Coffeehouse Thread

87 posts

Forum Read Only

This forum has been made read only by the site admins. No new threads or comments can be added.

Steam Box

Back to Forum: Coffeehouse
  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , BitFlipper wrote

    *snip*

    Ooh that changes everything!

    Actually, it does. 

    What he's saying is that Steam will use the Linux kernel, but the UI that runs on top of that will probably not be a geek paradise. 

    There's probably an awful lot of Linux running in your house that you don't even know about. 

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Ray7 wrote

    *snip*

    Actually, it does. 

    What he's saying is that Steam will use the Linux kernel, but the UI that runs on top of that will probably not be a geek paradise.

    And what I'm saying is that if the kernel is Linux (really who cares about pedantic details like whether it is a kernel or an OS... I mean, really?), that it can't run all the existing Steam Windows games natively and hence you are limited. Unless all those games magically get ported to Linux.

    There's probably an awful lot of Linux running in your house that you don't even know about. 

    Or care about. Which was one of my previous points. The only places Linux gets some success in the consumer market is when the OS is nicely hidden away and end users don't need to interact with it directly. No-one goes to Frys and buys a router because it runs Linux. No-one cares.

    Look Linux is fine, I even develop and debug on both Linux and Windows at work (although by far I prefer to develop on/for Windows). But there are cases where it just doesn't make sense and trying to create essentially what is a gaming PC using Linux just isn't going to be a success.

    And no-one has answered my question as to what makes a Linux based "SteamBox" better than say any one of the available pre-built, living-room friendly gaming PCs running Windows and Steam? Hmmm?

  • User profile image
    Bass

    Aren't all consoles just "gaming PCs"? I don't necessarily think this will be a success (because the competition is tough), but it's not a new magical idea Valve is making here, it is literally a video game console.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    And no-one has answered my question as to what makes a Linux based "SteamBox" better than say any one of the available pre-built, living-room friendly gaming PCs running Windows and Steam? Hmmm?

    One possible advantage: Validation.

    With PC games, far too frequently there are quirks to outright show-stopping bugs.  The majority can be minor, but some can be huge - the recent hit Sleeping Dogs for example, takes 15 minutes to start on my PC and many others (according to the huge thread on Square Enix & Steam Forums).  It's been that way for months.  Doesn't affect everyone of course, but that's always the case with an open hardware platform with a massive variety.  The fact it may be a driver or developer problem is irrelevant if it just doesn't work.

    So, what Valve could do is basically treat the SteamBox like a console - validating games that will work perfectly, or as close as possible on their restricted set of configurations.  Much like they do now with verifying no/partial/full controller support for Windows games in Big Picture mode, you get a "Works with Steambox!" logo, and Valve validates the games with driver updates, etc.

    Now, does that then make a Linux SteamBox viable alternative to Windows gaming?  Hell no, bugs or not you're still looking at ~2% of the gaming coverage of a windows system, and that makes it useless for me and many other PC gamers out of the gate. 

    So I'm not sure how fully committed Valve will be to this project, this could a long, multi-year thing where they keep testing the waters.  With the MS store and MS seemingly far more interested in pushing the Xbox brand to Windows users than promoting PC gaming (and this will only get worse with the 720 released next year, and considering it might be X86 based and MS's new direction as a devices company, this might be MS's major push for a closed platform for far more than just videogames), Valve is probably looking far ahead  Steam for Windows sure as hell 'aint going anywhere.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @NitzWalsh:

    There is also the possibility of SteamBox exclusive games. You know, just like other video game consoles.


    I'm personally interested in learning about what its UI will be. I doubt it will be Steam full screen, but something different with multimedia features built in. Maybe even Android based.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Bass wrote

    Aren't all consoles just "gaming PCs"? I don't necessarily think this will be a success (because the competition is tough), but it's not a new magical idea Value is making here, it is literally a video game console.

    Technically yes a console is a PC but from an end-user POV the difference between a console and a "PC" is one is closed and one is open (open as in upgrade hardware, install whatever software you want, even a different OS).It sounds like SteamBox will fall into the "open" category so it is closer to a PC than a console.

    Which is great I believe but now they are competing with a slew of existing "gaming PCs" with no clear advantage that I can see and none of the true console advantages like being a fixed, stable platform for 5-10 years. I mean, people will be upgrading/modding/adding different controllers (requiring different drivers) all the time to this SteamBox so it won't be stable like a true console. Meaning even if a game is designed "for SteamBox", it still will need to be tested on a range of variable hardware/software. At that point game developers might as well just target Windows/Linux in general.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    @BitFlipper:

    You can mod consoles, install unauthorized software on them, even entire new OSes (the original Xbox this was actually very easy, didn't even require hardware mods). PS3s were open for awhile and some organizations even used them in compute clusters.

    The fact that SteamBox is open makes it more desirable for some, but it is not a dealbreaker for anyone that I'm aware of. Nobody goes to Walmart and says, I want a inflexible console that I can't install anything on! I don't think PS3's sales instantly exploded when they closed their platform. If you want that so badly, you can just pretend the software can't be changed on it and be none the wiser.

