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Nokia, Loki team up for Linux games

Two days after unveiling an open-source project for home-entertainment consoles based on Linux, Nokia teams up with the Linux gaming company.

Culture
Nokia announced Wednesday that it had teamed up with Linux gaming company Loki Software to strengthen its initiative to build an open-source home-entertainment platform.

The partnership comes two days after Nokia announced it would sponsor an effort to draw developers to its Open-Standards Terminal project, a blueprint for a home-entertainment system based on Linux.

"Both Nokia and Loki Software will work together to open up access to more Linux games from the comfort of the living room," said Rickard Nelgér, head of product management for Nokia Home Communications. "This collaboration works hand in hand with Nokia's commitment to continuous development of new and interesting products and applications for the home environment."

This summer, Nokia plans to release its Media Terminal, a device the Espoo, Finland-based company hopes will become the center of home entertainment.

Using the Media Terminal, consumers can record TV programs, play games and connect to the Internet. The device is based on a typical X86 processor and the Linux operating system.

The company plans to release a U.S. version late this year or possibly early in 2002.

Loki Software is the largest publisher of Linux games, sporting more than a dozen titles ported from the Windows platform. The company's current library of games includes "Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri Planetary Pack," "Tribes 2," "Descent 3," "Heavy Gear 2" and "SimCity 3000 Unlimited."

"We have talked to a lot of companies doing similar things," said Scott Draeker, president of Loki Software. "But until Nokia's announcement, no one had come close to producing anything that wasn't vapor. We were beginning to lose hope."

A month earlier, start-up Indrema--which had aimed to make a Linux gaming console--closed its doors before producing even a development platform.

While the deal calls for Loki Software to port its stable of games to the final Open-Standards Terminal specification, it's likely that the company will also bring its large pool of open-source gaming technology to the initiative as well.

"There are actually two parts," said Draeker. "We are going to make our games available on the platform. And, then, the open standard is something we are collaborating on. We are going to collaborate on the (programming) libraries that we created and collaborate on some new libraries as well."

Linux games typically use OpenGL--the open-source competitor to Microsoft's Direct3D--to create the 3-D worlds common in most of today's games. Loki Software--through a partnership with Creative Labs--has also created an open initiative, known as OpenAL, for including 3-D sound in games. Such technology could be quickly adopted by the Open-Standards Terminal initiative now that Loki Software is on board.

In addition, the company has created several toolkits for creating multimedia content.

"For me, the real exciting part is to validate the open-source methodology for creating these applications," said Draeker. "We want people to be able to go to the site, download the software and be halfway done with creating their games."

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