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Valve's Gabe Newell on Apple's Gaming Failures

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the maybe-they-should-start-thinking-along-these-lines dept.

Games 217

The site Kikizo has up a lengthy interview with Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve and one of the minds behind the Half-Life 2 games. Though their discussion centers around the Orange Box (slated for release soon) and the titles contained therein, the discussion kicks off with Newell's scathing dress-down of Apple's understanding of the importance of gaming: "We tried to have a conversation with Apple for several years, and they never seemed to... well, we have this pattern with Apple, where we meet with them, people there go 'wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming'. And then we'll say, 'OK, here are three things you could do to make that better', and then they say OK, and then we never see them again. And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow though on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for their platforms."

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217 comments

Hey! They got games for Mac too... (2, Funny)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823043)

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (3, Funny)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823273)

All the Mac gaming spoof videos to post and you post that one?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B-ekl_cEWk [youtube.com]

There's a classic.

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (1)

weave (48069) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823423)

Ah yes, but you know, when I go into a store now, there's only like six games for the PC too. Everything is for consoles now days. Gaming on the PC seems to be dying. :(

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823549)

Don't go to those loser Gamestop stores....

PC gaming is alive and well.

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (5, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824283)

Except it isn't.

A common error people make is to compare the sales of console games for EVERY console platform to PC game sales.

When you compare PC game sales to individual consoles, the PC sells more games than the 360, PS3, or Wii. Halo 3 might be an exception, but that's a blip, a temporary boost that doesn't happen every week.

So of the four platforms, the PC is on top. How, then, is PC gaming dying if it's the leading platform?

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824691)

How, then, is PC [...] dying if it's the leading platform?

It runs BSD?

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (4, Insightful)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824787)

Ah yes, but you know, when I go into a store now, there's only like six games for the PC too. Everything is for consoles now days. Gaming on the PC seems to be dying. :(
Could have fooled me. There are so many games out right now that I simply don't have time to play through them all. Granted, I'm a pretty busy guy, but I still spend what is probably considered a greater-than-average amount of gaming and I simply don't have a hope of finishing all of my games. On top of this, there are some incredible gaming experiences on the PC that one simply doesn't really ever finish, such as WoW (and of course other MMORPGs), Civilisation IV, and bundles of pure awesomeness such as TF2.

Personally, I think console gamers as a group are somewhat prone to fanboyism and thus are extraordinarily vocal in terms of attacking anything that isn't related to the console of their choice. The obvious attack against PC gaming is that it's "dying", even as console companies are working feverishly to turn their consoles into an almost PC-like experience with hard-drives, networked and online gaming, and improved pointing devices like the Wiimote.

To be honest, I'm not sure why so many people feel the need to slag other people's gaming systems. We're all gamers, and we all benefit from the various innovations that come from the various forms of gaming. If one of the consoles makers manages to come up with a system that provides a definitive gaming experience, I won't cling to my PC stubbornly. Conversely, if gaming on the PC offers up something that consoles simply can't supply, console gamers would do well to pay attention and applaud, rather than slag it.

Now, innovation in gaming just needs to continue until I can retire in, say thirty or forty years, having buckets of cash to spend on the new systems and all the time in the world to play!

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825519)

Ah yes, but you know, when I go into a store now, there's only like six games for the PC too.
There's your first mistake. You went into a brick and mortar store looking for PC games. Steam? Newegg? Direct2Drive? All eating away at the shelf space. Doesn't mean PC games are any less popular.

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (1)

NoodleSlayer (603762) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825865)

Ah yes, because you can't buy console games at newegg [newegg.com] , or any [amazon.com] other [buy.com] online [tigerdirect.com] retailer [outpost.com] for that matter.


And lets be honest, sales from services like Steam and Direct2Drive are rather insignificant compared to that coming from brick and mortar stores, that is if they ever actually released those numbers.


Not to mention recently you have such time vacuums like World of Warcraft that have been drying up PC gaming dollars that might go elsewhere. Consoles don't really have that problem, yet.

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (1)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824295)

Did you happen to notice that the video you linked references the one I linked?

Not saying one's better than the other, just saying I liked to the TrueNuff.com video because arguably it was "first".

Re:Hey! They got games for Mac too... (2, Insightful)

nanowired (881497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824455)

I loved all the "apple vs PC" clones out there.

what was really funny, however, was the one mac supporter who used someone else's work than cut in to try to defend why Apples are better for gaming.
In short, he said
1) Consoles are "teh" better for gaming than PCs!
2) only kiddies who know nothing about computers use PCs for games!
3) Mac's Hardware is up to par! really it is.

I have no doubt that Mac's hardware cant run most games on the market, considering that all of the hardware - or close to it- is the same as what you can put in a PC. I do doubt that kiddies who know nothing about computers would go for a PC instead of a Console, which only requires the most rudimentary knowledge to use. Also I doubt the knowledge of the User has anything to do with the game system itself.

The problem With the Apple and Games Debate lies in two places.
First, the fact that Apple's attitude is not Gamer friendly - despite the fan base who insists its so.

Second, the fact that a Gamer can build his gaming platform for abouts 500 dollars. Thats the same price as a PS3, yet more useful. If you include the 200 dollars for a GOOD monitor, versus the 500 dollars for a Good TV, its much cheaper or on par than the Next Gen consols. Its not the top of the line, smoking down the road PC, but it will run most games. In the mean time, A new apple costs 2000 dollars. As far as to replacing individual parts in an Apple? I've been told two sides to this. One half of the Apple Fan base insists that its as easy to do with a PC - however mysteriously no one assembles their own Apple Computer through parts bought off of New Egg. The other half insists that Its nearly impossible to upgrade your Mac without sending it in.

As for me, I'm no windows fan. Vista has proven to be a big joke. However until someone comes out with am OS that runs on the hardware I have that has real games(read:Not minesweeper) developed for it, I'm sticking to Windows.

The first important thing was: (3, Insightful)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823049)

Get a mouse with two buttons. (granted, the new mouse emulates a right mouse click finally)

Re:The first important thing was: (3, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823133)

the new mouse emulates a right mouse click finally
Let me guess, you have to do left alt-right shift-both pedals-headshake?

Re:The first important thing was: (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823225)

But it does so poorly. I often think I'm left-clicking only to have a right-click contextual menu pop-up and annoy the hell out me. I hate the thought of having to purchase a mouse for my system at work (they won't) when Apple should just get over their obsession of eliminating buttons together and offer a true two button mouse.

Re:The first important thing was: (4, Informative)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823315)

The new mouse does not "emulate" a right-click. It sends a Button2 (sometimes called "Joy2", for joystick buttons) signal. Ctrl-click (Ctrl-Button1) emulates a Button2 signal in the OS.

Re:The first important thing was: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20823485)

Thanks for the clarification. :)

Re:The first important thing was: (4, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823545)

The problem is that it does a poor job at having a second button. There should not be a finger anywhere near the Button1 or else the click is treated as Button1 even if the pressure is in the Button2 area. This is due to the fact that they use capacitive proximity sensing rather than pressure sensing. The entire mouse basically has one microswitch.

Re:The first important thing was: (3, Informative)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823885)

The problem is that it does a poor job at having a second button. There should not be a finger anywhere near the Button1 or else the click is treated as Button1 even if the pressure is in the Button2 area. This is due to the fact that they use capacitive proximity sensing rather than pressure sensing. The entire mouse basically has one microswitch.

This is a problem with Apple's mouse, not with the OS, since the OS can use any old logitech mouse quite happily. This is what I do.

Re:The first important thing was: (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824481)

That is true, I use third party mice all the time. One of them is the one with a cheap Wacom tablet.

Re:The first important thing was: (4, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823369)

Any mouse you want to use, you can. My MacBook Pro didn't come with a mouse, so I went and bought a nice Logitech. Both mouse buttons work fine. Gamers usually have a nicer mouse than the standard Dell/HP/Microsoft mouse that comes with their system anyways. Why should a Mac be different? Don't gripe, go buy a nice mouse.

