Windows

What Might Have Happened To Windows Media Center 198

Posted by timothy
from the does-both-more-and-less-than-I-realized dept.
Phopojijo writes: Microsoft has officially dropped Windows Media Center but, for a time, it looked like Microsoft was designing both Windows and the Xbox around it. That changed when Vista imploded and the new leadership took Windows in a different direction. Meanwhile, Valve Software and others appear to be tiptoeing into the space that Microsoft sprinted away from.
Businesses

Counter-Strike Finally Gets the League It Deserves 113

Posted by timothy
from the your-boy-zoolander's-on-the-move dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Counter-Strike is the oldest eSport in the world today, with its roots stretching back to the dawn of the millennium. But unlike rival games like League of Legends or StarCraft 2, its pro scene has been mostly reliant on sporadic tournaments instead of a regularised league. That's changed with the announcement of the ESL ESEA Pro League, the first Counter-Strike Global Offensive league with a seven-figure prize pot. As one writer points out, this is a huge boost for the pro scene even without developer Valve's involvement: everything from paid travel expenses to regular viewing schedules will help the scene, and let the top players play even better than before: "it has taken over 15 years to happen, but now Counter-Strike has a tournament that can potentially elevate it to become one of the biggest eSports in the world."
Displays

Oculus Rift Launching In Q1 2016 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the virtually-immediately dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has announced that their Rift virtual reality headset will be coming out sometime in the first quarter of 2016. They've also posted a couple images of the final consumer headset design. The device was Kickstarted in August, 2012. Consumer-level release dates have slowly slipped further and further out since then, though they've shipped two different development kits. Ars points out that a 2016 launch date will bring the Oculus Rift to market after the Valve/HTC VR headset, and possibly after Sony's Project Morpheus.
Games

Game:ref's Hardware Solution To Cheating In eSports 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the anti-cheating-baseball-bats dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Cheating is a real problem in today's most popular online multiplayer games, and not just on public servers. Some of the world's top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players have been banned by Valve's Anti-Cheat System (VACS) in recent months too, bringing a nascent eSport into disrepute. But one gamer is taking a different approach, creating a hardware solution called Game:ref to tackle the problem. Simple in design — Game:ref, which the creator hopes to fund on Kickstarter soon, compares on screen movement with your inputs — but powerful in potential, the device has the potential to catch out illegal macro users both on and offline. It's already attracting interest in the top flight too.

"I've had some people from [eSports teams] Complexity, SK Gaming, and a few high-profile streamers reach out. I would say everyone seems onboard with making online PC gaming a more enjoyable experience," says inventor David Titarenco, a former Counter-Strike pro himself. "After all, most cheating on consoles has been eradicated, why should PC be so far behind?"
Displays

Half-Life 2 Writer on VR Games: We're At Pong Level, Only Scratching the Surface 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-wait-until-we-get-to-pitfall-level-VR dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Valve's Chet Faliszek has been in the video game industry for a long time, and his writing has been instrumental for games like Half-life 2, Portal, and Left 4 Dead. Valve is now developing a virtual reality headset, and Faliszek was on hand at a VR-centric conference where he spoke about how the technology is coming along. He said, "None of us know what the hell we are doing. We're still just scratching the surface of VR. We still haven't found out what VR is, and that's fine. We've been making movies in pretty much the same way for 100 years, TV for 60 years and videogames for 40. VR has only really been [in development] for about a year, so we're at Pong level." One of the obstacles holding VR devices back right now is getting the hardware up to snuff. Faliszek says, "There's one thing you can't do and that's make people sick. It has to run at 90 frames per second. Any lower and people feel sick. Telling people they will be ok 'Once you get your VR legs' is a wholly wrong idea. If people need to get used to it then that's failure."
Businesses

Valve Pulls the Plug On Paid Mods For Skyrim 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the entitled-wheel-gets-the-grease dept.
westlake writes: Valve has abandoned its attempt to introduce paid mods to Skyrim on Steamworks, following furious and unrelenting complaints by the gaming community that did not spare Gabe Newell. Valve said, "[O]ur main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid." Bethesda had similar goals, saying, "There are certainly other ways of supporting modders, through donations and other options. We are in favor of all of them. One doesn't replace another, and we want the choice to be the community’s. Yet, in just one day, a popular mod developer made more on the Skyrim paid workshop than he made in all the years he asked for donations."
Spam

