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Gabe Newell Talks Linux As the Future of Games at LinuxCon NA

samzenpus posted about 7 months ago | from the listen-up dept.

Linux 369

Slashdot's Timothy Lord is attending LinuxCon in New Orleans this week and writes in with the following. "Valve co-founder and managing director Gabe Newell says in no uncertain terms what the brain trust at Valve thinks: When it comes to actual users, 'Linux is currently insignificant by any metric' (by any metric that matters to game companies, at least, like number of players, minutes played, and — all important — revenue). On these fronts, Linux players are 'typically under 1 percent' of what game companies see. But that's not the upshot. The takeaway is just about the opposite, says Newell: 'The future of gaming is on Linux.' Newell expounded on the present and future of games on Linux in a keynote address at LinuxCon North America, which kicked off today in New Orleans. He described ways Valve is working to improve the landscape for games on Linux, and hinted at new hardware developments from the company in the near future." Keep reading for the rest of Tim's report.Since Valve's 1996 founding, the company has come out with a rash of well-known games including Half-life, Counterstrike, and Portal, for personal computers as well as the console market. In that time, though, Valve, like the rest of the computer world, has gone through structural changes driven by the falling costs of both computers and bandwidth. These, says Newell, have increased the relative value of design and game quality in general, but also marketing and — crucially — distribution paths. That has ramifications throughout the games industry, including the emergence and growth of online delivery for games and updates. (Valve’s own system, Steam, is up to 50 million users by itself; the console infrastructure is even bigger: Sony claimed that many users three years ago). The changes in relative costs have also spurred free to play models and large-scale e-sports. (Large scale is no joke: According to Newell, "At the last tournament we held, we had over a million people watching it simultaneously.")

Newell describes a trend toward end-users being involved, though, not just as spectators, but as content creators. He describes this in fairly sweeping terms: “Games will becomes nodes in a linked economy, where the majority of digital goods and services are user generated.” That sounds a bit grandiose, perhaps, but it’s grounded in numbers. “The Team Fortress community creates 10 times the amount of content [that developers do],” says Newell. While he says Valve has always been happy to compete with other game studios (“we’re a little bit cocky”), “the one entity we wouldn’t ever want to compete with is our own users; they’ve already outstripped us dramatically. It’s not by a little bit; it’s an order of magnitude already.” Broad-based distributed development like that is what open source has been whipping up in the world of software for decades.

Creating games or games content, though, isn’t for the faint of heart: centralized online app stores (Apple’s in particular) “put an enormous number of roadblocks in front of doing that,” including developer approval as well as vetting individual apps and updates to them. In that context, he says, few users have the stubbornness or wherewithal to get through that. A more streamlined system for taking advantage of eater player/developers is needed.

“Several years ago, we thought ‘OK, if our model is correct, we need to help making Linux a good gaming plaform for users and developers.” To that end, Valve makes for a case study in how Linux has been creeping in: the company shipped the first dedicated games server running Linux in 1999. Now, most games servers run Linux (now several hundred thousand — and “probably a million”).

Those game servers are dishing up prodigious loads of data: “Near as we can tell, we’re generating something like 2 to 3 percent of worldwide mobile and land-based IP traffic, and that tends to startle people who don’t realize what a large sea change is going on. Even ignoring game servers, we’ve delivered over an exabyte of data year to date.” (Internally, he says, there’s approximately 20TB of content in a Linux-based version control system. This, says Newell, is true for companies like Bungie, too.)

Impressive as those data-shoveling numbers are, they don’t exactly shout desktop (or living room) success. But steps that Valve (along with other companies) has taken make it easier to swallow the claim. “Several years ago, we thought ‘OK, if our model is correct, we need to help make Linux a good gaming plaform for users and developers.” The first major move, says Newell, was to get a game — a real, graphics-intensive game — going on Linux. The process, though, revealed a “sweater thread” of issues, revealing flaws in in all parts of the stack: faulty drivers, gaps between Linux distributions’ included software, pitfalls in the user experience, and flaws in the company’s Steam tools.

In the course of resolving problems in each of those layers, “The good thing is that if we get a game like Left for Dead running, we’ve probably worked through issues for lots of developers. We’ve definitely solved problems for the Call of Duty team, or Tour of Duty, or whatever. The games aren’t that different; the key thing is to get changes all the way through for users. In February, we shipped [the Linux] Steam client; today -- at least when I got on the plane -- Valve has 198 games running on Linux.“

The bug-fixing and code-developing isn’t just a sporadic effort; the company has “several guys on SDL,” started by current Valve employee Sam Lantinga, and is co-developing a new Linux debugger, in addition to the work they’ve done on the LLVM debugger.

Making Linux a better platform for games is necessary, but may not be sufficient in itself, though. Platforms tend to cluster not just by operating system, but by context: platform, mobile, and console games don’t always play nicely: “As a user, I shoudn’t have to buy new games, or have new friends, or whatever, just because I’m sitting on a couch.” With Linux certainly a more-than-viable software platform for games, but still in the chicken-and-egg world of low user and revenue numbers that discourage spending developer time on Linux end users, Newell says the next step is necessary work on the hardware side of the equation, to smooth the open-source path between the developer and back-end data handling side of the games business to actual end-users.

