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Valve's Gabe Newell Speaks on Console Development 529

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the steam-is-steamed dept.
DelitaTheFridge writes "Gabe Newell, of Valve fame, criticizes Microsoft and Sony on how difficult it will be for next-gen developers to produce games on their upcoming hardware. He is especially critical of Sony's model, where code written to run on Cell will be very hard to port to other systems, and vice versa. Will this bring upon a new era of PC Game superiority? Only time will tell. In the meantime, Newell says he believes that Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content."
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Valve's Gabe Newell Speaks on Console Development

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  • Pots and Kettles (Score:3, Informative)

    by fembots (753724) on Monday September 05, 2005 @04:59PM (#13485528) Homepage
    Steam-like systems

    You mean the one that forces you to "update" before you can play its game? This system is making a player's life difficult too.

    It's worth noting, however, that Valve is historically a PC games developer and has only made two console games thus far--Counter-Strike and Half-Life 2, both for Xbox.

    I think this line says it all - Valve is inexperienced in cross-platform console game development, and it's whinging about it. Kind of reminds me of Alternative Browsers Impede Investigations [slashdot.org]
    • Yea okay... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Iscariot_ (166362)
      But what's your response to new content? What's going to happen to things like free levels and, for example, the free ninja gaiden update that was made available. Nope. No more of that. So his point is correct. And honestly, what's wrong with FIXING something? I see no problem with updates. I like getting new maps and new player moddles for FREE from valve. I also like fixing cheat bugs and such that simply cannot be solved once.
      • This is what's wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday September 06, 2005 @02:33AM (#13487976) Journal
        "But what's your response to new content? What's going to happen to things like free levels and, for example, the free ninja gaiden update that was made available."

        Sega managed to run new levels off a memory card just fine, for example in the Dreamcast version of Skies Or Arcadia.

        "And honestly, what's wrong with FIXING something? I see no problem with updates."

        I _do_ see a problem with shoving a broken, disfunctional product out the door. I very much like it that when I buy a game, it actually works. I _do_ see a problem with paying to be a beta-tester for EA's, Vivendi's, etc, buggy unfinished crap.

        And especially I _do_ see a problem with patches that screw up my saved games directly (I can thing of a dozen games, starting with Fallout 2, where applying the patch forced me to restart the whole damn game from the start), or indirectly (yay, for some RPG patches where they randomly altered the game balance and made all my character's skills useless, _and_ made a bunch enemies immune to physical damage... when I'm playing a fighter. What am I supposed to use there? Bad language? Time to start a new character again.)

        That's what I liked about console games so far: when I buy a game it's a _finished_ product. I can think of only exactly _two_ console games that ever needed a patch, out of the literally _hundreds_ I own. (And out of those two, one had a free replacement from the publisher, and the other "only" had multiplayer exploits, but was otherwise rock-solid and enjoyable as a single-player game.) The rest just worked.

        That's it. When I buy a console game, I _know_ it will work. From day one. I can randomly pick any game off the PS2 aisle, take it home, pop it in, and _know_ that it'll never crash, never fall into the void, and generally just work.

        You know why? Because the publisher knows it can't be patched, so they'll test the _hell_ out of it before release. And if they're running out of time or budget, they'll cancel a game, but never shove an unfinished piece of crap out the door.

        Yes, no software is perfect, but there's a _massive_ difference between having some minor exploit in an obscure sidequest (like being able to claim your reward twice) in a console game, and the utterly broken stuff that gets shipped on the PC on account that it can be patched later.

        That's what's wrong with "FIXING something" in the PC world. It's something that sounds _great_ in theory, but in practice it's what caused the deluge of unfinished buggy _crap_ shoved out the door untested. It just caused the "ah, it shows the starting menu, let's ship it. We can patch it later" mentality to run rampant.

