What is Desura
Desura is a digital distribution service for gamers. In other words its a Steam like software client that acts like Ubuntu Software Center but rather using it for software it is used for downloading Free or Commercial games.
While Steam is on its way of being available on Linux, Desura is already here, almost a year now, when it was released on November 16 of 2011. With Desura you just search and click the “Install Game” button on the client software or the website to play a game. It’s worth noting that the games are packaged along with any libraries they may be dependent on so that Linux user will not need to download any dependencies or add any repository.
Content hosted on Desura primarily falls into the category of Indie games, which are games by smaller developers who do not have the same amount of name or clout to negotiate deals with Steam. Also Desura has more a community building approach that promotes community mods (game modifications) and better relationships between player and developer
Beginning of Desura
Desura project was first publicly announced on December 16, 2009 and the initial Windows client was finally released to the public on December 18, 2010.
Development on a Linux client was announced during the Summer of 2011 utilizing wxWidgets and GTK+ as the toolkit and was introduced in a limited beta program in the Fall. The client was publicly available for download on November 16, 2011 the Desura Linux client was publicly released with an initial offering of over 65 games.
On November 9, 2011 it was announced that Desura would release the client itself under the GNU General Public License, while the server-side portion of the distribution platform would remain proprietary. The media assets and trademarks would also remain property of DesuraNET. The free software release and development is handled in a manner similar to Google’s Chromium project. The free project, named “Desurium”, was publicly made available on January 21, 2012.
Review of Desura for Linux
We will focus on the Linux version of Desura client but in general Desura is pretty much the same on the other platforms. We will talk about the client, website and the games in general.
The website its self is designed in the same way as the desura client providing consistent experience. For example as a 64bit Linux user you can go through the Desura website, then click on the 64bit penguin, search a game, buy it or click install, press “Desura is installed” and then the Desura client will take care the rest by installing and keeping up to date that game on any computer you log in on with the Desura Client.
Please follow the step by step guide:
- Visit Desura Website : http://www.desura.com/members/register
- Complete the account creation procedure
- Download Desura For Linux http://www.desura.com/install
- Extract the folder and move the desura folder in to your Home folder (and keep it there)
- Double click the “desura” executable that will expand and download the required files and libraries and add menu items that can be searched in Ubuntu Dash
- After the installation you double click the new desura executable or type “Desura” on Dash and press enter to start and login to Desura Client
The first thing you will notice is the similarities of Desura Client with the website. It has:
- Major Sections (Username, Play, Games, Community, Development, Support)
- Tabs (New games, Most popular…)
- Game Categories (Action, Adventure, Strategy, MMO…)
- Downloaded and Purchased Games
Every installed game is maintained with updates and if there is one you will be prompt to update it through Desura Client. If for any reason wish to uninstall the client software you can install it again at later time and download automatically all your previous games.
One interesting and engaging feature is the social side of the platform which gives users the ability to upload screenshots, rate and write reviews on games. Besides that are able to add friends, see what they’re playing and share your thoughts on games with them and Desura community and Developers.
Every game available belongs to a descriptive categorization, it has screenshots, extensive description, video preview, ratings, forum and user comments. There are options for browsing games by category and popularity and tracking options to be notified about updates to the profiles of games you care about. The one thing that is missing is the “Free Games” categorization.
- Teen Agent
- Smokin’ Guns
- Open Tyrianm
- Lure of the Temptress
- Dragon Historym –
- Celestial Impactm –
- TripleAm –
- UFO Alien Invasionm
- Evolution RTS
- Seven Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries
- Renegade X
- Urban Terror
- Dwarf Fortress
- Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
- Marble Arena 2
- Warzone 2100
- Battle for Wesnoth
- Bullet Train
- Savage 2
- Monster 1
- Zombie Grinder
- Warlock’s Gauntlet
- Revenge of the Cats: Ethernet
- The Kite
- Ristorante Amore
- Open Arena
- World of Padman
- Speed Dreams
- Insane Zombie Carnage
- Mecha World
- Inner Dream
- I Shall Remain
- Epic Inventor
- Alter Ego
- Miner Warfare
- Robot Pinball Escape
- Flight of the Amazon Queen
- Drascula: The Vampire Strikes Back
- Wrestling MPire
- 1916 – Der Unbekannte Krieg
- Zero Ballistics
- M.A.R.S. – A Ridiculous Shooter
- Open Clonkcom
- Metal Venture
- The Mirror Lied
- Invaders: Corruption
- 10 min space strategy
- Dead Meets Lead
- Broken Dimensions
- Stunt Rally
- Alien Arena
- Vulture for NetHack/a>
- OGS Mahjong
- Red Eclipse
- Beneath a Steel Sky
- Holy Spirit
- DDay Normandy
- Dimension Jump
- Puzzle Moppet
- Silver Quest
- Two Shields
- Wave Race
- Re: Alistair
Overall the available games are mostly Indie games where some will keep you busy until late hours and some that you will pass by and never look again.
Besides personal taste and the obvious click, install and play, the overall Desura Client and Desura Website is not that much easy to use. Every section brings new tabs for browsing and overwhelmed by content which some times make browsing confusing. Nevertheless after some time of using Desura you will get used to its design.
Last bat not least I came across a few crashes and freeze-ups of the Desura client that I had to “Force close” it and restart the application.
Overall it is great that we have a game distribution platform available on Linux. Also it is great to have a platform that gives the ability not only to publish your game even if you are an Indie developer or a small company, but also to vote, comment and interact with people (gamers, developers, community). Personally speaking, even though it has some rough edges, I am marking it as the best game distribution client available, right now on Linux platform.