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Gabe Talks More About Valve's Next-Gen Linux Console

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  • #16
    Extremely exciting news! This will surely change the Linux Gaming (and Linux Desktop) landscape.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by tomato View Post
      Valve is an AAA player by itself... When they show that it is viable and profitable then others will follow suit.
      Just like how OS X is now a super successful gaming platform after Steam was launched there, right?

      I mean, sure, there are actually more games on OS X now. Steam had a positive impact. OS X is still nowhere close to dethroning Windows as the PC gaming platform of choice, but OS X users have a lot more options to have fun these days than they used to. Linux will likewise see a positive impact from Steam, but it will continue to be missing large swaths of the best games available, just like OS X.

      A Steam Machine (please let that be the actual name) would be another boost. Typically new consoles have flopped, independent of technical qualifications but we are seeing a recent strong shift away from the traditional console market, so there may well be a huge opening for something like the Valve console (or Ouja). It's all going to come down to the actual game catalog on the device. If you can't get Activision and EA and Ubisoft and so on 100% on board with a Steam console (including Linux ports), it is not going to do well. Valve will need to give those companies incentives, which even on the PC space they're having a huge problem doing right now (notice how many of the most popular PC games are not available on Steam these days, including many that have console ports).

      Unfortunately, a large part of that is going to be how tightly they can lock down the machine for DRM reasons. Game publishers put up with ridiculous rates of piracy on the PC because they don't have much choice (DRM on a PC just doesn't work to stop anyone but very casual pirates). Any new platform, however, is just a new risk to them; if they can't get things locked down, they have no reason to spend money to port to a platform just to see 90%+ of their efforts stolen. Especially when they can keep making lots of money with the new Wii U, the next XBox, and whatever Sony is up to and get much lower piracy rates (it requires more effort to even use pirated games on those platforms, effectively barring the large masses of casual pirates).

      And since Valve's console's success will be tired _entirely_ to the game catalog on it, getting those publishers on board is the #1 most important thing for them to do as a for-profit corporate entity launching a new for-profit gamer-oriented consumer electronics device. They are going to lock down their console as much as is required to satisfy those publishers, or they are going to fail miserably. Maybe they can convince those publishers that they don't need to lock down the console much, and that's great. Quite possibly they will not be able to do that, and the new Valve console will only be good for a handful of titles compared to its competition.

      That doesn't even include exclusive titles to the other platforms, such as Nintendo's beloved catalog, Microsoft's impressive catalog of titles from MGS and subsidiaries, or Sony's critically-acclaimed first-party titles. PC does have exclusives, but most of those _aren't on Steam_ (even most of Valve's own titles have XBox ports), or are smaller indie games that will hardly push sales of a new hardware platform (and if they do, Valve will be competing with Ouja, not traditional proprietary consoles).

      tl;dr version: Valve has to suck publishers' $%#@ for a new console to succeed, as success in the consumer device market will have nothing to do with openness, Linux, or Valve being Valve.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by jhansonxi View Post
        Unfortunately many Linux games don't support gamepads well.
        This is largely because the Linux gamepad drivers are very lacking. You see a similar problem on OS X, which does not really have any proper dedicated gamepad services or quality drivers.

        Take the Linux xbox driver, for example. The last time I looked at it, the driver doesn't support audio/headsets at all. It doesn't support battery lifetime notification at all. It has no notion of which controller is 1st player, 2nd player, etc.*, so each individual app has to redefine which is which. The driver does support the LEDs on the device, but it doesn't enforce any player-oriented friendly use of those lights, but rather just lets apps do whatever random confusing inconsistent useless crap it wants to with them. Well, sort of, since the LED device and the input device are completely separate devices in the device tree, and actually correlating them together is non-trivial, requires deep Linux kernel knowledge and some voodoo, and isn't wrapped by any existing developer-oriented library.

        Many of the other gamepads are just supported by the generic joystick driver and hence are also missing all the advanced features and proper system-integration necessary for a quality gamepad gaming experience, as supported by the consoles and Windows.

        * Some people don't believe me about this one because the Linux kernel driver will set the player-indicator lights on controllers when plugged in, so if you plug in two controllers, one is lit up as player 1 and the second as player 2. The problem is two-fold: first, there's no way to read the status of the lights nor does the Linux driver expose any property as to which number it assigned the controller, so apps have no way to know which controller is which. Second, Linux doesn't actually assign a player number, but rather fakes it with a cheap hack. The driver just does a "indicator_light = (global_controller_counter++) % 4" when a controller is plugged in. You can see this by unplugging a controller and plugging it back in (it'll go to the next player indicator, rather than remain the same number); more damning, plug in two controllers, then unplug and replug just one of them several times, and you'll quickly get both controllers to have the same player indicator lit up.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by elanthis View Post
          This is largely because the Linux gamepad drivers are very lacking. You see a similar problem on OS X, which does not really have any proper dedicated gamepad services or quality drivers.