“One of the things we had to do, is we're staging out the different pieces we think are necessary for staging to make Linux the future of gaming,” said Newell. “Our next step, having done these other pieces, is on the hardware side. There are thermal issues and sound issues, but also a lot of input issues.” He closed with this tease: “Our next step on this is to release some stuff we’ve done on the hardware side. Next week we’re going to be rolling out more information about how we get there, and what are the hardware opportunities we see for getting Linux into the living room."

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369 comments

Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (-1, Troll)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 7 months ago | (#44866459)

What with them releasing all their games on Linux and requiring that all Steam games have Linux versions, and all.

Wait, that was just a dream? So that *didn't* happen??? But I am still married to Natalie Portman, right?

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (4, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44866517)

Part A has essentially happened. Everything by valve that's not way-too-old-to-port has been linuxified.
Part B isn't going to happen because they want developers to target whatever audience they feel like.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866567)

Part A has essentially happened. Everything by valve that's not way-too-old-to-port has been linuxified.

Nice to hear. Last time I checked, almost all their newer games like Portal 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive weren't available on Linux. Glad to know they've finally fixed this and started taking Linux seriously.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (4, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44866617)

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867035)

I just clicked through the 17 pages (at 25 items/page). With the exception of Valve's own games (Half-Life games, Orange Box), the list seems to be composed mainly of games already ported to Linux (or cross-platform in general) and available through other channels (direct from developers, GoG, Humble-Bundle). Many seem to be casual or puzzle games originally designed for mobile platforms/tablets. Quite a few entries are tiny bits of DLC that seem designed to monetize by nickel-n-diming the user (Dungeon Defenders seems to have the most items in the list).

All in all, not all that impressive. I'm not feeling the Linux love yet and wasn't moved to get a Steam account.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (1, Informative)

fat_mike (71855) | about 7 months ago | (#44867357)

The link he posted showed a grand total of 23 games. One released in 2013, one in 2010 and the rest 2009 all the way back to 1998. I give Steam credit for taking this on and for the prices they are charging but I believe Newell is blowing smoke up Linux user's butt to increase sales.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866799)

Be thankful CS:GO isn't on Linux. It's a disgrace to the CounterStrike franchise.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866817)

CounterStrike is a disgrace to the CounterStrike franchise.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (5, Funny)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 7 months ago | (#44866593)

Right, and Natalie Portman is never going to target a guy with a SlashID in the high 7 didgits.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866677)

Natalie Portman is never going to target a guy with a SlashID. Full stop.

FTFY

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (5, Funny)

Nick (109) | about 7 months ago | (#44866873)

Right, and Natalie Portman is never going to target a guy with a SlashID in the high 7 didgits.

I can confirm the above is true.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 7 months ago | (#44866615)

Not the last time I checked.
I have been waiting for portal 2 for ages now. When they can't even get the first party stuff ported what are the odds the other stuff ever will?

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44866629)

Yeah, I can see Portal 2 didn't make it. That sucks.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 7 months ago | (#44866657)

Nor L4D2, nor HL2 save for beta.
I appreciate the effort but my spending would be higher if there was something I did not already own. I bet that is a big part of the less than 1% and the dropping number of linux steam users. They should have held off announcing until they had some actual games.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about 7 months ago | (#44867037)

HL2 isn't beta any more. But yeah, I'd buy more Valve games if I didn't already own them. I played through Portal again (with the open source Radeon driver), and have been playing HL2 now and then, but I usually end up booting to Windows for gaming, just because I'd rather play Bioshock Infinite or whatever. The next big Linux game coming up seems to be Football Manager 2014, but that's just a glorified spreadsheet. I remember playing it under Wine when it was Championship Manager 10 years ago, and it actually ran faster than under Windows.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 7 months ago | (#44867133)

Ah, I stopped checking about a month ago.
Valve should release something new, it has been ages since anything interesting came out from them.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (2)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | about 7 months ago | (#44866773)

Everything by valve that's not way-too-old-to-port has been linuxified.

Great joy and merriment! I'm off to play Portal 2 on linux!

Should I end the post here, or clarify it's sarcasm, or take a whack at 'the linux gaming is a lie' humor?

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (3, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | about 7 months ago | (#44867231)

Part A has essentially happened. Everything by valve that's not way-too-old-to-port has been linuxified.

If anything the opposite seems true. The really old goldsrc stuff (HL, opposing force, blue shift, CS, TF:C) seems to have been ported and so does the first generation source stuff that was kept up to date (HL2, HL2:EP1, HL2:EP2, HL2:DM, HL2:LC, portal, TF2, CS:S). I also notice DOTA 2 and deathmatch classic are aslo available on linux but I don't know what engine branches they used.

The games based on more recent branches of the source engine (alien swarm, left 4 dead, portal 2, CS:GO) do not appear to have linux releases. Nor do the source engine conversions of the original half life and counterstrike.

Re:Guess that's why Valve is so behind Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866947)

Part 2 won't happen the way you said, but valve can give "a large cut" of the revenues for games that support all SOs, that way it starts to get worthy port for linux... until there are linux user enough.

