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Operating Systems

The State of Linux Gaming In the SteamOS Era 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the penguins-learning-to-rocket-jump dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's been over a year since Valve announced its Linux-based SteamOS, the biggest push yet from a huge company to bring mainstream gaming to Linux. In this article, Ars Technica takes a look at how their efforts are panning out. Game developers say making Linux ports has gotten dramatically easier: "There are great games shipping for Linux from development teams with no Linux expertise. They hit the 'export to Linux' button in the Unity editor and shipped it and it worked out alright. We didn't get flying cars, but the future is turning out OK so far."

Hardware drivers are still a problem, getting in the way of potential performance gains due to Linux's overall smaller resource footprint than Windows. And while the platform is growing, it's doing so slowly. Major publishers are still hesitant to devote time to Linux, and Valve is taking their time building for it. Their Steam Machine hardware is still in development, and some of their key features are being adopted by other gaming giants, like Microsoft. Still, Valve is sticking with it, and that's huge. It gives developers faith that they can work on supporting Linux without fear that the industry will re-fragment before their game is done.
Displays

Valve To Reveal Virtual Reality Dev Kit Next Week At GDC 46

Posted by timothy
from the they-want-your-eyeballs dept.
An anonymous reader writes Gaming giant Valve has been researching augmented and virtual reality for some time. Early on, the company worked closely with Oculus, sharing research findings and even adding support for TF2 to Oculus' first VR headset, the DK1, back in 2013. After demonstrating their own prototype VR headset at Steam Dev Days in early 2014, and then a modified version later in the year, Valve is now ready to take the wraps off a 'previously unannounced ... SteamVR Dev Kit,' which will make its debut at GDC next week. SteamVR is the name of the software adaptation of Steam's 'Big Picture' mode that the company revealed early last year, allowing players to browse their Steam library and play supported games all in virtual reality.
The Almighty Buck

Will Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis Support Cryptocurrency In Greece? 253

Posted by timothy
from the for-health-points dept.
giulioprisco writes New Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, former Economist-in-Residence at game developer Valve Corporation, sees something like Bitcoin — or, more likely, a state-controlled "Fedcoin" — possibly playing a role in the (necessarily creative) rescue of the Greek economy. "The technology of Bitcoin, if suitably adapted, can be employed profitably in the Eurozone," he said.
Censorship

Valve Censoring Torrent References In Steam Chat 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-what-you-say dept.
dotarray writes It seems Valve is restricting just what you can talk about when using the Steam chat service. Specifically, any reference to a particular torrent site is being stripped from conversation, while mentions of other pages trigger a warning that the site is "potentially malicious." In the wake of website KickassTorrents being taken offline earlier this week, people quickly noticed that references to the torrent site were being stripped from chat - with no warning, notificiation, or acknowledgement that anything is missing. We've seen censorship before, with chat providers blocking certain words, replacing key letters with asterisks or simply substituting inoffensive words for those considered 'problematic.' That's not what Valve is doing here though - the entire message is disappearing, not just the troublesome domain.
Transportation

Underwater Vehicle Uses a Balloon To Dart Like an Octopus 73

Posted by timothy
from the in-like-a-lion-out-like-an-octopus dept.
Zothecula writes When you inflate a balloon and then release it without tying the valve shut, it certainly shoots away quickly. Octopi utilize the same basic principle, although they suck in and then rapidly expel water. An international team of scientists have now replicated that system in a soft-bodied miniature underwater vehicle, which could pave the way for very quickly-accelerating full-size submersibles.
The Almighty Buck

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister 328

Posted by timothy
from the finger-on-all-the-buttons dept.
eldavojohn writes A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist, and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.
Media

Steam Broadcasting Now Open To Everyone 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-when-you're-too-lazy-to-play-a-video-game dept.
jones_supa writes: The beta test phase of Steam Broadcasting feature has been completed. It is now available to everyone by updating the client to the newest version. The feature allows users to watch and stream games to and from users on your friends list. Right-clicking the name of a friend who is in-game offers the option to "Watch Game." This will send a request which needs to be accepted by the player so that the spectator can hop in. A chat is also included. Steam Broadcasting was first announced late last year as an alternative to third-party streaming services like Twitch, Ustream and Hitbox.
Bug