        It caused such crap as, say, the German version of Victoria which literally could only show the startup menu as released. _Literally_. If you actually tried starting a campaign, the game threw a script _syntax_ error. Yes, a _syntax_ error. Not something even remotely blamable on drivers or hardware. It had a typo in the scripts and couldn't run on _any_ hardware.
    • Actually (Score:4, Informative)

      by Solr_Flare (844465) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:06PM (#13485562)
      Say what you will about Gabe and Valve, he is very correct about both systems. In Microsoft's case, they've made things a pain for developers by having two different models with and without a hard drive.

      In the case of the PS3 and Cell, it is different enough in design from "traditional" architecture that cross platform development for it is going to be a nightmare.
      • Re:Actually (Score:5, Informative)

        by Osty (16825) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:23PM (#13485663)

        In Microsoft's case, they've made things a pain for developers by having two different models with and without a hard drive.

        It's only a pain if developers want to use the hard drive as more than a glorified memory card. Otherwise, there's no problem. Developers have said that Microsoft has been telling them for a while now to design their games to work without the a hard drive. If developers choose to ignore that advice (and it's questionable whether that's just advice or if it's part of the certification program required to release a game for the platform), they have no one to blame but themselves. Consumers have every right to feel screwed by Microsoft making the hard drive optional, but developers have no right to complain. Besides, doubling the RAM from 256MB to 512MB is a much more useful change for developers than a standard hard drive, so they can't complain that Microsoft isn't listening to their feedback either.

        In the case of the PS3 and Cell, it is different enough in design from "traditional" architecture that cross platform development for it is going to be a nightmare.

        The PS2 is "different enough" as well, and yet that hasn't stopped anybody from building cross-platform games. Frameworks that abstract out the underlying implementation details will pop up soon enough. The real question is whether or not Sony is going to provide a good SDK to get new developers started. They didn't do that with the PS2, which really hurt their launch line-up and had the effect of removing smaller developers from the market because they couldn't afford to take the time to build their own framework or to buy one from someone else. Microsoft has always been very developer-friendly, and one would expect that to continue with the 360. With the next gen consoles being relatively equal in power, providing a good SDK and developer support will be a key factor in getting good games on the new platforms and in winning exclusive third-party games for their respective consoles.

      • Re:Actually (Score:5, Informative)

        by PsychicX (866028) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:04PM (#13485860)
        Just so people know exactly what it is that Newell is complaining about: Cell architectural info [wikipedia.org].
      • I dunno... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shaper_pmp (825142)
        To sum up Gabe's Statements

        Vista (unbelievably) might not be much good. (Shock, horror!)

        XBox 360, by not necessarily having a hard drive, makes console development, which traditionally can't depend on having hard drive, harder. That makes sense.

        Sony's fundamentally different chip design requires different programming techniques, and might be harder to port. Waaaah!

        However, this fundamentally different chip design isn't designed to speed up processing, distribute tasks more effectively or demonstrate an i
    • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bigman2003 (671309)
      Will Microsoft's XNA platform prove to be a good idea?

      It seems like the entire plan *IS* to make cross platform (Xbox/PC) games easier to make.

      Something like XNA, if it proves to be useful, could very well swing a large pendulum in Microsoft's favor.

      How expensive is an XNA developing environment anyway...I assume it would be much cheaper than the hardware/software required for Xbox/Playstation development.
    • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Colol (35104) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:10PM (#13485583)
      In the meantime, Newell says he believes that Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content.

      I'm sure that's the kind of thing Microsoft loves to hear after spending the lifetime of the Xbox being absolutely rabid about games not being allowed to patch themselves. MS has put a lot of effort into trying to keep their console running finished products, not hack jobs that aren't playable until three patches down the road, and now Valve wants to foist bug fests upon console players.

      Maybe -- just maybe -- this type of plan will finally beat Valve over the head with a clue stick. After the abortion that was Half-Life 2 and the abomination that is Steam (interesting idea, crap execution), I'd be really happy to see them get back to the ground they seemed to be breaking with Half-Life.

