hold your peace."
4) Finally, I think it should be noted that Blizzard made its decision to not pursue Linux years ago. Since then, the PC version can be run smoothly using an emulator, eliminating any need to even consider making a Linux port. This is 2013, and the Linux community is as big as its ever been - and Linux's implementations are not like they were in the early 2000s. All I'm saying is that there is ample cause to test the waters with a dedicated Kickstarter, and put the onus on the Linux community to meet the challenge.
I hope that clarifies some points. Thanks again for taking interest in my post.
I am a "Johnny-Come-Lately" to this thread, but wanted to throw my thoughts into the mix, especially since this thread still has a shard of life left in it. I myself am a Linux user, and I use Ubuntu on my laptop as part of the consultant business I work in. I'd *love* to see a major MMORPG generate a dedicated Linux version, and I know many others would, if for no other reason than to finally be seen as a real share of the gaming market.
I find it interesting that every major MMORPG I've seen deals with the same thread: "Will there be a Linux port?" The answers are always a flavor of a lack of compensation for time and efforts to generate and maintain it. What I find exciting about this discussion thread is that there is no aversion to a Linux version of the game** - there's just not enough of a perceived market to justify an investment into one. So, if there *was* evidence of a return on investment, then GW would generate a Linux client for the game - this is my impression of the discussion here.
It sounds like GW has estimated a dollar value to add a native Linux port to the game, and estimates that the return from the release will not pay off that investment. I assume this would include a capital budget for dedicated computers to work up the Linux client (along with estimated cost for utilities, renting space, etc), along with paying the salaries for the developers, as well as paying for the technical staff and a fraction of the cost to run the servers post-release (say ~5% of the total cost by percentage of the gaming population?).
I'd like to propose a solution to this conundrum:
Begin a dedicated Kickstarter project - PFO for Linux - and post the estimated cost (including, say, 1 year post-release support) to bring PFO to the Linux platform. Give it 30 days, and advertise this as a "Put Up or Shut Up" to the Linux community.
If we can raise the funds, then we can expect a native Linux release, free to download (but pay the same subscription fee, of course) at the official game release date. Within a year, there should be enough subscriptions to continue to fund the game's updates, technical support, and so on. The Linux community will rejoice, and all will be well in the world... :)
If the funds don't materialize, GW will have proof-positive of the very argument they've had: there's no viable market. At that point, no one can criticize GW for not catering to the Linux people. Those that *still* want to play PFO in Linux will try to run it under WINE, which is what everyone here is expecting to do anyways, but without all the griping over a lack of interest in pursuing the Linux gaming market.
I'll even throw this in: I'm willing to put $100 down if the Kickstarter Project is started. I figure this would be the cost I would pay to buy the game along with some game time if I were to buy the game at the store. If 10,000 Linux gamers, including myself, did this then that would be $1M raised - plenty to generate a stand-alone Linux version of PFO and a right to play as equals on the game servers (as well as a little profit on top).
Does this sound like an idea worth pursuing? I think putting it to the Linux community will decisively settle the issue, either way it goes.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this idea is worth considering and not too late to include Linux in time for the game's initial release.
**Edit: Well, I take that back. Selective memory made me forget this statement from the CEO:
Greetings, I am one of your "lurkers". No settlement or other such affiliations declared (yet) - in fact, this is my first post on this forum, after my first real discovery & read of the forum.
I donated to the Kickstarter for Pathfinder Online because I've come to enjoy the Pathfinder RPG tabletop game with my son, and we've been looking for a MMO for us to play together.
In real life, my boss & wife work me like a dog, so I won't get to participate much in the forum discussions, but I will try to keep up with the conversations and hopefully add a (productive, if possible) comment or two.
Right now, my thoughts and dreams for Pathfinder Online are simple: please work to live up to the vision you have been promoting on this game! I am excited about the game mechanics and the "sandbox/theme-park" blend. Keeping away from classes & levels is a refreshing idea, since it has always been an issue for me. I don't care to pidgeon-hole a character concept when there is a discrete number of combinations with a single "ideal" build. I actually do have a number of thoughts on a sort of "wish list", but please above all stick to the vision and don't wreck it the way other MMOs get ruined by trying to gut the game concepts in a vain effort to make it more fun for the 10% of people who just complain about anything and everything. Make this game the kind of game *you* want to play on your off time, and I am sure me and many others will feel the same way.
Thanks for all you do, and thanks also for giving us a forum to speak our thoughts and interests. I'll be watching for updates.