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Gaming Post-Vista — Myths and Realities 57

Ant writes "An article at Ten Ton Hammer answers personal computer/PC gamers' question on what's coming their way with Microsoft's newest operating system/OS, Windows Vista. With the PC primed to be the primary distribution platform for certain gaming categories (MMOGs in particular) for many years to come, it's important to know exactly what we're getting into when Vista rolls out worldwide on January 30, 2007. Jeff 'Ethec' Woleslagle offers a quick, non-technical rebuttal to several of the more ambitious PC gaming rumors cropping up around the internet." From the article: "Games which seek to take advantage of DirectX 10 high-end features like Shader Model 4.0 (which the graphically revamped version of EVE Online will aspire to use) will require a computer fully compatible with DirectX 10. This in turn requires a GPU fully optimized to work with DX 10 (such as the first-to-market NVidia 8800). The Microsoft requirements for a DX10 'optimized' GNU and system are fairly strict, so jaded gamers take note: this phrase is more than a marketing maneuver. For those among you that can't afford a major hardware upgrade anytime soon, don't fret (yet). Microsoft's XNA framework enables developers to easily develop parallel versions of a game for DX 9 and DX 10. Here's hoping that developers and publishers will be equally accommodating in releasing XP / Vista compatible games in the same box."
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Gaming Post-Vista — Myths and Realities

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  • by Proud like a god ( 656928 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @04:34PM (#16898684) Homepage
    "a DX10 "optimized" GNU (sic)."

    Try GPU. Are there no editors anywhere?
    • Are there no editors anywhere?

      You must be-
      ooh, the heck with it
    • I dunno, I prefer to stick to DX10 optimized buffalos, myself.
    • by Trogre ( 513942 )
      Freudian slip, perhaps?

    • All of this crap is just marketig BS from Microsoft - 'is dx10 backwards compatible, blah blah'

      The ONLY important question on Vista is - WHEN DO WE GET REAL OPENGL SUPPORT

      As is, OpenGL support is flat-out broken on Vista. Boycott Vista until they provide REAL openGL support.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rycross ( 836649 )

        When you install the card manufacturer's drivers? Vista only uses the OpenGL->DirectX translation layer with the out-of-the-box drivers. Installing manufacturer drivers will give you proper OpenGL support.
  • Here's hoping that developers and publishers will be equally accommodating in releasing XP / Vista compatible games in the same box.

    Let's see. WoW still supports Windows 2000. Eve-Online just stopped supporting Win98. I think, if this is any indication, that we'll be okay if we don't upgrade rights away.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by big4ared ( 1029122 )
      Generally, the more units the game sells, the more platforms that will be supported. So even if only 1% of WoW's users use Win2k, it still makes sense to support it. So the huge cash-cow games like WoW will support everything. The question is what will the smaller games do?
    • Win2k and XP are the same, so you don't have to do anything to support them both if you support either of them. Since directx 10 is vista only, its extra work to support XP/2k if you are using it. There's already vista only games announced.
      • by SP33doh ( 930735 )
        true, granted, how difficult is it to actually get a DX10 game to use DX9 instead?
        I'm under the belief that the the announced vista-only games are just marketing tools to get people to upgrade.
      • Fair enough, what about WoW supporting OS X and Windows in the same box though? If the publisher wants to target both platforms in a single box then will find a way to do it.
        • You can certainly make multiplatform games. But most developers are tards and make windows only directx games. Those tards are likely to make directx 10 only games, and some have already said that's what they are doing. Good developers won't have any extra work, since they will just keep using opengl anyways.
  • GNU? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    DX10 "optimized" GNU?

    Is this part of the MS acquisition of SuSE?
  • This will be great for when I am mining Veldspar in Jita :P. Seriously though, this is exciting. Can't wait to pew-pew rocks in space with all kinds of fancy sparks shooting off them and whatnot. Now if only CCP could build robust nodes to handle all the large fleet engagements and POS wars in the south I would truly be a happy camper.
  • I keep hearing more and more that most games are now being designed with today's $500 PC in mind rather than tomorow's $2000 PC; the reason for this is that the number of people who are spending massive ammounts of money upgrading their PC is declining (as is the rate of upgrades). I can't imagine that many developers are really all that focused on taking advantage of Shader-Model 4.0, so I don't really see that much of a push to switch to Vista.

    BTW. I'm not saying that no developers are interested in the f
    • by daeg ( 828071 )
      Games do spur hardware upgrades, though. True, big game companies outside of Microsoft probably won't be jumping to Vista-only in the first year. After that, though, I wouldn't be shocked to see some smaller titles being developed for Vista only, and after about 2 years seeing some major Vista-only titles.

      Of course, with Microsoft being the publishing warhorse for many gaming companies, you can bet there will be pressure on game studios to at least use the features, but not require Vista.

