Archive for the ‘video games’ Category

Valve’s VR Headset Announcement

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

HTC and Valve announced the HTC Vive today, a headset similar to the Oculus Rift. The differences are in the head tracking, a slight increase to resolution compared to the Oculus Rift DK2, and a custom game controller.

Similar to the VR room demo Valve had at Steam Dev Days, the HTC Vive will have tracking for your location relative to the physical room you’re in. The VR room demo used something similar to QR codes printed out on the walls to do this, the HTC Vive uses SteamVR base stations. The SteamVR demo at dev days was super impressive when I got to try it, and kind of ruined the experience of trying the Oculus Rift. Nothing on the Rift could match the feeling of scale I got from the SteamVR demo. It must be even more impressive on this new hardware.

Developer kit ships this spring, user version late in the year. Between this, Oculus, Nvidia announcing something soon, and Sony’s headset, some standard API will need to emerge to support all of them and I bet that’s what Valve will focus on fixing.

Ryan Gordon on SteamLUG Podcast

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

The creator of many good things, Ryan Gordon, recently made an appearance on the SteamLUG podcast. Tune in for the talk of how Linux gaming is doing. Keep listening for exactly how to use your Steam Controller in the event of an emergency.

République Remastered

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Republique

After the Peter Molyenux’s Godus fiasco, you would be forgiven for concluding that crowdfunding is just a string of failures. There are a lot of great games that have actually shipped after being funded. Originally for iOS devices, the crew at Camouflaj just put out the PC and Mac OS X version of their kickstarted stealth survival game, République.

It’ll be interesting to see how the PC version turned out given the unique control scheme on iOS where you did not directly control the protagonist, Hope. Instead, you swiped the touchscreen to control surveillance cameras and could pause the game at any time to utilize hacking tools, scan the environment, and give Hope directions on where to go so that she won’t be seen by the patrolling guards while she is stuck in some kind of insane totalitarian regime.

Get it on Steam, gog, or Humble.

What Does Linux Get Out of SteamOS?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Liam Dawe on the lack of good news coming out of Valve regarding their Linux-based Steam Machines in the past year, compared to the overall state of health for Linux as a gaming platform:

We haven’t had developers like Aspyr Media and Feral Interactive support us for very long, and with their commitment to our platform with their current catalogue and teased future games, we still have a lot of higher-budget games to look forward to. For the short time they have supported our platform we have already gained some massive games, and they haven’t even been supporting us for a year yet. Both of their first Linux games came to us last summer, so that’s a bit premature to call Linux/SteamOS gaming dead or dying when in the last part of 2014 we gained some huge releases.

Who could honestly say at the start of last year they would think Linux would see a same-day release for a game like Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel? No one, Linux gaming improves month after month with not just the number, but the quality of games we are seeing.

We are a small platform, and no one should think that pumping out a Linux version is suddenly going to make them rich. It’s all about understanding the market, we pay well for good-quality games that are fun to play. We are still starving for certain game genre’s like MMORPG’s or more realistic shooters, to which we have hardly any. Porting games to Linux can also help to make your code cleaner, and help the overall portability of it to other platforms.

About a year ago I was at Valve’s Steam Dev Days conference. Some people gave talks on how Valve was monetizing teens, others spoke about cool VR stuff. My personal interest was in the talks on Linux.

In order to convince developers to bring their games to Linux and specifically Valve’s SteamOS Linux distribution, about 11 of the 27 talks given at the conference were directly or indirectly discussing SteamOS, Linux, OpenGL, SDL (the portability layer that is behind most cross-platform PC games), or Steam Machines in general.

Valve also gave every Steam Dev Days attendee a Gigabyte brix Steam Machine, it is a pre-release product that included a USB stick loaded with the beta installer of SteamOS. The brix is a petite thing about the size of a few books stacked up. It’s built-in cooling system sounds like a VTOL jet taking off whenever it’s rendering anything using the pint-sized intel graphics accelerator.

A few times every month I fire my brix up my so that it can get whatever updates Valve releases for their still-in-beta SteamOS distro and see what games have been brought over. Some of those games work fine, some don’t quite get along with those intel graphics on this particular Steam Machine. When the real Machines eventually ship, they’ll have different hardware and presumably a non-beta Steam OS.