Microsoft is in trouble (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 months ago | (#44866475)

One thing(among others) that drove people to stay with Windows for their home PCs has been that games have used windows as a target platform. Microsoft decided their games division should push their consoles as hard as possible, even directing partners to target the consoles above windows.

Valve recognized early that Microsoft was a competitor and couldn't be the only provider for environment. A push to linux on steam is going to drive abandonment of windows. Microsoft has damaged their headline product to push a broken model of black-box entertainment.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 7 months ago | (#44866577)

There may be some truth to that. Microsoft having a garbage networking implementation of (GFWL) Games For Windows Live certainly isn't helping. i.e. Trying playing Resident Evil 5 co-op. You have to keep trying that it eventually connects. Either way, Microsoft, intentionally, or unintentionally, is driving customers away to other platforms.

Sadly, I don't see Linux Gaming replacing Windows anytime soon -- its pretty much the only reason I use Win7 anymore. :-( Carmack has said Linux sales have been abysmal. (Of course the Windows, Mac, and Linux ports) haven't always come out at the same time, but still that doesn't the bottom line. i.e. Witness the sales figures of the crappy Diablo 3 for consoles.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the PS4 running *bsd.

Digressing, I really wish Apple would make a standard gamepad for iOS. It would kick the crap out of the PSP and PSP Vita for sales.

Wonder what "price point" the Valve Linux Hardware will be at.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866693)

Quote : "I really wish Apple would make a standard gamepad for iOS."

Good news. They are already working on one.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 7 months ago | (#44866711)

And Valve is already working on Half Life 3.

I'll believe both when I see them.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (3, Interesting)

cheater512 (783349) | about 7 months ago | (#44866725)

Its funny. There are so many people like you who keep Windows around for games.
I wonder what the total number of people like that is.

Because gaming isn't here yet on Linux in a big way, but a large force getting all those 'I dual boot for games' people gaming on Linux would swing the tide an awful lot.
And perhaps Valve is just that large force.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (4, Informative)

nullchar (446050) | about 7 months ago | (#44867251)

The dual-booters could swing the numbers a bit, but we'll need more "It Just Works" when using a Linux desktop to get large numbers of gamers to move operating systems.

(That or somehow convince Nvidia/AMD to eek out more FPS on linux using the same hardware.)

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 7 months ago | (#44867347)

It will just reduce the amount of times people go into windows. For now their will always bet hat one one game or application you must have that runs only on Windows.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (3, Insightful)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#44867153)

Sadly, I don't see Linux Gaming replacing Windows anytime soon

I don't see any system being dominant int the near future, not even windows. I expect period of many competing game systems for a while.

With no dominant system, I think there will be a higher tolerance for change, and a big push for interoperability, which Linux is really good at.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867459)

Digressing, I really wish Apple would make a standard gamepad for iOS. It would kick the crap out of the PSP and PSP Vita for sales.

The iPhone is already kicking the crap out of the PSP and Vita.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 months ago | (#44866889)

A push to linux on steam is going to drive abandonment of windows.

The biggest untold story in PC gaming on Slashdot this summer? The $10.5 million Humble Origin Bundle --- Electronic Arts and Windows only. The Humble Bundle is a fairly reliable measure of the pathetic state of Linux PC gaming: The Humble Weekly Sale Retro Shooters: Statistics [humblebundle.com]

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867321)

Linux users still pay more per user.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (2)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 7 months ago | (#44867041)

Which doesn't change the fact that most people don't use Linux in the first place, when talking about traditional desktops or laptops (the systems relevant to this discussion). I think it's great that Valve has ported over their small handful of games. I also think it's great that "indie" studios are releasing stuff for Linux right off the bat. I just don't think we'll see any mass shift towards Linux for gamers at the level some people here are hoping for.

Worst-case scenario is pretty much where Windows 8 permanently cripples the PC gaming scene by forcing people to migrate over to consoles or deal with a crappy desktop experience. What it won't do is force them to replace Windows with Linux, partly because even the entry-level Linux distro's all seem to be going the same route as Microsoft with the tablet UI thing.

Best-case scenario is PC gaming limps along for a while, with some migrating over to the new and shiny consoles with fairly cutting edge experiences, until Windows 9 comes out most likely offers a more traditional desktop experience, or the entire industry gaming industry gets on board with the App culture, and starts distribution that way.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (2)

Alarash (746254) | about 7 months ago | (#44867073)

I think I'm a good example. My main desktop OS is Windows. For a server I'll install CentOS 6.4 without even thinking twice, but for desktop, I use Windows. Windows 8, at that. There are two reasons: On Windows I can install a game without having to manually change any file (which by itself would require to read 3 or 4 threads on some obscure board, if I was using Linux). I just double click the installer, and It Just Works. The second reason is Visual Studio.

I have no passion about open software, even though I try to favor those as much as I can (mostly because they are free, and more and more of greater quality). So I won't be using Linux by 'political choice.' For now Windows is just a superior desktop experience for the two things I like most: games and C#. Make games and C# development as good on Linux as it is on Windows, and I'll switch overnight.

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 7 months ago | (#44867095)

Not having Wimdows at home (Mac/Linux) I have an XBox. I will build a game system if Linux has the games. Can't bring myself to do it for Windows (though I did look into a Windows VM but still, nah!).

