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What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the steam-team's-dream-stream dept.

Input Devices 182

Now that we have the full picture of Valve's efforts to bring PC gaming to the living room (SteamOS, dedicated hardware, and a fresh controller design), people are starting to analyze what those efforts will mean for gaming, and what Valve must do to be successful. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh points out that even if Steam Machines aren't able to take the market away from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, they put us a step closer to the final console generation. "Valve has hopefully sidestepped the most depressing aspect of console gaming: the enforced obsolescence that makes you consign your entire games collection to a dusty cupboard every five years." GamesRadar notes that Valve's approach is fundamentally different from that of the current console manufacturers because it's about putting more power into the hands of the users. "The takeaway from SteamOS, then, is that openness breeds innovation. Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens. Comparatively, Microsoft is pushing its Windows Store, turning Windows into an increasingly closed platform (i.e. one that charges costly development licensing fees and restricts access to certain content providers)." Everyone's curious to see how the controller will perform, so Gamasutra and Kotaku reached out to a number of game developers who have experimented with prototypes already. "[Dan Tabar of indie studio Data Realms] said the configuration map for the controller allows you to do 'pretty much anything.' For example, developers can slice up a pad into quarters, each one representing a different input, or even into eight radial sections, again, each section representing whatever you want, mapping to key combinations, or to the mouse." Tommy Refenes, co-creator of Super Meat Boy, wrote an in-depth description of his experience with the device. He summed up his reaction by saying, "Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine."

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It means there's now one more API to target. (0)

RamiKro (3019255) | about a year ago | (#44979421)

Or more likely, another back-end for your engine of choice.

Re: It means there's now one more API to target. (-1, Offtopic)

kodokboy (2730947) | about a year ago | (#44979445)

Re: It means there's now one more API to target. (-1, Troll)

kodokboy (2730947) | about a year ago | (#44979487)

Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979521)

I was under the impression that engines that already support OpenGL won't need too much modification. SteamOS is just a desktop Linux distribution bundled with the Steam client in Big Picture mode. This means it uses the same video drivers and the same APIs as desktop Linux. The only engines that would need extensive modification are the ones that target only Windows and Xbox 360, as the other gaming platforms use OpenGL or something very much like it.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979635)

The only engines that would need extensive modification are the ones that target only Windows and Xbox 360

Which is the vast majority of all games.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (0, Troll)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979669)

[games] that target only Windows and Xbox 360

Which is the vast majority of all games.

Citation needed that "the vast majority of games" are not ported to Mac, desktop Linux, Wii, Wii U, or PlayStation 3. Case in point: Wii won the seventh generation, and Xbox 360 tied for second with the PlayStation 3.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979721)

The Wii pushed a lot of units but game sales were atrocious except for a couple of first party games. The WiiU has also been a tremendous flop thus far.

The vast majority of triple AAA games aren't ported to the Wii, OS X or Linux and that is unlikely to change anytime in the near future; especially with the overall Linux and OS X Steam usage stats being much lower than almost anyone expected. Linux is barely breaking 1% most months. Unless Valve can pull tons of first party developers over to "SteamOS," which I highly doubt, it's dead in the water. The public at large sure as fuck isn't going to settle for streaming games from their Windows PC.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979855)

Who is to say that smart developers won't be able to tie... say... Wine... into SteamOS? You know... the ability to use Windows Programs in Linux.

A stable version of Wine + SteamOS = an incredibly big catalog of games available all of a sudden.

Re: Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980441)

or if you already have a Windows machine in addition to your SteamOS box you can just stream your Windows stuff anyway.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980461)

That will probably be an option but most AAA games do not run in wine, or run crippled compared to their intended design.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (4, Interesting)

Mike Frett (2811077) | about a year ago | (#44981031)

Valve wants native ports, not Wine usage. Their strategy for streaming is sort of a Microsoft tactic. Consumers will find Steaming to be cumbersome and eventually demand native ports from publishers, that's valves goal with streaming; Native ports. They've had plenty of time to figure all this out and gather the data. It's a big risk for them, they aren't just going to throw something out there and hope it catches.

In the end we all need to stop thinking about Wine. It's more of a problem, than a solution.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (4, Funny)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a year ago | (#44981257)

The vast majority of triple AAA games aren't ported to the Wii

Just how many AAA AAA AAA games are out there, anyway?

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980609)

The only engines that would need extensive modification are the ones that target only Windows and Xbox 360

Which is the vast majority of all games.

No it isn't. The "vast majority of all games" include the PS3 as a target platform. Microsoft was more interested in timed exclusivity this generation than actual exclusives. And while PSGL isn't OpenGL, it is based on it. The only exclusives MS had this generation that were worth a damn were titles they published themselves. EA, Activision, Ubi, Rockstar, Bethesda, and everyone else stayed committed to multiplat for their AAA releases.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980625)

Rockstar

Sorry, meant to say Take-Two here. RS being a developer owned by publisher T2.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979639)

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-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44979995)

What they are doing almost guarantees real commercial video drivers for linux. Something AMD and NVIDIA have never had a financial interest in really pursuing just became a market place. That alone would likely the single biggest advance in linux gaming in the past 10 years. It's really up to Valve to get the ball rolling, but if they do, and they can get enough games working initially it's going to be a huge advance, and they'll likely skyrocket to Google/Apple levels of success. This is their hail marry, and if any company is crazy enough to pull it off I think its Valve.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44980117)

SteamOS is propably pretty X-less. AMD has just announced a new low-level API(they seem to be supported by DICE/EA on this one) and NVIDIA just this week have been falling over each other in their rush to announce proper Linux drivers.