What Apple needs (1, Insightful)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823109)

Macs are good machines, but they are not gaming machines by any stretch of the imagination. Then again, gaming on Windows or Linux is a kludge as well. I haven't seen a home computer optimized for gaming since the old Amiga. Frankly, all of these guys focus on their bread and butter, and if they can "happen" to get games to run, good.

Re:What Apple needs (4, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823259)

I haven't seen a home computer optimized for gaming since the old Amiga.

What about the original XBox? That was basically the same architecture as a PC, but optimized for games.

Re:What Apple needs (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823851)

Still not a home computer.

But the GP is talking nonsense. Shell out five grand for a XPS or Blackbird and you're buying a gaming PC, full stop. The Amiga was no more "optimized for games" than a Mac (to get back on topic)

Re:What Apple needs (0)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824001)

Then you've never run an Amiga.

Pop in a disk, viola, it's a game console. Pop in a different one, it's a desktop computer. Some swapping, it's both at once.

Re:What Apple needs (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824439)

The XBox could have been the same, save for Microsoft's shortsightedness. It was a fairly powerful PC with DVD support and a hard drive. As the Linux on XBox project shows, its a platform capable of far more than gaming.

Re:What Apple needs (2, Interesting)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824935)

Microsoft is in no way being short-sighted by locking down the XBox. Game licenses are what make them money, XBMC and homebrew doesn't. You may not agree with their decision, but it doesn't make them stupid for it.

It'd be nice if they let people freely mod the things once it was fully EOL'd in a few years, but that isn't really germane to the product strategy.

Re:What Apple needs (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824841)

I owned an Amiga. And a C64 before that. And even, *shudder* a VIC-20 before that. Booting off the game media still doesn't make it "optimized for games", and it's simply not realistic these days except when the hardware is completely standardized -- which is what consoles are all about.

Re:What Apple needs (3, Insightful)

geeknado (1117395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823317)

Maybe, but one important distinction here is that that "kludge" is a priority of Microsoft's(and of some elements of the Linux community as well). Microsoft views games as a key part of their consumer-adoption strategy and are constantly working with the community to improve the development experience-- see XNA [microsoft.com] , as an example of something they've done that's pretty interesting.

By contrast, the company that 'gets it' about everything else doesn't seem to see any worth in trying to make their platform more game developer friendly...It's always been an afterthought, and that's strange if you think about it. Here's a company that's winning sales by making the use of their platform more fun/enjoyable than their competitors, yet somehow, they always ignore games? It's almost like they think that magically game devs will target their platform/solve the problems for them, which I suppose is possible if they get enough market share, but seriously-- how many more Macs would sell if gaming on a Mac was really something you could do? It boggles the mind.

Re:What Apple needs (2, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824089)

It boggles the mind.

Does it? If one thing Apple works hard for, it's a good user experience. They charge more for hardware of moderate performance. They WANT customer loyalty.

Gamers by contrast love to upgrade video cards and screw with bios settings. Gamers also have NO loyalty. They'll drop anyone to go to a next big thing in performance and gaming. The PC world there are plenty of vendors competing in all spaces. Who is Apple going to compete against? Apple? The entire chasing gamers trail of thought is basically in the same vein as "why doesn't Apple make their OS for all PCs".

If apple should be concerned with anything right now it would be having the biggest PC game available on a Mac. Last I checked World of Warcraft worked just fine, so I don't think they're too worried.

Re:What Apple needs (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824483)

I'm speccing out a machine for a friend. He doesn't want to do any upgrades (scared of computers), and doesn't want to spend more than $1500. He's eligible for an Apple education discount.

Can you find a machine compentant at gaming for the same price as the $1399.99 iMac? (this it the $1499.99 model, with educational pricing).

It's got a Radeon HD2600 Pro as default, so I won't accept anything less than that. I know that's not a great video card, but its a heck of a lot better (2x as fast) as a Geforce 8500, and that's the best I can find at any of the other large PC companies in that price range.

Re:What Apple needs (1)

GoatEnigma (586728) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825553)

http://pc.ncix.com/pcbuilder/index.php?action=config&id=2643518&platformid=1000 [ncix.com] That's with a 19" widescreen Samsung LCD. And keyboard/mouse and all the junk. But it is in CDN, so I guess it's slightly more than $1391. Mac != games, and any rig you can come up with on a Mac you can build cheaper as a PC, and until Apple licenses their stuff to third parties like they did with the PowerPC's in the mid '90's, that will never change.

Re:What Apple needs (2, Insightful)

geeknado (1117395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824555)

Yes, it does.

You could make a very strong case that the Mac could be an ideal gaming platform since they utilize a limited number of configurations-- it's a closer analog to a console than to a Windows PC that way. /That's/ why it boggles the mind.

There're different kinds of gamers, and those that hack around with their boxes/upgrade the hardware themselves are not the only ones that drive the gaming market. Given that 'l33t rig' warehouses seem to be doing fine, it seems clear that there're even hardcore gamers that buy their config pre-tweaked.

Yes, WOW works just fine on the Mac(and under Linux), and that's /not/ because Apple has in any way facilitated its development. Rather, Blizzard recognizes that volume is king when you're talking about an MMO, so they've worked hard to support as many available platforms as possible. Good for them.

"But it doesn't play games" is the typical argument against purchasing a Mac/using OSX. Sure, you can use Boot Camp and dual boot, but in that case you're buying a Windows license /and/ installing your own operating system, putting this outside of the comfort zone for many potential users. Your average end user is not going to want to mess with a boot loader, period.

Re:What Apple needs (1, Insightful)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823355)

The main obstacle to gaming on the Windows platform is Windows - that is, the amount of memory the operating system soaks up just for being around. There, however, you can just slap on some more memory and you're good to go.

But with Macs, I understand that from a game programmer's perspective, the graphics APIs just aren't as good as DirectX. Can't fix that with a few RAM sticks. I've got my Mac computer dual-booting, so I'd know! Also, they don't sell a box that is really in that "gamer" niche. The top-end iMacs are still a bit too slow to be good gaming machines, and your options for aftermarket upgrades are limited; the pro systems are absurdly expensive and shove more cores down your throat than you really need unless you're doing video editing.

Re:What Apple needs (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825009)

The main obstacle to gaming on the Windows platform is Windows - that is, the amount of memory the operating system soaks up just for being around. There, however, you can just slap on some more memory and you're good to go.

Maybe if Joe Sixpack wasn't buying the Best Buy 499.95 special and expecting it to play the latest games...

For the most part the only time I hear complaints out of Windows gamers is the ones that don't have enough cash to buy their own gear and have to live off of mommy and daddy's hand me downs.

Bitch about the memory and pat yourself on the back all you want but when is the last time a gig of ram cost more then the latest PS3 title? In perspective the issue of buying an off-the-shelf PC to play games on and adding the ram yourself is normally going to cost you less then the sales tax on most new machines.

And this isn't to defend Windows because I know where you're coming from but it's time that we need to step back and finally tell the low end gamers who want to step up that they're going to have to spend a little money to do it. I have a three year old PC that I got an extra stick of ram for that plays HL2 and it's assorted goodies just fine. I have a year old laptop that I can say the same thing about.

All in all it amazes me the number of people who customize their PC off of Dell or HP and skimp on the memory only to have it bite them in the ass when they install games on it.

Re:What Apple needs (0, Flamebait)

happyemoticon (543015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825385)

For the most part the only time I hear complaints out of Windows gamers is the ones that don't have enough cash to buy their own gear and have to live off of mommy and daddy's hand me downs.

Bitch about the memory and pat yourself on the back all you want but when is the last time a gig of ram cost more then the latest PS3 title? In perspective the issue of buying an off-the-shelf PC to play games on and adding the ram yourself is normally going to cost you less then the sales tax on most new machines.

It sounds like you just took my statement, added some pepper, and threw it back at me like it was a counter-argument.

Re:What Apple needs (1)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823597)

I haven't seen a home computer optimized for gaming sinced the old Amiga.
That might offend the folks over at Alienware...