          Take the Linux xbox driver, for example. The last time I looked at it, the driver doesn't support audio/headsets at all. It doesn't support battery lifetime notification at all. It has no notion of which controller is 1st player, 2nd player, etc.*, so each individual app has to redefine which is which. The driver does support the LEDs on the device, but it doesn't enforce any player-oriented friendly use of those lights, but rather just lets apps do whatever random confusing inconsistent useless crap it wants to with them. Well, sort of, since the LED device and the input device are completely separate devices in the device tree, and actually correlating them together is non-trivial, requires deep Linux kernel knowledge and some voodoo, and isn't wrapped by any existing developer-oriented library.

          Many of the other gamepads are just supported by the generic joystick driver and hence are also missing all the advanced features and proper system-integration necessary for a quality gamepad gaming experience, as supported by the consoles and Windows.

          * Some people don't believe me about this one because the Linux kernel driver will set the player-indicator lights on controllers when plugged in, so if you plug in two controllers, one is lit up as player 1 and the second as player 2. The problem is two-fold: first, there's no way to read the status of the lights nor does the Linux driver expose any property as to which number it assigned the controller, so apps have no way to know which controller is which. Second, Linux doesn't actually assign a player number, but rather fakes it with a cheap hack. The driver just does a "indicator_light = (global_controller_counter++) % 4" when a controller is plugged in. You can see this by unplugging a controller and plugging it back in (it'll go to the next player indicator, rather than remain the same number); more damning, plug in two controllers, then unplug and replug just one of them several times, and you'll quickly get both controllers to have the same player indicator lit up.
          I don't think anyone cared for linux gaming so far in order to solve these problems you describe. Audio is also an area that linux people don't care about.

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          • #20
            I'd like to see steam with some level of xbmc integration, all i'll need then is a wireless nostromo so i can sit on the lazy boy in front of my projector munching n00bs

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            • #21
              Gabe is no dummy

              He has hired the people needed to make this a firm reality. He understands what TYPE of hardware *REALLY* needs to be in a boxen to run his games well. You are kidding yourself if you think otherwise. BTW, the code is portable enough that he could even use one of the up-coming 64bit ARM chips if he really wanted to, and it would be more than performant enough given that he and his teams will have full control over the optimization of the game code and the driver / utilities. I am not saying it will not be x86_64, just that it no longer has to be. Linux supports more than just x86.

              Audio wise, if Gabe really wants that to happen for his console it will happen. Period. Once again, he has full control and the engineering teams to handle the job.

              Will it be the most Uber ZOMG boxen Evahz!!!! No. It will be more than good enough. I will postulate it will likely be somewhat upgradable, but with Steam approved gear. Another thing many of you perhaps missed is that Nvidia has both graphics and SoC's. Think about that for a minute, then go dig for info about what nvidia has been up to in regards to their fab partner.

              Ahh speculation...
              Gary

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              • #22
                is there a problem with audio?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by D0pamine View Post
                  is there a problem with audio?
                  Not in general but there was a post by the Ardour dev here on phoronix that said that some things could be better at kernel level. Its just that linux has areas that more people care so they advance faster. Ie as elanthis described linux has shortcomings in gaming controller handling. Probably noone had an itch to solve the problem and put modern features in it that will suit hardcore gamers/devs/whatever.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by 89c51 View Post
                    Not in general but there was a post by the Ardour dev here on phoronix that said that some things could be better at kernel level. Its just that linux has areas that more people care so they advance faster. Ie as elanthis described linux has shortcomings in gaming controller handling. Probably noone had an itch to solve the problem and put modern features in it that will suit hardcore gamers/devs/whatever.
                    i've had issues with some sound devices especially onboard ones but thats why i've got a pile of soundblaster live cards and audigy cards, i've not had issues with game controllers for years - evdev seems to make everything work for me. I have a cideko ak08 gamepad at the moment and although its not the greatest pad in the world its fantastic as an all rounder. As for playing first person shooters on a tv from the comfort of my lazy boy... thats a tough one but i think if i can get a wireless nostromo type device and a wireless mouse it'll work ok... certainly better than trying to play a first person shooter with a gamepad at any rate

                    I would love to play against the hoards of ps3/xbox users on any first person shooter with my trusty razer mouse.... blood bath!!

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                    • #25
                      Yeah... sound problems... a little off topic but I'll give you an example. I have an eee pc 10" atom chipset. Pulse audio did really, stupid stuff with the microphone. The mono microphone was shown having a left and a right channel with the volumes locked together by default. No sound would be registered. To "fix" it, you had to mute the right channel to make it record sound, Muting a channel for a microphone to record sound coming from the left channel... is so counter intuitive ... it boggles the mind. What made this problem worse is that chat programs like to automatically adjust the mike volume, when they did, the two channels would be set to the same volume, thereby muting the microphone. Side note: Yes it was pulse audio, I was able to find a mic program that could access alsa directly and they worked, it was pulse that was adding a right channel that negated the volume of the left channel.

