It was my last day at work. It’s early morning, around 7 o’clock, and the usual gang of employees who do nothing for the first hour are standing in a circle. Some of them have a cup of coffee in their hand, listening as the manager of the company is talking about something. What that something was, I can’t remember. Probably what he did over the weekend.
I happened to enter the “circle” just a few minutes before I clock out. The manager stops talking and looks at me.
“What’s up?” he asks.
I smile as a way to say “hello.”
I could tell by the look on his face that he was already annoyed by my prescence. “What’s up?” he repeated.
Dumb me at the time didn’t know what to say other than “nothing much.”
The manager immediately turns away and carries on with what he was saying before.
So that was it. My last day at work for a company that I had worked for over five years, a manager that I’ve met for the first time, and I don’t even get a simple “thank you.” I know saying “nothing much” was kind of stupid, but is it too much to ask for a thank you?
I’m not relating that experience so people can have sympathy for me. I know there’s a lot of you out there who have been treated far worse on your last day at work. Rather, I bring it up because I felt the exact opposite when I had parted ways with Boiling Steam.
I told the editors there a few months ago. I didn’t even know how to say it. But I did. One editor told me that I will be missed and “it is hard to imagine Boiling Steam without you.” Another told me “thanks for…all your contributions so far. Always enjoyed what you wrote about and the way you did it!” and wished me “fun and great success.” A third told me he was in shock about the announcement, but let me know I was “a prolific content creator for Boiling Steam.”
Not going to lie, I had a lump in my throat as I was reading their comments. Unlike the company I had worked for, I felt like what I had contributed to Boiling Steam was actually worth something and was appreciated.
Sadly, however, I felt like there was a need to move on. So now I’ll get into the why: why I left BS in favor of creating my own website, because several people have been asking me about it.
Disclaimer: Some may interpret this post as me trying to throw crap in Boiling Steam’s way. That’s not what I’m trying to do here. In no way am I throwing any hatred towards BS, nor am I trying to inflate myself over other websites. I’ve learned a lot from my time at BS; the quality of my articles wouldn’t be what they are today without BS’s help. But as I’ll get into here, I’ve felt like there has been a need to create my own site instead.
LGC Is Open-Source⌗
The full source code for LGC is hosted on GitHub. This means that if for some reason I decide to incorporate ads on the site, someone can easily fork the repo, make changes to the site as they desire, then host their version of the site somewhere else. GitHub also allows me to keep track of site issues and what my to-do list is.
Being open-source also means people can collaborate and make enhancements to the site. As an example, just a few days after LGC launched, Gabriele Musco, owner of deckcentral.net, made a pull request that allows comments to be separate from each post, rather than just one big global comment section that I had before.
LGC Is Ad-Free and Fast⌗
The only tracker on LGC is Plausible Analytics. This tracker is open-source and a lot more privacy-respecting than Google Analytics, and paranoid readers can still protect themselves from being tracked by using a browser such as Brave (although, I would appreciate it if you turned your ad-blocker off; stats are important to the press). Some older posts contain images from a site other than LGC, or it may contain Twitter/YouTube embeds. From here on out I will only use local images, and if I want to embed a video, I will be sure to use Odysee or PeerTube instead. Tweets will be linked externally. This is in an effort to keep as many trackers down as possible, and make posts super-fast to load.
Speaking of fast, LGC was created with Hugo. Hugo is created with the Go language by Google, and is designed to be very fast. I want to keep that “fast” in mind when readers are browsing the site. That, combined with an ad-free experience, makes LGC, as one Reddit user put it, “a pleasure to visit.”
Though browser extensions like Ublock Origin can block specific ads on the sites that you like, I don’t want to have readers do that here. They can comfortably browse the site without an ad blocker, or without having to get the tools to block out specific parts of the site, and still have a great experience. I don’t consider a site to be ad-free if there’s a “Follow us on Mastodon or Twitter” in the middle of an article or a highlighted box at the end of each article saying “Support Us.”
LGC Creates More Diversity⌗
And I mean diversity in a good way. As far as I know, the only major Linux gaming websites (not YouTubers) out there are Boiling Steam and GamingOnLinux. There are other more niche outlets out there, such as the other LGC (Linux Gaming Consortium), and, of course, subreddits like r/linux_gaming (outside of tech support requests, which is bountiful there). Other sites like Phoronix also occasionally touch on the Linux gaming aspect, but I wouldn’t say they’re a “gaming” site, since it touches on pretty much everything Linux-related.
So you add a third source to the mix and now you’ve got more Linux gaming topics at hand. Boiling Steam tends to focus on the Linux gaming market, GOL talks about just about everything that’s going on in the Linux gaming world, and LGC…well, I focus a lot on the emulation side of things on Linux, in addition to daily news posts, developer interviews, game reviews, and more. The need for more diversity is especially evident when you consider things like the Steam Deck pushing Linux gaming forward in a way that we might not have ever anticipated.
LGC Does Not Ask for Your Money⌗
How often do you visit a site or the GitHub page for a project and a Patreon page constantly gets shoved into your face? Unless a bunch of people ask me, I have no intentions of setting up a Patreon or Liberapay. Even if I did, I would try to make the link to it as least obstrusive as possible, and I would by no means leave a paywall for my content. If people want to contribute, they certainly can, but it would be out of want, just to show their appreciation for LGC, not because they get some sort of special flair in the comments section or they get early access to posts.
Image credit: BBC News
EDIT (1/09/2023): I now have a donation page set up, but as I said, I will try to make this link as unobtrusive as possible.
