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  • Interviews: Jonathan Coulton Answers Your Questions

    We recently had the chance to talk with internet rock star and former code monkey Jonathan Coulton. We asked him a number of your questions and a few of our own about music, technology, and copyright issues. Read below to see what he had to say.

    36 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Data Storage Pioneer Wins Millennium Technology Prize

    jones_supa (887896) writes "The British scientist Stuart Parkin, whose work made it possible for hard disks to radically expand in size, has been awarded the Millennium Technology Prize (Millennium-teknologiapalkinto). Professor Parkin's discoveries rely on magneto-resistive thin-film structures and the development of the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) spin-valve read head. These advances allow more information to be stored on each disk platter. Technology Academy Finland — the foundation behind the award — justifies the prize by saying that Parkin's innovations allow us to store large volumes of data in cloud services." He is currently working on Racetrack memory, which would obsolete flash and hard disks (and probably even RAM).

    40 comments | about two weeks ago

  • A 2560x1440 VR Headset That's Mobile

    New submitter oldmildog writes: "GameFace Labs may very well be the furthest along in the quest to create a mobile VR headset. It's based on Android, and their latest prototype is the first VR headset (mobile or tethered) to include a 2560x1440 display, with 78% more pixels than 1080p based VR headsets like the Oculus Rift DK2. CEO Ed Mason said, 'The upgrade to 1280 x 1440 per eye is monumental. Individual pixels are hard to detect at first glance, making it a more immersive and comfortable experience in every single game and experience that we've tried. A lot of the ‘presence’ described by devs at the Valve [prototype VR headset] demonstration can be attributed to their use of higher resolution (and lower persistence) panels, which has a noticeable impact in suspending disbelief and tricking the brain."

    135 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Steam Controller Drops Touchscreen

    An anonymous reader writes "Last year Valve announced a new game controller that was trying to innovate on the designs that have been with us for over a decade now. The biggest changes were replacing analog sticks with circular touchpads and plopping a small touchscreen into the middle of the controller. Valve has now revamped their prototype hardware, and the touchscreen is nowhere to be seen. In its place are stop/play buttons (which appear similar to start/select buttons) and a bigger Steam logo button. They've also moved around the directional and ABXY buttons, reverting to a more traditional layout (picture). They'll be demonstrating the latest prototype next week at GDC."

    84 comments | about a month ago

  • Valve Open Sources Their DirectX To OpenGL Layer

    jones_supa writes "A bit surprisingly, Valve Software has uploaded their Direct3D to OpenGL translation layer onto GitHub as open source. It is provided as-is and with no support, under the MIT license allowing you to do pretty much anything with it. Taken directly from the DOTA2 source tree, the translation layer supports limited subset of D3D 9.0c, bytecode-level HLSL to GLSL translator, and some SM3 support. It will require some tinkering to get it to compile, and there is some hardcoded Source-specific stuff included. The project might bring some value to developers who are planning to port their product from Windows to Linux."

    130 comments | about a month ago

  • Portal 2 Incompatible With SELinux

    jones_supa writes "Valve has recently released Portal 2 on Steam for Linux and opened a GitHub entry to gather all the bugs from the community. When one of the Valve developers closed a bug related to Portal 2 recommending that the users disable a security feature, the Linux community reacted. A crash is caused by the game's interaction with SELinux, the Linux kernel subsystem that deals with access control security policies. Portal 2 uses the third-party Miles Sound System MP3 decoder which, in turn, uses execheap, a feature that is normally disabled by SELinux. Like its name suggests, execheap allows a program to map a part of the memory so that it is both writable and executable. This could be a problem if someone chose to use that particular memory section for buffer overflow attacks; that would eventually permit the hacker to gain access to the system by running code. In the end, Valve developer David W. took responsibility of the problem: 'I apologize for the mis-communication: Some underlying infrastructure our games rely on is incompatible with SELinux. We are hoping to correct this. Of course closing this bug isn't appropriate and I am re-opening it.' This is more of an upstream problem for Valve. It's not something that they can fix directly, and most likely they will have to talk with the Miles developers and try to repair the problem from that direction."

    212 comments | about a month ago

  • Valve Prepping Source 2 Engine For VR

    An anonymous reader writes "In a Q&A session on Reddit last night with Valve's Gabe Newell, the founder confirmed that the company is in the process of getting the highly anticipated Source 2 game engine 'working well with VR.' Valve's Alex Vlachos, Senior Graphics Programmer, is apparently leading the charge. Still no word on when the engine may ship. Valve, who is openly collaborating with Oculus VR, demonstrated a VR headset prototype in January at Steam Dev Days. The company also launched a beta version of SteamVR which offers Steam's 'Big Picture' mode in a format compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset. A developer who got to experiment with Valve's VR prototype says it's very impressive, even more so than the original Oculus VR dev kit."