Re:What Apple needs (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824087)

Insightful for stating that gaming on Windows is a kludge and that there have been no PC's for gaming since the Amiga?

Really? On /.?

Hmm, I guess the 4 or 5 gaming rigs I've had in the past decade didn't really exist then. All of which smoked any console gaming system of the time by far...nevermind. Why am I responding to blatant flamebait anyways...oh yeah, +4 insightful.

Sheesh, someone fix that please!

Nothing wrong with Windows gaming (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20824807)

Get a clue. Visit the reality based community once in a while. DirectX blows anything Apple or Teh Lunix can do out of the water. Remember OpenGL? Yeah, nobody else does either. It is and always has been irrelevant.

Gaming on a Windows PC is the best thing going right now. Some people like the simplicity of a gaming console... but really, there is no comparison.

Agreed (3, Interesting)

hirschma (187820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823119)

Seriously, better gaming availability and I'd be running to buy a Mac. Like, tomorrow.

Of course, the same could be said for Linux. If the "bigs" showed up on Linux, I'd be dumping my Windows desktop, too.

Bottom line: first non-Windows OS with decent, supported, modern gaming and I'm off to the races.

I have a feeling that Shuttleworth isn't as silly as the Mac folks on this issue, wouldn't be surprised if he's had the same meeting, too.

Re:Agreed (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823277)

"Bottom line: first non-Windows OS with decent, supported, modern gaming and I'm off to the races."

Don't hold your breath. There are multiple issues that will keep most games from every being made for the Mac or Linux:

1. DirectX/Direct3D is a really nice API for making games. And MS supports it with nice development tools.

2. The market for Mac and Linux games is incredibly tiny, and it's just not worth creating new versions (meaning, using an API other than DirectX) of a game for those platforms.

3. Most importantly, even the market for *Windows* games is shrinking rapidly. Essentially all of the major developers are moving to the consoles, which is where the real money is. There is growth in the simple "Flash/Shockwave/Java" games that everyone plays online, but those are already cross-platform, and they are mostly advertising-supported.

Re:Agreed (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823379)

Bottom line: first non-Windows OS with decent, supported, modern gaming and I'm off to the races.

Let me correct that:

Bottom line: first non-Windows OS that doesn't suck with decent, supported, modern gaming and I'm off to the races.

I mean, if it's not windows, rocks at gaming but sucks for everything else, it isn't going to gain mainstream either.

Re:Agreed (1)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824917)

I mean, if it's not windows, rocks at gaming but sucks for everything else, it isn't going to gain mainstream either.

Tell that to Sony or Nintendo ;) Computers are cheap enough that you don't NEED a one-system-does-all approach. In fact, it is probably more expensive to buy 1 good gaming computer, then it is to buy a console for gaming and a cheap computer for everything else. Look at how many computers your techy 20-something may have. A game console (or 2 or 3), a laptop, a router for networking, a hand held or smart phone to maintain personal org. info, an MP3 player for music, PVR for recording shows, etc.. Lets face it, the idea of a computer that does everything under the sun is losing its appeal, since computers that specialize seem to do it far better and far cheaper.

I run games on my MacBook Pro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20823125)

Under VMWare and/or Boot Camp. Peggle (Extreme) works well in VMWare.

The Text: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20823309)

I'm all for giving ad revenue to sites with intersting articles, but this site is particularly annoying. Narrow text. Tons of ads. A forced flash ad between every (artifically) short article page, and no "print" view. So, without further adeau, the full text:

Gabe Newell Valve Interview - Orange Box

We sit down for a lengthy discussion with Valve Corp's MD and co-founder, Gabe Newell, ahead of the release of The Orange Box for PC and console.

By Adam Doree

Our previous interview with Valve's Doug Lomrabdi focussed mostly on Half-Life 2 and its new episodes, like Episode Two, included in the awesome Orange Box next month.

This time, we sat down with Valve boss Gabe Newell (with some additional input from Doug as well as graphics architect Jason Mitchell) for the definitive interview on everything in The Orange Box, where Valve is at, why there's no Mac love, and what's coming next.

Kikizo: Let's start with Steam. Some have levelled it as a criticism that you can't sell something after you have purchased it like you can with a typical boxed game. From a commercial point of view - if you want it, you've got to buy it new - how significant an effect does this have on your revenue?

Gabe Newell: I think we always try to provide great value to customers. You know, I think everybody who bought, Counter-Strike has received all of the updates and free content for that, or people who buy Orange Box will get five games in a box, will say that they got value, and that's what we try to focus on.

Kikizo: People keep asking you about a potential Macintosh version, and your stance is that this is a strictly Windows project...?

Gabe: Well, we tried to have a conversation with Apple for several years, and they never seemed to... well, we have this pattern with Apple, where we meet with them, people there go "wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming". And then we'll say, "OK, here are three things you could do to make that better", and then they say OK, and then we never see them again. And then a year later, a new group of people show up, who apparently have no idea that the last group of people were there, and never follow though on anything. So, they seem to think that they want to do gaming, but there's never any follow through on any of the things they say they're going to do. That makes it hard to be excited about doing games for their platforms.

Kikizo: So you think it's all because of staff turnaround in their gaming department?

Gabe: I just don't think they've ever taken gaming seriously. And none of the things developers ask them to do are done. And as a result, there's no gaming market there to speak of. We'd love it if they would get serious about it. But they never have, and can't even follow trough on any of their commitments for game developers.

Kikizo: So would you say that the rumour that crops up every couple of years that Apple is about to do a big plan and release a console box, is basically bullshit?

Gabe: We've seen no evidence that they are able to follow through on even simple programs in the game space. It seems bizarre to me because it's like one of the biggest things holding them back in the consumer space. If you look at a Macintosh right now, it does a lot of things really well compared to a Vista PC, but there are no games. Why, I don't know. If I were a Macintosh product manager, it would be pretty high on my list, and a problem to get taken care of, as probably the number one thing holding them back with consumers.

Kikizo: Well that clears up the Mac issue. Now, you guys have always been improving your lobby systems, let's talk about Half-Life 2 in particular, I have to be honest I only recently delved into the online multiplayer aspects of Half-Life 2, what would you say as a new player going into the MP side of HL2 is the best thing to do, because I fired up the lobby and there's all these different things you can do, and most of them look like user-created levels, often full of young gamers, is there a guaranteed way to get a grown-up game that works, how a designer would make it?

Gabe: I think one of the things we've tried to do with the community services we've recently added is to allow you to have a group of people you want to play with. So for example in my case I'd to play with other people in my family, and the community service makes it a lot easier... like, my brother didn't have a Steam account, so I sent him an invite, which automatically pointed him to download Steam, and then we can schedule events to play together. So that's the kind of thing we're trying to do, to make it easier for you, and for me, to find people that you already want to play with, people you already know, and co-ordinate with them or get them involved with playing with you. That's the best way.

Kikizo: Let's move onto Portal then. I've got to say that anytime I've written about an FPS since E3, there are three that I mention, and one of them isn't Halo 3; I want to see ones that attempt to do something new, so there's TimeShift that's all about bending time and has some interesting stuff from that, and Fracture which is all about terrain deformation in a completely new way, and of course Portal, which is pretty mind bending. Do you think it's going to do big things for you, and could it have even been a standalone release in its own right?

Gabe: I think part of the reason we are doing episodic releases and smaller content releases is to allow us to take some of the risk out of the schedule and instead put it into the gameplay. So Portal, if we'd said let's go out and spend five years building a hundred million dollar game, it would have been fairly scary to have both that financial risk along with the game design risk, but by focussing it in to the Orange Box, it allows us to take that risk. And I think it's as important, if not more important, than the inclusion of physics into the genre. After you play it, you'll say yes, this is something that really needs to be incorporated as part of the genre standard; it's way more interesting than having another ranged weapon or something which is what some games seem to be adding.

Kikizo: So just to clarify, the thing from Portal that you're saying should become standard in the genre is...?

Gabe: I think the use of the portals themselves, it adds too much to the genre to be left out. I have to ... what were the names of those two other games, Fracture and...? Yes, TimeShift. I have to go check those out. How does TimeShift compare with Blinx?

