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Valve's Gabe Newell Speaks on Console Development

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the steam-is-steamed dept.

Businesses 529

DelitaTheFridge writes "Gabe Newell, of Valve fame, criticizes Microsoft and Sony on how difficult it will be for next-gen developers to produce games on their upcoming hardware. He is especially critical of Sony's model, where code written to run on Cell will be very hard to port to other systems, and vice versa. Will this bring upon a new era of PC Game superiority? Only time will tell. In the meantime, Newell says he believes that Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content."

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529 comments

Pots and Kettles (3, Informative)

fembots (753724) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485528)

Steam-like systems

You mean the one that forces you to "update" before you can play its game? This system is making a player's life difficult too.

It's worth noting, however, that Valve is historically a PC games developer and has only made two console games thus far--Counter-Strike and Half-Life 2, both for Xbox.

I think this line says it all - Valve is inexperienced in cross-platform console game development, and it's whinging about it. Kind of reminds me of Alternative Browsers Impede Investigations [slashdot.org]

Re:Pots and Kettles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485550)

"You mean the one that forces you to "update" before you can play its game?"

I don't recall being able to play any online game without the latest version.

Re:Pots and Kettles (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485734)

Last time I checked Half-Life 2 isn't an 'online' game.

Re:Pots and Kettles (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485756)

Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Quake 3

Granted you'll have to only join like versions but it sure wasn't forced.

Yea okay... (2, Insightful)

Iscariot_ (166362) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485559)

But what's your response to new content? What's going to happen to things like free levels and, for example, the free ninja gaiden update that was made available. Nope. No more of that. So his point is correct. And honestly, what's wrong with FIXING something? I see no problem with updates. I like getting new maps and new player moddles for FREE from valve. I also like fixing cheat bugs and such that simply cannot be solved once.

Actually (3, Informative)

Solr_Flare (844465) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485562)

Say what you will about Gabe and Valve, he is very correct about both systems. In Microsoft's case, they've made things a pain for developers by having two different models with and without a hard drive.

In the case of the PS3 and Cell, it is different enough in design from "traditional" architecture that cross platform development for it is going to be a nightmare.

Re:Actually (5, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485663)

In Microsoft's case, they've made things a pain for developers by having two different models with and without a hard drive.

It's only a pain if developers want to use the hard drive as more than a glorified memory card. Otherwise, there's no problem. Developers have said that Microsoft has been telling them for a while now to design their games to work without the a hard drive. If developers choose to ignore that advice (and it's questionable whether that's just advice or if it's part of the certification program required to release a game for the platform), they have no one to blame but themselves. Consumers have every right to feel screwed by Microsoft making the hard drive optional, but developers have no right to complain. Besides, doubling the RAM from 256MB to 512MB is a much more useful change for developers than a standard hard drive, so they can't complain that Microsoft isn't listening to their feedback either.

In the case of the PS3 and Cell, it is different enough in design from "traditional" architecture that cross platform development for it is going to be a nightmare.

The PS2 is "different enough" as well, and yet that hasn't stopped anybody from building cross-platform games. Frameworks that abstract out the underlying implementation details will pop up soon enough. The real question is whether or not Sony is going to provide a good SDK to get new developers started. They didn't do that with the PS2, which really hurt their launch line-up and had the effect of removing smaller developers from the market because they couldn't afford to take the time to build their own framework or to buy one from someone else. Microsoft has always been very developer-friendly, and one would expect that to continue with the 360. With the next gen consoles being relatively equal in power, providing a good SDK and developer support will be a key factor in getting good games on the new platforms and in winning exclusive third-party games for their respective consoles.

Re:Pots and Kettles (2, Interesting)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485564)

Will Microsoft's XNA platform prove to be a good idea?

It seems like the entire plan *IS* to make cross platform (Xbox/PC) games easier to make.

Something like XNA, if it proves to be useful, could very well swing a large pendulum in Microsoft's favor.

How expensive is an XNA developing environment anyway...I assume it would be much cheaper than the hardware/software required for Xbox/Playstation development.

Re:Pots and Kettles (5, Interesting)

Colol (35104) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485583)

In the meantime, Newell says he believes that Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content.

I'm sure that's the kind of thing Microsoft loves to hear after spending the lifetime of the Xbox being absolutely rabid about games not being allowed to patch themselves. MS has put a lot of effort into trying to keep their console running finished products, not hack jobs that aren't playable until three patches down the road, and now Valve wants to foist bug fests upon console players.

Maybe -- just maybe -- this type of plan will finally beat Valve over the head with a clue stick. After the abortion that was Half-Life 2 and the abomination that is Steam (interesting idea, crap execution), I'd be really happy to see them get back to the ground they seemed to be breaking with Half-Life.

On top of it all, on what planet is Gabe living where everyone has broadband enough to want to patch their Valve console games over and over? I can do other things on my computer while it downloads patches. On a console, you get to stare at a progress screen until it's done. No good. Especially not at 50 bucks a pop for console games.

Re:Pots and Kettles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485751)

Abortion that was Half-life 2 and Abomination that was Steam?

I guess fanboys don't have to explain themselves these days, what with all the great reviews given to HL2.

I'd hate to see you go off if they actually did make a bad game, we'd probably see drooling and mad CAPS! [neoseeker.com]

Re:Pots and Kettles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485844)

HL2 is crap, steam is crap. I don't need games magazines "awards" to tell me otherwise.

Re:Pots and Kettles (5, Insightful)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485618)

You mean the one that forces you to "update" before you can play its game? This system is making a player's life difficult too.