      On top of it all, on what planet is Gabe living where everyone has broadband enough to want to patch their Valve console games over and over? I can do other things on my computer while it downloads patches. On a console, you get to stare at a progress screen until it's done. No good. Especially not at 50 bucks a pop for console games.
    • by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:15PM (#13485618)
      You mean the one that forces you to "update" before you can play its game? This system is making a player's life difficult too.

      Yeah, I really hate it how it automatically, within notime (on a decent DSL connection) brings me my updates to my game(s) : I much rather go back to the good old days to connecting to a server, only to discover there's a new patch out I which I have to download.
      Then I will have to find that patch with a decent download and no ridiculous artificial ques (yes, I am talking about you Fileplanet), and then install it. And all do this within half an hour... max.

      Ohwait, I forgot to add the sarcasm tag.

      If you're talking about the online activation ; Yes. it sucks : But over here on Slashdot the tendency seems to be to focus on those 'negative' points (and no, I am not losing -any- of my privacy by using Steam), rather than the few great things Steam added (eg. IM-messaging/playing chess ingame, ingame server browsers, automatical updates, a-way-to-say-f*ck-you-to-the-publishers)

      • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:43PM (#13485764)
        Yeah, I really look forward to playing (for example) Final Fantasy, seeing it getting patched and next thing I know, the game balance got changed and my last savegames got useless, because I leveled the wrong character. You guys are way to fixated on multiplayer FPS games to see that this isn't a universally good thing. It might be nice in special cases like Counter-Strike, but please, don't force it onto people that don't want it. Else they might not want to spend their money on it.
      • by manboy9 (891227) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:25PM (#13485963)

        That's easy for you to say, but some of us don't have DSL. I live in a rural area, so the best connection I can get is 56K. I don't see why I should have to register and update HL2, when all I want is a decent single-player experience. It's gotten to the point where I disconnect from the internet every time I want to start Half-Life2 just to avoid having to download updates.

      • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:44PM (#13486040)
        You mean disadvantages like these?

        - having to have an internet connection to play the single player game, and spending several hours waiting for it to decrypt when I bought it release day
        - how they first required both steam activation AND a dvd check for the store-bought version
        - that I can't resell my copy of HL2 when I get bored with it
        - that when steam goes belly-up, I can't play (had that problem at a LAN party, massive counter-strike problems for lots of people as the net connection couldn't handle steam logins for 200 ppl)
        - if valve goes out of business, I lose the ability to play the game I paid for
        - mandatory patches tying up my internet connection unexpectedly, a real problem for dialup users
        - piracy protection that does nothing to stop hacked copies showing up on torrent sites, but makes me jump through hoops
        -randomly losing my installed game files, forcing me to spend hours downloading and reinstalling the game via steam (happened to me twice now)

        I'm sorry, but these far outweigh any good points of steam. I for one won't be purchasing any new games from valve that require it. I'm a customer, not a damn lab rat. Make steam optional so you can use it for the handy features, such as easy patch download, and purchase games through it if you wish. But don't sell something in a box in a retail store, then turn round and treat it like a rental.
        • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:3, Informative)

          by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
          *hack cough* [cs.rin.ru]
        • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ophix (680455) on Monday September 05, 2005 @09:15PM (#13486751) Homepage
          i agree completely. i will NEVER buy anything from valve EVER as long as steam is required. what really pissed me off was the fact that the original HL2 retail box didnt mention an internet connection being a game requirement.

          steam is forbidden from ever being installed on any system i own period. i loved halflife single player and was looking forward to its sequal. i almost bought it. i played it briefly at a friends house and was about to walk out the door to go buy it when he mentioned that he had had to validate with steam for playing the first time. this was with a store bought retail copy.

          i hated steam since its inception, unstable buggy POS software originally. i am sure they have taken care of any stability issues since then but i refuse to have a game developer tell me that i have to be online to play a single player game. i refuse to have a game developer tell me that he can install and do anything with my computer that he wants to at any time and i just have to suck it up. screw that.

          i voted with my wallet. valve will NEVER have me as a customer as long as steam is a requirement.

        • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:4, Informative)

          by delus10n0 (524126) <delusion_@pdGIRA ... minus herbivore> on Monday September 05, 2005 @10:57PM (#13487147) Homepage
          - having to have an internet connection to play the single player game, and spending several hours waiting for it to decrypt when I bought it release day


          Decryption didn't take that long, I remember it being 30 minutes or something like that. Who cares? Also, you do not need an internet connection to play single player-- there is "Offline Mode", read up on SteamPowered.com's FAQs.

          - how they first required both steam activation AND a dvd check for the store-bought version


          Not Valve's fault-- the publisher's fault. You could have just bought the Steam version..

          - that I can't resell my copy of HL2 when I get bored with it


          You should do a survey to see how often people really do this, especially with games of this quality-- don't we all still have our Doom and Duke3d boxes? Even Wolf3d?

          - that when steam goes belly-up, I can't play (had that problem at a LAN party, massive counter-strike problems for lots of people as the net connection couldn't handle steam logins for 200 ppl)


          This gets brought up all the time-- if Valve/Steam went "belly up", I'm sure they would release an official fix, or some bright individual out there will figure one out. Sheesh. Your problems at the LAN probably stemmed from not reading SteamPowered.com's guide on running in offline mode.

          - mandatory patches tying up my internet connection unexpectedly, a real problem for dialup users


          You can choose in a game's properties to NOT keep it up to date, and patches will not be automatically downloaded. Half-Life2's box says it recommends a highspeed internet connection, and so does SteamPowered.com's "Get Steam Now!" page.

          - piracy protection that does nothing to stop hacked copies showing up on torrent sites, but makes me jump through hoops


          This is like the "iTunes" of online games-- I legally bought HL2 (the gold package) and have never had a problem playing the game, getting updates, or getting the new games when they come out (HL2 Multiplayer, Blue Shift.. and soon Lost Coast and DOD:S) I'd say it's a success for paying users. The copies you're taling about (pirated ones) suffer from no auto updates, no Steam interface, little/no mod support, and you certainly can't play online. Pfft.

          -randomly losing my installed game files, forcing me to spend hours downloading and reinstalling the game via steam (happened to me twice now)


          Sounds like you've got hardware problems-- check the SteamPowered.com forums for other people having similiar issues, and you might want to fill out a support ticket, that's what they are for.
    • Re:Pots and Kettles (Score:3, Informative)

      by yoyhed (651244)
      You mean the one that forces you to "update" before you can play its game?

      I seem to recall a little option for each Steam game, oh what was it called? Oh yeah.. Do Not Automatically Update This Game.. It's available under Properties (right-click) of any game in Steam. And online games probably should have Automatic updating on, but if you don't like new models and features and bug fixes, then turn it off for your single-player games.

  • Steam. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:04PM (#13485551) Homepage
    I don't think systems like Steam are viable in the long run. They'll be successful for a bit while they manage to force them on us, but in the long run they're just too restrictive. The market is (hopefully) going to reject them.
    • Oh, like me? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:07PM (#13485569) Homepage Journal
      I bought Doom 3. I bought Half-life, UT 2k, 2k4, DN3D, etc etc ad nauseam. I like FPS games.

      I did not buy HL2. Why? Steam.

      I might relent when the price is $10. Let's see if the game is still playable by then, given the dependence on an internet connection.
      • Re:Oh, like me? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by cazbar (582875)
        I'm exactly the same way. I would have been one of the early adopters of HL2 just to play counterstrike. However, I will probably never buy it simply because I don't like steam.

        I wish they would realize they are loosing sales over this and just trash the thing.
      • Re:Oh, like me? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by evilNomad (807119) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:17PM (#13485632)
        I bought HL2, the first game in a few years.. Why? Steam..