      Side note: despite
    • by Drogo007 ( 923906 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @05:08PM (#16898960)
      In my 8 years in the video game industry (1995 - 2003) minimum requirements were always a tricky issue all-around. The first company I worked for (R.I.P. Access Software Inc.) had a habit of pushing the limit of hardware - forcing customers to upgrade to play the newest version of the game. Since I started in Tech Support, I got to hear a surprisingly large number of calls from 80-year old farts who had heard we were coming out with a new version of Links (golf game) and wondering what they needed to buy to run it.

      A couple of years later as a tester with a very large publisher, I got stuck with the job of verifying (and helping to set) minimum specs. The marketing guys had all kinds of statistics on average machine and how doubling the minimum RAM reduced our target market by X%, etc etc etc

      Very rarely did any technology less than 3 years old even figure into the discussion on what the minimum hardware was that we absolutely HAD to support to have a chance of selling enough games to keep the studio afloat. And there was a lot of pushback from the developers to try and add any technology (rendering, sound, etc) that wasn't supported on the minimum machine just because that meant there was all kinds of complexity involved (essentially they wound up writing two complete, parallel games - Software Renderers vs. Hardware Renderers for 3d is one fine example)

      MS has lined up a couple of high-profile "exclusives" to try and hype gaming on Vista. But I'd be willing to bet that most video game developers/publishers are going to continue to target WinXP/2k users for years to come, simply to maximize their market.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mac Degger ( 576336 )
        I've always wondered, seeing as it's the only hardware survey I really have access to; how representative is the Valve hardware survey? Did the numbers you worked with compare or where there large differences?
    • BTW. I'm not saying that no developers are interested in the fancy new features,


      In my experience, as a system administrator, developers are *only* interested in fancy new features...

      (And are the bane of my existance, especially since our systems are primarily Debian).

      Hey, I just offended developers *and* Debian fan-boys in a *single* posting :) and they arn't a disjoint set either. W00t!

  • require DX10, that is of course until Wine [] gets DX10 compatibility. ;P
  • by gsn ( 989808 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @05:06PM (#16898944)
    Pretty soon, several games will be Vista only - Halo 2 comes to mind. I'd say by 2008 most stuios will start being Vista only or XP but with reduced settings. This is ok - serious gamers tend to upgrade hardware much more frequently than the average Joe user - every 1.5 years I thinkis about right. New games are pretty high priced so pretty much only serious gamers are buying them anyways - the average Joes wait a while until the price goes down. My only concern is that Vista is supposed to divert all system resources towards games when in play - wether it will actually work before a few dozen patches is a concern - and Vista consumes a crap load of resources even to run in the background - how much of a dent will that be on performance?
  • by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @06:01PM (#16899406) Homepage Journal
    If anything, developpers should stop, take a good look, and switch to Open GL (which works on Windows, OS X and Linux/BSD AFAIK) instead of getting even more dependent on Microsoft proprietary "solutions".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lolocaust ( 871165 )
      That would work, and games could be ported easily to everything except the Xboxes. Even in 10 years time it'll be simple to port a classic game to a mobile phone to maximize revenue. I'm interested to know why large developers tend to go for DirectX solutions when they have to port it to openGL anyway for the Playstations and the last two Nintendo consoles.
      • Most modern mobiles now come with an OpenGL ES implementation, so using OpenGL gives you a much larger potential market than DirectX even now. Of course, most mobiles have a software OpenGL stack, or a very slow GPU, so you won't get great performance. On the other hand, you don't need a very fast implementation for a 3" screen...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by master_p ( 608214 )
      How many times does it have to be said? OpenGL is for 3D graphics only, DirectX is a solution for writing multimedia applications, including 3D graphics, sound, controllers, networking, animation, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Svartalf ( 2997 )
        And, how many times does it need to be said that there's alternatives to each piece. In fact, the big studios don't use much of ANY of DirectX' stuff directly- because they're anticipating a port to a console. So they use Miles, FMOD, or OpenAL for sound. They typically have rolled their own network stack code, but now, there's TNL, RakNet, and Grapple (It's not portable yet, but that's on my plate, so it's soon...). There's little reason to be even USING their DirectX APIs because they LIMIT you (And i
        • And how many times it need to be said that the alternatives are far inferior to what DirectX offers? DirectX is far superior than the libraries you mention, and studios want integrated solutions and not a mash of APIs all in different styles that have to be manually maintained.

          And we are talking about computers here, not consoles. Each console has its own development system, so studios that want to write their games for every platform use various solutions, and certainly not one that involves various open s
          • by Svartalf ( 2997 )
            If that were the case, why is NWN2 so inferior to the predecessor in overall performance. Sure it looks nice, but it's framerate sucks compared to the older game. It's all been converted over to DirectX... Heh... You know little of what you speak of- programmer productivity is only one piece and it's debateable that DirectX brings any of that.
            • One bad game does not prove DirectX is bad. It only proves programmers are bad. There are lots of other games programmed with DirectX that are tremendously fast. And the hardware you run a game plays a significant role.