Yeah, I really hate it how it automatically, within notime (on a decent DSL connection) brings me my updates to my game(s) : I much rather go back to the good old days to connecting to a server, only to discover there's a new patch out I which I have to download.
Then I will have to find that patch with a decent download and no ridiculous artificial ques (yes, I am talking about you Fileplanet), and then install it. And all do this within half an hour... max.

Ohwait, I forgot to add the sarcasm tag.

If you're talking about the online activation ; Yes. it sucks : But over here on Slashdot the tendency seems to be to focus on those 'negative' points (and no, I am not losing -any- of my privacy by using Steam), rather than the few great things Steam added (eg. IM-messaging/playing chess ingame, ingame server browsers, automatical updates, a-way-to-say-f*ck-you-to-the-publishers)

Re:Pots and Kettles (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485764)

Yeah, I really look forward to playing (for example) Final Fantasy, seeing it getting patched and next thing I know, the game balance got changed and my last savegames got useless, because I leveled the wrong character. You guys are way to fixated on multiplayer FPS games to see that this isn't a universally good thing. It might be nice in special cases like Counter-Strike, but please, don't force it onto people that don't want it. Else they might not want to spend their money on it.

Re:Pots and Kettles (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485791)

wow i forgot about fileplanet from the time i installed steam to the time i read your comment just now. i'm so glad fileplanet's business model has been destroyed.

Re:Update? (1)

labal (804733) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485846)

I didn't think you had to update it to play the game...Can't you just go into offline mode and play it as it is?

Fear of the new (1, Insightful)

Koutarou (38114) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485544)

OH NOES! Something new! It is scary and different therefore I must fear it!

Re:Fear of the new (2, Funny)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485858)

More like "OH NOES! An alternative to my current specialization! It requires adapting and additional investment, therefore I must fear it!"

c'mon (0)

j3rryh (909483) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485546)

They're both IBM-ppc it seems like it would be easier to port next gen than current gen. at least to a non-coder. -j3rry

Re:c'mon (3, Informative)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485666)

Exactly. To a non-coder it sounds like a walk in the park eh j3rry?. The x360 is, what, a triple core powerpc chip, and the PS3 is a less powerful chip, almost identical to one of the x360 cores, but with 7 SPE's (the S stands for stupid, not synergistic or whatever the fuck their marketroids named em)

These consoles are taking the idea of multithreading to the max, and both are taking very different approaches. Porting between the consoles was hard enough this gen (xbox getting good pc ports as it pretty much was a pc, the gcn being a ppc and the ps2 being made by sony, who can never make anything easy to develop for, and required alot of assembly code and hand vectorization to get a game working well on the already slower hardware) but now we've got not just different architectures to support, but completly and totally different programming models to support.

Re:c'mon (1)

j3rryh (909483) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485732)

I don't understand the appeal of multi core platform gaming devices, on a pc, where you need multitasking, it makes sense. On a server where multitasking goes extreme it makes even more. On a video game machine it seems a higher performance single core would be just as good if not better. -j3rry

Re:c'mon (2, Interesting)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485830)

I completly agree. You could have a seperate audio thread, maybe a seperate one for networking, but it's not worth the hassle of sync'ing the threads and watching out for race conditions. I honestly have to wonder how much speed you lose from things like that.

Offtopic bit (sorry but it will tie in at the end): Multithreaded games remind me of the same silliness of monolithic vs micro kernels. Back when Linus introduced Linux, there was a debate with Mr. Tannenbaum (creator of Minix), Linus and other users over which was better. The micro kernel idea, which minix used, was seperating things like disk i/o into seperate proccess outside of the kernel. Basically the kernel became very small, and managed things like messaging between the proccesses. There were some reasons for this that I won't go into. You can read the beggining of the book Open Sources, which is free online, for the story and logs of the debate. Anyways, these kernel's simply didn't preform better than monolithic kernels such as Linux, even though they should, and were not more stabble, even though they should've been. They sounded great on paper, but no one had been able to implement one realistically. As we can see, Linux is one of the fastest/feature rich kernel's out there (at least the 2.6 branch) yet it is still monolithic (although you can have modules - but not for everything, not for the most important things) We also have OSX, which adopted most of the MACH kernel, and is therefore a micro kernel, but as you can see by the recent benchmarks ars technica (I think it was them) have posted, it still doesn't compare to Linux for most things (like mysql and server stuff), although it is equal in others, like workstation stuff.


Anyways, sorry for the completly off topic exposistion, but I think we can learn a lesson here is that even though something may sound good on paper, and be theoretically a better way to do things, I can imagine it not working out, but maybe it will. There's alot of potential for dual core (The DS already uses this, the N64 did etc) and maybe even triple, but Sony's Cell CPU, with one main core and seven little SPE's is just overboard.

Re:c'mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485701)

If the difference between the machines was as simple as differing processor architectures, then a recompile (and rewriting of some optimised assembly code) would suffice. But then that would be far too easy.
Each of the new consoles uses a different number of processors, and that fact alone seriously complicates matters when the code being written is as heavily optimised as code for consoles tends to be.
Throw in custom graphics chipsets for each console, and you've suddenly got a whole lot of work heading your way...
PS: I am a coder, but probably not a very good one :-)

Re:c'mon (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485786)

not really, being all PPC means the low level stuff doesn't need to be rewritten as much because the CPU properties (registers, memory addressing) are similar or the same. but the overall flow of the game code will have to be either vastly different in each console, or all the same and only perform well on one consol. reengineering the game to operate between weak PPC + cell and 3x PPC is much harder than porting the game to work between 1x pentium and 1x PPC.

Re:c'mon (1)

JawnV6 (785762) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485804)

Yes, to a non-coder. But even a cursory glances at the articles on the architectures over at www.arstechnica.com should show you just how different the underlying graphics processes are. 8 highly parallel processors and a single core coordinating them (PS3), or 6 identical general purpose cores. Have fun writing ANYTHING that will run on both of those without rewriting a lot of the low level stuff.