Steam For Linux Bug Wipes Out All of a User's Files 329

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-oops dept.
An anonymous reader sends a report of a bug in Steam's Linux client that will accidentally wipe all of a user's files if they move their Steam folder. According to the bug report: I launched steam. It did not launch, it offered to let me browse, and still could not find it when I pointed to the new location. Steam crashed. I restarted it. It re-installed itself and everything looked great. Until I looked and saw that steam had apparently deleted everything owned by my user recursively from the root directory. Including my 3tb external drive I back everything up to that was mounted under /media. Another user reported a similar problem — losing his home directory — and problems with the script were found: at some point, the Steam script sets $STEAMROOT as the directory containing all Steam's data, then runs rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"* later on. If Steam has been moved, $STEAMROOT returns as empty, resulting in rm -rf "/"* which causes the unexpected deletion.
Media

Valve Rolls Out Game Broadcasting Service For Steam 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-the-new-espn dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Streaming live video game footage has become increasingly popular over the past several years — popular enough that Amazon was willing to shell out $970 million for Twitch.tv. Now, Valve has announced a rival: Steam Broadcasting. Users signing up for the beta test have the option to broadcast the game they're playing. They have several options about who can see their stream: invite-only, friends only, and publicly visible. Viewing a stream is currently supported by the Steam client itself, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. It only works on Windows 7 and 8 at this point, but Valve promises support on Linux, OS X, and Windows Vista in the future.
Games

Top Counter-Strike Players Embroiled In Hacking Scandal 224

Posted by timothy
from the people-actually-get-excited dept.
An anonymous reader writes Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the world's fastest growing eSports, but the community has been rocked by scandal in the last week, with several top players being banned by Valve for using various hacking tools to improve their performance. With the huge Dreamhack Winter tournament taking place this weekend, the purge could not have come at a worse time for the game, and fans are now poring over the archives for other signs of foul play in top tier games — be sure to look out for these tell tale signs while playing.
Input Devices

Worrying Aspects of Linux Gaming 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-console? dept.
jones_supa writes: Former Valve engineer Rich Geldreich has written up a blog post about the state of Linux Gaming. It's an interesting read, that's for sure. When talking about recent bigger game ports, his take is that the developers doing these ports just aren't doing their best to optimize these releases for Linux and/or OpenGL. He points out how it took significant resources from Valve to properly optimize Source engine for Linux, but that other game studios are not walking the last mile. About drivers, he asks "Valve is still paying LunarG to find and fix silly perf bugs in Intel's slow open source driver. Surely this can't be a sustainable way of developing a working driver?" He ends his post by agreeing with a Slashdot comment where someone is basically saying that SteamOS is done, and that we will never get our hands on the Steam Controller.
Graphics

Major Performance Improvement Discovered For Intel's GPU Linux Driver 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the striving-for-parity dept.
An anonymous reader writes: LunarG, on contract with Valve Software, discovered a critical shortcoming with the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver that was handicapping the performance. A special bit wasn't being set by the Linux driver but was by the Windows driver, which when enabled is increasing the Linux performance in many games by now ~20%+, which should allow for a much more competitive showing between Intel OpenGL performance on Windows vs. Linux. However, the patch setting this bit isn't public yet as apparently it's breaking video acceleration in certain cases.
Windows

