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Operating Systems

SteamOS Gaming Performance Lags Well Behind Windows ( 184

New submitter NotDrWho writes: As reported by Ars Technica: "With this week's official launch of Valve's Linux-based Steam Machine line (for non-pre-orders), we decided to see if the new OS could stand up to the established Windows standard when running games on the same hardware. Unfortunately for open source gaming supporters, it looks like SteamOS gaming comes with a significant performance hit on a number of benchmarks." They tested with two graphically intensive titles from 2014, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Metro: Last Light Redux. They say, "we got anywhere from 21- to 58-percent fewer frames per second, depending on the graphical settings. On our hardware running Shadow of Mordor at Ultra settings and HD resolution, the OS change alone was the difference between a playable 34.5 fps average on Windows and a stuttering 14.6 fps mess on SteamOS." Even most of Valve's own games took big performance hits when running under SteamOS.

Steam Has Brought 1,600 Games To Linux In the Past Three Years ( 110

An anonymous reader writes: Today marks three years since Valve's Steam client went into beta on Linux. In that time over 1,600 games have become natively available for Linux. Going beyond having many new Linux games, Phoronix recaps, "we've seen Valve make significant investments into the open-source graphics stack and other areas of Linux (in part through their sponsorship of Collabora and LunarG). Valve developers are significantly pushing SDL2. We've seen more mainstream interest in Linux gaming, and Valve has been heavily involved in the creation of the Vulkan graphics API. They have given away their entire game collection to the Mesa/Ubuntu/Debian upstream developers, and much more." The three-year anniversary is coincidentally just days before the release of Steam Machines.

Valve's "Room Scale VR Survey" Finds a Lot of People Play In Their Bedrooms ( 137

itwbennett writes: Earlier this week Valve published the results of a "Room Scale VR Survey" completed by 2008 members of its VR Community. The findings: 860 (~43%) of respondents said their gaming PC was in their bedroom and 1,393 (~69%) said they were not willing to move their PC to accommodate a VR experience. The average space respondents feel they can devote to VR is about 8.5'x 9'. Why does this matter? Well, last March, Valve and HTC debuted the HTV Vive virtual reality system consisting of a VR visor, a couple of custom controllers and a tracking system the allows the user to wander around a 15'x15' area. 'While the Vive system certainly sounds impressive I've had questions about how practical it'll be,' writes Peter Smith. 'How many people have a 15'x15' clear area in front of their PC? Turns out, not many.' 'According to this survey at least, using all of the 15'x15' space the system can track is going to leave most users frustrated,' adds Smith.
Linux Business

Thanks To Valve, More Than 1,500 Games Are Now On Linux 281

An anonymous reader writes: The Steam Store crossed the threshold this morning of having 1,500 games natively available for Linux. Timberman, a 0.99$ video game was the 1,500th title, but while there are a lot of indie games available for Linux, in the past three years have been a number of high profile AAA Linux games too. What games (old or new, free or paid) would you like to see available for Linux systems?

AMD Confirms Vulkan Driver For Linux, But To Start Off As Closed-Source 47

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has finally revealed some basic details concerning their support of Vulkan on Linux. AMD has a Vulkan driver but it will begin its life as closed-source, reports Phoronix. In time the AMD Vulkan driver will transition to being open-source. This Vulkan driver is built to interface with their new AMDGPU kernel DRM driver that's part of their long talked about AMD open-source strategy for Linux. This closed-then-open Vulkan driver will be competing with Valve's Intel Vulkan driver that will be open from day one.

SteamOS Has Dropped Support For Suspend 378

jones_supa writes: As pointed out by a Redditor, it seems that suspending the machine is not officially supported by SteamOS anymore. A SteamOS user opened a bug report due to his controllers being unresponsive after a suspend cycle. To this, a Valve engineer bluntly reported that "suspend is no longer supported". He further explained the issue by saying that given the state of hardware and software support throughout the graphics stack on Linux, the team didn't think that they could make the feature work reliably.

Windows 10 App For Xbox One Could Render Steam Machines Useless 170

SlappingOysters writes: The release of Windows 10 has brought with it the Xbox app -- a portal through which you can stream anything happening on your Xbox One to your Surface or desktop. Finder is reporting that the love will go the other way, too, with a PC app coming to the Xbox One allowing you to stream your desktop to your console. But where does this leave the coming Steam Machines? This analysis shows how such an app could undermine the Steam Machines' market position.
PC Games (Games)

Sprked Tries To Solve Valve's Paid Mods Scandal 41

SlappingOysters writes: This article takes a closer look at the emerging crowdfunding platform Sprked, which aims to follow the Patreon support model, but exclusively for video game modders. The service is currently in its early stages, but by crafting a system of appreciation and support that acknowledges the loyalty of the modding community, Sprked has the potential to promote and foster the creativity that is so integral to modding, instead of hampering it with the murky baggage of a mandatory economy. Valve's attempt to let modders make some money for their efforts backfired within the community — there are four demons the paid mods plan must slay to actually work.