Kikizo: Well you know, I didn't get into Blinx much, but I think we're talking about a different calibre of developer. Blinx seemed to only superficially touch on the time manipulation aspect, whereas with TimeShift, that is the game. It's like more fused into the action. You can have a weapon in your hands at one point and the very next moment it disappeared because time was frozen and it was stolen from you and now it's pointed in your back. Interesting stuff in there, and that is what I like to see, people trying new stuff. I guess Half-Life 2 is an exception, because it does everything else so well, every element... I don't think I stopped gushing over the game last time [looking at Doug, who we interviewed before]... how big fans we are of the series... but now I'm doing it again...

Gabe: Haha. But yeah, I'll check out both of those. I agree with you, that it's nice to see the category moving forward.

Kikizo: So I think you guys have said that in Episode 2, we're not going to see the powerful version of the Gravity Gun again, but given that the gravity gun type weapon in Portal is central to that game, is that going to be upgradeable within Portal somehow?

Gabe: As you play through it, different capabilities are added to it as you go through. It's not quite the same as the Gravity Gun, it's more a learning curve, once you've learned how to use it one way, more dimensions are added to it and it gets more complicated or more powerful for you to use.

Kikizo: Have you considered introducing a four dimensional time element in Portal? Well I guess portals themselves as a concept are four dimensional if you look at the math.

Gabe: Sure, just in general you can think of it as applying a transformation; like you can have two spaces that are connected by portals, but they're reverse with respect to each other, or there's some temporal shift, or use your mouse wheel to expand or contract the size of the portal which determines your size when you exit. I don't know if you remember the fixed version of that in Mario 64 where as you go through space through the tubes that change your size, except for making it dynamic. So I think you're on to something as to the direction to go with moving that gameplay forward.

Kikizo: So in Portal are we going to have a situation with one opening gate with several exits, to make things more complex, or will it always be one-two, one-two?

Gabe: I think it can become more complex, and it also gets more complex when you use it in a multiplayer environment. That's something that everybody who's worked on Portal at Valve has wanted to do, is say, now how do we use this with multiple people with opposing agendas.

Kikizo: A couple of final questions about Portal, the female voice that is well known from the trailers, are we going to learn more about her, is she going to become a character in the game maybe?

Gabe: Oh, you're going to learn a lot more about her, and her history. I think Portal's ending is one of the strongest endings we've ever done.

Kikizo: You've said that Portal exists in the Half-Life universe. And there are already some crossovers. Can you tell us about when we might learn more about the Aperture Science Center, will it come into play within the current iteration of the Half-Life series?

Gabe: You will learn more about it; whether or not it shows up like in Episode 3 or in a different vehicle, we'll definitely learn more. It's part of our universe. You can tell that when you play through it, there's a lot of affection at Valve for those characters, especially for Gladys, the computer voice.

Kikizo: So Episode 2 is all about learning a bit more, while Episode 3 will be about a resolution to a lot of things. How much is going to be resolved by the end of number three, is it all written already, is the story done?

Gabe: Yeah. The questions are more about how we tell the story than what the plot is, and the exposition is. So we think we're going to resolve a lot. But you know! It's hard to... how do you measure that? I think that people will feel a sense of closure on a bunch of things, as well as saying oh darn it, now there's a bunch of more stuff. That's the challenge with serialising our releases, how to give people a sense that yes things are moving forward, but still having things to find out about. But there should be a good sense that it wraps up a fair number of things.

Kikizo: Going back to games that do something 'new' in the genre, I guess what Half-Life 2 did that was new was based in physics and all the gameplay stuff that comes out of physics in the game. What I'm looking forward to in Episode 2 is you apparently have the biggest physics based puzzle in the series to date. You can you say more about that at the moment? And will there be any other firsts for the series?

Gabe: Doug, how would you answer that?!

Doug Lombardi: Uh, I wouldn't comment any further on the physics puzzle that we've alluded to! As far as firsts, I mean, to me it's a combination of a lot of the stuff that we've learned, and then moving forward and bringing it together in a lot of ways. In Episode 1 we really concentrated a lot on Alyx, and making that experience of her really tight. [Yes, these were the actual words used - sorry, couldn't resist]. In Episode 2 we're sort of on a grander scale, a more epic scale, similar more to Half-Life 2 more than Episode 1, where we're moving through lots of different environments, lots of different environments that you haven't seen before, each one has its own style of gameplay, whether you're underground in the Antlion tunnel system, or driving through with Alyx. So I think it's a combination of things rather than one big piece, and I think that the reaction from people who've played it so far is like, there's way more story here than I was anticipating, you are revealing more than we anticipated, and it's more varied and yet densely populated than we expected. I don't know if that answers your question but that's how I would encapsulate the experience and what we have achieved without giving away spoilers or what have you.

Kikizo: If you were to put yourself in a George Lucas position, when people ask George Lucas if he's going to make a third trilogy of the Star Wars franchise, he gives a definitive no. After Episode 3 comes out, do you see life for Half-Life beyond this current iteration?

Gabe: Yeah. Sure. I think there are a lot of thing that we want to do with the story, characters and so on, that we haven't done yet.

Kikizo: And there'll be plenty of new hardware to do it on.

Gabe: Yes. Regarding George Lucas, I would have stopped after the first trilogy, released everything to the mod community and let them do the stories. I think we would have been a lot happier with fan-created stories than with the [new] trilogy that he put out. Or at least put out all the models and the sets, so that people could do an alternate version of the first trilogy.

Kikizo: What is the coolest creature in Episode 2 that we haven't seen yet? And you've got interaction between enemy monsters now as well, how does that work?

Gabe: The hunter is the coolest. It's so much fun to play against. In terms of how it plays they're much more coordinated and work as a team against you, so that makes it more fun because you tend to have to think both in the immediate moment as well as more tactically as if you're fighting a squad of creatures.

Kikizo: Can you comment generally on how you've improved your technology since Episode 1, which added HDR lighting?

Gabe: There's shadow mapping, there's improved bump mapping on static props, to make everything look more realistic. There's particle systems, advanced facial animation systems... a bunch of stuff. We have commentary as well, we have over two and a half hours of new content to put out between Portal, TF2 and Ep2.

Jason Mitchell: One of the advantages of this episodic approach to releasing games is it gives us the opportunity to release incremental updates to the game engine itself more frequently. We've done a variety of things, and just since the release of Episode 1 last year. For example we're now releasing simultaneously on PC and consoles, which we're compiling from the same code base. And that includes a lot of multi-core optimisations for those trends you see on the PC as well as the architectures of the consoles. We're focussing on a bit more expansive outdoor environments in Episode 2, in particular more foliage rendering, and we're using some advanced hardware features called alpha-to-coverage, and this refers to the idea of being able to, in the pixel shaders specifically, determine the level of coverage of a given pixel, when you're using a hardware multi-sample anti-aliasing. I can go more technical if you're interested?

Kikizo: I think the audience might be!

Jason: Got it! So generally, at the edges of polygons, the hard edges of geometry, that's where multi-sample anti-aliasing kicks in so things like foliage like a tree, we're able to specify in the texture map, how much a pixel is covered, using in this case the alpha channel of that texture map. So we're able to actually specify much more fine detail in our foliage, and it's also just much better anti-aliased than you traditionally see on foliage in games. This is all new to Episode 2.

Kikizo: I noticed that in one sort of cut-scene in Episode 2, the camera escapes Gordon's eyes for the first time that I can remember, you previously said you weren't going to do this because it means the player feels more like they're Gordon? What's the thinking here?

Gabe: Uh... consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds? [laughs]. I don't know! It seems to work for us so we're sort of happy with bending our own rules!

Doug: It happened in Half-Life 2; Alyx woke you up at the very beginning and you were ambushed, the camera left for five seconds, but this was about ten seconds.

ikizo: You said that the plot is already complete. I'm presuming you do the voice recording episode by episode, with the actors?