Lost Opportunity? Windows 10 Has the Same Minimum PC Requirements As Vista 554

Posted by timothy
from the such-small-portions dept.
MojoKid writes Buried in the details of Microsoft's technical preview for Windows 10 is a bit of a footnote concerning the operating system's requirements. Windows 10 will have exactly the same requirements as Windows 8.1, which had the same requirements as Windows 8, which stuck to Windows 7 specs, which was the same as Windows Vista. At this point, it's something we take for granted with future Windows release. As the years roll by, you can't help wondering what we're actually giving up in exchange for holding the minimum system spec at a single-core 1GHz, 32-bit chip with just 1GB of RAM. The average smartphone is more powerful than this these days. For decades, the standard argument has been that Microsoft had to continue supporting ancient operating systems and old configurations, ignoring the fact that the company did its most cutting-edge work when it was willing to kill off its previous products in fairly short order. what would Windows look like if Microsoft at least mandated a dual-core product? What if DX10 — a feature set that virtually every video card today supports, according to Valve's Steam Hardware Survey, became the minimum standard, at least on the x86 side of the equation? How much better might the final product be if Microsoft put less effort into validating ancient hardware and kicked those specs upwards, just a notch or two? If Microsoft did raise the specs a notch or two with each release, I think there'd be some justified complaints about failing to leave well enough alone, at least on the low end.
Australia

How Hackers Accidentally Sold a Pre-Release XBox One To the FBI 67

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-the-low-priority-unit dept.
SpacemanukBEJY.53u (3309653) writes Earlier this week, an indictment was unsealed outlining a long list of charges against a group of men that stole intellectual property from gaming companies such as Epic Games, Valve, Activision and Microsoft. An Australian member of the group, Dylan Wheeler, describes how it was betrayed by an informant working for the FBI, which bought a hardware mockup of an Xbox One that the group built using source code stolen from Microsoft's Game Developer Network Portal. The device, which the FBI paid $5,000 for, was supposed to be sent to the Seychelles, but never arrived, which indicated the hacking collective had a mole.
Australia

Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-sue dept.
angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.
Graphics

Valve Discloses Source 2 Engine In Recent DOTA 2 Update 97

Posted by timothy
from the where's-the-ignition-switch dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes News and rumors about Valve's upcoming Source 2 engine have been buzzing for months, but a recent update to DOTA 2 contains the most persuasive evidence yet that a major engine is in the works. After the last patch, the game now contains a number of programmed default paths, directories, and file names that didn't previously exist. Source-related DLLs and executables (engine.dll, vconsole.dll) have been updated to "engine2.dll" and vconsole2.dll." The tileset editor has a default Source path. There's also now an option to save files as "Source 1.0 Map Files" where no previous option existed. Here's the funny thing — while most people think of a game screenshot as the best evidence you can buy, low-level file directories, default trees, and changed application behavior is actually more persuasive. Source 1.0 was never updated to support DX11 or OpenGL 4.x, and while the engine can still be used for impressive titles, its DX9 limitations and ancient modding tools are showing their age. It's time to bring the game engine into the modern world, and hopefully these DOTA 2 updates mean that Valve is moving closer to that goal.
Displays

The Oculus Rift DK2: In-Depth Review (and Comparison To DK1) 54

Posted by timothy
from the here-put-this-on-your-face dept.
Benz145 (1869518) writes "The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect. The panel features low persistence of vision, a technology pioneered by Valve that aims to cut motion artefacts by only displaying the latest, most correct display information relative to the user's movements – as users of the DK1 will attest, its LCD panel was heavily prone to smearing, things are now much improved with the DK2."
E3

SteamBoy Machine Team Promises a Portable Console for Valve's Steam Games 75

Posted by timothy
from the render-judgement dept.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
AMD

NVIDIA Is Better For Closed-Source Linux GPU Drivers, AMD Wins For Open-Source 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-of-different-worlds dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix last week tested 65 graphics cards on open source drivers under Linux and the best result was generally with the open source AMD Radeon drivers. This week they put out a 35-graphics-card comparison using the proprietary AMD/NVIDIA drivers (with the other 30 cards being too old for the latest main drivers) under Ubuntu 14.04. The winner for proprietary GPU driver support on Linux was NVIDIA, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that Valve and other Linux game developers are frequently recommending NVIDIA graphics for their game titles while AMD Catalyst support doesn't usually come to games until later. The Radeon OpenGL performance with Catalyst had some problems, but at least its performance per Watt was respectable. Open-source fans are encouraged to use AMD hardware on Linux while those just wanting the best performance and overall experience should see NVIDIA with their binary driver."