Re:Microsoft is in trouble (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 7 months ago | (#44867201)

Microsoft is doing fine. They are well diversified. Even if they shut down their Windows division tomorrow they would still have several other multi-billion dollar businesses.

"hinted at new hardware" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866505)

Whatever. Steambox; the proverbial unicorn of the console world.

This should be easy. This should have been on the shelves in 2012.

WTF valve?

Re:"hinted at new hardware" (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 7 months ago | (#44866561)

It takes time. I have a 'Steambox' in my living room right now, and Gabe is absolutely spot on when he points out that input is a huge problem. Steambox is more then a physical box Valve will ship, its an idea. Take standard PC parts and make them into a dedicated console that anyone can build.

Re:"hinted at new hardware" (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#44866937)

I got one(well, it's more of a laptop attached to a 55.5" tv) and it works perfect. you just need a couch that's optical mouse friendly and a wireless mouse and wireless keyboard that's the right size.

of course, if you have a huge stomach you just can't hold the kb on the lap while lounging on the couch like I'm doing right now. this is how I just played 2 hours of borderlands 2 with my brother - launched from steam.

they've been dabbling and hinting at the fucking steambox for so long now that it makes the hl2 development cycle seem like a day though. the problem is that they still haven't come up with the gimmick that would actually make it into something else than just buying a mini pc. so it will be in development until they find that gimmick because without it there is little point in paying any premium to them for pc parts. the stuff that has leaked from valve over couple of past years indicates that they've been throwing a lot of money into finding such a gimmick.

and Gabe if you read this shit: you can't just fucking stop a game in the middle of an explosion without earning a gigantic FUCK YOU FATSO. what's next, the main character waking up at the beginning of the next game and casually saying "I had the strangest dream..".

Re:"hinted at new hardware" (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 7 months ago | (#44866603)

Steambox; the proverbial unicorn of the console world.

I'll pay for one with the bitcoins mined from by Butterfly Labs box.

3 biggest lies (5, Funny)

OutOnARock (935713) | about 7 months ago | (#44866515)

1. The check is in the mail.
2. Linux is the future of gaming.
3. I won't cum in your mouth.

Wouldn't the Year of the Linux Desktop have to occur before the Year of Linux Gaming?

just saying is all.....

Re:3 biggest lies (1)

timothy (36799) | about 7 months ago | (#44866613)

Re. #2 on your list:

I dunno; I think if games are (good enough / numerous enough), that might be a bigger driver of "the desktop" than the desktop is of games. I'm not really a video gamer, to put it mildly, but I sure wish there were more (money-making, popular) games on Linux for that reason.

Re:3 biggest lies (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about 7 months ago | (#44867275)

It's not enough to just have many of the games also run on Linux. If all the same games (plus many more) also run on Windows what's the advantage of spending money on a Linux gaming rig? (Other than ideology which is a small slice of even the people who do know about Linux)

Get me a steambox and ill start gaming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866529)

My laptop is for work. My console is for gaming. I wouldn't jeopardize my work to play games. As soon as there is a steam box, i'll start gaming with linux.

Erm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866543)

Licensing aside. BSD and Linux comparisons aside.

Aren't the PS3 and PS4 running variations of FreeBSD? Would this not be exactly "Nix in the home for gaming."?

FreeBSD titles are bound to be easier to port to Linux than say FreeBSD / OpenGL to Win8 kernel / DirectX, correct?

If those assumptions are correct, it would appear that he's late to the party.

Re:Erm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866935)

FreeBSD titles are bound to be easier to port to Linux than say FreeBSD / OpenGL to Win8 kernel / DirectX, correct?

1: You'd port to the Win8 platform, not the kernel.

2: There's no need to convert from OpenGL to DirectX unless you're targeting XBox.

But yes, it would be easier to port from BSD to Linux than to Windows.

A few things need to happen first (4, Interesting)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | about 7 months ago | (#44866557)

1) Switch to the Wayland graphics stack -- games don't need X11 and all its complexities

2) Provide a Direct3D-compatible state tracker so devs don't have to mess with OpenGL

3) Linux really, really needs a Visual Studio. The reason why Visual Debugger is so great is largely because of the rest of Visual Studio. No, Eclipse doesn't count.

Game devs are used to the Windows ecosystem. Compared to it, what's available on Linux is stone knives and bearskins. Until that changes, not many game devs will be enthused about Linux development.

Re:A few things need to happen first (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 7 months ago | (#44866635)

1. That's happening
2. That seems like a patent nightmare
3. Man up, use VIM or Emacs :) I imagine linux will get visual studio when MS ports it and not a second before. Lots of non-game devs seem to do fine without visual studio.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866667)

1) Switch to the Wayland graphics stack -- games don't need X11 and all its complexities

This doesn't matter, games already make use of SDL 2.0/etc and don't ever touch X directly.

2) Provide a Direct3D-compatible state tracker so devs don't have to mess with OpenGL

OpenGL/SDL 2.0 are as good as the DirectX framework. You do realize that there is a shit ton more to DirectX than just Direct3D, right? Also, after this is implemented, what is to stop MS from continuously breaking the DirectX API for newer games? The move needs to be a push towards cross platform code and away from platform specific libraries.