Gabe: Sometimes we record ahead if it's convenient on some pieces. But we actually do pick up lines pretty late as you're looking at the performance, and just optimising. You'll see something in a scene and you'll want to change it to read differently and say to the voice actor, make her sound more sarcastic. And we have the luxury if going back and doing that stuff.

Kikizo: Because I was curious, if you were to record the actors well in advance of something that's going to be released, that, and from an internal perspective all of your staff, how do you keep things secure in terms of things not getting leaked?

Gabe: Well, we did have all of the Half-Life 2 source code end up on the Internet at one point! But hopefully we've learned from that to be a little more secure.

Kikizo: What have you done since then to be more secure?

Gabe: None of your business! [laughs]

Kikizo: Very good answer. You've got a guy at the door with a gun basically? LOL. So, Team Fortress 2, your animated short sequences with the soldiers, look really outstanding I think, because they are really well characterised, the voices were good and it was kind of Pixar style level of CG animation quality, which straight away got me thinking, this could be a short film. Could you do something beyond a game with what you have there?

Gabe: We are planning on doing nine of those shorts, one for each of the character classes. We think that the fans really like to see these characters because it's such a class based game that they like to get a clear sense of who they are and that's what we're doing right now.

Kikizo: Cool, and I have to be honest, out of the three new games that are in Orange Box, Team Fortress 2 is the one I am least well educated about; if you were to educate me as a player of Half-Life 2, with one selling point maybe, what is it?

Gabe: It's the class based multiplayer. I think there are very significant differences between playing as a scout and playing as a heavy or a medic. So it tends to accommodate a wider variety of play styles than say Counter-Strike. I mean Counter-Strike is very clear; there's not a lot of variety in that, whereas there's a huge difference between the tactical thinking that an engineer does managing resources versus say the approach that the sniper has playing in that game. So really it's much more accommodating to a wider range of play styles than any game out there.

Kikizo: And one final thing about Steam, is there a minimum requirement for someone to put a game out on there? I mean say I made a game and I wanted it on Steam?

Gabe: Send us an email.

Kikizo: What if it was crap?

Gabe: Well, if it's crap then we're going to tell you to go away! [laughter] You know, you've already told us it's crap so... we believe you! [laughter] We tend to think of what we're doing as providing tools more than anything else; we're not in a 'gate keeping' function; we're not going to make editorial decisions for you. Our way of thinking is in the same way that the Source SDK is a set of tools and we want people to do different kinds of things; if you ask us, the same way for Steam, we see it as tools for developers; we treat them the same way we would want to be treated, which is in a helpful way, not in a judgemental or gate keeping way.

Kikizo: What would you say has been the biggest change in the games industry over the last ten years and what will be the biggest over the next ten years? Industry trends; something that will define the next ten years.

Gabe: Well I think the biggest thing that people should have been paying attention to is the shift in marketing and distribution away from traditional forms to digital forms. Because I think that's going to be a huge benefit to the creative types as the pie shifts towards content creation and not distribution and marketing. And then the next ten years, I think we're going to see the sort of disappearance of games as an independent medium, and instead everybody's going to have to figure out how to be an entertainment company not just a games company. The flipside is that you can't be in the movie business and the TV business, you have to be in the entertainment business as well. I think customers have really tried to indicate that through things like Pokemon, or the sales of the Harry Potter games. And we're still stuck in the mentality of the production, the accidents in production, and that's not the way that customers really want us to be building entertainment.

Kikizo: Interesting. You've got confirmed release dates for Orange Box now?

Doug: PC and 360 dates are October 10th in the States at retail, and October 12th in Europe at retail. PC Steam date is 12.01am Pacific on 10th October. And then PS3 date is still to be determined.

Kikizo: Thanks so much for your time, we appreciate it.
       

Apple needs better hardware for gameing... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823417)

Apple needs better hardware for gameing the mac pro with 1gb of FB-DIMM ram and only a 7300 gt in the base system for $2200 is too costly and $250 more to upgrade to a X1900 XT is ripoff.

The I macs have weak video cards and the only way to get a faster cpu is to get a bigger screen that puts even more load on the GPU.

The mini is over priced and under powered.

Re:Apple needs better hardware for gameing... (1)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823521)

Mini under powered? Maybe when it had a core Solo, but not that it comes standard with a Core 2 Duo and a gig of RAM I don't think the mini is underpowered at all (unless you mean only the GPU, in which case you are correct). I will give you that it is at least $100 overpriced, IMHO anyways.

Yes and no. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823581)

To stay on the bleeding edge they need better options, but for many games out there the games will play just fine at 1024x768, some cases higher. Hell, you can run 5 copies of WOW on my 2.16 C2D iMac ;)

I think Apple as a whole is too distracted by trying to do too many things at once. You know that the iPhone had to take a lot of focus to pull off. Yes while they talk about increasing Mac marketshare I don't think its their bread and butter anymore and probably no where near the direction they will go and stay. In other words, Macs are here until they become #3 or lower in the revenue chain.

What would I like?

A headless machine which can accept an Apple approved video card in PCI format. Perhaps a slightly thicker iTV with the card mounted horizontally. The problem is, Macs are generally more stable simply because you cannot add any card you want, let alone the horrible drivers some bring.

Be realistic in your game choices and a Mac will do just fine. Yeah they won't run the latest texture hog as 2536x1234 or what not but in many cases they do just fine with 1024x768 or close.

The only thing I could never figure was the choice of cards in the new aluminium iMacs, major step backwards in performance versus the 7600GT option (which is in my iMac)

Re:Apple needs better hardware for gameing... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824007)

Not to mention the fact that the previous gen iMac had an optional card that actually significantly outperforms [barefeats.com] the current generation of iMacs by a significant amount when it comes to gaming. I just don't get Apple's strategy here. On one hand you make a huge deal at the WWDC about game development(including having CEOs of 2 big gaming companies come to speak), but then the first computer you release post WWDC is actually SLOWER at playing games than the model it replaced! Not to mention you are right about the mac pros, paying top dollar for video cards that are going on 2 years old is insane. The macbook pro video card isn't too bad as far as laptop video cards go, but the macbook pro isn't cheap either.

Maybe Steve is brooding in his ivory tower in Cupertino over some master plan for the mac that will make our tiny heads spin, but otherwise I just don't get what Apple is trying to do here.

Re:Apple needs better hardware for gameing... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825341)

Apple needs better hardware for gameing the mac pro with 1gb of FB-DIMM ram and only a 7300 gt in the base system for $2200 is too costly and $250 more to upgrade to a X1900 XT is ripoff.

People need to be more specific - its not that the Mac is unsuitable for games, its unsuitable for high-performance 3D games - mostly first-person shooters - used by people who would get beaten up at LAN parties if their rig couldn't pull 60fps at 1800x1200 in the latest game with all the quality options set to 11 - and I'd have thought that even in the PC world that is in danger of becoming a niche market, pwned by cheap gaming-grade PC hardware. Apple would find it very hard to break in to that niche, which will always demand this week's latest software and graphics hardware (oh, and hideously tasteless neon-encrusted cases that would force Johnathan Ive pluck his eyes out in disgust).

...and as for consoles, I suspect that the typical non-/.er Mac user is more likely to go for a Wii than an PS3.

As for the Mac Pro, I agree that the X1900 option needs "updating", but really the Mac Pro is not intended to be a FPS gaming machine - its a "serious computing" workstation using expensive workstation/server processor & memory technologies. The 7300 is more than adequate for non-3D work (and the occasional bout of Unreal) and the card is passively cooled so its quiet and you can fit 4 of them (for multiple displays, not SLI) if you feel inclined. I assume that the other, really pricey, nvidia cards they offer have some attractions to serious graphics users but they obviously ain't gaming cards and not many people would buy a Mac Pro for FPS gaming.

touché (0, Flamebait)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823457)

As far as I know, Apple hasn't had to leak the source code to one of their own projects to cover for it running waaaay over schedule.

They have a 1-up on Valve in that regard.

Re:touché (-1, Flamebait)

deftcoder (1090261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824467)

lol and, of course, the Valven fanboys mod me down rather than admit what they know is the truth...