        I didn't have to buy a DVD-drive, i didn't have to leave my room, i ordered it via steam with my creditcard, preloaded the content, and played at the day of release.. I now enjoy patches without having to pay for fileplanet to download it, I enjoy being able to setup a dedicated server simply by running a simple commandline steam tool on my linux server, I enjoy valve doing hardware surveys to make it easier for everyone developing games, since you will get an idea of what the average gamer has in his machine, I enjoy valve releasing new models, maps and hotfixes on the run wihtout having to wait to gather it all in one patch...

        And what i really enjoy? Valve getting my money when i buy their games, and no Vivendi, EA or whoever publish their games..
        • great (Score:5, Insightful)

          by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:23PM (#13485662) Homepage Journal
          What happens if you want to play it 15 years later?

          I can still play Ultima Underworld (the original). Will you be able to say the same about HL2?

          Great game btw, UU.
          • Re:great (Score:2, Insightful)

            by evilNomad (807119)
            Valve will either still be going strong, or they will have released a patch to allow offline play, and besides, Steam already offers offline play...

            Oh btw, do you also whine and scream about DOS games you cannot play anymore? Missing the old 320x240 resolution? Sigh, your hate for steam clearly surpasses any logic, so this is a waste of time..
            • Re:great (Score:2, Insightful)

              by ocelotbob (173602)
              The difference is that the old 486 in the corner is still fully functional, and if it ever did die, there are still emulators, etc. Who's to say what will happen with valve and their masters Vivendi?
            • Re:great (Score:3, Funny)

              by PaganRitual (551879)
              I agree with your points, but

              "Oh btw, do you also whine and scream about DOS games you cannot play anymore?"

              I wouldn't go as far as to say 'whine and scream', but I've been hankering for some Syndicate Wars, Ultima Underworld, Blood and X-Com lately, and either the DOS emulators are still struggling with DOS4GW mode, or the games weren't made for a keyboard with a stupid windows key.

              So, in summary, WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGHHHHH I WANT TO PLAY MY OLD DOS GAMES!!!!
          • by Tim C (15259)
            What happens if you want to play it 15 years later?

            I can't see myself wanting to play it in 15 years time, to be honest. I don't yearn now for the games of 15 years ago, and that's with the rose-tinted vision of nostalgia.

            HL2 was a good game, well worth the money (although I paid &pound20 for it, rather than the full retail price of &pound35), but it wasn't that good. Soon something will be released that blows it away - maybe not this year or next year, but well before those 15 years are up.

            Besides
          • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

            by neverkevin (601884) on Monday September 05, 2005 @07:08PM (#13486168) Homepage
            You are not going to buy a game because 15 years from now you might not be able to play it? Other then a house, I don't think about "what if" scenarios for 15 year from now when I purchase something. Just relax, it is just a $50 video game, it may work 15 years from now or it might not, I am sure you will be able to get by. The 20-25 hours of entertainment I got out of the game was worth the $50 I spent.
            • Re:great (Score:3, Interesting)

              by festers (106163)
              Let me guess, your one of those people who thought Circuit City's disposable DVDs (divx) was a good idea? Or you wouldn't mind if your board game spontaneously stopped working? Some of us like knowing our hard-earned money isn't going to be dependent on a company staying in business. Yes, we like to replay games that are 15 years old.
              • Re:great (Score:3, Insightful)

                by neverkevin (601884)
                "Let me guess, your one of those people who thought Circuit City's disposable DVDs (divx) was a good idea?"

                I didn't think it was a good idea profit wise, but I have no problems with the concept as long as they are not trying to fool people into believing they were like regular DVDs.

                "Or you wouldn't mind if your board game spontaneously stopped working?"