Valve has a lot of weight to throw around and it seems like they did just this.
I'm not convinced by the controller design since it seems to lack the haptic feedback of twin stick, but I'm actually quite intrigued by this whole Steam OS thing. If they price their SteamBox right and actually pull off that streaming thing it might just be my thing. At the moment I'm considering a 20m HDMI and USB extension from my PC to my TV. Some games I prefer to play with a controller and then I might just as well do that on my TV, on my couch, in my living room.

...and no, I'm not interested in a console.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (3, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44980235)

Indeed, the AMD API they are proposing is supposed to be much lower level than OpenGL because console developers are used to getting away with being much closer to the metal when they only have 1 hardware target to shoot at. To get an idea of this, in neither OpenGL nor DirectX is there an efficient method of just taking a pointer into video memory and fucking around from the CPU side of things.

But when you look at AMD's APU setup, memory is memory.. video memory and main memory are one and the same.. there is no reason that you shouldn't be able to just go ahead and write to individual texels in a texture efficiently, and so forth.. something quite inefficient on a PC with a dedicated video card in the x16 slot.

AMD plans for this API to be "open" so Intel will be free to implement it on their integrated GPU's as well... NVidia, without its own x86/x64 architecture, will be screwed of course.

Re:Unless your engine already supports OpenGL (1)

dj245 (732906) | about a year ago | (#44980955)

This is their hail marry, and if any company is crazy enough to pull it off I think its Valve.

I'm not a big fan of American football, or any other sport actually. But a "hail mary" is an act of desperation, and it doesn't really apply to Valve. They have lots of money, a great revenue model, and their business is probably increasing, not decreasing. Kind of a ridiculous statement for a company that will be Just Fine even if this product flops utterly and completely.

Re:It means there's now one more API to target. (2)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#44980023)

Nope, wrong, it's just steam on linux really.

Re:It means there's now one more API to target. (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44980151)

Given that they are currently working on reducing input latency I would suggest that it is a bit more than that. Seems like they are losing the X server. Which on a dedicated OS makes a TON of sense. Also they are getting rid of a lot of OS overhead. If they succeed then we will all win since they said they will release the source soon. But I don't quite see them tinkering on the kernel. They are propably busy in the userland stack so they won't invoce the wrath of Linus.

Would have been cool, tho. A fight between Linus and The Gabe would have been highly entertaining.

Re: It means there's now one more API to target. (2)

arendjr (673589) | about a year ago | (#44980481)

What are the odds they are building off of Mir or Wayland to get their improved graphics and input performance? If they choose one of these it would add a lot of weight to the respective choice.

Re: It means there's now one more API to target. (4, Insightful)

techprophet (1281752) | about a year ago | (#44981809)

Wayland stands in one corner, hailed by the majority of the Linux community. In the other corner stands Canonical's canonical display server, all alone. Given Valve's actions so far, I'd wager a healthy amount of btc on wayland.

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Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979433)

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FUCK THAT SHIT - GIVE ME HALF-LIFE 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979439)

As a PC gamer who has been waiting for HL3 for many years, I couldn't give a rat's ass about these announcements.

:Living Room? (-1, Flamebait)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44979509)

Did I read that right?

Talk about dated . . . hello - the world is mobile now. Reach out and be someplace. The living room died so many decades ago, and so many cultures that game don't know what that is, that saying those words declares more about the misplaced hope of a few individuals than it does about whatever efforts they are trying to endorse.

Mobile has iffy controls and recurring fees (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979527)

Talk about dated . . . hello - the world is mobile now.

Good luck making good controls for a platformer on mobile. And good luck playing multiplayer with someone who can't afford upwards of $600 per device per year for a smartphone voice and data plan.

Re:Mobile has iffy controls and recurring fees (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about a year ago | (#44979789)

Good luck making good controls for a platformer on mobile.

By "making controls", do you mean as the game's designer or the hardware's designer? I mean, there are controllers for mobiles, and even a few mobiles with proper game buttons, check this. [willgoo.com]

A $40 controller for a $3 game (0)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979977)

By "making controls", do you mean as the game's designer or the hardware's designer? I mean, there are controllers for mobiles

The former. Game developers can't rely on the end user to buy a $39.99 controller for a $2.99 game. This means games in genres that don't adapt well to a flat sheet of glass get the shaft on mobile.

and even a few mobiles with proper game buttons [such as the iReadyGo Much i5]

Bringing your own phone is decidedly not the custom in the United States and Canada, which comprise a supermajority of the English-speaking industrialized market. This particular phone supports "WCDMA" (that is, UMTS) only on 850 MHz and 2100 MHz bands, not the 1700 MHz that T-Mobile USA uses for 3G in many of its markets. That leaves AT&T, which offers no discount for bringing your own phone. Besides, even in countries with a saner wireless market, game developers still can't rely on the end user to switch phone models for a $2.99 game. Otherwise, Sony's Xperia Play would be more widespread.

