Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 4th Nov 2013 19:19 UTC
Games

Several publications got to play with Valve's upcoming Steam Machine and the awesome new controller, and as The Verge reports, it's essentially nothing but good news.

Valve's steel and aluminum chassis measures just over 12 inches on a side and is 2.9 inches tall, making it a little bigger than an Xbox 360 and smaller than any gaming PC of its ilk. And yet the box manages to fit a giant Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan graphics card and a full desktop CPU - and keep those parts quiet and cool - without cramming them in like a jigsaw puzzle.

That's a tall order, but they've managed it: despite the massive amount of CPU and GPU power crammed into that tiny box, it's quiet and cool. According to Valve, they're still working on this, and the device will get even cooler and quieter as it nears release. Considering Valve is aiming for the living room, this was a major concern.

The big question: how does the controller perform?

The touchpads are surprisingly accurate, and they make first-person shooters and other mouse-friendly games far more accessible than any analog stick can afford. You can sweep your thumb across the pad to turn on your heel, then move it a tiny bit more to line up a headshot without having to compensate for a joystick's return motion. You can push a thumb to the very edge of the pad to keep moving continuously. You can even use both touchpads simultaneously in cursor-driven games to move the mouse cursor faster than with either alone.

This is all in a long line of first-hand reports that all say more or less the same: it takes some getting used to, but it's far more accurate than analog sticks. It seems like Valve's whacky idea phase (the pictures in The Verge's article make clear just how whacky it was) is already paying off. I'm also very excited about how you will be able to download new controller configurations and adjust all the settings in case you're into that sort of thing. Steam Controller users will be able to vote on these, too.

The final question: SteamOS. How does the Linux-based platform perform compared to Windows?

As far as performance is concerned, Valve's Steam Machine with SteamOS certainly seemed up to snuff, at least with these high-end components. The team switched between a Windows and SteamOS box halfway through our demo, and I couldn't tell the difference.

Coming January, at CES, Valve will share more about the partners it has signed up with. Valve has been working with game makers on this Linux project for three years now, and thanks to many underlying engines already supporting Linux anyway, getting games to run on Linux isn't as hard as it seems.

Valve seems to be on the right track. I can't wait to hear just which partners will be supporting SteamOS.

Order by: Score:
v More interested in installing SteamOS
by rklrkl on Mon 4th Nov 2013 20:42 UTC
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Sadly, the Verge article didn't cover anything about people who already have PCs (e.g. running Windows or Linux) and how Valve will cater for them - many PC gamers will want to use their existing machines surely rather than fork out for yet another gaming box?


Uh, they are already catering to us. We already have a Steam-client. We can either use that or install SteamOS and dual-boot.

Oh and the idea of streaming Windows games from one Windows PC to the Steambox is completely ludicrous - just use an HDMI cable FFS!


Not everyone wants a big fucking gaming PC in their living-rooms.

The Steambox and the game controller doesn't excite me much


I, on the other hand, am highly interested in the controller. After what I've been reading here and there on the Internet it apparently works exceedingly well for almost anything except straight-up FPS-games -- Civ V, SimCity etc. are being cited as great examples of games that are now more than perfectly playable on the big screen while you're practicing your couch-potato skills. Using an actual mouse and keyboard while doing that would be cumbersome and not nearly as relaxing.

Sure, most of the games that get ported from consoles to PCs support game-controllers already and will likely work best with a traditional controller, but then again, the Steam-controller will open up all the non-port games for the couch-potato - experience, and IMHO that's quite a excellent thing.

Reply Score: 11

ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Not everyone wants a big fucking gaming PC in their living-rooms.

There's no reason a gaming pc has to be enormous. You can build living room-friendly gaming pcs.

