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Old 09-25-2013, 04:27 PM    (permalink
Forenci
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I dunno, I guess I'm just not as pumped yet. Maybe because SteamOS is probably far away and we still don't know a lot. I think you might be overplaying it a bit, EE. I think it could take aim at DirectX, but at Windows? I don't see that. It sounds like Valve is marketing this as a "gaming OS," and not a real OS that would compete with MS in anyway. And that is fine. I don't think they need to try and compete in that way.

But again, will I put SteamOS on my desktop? No. I just feel like I wouldn't want a gaming focused OS on a computer I use for A LOT of other things. Again, am I going to go out and buy a Steam Machine or make a custom rig to use as console on a TV? I doubt it. I mean, the only games I really buy for consoles are ones I can't get on the PC anyway (Ala, Madden before it sucked, NCAA, Mass Effect for a long time, etc). I'm just not sure who they are really targeting with this.

I feel like Steam is trying to lure in mostly hardcore PC gamers (who else would make a rig designed especially for gaming with a custom OS?), but for most of us we're pretty deeply rooted with our desktop/monitor/keyboard set up. Maybe if the Steam Machine is released it might change, but I'm not sure.
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:21 PM    (permalink
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Haha, I guess I'm just nervous about doing that. I'm just interested in what approach they take with it. Is it going to be PURELY open (ala Linux) or will have some closed elements to it. Conventional Linux scares me too much. I like Open Source but with an OS it would scare me just a little.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:36 PM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Forenci View Post
I dunno, I guess I'm just not as pumped yet. Maybe because SteamOS is probably far away and we still don't know a lot. I think you might be overplaying it a bit, EE. I think it could take aim at DirectX, but at Windows? I don't see that. It sounds like Valve is marketing this as a "gaming OS," and not a real OS that would compete with MS in anyway. And that is fine. I don't think they need to try and compete in that way.
What exactly does Windows do better than Linux aside from having a monopoly on games and certain applications? Linux destroys it in terms of performance, stability, and security. You can argue that Windows may be more user friendly...I'll say from personal experience that it's more of a learning curve thing than being oppositional to users.

If I made it seem like Valve has a realistic chance of killing Windows for mainstream users, I either misspoke or you misunderstood. It was never about that. It's more about games than it is about Windows right now, but in the long run it's super smart for more software developers and users to move towards Linux. Microsoft can still make money off of it's business software, but their best days are behind them. The traditional PC will always be there, but it takes a single look at sales numbers for Windows PC's to realize that we're in the middle of a fairly significant shift in that space. Microsoft has shown no ability to thrive on any other platform. Linux is already an established standard on many.

Is Valve going to kill Windows? No....but Microsoft and Linux may.


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But again, will I put SteamOS on my desktop? No. I just feel like I wouldn't want a gaming focused OS on a computer I use for A LOT of other things. Again, am I going to go out and buy a Steam Machine or make a custom rig to use as console on a TV? I doubt it. I mean, the only games I really buy for consoles are ones I can't get on the PC anyway (Ala, Madden before it sucked, NCAA, Mass Effect for a long time, etc). I'm just not sure who they are really targeting with this.

I feel like Steam is trying to lure in mostly hardcore PC gamers (who else would make a rig designed especially for gaming with a custom OS?), but for most of us we're pretty deeply rooted with our desktop/monitor/keyboard set up. Maybe if the Steam Machine is released it might change, but I'm not sure.
Who said anything about building a dedicated machine for it if you already have a PC? I bet very few people would. The pre-builts they're offering are aimed at people who do not already have PC's. It's very possible they'll be able to sell them at discount or even a loss with the path to software revenue they have. If you wanted to build your own, you could. But the hardware element is more about expanding their audience and trying to get away from archaic proprietary nonsense present in both the console and PC gaming space. It's Android for the living room, essentially. On the desktop side, it's a move towards offering more for average end users with Linux.

...and it's not a pure gaming OS. It's Linux. You can put whatever desktop environment or software you want on it.