Whoah, Small Spender! Steam Sets Limits For Users Who Spend Less Than $5 229

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-committed-or-just-involved dept.
As GameSpot reports, Valve has implemented a policy that reduces the privileges of Steam users unless those users have spent $5 through the service. Along the same lines as suggestions to limit spam by imposing a small fee on emails, the move is intended to reduce resource abuse as a business model. From the article: "Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do," Valve said. "One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam." Restricted actions include sending invites, opening group chats, and taking part in the Steam marketplace.
Space

An Engineering Analysis of the Falcon 9 First Stage Landing Failure 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the ground-not-soft-enough dept.
schwit1 writes: AviationWeek has posted an analysis of SpaceX's latest attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket on an ocean barge. Quoting: "SpaceX founder and chief technology officer Elon Musk tweeted that "excess lateral velocity caused it [the booster] to tip over post landing." In a later tweet that was subsequently withdrawn, Musk then indicated that "the issue was stiction in the biprop throttle valve, resulting in control system phase lag." In this statement, Musk was referring to "stiction" — or static friction — in the valve controlling the throttling of the engine. The friction appears to have momentarily slowed the response of the engine, causing the control system to command more of an extreme reaction from the propulsion system than was required. As a result, the control system entered a form of hysteresis, a condition in which the control response lags behind changes in the effect causing it.

Despite the failure of the latest attempt, SpaceX will be encouraged by the landing accuracy of the Falcon 9 and the bigger-picture success of its guidance, navigation and control (GNC) system in bringing the booster back to the drone ship. The GNC also worked as designed during the prior landing attempt in January, which ended in the destruction of the vehicle following a hard touchdown on the edge of the platform."
In related news, SpaceX is hoping to attempt its next landing on solid ground.
Graphics

Valve Bootstrapped Source 2 Engine On an Open-Source Vulkan Driver 60

Posted by timothy
from the live-quicker-prosper-more dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article out details how Valve bootstrapped their VULKAN back-end with the Source 2 Engine over a period of just four months thanks to relying on an open-source driver. With designing for the open-source Intel Vulkan Linux driver developed by LunarG, Valve developers were quickly able to resolve issues and progress the driver in a turn-key manner. This Intel Linux driver will be released as open-source once the Khronos VULKAN specification has been published.
Games

Gabe Newell Understands Half-Life Fans, Not Promising Any Sequels 215

Posted by timothy
from the leave-'em-hanging dept.
jones_supa writes Half-Life 3 is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated games in history. While Valve transitioned from the revolutionary series that brought the company most of its original success, to online games like Team Fortress, Dota and Left 4 Dead, people still desperately want to believe that there is more coming for Half-Life.

In a recent podcast interview he had with Geoff Keighley, Valve CEO Gabe Newell opens up the current situation a bit more: "I'm a fan of TV shows, I'm a fan of writers, I'm a fan of movies, I'm a fan of games and I certainly understand why people are like, you know, hey I remember this awesome experience and I'm starting to get worried that I'm never going to have it again. I am a fan of Terry Pratchett and he has Alzheimer's, it's like, Oh my god, I may never get another great Discworld novel. [...] We aren't going to go all retro because there are too many interesting things that have been learned. The only reason we would go back and do a 'super classic' kind of product is if a whole bunch of people internally at Valve said they wanted to do it, and had a reasonable explanation for why it was."
Displays

Valve's SteamVR: Solves Big Problems, Raises Bigger Questions 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-why-do-i-need-three-dimensions-of-candy-crush dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Valve debuted its SteamVR headset recently, it came as somewhat of a surprise — it certainly hasn't gotten the same level of hype as the Oculus Rift. But people who got to try out the new headset almost universally impressed with the quality of the hardware and software. Eurogamer has an article about the device expressing both astonishment at how far the technology has come in three short years, as well as skepticism that we'll find anything revolutionary to do with it. Quoting: "R demands a paradigm shift in the thinking of game designers and artists about how they build virtual space and how players should interact with it. We're only at the very beginning of this journey now. ... but this process will likely take years, and at the end of it the games won't resemble those we're currently used to. In short, they won't be Half-Life 3."