It was either an intentional leak or Gaben ate the source code repository server...

http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/Myg0t#Half-Life_2_Source_Leak [encycloped...matica.com]

http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Steam#Fuck_Ups [encycloped...matica.com]

After a month following the source code theft, Gabe Newell of Valve admitted to eating the server containing the code citing that he "couldn't help himself."
lol :D

Portal is going to suck, TF2 will be a shitty anime-esque mod (on the other hand, Fortress Forever blows, too), but Valve will keep getting rich off you fools even though they have the worst developers next to Blizzard.

Touche? more like D..... (1)

nanowired (881497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824661)

You sir, do not know your art. TF2's artwork is blatently copied from one "The Impossibles", which is clearly an American title stylized after american comic books.

Yep. No games. (1, Interesting)

CommandoCody (1154955) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823493)

Given that I've been able to run every Blizzard game since Warcraft II on my Mac, and that I've been able to run every Quake III- or Unreal Engine-based game that anyone bothered to port, the whole "Macs can't run games" argument is weak at best. Especially from Newell, who canceled a nearly-finished port of Half-Life I because he just didn't feel like supporting it.

Re:Yep. No games. (2, Insightful)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823703)

It's not about porting a game to Macs.. it's about Apple doing a few things that would make porting games much easier. It seems quite simple, if Apple wants to greatly increase market share, they will make their systems more gamer friendly.

Re:Yep. No games. (1)

CommandoCody (1154955) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823893)

That's my point. It's perfectly gamer-friendly. I've been gaming on it for decades.

There may be no "l33t" ultimate-gamer machines from Apple, but I'm not sure how big that market is. Meanwhile, I bet Half-Life 2 would have played just fine on the latest iMacs if Valve had cared. Maybe not at the most uber of frame-rate and resolution, but if that's the only reason to play a gmae, it's not much of a game.

Re:Yep. No games. (4, Informative)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823817)

You're mis-representing his argument. He's not saying "Macs can run games," that's patently ridiculous, seeing as there's so many games on Mac. What he's saying is "Apple doesn't give game companies much support." What's the most Apple's ever done for game companies? They had "Sprockets" for OS 8 and 9, but they never took it seriously-- Bungie did most of the work on it, from my understanding, and Apple mostly just ignored it until by OS X it was completely obsolete.

Apple's historically always been like this, though. Even classic games like Prince of Persia, Uninvited, or even Myst were done with no support or promotion whatsoever from Apple.

Re:Yep. No games. (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823867)

Bah, early morning typo. That first quote should read "Macs can't run games." One of those nasty typos where you type the opposite of what you mean.

Re:Yep. No games. (1)

clem (5683) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824057)

I have no idea what you're talking about. That never happens to me.

Re:Yep. No games. (1)

clem (5683) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824147)

Oops, sorry. Meant to say, "I know exactly what you're talking about. That always happens to me."

Re:Yep. No games. (1)

CommandoCody (1154955) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823957)

What I was trying to say is that other companies (such as Cyan, as a mentioned example) seem to do extremely well without the support Newell was asking for. I can't help but notice that he's a bit vague about that support: one rumor is that he asked Apple to re-do their OpenGL implementation so it would work more like DirectX. Only a rumor, though.

Re:Yep. No games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20825155)

Bungie did not do most of the work on Sprockets. There was a small gaming team. However when the next round of layoffs happened that team got reduced from six or so people down to one and that one was folded into the hardware group.

Re:Yep. No games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20823871)

Blizzard games are usually pitched towards the lowest common denominator as far as system requirements go. The graphics are decent, the gameplay is good, and the experience is usually pleasantly addictive, but I don't think many people considered Warcraft II a particularly hardware taxing game. I guess a mac is a good gaming platform if you're willing to wait until whichever game you want to play will run on the pedestrian hardware they're bundling into the latest version of whicher box you bought this year, but for the latest and greatest, vapid and visceral, eye-poppingly realistic FPS a decent playing experience on any apple machine you can afford is something out of the reach of mere mortals.

Re:Yep. No games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20824151)

So thats what...5 more games?

WOOOOOOOPIEEEEEE

Other points from the article: (4, Insightful)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823527)

While the Slashdot summary focuses on the article's brief discussion of Mac gaming, the bread and butter of the article is about other things. I found this to be the most illuminating quote:

So [Team Fortress 2] tends to accommodate a wider variety of play styles than say Counter-Strike. I mean Counter-Strike is very clear; there's not a lot of variety in that, whereas there's a huge difference between the tactical thinking that an engineer does managing resources versus say the approach that the sniper has playing in that game. So really it's much more accommodating to a wider range of play styles than any game out there.

This is exactly why I haven't played CS for 2 or 3 years, but I've been playing TF2 every night this week. In CS, or Halo, or just about any other multiplayer first person shooter, if you're not good at shooting people in the head, you're not good at the game. But in TF2, there are so many ways to play the game that everyone's bound to be good at something once they find their niche. While I still suck at playing a soldier or sniper in TF2, I'll often find myself at the top of the list when I'm playing as a Medic or Engineer.

The other unique thing about TF2 is the variety of cooperation that it requires. In Halo and CS, sticking together is just about the only required teamwork. In TF2 the level of class specialization demands an incredibly diverse range of cooperation. Switching the balance of power is often as easy (or hard) as finding a combination of classes that can defeat whatever strategy happens to be working for the enemy.

In some ways, the cooperation in TF2 reminds me more of World of Warcraft than any other First Person Shooter.

Re:Other points from the article: (1)

antic (29198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823739)

"In Halo ... , sticking together is just about the only required teamwork."

Yeah, nothing to do with control of the map and power weapons. ;)

Rest of your points are well made, however.

Re:Other points from the article: (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823905)

You're right, but what makes TF2 different than, say, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory or the Battlefield series of games? Those all had class-based play, also... and it doesn't look like TF2 is offering anything new here.

Re:Other points from the article: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20824491)

Well, besides the fact that TF preceded those games by many years (they were the ones offering nothing new), the main difference is that there are very dramatic differences between the classes in the TF games, compared the minor differences you see in the ones you mention. CW and the Battefield games still result in the spoils going to the players with the best gun control, regardless of what class you play.

Re:Other points from the article: (1)

WillAtMH (735233) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824891)

Low cost of entry is what makes TF2 great. Very accessible yet it doesn't gimp vet players.

Re:Other points from the article: (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825001)

You're right, but what makes TF2 different than, say, Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory or the Battlefield series of games? Those all had class-based play, also... and it doesn't look like TF2 is offering anything new here.
TF2 isn't really offering anything new here. What it is offering is possibly the most polished, well-balanced, and thoroughly enjoyable example of the genre. It's similar to Blizzard's strategy with WoW: people have bitched non-stop that WoW isn't innovative, but the game is so successful because it dropped most of the annoying crap and polished the remainder to a high shine. TF2 does precisely the same thing for team-based shooters. I've been playing shooters since Wolfenstein 3D and I'm a huge fan of Enemy Territory. Take it from me: if you like team-based shooters and haven't played the TF2 beta, you're missing out in a big way. TF2 is worth the price of the Orange Box alone.

cheers.

Re:Other points from the article: (0, Troll)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825969)

Take it from me: if you like team-based shooters and haven't played the TF2 beta, you're missing out in a big way.

I lost all interest the second I watched a gameplay vid where the losing team becomes unable to attack before the next round starts, allowing the winning team to frag them without resistance. DoD did the same thing, and it's one of the reasons why I don't play it anymore. I'll maybe try TF2 when Valve stops annoying the player for shits and giggles. TF2 could have been a good game but this is more than enough to convince me that Fortress Forever is the way to go.

I'd buy a Mac if it was the best for gaming (2, Insightful)

Afecks (899057) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823537)

The problem I think is pricing. The base configuration of a high-end Mac Pro costs what I normally spend on a fully decked out SLI rig. I think the problem Apple faces (and knows) is that gamers aren't morons about hardware (most of us) and are unlikely to spend that much extra just for a Mac shell.