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Haha, I guess I'm just nervous about doing that. I'm just interested in what approach they take with it. Is it going to be PURELY open (ala Linux) or will have some closed elements to it. Conventional Linux scares me too much. I like Open Source but with an OS it would scare me just a little.
Why? Dualbooting is easy as pie. I've done it on nearly every PC I've had. There's zero issues with it.

...and what's bad about open source? Very little for the end user. It all depends on how well it's done, but most things people perceive as bad about open source software have more to do with that particular piece of software than the concept as a whole. Ubuntu is wonderfully straight forward and easy to use for end users(pre-Unity, anyway).
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:48 PM    (permalink
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and post-unity there's still stuff like mint, that are super easy. post windows 8 there's... windows 7?
Well, I don't even think Windows 8 is that bad...but everything else being equal, any piece of software that is capable of evolving and changing over time in meaningful ways will always beat a static one. Linux can also be whatever you want to be with the tiniest bit of work towards making it happen.



...that's not even getting into the rumors that Windows 10 is going to be entirely cloud based. That will be an absolute disaster for games.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:48 PM    (permalink
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I've just taken up Counter Strike Global Offensive after being out of the CS scene since 2006 or so. It's so depressing being awful at something that you used to be good at.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:29 PM    (permalink
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I've just taken up Counter Strike Global Offensive after being out of the CS scene since 2006 or so. It's so depressing being awful at something that you used to be good at.
For my brothers 2nd (read: Local) Bachelor party we started the day with 10 guys playing CS 1.6. It was a blast.
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:25 PM    (permalink
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So you know how things are all interesting right now with DirectX potentially being attacked? Yeah, well, there's a third horse in the race now. I didn't watch the keynote, but apparently AMD revealed a new graphics API they're calling "Mantle" that they're pushing to rival both of them. Just may have some legs to it as well. They've already got DICE and Frostbite 3 in the fold.

They're promising up to nine times faster calls vs other API's, full utliziation of octa core processors, and more low level access to graphics hardware. It's an open standard, so someone like Nvidia could theoretically use it as well, but that likely won't be happening with their show of commitment to OpenGL and SteamOS. We'll see if those performance figures are accurate, but AMD is really in an interesting position right now. They're on a bit of an upswing, but times haven't been good to them as of late. ....and yet they've got their hardware in both upcoming consoles. This is a pretty clear attempt to press that advantage for what it's worth. If it really is THAT much better than DirectX and OpenGL, that's a pretty big issue for Nvidia.

It remains to be seen how game developers will react to this, even though AMD had a pretty strong relationship with devs/publishers. A lot of last year's biggest releases were bundled and optimized for their graphics cards...but they're still pretty far behind Nvidia in terms of market share. I'm not sure how many devs will want to make the effort for developing with an API that's exclusive to Radeon cards. As I said, it's an open, cross platform standard...but I can't say I'm terribly enthusiastic about the proposition of even more fragmentation and exclusivity(even if it is technically willful). It's worth noting that this is only compatible with AMD's new series of cards, so the point at which this could become an issue is a fair ways off, but still.

Between this Nvidia's commitment to SteamOS, I think it's fairly clear what hardware manufactures stand on a DirectX monopoly. With doubts about the direction Microsoft is going in and the rise/rate of advancement of mobile devices, it just doesn't make sense to go all in on DirectX anymore.

Oh, and apparently Nvidia has embedded engineers at Valve to assist with the development of SteamOS. Another thing that matches up with the leak pretty nicely. Kind of amazing we're at that point when we were here a little more than a year ago;



Basically, shits going crazy. Microsoft has to come out swinging if they care at all about keeping things the way they are. They probably won't though. They have far bigger issues than gaming at the moment. I'm not sure they even know who they as a company anymore.
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Old 09-25-2013, 10:36 PM    (permalink
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You guys are more than likely right. I hope they pull it off. I guess I'm just so use to Windows it would be scary to switch, haha. I love Steam/Valve as a company so I'm rooting for them. I'd love for PC gaming to go out and just crush console gaming. If only because I get tired of hearing console people fight about what console is better only to laugh when they don't realize that PCs are vastly superior in almost every way.
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Old 09-26-2013, 01:55 AM    (permalink
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Sorry if I'm just totally being annoying now, but this stuff just has such crazy implications. All of it is long term, big picture stuff and some of it may be pie in the sky, but what an absolutely nuts couple of days for gaming technology. I don't think this is a divorce letter from graphics companies to Microsoft quite yet, but they're clearly interested in seeing other people.