    At best, to the end user, if something is open and closed it is total indifference. They don't care either way. The very few that care (like me) would prefer an open platform. I would love to be able to install Linux (or hell, even Windows) on my Xbox 360 for instance.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , Bass wrote

    @NitzWalsh:

    There is also the possibility of SteamBox exclusive games. You know, just like other video game consoles.

    Possibly, but Valve isn't exactly a prolific developer in terms of titles and timeframes.  They would not restrict a big budget title the very small marketshare this box would likely have in the first couple of years, and other publishers wouldn't be keen to jump on board when one publisher controls the strings I bet.  I would also majorly piss off their Windows gamers, which is their bread and butter and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.


    I'm personally interested in learning about what its UI will be. I doubt it will be Steam full screen, but something different with multimedia features built in. Maybe even Android based.

    Big Picture mode gives me promise, they certainly have aptitude in this area.  It's not perfect but damn it's impressive for a first showing.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    , NitzWalsh wrote

    *snip*

    Possibly, but Valve isn't exactly a prolific developer in terms of titles and timeframes.  They would not restrict a big budget title the very small marketshare this box would likely have in the first couple of years, and other publishers wouldn't be keen to jump on board when one publisher controls the strings I bet.  I would also majorly piss off their Windows gamers, which is their bread and butter and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future.

    *snip*

    Big Picture mode gives me promise, they certainly have aptitude in this area.  It's not perfect but damn it's impressive for a first showing.

    There is always a risk with exclusives. I agree though. The big console makers have a bigger wallet to take risks with exclusives in order to prop up their platform. Valve is a private company though, their finances are not really public. They could be sitting on billions for all we know. I doubt it though, since their Steam commissions aren't very high.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , Bass wrote

    Aren't all consoles just "gaming PCs"?

    Not at all.  What makes a gaming PC is the massive variety of hardware and software configurations; that is both a positive and a negative.  You're never guaranteed a game will work OOTB or support your preferred control scheme/social gaming network on a PC as you are with a console, that's huge for an entertainment device - most non-geeks don't want to futz with drivers or tweak .ini's to resolve quirks. 

    OTOH, with a closed platform you're stuck with what the developer targets as an acceptable tradeoff with respect to quality and performance in games.  Hate massive screen tearing or sub-30fps?  Tough, that game you love will be forever marred by the decisions the developer made.  A PC, adjust the settings or just throw more hardware at it down the line, and eventually you'll have the best version of cross-platform games out there - again, provided they work. Smiley

    I don't necessarily think this will be a success (because the competition is tough), but it's not a new magical idea Valve is making here, it is literally a video game console.

    Only if you use the popular misinterpretation of "literally" as "figuratively". Smiley  They're not building the hardware, they're not locking it down.  They're making a somewhat restricted platform that is still open - you'll be able to put Windows on this if you want.  They're trying to bridge the divide between closed and open platforms and retain the advantages of both.  In theory, of course - the real nitty gritty details are still scarce.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , Bass wrote

    *snip*

    There is always a risk with exclusives. I agree though. The big console makers have a bigger wallet to take risks with exclusives in order to prop up their platform. Valve is a private company though, their finances are not really public. They could be sitting on billions for all we know. I doubt it though, since their Steam commissions aren't very high.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/oliverchiang/2011/02/15/valve-and-steam-worth-billions/

    Who really knows, but it keeps growing every year.  If that $55 million in operating profit in 2005 is accurate, they're doing damn well by now.  It's not as if MS is raking in profits from the 360 until recently, and considering the expenditure and the fact the original Xbox never made any money, Valve may actually be more successful - albeit they don't have a massive organization like MS to back them up of course.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    If you call something a duck and then put handcuffs on it, I'm still going to call it a duck even if you claim it isn't a duck anymore.

    Consoles are really really just general purpose computers. The company might put handcuffs on the computer.. put some (somewhat superficial) barriers to disallow it to be used as a general purpose computer, but they can't fundamentally hide the fact that it is a general purpose computer and with enough tenacity a clever individual can break whatever digital locks they put it on it.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Bass wrote

    @BitFlipper:

    You can mod consoles, install unauthorized software on them, even entire new OSes (the original Xbox this was actually very easy, didn't even require hardware mods). PS3s were open for awhile and some organizations even used them in compute clusters.

    The vast majority of console buyers probably don't care or plan to mod anything. The whole point for those kinds of consumers is that they don't have to be computer geeks to operate a console.

    Nobody goes to Walmart and says, I want a inflexible console that I can't install anything on!

    No, but they do go to Walmart saying (indirectly) that they want that gaming thing where they can simply pop in the game disk they bought off the Walmart shelves and it just play games without them having to do didly squat else.

    I don't think PS3's sales instantly exploded when they closed their platform. If you want that so badly, you can just pretend the software can't be changed on it and be none the wiser.