Re:A $40 controller for a $3 game (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44980279)

You may find that while the US and Canada are not the market majority when it comes to mobile computing. It is at best tied with Europe. Asia will in fact be the biggest market. Due to the lousy network coverage the US still is considered a developing country compared to Europe.

Also I didn't have to buy a controller for my tablet since my PS3 controller connects to it via Bluetooth. All I had to do was to connect it once per USB and now it is registered with my tablet.
The only problem you get with Android gaming is iOS ports. Those typically don't properly support controllers.

So please excuse me for laughing at you while playing Amiga games with a stock PS3 controller on my tablet wherever I go.

Re:A $40 controller for a $3 game (2)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about a year ago | (#44980857)

Game developers can't rely on the end user to buy a $39.99 controller for a $2.99 game.

Also I didn't have to buy a controller for my tablet since my PS3 controller connects to it via Bluetooth.

So... your correcting him by pointing out that you are using an MSPRP $54.99 controller instead of an MSRP $39.99 controller?

Provided people already own a PS3 (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44981339)

I think bfandreas's premise was supposed to be that a significant fraction of mobile gamers are likely to already own a PlayStation 3 console and the controller that was bundled with it. Support in Android games for the Dual Shock 3 will satisfy PS3 owners but not people who own an Xbox 360 (which uses proprietary RF instead of Bluetooth) or a Wii (whose remote Google broke in Android 4.2) instead of a PS3.

Which Asian language? (0)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44981403)

You may find that while the US and Canada are not the market majority when it comes to mobile computing.

I was under the impression that US and Canada put together were bigger than GB, Ireland, Australia, and NZ put together. Otherwise, you have to translate your game into multiple languages and hire voice actors in each language.

Asia will in fact be the biggest market.

Which Asian countries? Each seems to speak a different language. The only language that "Asia" has in common with Western Europe and the Americas is English in India. Is wireless coverage in India that much better than in Indiana?

Also I didn't have to buy a controller for my tablet since my PS3 controller connects to it via Bluetooth.

You had to buy a PS3 controller, but I see your point: those can be found cheap on eBay now.

Re:Mobile has iffy controls and recurring fees (2)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#44980177)

...or you connect a simple PS3 controller like I just did. I felt the urge to beat my Riptide GP highscores just this afternoon. So I hooked up ma tablet to my TV and connected my PS3 controller via Bluetooth to it.

Whenever I read of somebody who complains about mobile devices only being capable of touch controls I really read of some bloody idiot who hasn't even tried. PS3 controllers work on Android at least since 4.0. No root required.

Re::Living Room? (5, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | about a year ago | (#44979541)

What the hell are you talking about. Contrary to the Verizon commercials, people aren't watching movies on their phones in subways or coffee shops. They're scarcely watching them in theaters either. Where, then, are they watching them? In ... *cough* the.. ah... LIVING ROOM. Yeah, and people still game there too.

Re::Living Room? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979711)

I would how many people would, though, if one movie didn't use over half of their monthly bandwidth limit.

Re::Living Room? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979741)

I'm sure more people would if they had more data to use.

Re::Living Room? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979857)

> Contrary to the Verizon commercials, people aren't watching movies on their phones in subways or coffee shops.

I live in Finland, and watch stuff on Netflix with my Galaxy S3 almost everyday when commuting to/from work - I have a 21MBit max. connection which costs about 13 euros a month, with unlimited transfer. It's a regular pretty deal here.

No, computer room. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979543)

I have no faith that games as decent as Oblivion, Fallout3, Mass Effect (all) were, will ever be as fun on a PADD as they are on my PC.

Re::Living Room? (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44979559)

The living room died so many decades ago, and so many cultures that game don't know what that is,

More houses have a living room than bedrooms — in some cultures, they only have one room, and everyone lives in it. Of course, most of those cultures don't have game consoles. However, you may note that many people do in fact have living rooms or their equivalent, and they seem to still be buying consoles and console games. Otherwise it would have been tough for GTAV to smash all previous sales records.

Re::Living Room? (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#44980041)

That's ridiculous. You're saying that houses with a single room have a living room but NOT a bedroom? The single room serves the both purpouses, and most likely, won't have living-room furniture due to space constraints (My single-room flat is a clear example of that).

Re::Living Room? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980289)

If it's the room that you do your living in, i.e. in which you spend your casual waking at-home time, then the furniture in it is definitively living room furniture. You might spend all of your time out and only come home to sleep though in which case, fair enough, no living room and no living room furniture.

Re::Living Room? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982439)

This might be a local term, but what do other places call a 1BR-1BA apartment?