3) Linux really, really needs a Visual Studio. The reason why Visual Debugger is so great is largely because of the rest of Visual Studio. No, Eclipse doesn't count.

No, it doesn't. Linux has some pretty good existing IDEs anyways from KDevelope to Intellij (although this is commercial/JAVA focused), and, yes, even Eclipse. While I agree Eclipse sucks in comparison to say Intellij (for Java), it is still fine and gets the job done well. Visual Studio is pretty bloated and leads to pretty damn lazy developers, IMHO.

So, yeah, sorry, all of your points make no sense.

Re:A few things need to happen first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866735)

Holy crap are you an idiot.

Re:A few things need to happen first (-1, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | about 7 months ago | (#44866787)

The OP is not an idiot. You're the idiot. So are all of you mindless X-hating morons rallying around Wayland.

Games need good driver support. They need better driver support than you get from some vendors. They need better cards than you get from some vendors.

NONE of is this in any way related to the nonsense of Wayland.

All Wayland does is reset things back 10 or 20 years in terms of driver maturity and vendor support.

I don't want Wayland because I don't want gaming or any other high performance GUI activity on Linux to suck.

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater won't help me one bit.

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 7 months ago | (#44866785)

Is Visual Studio really that awesome, or is it merely good but has raving fans because of sheer inertia (e.g. Visual Studio can do 5000 things and IDE X can do 5000 things just as quickly, but tens of thousands of developers already know how to do 3500 of those things in Visual Studio and don't feel like tackling the equivalent learning curve in IDE X.)

For IDEs that claim to be C++ friendly there is Eclipse, Netbeans, KDevelop, QT Creator, Code::Blocks, there must be others. Does Visual Studio really trump them all?

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | about 7 months ago | (#44866831)

They're fans of Intelli-sense, not Visual Studio. If their text editor can't immediately guess which function they should be using, they freeze up and forget how to check the reference documentation.

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

DuckDodgers (541817) | about 7 months ago | (#44867067)

There are plugins to add Intelli-sense to Emacs and Vim, of course.

In my opinion - an opinion I am sure is popular on Slashdot - you need to know your programming language and basic build steps very well before you move to an IDE. An expert in Visual Studio can use Visual Studio quickly, but if Visual Studio does something he does not expect, or he has to work outside it for some reason, or he needs to develop for a platform that Visual Studio does not target, his productivity is shot to hell. An expert in C++ development from a text editor, console, and manually edited makefiles can learn to use Visual Studio quickly and will rapidly approach the Visual Studio expert for productivity, but if Visual Studio does something he does not expect, he can drop out and look at the underlying environment with ease. If he needs to switch to a C++ development chain outside Visual Studio, the transition is quick. And if someone comes out with an IDE that is equal or better than Visual Studio for his needs, he can switch quickly.

A more interesting discussion is languages that seem to thrive without IDEs, like Python, Lisp, or Perl. In those, I think the lack of an IDE is not a handicap - the language just lets you play with pretty complex abstractions with relatively few lines of code, so you don't need a nice tool putting in foo.getBar().getBaz().doQuux().parse("freeze").insert("qubits").add(42) for you. I work with Java, I can do all of my work from a console plus Vim, but I'm just so much faster in Eclipse or Netbeans. I play with Python and Lisp in my spare time, and in those I don't see how fancy developer tools can add as much value for either language.

Re:A few things need to happen first (4, Insightful)

neminem (561346) | about 7 months ago | (#44867089)

"They're fans of Intelli-sense, not Visual Studio. If their text editor can't immediately guess which function they should be using, have to go check the documentation, thus wasting a couple minutes that they could have been programming in, and breaking their flow when they get back."

Fixed that for you. Why badmouth something for making your job easier? "Your car has cruise control? You must really blow at driving if you use it." Why do people think like that?

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866955)

You forgot VIM and EMacs. Really efficient as well, get to know them and you will never have to take your hand off the keyboard while at the same time doing things faster if you were to touch a mouse.

Re:A few things need to happen first (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 7 months ago | (#44867025)

Is Visual Studio really that awesome

Yeah. It really is.

Visual Studio can do 5000 things and IDE X can do 5000 things just as quickly, but tens of thousands of developers already know how to do 3500 of those things in Visual Studio and don't feel like tackling the equivalent learning curve in IDE X.)

Sort of. I'm sure pretty much everything you can do with VS can be done in another IDE. But the curve is not equivalent, its much narrower, steeper, more slippery, and is prone to falling rocks. ;)

The learning curve isn't the same difficulty; and there's a lot more arbitrary "weirdness".

To try and make an analogy... Visual Studio is like a regular keyboard. Qwerty, with the f-keys up top, the inverted T arrows, and the number pad to the right.