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

I, on the other hand, am highly interested in the controller. After what I've been reading here and there on the Internet it apparently works exceedingly well for almost anything except straight-up FPS-games -- Civ V, SimCity etc. are being cited as great examples of games that are now more than perfectly playable on the big screen while you're practicing your couch-potato skills

That's a problem with game UIs and not the controllers. Menu-driven works well on traditional controllers (that's what Japanese strategies or adventure games use, and it's there where the latter genre hasn't died off)

Reply Score: 2

franko Member since:
2012-05-25

Steam is already in the Ubuntu software centre.

Reply Score: 3

leech Member since:
2006-01-10

It's also in Arch's extra repository and Debian Jessie's non-free repository.

Reply Score: 4

Categorisation
by woegjiub on Mon 4th Nov 2013 21:33 UTC
woegjiub
Member since:
2008-11-25

To me, the most pressing matter here is that Valve need a clear and concise means of categorising performance.

If you're one of the (quite abundant amount of) people who still shop at brick+mortar stores, having steam know if your hardware can play a game is not too helpful; you need to be able to look at a game, and easily tell if your steam machine can play it, without it being there.

The good, better, best model does not scale with years, and the current PC spec model is too convoluted for many people.

I like the idea of categorising hardware by years - if your hardware matches specs sufficient to play 2013's AAA titles at recommended settings with 60FPS, its a "2013" box.

This would have the delicious side-effect of pointing out just how weak consoles are; e.g.: "2015 box, 3x as powerful as the PS4/XBone!"

It does rather miss out on the fact that some games are CPU-intensive, whilst others are GPU-intensive, but considering the competition only has 1 tier, that nuance is probably too much for the majority - if you cared that much, you'd probably be building your own.

Edited 2013-11-04 21:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Categorisation
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Mon 4th Nov 2013 22:01 UTC in reply to "Categorisation"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Do you think that other companies will start making retail games that work on Linux Based Steam Boxes, and still offer retail store distribution of the games? I would suspect that the majority of people buying a steam box would buy most of their games on steam. If that's the case, then the steam store should be able to tell you directly if your machine is capable of playing a specific game.

But, otherwise, I do agree it would be better if there was a year also associated with the categorization, just to prevent future confusion. Or maybe they just shift down once a year 2013 BEST == 2014 BETTER. Something like that.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Categorisation
by woegjiub on Mon 4th Nov 2013 22:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Categorisation"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

Absolutely; impulse purchases whilst browsing electronics stores aren't insignificant, and although I prefer digital distribution, it's still not an option for a not small percentage of people, due to data caps and download speeds.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Categorisation
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 5th Nov 2013 00:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Categorisation"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Right, but I can go and buy every video game at best buy, but none of them will work on my linux based steam os console, regardless of how poor of an internet connection I have.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Categorisation
by woegjiub on Tue 5th Nov 2013 00:54 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Categorisation"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

There are current games with GNU/Linux ports, you know.

With the devbox, one could enter the serial to redeem it, but there's nothing stopping OEMs from sticking an optical drive in there.

Gotta cater to almost everyone, or you're just excluding potential sales.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Categorisation
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 5th Nov 2013 15:32 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Categorisation"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Maybe I'm mistaken. Do you think there are actual games available at retail stores that work with Linux? I'm not disputing that there are games made for linux and ports of existing games for linux. But, you can't just buy the windows version of a game and expect it to work ( without something like wine, which doesn't count, imho).

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Categorisation
by jgagnon on Tue 5th Nov 2013 18:59 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Categorisation"
jgagnon Member since:
2008-06-24

Maybe I'm mistaken. Do you think there are actual games available at retail stores that work with Linux? I'm not disputing that there are games made for linux and ports of existing games for linux. But, you can't just buy the windows version of a game and expect it to work ( without something like wine, which doesn't count, imho).


Does that really matter? You can't walk into a store and buy something for the Mac and expect it to work on your PC either. As long as it is clearly labelled as "for the SteamBox/SteamOS" then it doesn't matter. Stores will still have to deal with grandma buying the game for the wrong platform and returning it so nothing has changed.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Categorisation
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 5th Nov 2013 23:37 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Categorisation"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

It does matter to the orignal subject at hand: Improving labeling of video game boxes in retail stores for steam boxes.

