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  1. #221
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    I have two questions:

    How much of a performance gain do you get from the bare to metal stuff? I.e. could a steambox gain the same advantages and also run linux?

    Would it entail more or less work to port to another customized but stripped back OpenGL library?
    Erm I'm going to go with lots for the first one. It would entail more work for the second.

    It's always a trade off. The more you customise the less compatible you are with other things, the harder it is for OEMs to comply etc. It's a sliding scale though, you just have to match the implementation to a business model.

    I tend to think Valve will put something standard (ish maybe customised graphics drivers) on there and have totally normal hardware. It'll be built on common standards and basically compatible with existing hardware. My hunch anyway. One obvious gain is that if it runs normal 'nix it's automatically a better media hub than any console. I'll be able to have VLC playing MKV files for one.

    They're just expanding their user base a bit really. It's not such a big story.

  2. #222
    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zephro View Post
    For porting to linux there are only 2 jobs really:
    1. Switching all the Win32 API crap over to something like X-Windows. So the things that define windows, mouse input etc. Which depending on who you are can be a surprisingly small job. As if you're multi-platform you will have wrapped most of this in abstraction layers because it all works totally differently on consoles or Mac. Some of it is as simple as making code like:

    MyFileOpen(); which on different platforms redirects to that platforms fopen() at compile time.

    It's already standard practice when making a games engine. You could even grab something like QT to handle your windows manager.

    2. Switching from DirectX to OpenGL, which I have far less experience dealing with. However I would say that on Mac only OpenGL exists and the PS3 interface allows OpenGL and is largely based upon it.

    So the technical work probably isn't as high. The cost is probably really in the areas of testing, maintenance and support.
    In essence, yes. In practice... no. Companies tend to use 3rd party middleware and software to ease the development, and if those are proprietary and Windows-only, you need to also replace those components with some other middle-ware or make your own. Like Limbo's Linux-"port", which was just a Wine-wrapped package because Limbo depended on some proprietary 3rd part sound engine, which was Windows/consoles-only.

  3. #223
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Except that it's a PC at heart, consoles don't support previous games because they're an entirely new beast. A PC isn't, and in fact people get extremely upset when new stuff breaks backwards compatibility.
    If you're going up against a console people expect things to work without much fuss.
    Point is, it'll be one or other either it's a PC, aimed at the PC audience that like to fiddle and won't mind so much if there are issues, but will expect the entire library (near enough) to be available.

    Or it'll be aimed at the console audience (though I'd gamble more the Wii users than 'dudebros') in which case they only need a relatively small number of games working at launch, because that's normal for consoles. The other games can be locked of and not playable at all, so there will be no 'expecting' stuff to work.

    What I really don't expect them to do is try and cater for both audiences in one box.

  4. #224
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Point is, it'll be one or other either it's a PC, aimed at the PC audience that like to fiddle and won't mind so much if there are issues, but will expect the entire library (near enough) to be available.

    Or it'll be aimed at the console audience (though I'd gamble more the Wii users than 'dudebros') in which case they only need a relatively small number of games working at launch, because that's normal for consoles. The other games can be locked of and not playable at all, so there will be no 'expecting' stuff to work.

    What I really don't expect them to do is try and cater for both audiences in one box.
    I don't see them aiming for wii users (except for fans of excellent platformers) as much as the core. Valve is coming from the most technical, hardcore gaming market. They'll probably play to their strengths.

  5. #225
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    I don't see them aiming for wii users (except for fans of excellent platformers) as much as the core. Valve is coming from the most technical, hardcore gaming market. They'll probably play to their strengths.
    People say that, that that's their fanbase, but then you look at the masses of sales that various F2P games have had on Steam and I'm not so convinced. Valve already has that technical hardcore market any way. I doubt you'll find many hardcore PC gamers without Steam installed. If they're not making a profit on the hardware, then selling to them is selling at a total loss, as said hardcore gamer will still be buying the same games on the same platform for the same money as they were when they were gaming on a PC.

  6. #226
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Zephro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Point is, it'll be one or other either it's a PC, aimed at the PC audience that like to fiddle and won't mind so much if there are issues, but will expect the entire library (near enough) to be available.

    Or it'll be aimed at the console audience (though I'd gamble more the Wii users than 'dudebros') in which case they only need a relatively small number of games working at launch, because that's normal for consoles. The other games can be locked of and not playable at all, so there will be no 'expecting' stuff to work.