Carmack had some things to say about the AMD API on Twitter. The hardware access is being pitched to people as straight to metal(although I'm not sure that's feasible with the wide range of PC hardware configurations) and he seemed to think there's a relationship between it and SteamOS/Steam Machines. Considering new consoles share architectural similarities with AMD's new GCN GPU's which will make use of Mantle, ports should be pretty easy across all platforms. That could be one of the big reasons Valve feels confident about doing a Linux distro and promising AAA titles.

The ***** about it all is that Nvidia will not be implementing this technology. Even if they wanted to, the hardware would not be compatible without architectural changes which would take several years to develop and reach the market. OpenGL is still strong, but there could well be some massive performance differences between red team and green team games depending on which API they optimize for. AMD cards will also be OpenGL compatible, which essentially means they're potentially offering both a better solution and benefiting directly from any work Nvidia does attempting to catch up. It's a serious power play.

There's tons of reasons why this stuff is going down the way it is right now, but this may be a big reason why. Some AMD guys told a magazine that they weren't aware of another DirectX version coming. Ever. Apparently that's not the first time that rumor had surfaced either. It really may come down to Microsoft not being interested in maintaining their lock of PC gaming at this point.

Whatever the reasons or what operating system you chose to use(and the fact there's any kind of choice now with games greatly favors Linux), the future appears to be open source. That's just so awesome on so many levels.
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Old 09-26-2013, 08:55 AM    (permalink
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Too bad AMD has god awful drivers. That is one thing I won't miss about have an AMD graphics card.
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:21 AM    (permalink
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i feel like the death of directx has been rumored for almost a decade. which is, sort of coincidentally, about as long as source 2 has been rumored.
With all of this all kind of happening at once like this it may make sense though. DX10 wasn't well received by developers or end users. DX11 did a lot more, but they had to be dragged to that point.

Pretty good article here breaking some Mantle stuff down.

Quote:
AMD has revealed Mantle - a new low-level API for PC that offers game developers the opportunity to more directly access graphics hardware, eliminating many of the bottlenecks that hold back PC games performance from reaching its full potential. The new technology was revealed at AMD's GPU14 conference in Hawaii, and is being developed in tandem with EA studio, DICE. Battlefield 4 will be the first Mantle-enabled title, with support enabled via an update scheduled for December.

"Mantle, an AMD initiative to create a new graphics programming model that fully exploits the capabilities of modern GPUs, allows game developers to speak the native language of the AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, providing a deeper level of hardware optimisation no other graphics card manufacturer can match," AMD said in a statement. "As part of this initiative, we have worked with leading game developers to create an API specification and associated graphics driver that enables this model on PCs with GCN-based graphics hardware. Mantle was created in direct response to requests from leading game developers, so interest is very high."

In short, AMD has maximised the potential of its graphics technology by allowing developers to access its features directly via a stripped down "to the metal" API. Working in combination with a specialised GPU driver, Mantle completely replaces Microsoft's DirectX 11 layer - a one size fits all rendering solution that historically has under-utilised the raw power of graphics hardware.

Mantle appears to have much in common with the GNM API used in PlayStation 4, offering low-level GPU access while retaining a very high level of compatibility with Microsoft's existing programmable pixel shader language (HLSL). The potential here cannot be under-estimated - much of the optimisation work that is carried out on console versions of multi-platform games can now be rolled out to the PC version too. In addition, there is also the opportunity to exploit AMD-specific hardware features that are under-utilised - or perhaps not even implemented at all - in DirectX.



However, it's in the performance side of things that we should see potentially radical improvements. Mantle offers developers direct access to graphics RAM for the first time (currently everything is left to the DirectX API), and we are promised a 9x increase in draw calls issued from the CPU. One of the biggest bottlenecks of all, draw calls are very expensive to process, leading many developers to pre-compute elements like environmental detail in order to reduce the number of calls. The vast increase in draw call throughput could have a profound effect on conventional rendering performance, but also offers the potential to more readily bypass pre-computation, resulting in more dynamic, richer, more immersive worlds.

