Steam - It's Not Just for Windows and Macs Anymore

TheGameguru wrote:

I can buy into home users and enterprises flocking to OS X.. flocking to Linux? not so much.

Not that long ago, this was just crazy talk.

Apple's graphic drivers tend to be very stable, producing almost perfectly correct images (no weird funky optimizations), but they're quite slow, relative to Windows or Linux offerings. And then the Apple hardware tends to have seriously underpowered video as well, to keep heat production and noise levels down. Between those two issues, well, I think gamers probably wouldn't be that enthusiastic, because it's just terribly slow at most fast action games. You just don't get a very good gaming computer for the price.

And then add on the continued iOSification of the system, and I don't see it as being terribly appealing.

I'll admit to loving the changes to how the touchpad works. It's far more precise than the old way, as I'm reminded every time I boot into Windows. Macs are definitely underpowered graphically compared to a PC gaming laptop though. I'm sure this is intentional--they're for general use, not gaming specifically--but as a Macbook is my primary gaming system right now it definitely hurts.

Greg wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

I can buy into home users and enterprises flocking to OS X.. flocking to Linux? not so much.

Not that long ago, this was just crazy talk.

That's what I was thinking too but I couldn't articulate it, for some reason.

*Legion* wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:

I can buy into home users and enterprises flocking to OS X.. flocking to Linux? not so much.

Lots of them walking around with Linux in their pocket as Android phones.

All OS X is is a pretty UI on top of BSD. It's not so hard to imagine someone doing the same thing on top of Linux eventually. That's exactly what Canonical is trying to do in throwing all the existing Linux GUIs aside and building Unity. Maybe, eventually, they get there. Especially if projects like Wayland swoop in there and replace the moldy old X stack.

It still a single company driving at least some standardization. If Google said we were building a home user based Linux OS that would be competitive with Windows then I would get interested.. Its not an easy thing to get gaming going to the level it needs to be for the entire ecosystem to work. PC gaming has years of work behind it already to get it to the point where it is today.. As far as I can tell pretty much everyone else has done nothing really.

Mac gaming barely works.. the GPU's are underpowered.. the entire hardware system is closed.. and the drivers suck.

PC Developers have now years of experience and countless middleware tools all built around DX.... not to mention the close relationship now between PC Gaming and Xbox 360/720 gaming.. put that in front of a AAA developer and that is a very attractive ecosystem... what does Linux have that even comes close to that?

The problem is that there just isnt enough room to support a viable "2nd" PC based gaming platform... theres barely enough room to support Mac Gaming.

If your talking Indie gaming.. then yeah.. sure I can see that flourishing under Linux.. but major cross platform titles? I just don't believe it will happen in Linux's current very splintered form.

I don't think anyone can argue standardisation is not a good thing to a certain extent.

Looking at it from another perspective, and more generally rather than just what is currently a small share of PC-like gaming, can AAA (or similar) afford to ignore a wider market and meet the challenges that come with multiplatform development? The alternative is to accept selling to a narrow market, which means limiting your potential income while budgets are only going up. AAA will eat itself.

I am sure the PS3 is tired of being the ugly chick at the third-party dance. Add Linux to the spec sheet and the PS3 starts to look a lot hotter.

heavyfeul wrote:

I am sure the PS3 is tired of being the ugly chick at the third-party dance. Add Linux to the spec sheet and the PS3 starts to look a lot hotter.

Making a console more generally useful is intriguing, even if you only give it a very limited non-game OS, but then you come up against that consoles are supposed to be tightly controlled closed devices for DRM, and things like the PS3 rooting fiasco.

So one month later did this ever develop into anything other than a rumor?

Nope.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

So one month later did this ever develop into anything other than a rumor?

It's been rumoured for years now -- one more month means nothing, particularly when you're talking about Valve, which isn't exactly known for its punctuality. It'll probably be rumoured for a long time to come, too, right up until Valve either rules it out entirely (which I can't imagine it doing), or announces it.

The Mac port of Steam went from announcement to release within about 2 months, so I don't think we'll see an announcement about a Linux port until it's very nearly ready to roll out.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

So one month later did this ever develop into anything other than a rumor?

Apparently they brought on LordHavoc (lead developer of the engine for Nexuiz and also the lead developer in the Linux and OS X ports of Quake Live) a month ago, joining the team working on the Linux porting of Steam and games.

Hypatian wrote:

Well, hello there.

Hey Valve... did I forget to say I love you?

And maybe, not just for games?

Hypatian wrote:

Well, hello there.

I was just looking for this thread to paste that Very cool to see -- it'd be nice to know when some of this stuff is going to make it in to our hands, but with 11 people working on it, it definitely seems like a case of "when, not if" now.

Time to get a Linux distro installed on my box.

I'm concerned. With the status quo, I have the considerable hurdle of rebooting to keep me on task.

Interesting that they announce their intentions this way rather than how they did the OSX version.

edit: Just as a thought experiment, I'm wondering what "The road to linux gaming domination" would look like. Obviously the big issue is developer/publisher support, and thinking of legacy (windows) games seems most similar to looking at different console platforms or generations.