Re::Living Room? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44982481)

This might be a local term, but what do other places call a 1BR-1BA apartment?

If that's all that's in it, and the "kitchen" is part of the bedroom, then it's a studio. But I had a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom 600 sq-ft. apartment in Austin with a living room with a semi-separate kitchen. The toilet and shower were in a closet more or less, the sink was in the bedroom, and there was a washer-dryer stack in a literal closet with hookups in. I was happy to pay $600/mo for it since it was five minutes' walk from work. People asked me if I was crazy to pay so much. I explained that I was from California, where $600/mo gets you half a house in shitsville, a room in most towns, or half a room in a big city like SF.

Re::Living Room? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year ago | (#44979563)

Good for you. I'll now go back to watching Dr. Who via Netflix, on my Xbox 360, on my big TV screen. Oh and get off my lawn.

Re::Living Room? (4, Insightful)

higuita (129722) | about a year ago | (#44979585)

Thank you, but i spend all my day at work... where of course, i can't play...
traveling home, i'm driving... so i can't also play
at home, i'm in the couch relaxing... i can play some games in a tablet (not a small phone, forget that) or in the big screen. As most tablet games are simple, if i wan't a more rewarding game i must go the the PC (with linux)... or i can play directly on the TV. Valve helped in both solutions.

Mobile is for kids and teenagers, all rest prefer the office or the couch

Public transit (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979633)

traveling home, i'm driving... so i can't also play

That depends on what city you choose to live in. Some cities have high-quality public transit, allowing use of games designed for mobile platforms such as PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, iPhone, and Android.

Re::Living Room? (3, Interesting)

Omestes (471991) | about a year ago | (#44980377)

Except that mobile gaming is a completely different beast from living room or PC gaming. Mobile gaming is about quick bites, simple controls, and shallow gameplay (this isn't a bad thing, per se). Mobile gaming is casual, by default. Its hard to get into an epic RPG while on the bus, or in the dentist's office. If I'm going to play something like Skyrim, I'm going to do it in a comfy chair, on a good screen, with mature controls.

Tethering a controller to your phone or tab is counterproductive, since you "un-mobiled" mobile gaming, by forcing someone to carry around a controller as well as their device.

Mobile isn't replacing anything, I wish that fallacy would die. Mobile is supplementing a certain part of traditional markets, but it isn't replacing the core of those markets. Looking at console and traditional game sales back this up, they aren't slowing down in relation to rise in mobile device sales. Nor will they, since they fill a very different niche than traditional consoles and PCs for gaming.

Same with the stupid trope that mobile will magically kill traditional PCs... This is said by people who never used their PC for anything more serious than email and light web browsing. There is very little in my daily computer tasks that can be moved to mobile, outside of light email and web duties. Sure, this is a gap MS is targeting (badly) with the Surface Pro, but suddenly we're not talking mobile anymore, but a traditional laptop with a floppy keyboard and optional touch controls. And still it isn't going to be as good as my large screen for most tasks.

The living room died so many decades ago

I'm now picturing a family of four huddled in their backyard streaming watching movies on a 10" tablet. I feel kind of bad for them, since they could be inside, sitting in their living room watching it on an increasingly affordable giant HDTV.

Growing weary of "Steam Box" talk (0, Flamebait)

theurge14 (820596) | about a year ago | (#44979523)

Gabe and Valve keep talking about innovation but it's now been nearly 3 years since they floated the piston box prototype and with this new announcement we'll be waiting for another prototype in spring 2014. Exactly how long does it take to build a special purpose PC? That is all this Steam Machine is after all, correct?

The last time I paid attention to what Valve had to say it was Gabe back in 2010 or so talking about how with the Steam platform they would be delivering small incremental updates to Half-Life 2 instead of the "lengthy" episodes or even longer Half-Life 3 box sequels. Sorry Gabe, but 2014 is around the corner meaning it's been 7 years since Half-Life 2 Episode 2. You want the industry to follow your company's lead with Steam and games on demand type development then please lead by example.

Re:Growing weary of "Steam Box" talk (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979561)

Exactly how long does it take to build a special purpose PC?

Building is the quick part. Convincing retailers to carry it takes a bit longer. The last four major entrants to the console market had to do something special to get noticed. Nintendo had to disguise its NES as a "toy" by using a finicky front-loading mechanism and a gimmicky robot. Sega had an initially disastrous distribution deal with Tonka during the third generation but made its market during the fourth by being the first to allow "MA-17" (now "M") rated games. Sony and Microsoft had to rely on their earnings from other industries.

Re:Growing weary of "Steam Box" talk (1)

djupedal (584558) | about a year ago | (#44979661)

Bit longer? If you mean that it'll never happen, then sure. Don't patronize what can't happen. Be honest, or at least try, thanks.

Re:Growing weary of "Steam Box" talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979849)

Dude, that shit you mentioned happened 25 years ago. Hardly relevant now. What are you so excited about the fat blob's Steam Box? Wasn't the Ouya, with it's gay-as-hell stupid fucking name, supposed to take the gaming world by storm?