    49 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • PC Game Prices — Valve Starts the Race To Zero

    An anonymous reader writes "Last week Valve made an interesting but seemingly innocuous announcement: they're giving game developers control of their own pricing on Steam. Nicholas Lovell now claims that this has effectively kicked off a race to zero for PC game pricing. He says what's starting to happen now will mirror what's happened to mobile gaming over the past several years. Quoting: 'Free is the dominant price point on mobile platforms. Why? Because the two main players don't care much about making money from the sale of software, or even In-App Purchases. The AppStore is less than 1% of Apple's revenue. Apple has become one of the most valuable companies in the world on the strength of making high-margin, well-designed, highly-desirable hardware. ... Google didn't create Android to sell software. It built Android to create an economic moat. ... In the case of both iOS and Android, keeping prices high for software would have been in direct opposition to the core businesses of Apple (hardware) and Google (search-related advertising). The only reason that ebooks are not yet free is that Amazon's core business is retail, not hardware. ... Which brings me to Steam. The Steambox is a competitor to consoles, created by Valve. It is supposed to provide an out-of-the-box PC gaming experience, although it struggles to compete on either price or on marketing with the consoles. It doesn't seem as if Steam is keen to subsidize the costs of the box, not to the level that Microsoft and Sony are. But what if Steam's [unique selling point] was thousands or tens of thousands of games for free?'"

    212 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Portal 2 Beta Released For Linux

    jones_supa writes "Yesterday Portal 2, a Source-based game that has been missing a Linux version, got a public beta release. The Steam game product page doesn't yet say the game supports Linux. To access the beta for Linux, right-click the game in Steam, select Properties and go to the Betas tab. Valve hasn't published the Linux system requirements for Portal 2 yet, but WebUpd8 tested it using Intel HD 3000 graphics under Ubuntu and it worked pretty well."

    99 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Ask Slashdot: What Games Are You Playing?

    An anonymous reader writes "We haven't had this discussion in a while: what games are Slashdotters playing these days? We've recently seen the latest generation of consoles arrive on the scene. Almost exactly a year ago, Valve brought Steam to Linux, and they've been pushing for stronger Linux adoption among game publishers ever since. Mobile gaming continues to rise (for better or worse), MMOs are still sprouting like weeds, and Kickstarted indie games are becoming commonplace. For those of you who play games, what ones have struck your fancy recently? What older games do you keep coming back to? What upcoming releases are you looking forward to?"

    669 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Gabe Newell Responds: Yes, We're Looking For Cheaters Via DNS

    dotarray writes "Valve has stepped up to answer allegations that the company's anti-cheat system was scanning users' internet history. Rather than a simple, sanitized press release or a refusal to comment on 'rumours and innuendo,' Valve CEO and gaming hero Gabe Newell has personally responded." Newell or not, not everyone will like the answer. The short version is that Yes, Valve is scanning DNS caches, with a two-tiered approach intended to find cheating users by looking for cheat servers in their histories. Says Newell: "Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered this second check, accessing the DNS cache. 570 cheaters are being banned due to DNS searches."

    511 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Report: Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) Scans Your DNS History

    dotarray writes "If a recent report is to be believed, Valve is looking at your browsing history. Reportedly, the company's Valve Anti Cheat system (VAC) looks at all the domains you have visited, and if it finds that you've frequented hack sites, you'll be banned. 'The new functionality has been slammed by gamers, who claim it is "more like spyware than anti-cheat". Valve has not responded to the allegations, but all Steam users have agreed to abide by specific online conduct and not to use cheats. The company's privacy policy also explains that Valve may collect "personally identifiable information", but promises not to share it with other parties.'"

    373 comments | about 2 months ago

  • German Court Forbids Resale of Valve Games

    sfcrazy writes "A German court has dismissed a 'reselling' case in favor of Valve Software, the maker of Steam OS. German consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv) had filed a complaint against Valve as Valve's EULA (End User License Agreement) prohibits users from re-selling their games. What it means is that German users can't resell their Steam Games."

    261 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Steam Music Now Accepting Beta Signups

    dotarray writes "Valve continues in its quest for world domination with the announcement of Steam Music, soon to be a part of SteamOS, Big Picture and — eventually — the desktop Steam client. Promising a way for you to 'Listen to your music collection while you play games', beta signups (of a kind) are open now."

