Martin Linklater

Tech Lead at Lucid Games

October 2020

Martin makes FOSS and takes our Twitter mic from October 07 to 14. Thank you, Martin!

Please tell us about yourself

Hi. My name is Martin Linklater and I’ve been a professional game developer for 27 years. Yes, back since the Mega-drive days. I’ve also been using FOSS for over 20 years. The first version of Linux I used was Red Hat 5.0 back in 1998 and since then I’ve been a big fan of Free Open Source Software.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m a Tech Lead at Lucid Games working on Destruction AllStars for Playstation 5. I’m also in the process of learning all about Godot and planning on using it for all my personal projects in the future.

What is most interesting about that?

You kidding me 8)… I’ve loved working in the games industry since I joined back in 1993. I’ve worked on pretty much every console and handheld for the past 25 years and have experienced the technology and the games industry grow immensely. I work with the most talented and passionate people around. I sit next to genius coders, amazing artists, animators, designers and musicians… it’s an excellent job.

How did you first discover FOSS?

I was a big fan of Quake by Id Software and I remember listening to John Carmack back then say that the Quake level editor ran on something called Linux. I had no idea what Linux was, but it piqued my interest and prompted me to start researching Linux and Open Source software. Pretty soon I was running Linux full time.

What prompted you to start contributing to FOSS?

Big confession… I don’t currently contribute to FOSS outside of my own personal FOSS projects. Once I get up to speed with Godot I certainly plan on helping out though. I do promote FOSS to everyone who is willing to listen though.

Why should others get involved with FOSS?

I see FOSS as a rising tide of freedom slowly rising up over the software world. Open Source will consume and overtake all closed source software at some point in the future. The past 5 years or so has seen FOSS become increasingly important for games development. Not only as a cost-saving alternative, but as a genuine full-fat competitor to the usual culprits extracting their toll for use of their tools. FOSS is collaborative and reduces barriers to zero. Everyone wins when FOSS wins… the writing is on the wall for closed source, and the more people who get involved the faster progress will be made.

How should they get started?

If you are a 3D artist… try Blender. 2D artist… try Krita. Coder… try Godot. There are loads of FOSS content creation tools which can be used for game development. Trying them and reducing the fear of the new is the first step… from there you can start helping and sharing with your fellow game developers. No monthly license fees. No yearly per-seat fees. No difficulty getting older versions of tools to work… The power to change the software… the benefits of FOSS soon become apparent.

What difficulties and limitations do you see with FOSS?

The limits are mainly human I think. Well-run FOSS projects like Blender and Godot are pretty much unstoppable now. They are well organised, focused and have dedicated users willing to fund proper development effort. The projects which struggle are the ones without good leadership. The idea that FOSS projects inevitably grow naturally using the Bazarre model doesn’t seem to have panned out. FOSS projects need a benevolent dictator or tight knit group of leaders to push them forward and keep momentum high.

Where do you see difficulties in contributing?

It can be difficult contributing to large projects due to the complexity of the codebase and finding quick wins which haven’t already been taken by other devs. But you don’t need to be at the coal face hacking code to contribute. Advocacy contributes… using FOSS and showing people contributes. FOSS thrives on raised awareness… not just good code.

What does a perfect day off look like?

A relaxed breakfast, a bit of gaming, getting out for a cycle, maybe a TaeKwonDo session at the Dojang, a couple of good beers and then some messing around in Flight Simulator. Perfect.