IDE X ... ok... its Dvorak. Things are in different places, and we were expecting that. But there's more... its not quite Dvorak; you have to pull up on the caps and number lock keys to toggle them instead of pressing them. And the escape key? That one you have to twist counter clockwise. The function keys don't register until you hold them for 1.5 seconds, and the pipe symbol is is missing... ok not missing, if you press the P, the I, and the Shift key at the same time you get the pipe symbol; there's a few other chords as well. And shift only works on half the keyboard -- so if you are want a letter on the left side of the keyboard shifted you MUST use the shift on the right side, and vice versa. The number pad 0 is on a rocker switch, and the 7 is just missing (but its still on the main keyboard). :)

Not that visual studio doesn't have its WTF bits, but there's less of them relative to the alternatives. IMO.

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | about 7 months ago | (#44867453)

In addition to what others are adding, in my experience Visual Studio actually works. XCode and some of the others are very unpolished in the debug area. They randomly disconnect from debug target or some such. MonoDevelop randomly corrupting layouts drove me mad.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866797)

Just to let you know Visual C++ compiler doesn't fully include C++ 11

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866843)

You have no clue at all. Really. All three points are either bad ideas or plain wrong.

Garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866857)

1) the future of graphics APIs lies with openGL ES3.0, ES4.0, etc. DirectX is acknowledged to be a dead-end even by Microsoft

2) the 'windows ecosystem' is actually crap for games (even though it is currently better than anything else). Take when MS depreciated gaming access to anything other than the main 2 mouse buttons. Games using MS mouse APIs suddenly lost all the functionality of modern mice. It was years before MS put this functionality back into Windows.

Then take MS's godawful support of in-game video and sound codecs. Sensible companies use open-source solutions to sound codecs, and open-source or third party codecs for video.

And again, consider Microsoft's putrid driver model for modern GPUs. No game can afford but a handful of state-changes per frame, making most clever uses of the GPU impossible. The new console from Sony, the PS4, is able to completely revolutionise the use of the GPU by allowing hundreds of times more state changes per frame then any Windows gaming PC.

All Microsoft gives to games developers is a mediocre set of standards, many of which (as with 'Games for Windows Live') suddenly wink out of existence when MS gets bored with them. If a gaming PC could be programmed 'to the metal' (as is the case with the Xbone and PS4), the game would run at least 3 times better for any given combination of GPU and CPU. The Microsoft 'tax' is at least 66% of the potential performance of that hardware you own.

As for Visual Studio, well NOTHING prevents one from using visual studio to create Linux (or Android) apps. A Windows environment can easily emulate enough of a Linux gaming environment to make the final cross-port trivial.

(Future) Gaming on Linux is all about 'to the metal' coding similar to what the best games will be doing on the PS4 in a couple of years. Go study the architecture of the PS4 (and the Xbone). The Windows PC will NEVER adopt Huma/HSA designs in any significant way, and the dreadful driver model of Windows 7/8 is never going to see significant improvement. Microsoft doesn't have enough juice left to create a 'to the metal' replacement for DirectX. .

Re:A few things need to happen first (3)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 7 months ago | (#44866871)

3) Linux really, really needs a Visual Studio. The reason why Visual Debugger is so great is largely because of the rest of Visual Studio. No, Eclipse doesn't count.

Man up and learn how to use GDB. It's not that hard. And makefiles are your friend.

Re:A few things need to happen first (4, Interesting)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 7 months ago | (#44866933)

It's not about ease-of-use (although it is kind of about that), it's about functionality. GDB simply can not do half of what Visual Studio's debugger can.

Developers with Visual Studio are debugging inside their HLSL shaders. To my knowledge, nobody else is doing that. Nobody else can do that.

The fact that Visual Studio's debugger is easier to learn, and much better integrated with the IDE is just frosting.

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 7 months ago | (#44867213)

Neat feature, but it is synthesized:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/vstudio/hh873197.aspx [microsoft.com]

That said, there's no reason why other special purpose debuggers couldn't do the same with enough effort.

Re:A few things need to happen first (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 7 months ago | (#44867281)

Well, synthesized, processed, monkey-driven... who cares? The point is, it's there and it works. And Microsoft put in the effort.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867353)

That said, there's no reason why other special purpose debuggers couldn't do the same with enough effort.
 
Talk like that doesn't mitigate the fact that they don't.
 
It's like when I landed my first administrator job. Some hack who thought he was cool shit because he was sporting Linux on his laptop (complete with Tux sticker!!!) came up to me one day and said that he could probably do my job. I didn't dispute it. I certainly wasn't the end-all-be-all in my field. I'm still not and I can't image ever being the top dog. But I told him the magic trick... I had the job, he didn't. It didn't matter who could do my job or if they could do it better as long as I was the one doing my job.
 
That was over a decade ago and to the best of my knowledge my "rival" has never held a job that's paid more than a couple bucks above minimum wage. Many people including many people around here discount the idea that people need a reason to replace someone or something else, not just an alternative. This is why many people will stick with VS and this is the reason many people will stick with Windows.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867475)

Developers with Visual Studio are debugging inside their HLSL shaders. To my knowledge, nobody else is doing that. Nobody else can do that.

OpenGL tooling is sadly nearly non existent, the gDEBugger was barely usable and stopped dead two years ago shortly after becoming AMD exclusive. Best part: the last few releases (only available from AMD) intentionally crippled existing functionality if it could not find the AMD driver - anyone remember how they complained about the Intel Compiler pulling that stunt on them?