History rhymes (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979989)

Dude, that shit you mentioned happened 25 years ago.

That doesn't make needing a gimmick to break into the market any less true now than decades ago. As Mark Twain pointed out: "It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible."

Re:Growing weary of "Steam Box" talk (1)

higuita (129722) | about a year ago | (#44979597)

the opengl support in linux, cheap hardware and opening the game studios takes time. only this year you start to have many commercial games in linux being release month after month, instead of 2 or 3 per year

Valve did not make the Piston (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979729)

The modular piston model computer made by Xi3 is in no way affiliated with Valve. It was a sly sham. Valve was in talks with Xi3 to see what could be done, but stopped associating with the company, and shortly thereafter Xi3 started promoting the Piston and accepting preorders.

They used some meetings as the impetus to declare that their prototype product was Valve's creation and websites at it all up.

Re:Growing weary of "Steam Box" talk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980237)

All I heard was "waah waah i want hl3 waah waah"

For a start.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979533)

...it means i'll be buying more console games.

Fuck DRM, Fuck Steam, Fuck Valve.

Consoles have DRM (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44979615)

Consoles have digital restrictions management too, as they use cryptography to ensure that there's no endorsed way to load a game that hasn't been greenlit by the console maker. True, the major console makers have eased up on their developer qualifications for this eighth generation in the face of competition from OUYA and Apple's App Store and Google Play Store. But as I understand the SteamOS reveal, you'll still be able to add games that haven't been greenlit by Valve [steampowered.com] to your library.

Re:Consoles have DRM (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#44979629)

Right, just not through Steam. It's a general purpose computer that is guaranteed to work well for games.

Re:Consoles have DRM (3, Informative)

DudemanX (44606) | about a year ago | (#44981429)

You've been able to add shortcuts to non-Steam games from within Steam since... oh... forever. I've got a shortcut to notepad in Steam that I rename whatever I want so people that I'm friends with can see shit like...

Dudeman
In non-Steam game
Nerdfest has full-blown AIDS

You can make shortcuts to any executable you want and name it anything you want. It's pretty cool.

When will the right people get to test controller (5, Insightful)

ShiftyOne (1594705) | about a year ago | (#44979549)

I'd much rather see the headline "pro-gamers get their hands on the steam controller and approve" than anything else. Especially any that use the claw or hammer grips (aka keeping a finger on the a b x y buttons at all times). Game developers aren't necessarily known for being good at their games.

Re:When will the right people get to test controll (1)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | about a year ago | (#44979581)

This. I'm most curious as to how this would work with the typical dual-stick layout of a first person shooter. How would something like Battlefield work, where there is also semi-extensive use of ABXY buttons? Having to take your thumb off the pad to push those seems like a possibly significant problem.

Re:When will the right people get to test controll (2)

stms (1132653) | about a year ago | (#44979671)

I've watched a bunch of stuff (indie-game the movie, Interviews, ext.) with Tommy Refenes and Honestly if I trust anyone's opinion on input it's him. Doesn't mean he couldn't be wrong but if he says it works well that's a pretty good sign to me.

Re:When will the right people get to test controll (2)

AdamHaun (43173) | about a year ago | (#44979783)

They're sending out controllers as part of the Steam Box beta. The participants are pulled from Steam users who volunteer and jump through a few hoops, so we'll no doubt see reviews from outside gamers very soon.

Re:When will the right people get to test controll (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#44979949)

I'd much rather see the headline "pro-gamers get their hands on the steam controller and approve" than anything else.

If the Steam OS is PC gaming for the living room, then the controller needs to be designed for the gamers who inhabit the living room. Lots of families playing there. Lots of casual and social gamers playing there. The prod not so much.

Re:When will the right people get to test controll (3, Informative)

mechtech256 (2617089) | about a year ago | (#44981637)

The dev behind Super Meat Boy (comically difficult side scroller with a cult following) put up a nice synopsis of his experience testing the controller:

http://tommyrefenes.tumblr.com/post/62476523677/my-time-with-the-steam-controller [tumblr.com]

Pretty good review for a 3d-printed prototype. Importantly, it seems like it's not fundamentally flawed, and the touchpad based control system works fine in practice.

Re:When will the right people get to test controll (1)

cOldhandle (1555485) | about a year ago | (#44981971)

So in summary, despite the terrible digital pad and stiff, domed buttons, he still prefers the 360 pad? One of the "minor" problems with this new controller is that "your thumbs need tactile contact in order to accurately know what button you are pressing", but this controller doesn't even have this "advanced" feature, so you don't know which button you're pressing!?!?!? Isn't that like the most fundamental feature of an input device??? Wow, this Valve controller sounds great... I personally just don't understand how old consoles like the SNES, Genesis, even the NES had MUCH better digital pads than modern consoles - I'm not sure if they're trying to intentionally cripple them to encourage 3D games over 2D or what.

Super meat boy dev tried it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982295)

Apparently the guy who made super meat boy got to use it and has detailed his experience. Have you read it? It answers a lot of my questions and put my fears to rest.