    What I really don't expect them to do is try and cater for both audiences in one box.
    I think they might or go for somewhere in between or some intersection of market we're not perceiving. The PC audience and console audience aren't 2 mutually exclusive groups or the only 2 groups. Mobile gamers for one.

    Yknow like an "advanced settings" section with "edit at your own peril" labelled on it.

  7. #227
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus pakoito's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Point is, it'll be one or other either it's a PC, aimed at the PC audience that like to fiddle and won't mind so much if there are issues, but will expect the entire library (near enough) to be available.

    Or it'll be aimed at the console audience (though I'd gamble more the Wii users than 'dudebros') in which case they only need a relatively small number of games working at launch, because that's normal for consoles. The other games can be locked of and not playable at all, so there will be no 'expecting' stuff to work.

    What I really don't expect them to do is try and cater for both audiences in one box.
    They're going for the dudebros, and the console won't be locked to any game. Linux is there to avoid licenses yet get a small set of games working from the box. Whoever can tinker the minimal can install windows and default to BigPicture to plan literally anything a PC would play.

  8. #228
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Point is, it'll be one or other either it's a PC, aimed at the PC audience that like to fiddle and won't mind so much if there are issues, but will expect the entire library (near enough) to be available.
    But we've already got good PCs now and the general consensus here seems to be that people would only be interested in it if it was powerful enough to match their PC and had the entire catalog open, which means Windows. And while the hypothetical SteamBox (probably not the Piston if it's grapefruit-sized) will still cater for that, the default setup seems to be targeted towards...

    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    ...the console audience (though I'd gamble more the Wii users than 'dudebros') in which case they only need a relatively small number of games working at launch, because that's normal for consoles. The other games can be locked of and not playable at all, so there will be no 'expecting' stuff to work.
    Except they don't need a limited number of games, they need the bulk of the catalog opened up, because the DudeBro gamers already know what's on PC and will be expecting it. Team Fortress 2 and Left4Dead from years back running on Linux isn't really all that impressive beyond the technical fact that they took the time to port it and that it works. If games don't follow Valve to Linux then the platform is going to basically be useless and it'll only work for PC gamers that are happy to install Windows, set it up etc.

    Again a PC is different from a console, we expect backwards compatibility and people who don't game on a PC are still aware of this. The DudeBro gamer can accept that his PS2 game won't work on his new PS3 because it's an entirely new machine. He's not going to be impressed that he can't play Crysis 3 on his SteamBox running Linux because of some reason he doesn't really understand because "It's a PC bro, why can't I play dude?"

    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    What I really don't expect them to do is try and cater for both audiences in one box.
    Why? It's not hard - it's just an x86-64 PC shoved into an appealing box with some clever engineering (or mobile components if it's a grapefruit PC). They set up their default Linux setup to boot to Steam's Big Picture mode once the OS has loaded and away the DudeBro goes. The PC gamer will no doubt format the drive and install Windows to get the full Steam catalog (unless something dramatic happens with Windows). It's possible to serve both communities on a single device.

  9. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Except they don't need a limited number of games, they need the bulk of the catalog opened up, because the DudeBro gamers already know what's on PC and will be expecting it.
    Why on earth would a console gamer, who by definition already owns a console, consider it a major selling point that the box will play the PC version of all the games that are already available for his current console?

    Also you're assuming it'll be marketed as a PC, and hence come with all the expectations of the PC platform. Yet for all we know, it'll be marketed as a console, and so won't. The difference between the two is just a matter of what you call it.

    I also still don't see why Valve would want to sell this to PC gamers, given that we're assuming it'll be sold at a loss, and PC gamers are already on Steam, so there's no new money to be made there.

  10. #230
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Why on earth would a console gamer, who by definition already owns a console, consider it a major selling point that the box will play the PC version of all the games that are already available for his current console?
    Oh, I don't know. 1080p with better graphics at 30 to 60 FPS might be a selling point? Not to mention games that aren't available on consoles but are available on the PC?

    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Also you're assuming it'll be marketed as a PC, and hence come with all the expectations of the PC platform. Yet for all we know, it'll be marketed as a console, and so won't. The difference between the two is just a matter of what you call it.
    I know it'll be marketed as a PC. Valve won't go through all the effort of making themselves into a PC-centric dev/publisher only to try to market it as a console. They'll liken it to a console to demonstrate how "easy" it is to use (No upgrade cycle! No screwing with drivers! Only 1/10th the games on Windows!) with Steam's Big Picture mode (and presumably they'll push driver updates too with QA testing to ensure it doesn't break anything, which can be a problem with Linux updates), but they'll still espouse that it's a PC. Lots of DudeBro gamers argue over which console has the best graphics at the best FPS and blah blah blah. Not all of them, maybe not even most of them, but a lot of the DudeBro ones do. The answer is neither - the PC wins, end of story.

