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Cover image for Steam Proton Is Great

Steam Proton Is Great

deciduously profile image Ben Lovy ・2 min read

My (awesome) fiancé picked me up a copy of Disco Elysium for my birthday recently (she's really awesome).

I've always kept a Windows 10 installation around specifically for games. Cross platform support has increased dramatically since I started using Linux, but there have always been a handful of (usually AAA) titles that I want to play which require Windows. I know, I know, I'm a terrible Linux zealot.

I've used Wine before, as well as the wrapper PlayOnLinux, but had generally experienced that as an activity unto itself. Some games did work, but there was a lot of configuration and tweaking involved. While there's a part of me that enjoys that process for the sake of it, there's an even bigger part of me that just wants to play my games. It gets old.

Steam recently released Proton. Proton is also a wrapper around Wine, but (apparently) there's a lot more engineering involved here too. I had initially sort of written it off as "just another Wine tool" but now having used it, I'm completely sold.

Y'all, it works perfectly.

I was originally disappointed when I enabled the Proton option on the Linux client because most of my games weren't showing up. They have a curated set of games that Valve has specifically given a seal of approval.

However, the tool does run on anything you've got. You just need to specifically opt in:

settings screenshot

With that checked, you can attempt to run even non-Valve-ordained titles through Proton.

Disco Elysium worked fine out of the box with the default audio and graphics settings. The only problem is that it would crash every 45-ish minutes. The fix was adding an option to the launch configuration:

launch options

Esync is a Proton tool that attempts to reduce the CPU overhead of running games in Wine, but apparently it doesn't play nice with this game. I haven't had a single crash since, and do not experience performance problems. I can play this brand new Windows-exclusive game exactly as intended by the developer without having to leave Linux, ever, and my configuration phase consisted of a single web search and a single config option to set.

Welcome to the future, I guess!

Also, Disco Elysium is fantastic. It's even better than I thought it would be. If you're into role-playing games and looking for a completely fresh take on the genre, look no further. It's like a pen-and-paper RPG that takes place inside your wacky messed-up character's head - combat is replaced by dialogue, and it's hilarious, philosophical, depressing and beautiful all at once. Cannot recommend enough.

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

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Discussion

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This game didn't click for me at all, I liked the idea of "unconventional rpg" from being text-driven to the weird skill perks, but damn if it wasn't utterly exhausting to read through, the dialogs seemed unnecessary long like trying to overexplain every detail about the word, so I eventually started skipping through most of it.
Kept hoping that I might find something intriguing or a good mystery that will make all those chunks of text worth exploring but the game kept throwing more politics at my face and bland npc backgrounds.
Pretty sure I would've enjoyed a book about a drunk, maniac detective and his extraordinary partner, tbf, if it wasn't for Kim I wouldn't have made it to about 15h or so into the game, what a character.

 

Robert Kurvitz actually published a novel called "Sacred and Terrible Air" in 2013, which establishes the world Disco Elysium is set in. The English version is said to be released later this year.

 
 

Yeah, I can see it not being everyone's thing. I'm really digging the writing, but there sure is a hell of a lot of it.

 

I'm really digging the writing, but there sure is a hell of a lot of it

(Very) Unpopular opinion incoming, but The Witcher 3 also sucks for this reason.

Movies are great. Games are great. Games that are essentially movies? 😒

 

Meanwhile, I'm still an Xbox scrublord 😅

Game Pass makes it even better these days, though.

 

The Linux gaming future looks bright, and I think is gonna be even better, consoles nowadays are just a mainstream PC and with streaming services (not much of my liking I must admit) will run games in servers and we all now what OS servers like :) and that is added to Vulkan.

I think it may also be relevant the AMD comeback, Nvidia already had to accept FreeSync and probably will have to open-up G-Sync to keep it relevant. Maybe something similar may happen with the drivers, that attitude of "my way or the highway" only works when there is no choice, (ask Intel :D ) maybe AMD puts enough pressure. I don't know the details of the relation of console makers and HW vendors but I would suspect that no console use Nvidia for a reason.

And if Proton, today, is good, added to more Vulkan adoption could mean that supporting Linux for game devs may become trivial.

A bright future indeed.

 

I recently built a gaming/data science machine, and thought I'd try and run pop_os on it's own for a bit, thinking I'd find a hiccup in a few days that would make me dual boot or something. A month later, still no windows!

Proton was the real eye opener for me. I was aware of wine and lutris, but thought they would be janky and limited. Turns out all I needed to do was enable proton and everything I thought might be doable worked immediately.

The only issue I've had at all was borderlands 3 cut scenes. That said, it was a relatively easy fix once I'd worked out where my proton install was, and apparently it was just as big an issue for Windows users 🙃

 

I saw Lutris mentioned when looking up this solution - I'll have to give it a whirl, I do have several non-Steam games that I've quarantined now otherwise.

 

I ❤️ Disco Elysium. The Proton thing is nice too, but I just came to stan the game.