Or are you waiting for fata1ity's review? :P

Re:Super meat boy dev tried it (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44982559)

Link for the lazy [tumblr.com]

TLDR quote for the super lazy:

If you were to ask me to choose between Steam Controller and a 360 controller, I would choose 360. Don’t take that as slight to the controller though because it’s more about the comfort of familiarity over functionality. I would choose a 360 controller because I have several thousand hours experience using it, however if tomorrow all game controllers were wiped off the earth and the only option was the Steam Controller, I don’t think this would be a bad thing. In fact, I don’t think gaming would miss a beat. I’m excited to see what final hardware feels like because I think with the upcoming iterations of the controller we’ll see something that is different, but still feels good.
TL;DR; Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine.

This is the future (5, Insightful)

tom229 (1640685) | about a year ago | (#44979569)

This is another company using open platforms, and standards, to sell their services. We've already seen this work extraordinarily well with Android, and being that Steam is already the largest online repository for games, I see this working out well for Valve.

This is a fantastic leap forward for gaming and open standards. Unfortunately Microsoft is just barely figuring out how to poorly copy the declining success of the Apple model... looks like they'll have to play catch up again.

Re:This is the future (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979891)

>This is a fantastic leap forward for gaming and open standards. Unfortunately Microsoft is just barely figuring out how to poorly copy the declining success of the Apple model... looks like they'll have to play catch up again.

Haha, you Slashdot freedom fighters are so funny. Do you have any idea why Valve was so popular in the first place? It's because they could sell games on Windows, and the games just magically keep on working through the years, from XP => Vista => 7 => 8. And all this thanks to Microsoft, not Valve.

And how much did Valve pay Microsoft for all those sold games on Microsoft's platform? Not a goddamn cent. There's no appstore. And the REAL irony? Now Valve wants to sell their own app store to Linux gamers.

You see, it's because if you want a standard platform for gaming, there's one above the rest - Windows. Like it or not, that's the truth.

Re:This is the future (1)

guru42101 (851700) | about a year ago | (#44980051)

Valve does put a lot into compatibility. If you go and find the install CD for some old game and try to install it there is a decent chance it won't work. However, Valve and/or the creator of the game put in the effort to figure out what DLL's and such are required to run the game.

Re:This is the future (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about a year ago | (#44980563)

That's squarely in the realm of the developers. Valve doesn't do any such compatibility work on third party games. If the developers don't upload or update the runtime files, for example patches for older games to run on modern operating systems, the game will not launch properly from Steam. We already see this in many older titles that have to specifically warn that XP, Vista, or 7 might not be a suitable OS for such games because the developers can't be bothered to or otherwise can't create a patch for modern operating systems.

Re:This is the future (3, Insightful)

minasoko (710100) | about a year ago | (#44980227)

Haha, you Slashdot freedom fighters are so funny. Do you have any idea why Valve was so popular in the first place? It's because they could sell games on Windows, and the games just magically keep on working through the years, from XP => Vista => 7 => 8. And all this thanks to Microsoft, not Valve.

What drivel. No wonder you ACd. Microsoft sell a platform, Valve had a enterprising idea 10 years ago that used the platform and it's been a success. Now Microsoft want to get into Appstores, in typical "me too" Microsoft fashion. This is a threat to Valve's business and so like a responsible company head, Newell is working on a plan B, in case MS decide to make it much harder for Steam to exist on Windows.

And how much did Valve pay Microsoft for all those sold games on Microsoft's platform? Not a goddamn cent. There's no appstore.

Microsoft got paid through Windows sales, it is in their interests to make that platform appealing. They even took the piss by forcing newer Windows releases on gamers using arbitrary restrictions. Do Adobe pay Microsoft every time someone buys Photoshop?

And the REAL irony? Now Valve wants to sell their own app store to Linux gamers

I don't think you know what irony means. And what's the RRP on SteamOS?

Re:This is the future (2)

Ost99 (101831) | about a year ago | (#44980761)

You see, it's because if you want a standard platform for gaming, there's one above the rest - Windows. Like it or not, that's the truth.

What Valve understood, but you fail to understand is that this is the way it WAS. It's no longer true with Windows 8, 8.1 and Microsofts plans and new limitations.

Re:This is the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981113)

> Do you have any idea why Valve was so popular in the first place? It's because they could sell games on Windows, and the games just magically keep on working through the years, from XP => Vista => 7 => 8. And all this thanks to Microsoft, not Valve.

LOL I know you've never laid hands on a PC game, then.

No, games do not "keep working" through the years. That's a bold-faced lie. Even to get KOTOR running on VISTA (one generation after its intended operating system), after installing from CD, and patching, it literally took hours of random patches from fans of the game coupled with ridiculous regedits to get the game to be "playable" (crashing every 40 minutes instead of every 10, or on startup!) --> compare this to the Steam re-release of KOTOR, which works perfectly out of the box.

Or how about playing some of the even older games -- the ones whose INSTALLERS crash (let alone the actual game...)? Or the older Mechwarrior games, for instance, where the gamespeed was timed to the clock of your processor?