AMD teased Mantle to journalists fleetingly earlier in the week, but held back on specific details. Our initial impression was that while the idea was sound, implementation of all of DirectX's features could be an issue. Yesterday's reveal - presented by DICE's Frostbite engine technical director Johan Andersson - put paid to those concerns. Frostbite itself is one of the more advanced DX11 engines in play today - with Mantle handling the super-advanced Battlefield 4, the API couldn't really get a better stress test. Andersson himself promises "more performance and a better gaming experience" from the Mantle version of Battlefield 4 on PC. The emergence of the new API could also have a profoundly positive effect on Valve's Steambox hardware.

"AMD has an interesting opportunity with Mantle because of their dual console wins, but I doubt Sony and MS will be very helpful," tweeted John Carmack, before adding, "Considering the boost Mantle could give to a Steambox, MS and Sony may wind up being downright hostile to it."

The ramifications could potentially go well beyond upsetting console platform holders. AMD has traditionally championed open source over proprietary code (think OpenCL vs. CUDA) but in the case of Mantle, the firm has been very specific about the fact that Mantle is designed around its own Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. In theory, this puts arch-rival Nvidia in a very difficult position. Potentially, we could see key games on AMD graphics cards significantly out-performing the same software running on more expensive Nvidia products. Even if Nvidia produces its own API, we have to wonder if there would be the appetite - or the budget - to support it. By our reckoning, developing Mantle versions won't be cheap, and will probably be limited to big budget games and middlewares like Unreal Engine 4.

Indeed, we could even see DirectX itself under threat. Indie game makers are more likely to target OpenGL as their API of choice as it allows them to port more easily across to Mac, SteamOS, iOS and Android. Competition from Mantle in the triple-A space could make things highly uncomfortable for Microsoft. AMD sources told us today that part of the problem they have faced historically, and which helped drive Mantle development, is that Microsoft is so focused on developing its operating systems, that DirectX development has been sluggish as a consequence.

It's rare that we come across an innovation in the PC space as potentially seismic as Mantle. By partnering with DICE and integrating into Frostbite, AMD is practically guaranteed support across the range of EA's most technologically advanced games - all of which use the engine. Of course, its success will hinge on its level of support. More details - including partner announcements, developer presentations, more in-depth technical discussion, and live demos - are promised for AMD's Developer Summit, taking place on November 11.
I really, really hope Nvidia doesn't try to answer with their own API. A proprietary(although Mantle is open source, it's locked behind hardware compatibility) API war just wouldn't be good for anyone in the short term. You've got to figure they saw this coming though. With the nature of that industry, something as large as that couldn't just sneak by without them noticing. This has to have been in the works for awhile now too. Their apparent commitment to SteamOS/Linux and OpenGL is hopefully indicative of the direction they're going in, but you have to figure that they aren't too happy about the potential competitive advantage AMD may have over them now.

Everything is going totally bonkers. It all depends on the support this receives...but damn it if these aren't interesting times, at the very least.

Also;


It all makes perfect sense now.
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:24 PM    (permalink
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Go for it.

I have a blast every time I play with Linux. I actually haven't done that since switching over to using computers for video games. I've been meaning to try out some of the newer stuff though. Mageia looks interesting.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:32 PM    (permalink
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Final announcement;

Steam controller. That might sound boring, but it actually may be even more crazy than the last announcements.



Well, we knew that they had some interesting thoughts on input devices...this certainly fits that bill.

They're claiming that it will help bridge the gap between the precision of PC input devices and relative lack of it with controllers.

The track pads are supposedly extremely high resolution with an emphasis on low input latency(which is an issue with traditional controllers known about for years now). They're also promising an advanced haptic feedback system to simulate to physical element of joysticks, claiming that the haptics have a higher bandwidth stream than any consumer device ever released...to the point where they're even capable of outputting sound and function as speakers.