              As for programmer's productivity, it is the #1 problem in today's programming world, either in business, scientific or multimedia applications.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't understand why doesn't the game industry use more OpenGL? There are success stories from it and using OpenGL allows easy porting to Linux and Mac. If also using SDL or similar, the game might require virtually no changes to be cross-platform.
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      Probably because the game industry is incredibly cuttroath, and time to market is an issue to the point that every day count. If programmers find themselves even -slightly- more comfortable with Direct X, or that it is even -slightly- easier/faster to pull something off in DX, they'll do it. Simple as that.

      I'm no graphic programmer myself, but at first glance, it does seem like DX would be easier to use, so if real game programmers feel that way too, that would explain it right there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by big4ared ( 1029122 )
      Very few people use opengl for a variety of reasons. The main reason is that in order to do anything useful, you have to use a ton of extensions. That, and opengl is still getting it's act together. Microsoft finished their API for next-gen graphics (DX10) as well as providing a reference rasterizer last December. Right now, Kronos group just has some proposals for things like geometry shaders and stream out, but nothing definite. So if you're developing a Vista-only game, the choice is pretty obvious.
      • And the PS3 and Wii uses what for graphics exactly? Wait... wait... its on the tip of my tongue...
        • It was announced at GDC that the ps3 supports both PSGL which is the high-level language, and libgcm which is the low level language. The console is a closed system that you more that likely have to optimize the hell out of (just ask anyone who programmed for the ps2). It's a good bet that most people will go libgcm.

 s2-info-from-gdc--rsx-based-on-nv47.html []
          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            Well.. the ps2 isn't quite the same as the ps3.
            If you're saying nobody's using opengl for their Playstation 3 games and rather write to the hardware because of optimization (because we all know we can't optimize our games if we using opengl.. right...) you're saying nobody's gonna use direct3d for the xbox360.
            And stop spreading fud about opengl... "opengl is still getting it's act together".. ffs!

            If you're doing a vista-only game you bend over to get a hard pounding and nothing else... gladly not everybody
      • "What most games are more concerned about is PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii, generally in that order."

        Not according to a previous slashdot article linking to gamasutra - the order should be Wii, Xbox 360, PS3.
      • "Very few people use opengl for a variety of reasons"

        Not true. Most people use's just that it's the enterprise users who do. Big CAD/CAM/automotive/aerospace etc etc etc all use OpenGL.
  • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Saturday November 18, 2006 @06:41PM (#16899746)
    It's not the graphical changes that gamers should be worried about with Vista, it's the changes to the audio subsystem. MS completely rebuilt that subsystem for Vista, it's now a black-box for all intents and purposes that takes program inputs and dumps fully processed audio streams that just need to be hit with a DAC to be presented. The problem with this is that it means that audio cards can no longer bind to the audio subsystem at anywhere other than this endpoint, which breaks a lot of 3D audio features such as EAX and some HRTF's(for simulating 3D audio from directions where there are no speakers) since these cards need the raw data from the games and not the fully processed streams.

    OpenAL bypasses this limitation, but anything that uses DirectSound3D(which is most older games and some modern games) now gets neutered on systems with high-end audio cards. Of course this mainly screws over Creative since EAX3+ is a closed spec anyhow(and you won't find much love for that), but since no one is or will be working on a competing standard anyhow, it's just going to make things harder for everyone since it breaks the only modern standard.

    The graphical changes due to DX10 won't cause much trouble, MS has thought this through both forwards and back, but there are going to be a lot of angry EAX users once Vista comes out.

    • by tcc3 ( 958644 )
      That might be a problem if EAX was ever reliable to begin with. I've never been able to turn it on for more than 5 minutes without it crashing something. Whats really amusing is when it crashes, gets stuck on, and all your system noises sound like they're in a cave.
  • From the looks of things, Microsoft are trying to seperate PC gaming and console gaming even (while trying to favour the latter with more dedication to products and software development) at the same time as merging them together. With the whole inclusion of Media Center on Vista, MS are making the package of having an Xbox 360 hooked up to your home network a lot more enticing, but at the same time they are adding some features to the new OS that are making it look tough for games to emerge and be enjoyable
    • "...who decide that their console is a more fun way to do some things, without constant upgrades, costs, monitors etc - especially gaming."

      Cute, but that's no longer a valid point. Consoles have ceased to be simple, plug the disc in and it just plays machines.
      Nowadays, consoles come in different configurations, have or don't have HD's, need expensive ass monitors (and all the differences in 480/1080/i/p isn't helping), the games need patches, the conoles get bricked (hard crashes) and you have to navigate a
    • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
      No, what they're trying to do is drive people towards console - ie, Xbox - gaming and way from PC gaming. Make PC game development as difficult, costly, and contrary as possible for the 'next' system upgrade, but make Xbox development easier and more acessible.
  • I'll pass. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yfrwlf ( 998822 )

    "it's important to know exactly what we're getting into when Vista rolls out"

    Who says we're going to get into it, Zonk? What I find amusing is that Microsoft tries to say it will be better/faster/stronger/smarter. Faster? Definitely not. If you want to run games on it, you'll be running the game AND Aeros. I heard something about Vista possibly disabling Aeros while you're playing a game. Um, no. I'd like to play online games while windowed so I can do other things too, and that would require both

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?