Yep. Games "just keep working" on Windows.

Re:This is the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979955)

I haven't seen anything about the ad platform they are adopting.

I do not have a console; I saw a friend's Xbox 360 and I wondered why he paid for such advertising. The last time I had a console, it was a Dreamcast -- and as primitive as it was, I put a game in, and it booted and played. I didn't get to see ads unless there was one for something ancient like the Matrix Phone or something embedded into it.

If they are going to provide a free OS that is paid for by ads, as opposed to the games I have already given them money for the privilege to pay -- then I will keep using the steam client, until that too shows ads unrelated to anything about the games I may want to buy or play. And at that time, I will keep it in off-line mode until it won't let me, or my host file will get updated to block the ads as best as I can, or whatever.

Don't make it free based on my perceived monetized value. I can't imagine why everyone puts up with what MS has done. If Steam does the same... I will just go back to copying diskettes or something. The pirates likely will remove the ads, just like the DRM, and they'll have the better product.

Re:This is the future (1)

tibman (623933) | about a year ago | (#44981811)

Pretty sure the only ads you will see are the ones that popup after you quit a game. To me it is more like a "this is on sale!" or "here is something new!" type of notification. More like game news, than ads.

Re:This is the future (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#44980057)

This is a fantastic leap forward for gaming and open standards. Unfortunately Microsoft is just barely figuring out how to poorly copy the declining success of the Apple model... looks like they'll have to play catch up again.

"Open standards"? They're trying to grow their market to sell more DRM-based stuff, that's not really open. The Linux kernel is just a tool, not their target.

Re:This is the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980087)

Where is the rage about lack of disks? Steam is more restrictive today than Microsoft's Xb1 original plans and Slashdot raked them over the coals.

which market (2)

Jaktar (975138) | about a year ago | (#44979593)

I think Valve's target audience are the console gamers that can't be bothered to build a gaming rig. I know quite a few of them from work. They're intimidated with using a keyboard and mouse for gaming.

I'm not really interested with trying to play 99% of my library on the "big screen". There's really no benefit to bringing the remaining 1% to the TV as they play just fine with what I already have.

I'm not their target audience.

Re:which market (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979787)

I think Valve's target audience are the console gamers that can't be bothered to build a gaming rig.

They spend all of their time playing video games and can't even assemble a PC. Losers.

Re:which market (1)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about a year ago | (#44979967)

Are you sure they're intimidated by keyboard/mouse, and it's not just that k/m is terrible from the couch?

An Xbox 360 controller works just fine on PC, so k/m isn't really a factor when using the PC as a living room entertainment device.

I wonder what percent of PC gamers are still sitting at a desk rather than playing from the living-room couch or in a home theater.

Re:which market (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44980343)

An Xbox 360 controller works just fine on PC, so k/m isn't really a factor when using the PC as a living room entertainment device.

..but it IS a factor in playing games designed for k/m with that 360 controller. I can't imagine playing a PC RTS on a console controller, and you notice a distinct and complete gimping of console RTS's compared to PC RTS's because of the fact that a controller sucks giant donkey dick as an input device when it comes to any advanced RTS's.

Re: which market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981125)

"Advanced" as in a fast paced, heavily micromanaged one right? THAT variety of "RTS" can go jump right off a cliff, and I'm speaking as a PC RTS fan.

AMD Mantle on SteamOS = perfection (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979667)

SteamOS has one MASSIVE problem- performance in AAA gaming. SteamOS (at this time) can only offer the horribly broken/inappropriate OpenGL and OpenGL ES family of drivers/APIs. The OpenGL family, as well as being only somewhat similar to DirectX, varies in performance to extremes when considering revisions of GPU hardware from AMD, Nvidia, and Intel. It is a dirty little secret that these three hardware companies only want to create 'good' OpenGL drivers for their latest GPU designs, often disowning parts that are only a few years old (Intel, for instance, is NEVER going to have good drivers for the Atom chips that use PowerVR GPU cores).

Now, when it comes to 'casual' games, most new GPU parts have so much power, they are overkill for such titles, and can deliver good gaming performance even with appalling inefficiencies in the drivers. Hoverer, even casual games are starting to leverage the excellent deals AAA engine companies offer developers who use their products in modest (saleswise) applications.

The bottom line is that SteamOS needs to have next-gen console ambitions. It needs (in the better Steam boxes) to desire to compete with the Xbone and PS4. There is only ONE way this can happen- by complete adoption of AMD's Mantle driver/API on SteamOS. Unlike DirectX, Mantle is OS agnostic. Mantle (or something very like it) will be the low level API for all development on the Xbone and PS4 (both of which have 2014+ PC-like architectures).

Mantle requires the computer (be it console or 'desktop') to use x86 CPU cores, and AMD's GCN GPU cores. GCN can be thought of as an ISA (instruction set architecture) like x86 or PowerPC or ARM or MIPS. Take the x86. The internals of the CPU changed massively from 386 -> 486 -> Pentium -> Pentium Pro/Pentium 2 -> Pentium 3 -> Pentium 4, BUT the 32-bit x86 ISA remained the same. AMD will likewise update the internals of their GPUs generation on generation, but the GCN ISA will remain.