I'm guessing you just jumped in the middle of the thread. The original poster wanted better names for the systems so he could know if physical media video game purchase would work before buying it. I just disputed that there weren't any Linux boxes on the shelves to choose from, so it doesn't matter much.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Categorisation
by woegjiub on Tue 5th Nov 2013 21:34 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Categorisation"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

you can redeem the serial on steam, and there are some like id/blizzard where launchers for multiple systems are on the same disc.

it's not hard to do; see what is in the virtual box guest additions CD for an example.

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Categorisation
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 5th Nov 2013 23:34 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Categorisation"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Ok, I think you're saying that there are some games that you can buy a physical copy of, and then download them on steam? That's so strange and backwards to me.

Blizzard doesn't make any Linux native games, do they? I thought they were all Wine'd up.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Categorisation
by aliquis on Wed 6th Nov 2013 05:04 UTC in reply to "Categorisation"
aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

This would have the delicious side-effect of pointing out just how weak consoles are; e.g.: "2015 box, 3x as powerful as the PS4/XBone!"
Already now the GTX 780 is three times as powerful as the Xbox One.

So well, so much for that.
Playstation 4 is more powerful but then again so is Titan and Radeon R9 290X, they may not be three times as powerful as the Playstation 4 though. I won't bother checking the numbers.

I was close to saying heck in 2015 even integrated graphics .. but then again that's kinda what the Xbox One and Playstation 4 use too, the Playstation 4 with graphics card memory though.

The other side of that coin is of course that this generation haven't cost as much to develop for the companies and is more off-the-shelves components and as such I wouldn't be surprised if we saw the actual consoles being upgraded within the generation / more often than previously. Rather than just being a Playstation Lite in a small box why not upgrade the whole APU, memory, motherboard, .. as well?

So it doesn't necessarily have to mean consoles with lag even more behind in the future, it could actually kinda mean less because they too could become upgraded.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Categorisation
by woegjiub on Wed 6th Nov 2013 05:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Categorisation"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

The hardware is that powerful, but hardly any games make use of it. Most of them don't require much more than a PS4 to run at maximum settings with a steady 60FPS, because they've all been gimped for the PS3/360.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Categorisation
by zima on Sun 10th Nov 2013 16:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Categorisation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

The gfx are "gimped" for more average PCs, too.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Categorisation
by zima on Sun 10th Nov 2013 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Categorisation"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Average PC (integrated gfx) only last year caught up with previous gen consoles...

Reply Score: 2

dB
by wigry on Mon 4th Nov 2013 21:34 UTC
wigry
Member since:
2008-10-09

Powerful and noiseless box is quite appealing to me and probably for a lot of other gamers as well. While I don't rush to replace my Haswell build just yet I keep my eyes on this development and if the price will be right and ecosystem great than why not within couple of years to jump the ship to nice little box.

Reply Score: 3

Openness
by WorknMan on Mon 4th Nov 2013 21:35 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

So how open will this thing be? Will I be able to side-load emulators on it? And how will that goofy-ass controller work with non-military shooters? Personally, I was tired of playing FPS games about 15 years ago... I don't want to play them on consoles, and definitely not on this either.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Openness
by Lennie on Tue 5th Nov 2013 01:17 UTC in reply to "Openness"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

So how open will this thing be?


Judging by their previous actions, I think it will be as open as they can make it (everything open except for the usual Valve game DRM).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Openness
by ssokolow on Tue 5th Nov 2013 01:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Openness"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

"So how open will this thing be?


Judging by their previous actions, I think it will be as open as they can make it (everything open except for the usual Valve game DRM).
"

Or, to put it in more concrete terms, a "Steambox" will probably just be a small form-factor x86 PC with specs that qualify for the Valve equivalent of the "Designed for Windows" sticker and a custom Linux distro pre-installed.

It actually reminds me of the original IBM PC now that I think about it. IBM outsourced manufacturing of everything except the Model M keyboard, Valve is planning to encourage 3rd-party supply of everything except the custom controller and the Steam client itself.