That commitment from Valve, a company built by former Microsoft employees, was a huge payoff for spending about 15 years involved with free software and Linux gaming. At dev days I definitely got my hopes up about the Steam Machines’ potential for revitalizing what had been, up until Valve got involved, a mostly quiet period for games being released on Linux after Loki and Linux Game Publishing had both kicked the bucket.

Liam points out in his article which you should read in full, we’ve seen Feral and Aspyr step up along with the developers of over 900 other games and decide to bring their games to Linux.

Despite the conference, and the 900+ games, there still hasn’t been a landslide of developer interest and any official Steam machine release seemed to be dead in the water until Valve posted this website that indicates they’ll have more news at GDC next month. Those 900+ game releases are more like a steady stream from the few developers who had their “come to jesus” moment like with Gearbox and Borderlands.

Here’s what I’m wondering though, what happens when those Steam Machines actually ship and supposing Valve convinces a landslide of developers to release their games for Steam OS: will it benefit desktop Linux use? Or is this another Android where Linux desktop  users don’t see any benefit?

SteamOS uses the Linux kernel and Debian’s APT packaging and distribution for the basic functionality until  it merrily skips the desktop and launches directly into Steam’s big picture mode. There is an exit-to-desktop option in SteamOS, but like installing apps outside of the Google Play store in Android, it isn’t obvious how to get there and once you are on the desktop installing programs is currently a pain in the ass.

The real benefit to desktop Linux could be a side-effect. There’s no distinction, as far as Steam’s distribution is concerned, between SteamOS and Steam installed on Linux desktops. When a game is released for one it is available on the other. A side benefit is to new game developers who could get their start by moving the Steam Machine from the living room to a desk and install free game development tools like Blender and the best first person shooter engine ever. It would be tremendously valuable to Linux if people end up doing that and even better if Valve supports new game developers to do the one thing they can’t with any console, making games on the system that plays them.

I hope that Steam Machines do come to market and offer people a genuine alternative to Windows for gaming, but unless Valve makes it easier to go to the desktop Liam will still be right:

SteamOS and Steam Machines are complementary to Linux Gaming, but they aren’t Linux Gaming.

Nvidia’s Jen-Hsun blogs about the GeForce GTX 970

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

If you missed it, Nvidia (and their partners) advertised last year’s GTX 970 video card as having 4GB of memory and earlier this year we found out that the memory was on a lower-speed path after the first three-and-a-half gigabytes in addition to other limitations which didn’t match their advertising. There’s now a proposed class-action lawsuit from people who bought the piece of crap and today we have the official blog post from Nvidia founder Jen-Hsun about the mistake:

Some of you are disappointed that we didn’t clearly describe the segmented memory of GeForce GTX 970 when we launched it. I can see why, so let me address it.

We invented a new memory architecture in Maxwell. This new capability was created so that reduced-configurations of Maxwell can have a larger framebuffer – i.e., so that GTX 970 is not limited to 3GB, and can have an additional 1GB.

GTX 970 is a 4GB card. However, the upper 512MB of the additional 1GB is segmented and has reduced bandwidth. This is a good design because we were able to add an additional 1GB for GTX 970 and our software engineers can keep less frequently used data in the 512MB segment.

Unfortunately, we failed to communicate this internally to our marketing team, and externally to reviewers at launch.

Since then, Jonah Alben, our senior vice president of hardware engineering, provided a technical description of the design, which was captured well by several editors. Here’s one example from The Tech Report.

Instead of being excited that we invented a way to increase memory of the GTX 970 from 3GB to 4GB, some were disappointed that we didn’t better describe the segmented nature of the architecture for that last 1GB of memory.

This is understandable. But, let me be clear: Our only intention was to create the best GPU for you. We wanted GTX 970 to have 4GB of memory, as games are using more memory than ever.

The 4GB of memory on GTX 970 is used and useful to achieve the performance you are enjoying. And as ever, our engineers will continue to enhance game performance that you can regularly download using GeForce Experience.

Shut the company down and give the money back to the shareholders or properly admit you made a fucking mistake and make it right for the people who bought these cards by taking back the 970 and upgrading them, for free, to the GTX 980 which doesn’t have the problem. What damning buffoonery it is to pretend that the people who bought the GTX 970 are wrong and are just disappointed and misinformed. This explanation is both inaccurate and does nothing to fix the mistake. For the people who spent $300-$400 on a video card that doesn’t match the specifications advertised, Nvidia needs to make it right.