Steam. (5, Insightful)

Poromenos1 (830658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485551)

I don't think systems like Steam are viable in the long run. They'll be successful for a bit while they manage to force them on us, but in the long run they're just too restrictive. The market is (hopefully) going to reject them.

Oh, like me? (4, Interesting)

HBI (604924) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485569)

I bought Doom 3. I bought Half-life, UT 2k, 2k4, DN3D, etc etc ad nauseam. I like FPS games.

I did not buy HL2. Why? Steam.

I might relent when the price is $10. Let's see if the game is still playable by then, given the dependence on an internet connection.

Re:Oh, like me? (2, Interesting)

cazbar (582875) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485600)

I'm exactly the same way. I would have been one of the early adopters of HL2 just to play counterstrike. However, I will probably never buy it simply because I don't like steam.

I wish they would realize they are loosing sales over this and just trash the thing.

Re:Oh, like me? (5, Interesting)

evilNomad (807119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485632)

I bought HL2, the first game in a few years.. Why? Steam..

I didn't have to buy a DVD-drive, i didn't have to leave my room, i ordered it via steam with my creditcard, preloaded the content, and played at the day of release.. I now enjoy patches without having to pay for fileplanet to download it, I enjoy being able to setup a dedicated server simply by running a simple commandline steam tool on my linux server, I enjoy valve doing hardware surveys to make it easier for everyone developing games, since you will get an idea of what the average gamer has in his machine, I enjoy valve releasing new models, maps and hotfixes on the run wihtout having to wait to gather it all in one patch...

And what i really enjoy? Valve getting my money when i buy their games, and no Vivendi, EA or whoever publish their games..

great (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485662)

What happens if you want to play it 15 years later?

I can still play Ultima Underworld (the original). Will you be able to say the same about HL2?

Great game btw, UU.

Re:great (2, Insightful)

evilNomad (807119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485679)

Valve will either still be going strong, or they will have released a patch to allow offline play, and besides, Steam already offers offline play...

Oh btw, do you also whine and scream about DOS games you cannot play anymore? Missing the old 320x240 resolution? Sigh, your hate for steam clearly surpasses any logic, so this is a waste of time..

Re:great (2, Insightful)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485813)

The difference is that the old 486 in the corner is still fully functional, and if it ever did die, there are still emulators, etc. Who's to say what will happen with valve and their masters Vivendi?

Re:great (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485760)

What happens if you want to play it 15 years later?

I can't see myself wanting to play it in 15 years time, to be honest. I don't yearn now for the games of 15 years ago, and that's with the rose-tinted vision of nostalgia.

HL2 was a good game, well worth the money (although I paid &pound20 for it, rather than the full retail price of &pound35), but it wasn't that good. Soon something will be released that blows it away - maybe not this year or next year, but well before those 15 years are up.

Besides which, who says I'll even have a machine capable of running it in 15 years? Hardware and OSes move on just as much as games.

Bottom line is that I sincerely doubt that a lack of Steam will be the reason people can no longer play HL2.

Great game btw, UU.

Yes, it was; I wasted many a happy hour on it. Looks like shit nowadays though, and there have been many better games (in terms of gameplay as well as eye-candy) released since.

Re:Oh, like me? (1)

markass530 (870112) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485767)

Well your point rings very true with a lot gamers, since their $3000 dollar computers probably lack a dvd drive, and they are to lazy to go to a store...

Can the PC make a comeback? (4, Insightful)

PocketPick (798123) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485555)

Will this bring upon a new era of PC Game superiority?

When the day arrives that I can take a brand-new & high-end PC game out of a box, insert it into the CD-ROM and play it immedietally without installation or having to customize 2 dozen settings: Yes. Till then: No.

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485566)

The main reason I'm going to be most of my gaming (for non-strategy games, at least) on PS3/XBOX 360 from this point on (though I've never had a console before in my life) is that with a console, I can buy one game, have four controls and play with four people at the same time.

On the PC, if I want to play Unreal T2K4 with a couple buddies at my place, I've got to have multiple copies of the game (so a couple hundred bucks per game right there) plus several pretty sweet boxes to play on (as opposed to just one sweet box for myself and crap to run linux on).

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485571)

Ahem... then ditch the customisability that makes the PC a _platform_, and go back to your snes. Your loss.

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (2, Insightful)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485612)

Two things:
modding
the mouse
Care to play a RTS game on a console? I tried to play a lemmings console adaption once, the controls really killed it. Also mods, and their brother patches, make games last longer and more fun.

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (1)

Mishra100 (841814) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485634)

I think if people can play Halo 2 on a console, then they could adapt and play RTS's just as well...

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485649)

Drag select with a D-pad does not work in any shape or form, mainly because it is either not percise enough or not fast enough when things get heated. The mouse overcomes this because you can be more percise by moving it slower, but the D-pad only has one speed. I would be interested to hear of an alternate way of selecting indididual units or a group of units without the D-pad.

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485793)

I would be interested to hear of an alternate way of selecting indididual units or a group of units without the D-pad.

Umm, the analog stick?

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (1)

interiot (50685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485629)

Well, um, you [sourceforge.net] asked [google.com] .

On a more serious note though, there's nothing at all preventing PC games from running completely from the *ROM and not from the hard drive.

(though, of course, as soon as you suggest that, someone is going to complain that they spent far too much on their computer just to have to store a pile of *ROMs next to their computer, waiting to get scratched)

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (2, Informative)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485643)

Ironically, the CD version of Counter-Strike : Condition Zero allows just that : Playing the game from memory (it does not install anything besides your configs).

