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Bug

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.
Microsoft

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.
Security

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.
Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
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.
Space

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.
Censorship

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.
Graphics

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.
Businesses

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.
Windows

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.
Businesses

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."
Displays

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.
Games

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?"
Displays

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

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

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

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

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

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.