Community Disappointment Environment

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

The developers behind Battlefield 4, DICE, have put out this video titled Create Your Own Battlefield 4 Map

Watch it and if you haven’t had your coffee yet this morning you might miss that at no point do they mention players getting access to a map editor. Okay, well, the video description links to a blog post maybe they’ll mention it there:

Ok. This is something we’ve never done before. There’s a piece of content coming in 2015 that we’re really excited about. We will build a Battlefield 4 map together with you – the community. Together with our development team, you will get to shape a playable map based on your input and expertise on what makes a fun multiplayer level. This map will then be tested and tweaked in the CTE (Community Test Environment), available for Battlefield 4 Premium members.

As part of this CTE testing you will be providing feedback* on the map, and creating the final thing together with us. During this process we’ll be sharing behind-the-scenes details of what the development process for making a multiplayer map looks like.

As a thank you to the Battlefield community for sticking to your Battlefield 4 guns and giving excellent feedback to improve the game, we want to show our appreciation by releasing the “Community Map” on all platforms.

All that players get to do is provide feedback on the map that DICE designs.

While it would be a huge hurdle at this point for DICE to shoe-horn a public map editor into the game along with a method for players to get access to player-created levels, and it is difficult to summarize a DICE-developed-with-community-feedback-map into a video title, Create Your Own Battlefield 4 Map isn’t accurate. No players watching that video at home will have access to the tools to do so. Disappointing.

Instadoom

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

InstadoomDoom’s stalwart champion, Linguica, has put together Instadoom. It’s a Doom mod that, as you can see above, allows Doom Guy to take selfies and apply filters similar to those popularized by Instagram.

Thanks to Ensiform for the tip.

An 11-year old 99%’s Killing in the Name

Friday, February 13th, 2015

I need to get better at Rocksmith.

Peter Molyneux Quits Press; Does More Press

Friday, February 13th, 2015

There are two new interviews this morning with Peter Molyneux about the failure of Godus to ship a finished PC version two years and change after the game’s kickstarter crowdfunding completed with over half a million pounds which had an expected delivery date of September 2013.

First up is Laura Kate Dale’s interview with Molyneux titled It’s over, I will not speak to the press again via Gameranx where we find out that he’s both quitting giving out interviews anymore and that his family is being harassed:

“People get so frustrated with me, so much so that they’ve threatened me, they’ve threatened my family and it just cannot go on, it really can’t,” he says. 

Awful. Failing to ship a game successfully isn’t worthy of harassment.

The second interview is from John Walker, which is just an incredible read. Super long, but well worth going through.

It makes particular mention of the Linux version, a financial stretch goal on the original Godus kickstarter that was reached, but will probably never ship due to an issue with the engine:

Peter Molyneux: No, it wasn’t shitty of us. If you look at Kickstarter campaigns a lot of people do this, and at that time, you know, Linux seemed more than possible, and we’re waiting for an update from Marmalade to do Linux and they just haven’t supplied it. At that time, it was on the cards for them to develop. They haven’t developed it. And us going back and re-writing the whole of the middleware is, would mean that the development of Godus would stop. We’ve considered it. But you know, it’s months of work.

In both of these interviews Molyneux says it is the last he’ll ever do, which is what both journalists believed until reading the other interviews.

I still hope that Godus eventually becomes a great game, but it does not seem likely based on the mobile version at least. The world-sculpting there was as much fun as it seemed like it would be from the kickstarter, but the game limited the sculpting and gated all progress through micro transactions or the standard free to play timers thave have been with us since the old facebook game Mafia Wars.

If Godus hadn’t been free-to-play on mobile it would have been work that could have gone into the PC version and both versions could have been better and probably would have been completable. 

Raptor: Call of The Shadows Re-Released on Steam

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Raptor was the best shoot-em-up on computers for a long time, it’s exciting to get the chance to play it again thanks to DotEMU. This time it’s the “2015 Edition” which seems to only add Steam’s achievement system to the game. Gog previously had the most recent update with the “2010 Edition.” I’m still writing “Year of the Linux Desktop” on my checks. Both versions are, unfortunately, only for Windows computers.