Steam Bug Allowed Password Resets Without Confirmation 62

An anonymous reader writes: Valve has fixed a bug in their account authentication system that allowed attackers to easily reset the password to a Steam account. When a Steam user forgets a password, he goes to an account recovery page and asks for a reset. The page then sends a short code to the email address registered with the account. The problem was that Steam wasn't actually checking the codes sent via email. Attackers could simply request a reset and then submit a blank field when prompted for the code. Valve says the bug was active from July 21-25. A number of accounts were compromised, including some prominent streamers and Dota 2 pros. Valve issued password resets to those accounts with "suspicious" changes over the past several days.
Open Source

Virtual Reality Tech and Openness 25

An anonymous reader writes: An article written by Kyle Orland looks at how the nascent virtual reality industry will handle openness — in terms of standards, platforms, source code, and development. "Whether any single VR platform is 'open' or not, though, may be moot if developers have to juggle countless slightly different development standards for countless slightly different VR platforms. In a way, making a PC game that only works on the Oculus Rift is as ridiculous as making a PC game that only works on Dell monitors." Right now, the major players in VR tech are using different approaches. Oculus is distributing a closed-license SDK. Valve is setting up a more open platform that lets multiple manufacturers build devices for it. The downside is that it doesn't seem to work as well, particular with Oculus hardware. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey says standards are going to take time and cooperation. Of course, that tune may change when devices start hitting the market.

SpaceX Breaks Down Its Rocket Landing Attempts 72

An anonymous reader writes: Twice now, SpaceX has attempted to land one of its rockets on a barge in the ocean after it delivered a payload to orbit. Each attempt came very close, and provided some fascinating imagery. In a new post on their website, SpaceX explains where they're at with rocket landing technology, and what went wrong with the earlier trials: "That controlled descent was successful, but about 10 seconds before landing, a valve controlling the rocket's engine power (thrust) temporarily stopped responding to commands as quickly as it should have. As a result, it throttled down a few seconds later than commanded, and—with the rocket weighing about 67,000 lbs and traveling nearly 200 mph at this point—a few seconds can be a very long time. With the throttle essentially stuck on 'high' and the engine firing longer than it was supposed to, the vehicle temporarily lost control and was unable to recover in time for landing, eventually tipping over." They believe they've solved the issues that cropped up in the earlier tests, and they're looking forward to the next attempt, which will happen on Sunday if the weather cooperates.

IMAX Tries To Censor Ars Technica Over SteamVR Comparison 190

Cutting_Crew writes: An article published last week at Ars Technica looked at the SteamVR virtual reality headset created by Valve. Contained in the article is a quote from game designer Alex Schwartz, who said in reference to the device, "The jump between a regular game and playing a room scale VR experience is X times 100. It’s like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house.' It’s so much better that we can get away with a cumbersome setup." Now, for that single quoted reference, IMAX has sent a trademark complaint to Ars and demanded that they take the story down. "The company said our story required a retraction because it included a brief reference to IMAX—included without IMAX's permission. 'Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden.'"

If you look at the letter from IMAX (PDF), you'll see they think the reference to IMAX is "misleading to readers." They further request that "all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark." Apparently, IMAX has never heard of the Streisand Effect.
Update: 06/19 19:26 GMT by S : IMAX has apologized.

What Source 2 Means For Valve's ESports 46

An anonymous reader writes: Valve's new game engine is looming, and it doesn't just mean changes to the company's most popular games for all players, but also two of the most popular eSports in the world right now, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. As a new article points out, Source 2's ability to process more on screen at once, even on feeble laptops with integrated graphics, could have a surprising benefit for top tier play and both games as a spectator sport. After all, if more players all over the developing world can access these games, we could see an uplift in the quality of play at the highest tournament level sometime down the line.

Valve Introduces Steam Refunds In Advance of Summer Sale 126

Deathspawner writes: Despite all of its competition, Valve's Steam service remains the most popular digital PC game store around. While Steam does do a lot of things right, it can sometimes stumble in the worst of ways. Look no further than April's Skyrim mod debacle as a good example. Well, just as Valve fixed up that issue, it's gone ahead and fixed another: it's making refunds dead simple. While refunds have been possible in the past, it's required gamers to jump through hoops to get them. Now, Valve has set certain criteria for granting a refund, no questions asked: if you've bought the game within the past two weeks and played it for two hours or less, your refund is guaranteed. The changes are being welcomed by most, but not all: some developers of smaller games that take less time to play through are worried that this will lead to abuse, and the system may enable more risk-free review-bombing as well.

What Might Have Happened To Windows Media Center 198

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.

Counter-Strike Finally Gets the League It Deserves 113

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."

Oculus Rift Launching In Q1 2016 84

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.

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

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?"