After all, no gamer goes.. oohh I want a Dell XPS. No, they say, oohh I want a quad core Kentsfield and a 8800 GTX SLI blah blah blah.

Apple just doesn't have the insight or ability to take Mac gaming BEYOND PC gaming. Coming in as a tie won't matter much but it will get a few people to jump ship that only hang around Windows for the next Tomb Raider game or whatever genre they like. Apple is not stupid, they know that gaming on a Mac won't add much, however it is inevitable if Mac is ever going to be viable in the mass market. No those few percentage points don't count.

Queue Mac trolls telling me how I just don't get it..

Re:I'd buy a Mac if it was the best for gaming (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824737)

Apple is not stupid, they know that gaming on a Mac won't add much, however it is inevitable if Mac is ever going to be viable in the mass market. No those few percentage points don't count.

Apple would be stupid if they see gamers as a few percentage points. I see gamers being the 80/20 of hardware sales. Gamers easily buy the most new cutting edge hardware of anyone running the desktop even if their numbers in the overall desktop community is a minority.

If Apple prides itself on producing high end system they would be wise to lure in gamers who also pride themselves in being the buyers of high end systems.

If the iPod fashion wave of Apple dies anytime soon they're going to have people sitting on the same boxes for years since they work. The only serious faction of the desktop community that looks to replace working hardware with any real numbers is the gamers. Gamers have such a high turnover for hardware that their minority numbers would bulk up to much more.

Turnover rate? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823543)

Is the turnover rate at Apple really that high? Why are people leaving so fast? And in entire teams? Can I type a sentence that isn't a question?

Sounds like whining (2, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823617)

Sounds like whining from Valve to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Apple is a saint or anything. They should probably make things easier and up the hardware a little more.

Other game companies have made games for Apple no problem: ID, EA, Blizzard, etc. The difference is they accept that they have to go with OpenGL. Some of them are fairly recent ones too. Apple has even made 1-2 updates that include fixes for a game, so they "care." I've always seen it as an effort vs reward type of thing: a bunch of work for a smaller audience makes it less likely to happen.

My guess is they're asking Apple to do something along the lines of Direct-X, to make it easy to adapt an DX game for some mythical Apple architecture. They probably want big architecture changes or additions, things they aren't just going to do on a whim because of Valve.

After the things Valve did, it's hard for me to take their side after just hearing their claim. Heck, even against MS I'd have a hard time just believing Valve.

Re:Sounds like whining (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824015)

Oh, as far as I'm concerned, and as far as anyone who owned a Mac back then, when Half-Life's Mac version was canceled Valve can just shut the frak up. Yeah, ask Gabe why they canceled THAT. Sure, it was tainted by being a late-Sierra project [1], but it was Half Life ! And it was gonna be on the Mac ! Bastards.

http://forums.appleinsider.com/archive/index.php/t-18299.html [appleinsider.com]

Bastards !!!

[1] No network play with PCs, PC mods wouldn't work, this is why Sierra died.

Re:Sounds like whining (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825317)

A few points:

1) The factual accuracy here is questionable. This is 5 years old. Right after, somebody claimed that HL2 was "100%" coming to Mac because he "knew a guy" who worked at Valve as a mapper.

2) According to the forum posts, Sierra cancelled the project, not Valve

3) It would have run in software mode, most likely, since I don't recall Macs having dedicated 3D hardware back then. Half-Life limited to software mode isn't worth having at all. It made sense when HL1 was initially released to include a software renderer, but by the time the mac port would have come out (1999), software rendered FPS games were pretty much dead.

Mac gamers were given a different choice two years later, anyhow, when Half-Life was (officially) released on the PS2 and (unofficially) on the Dreamcast in 2001. The cost of getting that purchased and running is less than a decent graphics card, so other than the two year delay, would have been a better option for Mac gamers.

Re:Sounds like whining (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824773)

Funny, 1 person mods my previous post as Informative, and another as Flamebait. I don't really see my post as qualifying for that.

I kept it balanced, I said Apple is no saint and definitely has things they need to improve if they want gaming. But some of the things from the article did sound like whining on Valve's part. They went in and suggested things that (in Valve's opinion) Apple could do, and they didn't get done. Yet other companies have done fine with what Apple has, usually those that work with more with OpenGL.

In the end, it comes down to effort vs reward: Apple gaming market is small, so why bother. Nothing is stopping Valve from developing Apple games except their view that the effort isn't worth the reward, which I can't blame them for since that's the feelings for most publishers and developers.

But in the end, it's just Valve's side of the story and their PoV tends to have an odd skew to it.

Re:Sounds like whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20825879)

But then, shouldn't Apple be making the effort to put less strain on game developers if they truly want games on their platform? If you represent a small market segment, you have to court people to come to play in your garden. You don't get to say "here's how it work, like it or lump it". So Apple should be putting together a gaming API to make it easier for everyone to develop for their platform.

Heck, there are companies out there selling engines where you simply say "Compile for 360" or "Compile for Wii" and make sure you stick to their API and you're golden. Why not make sure those companies can produce compilers for your platform as well?

Tilting at windmills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20823679)

Apple only sells one computer that isn't a laptop crammed into a tight enclosure, and its default price is USD2500. Unless GPUs reduce their heat envelope, Apple won't bother putting anything worth having inside of the computers that sell the most units; making the Mac as a gaming platform less appealing.

Apple isn't going to cannibalize the Mac Pro by introducing a pragmatic desktop Mac. Apple always releases configurations that provide some unique incentive to buy while providing encouragement for spending a lot more money on something else.

I don't think it's the best way they could go about things, but Apple doesn't really care what anyone else thinks.

It seems gabe newell... (1, Interesting)

Clete2 (823221) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823769)

It seems that Gabe Newell wants to comment on every platform but Windows' failure. I remember a while back, he commented on Linux's gaming failures. Now, he's complaining about Macintosh's gaming failures.

Where's an article from Gabe Newell on Windows' gaming failures? Sure, there are many games on Windows, but the performance on some is horrible compared to the performance of the same games on Linux or Macintosh platforms. Windows takes up so much RAM, lowering overall game performance.

In my opinion, Gabe Newell thinks he is God and that he owns the gaming world. This is just what I seem to get from all of his articles.

Disclaimer: In general, I respect Gabe Newell and he did a wonderful job with Steam and the Half-Life series and their subsidiaries.

Re:It seems gabe newell... (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20823961)

It's alright. The switch to consoles has started and it's only a matter of time before they ditch the desktop all together. Then all them there computers will become irrelevant.

Re:It seems gabe newell... (1)

nsebban (513339) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824187)

Windows is a gaming failure, just as it is a desktop failure : - Everyone uses it. - Some people even pay for it. - The whole industry considers it as the De Facto standard (for non-console gaming). Let's start calling Windows a failure, the day it doesn't make money to Microsoft anymore. Right now it's the only non-console platform that 99.99% gamers in the world will consider.

Re:It seems gabe newell... (1)

Clete2 (823221) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825791)

You are completely correct, but just because it makes Microsoft tons of money does not necessarily mean it is a success for gaming. It's far from that.

Specifics? (1, Flamebait)

Amigori (177092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824143)

What specifically is holding them back? Are they looking for some kind of subsidy from Apple, or something? OpenGL is standard and well documented. HID is standard. CoreAudio is fairly new for audio programming. TCP/IP standard stacks for netplay. XCode is a decent IDE. I agree that graphics cards are certainly behind PC versions, but I'm not sure what can be done about that. Any geek seriously into gaming is already going to have a 2+button USB mouse to plug in. And that B.S. question about an Apple console...pointless.

"wow, gaming is incredibly important, we should do something with gaming". And then we'll say, "OK, here are three things you could do to make that better"...
Three things that could be better, but do already function, yet you're not using them.

"We'd love it if they would get serious about it. But they never have, and can't even follow trough on any of their commitments for game developers."
Perhaps this is because the developers Apple has been more interested in move systems worth $4k+ and develop software packages at $1k+. The systems people buy for themselves are not the uber-equipped MacPros, but the iMacs and MacBooks, at least numbers-wise.