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (1)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485686)

Sweet, so it installs and configures your graphics/sound/chipset/etc drivers for you as well, including resolving conflicts between "version 77.78 of the video drivers run game X 20% faster, but causes random crashing on game Y" ?

Count me in for this PC gaming revolution since they've sorted that out!

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (3, Insightful)

Dogmatron (911467) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485664)

When the day arrives that I can take a brand-new & high-end PC game out of a box, insert it into the CD-ROM and play it immedietally without installation or having to customize 2 dozen settings: Yes. Till then: No.

Seeing that you can't even spell immediately correctly, you may even have a problem doing that.

The installation cuts down on load times since you're loading data from the HD, rather than from the CD-ROM when you're playing a game.

Being able to play around with video and audio settings is a good thing! I hate it how consoles don't give you any relevant options, as I have seen numerous games for the Xbox (including Halo 2) experience frequent polygon drops and slowdowns.

Playing games on a PC is not rocket science, junior. So what if it takes a little more time in the end to set up a PC game? The trade off is an improvement in performance and more options!

Re:Can the PC make a comeback? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485840)

I'm glad to know we finally have someone who can speak for the entire PC gaming industry even though he probably only plays on consoles.

In other news... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485560)

Gabe was reported saying plyaing his companies games too long could result in a person starting to resemble himself

In other news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485561)

Gabe Newell, of Valve fame, criticizes Microsoft and Sony on how difficult it will be for next-gen developers to produce games on their upcoming hardware.

In other news, Sony criticizes Gabe Newell and Microsoft how difficult it is to have decent security.

Lack of connectivity (1)

fishdan (569872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485567)

There has to be an understanding that there are going to be game players who cannot access the outside world -- if not because of lack of actual access, because lack of access to the firewall. As the primary admin for my entire family, scattered as they are across the country, I have have them all natted behind a simpleton box -- but none of them has a routable IP address. I'm unlikely to change thos configurations for a game. A steam model which requires constant updates/verification is just not going to ever be "the sims" or any other "best selling game of all time."

Steam is great for developers. (1)

webby123 (911327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485572)

What makes steam so great? Well to sum things up, distribution just became a whole lot more easy. Valve is one of the most independent game producing companies on the planet, since they are not bound to a publisher (via sierra). How much does steam pay for distribution? I am shure MUCH less than your average game company. In the future I expect to see game companies pull away from publishers, using a torrent-like-systems to distribute their software. Resulting in even more cash flow, and cutting out the middle man.

Re:Steam is great for developers. (1)

webby123 (911327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485613)

As an added note, a good idea for companies like steam would be a cd-burning kiosk. This way they can keep their product in the store, but minus the the packaging. Something like this would be excellent as far as re-use, for other companies moving into this distribution model.

"PC Game superiority"? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485573)

When was that? ;) But joking aside...personal preference, whether somebody likes games in PC or console style... Besides, anyone here really believes that creating impressive graphics more easily will bring superior games? (OK, you might argue that more time will be for other things than graphics...but will it be really?)

Re:"PC Game superiority"? (1)

Dogmatron (911467) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485820)

Besides, anyone here really believes that creating impressive graphics more easily will bring superior games? (OK, you might argue that more time will be for other things than graphics...but will it be really?)

Um, this has nothing to do specifically with "creating impressive graphics more easily." The problem is multithreading, which will affect every aspect of a game.

Multithreading is quite simply a pain in the ass, whether you are programming an app for a server, PC, or in this case, a console. Game programmers in particular have little experience with multithreading since:
1) Most PC games are played full screen, which allows the other processes to have a low priority-- you can't lock up the system like this with windowed apps
2) Consoles only run one app at a time-- the game! You may need a couple of threads when loading game assets from CD-ROM (same goes for PC), but that's about it.

Though, Valve's argument will be nullified once dual CPUs become a norm in the PC market. Game developers will need to learn how to program multithreaded games to get the best performance!

Also, someone else brought up how memory isn't keeping up with ever increasing CPU performance. Since threads have a memory overhead, this could become a significant problem for game programmers in the future. Ugh.

Video Interview (5, Informative)

DrIdiot (816113) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485581)

http://valve.1up.com/flat/Themeweek/Valve/video6.h tml [1up.com]
There's the actual video interview.

I spoke to some people at Microsoft, and as I said, I can't point to a single feature in Vista that I care about that solves problems for us.
I can't see a single feature in Vista that solves any problems I've had with Windows on the consumer's side either.

And I totally see why Sony wants people to write code that runs on seven SPEs and a central processing unit, because that code is never going to run well anywhere else
You can say the same about DirectX. You can never run DirectX on anything but Windows. (WINE doesn't count). This is common practice, it happens with proprietary formats, why wouldn't it happen with game consoles?

Re:Video Interview (2, Informative)

thirty2bit (685528) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485716)

You can say the same about DirectX. You can never run DirectX on anything but Windows. (WINE doesn't count). This is common practice, it happens with proprietary formats, why wouldn't it happen with game consoles?
There is a big difference between API calls and writing code to run on a cell processor-based system. APIs can be thunked or emulated. Processor specific code, or processor feature specific code is a totally different matter. It may take gobs of assembly to implement cell processors which would be a major fsck to port.

Re:Video Interview (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485812)

Agreed. The smarter developers will band together and create an uber-SDK, with an API which works on all major consoles.

Sure, it might not squeeze the most performance out, but that API can be wrapped around the 7 different processors and then have higher-level primitives exposed to the developer, so developers won't have to care which platform they're developing for.

And, since it's open, when developers want extra performance on a certain platform, they can dive into the SDK and do it themselves.

