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Why Valve Wants To Port Games To Linux: Because Windows 8 Is a Catastrophe 880

Posted by timothy
from the goodness-of-their-hearts dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gabe Newell wants to support Linux because he think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in PC space. He wants to move away from a closed ecosystem of Microsoft Windows 8. He recently made a rare appearance at Casual Connect, an annual videogame conference in Seattle. From the allthingsd article: 'The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don't realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior. We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It's a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we'll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that's true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.' Some Linux users think that this is a win-win situation for Linux users as it will brings good game titles on the Linux system that haven't been there and it will protect steam business model from both Apple and Microsoft."
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Why Valve Wants To Port Games To Linux: Because Windows 8 Is a Catastrophe

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  • by RudyHartmann (1032120) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:01AM (#40775855)
    I think this is a Microsoft strategy to take control more and become a PC OEM theselves like Apple. I think they're success will be limited. If I were a PC OEM, I would be real concerned by The Surface and Xbox.
  • by Sollord (888521) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:02AM (#40775865)

    The only think I ever really have issues opening are horrific kill it with fire power-point presentations so its not a feature i really miss

  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wovel (964431) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:04AM (#40775891) Homepage

    Steam has a lot of OpenGl ports for OSX.

  • Re:Talk is cheap (Score:4, Informative)

    by ledow (319597) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:25AM (#40776145) Homepage

    Did you miss the bit where they are porting L4D2 over already?

    And there are dozens of games on Steam that have a Linux port. Almost anything offered in a humble bundle, for a start, not to mention the DosBox games, Quake series, etc.

    They just don't have a client on Linux so you can play them through Steam yet.

  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:37AM (#40776287) Journal

    To be fair, the windows client isn't all that hot either. It takes several seconds to switch between tabs, pressing the forward and back buttons takes a while to work (apparently its internal browser has no cache), skips pages, etc. The downloads screen is completely unresponsive, there isn't even visual feedback that you've clicked the pause or resume buttons, you just click then wait for it to decide if it's going to start or stop.

  • Re:Good Luck, Valve. (Score:4, Informative)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:38AM (#40776295)

    1) They are already working directly with Intel to improve their drivers, and they have a history (Windows-side) of working with AMD and nVidia for their drivers.

    2) They quite likely will not use WINE to run non-native games. They didn't do that when they ported to Mac - they ported Steam itself and all the games they themselves had made in the past decade, and made any Steam games that already had Mac ports available on Mac, but that's it. They apparently cannot, or will not, set up any sort of emulation layer (excepting DOSBox, apparently). I know there are rumors of them including WINE in LinSteam, but that's just a rumor. No substance to it yet.

  • Already exist (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrYak (748999) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:42AM (#40776367) Homepage

    Two possibilities:

    Wine has an implementation of DirectX 9 (and a lot of other Windows APIs). It can either be used as an emulator (use it to run windows .EXE files), or you can compile code against it to produce unix native binaries (Write code using microsoft APIs, but get a Linux ELF as an output).

    The Gallium3D driver infrastructure (as used by most opensource drivers on Linux - the official Intel, the AMD-helped, and reverse engineered for Nvidia hardware) is modular. There is a 3D DirectX 10/11 front end written for it.

    This could be a starting points for providing DirectX APIs for games on Steam.

  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Informative)

    by robthebloke (1308483) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @09:44AM (#40776403)
    You are behind the times, and should really be firing your complaints at Nvidia. For the last couple of years I've used ATI cards for GL development exclusively. Unlike Nvidia cards they actually implement the GL spec to the letter. With Nvidia cards you can pretty much call any old combination of GL functions, and something will appear on screen. They never fail! This is a problem because you never find out errors in your GL code until after you've shipped the product. With ATI, if you pass an invalid arg, or call a method at the wrong time, they will generate the correct error. This sadly leads to a situation where a developer uses an NVidia card for development, ships, and then it won't run on ATI or Intel cards. The upshot is that people incorrectly assume that ATI drivers suck. They don't. Nvidia drivers are the ones that suck!
  • Re:He's Right (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:00AM (#40776609)

    Maybe you should try the stats on iOS rather than just rely on your own biases.

    http://appshopper.com/bestsellers/paid [appshopper.com]

    7 of the top 10 paid apps for iPhone are games
    4 of the top 10 free apps for iPhone are games

    Guess where the money is?

  • by ultranova (717540) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:01AM (#40776623)

    Well there are full size touch screen, problem previously was the UI for them.

    And it still is. Specifically, you need to hold your hands extended before you for prolonged periods of time and make huge, sweeping motions, lose two mouse buttoms and the wheel, and trying to type will require on-screen keyboard which obscures the screen contents and is slow to use (since you can't touch-type). And on top of that you'll get grease on the screen.

    Tablets use a touch screen because they can't fit in a keyboard and mouse, not because it's an even remotely good solution.

  • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @10:38AM (#40777085)

    The only reason you find them superior is because you've been using WADS since 1992, you're used to it. If you'd been playing FPSs on a console for the last 20 years, you'd be pointing and laughing at the K&M users.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: The reason I find Keyboard and Mouse superior for FPS games is because the mouse has far more precision than an analog joystick does.

    It doesn't hurt that I tend to use a lot of the extra keys on the left side of the keyboard for various other things, including various games' "push to talk" voice chat keys.