    It doesn't work the same way if the average consumer needs to "pretend" that it is a closed platform. It actually needs to be closed so that there is zero computer knowledge required to operate (and maintain) for it to be attractive to the masses. It really is that simple.

    At best, to the end user, if something is open and closed it is total indifference. They don't care either way.

    It's the same issue. It is very difficult to create an open system that is also very consumer friendly. This is why the iPad is successful with people that don't know anything about computers (my mom is a perfect example - doesn't know or care about computers but loves her iPad). They just don't need to know anything geeky to operate/maintain it.

    So while you say they don't care, they do indirectly because else they just would not have been interested in using it to begin with. And you need these masses to make such a product successful.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    I don't agree. First of all, we have been selling general purpose computers for decades to grandmas and grandpas and unless they have some really nerdy grandchildren, the chances their computers will suddenly spawn Slackware is close to zero.

    In fact this consoles/open systems these days are even harder to mess with. You have have a setting hidden in some deep menu that's like "Unlock the bootloader" or some such, that is like "Are you really sure you want to do this?". That's pretty much how PS3/open Android devices do it. Even if you do that, it still doesn't change anything. You still to go through a whole lot of random steps (including downloading lots of random software) to change anything, ie. just like a regular computer.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    , Bass wrote

    If you call something a duck and then put handcuffs on it, I'm still going to call it a duck even if you claim it isn't a duck anymore.

    I don't agree with this. The whole concept of a "console" is that it is a dedicated, closed device intended to do a very fixed range of functions. There is no user-serviceable parts in it and the user is never intended to open and service it. A "PC" is a computer meant to run all sorts of software and it is user serviceable. Basically, "console" implies a specific intended purpose more than what it physically is built from. It just happens to contain similar components than a general purpose PC.

    Consoles are really really just general purpose computers.

    No it's not. It has a very specific purpose. Which is the opposite of general purpose. No-one argues it can't be hacked to perform some other purpose, but this doesn't make it a general purpose computer because the masses that make it successful are not using it that way.

    By your logic a bulldozer is a car because it has an engine, steering wheel and four heels. Yet no-one calls it a car because it was never meant to perform the same duties as an actual car. Yes you can probably use it to go and buy groceries if you really want to. Hey you can probably even hack it and put lowriders on it if that sort of thing blows up your dress...

    Or taken even further... The digital clock on my wall is also a general purpose computer because it has a CPU and a display.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    That's a false dichotomy. A bulldozer would be a very bad car for a lot of very obvious reasons, a modern console would be a very good general purpose computer (probably better than this one I'm typing on now). A console is simply like any ordinary car with it's hood bolted shut.

  • User profile image
    BitFlipper

    A console starts its life as a device with a very specific purpose. Hacking a few of them to turn them into general purpose computers doesn't change that. At all. What a tiny percentage of people do with their consoles is irrelevant.

    EDIT: BTW, once you hack a console, it should be banned from the console network. At that point it no longer is a console.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , Bass wrote

    If you call something a duck and then put handcuffs on it, I'm still going to call it a duck even if you claim it isn't a duck anymore.

    That's uh...certainly some kind of analogy there.

    Consoles are really really just general purpose computers.

    They're the exact opposite of that.  They're highly specialized, that's what makes them consoles.

    They're specifically engineered devices to work best at a subset of tasks that a PC can do.  They're locked-down by the manufacturer.  They're subsidized by the parent company (not always, but certainly recently) so that publishers must pay a fee to release software for it unless they're restricted to a narrow development environment.  They are engineered to stress polygon and pixel shading performance over general computing (tried IE on the 360 lately?  Christ an Atom netbook runs rings around it).  If they were truly "general purpose", you would be using them as general purpose

    Now, with the 720 and PS4, this may change somewhat - especially if the rumours turn out to be true and they're x86 based with lots of ram.  That still doesn't change that they're going to be locked down and heavily engineered for games and media consumption over content creation...probably.  If MS allows you to hook up a keyboard and mouse and anymore can write code for it, then you'll have an actual argument.

    The fact that some hacker may eventually find a way around the protection is utterly irrelevant if the market is so niche that software developers can't cater for it (and especially since they can legally ban you from their gaming networks when they encounter a hacked console). 

    Software is what makes a platform "general purpose", not some theoretical possibility of what you could do with the hardware if given access for pete's sake. 

    Arguing that they're the same as PC's because you might find a console with the specific vulnerability in their DVD firmware that allows you to install arbitrary media players and pirate games and hope that it won't be bricked when you put it on the network is ridiculous.

    The fact that I can hook up my PC to my TV and plug in a 360 pad does not make it a console, as the very attributes of a console that make them attractive to the general market - their accessibility, reliability, affordability and specific focus - are not present.  It can act like a console, but it's not called one for those reasons.  The same is true as the inverse - hooking up a monitor to my 360 doesn't make it a PC, as it shares little of the qualities which make a PC a PC.

     

Conversation locked

This conversation has been locked by the site admins. No new comments can be made.