The fact that Visual Studio's debugger is easier to learn, and much better integrated with the IDE is just frosting.

AFAIK GNU tools are designed to be hard to integrate with non GPL software. I don't even want to know how Eclipse, Netbeans and QtCreator manage to work around that - I just imagine it has to be rather painful.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867105)

The whole point of widespread adoption is to make sure devs don't have to "Man up and...".

Productivity matters to businesses. Given a tiny market share, if the dev's productivity is terrible, the math just doesn't work.

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | about 7 months ago | (#44866903)

Games don't (and shouldn't) need a windowing system at all. If it is full screen, then it takes over the display. If it isn't, it is a hardware overlay at the coordinates/dimensions the window claims to be placed at.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867103)

Games don't (and shouldn't) need a windowing system at all. If it is full screen, then it takes over the display. If it isn't, it is a hardware overlay at the coordinates/dimensions the window claims to be placed at.

They don't need a windowing system, no, but unless you want them to shut down all your currently running applications whenever you start them, they need to play friendly WITH the windowing system, meaning they need to play friendly with everything else running as well.

And if you think that's all right, then there's already an answer for you: Consoles. You can go pick one up, have fun with it, and quit your bitching.

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

ilguido (1704434) | about 7 months ago | (#44866977)

Real men use Emacs...

No kidding, kiddo, here is a list of Naughty Dog's Jak and Daxter development tools:
Allegro, Common Lisp, Visual C++, Maya, Photoshop, X Emacs, Visual Slick Edit, tcsh, Exceed, CVS

From Gamasutra [gamasutra.com] and Visual C++ is there just because it was the only compiler supported by Sony at the time.

Re:A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866991)

Visual Studio Debugger is absolutely shit, and any _serious_ Windows developer knows that.

WinDbg, on the other hand...

Re:A few things need to happen first (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#44867197)

Visual studio is not required at all. That's like saying Linux needs IIS to be successful (no apache doesn't count). Linux has a few shortcomings, development tools ain't one of them.

Re: A few things need to happen first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867295)

Depends on what you're talking about. Existing game porting, or NEW from scratch games. If it's the latter, relying on MS specific API's is about the dumbest thing Valve could do, since the future of gaming is Linux! Ports, and secondary compatability(WINE), will still come, regardless of whether they do what you've stated.

If you think MS would ever release DirectX, or Visual Studio into something close to GPL, you're quite delusional, or are a paid MS shill. Or both.

Hardware Push (1)

moschner (3003611) | about 7 months ago | (#44866563)

This really sounds like it is more of a hardware push than anything. They can build the OS for their gaming machines and servers with linux cheaper and I would guess easier than doing an OS from scratch. I'm guessing the "Linux is the future" talk is better marketing spin.

Let me just say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866669)

...thank you, Gabe Newell!

Well, yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44866699)

Process of elimination points at Linux.
Windows is starting to be unfathomable for even the common user with the monstrosity that is 8.
Mac is...apple. I don't think dealing with them professionally is ever a good idea.
So that leaves Linux.

Re:Well, yeah. (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 7 months ago | (#44867083)

Windows is actually perfectly fine with XP and 7 being widely used and 7 still selling far more then 8.

It has to after all. Almost no one runs 8. People buying new computers with 8 preinstalled just upgrade to 7.

Doesn't Matter (5, Interesting)

tom229 (1640685) | about 7 months ago | (#44866841)

I took on a project of trying to convert my gaming machine to Ubuntu this summer. No wine, only native games that would run on 12.04LTS. The result: Summer is over, and I'm back on Windows.

At first it was nice to see more games running on Linux, and even Steam available for Ubuntu. However, the vast majority of title's I owned on Steam weren't available, and the ones that were were buggy. Take for example the Valve title DOTA2. It works on Ubuntu through steam, natively, but it's slower, and has several annoying bugs when typing in chat and minimizing the fullscreen to the desktop.

Skype works, but was buggy. My headset worked, but had more static, etc, etc.

What's more is I had two random crashes. One due to a kernel update that rendered my machine unbootable, and the other (after a fresh reinstall) due to a nvidia proprietary driver update that continuously crashed X server on boot. I'm not sure what the underlying issue is with Linux. I'm not sure why it's so difficult to get anything that's a binary (not open source from the repositories) working properly. But this seems to be my experience every year since about 2006 when I attempt to transition everything to Ubuntu.

Valve could make it happen (2)

Metricmouse (2532810) | about 7 months ago | (#44866887)

They should run a promo for 2-3 years that lets game developers collect 90-100% of Linux ports/new games' profits on Steam sales. It may get the ball rolling and move the culture forward to commonplace .

unicorn fart? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867011)

sooo ... about this DRM?
my "other" tricked out computer has the steam client thingy. wonderful!
it has the OS that needs to be weighted down my ant-virus, anti-trojan, else
it get's hauled away by tinkerbells fairdust that is permanently present in the
internetz.
because of the DRM thingy though, this "other" computer has NO OTHER SOFTWARE
installed and is basically just a self-screwed together console, thus no extra anti-fairy weights needed.
my point is: is the same attraction for fairy dust also the reason why steam and its DRM
is sooo easy to install on that computer but not soo easy to install on (any) linux?
i'd love to wipe the "other" tricked out computer and install linux to use steam.drm exclusively.