The author thinks simulation games — driving, piloting, and space combat — will be the core of the first wave, and other genres will probably have to wait for the lessons learned making sims good. He adds, "...the practical challenges are great, too — not least in persuading players to clear enough space in their homes to use this device properly, and the potential for social stigma to attach to the goofy-looking headsets and the players' withdrawal into entirely private experiences. I still think that these present major obstacles to the widespread adoption of VR, which even more practical and commercially realistic offerings like Morpheus will struggle against."
PC Games (Games)

Steam On Linux Now Has Over a Thousand Games Available 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the year-of-linux-on-the-console dept.
An anonymous reader writes: This week the Steam Linux client has crossed the threshold of having more than 1,000 native Linux games available while Steam in total has just under 5,000 games. This news comes while the reported Steam Linux market-share is just about 1.0%, but Valve continues brewing big plans for Linux gaming. Is 2015 the year of the Linux gaming system?
Displays

Developers Race To Develop VR Headsets That Won't Make Users Nauseous 164

Posted by timothy
from the or-nauseated dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that for the last couple of years, the companies building virtual reality headsets have begged the public for patience as they strive to create virtual environments that don't make people physically sick. "We're going to hang ourselves out there and be judged," says John Carmack, chief technology officer of Oculus, describing what he calls a "nightmare scenario" that has worried him and other Oculus executives. "People like the demo, they take it home, and they start throwing up," says Carmack. "The fear is if a really bad V.R. product comes out, it could send the industry back to the '90s." In that era, virtual reality headsets flopped, disappointing investors and consumers. "It left a huge, smoking crater in the landscape," says Carmack, who is considered an important game designer for his work on Doom and Quake. "We've had people afraid to touch V.R. for 20 years." This time around, the backing for virtual reality is of a different magnitude. Facebook paid $2 billion last year to acquire Oculus. Microsoft is developing its own headset, HoloLens, that mixes elements of virtual reality with augmented reality, a different medium that overlays virtual images on a view of the real world. Google has invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company developing an augmented reality headset. "The challenge is there is so much expectation and anticipation that that could fall away quite quickly if you don't get the type of traction you had hoped," says Neil Young. (More, below.)
Graphics

Valve Developed an Open-Source Intel Vulkan GPU Driver For Linux 52

Posted by timothy
from the good-news-for-a-change dept.
An anonymous reader writes For those wondering when the first graphics driver for the new Khronos Vulkan API will materialize and for what hardware, it looks like the first driver could very well be for Intel graphics and it might not be too far away. It turns out Valve developed an Intel Linux Vulkan driver to help ISVs bootstrap their new Vulkan code, with Valve planning to open-source this driver code. This is yet another reason to love Valve, especially as Intel graphics on Linux don't even support OpenGL 4 yet.
Graphics

Source 2 Will Also Be Free 74

Posted by timothy
from the second-one's-free dept.
jones_supa writes Valve is officially debuting its Source 2 engine at GDC this week alongside a host of other new technologies, and it's expected to launch at a competitive price: free. The news of its release coincides with Epic making Unreal Engine 4 free-to-download and Unity announcing a full-featured free version of Unity 5. Valve is making a show of marketing Source 2 not just to developers, but game creators of all stripes — including Steam Workshop creators. "With Source 2, our focus is on increasing creator productivity," stated Valve engineer Jay Stelly in a press release confirming the launch. "Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not for just the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favorite games." It's worth noting that Valve also plans to release a version of Source 2 that's compatible with Vulkan, the open-standard graphics API that's considered heir apparent to OpenGL.
Games

Valve and HTC Reveal "Vive" SteamVR Headset 96

Posted by samzenpus
from the is-it-real? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Today Valve and HTC revealed the "Vive" SteamVR headset which is designed to compete with Oculus and others, which aim for a high-end VR experience on PC. The Vive headset uses dual 1200x1080 displays at 90Hz and a "laser position sensor" to provide positional tracking (head movement through 3D space), and also includes a pair of motion input controllers. The companies say that the Vive headset will be available to developers in Spring and receive a proper consumer launch holiday 2015, though no price has been announced.
Operating Systems

The State of Linux Gaming In the SteamOS Era 199

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 48

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.