Mantle allows developers to talk to the computing units of the GPU directly, something OpenGL and DirectX can NEVER, EVER do. Therefore, in future situations, Mantle may be 10x+ more efficient at KEY rendering tasts than OpenGL/DirectX- an advantage no next-gen AAA console developer would dream of ignoring. Most AAA games will originate for the console market, and will NEED Mantle to allow ports to PC like platforms, including Steam Boxes.

Mantle solves the issues of lousy/untrustworthy/problematic graphics drivers on Linux in one simply, incredibly price efficient act. The fact that it locks one vendor in (AMD) and one important vendor out (Nvidia) is an issue, but Nvidia is essentially copying AMD's fundamental approach to the GPU in their 2014 GPU designs, and could possibly come to an arrangement to make their parts GCN 'compatible' (like how AMD makes x86 CPUs compatible with those made by Intel).

Anyway, if SteamOS adopts Mantle for AAA, and OpenGL ES2.0 and OpenGL ES3.0 for more casual games, there is no reason Valve can't have a fantastic success with this project. Following the Microsoft path on the other hand (forcing extraordinary hardware overkill to merely maintain 'parity' with the next-gen consoles) will doom SteamOS.

Re:AMD Mantle on SteamOS = perfection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979707)

Fuck you.

Re:AMD Mantle on SteamOS = perfection (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about a year ago | (#44980533)

Your rebuttal was quite succinct, but I feel it inadequately addressed your concerns with the previous poster's argument.

Re:AMD Mantle on SteamOS = perfection (2)

jonwil (467024) | about a year ago | (#44979897)

The SteamBox will have whatever hardware Valve decides to include. Valve will be able to choose the CPU and GPU combo that makes the games they intend to run on the device (i.e. Source engine titles, whatever else is on Steam for Linux etc) run the best (including picking a GPU with good OpenGL support)

Valve can also publish a set of specs and say "if you want the best SteamOS experience, buy this hardware.

I am disappointed in Valve (4, Funny)

asm2750 (1124425) | about a year ago | (#44979767)

I wish Valve would start announcing new games. This console infatuation is getting annoying.

Re:I am disappointed in Valve (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about a year ago | (#44980547)

Well, at least all our jokes are still intact. After the trauma of moving from "DNF" to "Valve can't count to three" I don't think I could live through the wave of memes associated with finding another glacial publisher of a beloved property.

Samsung & Huawei Consoles (3, Interesting)

Tim12s (209786) | about a year ago | (#44979805)

Nice, due to this we'll have Samsung and Huawei games consoles. Give it all away.

Cloud gaming (1)

DrXym (126579) | about a year ago | (#44979843)

It's fairly obvious that SteamOS and its hardware is leading up to cloud gaming. They might support streaming from a PC as well in the short term but that's a side effect of where they are heading. I expect that when they finally out themselves that many existing titles will be instantly playable through the cloud if someone has already bought them. Not sure what they'd do for things like DLC though.

"more power in the hands of the users" (5, Insightful)

swampfriend (2629073) | about a year ago | (#44979947)

What I see is less power in the hands of users as all games become subscription and "early access." The developer is freed from its obligation to ever provide a finished product that actually belongs to the user, rather than being leased or sold "on spec"

Re:"more power in the hands of the users" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981963)

The hardware and OS are the lease. I mean, I have DOOM in my closet. And I suppose it would run if I could get it off the 3.5" floppy disks. Somewhere in my closet is a floppy drive too... Or I could get some port, I know. But in the end, I can still run DOOM mostly because it's something people still want to play. I can't really get the thing I was sold to work like it used to. I wonder if Command And Conquer would play if I loaded that... I'm thinking not really... so in the end, the ownership is a mirage. unless you are using VisiCalc still...

Re:"more power in the hands of the users" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981987)

You do know that you don't have to buy a game as soon as it becomes "early access"? It is actually possible to wait until it becomes a proper game.

Citation Not found (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980245)

"Microsoft is pushing its Windows Store, turning Windows into an increasingly closed platform (i.e. one that charges costly development licensing fees and restricts access to certain content providers)"
Cannot find a citation for this. Because it is it simply not true. I speak as a software developer publishing software on Windows.

Bad name... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980261)

I think it's a mistake to use the Steam name to define the open platform they want to drive, as it is the same name as their product so other companies may be reluctant to go as it would be free advertising for your opponent. SteamOS, SteamBox, SteamController...

What would have happened if Android had been called Google?

Not Valve's operating system (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about a year ago | (#44980491)

Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens.

Valve took our OS, improved it, and is going to give it back. It's the Open Source way.

However, there are still a bunch of propriety extensions in SteamOS. But at least with Valve's effort non-Steam users will also benefit.

HL3 (2)

Glendale2x (210533) | about a year ago | (#44981493)

No, the only thing this means is that they're still not working on Half-Life 3.

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