Edited 2013-11-05 02:05 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Score!
by fretinator on Mon 4th Nov 2013 21:41 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

I've been looking to replace my WII U and my Rug Doctor anyway.

Reply Score: 2

my OS of choice.
by OpenBSDer on Mon 4th Nov 2013 22:50 UTC in reply to "Score!"
OpenBSDer Member since:
2006-04-25

nm

Edited 2013-11-04 22:51 UTC

Reply Score: 3

Comment by graig
by graig on Mon 4th Nov 2013 23:35 UTC
graig
Member since:
2010-09-18

I have been drawing a controller like this for a while. I knew joysticks would eventually be replaced by touch pads. Joysticks are terrible. Not sure why they ever got back on controllers.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by graig
by ssokolow on Mon 4th Nov 2013 23:57 UTC in reply to "Comment by graig"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

I have been drawing a controller like this for a while. I knew joysticks would eventually be replaced by touch pads. Joysticks are terrible. Not sure why they ever got back on controllers.


Because they're the cheapest, easiest-to-think-of way for a controller designer to allow input more nuanced than a 4/8-way directional pad and a run button?

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by graig
by bnolsen on Tue 5th Nov 2013 00:00 UTC in reply to "Comment by graig"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

sticks seem pretty reasonable for flying games...well, okay, you made your point there. A dpad, however might have been a good addition, wherever they could have put that.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by graig
by ilovebeer on Fri 8th Nov 2013 07:08 UTC in reply to "Comment by graig"
ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

Joysticks work well in most cases, they're familiar, and there hasn't really been an alternative that matches or beats it. It baffles me why some people are acting like this touchpad-based Steam controller is something new & a breakthrough in controller design. The truth is the opposite. I guess people could be more receptive to touchpads for gaming today thanks to current cellphone design. But, this is neither something new nor anything amazing.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by graig
by zima on Sun 10th Nov 2013 16:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by graig"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

And touchpads used like that, instead of sticks, were on Sony Ericsson Xperia Play.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by graig
by zima on Sun 10th Nov 2013 15:43 UTC in reply to "Comment by graig"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Touchpads instead of joysticks was done on Sony Ericsson Xperia Play ...didn't seem to work out too well for it.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by cb88
by cb88 on Tue 5th Nov 2013 05:43 UTC
cb88
Member since:
2009-04-23

Sadly I imagine greasy food and or crumbs do not play nice with the touchpads... the least spec of anything on my laptop touchpad has it stuck along one axix and jumping about randomly... Dpads and thumb sticks are pretty much impervious to those problems.

Suffice to say... real world tests would be nice.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by cb88
by woegjiub on Tue 5th Nov 2013 23:42 UTC in reply to "Comment by cb88"
woegjiub Member since:
2008-11-25

Sadly I imagine greasy food and or crumbs do not play nice with the touchpads... the least spec of anything on my laptop touchpad has it stuck along one axix and jumping about randomly... Dpads and thumb sticks are pretty much impervious to those problems.

Suffice to say... real world tests would be nice.

eat your crisps with chopsticks, pause the game for anything bigger. Getting grease on electronics is a filthy habit anyway.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Tue 5th Nov 2013 11:31 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

If there is a system that automatically adjust the graphics for your Steam Box, it may succeed. If not, it will fail for sure.

How much a steam box with a Titan will cost? Most people will go for the mid-tier steam boxes, which means some graphics tinkering will be needed after, say, 2 years (this thing is supposed to compete with consoles, so buyers may not feel comfortable with the idea of upgrading every 2 years, like PC dudes do). So it's essential there is a system to automatically set the graphics detail for you.

Edited 2013-11-05 11:32 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by kurkosdr
by WereCatf on Tue 5th Nov 2013 12:28 UTC in reply to "Comment by kurkosdr"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

If there is a system that automatically adjust the graphics for your Steam Box, it may succeed. If not, it will fail for sure.