PC superiority? (1)

zwaffle (667535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485586)

"new era of PC superiority"

I doubt that since, just like the consoles, the PC are turning to multicore designs to boost performance.

Developing good multithreaded/parallel code on a closed system like console may be hard, but doing the same thing on a open platform is even harder - your code would have to support any type of multicore PC architecture (tons of possible variation) and traditional CPUs as well.

What's so special (2, Interesting)

Xarius (691264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485587)

about Steam?

Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content.

Isn't it just a glorified download interface?

Re:What's so special (2, Informative)

biraneto2 (910162) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485687)

No, it's not. It's far from a simple download interface, it has a lot of code underneath its graphic interface.
Systems that provide update features have big advantages over a download by yourself one.

-The user don't need to know what he needs to update. If you stop updating... and a month later you try the game again you don't bother seeking and verifying the last 8 updates on the site. Not everyone is a linux user.
-Updates can be released more often, since the system manages the updates needed.
-Security. It's harder to crack the game. You may not mind it, but for a software selling company this is very important.
-Communication and news. It's way more pleasant to view news when you login into a game system than recieving not always welcome mail.

There is probably others I forgot to mention here.

Re:What's so special (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485808)

It's harder to crack the game.

so it takes 3 hours instead of 30 minutes for a release to hit the net?

New generation a flop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485588)

As I see it Both Sony and Microsoft are making huge mistakes with there new consoles..
One of Sony Biggest problems will be all the strings attached to the Blue Ray technology, as well as its reliance on being connected to the internet whenever you want to use it.
Microsoft will have many of the same problems it has had, but surisingly they seem to have more forsight into the the market that Sony does this time.

Personnly I'd like to see both consoles Flop, Especially The Ps3.

First thoughts vs article (1)

Mishra100 (841814) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485591)

At first you probably think he is trying to say that games are harder to produce because you have to succumb to the high graphics and excellent gameplay that gamers expect these days. This article doesn't seem to be leading toward that.

It seems he is trying to come at an angle that most of us don't understand, and that is physically programming the game. When you have to program the game on a kernel level with such propritary equipment, then it becomes hard as you probably have to learn the hardware everytime they come out with a new system. Programmers have to redevelop a whole entire style of code to the newest system that comes out. If this is true, and putting this up against the PC; then you see that the PC pretty much stays a lot of the same in a kernel type environment. Plus the fact that everything seems to work together and act the same. Of course, I have no idea how to write a video game and most of us don't. But he probably has a lot more insight on what is going on in a kernel software development tyep environment for all the new systems.

Consider this before forming opinions.

Distributed programming is hard ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485596)

Not to be blunt or anything, but getting good performance out of any distributed system is always overly complicated; this will be equally true of multicore PC systems as it is of new console systems. Let's face the facts, few game developers have really had to consider critical sections and racing conditions on the level they're now forced to face them; this means that most developers are simply not up to the challenge and will produce some technically inferior games.

Now, there will essentially be two classes of games in the next generation; the graphically impressive and technically superior games and the games which are only a slight improvement over what we've seen on either the Gamecube or the XBox.

Valve's comments don't really matter that much, because producing games for the PC will be several times as complicated as it ever was before. If you started producing a brand new game today you would have to consider low, mid and high level single core as well as low, mid and high level multi-core systems; not an easy choice considering the single core systems will potentially perform much worse with distributed algorithms whereas the multi-core systems will perform dramatically worse on a single threaded system.

At least the developers will not be given the necessary time to tweak their code on the PC until after the game is released (Just what I always loved, buggy games).

Hmm... (5, Interesting)

MaestroSartori (146297) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485597)

Apparently the solution to consoles being difficult to program for is to use Valve's proprietary, slightly sucky, extremely annoying Steam content delivery service. I don't get how that works, sorry. And I'm a console developer working on next gen.

To meet some of the other points he's raised doesn't take too much effort either:

Apparently nothing in Vista helps him out at all? What a shame. I fail to see how that is particularly relevant, especially since it really doesn't make anything worse. XNA might change things for Valve, but that's not the same thing. Valve only target one OS. If that OS changes under them, perhaps they should have practiced cross-platform development to cover that eventuality...

I'm not really surprised he says Xbox 360 makes his life worse - a lot of the planned online functionality MS have in store renders Steam somewhat irrelevant.

And I think he's being a touch cynical about the reasons for Sony's Cell architecture (disclaimer - I work for Sony). But I suppose he could be correct. Again, though, there are techniques for cross-platform development which Valve hasn't bothered its ass using.

If you stick with writing games for x86 Windows, I don't feel much sympathy for teething troubles when you start hitting the console hardware. Mainly because (shock) it really isn't all that different for the majority of the coders! Yes, you'll need specialists. But huge chunks of stuff won't need to change at all - game logic, frontend, scripts/scripting. This isn't rocket science, and many companies have been releasing titles near-simultaneously on multiple, drastically different hardware platforms for years.

Sour grapes from a Win32 codeshop. Who'd believe it...

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485695)

Nice Resumé :-)

Looking forward to SoE2.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485715)

You work for sony? Banging ones head against the wall comes to mind when trying to use one of their devkits. Please fix the compiler. The xbox360 is a dream in comparison.

Excuse me? (4, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485609)

Gabe Newell - the guy who's company has chosen to make their games NOT portable to any thing other than Windows, is criticizing Sony for making their games hard to port?

The same Gabe Newell who took a relatively portable game framework (Quake) and made it NOT portable (Half-Life)?

The same Gabe Newell who chose to use a non-portable graphics framework (Direct-3D) rather than a portable graphics framework (OpenGL) for Half-Life II?