People who want to develop games for Mac need to think more like a console developer: 1) Here's a standard set of tools. 2) Here's a limited range of hardware. 3) Here's a growing market of people looking for games, both simple and advanced. Gabe and Valve have chosen to develop on the "cutting edge" for the advanced players, which means DX10, fancy Audio engines (for the 5% of users who have more than a 2.1 setup), support for Physics coprocessors, and as much bandwidth as the graphics card allows, all of which means Windows only. Nothing wrong with that, gotta make money somehow. The Mac gaming market is there, they just don't want to participate. And how many hardcore gamers of Valve's target market only have a Mac? No PC, PS2/3, Xbox, 360, etc. They'll get their gaming fix somehow.

Re:Specifics? (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824373)

I'm a Mac user, and also an indie game developer. I love OSX, but I develop exclusively on Windows. Why? Because DirectX is a million times the lib that OpenGL is. I know open source advocates don't like hearing it - but look, object-oriented (I don't care what you say, a C API falls apart at that level of complexity), well supported by a massive developer base, and well maintained, and not afflicted with proprietary-video-card-extensions-itis.

In short, OpenGL works, and it works well, but it's also a major PITA. If I had an infinite amount of time and manpower, sure, I'd write everything in OpenGL, but considering Windows' market share and DX's ease, my time is better spent there. I'd like to tackle the Mac segment, and maybe I will if the market is large enough to be worth the hassle - but until then my code is Win-only.

Three things that could be better, but do already function, yet you're not using them.

Cost benefit. Just working and functional is not enough for a business. It may be for a hobbyist who's willing to accommodate the hassle to get something done, but for a business that is going to spend a certain number of very real, very costly man-hours to develop the port, there needs to be a worthwhile return. What Gabe is saying to Apple is - reduce OUR cost for porting to your platform (by reducing the human investment required) and we'll port, otherwise your platform simply won't have enough sales for us to justify the effort.

The trick between Macs and consoles is that they both require a certain installed base for developers to be interested. The GameCube had games only because Nintendo developed for themselves. Third parties wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole precisely because the installed base was insufficient to be worth the effort. The Windows side is a larger segment and any game developer will not target Mac exclusively, not at their current market share. Developers are not miffed at the limited performance of Mac hardware, we will make do with what we have, so long as people who own those machines are willing to buy our games.

I'm definitely looking into developing on the Mac, given its growing market share. But I would hope that by the time I'm settled on that decision we see actual developer support, instead of just a cursory page on their dev site. I would also hope they come up with something unified and comprehensive that can go head to head with DirectX.

Re:Specifics? (1)

nanowired (881497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824565)

I agree, and I enjoy OpenGL a lot more than DirectX. I think the problem here... and I could be wrong.. is that OpenGL's technology hasn't advanced that much, while it appears that DirectX's technology has. Appears, because half of marketing is smoke and mirrors.

Re:Specifics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20825387)

There isn't anything object-oriented about Direct3D. Object-orientation refers to polymorphism and encapsulation. There is a strong component-oriented design to DirectShow but that is of little use to most game developers. Your commentary about a "C API falling down" is pretty amusing. The portion of a game that is dependent on the underlying 3D API is incredibly tiny. I've never worked on a project where we didn't abstract it away for portability. However very many projects successfully make use of OpenGL, and did so before Direct3D was even thought of.

Gabe Newell and Valve are a Bit Biased (0)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824279)

I'm not saying the argument is without merit. Apple could probably do a lot to promote games on their platform, but one really should consider the source a bit. Valve is about the only major game publisher not owned by MS that doesn't port their mainstream titles to the Mac. Everyone else sees the business case and makes money off of it, but Valve seems to have really drank the MS kool-aid. That's not exactly surprising seeing as both Mr. Newell and co-founder Mike Harrington were Microsoft employees before starting Valve. His argument about getting poorer support from Apple than from his old company falls a little flat in that light. I get better support too when I call companies I used to work and where I still know people, than calling some random company.

Now on the other hand, I think Apple could and should do a lot more to support gaming on the Mac. They should be collaborating with Sony to promote OpenGL toolkits to target multiple platforms more easily. If they have to, they should go the MS route and start buying up innovative gaming companies to secure them on Macs as first class citizens. In a normal market, this would not be an issue, but MS has been throwing their monopoly influence around a lot and in the past has bought some of the best Mac gaming companies (Bungie) resulting in problems for gaming on the Mac. MS gets double value for their lock-in dollars with the Xbox, which is why Apple needs to partner with Sony or Nintendo. Still, I'm not sure the guys at Valve provide an objective viewpoint. They are an anomaly and I'd much rather hear from Id, Blizzard, or EA for an objective opinion on this topic.

Re:Gabe Newell and Valve are a Bit Biased (1)

vhold (175219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20824543)

"Valve is about the only major game publisher not owned by MS that doesn't port their mainstream titles to the Mac. "

Erm.. What?

Mac Games Release Calendar: http://www.amazon.com/Mac-Games/b?ie=UTF8&node=229647 [amazon.com]
PC Games Release Calendar: http://www.amazon.com/PC-Games/b?ie=UTF8&node=229575 [amazon.com]

Notice the 'more' links on the PC list. There are single days where the PC will see more mainstream games released then the Mac will see for the rest of the year. Also notice those mac games.. they aren't exactly fresh titles.

Re:Gabe Newell and Valve are a Bit Biased (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20824577)

it's rich to see an obvious apple fanboi mention lock-in when talking about ms like it's a bad thing. man, it's actually pathetic that this guy probably wrote this straight face without a single inkling of how ironic it is.

So what where the three issues? (1)

Chainsaw (2302) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825129)

You can't really comment on the whole "Apple does nothing for game developers" until you know exactly what the man asked for. If it's insane stuff like "implement DX10 and the Windows API, and equip every computer with at least dual nVidia 8800GTS 2GB", I can understand Apple. On the other hand, if it's reasonable thought, such as shipping SDL with the OS...

Is Mac hardware really that bad? (1)

bj bignell (1120471) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825441)

I might be a bit out of touch with what's new and hot in gaming hardware, but are the new iMacs (for example) really that bad? I would think that they've got to be enough, especially for casual gamers like myself. My new iMac 20" with 4GB of RAM runs Call of Duty 2 at max resolution (but not max quality graphics options) just fine. I don't care if it has tri-linear-max-bump-shaded-whatzits; it looks good enough for me. Are modern games so bad that they aren't worth playing without maximum graphic effects?

Re:Is Mac hardware really that bad? (1)

theantipop (803016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20825891)

The crux of the situation is that there is exactly one Mac with upgradeable graphics. The most obscenely expensive one. The rest come with discrete solutions that are half a step above the integrated offerings from Intel at best. So if you wanted to play, say, Crysis on your iMac you're simply out of luck. Yes, you may be able to get brand new games to run, but you will be missing out on the vast majority of graphical enhancement they are packing into the newest games. While I'm not advocating playing games simply because of graphics, I will point out that if you are going to be playing the newest games your investment in a Mac is probably a poor one.

Valve are whiny babies (1, Insightful)

alongley (1084161) | more than 6 years ago | (#20826073)

First off, if your FIRST reaction to this post is along the lines of "you fools, there are no games for Macs" or "Mac hardware is so much more expensive than PC hardware", you are obviously bringing a lot of personal bias to the discussion. This topic has nothing to do with those topics. Many companies make many great Mac games with or without Apple's support. My takeaway from this is that Valve couldn't make their own business case for porting to the Mac. They are of course entirely within their rights to do this, but to shift the blame to Apple is patently ridiculous. They may not be doing it because they wouldn't make much money, or because they are incompetent and can't figure out the APIs, or whatever. But his reasoning that somehow Apple needs to hold their hand through the process, and THAT's the stumbling block about porting, flies in the face of all the great games that already exist. I see a speck of hubris on Apple's part, but that's Apple's problem. Mac users suffer for it, but the blame lays squarely with Valve for the lack of port.
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