There's also a clickable touchscreen in the center, which Valve says will primarily be for allowing players to use more actions than the 8 button controller layout allows. The actions available will be displayed on the screen you're using instead of being limited to the relatively small touchscreen, which prevents you from having to look down all the time.

The button layout is fairly interesting as well. The trackpads take up such a large portion of the controller, so they kind of needed to do something non-traditional. They're closer to the center, which means your fingers have to travel a far shorter distance than they would with a traditional controller.

They go on to talk about how it's an open hardware project, with easy disassembly highlighted. They plan to release tools that will allow the community to particpate in everything from the design to the electrical engineering. That's actually the most interesting thing about this to me. For the most part, the state of controllers suck. There's been very little meaningful innovation from that product category since 1997. The options are insanely limiting as well. If I want a keyboard or mouse, I have an endless barrage of them to chose from. There's a litany of things that differentiate them. Shape, build quality, the type of materials used, the technology that drives the input...there's tons of options. With controllers, we're essentially given two choices that are worth a damn and told to shut up about it. That doesn't make sense to me. Hopefully this will lead to the rise of more options in that category.

As for my thoughts; it's really the kind of thing that I'm interested in trying, albeit with a somewhat skeptical position. I think it will probably work absolutely fantastic for navigating interfaces and playing slower paced strategy games and maybe some traditionally mouse driven RPG's, but I can't see it being ideal for playing something like a shooter, third person action game, or most other things really. The stuff about haptics is really interesting though. From what they've said, that's something Valve has been borderline obsessing over for a number of years. Trackpad technology has improved a ton in recent years, but I still can't see it working well enough to function as both a joystick and mouse replacement...but if they've got something crazy that breaks what we traditionally think about those input methods up their sleeves, you never know. Gut instinct says that may be expecting too much and this will work as badly as it looks, but I'm interested nonetheless. If it doesn't work out, it would be entirely within Valve's character to just scrap it. They described this as being in a beta state, so there still could be some changes that come along. Some of the prototype images that have leaked over the past 12 months have been fairly different from this as well...but this seems to make sense as something they're very interested in pushing with the emphasis on haptics.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:37 PM    (permalink
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I don't know exactly how that controller would work... but if it did I think I would love it.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:44 PM    (permalink
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i really don't like where the abxy buttons are. either the controller is tiny, or my thumbs won't be big enough to reach nearly anything on it.
Don't think about it conventionally. Those buttons are things like "Tab", "Push-To-Talk", etc. You'll be using the shoulder buttons as your primary keys.



Only way for this to work though is to have super accurate and very sensitive trackpads. The haptic feedback is an awesome idea but barring it being precise it's just going to be a mess.

Also:

Quote:
The controller, like the Steam Machine prototypes and eventual final products, is completely hackable, said Valve. It also contains a large touch screen in the center equipped with a high-resolution display that can show everything from a scrolling menu to secondary screen info like game maps.
I love Valve. Will definitely be looking into it when it comes to fruition.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:52 PM    (permalink
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I don't know exactly how that controller would work... but if it did I think I would love it.
It's a vastly different approach than anyone has ever taken to a controller, that's for sure. I don't know about it. I'm super interested in what they've done with haptics, but I'm not sure that it will be able to replicate the physical feeling of a joystick, even if it works well.

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i really don't like where the abxy buttons are. either the controller is tiny, or my thumbs won't be big enough to reach nearly anything on it.
I think the button placement is fairly clever, actually. I have bigger hands, but not having to take your thumb off the same relative plane of the "sticks" is interesting. Y and B may be harder, but you still have to reach far more to get any of the buttons on the 360 controller and Dualshock.