Well, I guess he is an expert in non-portable - we'll allow his testimony.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

evilNomad (807119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485661)

Yes, the same Gabe Newell who brought us some of the greatest games of all times.. Sigh, why should he spend a dime on doing a linux version? The marked is so small, and many will happily dualboot to play anyways..

And valve has ported their games to consoles, so your logic is flawed, what Gabe argues is that the code written for a PS3 cannot be reused for xbox360 or a PC, where as code written for a pc at the moment can be pretty much ported to an xbox or ps2 without recoding it all from scratch

Re:Excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485762)

"Gabe Newell who brought us some of the greatest games of all times"

huh? Gabe Newell only brought us Half Life 1 and HL2(which personally i didn't think lived up to expectations). And while Half Life 2 was a great game, half of it's success was due to Counter Strike, which Valve had NOTHING to do with.

Jesus i loved Half Life but there is a difference between appreciating that game and riding Valve's dick.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

rea1l1 (903073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485690)

http://www.steampowered.com/index.php?area=news&id =435 [steampowered.com] Steam and Halflife run on linux. I'll refrain from insulting you.

Re:Excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485776)

Steam and Halflife run on linux

While the dedicated server is cool, the Half-Life client (i.e., the part you actually play) does not run on Linux.

Re:Excuse me? (1)

randomblast (730328) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485806)

OK, my first response was "What a moron, that's just the server."
My second response, on clicking the link, was "HOLY HELL, WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?!?!"
My third response, on trying to get a copy, was "OK, calling it the Half-Life 1 engine is just cruel and misleading, not to mention cruel. Also blatantly false. Did I mention cruel?"
(It's just the server.)

P.S.
Somebody more knowledgeable, correct me if I'm wrong, and please please say I'm wrong...

Re:Excuse me? (1)

Rew190 (138940) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485779)

Gabe Newell - the guy who's company has chosen to make their games NOT portable to any thing other than Windows, is criticizing Sony for making their games hard to port?

Which do you think is actually the bigger factor, the ability to port from the mainstream crowd of consoles to the mainstream crowd of PCs, or the ability to port from a PC to Mac/Linux (which, for gaming, are niche markets)? Newell's talking about the big picture. I don't think it's fair to take his comments and then try to apply them to MUCH smaller markets. There's a huge difference there.

The same Gabe Newell who took a relatively portable game framework (Quake) and made it NOT portable (Half-Life)?

It's pretty widely known that Valve basically gutted the Quake engine and you can barely say that it's based off of it. HL wasn't a mod, it was essentially an entirely new engine with bits of Quake code in it.

The same Gabe Newell who chose to use a non-portable graphics framework (Direct-3D) rather than a portable graphics framework (OpenGL) for Half-Life II?

Direct 3D runs on Xbox and PC. It covers the two mainstream markets (PCs and consoles). Granted, HL2 won't work with Linux or whatnot, but the brutal truth is that business-wise, the markets are basically insignificant. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to see more Linux and OS X games, but I can't blame these guys for not developing when your market is so small. Hopefully this changes, but for now the sad reality seems to be that if I see a game that I want on Linux, it's more like a "wow, that company's pretty cool for supporting such a small market" thing rather than a "wow, given the high potential market for both of these mediums, it seems ridiculous that the ability to easily port between the two is being ignored!" Newell is arguing the latter.

Re:Excuse me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485863)

No shit. I was quite happy the compiler tools for half-life 1 were able to run on a linux box natively. I could use it as slave/etc. But why, oh why, did they make the half-life 2 compile tools source depend soo heavily on steam! Steam has to be running for these tools to work... what a mess.

PC/Console games (4, Insightful)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485611)

Will this bring upon a new era of PC Game superiority?

God, this is a sad attempt to revive a tired flamefest.

The answer is no, for two reasons.

First, the PC and the console are two different beasts. The different peripherals and capabilities of each system tend to lend them to different types of games. My favorite PC games have not hit the console, and visa versa.

Second, console games sell a lot more copies (partly due to the greater Joe Sixpack appeal from easier setups and partly because it's a pain in the ass to pirate games on modern consoles, so you don't see two-thirds of the games out there being pirated, as you do on the computer). A lack of compatibility would probably not be a really good thing for the PC, given that there are more development dollars in console games (actually, a lack of compatibility almost always screws over the end user and benefits only the system vendors).

In the silver lining department, this is probably a good thing for Linux -- the large and current commercial game library on Windows is one of its greatest strengths in the college crowd, and whatever college students use is what everyone uses in a couple years.

Very good point (1)

vlad_petric (94134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485833)

There's also a differentiation in the types of games for PCs and consoles. On average, console games are much more geared for the average crowd, then for a techie. I'd really buy a console if I could play "smarter" games like Europa Universalis, Rome Total War or Galactic Civilizations, but I really doubt it's ever gonna happen.

Let Me Say For Console Engineers (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485620)

Shut the fuck up you peecee clown.

The reaction in the console world to has been hilarious. Some guy who used to work at Microsoft and hitches his company completely to that technological nightmare that is Visual Studio/DirectX/Windows/x86 is crying over the fact that he is now screwed technologically in his ability to compete in the lucrative console market.

Well boo-fucking-hoo Gabe.

You made your choice and no you have to live with it. Just like you made your, idiotic, choice to use Outlook...

Those of us with a fucking clue who actually work in the console biz have been working our way to the promised land for years now. And with the PS3 we have arrived. You guys haven't seen anything yet with what we are doing and will be doing with the PS3/Cell/RSX hardware. It is a game/graphics programmers dream system.

Not only is the PS3 a dream system, the unlimited scalability of the internal bus architecture of Cell chips means our code bases are ready to scale to unbelievable heights of performance in future media devices that use multi-Cell systems or Cell chips with more SPUs.

So, yeah, it must suck to be stuck in x86 directx land.