    I'd even somewhat side with the people I disagree with earlier in the thread that it doesn't take a lot to make a PC to match current console standards at 720p at some of the horrible framerates they play on, so with some compromises it wouldn't take too much more (outside of grapefruit possibilities though) to get an edge on that (but not to match next-gen consoles). That's definitely something the DudeBros might consider versus their end-of-life consoles. The biggest problem with PC gaming is getting started and its accessibility. Valve are trying to remove that barrier. They're sacrificing a huge chunk of their library to do it, and if it takes off it runs the risk of turning PC gaming into a Valve-oriented console experience, but at least they're trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    I also still don't see why Valve would want to sell this to PC gamers, given that we're assuming it'll be sold at a loss, and PC gamers are already on Steam, so there's no new money to be made there.
    You're right that not every PC gamer will go for it, and I've said in my previous posts that it's unlikely to make a big issue in the PC sector. We've already got PCs, and they're likely to be more powerful than what Valve/partners can cram into a small case. Well not likely but definitely are more powerful (generalising here). Some people might want one for the living room if it's priced nicely. Point is that because it's an x86 device a PC gamer who is familiar with building their own system is still catered for by the product. You're saying that it can't cater for both markets. Yes it can - install Windows and you've got the full library available.

  11. #231
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    I'm kinda looking forward to this. If the streaming can be done like the nvidia shield was shown doing, and there is the option to really, really ramp the bitrate up when i'm on cable gigabit, i'd much rather that than having to pay and to upgrade and maintain two machines with half decent gfx cards. I mean if they can make a 200 - 300 dollar box that I can play 1080p on, everything maxed, reasonably high bitrate on streaming so there isn't much motion blur, it would be acceptable for lounge room gaming. I mean, I don't play shooters in the lounge room, I don't really play anything competitive on the telly, it's more for relaxing on the couch and playing single player games, something that streaming would be fine for. It's really cool tech, why stick a dediacted gpu in the box when i've got sli on my main rig that spends most of it's time idling in power save mode.

  12. #232
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    IT DOES NOT STREAM. It plays from the box.

    But being a PC (even a Android or IOS can though) it can be setup to stream video if you wish.

  13. #233
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnicalBen View Post
    IT DOES NOT STREAM. It plays from the box.
    People were speculating given how small the Piston apparently was and therefore how likely it is to have mobile hardware and low performance.

  14. #234
    Network Hub Rath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Oh, I don't know. 1080p with better graphics at 30 to 60 FPS might be a selling point? Not to mention games that aren't available on consoles but are available on the PC?


    I know it'll be marketed as a PC. Valve won't go through all the effort of making themselves into a PC-centric dev/publisher only to try to market it as a console. They'll liken it to a console to demonstrate how "easy" it is to use (No upgrade cycle! No screwing with drivers! Only 1/10th the games on Windows!) with Steam's Big Picture mode (and presumably they'll push driver updates too with QA testing to ensure it doesn't break anything, which can be a problem with Linux updates), but they'll still espouse that it's a PC. Lots of DudeBro gamers argue over which console has the best graphics at the best FPS and blah blah blah. Not all of them, maybe not even most of them, but a lot of the DudeBro ones do. The answer is neither - the PC wins, end of story.
    I've been extolling exactly that kind of virtue about this with people at work. They are now interested, through word of mouth alone without my having shown them any concrete data.

  15. #235
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    Oh, I don't know. 1080p with better graphics at 30 to 60 FPS might be a selling point? Not to mention games that aren't available on consoles but are available on the PC?


    I know it'll be marketed as a PC. Valve won't go through all the effort of making themselves into a PC-centric dev/publisher only to try to market it as a console. They'll liken it to a console to demonstrate how "easy" it is to use (No upgrade cycle! No screwing with drivers! Only 1/10th the games on Windows!) with Steam's Big Picture mode (and presumably they'll push driver updates too with QA testing to ensure it doesn't break anything, which can be a problem with Linux updates), but they'll still espouse that it's a PC. Lots of DudeBro gamers argue over which console has the best graphics at the best FPS and blah blah blah. Not all of them, maybe not even most of them, but a lot of the DudeBro ones do. The answer is neither - the PC wins, end of story.