                      I have other examples of sound problems I could give for all of my computers that I've run linux on.

                      </off topic>

                      Yeah, it would be great if valve makes sound reliable on Linux. It would be fantastic if they got power management for the amd os graphics drivers.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by ua=42 View Post
                        Yeah... sound problems... a little off topic but I'll give you an example. I have an eee pc 10" atom chipset. Pulse audio did really, stupid stuff with the microphone. The mono microphone was shown having a left and a right channel with the volumes locked together by default. No sound would be registered. To "fix" it, you had to mute the right channel to make it record sound, Muting a channel for a microphone to record sound coming from the left channel... is so counter intuitive ... it boggles the mind. What made this problem worse is that chat programs like to automatically adjust the mike volume, when they did, the two channels would be set to the same volume, thereby muting the microphone. Side note: Yes it was pulse audio, I was able to find a mic program that could access alsa directly and they worked, it was pulse that was adding a right channel that negated the volume of the left channel.

                        I have other examples of sound problems I could give for all of my computers that I've run linux on.

                        </off topic>

                        Yeah, it would be great if valve makes sound reliable on Linux. It would be fantastic if they got power management for the amd os graphics drivers.
                        As big and wonderful valve might be I cant see them fixing every issue with every device, for eg if you have an older audigy card that uses the emu10k driver then you wont need pulseaudio as everything just works with alsa as it should and i suppose the same goes for gpu drivers to some degree, I've no doubt this is the reasoning behind valve bringing their own games console/machine into the mix so they'll have specific bits of hardware to work with and be able to optimise to that hardware.


                        I've been using gnu/linux for a quite a while now so i tend to purchase hardware for my own personal use that i know works well but i do know the pain of setting up laptops with half arsed and half working devices - it is rather disheartening. I suppose thats why i stopped purchasing nvidia gpus ( and before you boo ) because if there is a problem only nvidia can deal with it , not the community or another company that has an interest in your hardware working right. That's the windows way of doing things and if you're going to do the windows way you may as well use windows

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by D0pamine View Post
                          As big and wonderful valve might be I cant see them fixing every issue with every device, for eg if you have an older audigy card that uses the emu10k driver then you wont need pulseaudio as everything just works with alsa as it should and i suppose the same goes for gpu drivers to some degree, I've no doubt this is the reasoning behind valve bringing their own games console/machine into the mix so they'll have specific bits of hardware to work with and be able to optimise to that hardware.


                          I've been using gnu/linux for a quite a while now so i tend to purchase hardware for my own personal use that i know works well but i do know the pain of setting up laptops with half arsed and half working devices - it is rather disheartening. I suppose thats why i stopped purchasing nvidia gpus ( and before you boo ) because if there is a problem only nvidia can deal with it , not the community or another company that has an interest in your hardware working right. That's the windows way of doing things and if you're going to do the windows way you may as well use windows
                          Valve don't really need to fix every issue with every device. If Valve take a *nix distro, code to open standards, and upstream the drivers they do write, then we'll be in a better situation given they'll either have created , fixed, or validated the interfaces provided for these drivers. That puts you in a position where the rest of the stack is doing its job, then 3rd party vendors can look at valves work write their own drivers.

                          Does that mean creative is going to backtrack and fix their old hardware drivers? Probably not. But having a major player actually interested in both linux desktop, gaming and the related software stacks is probably actually a positive thing.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by ownagefool View Post
                            Valve don't really need to fix every issue with every device. If Valve take a *nix distro, code to open standards, and upstream the drivers they do write, then we'll be in a better situation given they'll either have created , fixed, or validated the interfaces provided for these drivers. That puts you in a position where the rest of the stack is doing its job, then 3rd party vendors can look at valves work write their own drivers.

                            Does that mean creative is going to backtrack and fix their old hardware drivers? Probably not. But having a major player actually interested in both linux desktop, gaming and the related software stacks is probably actually a positive thing.
                            Absolutely - the more games and player that are using gnu/linux the more feedback will come. I would have thought the best way would be to use a completely open system though

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                            • #29
                              Well, dunno, when I connect my XBOX360 gamepad in Linux, it starts blinking and never stops. All 4 leds. Annoying as hell. If they can't fix even that, what would make me think that Linux is actually in a position to attract gamers.

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                              • #30
                                You Do Realize...

                                That Valve has a team of engineers right? At least one of those engineers has game controller experience. When Gabe said controlled ecosystem, perhaps he meant his engineers would Make The Needed Peripherals?

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