Articles Can Be Put Out Much Faster⌗
Articles that aren’t pertinent to news on BS get peer-reviewed prior to publication. While this certainly has it’s benefits, including the ability for other editors to see things that I might not have focused on that are worth talking about, the downside is it takes a lot longer to get an article out. This is especially evident when ekianjo (the owner of BS) and I are in completely different time zones. I could have a draft of an article ready but he might not get to reviewing it until 12 hours after I posted the link. At LGC I’m my own man: I’ve got no one to look at my posts before publshing. I can therefore quickly churn out three, four, maybe even five posts on days that I’m off from work.
The disadvantage to this model is my markdown editor doesn’t include a dictionary, so there will likely be an article or two that has a spelling mistake. There’s also going to be a chance that a link in the post is not correct, or I may be missing something. But I like this model a lot better as I can produce quantity in addition to quality.
Those are the basic, “non-hot” reasons. But there are some more reasons why I created LGC, which are probably going to be a bit more controversial…
LGC Does Not Want to be An Enemy with Anyone⌗
During my time writing for BS, there were certain sites that I couldn’t link to. If I had linked to GOL at all in one of my articles, for example, I would be asked to take it out. I don’t like having tensions with anyone. I’d rather see other media outlets as an ally rather than the enemy or the competition. At LGC, I will freely link to GOL, any of Gardiner Bryant’s videos, any one of Jason Evangelho’s videos, etc. as well as BS. I asked ekianjo if he would be willing to get along with other media outlets, to which he refused and even told me to ignore them.
Image credit: treehugger.com
I Don’t Fandomize Proton over Native⌗
Let me be clear: I’m incredibly grateful for Proton and all the advancements it has made for Linux gaming. And I’m not going to be the type who shies away from writing a game review if it’s not native. Otherwise, my game library would be pretty sparse.
Until recently with the weekly report of newly released native Linux games on Steam, BS’s general attitude towards native and Proton gaming is they tend to favor Proton over the other. Rarely would they cover anything native. Most game reviews were played through Proton.
At LGC, I view native and Proton gaming as equals. Both are good for the Linux economy. I’m not going to footstomp on anything native; rather, I strongly support those who develop games with Linux versions, such as the developer of Project Heartbeat. On the other hand I can see why a developer would choose not to support a platform that generally hovers around 1% market share on Steam and doesn’t go beyond that. Most game developers are more familiar with development tools from Microsoft, and they’d rather not spend the time getting to learn a more niche platform when Proton can just do the work for them. Gardiner Bryant explains this a lot better in one of his videos.
I Will Own Up to My Mistakes⌗
I’m not going to directly link to the article, but there was a review some time ago on Boiling Steam where someone in the comments called the reviewer out for a mistake he made. The reviewer didn’t want to admit it and tried to defend himself. The back-and-forth arguing got so bad I had to step in and apologize on the reviewer’s behalf.
I’m not immune to losing my own sanity when reading some of the comments that I get (surprisingly I haven’t found any hate or criticism thrown my way on LGC…at least not yet). But if I make a mistake, I will try my best to own up to it. That way, I can learn from it so that I can improve the quality of my articles rather than trying to defend myself.
Here’s a small bonus: comments don’t need moderation approval on LGC. Nor does the commenter even need to have a Matrix account.
But let me be clear on this: there’s a difference between criticism and constructive criticism. If someone finds a genuine reason to point something out in one of my posts, that’s perfectly legit. On the other hand if someone throws hate on LGC without giving any sort of reason, I have no incentive to pay attention.
Better Relationships with Hardware Manufacturers⌗
I never got a review unit of the Steam Deck during my time with Boiling Steam, despite repeated emails to different Valve employees. I’m not going to get into the why, or how frustrated I am because I didn’t even get a response from anyone. But as I had alluded to earlier, I want to get along with as many people as I can. As LGC is only a month-and-a-half old it will most likely take at least a few more months before anyone is willing to send out a review unit of their hardware product to me (Valve will still probably ignore my emails for the next iteration of the Deck), but I’m hoping I can build a solid, trustworthy relationship with companies like Tuxedo Computers, System76, and more.
Image credit: Boiling Steam
So, to wrap this all up in a TL;DR format, here’s why LGC was created:
- open-source, ad-free, and fast
- more diversity within the Linux gaming space
- no nagging for your money
- to increase the frequency of new articles
- to treat native and Proton gaming as equals
- comments don’t need approval or an account; will try to take feedback seriously
- to have a better relationship with GOL, Valve, and other companies/media outlets
I Learned a Lot from Boiling Steam⌗
As I said earlier, I learned a lot from my time with Boiling Steam. I had written for the site for about five years (started in 2015, took a two-year hiatus in 2017, resumed in 2019). During that time I’ve greatly improved the quality of my writing, thanks in no small part to the feedback I got from ekianjo and later on from the other contributors that had joined the editor team. The articles I’ve written on there wouldn’t be anywhere near as good or as detailed if it weren’t for the peer-review process. What I’ve learned will carry over here on LGC.
So, thank you, ekianjo, podiki, and patola. I genuinely think ekianjo has a good heart. I have to thank him for giving my site a traffic boost with his recent promotion article too. By all means, if you, the reader, enjoy Boiling Steam’s content, keep supporting them. I just wish the owner would swallow his pride and re-evaluate his stance with other content creators, and focus more on native Linux games, rather than mostly Proton. And also to extend an apology to everyone who he has spoken out against. I really think that would help dissolve this tension that there is in the Linux gaming community.
This was not an easy decision to make, and I even got a tearful reaction when the BS staff told me they genuinely appreciated the work that I had contributed to the site. But for the reasons stated above, it’s time to move on.