BTW, all you crazy Linux cats are going to get to have fun with your very own Cell systems soon:

http://kerneltraffic.org/kernel-traffic/kt20050905 _326.html [kerneltraffic.org]

Enjoy! I know I am...

head in sand about computer architecture trends (5, Interesting)

mmp (121767) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485648)

From TFA:

Newell was equally harsh, if not more so, on Sony for its design of the PS3 architecture and programming environment. "There are incredibly few programmers who can safely write code in the PlayStation 3 environment. And I totally see why Sony wants people to write code that runs on seven SPEs and a central processing unit, because that code is never going to run well anywhere else," he said.

What he seems to not understand/want to pretend isn't the case is the fact that the architecture of the Cell is a reflection of longstanding trends in computer architecture, not an exotic thing that Sony dreamed up to be troublesome.

In particular, there has been a longstanding disconnect between the growth in the amount of memory bandwidth available to chips versus the amount of computation that can be done on them. Computational capacity is growing much more quickly than memory access. Over enough years, this disconnect makes a big difference! Nowadways, processor architects will tell you that computation is basically free while communication is what is expensive.

Architectures ranging from GPUs to multicore CPUs to Cell take advantage of these trends in various ways, deliving much more computational capacity than standard CPUs. All of these architectures are deeply inherently parallel. There just isn't any other viable way to take advantage of all of this computation.

John Owens has a nice chapter in GPU Gems 2 [nvidia.com] on this topic.

If Newell (or whoever) doesn't want to program the SPEs on the Cell, he's free to just use the PPC CPU on it. And his game will be much slower than someone who uses it well. But there aren't going to be very many performance gains in the future to be had from single-threaded code running on CPUs. So while Cell is not trivial to program, none of the other choices are any easier. (Note that there are C/C++ compilers for the SPE instruction set, etc, so they're not *that* hard to program.)

(I'd like to hope that Newell actually knows all this and is just posturing in he middle of his Steam pimping and that this doesn't reflect reality in Valve's world!)

-matt

Spoiled brats (4, Insightful)

acidblood (247709) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485674)

Maybe I'm just too impressed with Cell's architecture to see things clearly, but here's my opinion...

Generation after generation, developers have been given ever more powerful processors with a corresponding extra cost in hardware. Some of this is really needed to overcome architectural limitations (register renaming to make up for the scarcity of registers in x86 comes to mind) -- indeed I think x86 is too crippled to perform well without lots of hardware assistance.

But the fact is that we've hit a wall of performance. Power increases due to ever more complex chips, plus certain effects like leakage currents (that were disregarded in previous manufacturing processes) are becoming ever more problematic. So the free performance lunch is over, and CPU designers are having to trim the fat of their designs. The result is nice power-efficient architectures like the Pentium M, but there's only so much that power-conscious design can do if you still must have the complexity of out-of-order execution and other modern CPU features.

So there's really no way around. If you need a power-efficient processor, you're going to have to resort to completely new architectural ideas, like extensive use of SIMD and multi-core as Cell does. Programmers are going to pay a price in terms of complexity and cost of software development, yes; but there's no other way, the growth of CPUs we're used to is flattening out, unfortunately, and can only grow again through adoption of these alternative programming models.

Which is why I say these people are spoiled brats. If CPU designers are guilty of anything, it's feeding off this illusion that infinite growth without laying any burdens on programmers was possible. But complaining is no good now; either they're going to adapt or die. It's clear that no ordinary out-of-order design, using the same transistor budget, can reach the peak power of Cell if correctly programmed. So if these guys really want the extra power to make better games, they'll have to learn these new programming models and bear the burden of extra complexity.

Re:Spoiled brats (2, Interesting)

PsychicX (866028) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485836)

New programming models are in order, yes. The entire industry is more or less in agreement that multiple processing cores are in order. The Pentium D and the Athlon64 X2 are the desktop side evolutions. The consoles, however, are a rather more touch issue.
See, the problem is that Sony's architecture is very powerful in numbers. The 2 TFLOPS number is real...in a very, very limited set of circumstances. Cell is designed a lot like a GPU in some aspects, and a lot like a video decoding processor in some aspects. Unfortunately, neither one is useful for game programming (remember that Cell does not participate in the rendering pipeline of PS3, that is handled by NV's RSX). Now, like some people have pointed out here, Newell is a whiny bitch who wouldn't know portability if it smacked him in the face. But that doesn't change the fact that Sony is making life difficult, and it's not yet clear to most people whether the Cell architecture is at all useful in games. Personally, I'm inclined to say no, but I'm an amateur/college student, so take that as you will. However, it's definitely solid fact that Cell is very different from anything else out there, which sucks. Add to that the problem that developers by and large are not convinced that Cell is different in a good way (and I know quite a few devs), and things are really a bit of a mess.

Re:Spoiled brats (3, Insightful)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485848)

Kinda with you on this. I'm not a big fan of Cell - I can't shake a feeling it's overhyped - but I do think multi-core/multi-processer systems are the way forward.

In particular, I don't think they're going to have that big a problem porting between platforms. Split your game engine into a generic CPU-orientated thread, plus 6 threads designed to work well with the various cores in Cell. Admittadely, this leaves one non-generic core unused, but I don't think that's going to be an issue for games in the short to medium term, at least.

Port to XBox 360 by putting the generic thread on one cores, and 3 of each of the smaller threads on the other two cores. Port to PC by stuffing all 7 threads on one CPU (or let the system auto-balance if you have multiple cores).

It's a bit of a hassle, and there will have to be platform specific tweaks, but I don't think that's what's really getting to developers. I think they're not used to having to deal with the issues related to multi-threading, and that's what scares them.