This is the thing that gets me the most though. As with most things like this that Valve does, it's tough to understand exactly what they mean...but if they're offering the community a chance to design and sell controllers through them, that's kind of cool. I actually made a controller design in some CAD software(a far more traditional and boring design though, haha) over the summer that I was thinking about maybe making a prototype of. Couldn't figure out how I would deal with the software element of it on my own though. I don't know, if the drivers are open source and it's easy to get a board, maybe I'll **** around with this a bit.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:58 PM    (permalink
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I always hate controllers until I can actually use them, I hated the xbox controller but then it grew on me. But if I had the option I'd always stick with mouse and keyboard though
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Old 09-27-2013, 02:17 PM    (permalink
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I always hate controllers until I can actually use them, I hated the xbox controller but then it grew on me. But if I had the option I'd always stick with mouse and keyboard though
Keyboard and mouse is great for some games, controllers are better for others. I wouldn't play something like a first person shooter with a controller ever again if I could help it, but I a lot of the games I prefer playing flat out play better with analog movement.
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:54 PM    (permalink
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The only improvement that really needs to be made over dual shock/360 controller is for the "2" buttons to be more on the back side of the controller so you can utilize them with your middle fingers rather than having to switch between L/R buttons with your index fingers or hold the controller in an extremely unnatural way.

I also do not like Steam Controller's abxy placement. It's probably great for FPS games, but will utterly blow for anything else. And if you have a PC, why are you playing an FPS with a controller, newb?!
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Old 09-27-2013, 04:01 PM    (permalink
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This whole thing seems pretty dumb on Steam's part. They took the massive advantage they had and threw it out the window. The new OS is cool, and a great idea, but getting this much into hardware seems silly.

The best part about Steam on my TV is that I can use a 360 controller with all of my "TV games" and it works beautifully...perfectly. Just seems like they're putting money in the wrong place. If they want to release a controller with their Steam Machine, why not just work with Logitech?
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Old 09-27-2013, 04:10 PM    (permalink
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WOOOO! Got my computer. It is working nicely so far.

Also, that controller looks and sounds atrocious. Touch screen is acting as the buttons? Am I getting that right? That is terrible. I think on this one Valve may have tried to out think this one.
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Old 09-27-2013, 06:25 PM    (permalink
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This whole thing seems pretty dumb on Steam's part. They took the massive advantage they had and threw it out the window. The new OS is cool, and a great idea, but getting this much into hardware seems silly.
All they've really done on the hardware side is make a controller. If this goes well, we could see other peripheral companies jump in and make alternatives given the open nature of the new platform. I would love to see what someone like Steelseries or Corsair could come up with for a controller.

But yeah, hardware partners will be making the hardware. There's going to be at least one reference design for the beta, but who know's if that will even be released to the public. They're spreading the risk out on that end of things. The OS is the biggest thing in all of this. It's an attempt to put consoles on the Android model and reduce dependency from Microsoft...which is smart considering so much of Valve's business depends on Windows PC sales, a market everyone is trying to get their money out of as quickly as possible(including Microsoft).

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i should add something that was mentioned on reddit, the y and x buttons are positioned poorly. most games are designed for those buttons to be on one side, meaning that you don't have to stop moving (left stick) to use them by default. now, if you need to press y and b, for instance, you have to completely stop moving, and would be unable to look around. it's not insurmountable, but it's a really bizarre design choice that doesn't make any sense to me.
Yeah, I would be super interested to actually try it...but there's clearly some things that need some serious work. I don't think this is the controller you trot out to attempt to attract console gamers to an open platform either.

I would love to try it out though. The haptic thing is super interesting.

EDIT:

Apparently, the few people who have tried it think the button layout is kind of bad, but the haptic feedback thing feels like operating a physical joystick and works amazingly well. Grains of salt, ect....but yeah, interesting.
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Old 09-27-2013, 09:56 PM    (permalink
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I haven't really paid much attention to all these Valve announcements. I just enjoy playing fun games and don't care too much for listening to developers blabber about stuff that I can't play with right now. Has there been any Half-Life related announcements? Is it too much to ask for Valve to give some information on a game with a story they gave the impression would be continued from where they left it off years and years ago.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:17 PM    (permalink
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why not just work with Logitech?
Probably because Logitech is crap anyway.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:19 PM    (permalink
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Probably because Logitech is crap anyway.
I've had nothing but good luck with the G400 and G710+. I switched mice eventually because I liked the shape and feel of my Naos 8200 way more, but that's considered dumb in most tech circles because of how well the G400's sensor is regarded.

Their controllers are bland, cheap, and sucky though. I'll give you that.
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