  • Re:Hrmm (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ash-Fox (726320) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @11:35AM (#40777921)

    1. API's. Linux is a sea of APIs and they shift like the wind. In the area of drivers, kernel

    Sure, the ABIs aren't stable (that kernel modules use), but the kernel APIs that usermode applications use generally are - To the point that you can run ancient compilations of Linux applications still on modern kernels.

    gfx api's

    Eh? Which graphical APIs? OpenGL? Those don't really change outside of supported extensions provided by drivers (usually proprietary) which is usually close to their Windows versions.

    Other areas like sound and multimedia are just as messy in Linux. Don't see any other way than Steam and partners getting involved in some way to keep some stuff defined.

    Not really that messy, getting an OpenGL context is pretty identical to Windows and doesn't require extra effort.

    Code portability for OpenGL on Windows and Linux isn't hard (although OS X is a whole other story) and there isn't really any more gotchas when using the proprietary drivers on Linux than there are Windows, which is what the games require on Windows too (since they generally refuse to work with drivers provided by Windows out of the box or perform extremely poorly, just the same).

    Sound wise, ALSA is pretty much the standard for sound, it's not much harder to write applications that handle the sound system just as well as any regular Windows APIs.

    Disclaimer: I develop an intensive OpenGL application [exodusviewer.com] that runs on multiple platforms and my Linux binaries are built to run on multiple distributions.

  • Re:Good luck... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2012 @11:55AM (#40778223)

    to even install software (on Linux) requires fairly comprehensive computer knowledge.

    Laughable. Consider installing a utility, or a Tetris clone or whatever.

    Linux (Ubuntu):
    1/ Open software center
    2/ Search for application by name or function (or browse categories if preferred)
    3/ Click to download and install.

    Windows:
    1/ Open browser
    2/ Search for application and decide which one to consider
    3/ Search for information about chosen application to find out if it's really malware. Repeat 2,3 until satisfied.
    4/ Search for information about download sites to find out if they host malware versions of non-malware applications. Repeat until satisfied.
    5/ Download installer.
    6/ Run installer.

    You picked the one function where Linux is so clearly easier to use than Windows that only a troll, shill or idiot would deny it.

  • Re:TFA != TFS (Score:5, Informative)

    by LordArgon (1683588) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:04PM (#40778375)

    If you're curious, you can actually read the Valve Employee Handbook at their site:

    http://www.valvesoftware.com/company/Valve_Handbook_LowRes.pdf [valvesoftware.com]

    From the handbook and other things I've read, I think nobody at Valve is told what to work on... period. They work on whatever they want / think will be valuable. Valve sets the hiring bar so high that this hasn't been a problem. And, even if it was, they do periodic peer reviews that would expose the truly weak links.

    It's a really, *really* interesting model. Valve, having had the huge success that is Steam, is in the relatively unique position of having loads of cash and operating in an open-ended market that rewards creativity. I sometimes wonder if it could work in more traditional companies / businesses. I imagine it could work at some place like Microsoft or Goole that's flush with cash (if they weren't public companies, that is). I doubt it would work well at a smaller company whose life depends on executing well on a very narrow strategy.

  • Re:He's Right (Score:2, Informative)

    by Calydor (739835) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:11PM (#40778487)

    Still, might be a good time to get rid of MSFT stock, especially if Windows 9 is just as bad as 8.

    Historically, it's like MS has been hitting one, missing one since Win98.

    Win98 - decent for its time, if prone to BSODs.
    WinME - Let's pretend this never existed.
    WinXP - Massive improvement, especially after SP1 brought in an active-by-default firewall.
    Vista - Called WinME2 for good reason. Admittedly sounds to have improved with later SPs, never used it myself.
    Win7 - Again a good improvement, especially coming from XP.
    Win8 - Sounds to be a total disaster.
    Win9 - Completely unknown right now, of course, but in this list SHOULD be an improvement.

  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Informative)

    by theArtificial (613980) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @12:57PM (#40779207)

    You are behind the times, and should really be firing your complaints at Nvidia.

    Discussions [askubuntu.com] on graphics card [linuxquestions.org] performance show both suck in different areas.

    They never fail! This is a problem because you never find out errors in your GL code until after you've shipped the product.

    Or new drivers are released which break things like in Rage [tomshardware.com].

    The upshot is that people incorrectly assume that ATI drivers suck. They don't. Nvidia drivers are the ones that suck!

    Perhaps you missed the recent article [slashdot.org] stating AMD/ATI video drivers are incompatible with system-wide ASLR. 'Always On' DEP combined with 'Always On' ASLR are effective exploit mitigations. However, most people don't know about 'Always On' ASLR since Microsoft had to hide it from EMET with an 'EnableUnsafeSettings' registry key — because AMD/ATI video drivers will cause a BSOD on boot if 'Always On' ASLR is enabled.

  • by Wraithlyn (133796) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @01:20PM (#40779627)

    I think the big advantage is MULTI-touch. Take Garage Band on the iPad for example; a brilliant application of multi-touch (ie, real time instrument playing) that simply wouldn't be possible with any sort of conventional single-pointer interface. Shared-screen multiplayer games (ie, Fruit Ninja, Fieldrunners, Flight Control, Marble Mixer, etc) are another good example.

    I'm not saying that makes it "better" (in the general sense, it's certainly not, for the reasons you outlined above), but calling it "not even remotely a good solution" is a bit harsh IMHO. It's just a very different toolset, that is great for some scenarios, but sub-optimal for others.

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