What kind of adjustments does PC gaming need to make to fit into linux-style gaming rather than windows style?

Scratched wrote:

Interesting that they announce their intentions this way rather than how they did the OSX version.

edit: Just as a thought experiment, I'm wondering what "The road to linux gaming domination" would look like. Obviously the big issue is developer/publisher support, and thinking of legacy (windows) games seems most similar to looking at different console platforms or generations.

What kind of adjustments does PC gaming need to make to fit into linux-style gaming rather than windows style?

You need the whole "ecosystem" to move over to Linux as well.. Then you need a massive and fairly steady adoption of Linux as the primary OS. At best if Linux approaches Mac OS X levels of adoption then you would see a gaming ecosystem similar to that level on Linux...

So with that.. I think it will take a good deal more to convince "gamers" to move to Linux without Linux itself improving its usability. Last time I tried to install a Linux distro I realized how far they still had to go.

I think that the linux move is really just the starting point for a Valve console or set-top box play. It is not too far of a stretch to think the two rumors went hand-in-hand and linux on a console is not unheard of (PS3 unique linux, but still linux) so Devs will build for what there is an audiance for, and if the library is cross compatible mores the better.

All they need to do to get the initial Critical mass is announce HL3 as a steam box exclusive for X amount of time before going to the regular market.

I mean if Nintendo can run their company on just their own IP, I am sure Valve can do the same at this point.

One game where I think they would have a lot of draw is if they got DOTA2 on linux. I suspect outside of western audiences being able to get away from windows might be a positive factor (or is it, given that you can 'acquire' non-licensed versions of windows that probably work well enough. Would a game like DOTA2, and other games, on an OS that doesn't need a paid license be a big enough factor)

The other thing I think will be a big issue is getting parity or being better than windows on the support side, as in hardware drivers and API equivalents. This is the domain of all those third parties making middleware and libraries. How much pressure can Valve bring to AMD/Nvidia/intel for good drivers, to Khronos to improve OpenGL, etc.

Things just got (even more) real -- the announcement page for Cold Stream mentions that L4D2 will be available on Linux by the end of the year:

http://www.l4d.com/coldstream/

Color me cautiously optimistic. Steam on Ubuntu would be great. Well, terrible for my productivity, but sacrifices must be made.

It will probably have to be a monster install. Given the amount of independence of distros, Steam will probably have to bring huge amounts of data with it to ensure package dependencies are taken care of. That isn't really a problem, but it's definitely a 'thing.' Steam would also probably be a driving factor in unifying the various distros. Everybody's going to want to make sure their distro runs steam, and while porting it over will probably be done on the back end, it's still going to require some common functionality.

Prediction: Once you've got that driving force, the need to have a baseline distribution that runs Steam, the Linux world will further balkanize into Ubuntu (or whatever) clones that are all very similar and other stuff. The other stuff will resemble the current linux world where people tailor their systems a great deal, while the clones will all have somewhat more limited access.

I can't see Steam really having that much of an impact on the production of Linux distributions -- the underlying software on Linux distributions is all pretty much the same, so it's really just a matter of making sure the libraries that Steam relies on are available and have the appropriate versions. As you suggest, Steam may bring some of those packages with it to reduce the dependencies it has on the underlying distribution, but those libraries really aren't huge, so I don't imagine that being a big deal.

Steam is a big deal for a bunch of current Linux users, and a bunch more potential users, but it's totally off the radar for the majority of current users, so I don't think we'll see distributions bending over backward to support it. Thankfully, I don't think they'll really need to.

I do think that Steam can be a force to push for better drivers for videocards. Maybe also stronger development within Ubuntu to support gaming much more.
There will be plenty of people willing to switch away from windows, once this hurdle has been taken.

pneuman wrote:

As you suggest, Steam may bring some of those packages with it to reduce the dependencies it has on the underlying distribution, but those libraries really aren't huge, so I don't imagine that being a big deal.

Most games are just going to be binary blobs that contain everything they need.

Steam isn't going to be the first game distribution platform on Linux. Desura runs on Linux. The games are indie but the issues at hand are the same. No game I've run on Desura is installing external OS dependencies, they all appear to just be binaries that contain everything they need, outside of what they can reasonably expect from the environment.

I think the age of external dependencies is past for something fairly monolithic like a game. Sure there are modding (and open source) reasons to have the libraries alterable, but most games would be just fine if they included all of the external libraries as part of their own package. There are some downsides to this, because of the other reasons why external dependencies are useful, but we're not as concerned about saving hard drive space anymore.

I can't imagine Windows 8 being anymore of a "disaster" for Microsoft than Windows Vista..They survived as did PC Gaming. I applaud Gabe for bringing Steam to as many platforms as possible and supporting the Linux community..but it's rare to find anything positive born out of negativity. I would rather Valve embrace Linux because of its positives rather than out of some sort of necessity. To me that just screams grandstanding and trolling for PR.