Drivers driver drivers. (1)

bored (40072) | about 7 months ago | (#44867063)

With PC gaming its really important that the graphics drivers are easy to upgrade.

I recently purchased the humble bundle and tried running a couple of the games on a linux install on a recently purchased laptop. While the distro I was running was supported by the games in question. The drivers needed are apparently new enough they didn't make it into the most recent version of that distribution. So, instead what I got was a GL SL v4 system where the shaders didn't work well enough to actually play the games in question.

Uh, what a PITA. All the games just worked in windows 8 on the same machine, but the install process to upgrade the intel HD 4000 graphics drivers is basically dependent on the distribution maintainer. The process for doing it by hand quickly unmotivated me enough to give up. I don't need to waste 4-5 hours recompiling 1/2 of the linux graphics stack to just upgrade my drivers. This from a guy who maintains large parts of an embedded linux system at work.

I can't really imagine how anyone really runs linux who isn't a kernel hacker. I had to manually hack the blutooth driver on that machine, write a custom script to disable the touchpad, and only after a few days discovered how to control the LCD brightness because the built in KDE/etc tools weren't working. All this on a laptop that actually has worked better in linux than any I've previously owned/used.

Bottom line, linux needs to create a proper driver ABI and dump the kernel symbol versions for something more like C++ name mangling. Then the drivers will only fail to load if the kernel API's actually changed rather than because someone happened to recompile the given kernel version on a different machine.

Re:Drivers driver drivers. (5, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 7 months ago | (#44867411)

I agree but it is not going to happen.
1. The kernel developers hate closed source drivers and sees this as a way to discourge them.
2. They believe that not having a binary interface improves security.
3. They believe the myth that if you just provide the interface that the community will write the drivers.
Of course what happens is the closed source drivers just write an FOSS stub that they use to provide a binary interface to the closed source drivers.
As to number 3 I call it a myth because it is. AMD has released the docs to their gpus and guess who is doing most of the work on the AMD drivers? AMD.

Bring back INFOCOM (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | about 7 months ago | (#44867121)

We have been waiting ages for another ZORK. Please, somebody? A game that's all brainteasers and wordplay and fake magic and really really bad puns? And no shoot-em-ups, and no swear words, just family fun? Please?

Games on PC Linux or Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867215)

They are not worth it. A modded wii and torrentz and you'll have more games to take up more time that you'll care to (it can run nes,snes,mame, etc).

99 for a used wii and you are good to go. Games on PC are too expensive especially when hardware is artificially obsoleted. (Radeon HD3450 now no longer works on xorg 1.3 which all new distros use.) HD3450 works great for all games I've played on Linux (low settings sure). I'm not buying a new graphics card just to play games on Linux. xorg fucked me, and ati fucked me. Fuck gaming on PC especially on Linux.

Games run better on Linux than on Windows (1)

Rick Richardson (87058) | about 7 months ago | (#44867269)

My son says:  "My Source games run better on Linux than on Windows by about 15% - once the majority of games get a Linux version I'm done with Windows for good"

Re:Games run better on Linux than on Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867367)

wow that's informative and very well sourced

Re:Games run better on Linux than on Windows (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867375)

Just shut up if you can't add anything meaningful to the conversation. This is the kind of bullshit you should be posting to Facebook, not here. No one in the real Linux community gives a fuck what your son thinks about anything let alone his estimate on the numbers. That's the kind of shit that makes Linux look stupid.

Re:Games run better on Linux than on Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867445)

I'm pretty sure that if I rewrote my years old code it would be afterwards at least 15% faster.

Lot of work needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867299)

Linux as itself is pretty much unusable by most of the population. Everything is patch over patch over old support of things that shouldn't exist any more. Linux need a BIG, HUGE cleanup before people can start working with it.

Nerds love games, Nerds love Linux. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#44867427)

There is a significant portion of gamers that have a Windows boot just for gaming and would love to stay 100% in Linux. It is not good enough that a game
works in Linux, but it has to work as well or better in Linux. If it is easier to just boot into Windows, or the gaming experience is better in Windows, then people will continue to play games in Windows.

There is an insignificant portion of Linux gamers that refuse to boot Windows for games and so simply will not buy Windows games. This is where the new money comes from, and there is not a lot of it. This is why there is so little focus on gaming in Linux.

Game companies have to want to make games for Linux, and not simply for the purpose of making more money. Microsoft has recently been doing a great job of pissing off independent and off-beat game studios, which makes Linux look a lot more enticing. This is good news for Linux gamers as it is really the only thing that is pushing companies like Valve into making Linux versions of their games.

TL;DR;

Stop buying games that are not made for Linux if you want companies to start making games for Linux. Game developers see no reason to support Linux if Linux gamers buy Windows games and boot into Windows to play them.

I smell amazonical things arriving in a steamy box (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 7 months ago | (#44867437)

Anyone else think that a canonical list of games is going to ship down the world's longest river and kindle something hot and steamy on top of TV sets? Because that's what I've been seeing for more than a year now.
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