    102 comments | about 2 months ago

  • World's First Magma-Based Geothermal Energy System

    Lucas123 writes: "The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) announced it broke through to the Mantle and created a superheated steam pipe capable of producing power at the nearby Krafla Power Plant in Northern Iceland. The system was operational for several months until a malfunctioning valve forced its closure. The IDDP, however, plans to either reopen its first magma-based geothermal bore hole (PDF) — IDDP-1 — or drill another one at Reykjanes. While the IDDP-1 is not the first bore hole to reach the planet's magma, it is the first time an operation has been able to harness the mantle's heat to produce a steam pipe that could power a plant."

    161 comments | about 3 months ago

  • 30 Minutes Inside Valve's Prototype Virtual Reality Headset

    muterobert writes "Owlchemy Labs, the developers behind the excellent Oculus Rift ready game, Aaaaaaaculus!, share their impressions of their time at Steam Dev Days and detail their experiences using Valve's secretive virtual reality HMD prototype. An excerpt: 'I was told to walk off of the cube and it was physically difficult to step forward into the space where there was no solid footing, even though I knew that there would be a solid floor with a rug right there for me. It's amazing how the mind can trick you.'"

    59 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Ask Slashdot: Is Linux Set To Be PC Gaming's Number Two Platform?

    monkeyhybrid writes "Following a tweet from the developer of Maia (a cross platform game soon to hit Steam) that Linux was bringing him more game sales than OS X. Gaming On Linux decided to investigate further by reaching out to multiple developers for platform sales statistics. Although the findings and developer comments show Linux sales to still be sitting in third place, behind those of OS X and Windows, they are showing promise. Developer feedback certainly appears to be positive about the platform's future. With Steam OS on its way, surely leading to more big title releases making their way to the Linux platform, could Linux gaming be set to take the number two spot from Apple?"

    281 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Valve Offers Free Subscription To Debian Developers: Paying It Forward

    sfcrazy writes "Valve Software, the makers of Steam OS, is already winning praise from the larger free and open source community – mainly because of their pro-community approach. Now the company is 'giving back' to Debian by offering free subscription to Debian developers. This subscription will offer full access to current and future games produced by Valve. Since Steam OS is based on Debian GNU/Linux it's a nice way for Valve to say 'thank you' to Debian developers."

    205 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Valve Working on GNU/Linux Native Open Source OpenGL Debugger

    jones_supa writes "OpenGL debugging has always lagged behind DirectX, mainly because of the excellent DX graphics debugging tools shipping with Visual Studio and GL being left with APITrace. Valve's Linux initiatives are making game companies to think about OpenGL, and the video game company wants to create a good open source OpenGL debugger to improve the ecosystem. AMD and Nvidia have already expressed interest in helping them out. Valve has been developing VOGL mostly on Ubuntu-based distributions under Qt Creator. The software currently supports tracing OpenGL 1.0 through 3.3 (core and compatibility), and is expected to eventually support OpenGL 4.x. Many more details on VOGL can be found at Valve's Rich Geldreich's blog." This looks much nicer than BuGLe. Valve is using Mercurial for version control and they plan to throw it up on bitbucket under an unspecified open source license soon. It works with clang and gcc, but debugging with gcc is currently very slow (hopefully something that can be fixed once the source is available and the gcc hackers can see what's going on). The tracer's internal binary log format can be converted into JSON for use with other tools as well.

    88 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Valve's Steam Machines Are More About Safeguarding PCs Than Killing Consoles

    An anonymous reader writes "CES has come and gone, and we've gotten a chance to see many different models of Valve's Steam Machines. They're being marketed as a device for a living room, and people are wondering if they'll be able to compete with the Big-3 console manufacturers. But this article argues that Valve isn't going after the consoles — instead, Steam Machines are part of a long-term plan to keep the PC gaming industry healthy. Quoting: 'Over the years, Valve has gone from simply evangelizing the PC platform — it once flew journalists in from around the world pretty much just to tell them it was great — to actively protecting it, and what we're seeing now is just the beginning of that push. Take SteamOS. To you and me, it's a direct interface for Steam based on Linux that currently has poor software support. To Valve, though, it's a first step in levering development, publishing, gameplay and community away from their reliance on Windows and DirectX (and to a lesser extent Mac OS), systems that cannot be relied upon in the long term. ... As for Steam Machines, they are a beachhead, not an atom bomb. They are meant to sell modestly. ... The answer is that Valve is thinking in decades, not console generations.'"

    296 comments | about 3 months ago

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