Fan-boys go away... (2, Interesting)

0xDAVE (770415) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485682)

The PS3 architecture is quite odd...

Its a fact that, n parallel processors is less efficient than one n-times-faster processor. And Sony does have some quite none standard C++ extensions compared to microsofts use of OpenMP.

Re:Fan-boys go away... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485735)

Its a fact that, n parallel processors is less efficient than one n-times-faster processor.

And n-times hotter, because they use n-times the energy. Hello, ever heard the term "performance per watt"?

Re:Fan-boys go away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485769)

The ps3 can't be all that closed if linux can run on it, can it?

A response from Mac owners everywhere (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485708)

Fuck you, Valve. Try working for a living and porting games to other architectures instead of skating by on one story. Everyone else seems to manage Just Fine.

not portable? (1, Interesting)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485710)

I always thought because the XBox used DirectX support, it made it easier to port games to and from PCs (using Windows).

Is that changing in XBox360? or has there always been high discrepancies between XBox's DirectX and Window's DirectX?

And what does Nintendo do that makes it easier for them to port (noting that he didn't criticize them). I'm pretty sure Nintendo uses their own proprietary graphics engine too. Speaking of that, HAS ANY GAME CONSOLE ever made it easy to port games to and from their console?

Game Programmers are weird. (2, Interesting)

bullitB (447519) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485723)

Is it just me, or do game programmers seem to be the only group of coders who get away with flaunting their apparent inability to write portable, flexible code?

Word is they couldn't even get Half-Life 1 to run on Macs because there was too much platform-specific code. I'd assume the same issue occurred in HL2 (there was an Xbox "port", but that's really just a repackaging of a windows app). Most other groups of programmers would seriously love to have the opportunity to write code for neat new hyper-parallel chip designs. The entire game industry apparently can't figure out how to make sound and video run in separate threads, something which should seriously be an over-the-weekend kind of change.

I really don't mean to belittle the entire game development community, but I really don't get it. The entire computing industry is moving toward multi-core chips, parallel computing and network-centric storage. Why the hell are game programmers, the ones who are supposed to be pushing computer architectures, living in the early 1990s?

Re:Game Programmers are weird. (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485859)

console games are written for specific machines, the computational power is much more limited but is also near constant. more code runs "bare metal" and fast performance without any errors is expected. patching is rarely an option so code has to be written very close to the hardware running the console

Another Website's Opinion (1)

nmaster64 (867033) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485747)

Just to throw it out there:

Develop For [nwizard.com]

Article includes links to the video analysis and a transcript of the next-gen part of the interview.

Steam-like system (2, Interesting)

phriedom (561200) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485752)

I don't think a Steam-like system is going to have much luck on consoles, since X-Box Live already exists, unless you count X-Box Live as a Steam-like system.

However, I DO think that Steam and Steam-like systems, properly done, have great potential to break the strangle-hold that the publishers have on the industry. An alternative, low-cost, popular (that is the tough one) distribution system could create a market for smaller developers and games with smaller budgets that won't get picked up by Sierra and EA and won't ever get on store shelves. Everything people hate about today's game industry could be destroyed by good independant distribution.

Why is it always PC superiority (-1, Flamebait)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485753)

Seriously, what is the point of trying to trot out this PC superiority bs when the systems count sales in the 300-700 thousand range even for poor games and PC game manufacturers count them in the 100-200 thousand range for the best.

Obviously its not about the box, cause Xbox would outsell the PS2 and Gamecube would outsell Xbox and a PC would outsell them all. So its simply the games which unfortunatly for PC gamers means they wont see 1/10 what the systems do since very few system games translate at all well to PCs and vise versa.

So can we stop trying to wave the PC ePenis like its going to get you anywhere, because its not about the GHZ, its about how you use it and you simply dont see people crouded around a monitor playing Soul Calaber III which is why these systems trounce the PC market time and again. And no amount of networkability has been able to solve that yet.

and what about modem users? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485770)

Being a modem user, I can't stand steam. A night and the next day to get half-life 2 all updated before it would let me play. If I buy the game at the store, I want to be able to pop it in, quickly install, and play it. Better yet, leave out the install and just play.

Oh, and I can't forget, if I want to play counter-strike online and there happens to be a new patch (2-3 hours download) for half-life2 I can't just disconnect and play half-life 2 anymore offline. I have to go download the crappy patch which is forced upon me before i can play half-life 2 again.

What a load a crap. I'm never buying a game that uses steam again.

new age of PC superiority (2, Insightful)

cataclyst (849310) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485784)

Unless and until I see 4 people sitting around their 'Media Center' PC with USB controllers playing a 4-player offline game on the TV...

let's just say we should leave the hyperbole to the fanboys...

PS3 cores (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485787)

The difficult thing to port games to and from the PS3 won't necessarily be due to the multi-core sets or differing GPUs, as OpenGL is common place and multi-cores are becoming standard across PCs and consoles. The difference is that most of the cores in the PS3 are more akin to DSPs rather than full on GPUs: they are designed to crunch floating point math almost exclusively for physics and graphics over AI and network. This is somewhat untested and unproven territory, as shown by Apple's refusal of design adoption. This sort of design is unique and hard to translate to any other architecture and can provide gains for those who code to it, and difficulties to those who may try to abstract that layer for portability.

Well.. (3, Insightful)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 8 years ago | (#13485824)

"Newell says he believes that Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content."

This is to be expected, he has funded the creation of Steam from scratch, of course he is going to sign it's praises and say software like it is the future. The thing that he doesn't have control over is the customers, and they will decide what the future is.

Java (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13485852)

Maybe they should write a Java Virtual Machine for each console and write all of thier programs in Java, then the games would be easly portable, but very very slow.
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