    I'd even somewhat side with the people I disagree with earlier in the thread that it doesn't take a lot to make a PC to match current console standards at 720p at some of the horrible framerates they play on, so with some compromises it wouldn't take too much more (outside of grapefruit possibilities though) to get an edge on that (but not to match next-gen consoles). That's definitely something the DudeBros might consider versus their end-of-life consoles. The biggest problem with PC gaming is getting started and its accessibility. Valve are trying to remove that barrier. They're sacrificing a huge chunk of their library to do it, and if it takes off it runs the risk of turning PC gaming into a Valve-oriented console experience, but at least they're trying.


    You're right that not every PC gamer will go for it, and I've said in my previous posts that it's unlikely to make a big issue in the PC sector. We've already got PCs, and they're likely to be more powerful than what Valve/partners can cram into a small case. Well not likely but definitely are more powerful (generalising here). Some people might want one for the living room if it's priced nicely. Point is that because it's an x86 device a PC gamer who is familiar with building their own system is still catered for by the product. You're saying that it can't cater for both markets. Yes it can - install Windows and you've got the full library available.
    Of course, if it can run windows and has a USB port it will be a PC, but Valve doesn't have to sell it as that. I think there are still a ton of benefits to selling it as a console. One is that it's a concept many people are already comfortable with, especially publishers and casuals. Saying it's like PC gaming without the hassle would be a nice sales pitch, but would it be as nice as "It's a console that comes with a great competitive shooter for free, has far cheaper games, and far better service? It works as a digital media center, incorporates biometric controls, works as its own server, has a great interface to browse the internet, have access to all the mods you've been missing, and you can access the games you own from anywhere." That's a pretty convincing sales pitch, even though it just describes a PC right now. It also effectively avoids association with the high price myth and the arrogant PC gamer stereotype.

    While you could make a fair priced graphically minded console that could crush the current ones, if it doesn't release right now, then there's a very good chance it will come out within a year of the new console releases. The same people who are arguing over graphical superiority know that the new ones are coming, so the Gabecube should probably be competitive.
    Last edited by Internet; 12-01-2013 at 10:09 PM.

  16. #236
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Of course, if it can run windows and has a USB port it will be a PC, but Valve doesn't have to sell it as that. I think there are still a ton of benefits to selling it as a console. One is that it's a concept many people are already comfortable with, especially publishers and casuals
    An excellent point.
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  17. #237
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    "It's a console that comes with a great competitive shooter for free, has far cheaper games, and far better service? It works as a digital media center, incorporates biometric controls, works as its own server, has a great interface to browse the internet, have access to all the mods you've been missing, and you can access the games you own from anywhere."
    Oh, so it's a PC? Really the entire "console" thing is a fairly arbitrary definition these days, it's a term of convenience to distinguish it from PC gaming. I doubt Valve will say "It's a console except not" when they're the champions of PC gaming. PC gaming is associated with better visual fidelity, MORE STUFF OMG, and being a pain in the arse. If they focus on fixing that last one, the fact that it isn't called a console doesn't really matter. Also publishers are comfortable with consoles or PCs, otherwise they wouldn't be publishing for our platform.

    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    It also effectively avoids association with the high price myth and the arrogant PC gamer stereotype.
    To avoid association with a high price, just don't sell it at a high price (unless it's unavoidable of course). The arrogant PC gamer stereotype is stuck, doesn't really matter which way you spin it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Internet View Post
    The same people who are arguing over graphical superiority know that the new ones are coming, so the Gabecube should probably be competitive.
    I'm one of those people and I suggested that it needs to have fairly beefy hardware to get anywhere to compete with the next gen consoles. I was more commenting on that existing console owners might still find it useful to have the entire catalog of games available, even if they already own them.

  18. #238
    Obscure Node Soulfinity's Avatar
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    As i use my personal computer as a workstation, I quite like the idea of having something completely separate to play downloadable games to not bog my PC up, depends on the specs tho?

  19. #239
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    As others have said if we're not targeting hardcore PC gamers then it is entirely relevant if it's not going to support a lot of titles and they need to fiddle with it just to get it to play the vast PC game library out of the box. We can't claim that it's not for existing PC gamers then go off and say they'll need to install things and mess with it.
    making windows an optional (most likely optimised) $100 or so purchase is trivial. That's how I think Valve will go about it, I don't think they will restrict purchasing flexibility the way console companies do.
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  20. #240
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soulfinity View Post
    As i use my personal computer as a workstation, I quite like the idea of having something completely separate to play downloadable games to not bog my PC up, depends on the specs tho?
    Define "bog your PC up," considering programs only run when you want them to.
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