Not quite the same thing, but still a good first step: "Systems will include a utility telling you what games will run on your hardware and what hardware is needed to really run certain games (sounds vaguely familiar) (The Verge)" -- http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/11/11-things-we-learned-from-val...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Tue 5th Nov 2013 14:05 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kurkosdr"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11


"Systems will include a utility telling you what games will run on your hardware and what hardware is needed to really run certain games (sounds vaguely familiar) (The Verge)"


And of course everyone who read this thought "If I had a penny for every time system requirements were too optimistic (or too pessimistic some times)". The only way "steam boxes" can compete with consoles is a system that runs the game in some demo mode, and then auto optimizes graphics detail until an adequate FPS rate are achieved. Anything else has "half-measure" written all over it.

Valve needs to get the console mentality. You insert the disc/buy from the online store, then play. No. Tinkering.

Edited 2013-11-05 14:06 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 5th Nov 2013 14:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kurkosdr"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

You insert the disc/buy from the online store, then play.


This is 2013.

1. Insert the disc
2. Instal game
3. Download updates
4. Enter one or more codes with a finicky on-screen keyboard
5. Play
6. Run into crash
7. Wait for next update
8. Play

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Tue 5th Nov 2013 15:05 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr"
kurkosdr Member since:
2011-04-11

"You insert the disc/buy from the online store, then play.


This is 2013.

1. Insert the disc
2. Instal game
3. Download updates
4. Enter one or more codes with a finicky on-screen keyboard
5. Play
6. Run into crash
7. Wait for next update
8. Play
"
PC gaming: All of the above (pehaps ot the entering code using the on screen keyboard bit, which is easy), plus having to adjust graphics without knowing how graphically complicated the next levels will be.

Reply Score: 5

RE[5]: Comment by kurkosdr
by dnebdal on Tue 5th Nov 2013 15:54 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by kurkosdr"
dnebdal Member since:
2008-08-27


PC gaming: All of the above (pehaps ot the entering code using the on screen keyboard bit, which is easy), plus having to adjust graphics without knowing how graphically complicated the next levels will be.


1. Click "Buy" in steam, answer "yes" a few times to confirm.
2. Click "install now".
3. Wait for the download and install to finish.
4. Play.

I haven't run into anything made vaguely recently that didn't autodetect reasonable graphics settings.


The total time depends on the download size and bandwidth, but it's no more effort than buying a console game.

Edited 2013-11-05 15:56 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by kurkosdr
by WereCatf on Tue 5th Nov 2013 18:10 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by kurkosdr"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I haven't run into anything made vaguely recently that didn't autodetect reasonable graphics settings.


Yeah, even the 200MB indie - games these days manage to autodetect some settings. The settings chosen by the various games aren't always optimal, but that makes me wonder if Valve could make a deal with NVIDIA so that they could tap into NVIDIA's Geforce Experience - database and use it to provide more optimal settings? Of course it wouldn't work for AMD GPUs, but for the boxes with NVIDIA GPUs it should work just fine and hopefully provide a rather good experience.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by kurkosdr
by Novan_Leon on Wed 6th Nov 2013 02:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kurkosdr"
Novan_Leon Member since:
2005-12-07

This is 2013.

1. Insert the disc
2. Instal game
3. Download updates
4. Enter one or more codes with a finicky on-screen keyboard
5. Play
6. Run into crash
7. Wait for next update
8. Play


I've owned most of the consoles since the SNES (Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft and Sony included) and I've never had this type of experience playing a console game. Consoles have pretty much always been plug-n-play. The only thing that's changed is in the last few years it has become plug-n-patch-n-play, which is still almost always better than it is on PC.

Edited 2013-11-06 02:03 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Metro last light
by fran on Tue 5th Nov 2013 18:56 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

Just to show that blockbuster games able to run on Linux are picking up.

http://www.pcgamesn.com/metro-last-light-ported-linux-deep-silver-c...

http://store.steampowered.com/app/43160/

Reply Score: 3