New Era of Gaming on Raspberry Pi

Written by: Dmitry_Eltechs

How to play Counter Strike and Diablo II on Raspberry Pi

 

Why not play on Raspberry Pi?

You definitely have Raspberry Pi if you landed on this page. As well as you even likely to have tried playing on your Raspberry Pi. By chance, there are a couple of options which help to play games on RPi.

Here they are:

  – Computer games for free, which made especially for Raspberry Pi users and by Raspberry Pi users and being kept in linux repository.

  – Retropie app for Raspberry Pi. There is a special retro games emulator that can be downloaded for free and then be added with any kind of old fashioned games (70s-90s arcade and console ones) called “retropie roms”. They are usually provided for an additional fee within different sources on the Internet.

Unfortunately, the repository choice is very narrow and withal RetroPie allows running very old games from the era of DOS and NES. But have you ever thought of running something more modern from 2000th like Counter Strike, Diablo or GTA? If yes, I have exciting news for you! Since today (March 30th, 2017) Updated ExaGear Desktop makes it possible to run such iconic games on Raspberry Pi!

Everybody within makers community, of course, fond of doing different projects on ARM-based devices – Raspberry Pi, as the most popular one, and beyond including BananaPi, Orange Pi, BeagleBoard, Android etc. Among different serious and really scientific approaches the makers follow for using the ARM technologies there is still a strong level of demand for entertainment. And gaming on Raspberry Pi is one of the main issues. Who will refuse to spend some leisure time playing his or her favourite game? But, concerning RPi or other ARM-based devices, that turned out to be not an easy thing.

(the original article is on our blog: New Era of Gaming on Raspberry Pi)

Why not play on Raspberry Pi?

Everybody within makers community, of course, fond of doing different projects on ARM-based devices – Raspberry Pi, as the most popular one, and beyond including BananaPi, Orange Pi, BeagleBoard, Android etc. Among different serious and really scientific approaches the makers follow for using the ARM technologies there is still a strong level of demand for entertainment. And gaming on Raspberry Pi is one of the main issues. Who will refuse to spend some leisure time playing his or her favourite game? But, concerning RPi or other ARM-based devices, that turned out to be not an easy thing.

Pre-modern Era of Gaming on Raspberry Pi

The main problem is that the vast majority of games developed for PC. But Raspberry Pi has different architecture and just can’t run them. It is like you can’t plug a USB drive into an HDMI port. Of course, some native games are developed or ported for RPi. Let’s enumerate them: OpenArena (in fact Quake 3), Minecraft and … that’s it what has come to my mind on the fly. Very few, isn’t it?

New Era of Gaming on Raspberry Pi

Another option is emulators. RetroPie is the amazing collection of emulators. But a common problem with emulators is that they are extremely slow. Nearly 50-100 times slowdown range is required for successful emulation. It is ok if your game is aimed to be played on a CPU with 10 MHz frequency. With Raspberry Pi running on 1000 MHz you won’t observe any lags. But that means that with RetroPie you can run games only from the 80s or early 90s and there is no chance to run iconic Civilization III, Arcanum or GTA 3, for example.

 

In 2014 we launched ExaGear Desktop which allows to run PC games on ARM-based devices (Raspberry Pi, Odroid etc.). ExaGear Desktop is an emulator too but dramatically differs from other emulators with its performance. ExaGear Desktop provides very low slowdown – 1.3 times instead of 50-100 times for other kind of emulators! It enabled to run such games as Arcanum, Disciples II, Fallout (more about the games in this article - Gaming Beyond Retropie ), Might And Magic VI,Pharaoh and Cleopatra, Stronghold Crusader (learn how to set up these games reading through Raspberry Pi Gaming Emulator), Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Caesar 3 (learn more in Gaming Beyond Retropie Part 2) and many others on Raspberry Pi!

 

However, there was one important issue. ExaGear Desktop didn’t support hardware graphics acceleration. That mean that games which actively use 3D were terrible laggy :(

New Era of Gaming on Raspberry Pi

Today we have launched a new version of ExaGear Desktop – ExaGear Desktop 2.0. It fully supports 3D graphics acceleration on Raspberry Pi 2 and Raspberry Pi 3! Just take a look at the video where we run Counter Strike and Diablo II on Raspberry Pi:

In coming days we expect a ton of games will be tested by bloggers, journalist and, maybe even by you, the reader of the post. So, we are going to update the list of the games here.

https://youtu.be/Tf-dV3hDZT4 

Short technical description. It is known that almost all of the desktop PC games use OpenGL interface for hardware graphics acceleration, which was available on PC but wasn’t supported by RPi. So, after a short while, the OpenGL was adapted into Raspberry Pi architecture. And we implemented forwarding of OpenGL calls to the hardware, which has completely solved the issue.

Final notes

3D graphics support has became possible due to efforts of Raspbian developers (especially Eric Anholt) who has implemented OpenGL driver in Raspbian and Eltechs team hard work which resulted in forwarding OpneGL calls from x86 to hardware. The new driver isn’t enabled by default but it’s pretty stable right now and so you can simply enable it via raspi-config.

In ExaGear Desktop for other ARM-based devices like Odroid, Cubieboard, Orange Pi, Banana Pi, Beaglebone etc. there are still a lack of 3D hardware acceleration support because RPi is only one device which has OpenGL driver. But good news is we know how to fix it and we are planning to add support for all devices as soon as we can. So, keeping in touch!

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