                If it stopped working a day or two after I bought it, then yes I would mind. However, if it spontaneously stopped working a year after I bought it I would p
            • Re:great (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dasunt (249686)
              Other then a house, I don't think about "what if" scenarios for 15 year from now when I purchase something.

              I have books that I'll reread 15 years down the road. I have movies that I'll rewatch 15 years down the road. Why not video games that I'll replay 15 years down the road?

  • by PocketPick (798123) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:04PM (#13485555)
    Will this bring upon a new era of PC Game superiority?

    When the day arrives that I can take a brand-new & high-end PC game out of a box, insert it into the CD-ROM and play it immedietally without installation or having to customize 2 dozen settings: Yes. Till then: No.
    • The main reason I'm going to be most of my gaming (for non-strategy games, at least) on PS3/XBOX 360 from this point on (though I've never had a console before in my life) is that with a console, I can buy one game, have four controls and play with four people at the same time.

      On the PC, if I want to play Unreal T2K4 with a couple buddies at my place, I've got to have multiple copies of the game (so a couple hundred bucks per game right there) plus several pretty sweet boxes to play on (as opposed to just o
    • Two things:
      modding
      the mouse
      Care to play a RTS game on a console? I tried to play a lemmings console adaption once, the controls really killed it. Also mods, and their brother patches, make games last longer and more fun.
    • Well, um, you [sourceforge.net] asked [google.com].

      On a more serious note though, there's nothing at all preventing PC games from running completely from the *ROM and not from the hard drive.

      (though, of course, as soon as you suggest that, someone is going to complain that they spent far too much on their computer just to have to store a pile of *ROMs next to their computer, waiting to get scratched)

    • Ironically, the CD version of Counter-Strike : Condition Zero allows just that : Playing the game from memory (it does not install anything besides your configs).
      • Sweet, so it installs and configures your graphics/sound/chipset/etc drivers for you as well, including resolving conflicts between "version 77.78 of the video drivers run game X 20% faster, but causes random crashing on game Y" ?

        Count me in for this PC gaming revolution since they've sorted that out!
    • When the day arrives that I can take a brand-new & high-end PC game out of a box, insert it into the CD-ROM and play it immedietally without installation or having to customize 2 dozen settings: Yes. Till then: No.

      Seeing that you can't even spell immediately correctly, you may even have a problem doing that.

      The installation cuts down on load times since you're loading data from the HD, rather than from the CD-ROM when you're playing a game.

      Being able to play around with video and audio settings is a goo
      • Seeing that you can't even spell immediately correctly, you may even have a problem doing that.

        You don't have to be anal about it. Typos happen.

        The installation cuts down on load times since you're loading data from the HD, rather than from the CD-ROM when you're playing a game.

        Your assumption that 'HDs make games faster' is a generalization that is false. Games on consoles, often with far inferior hardware when compared to modern PCs, are able to sufficiently cache and stream data such that loadi
      • You know, it's funny - I play games on both consoles, and almost invariably, my PC games take longer to run and play than my console games.

        Now, part of this is the fact that they're just filling more RAM. But I think another part is that PC coders don't feel nearly as much pressure to make loading fast. I know the hoops I jumped through to Load Faster Dammit on the PS2 game I worked on, and just from looking at the file layout of most PC games I can tell you they're not doing the same things.

        Of course, they
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:05PM (#13485560)
    Gabe was reported saying plyaing his companies games too long could result in a person starting to resemble himself
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:05PM (#13485561)
    Gabe Newell, of Valve fame, criticizes Microsoft and Sony on how difficult it will be for next-gen developers to produce games on their upcoming hardware.

    In other news, Sony criticizes Gabe Newell and Microsoft how difficult it is to have decent security.

  • There has to be an understanding that there are going to be game players who cannot access the outside world -- if not because of lack of actual access, because lack of access to the firewall. As the primary admin for my entire family, scattered as they are across the country, I have have them all natted behind a simpleton box -- but none of them has a routable IP address. I'm unlikely to change thos configurations for a game. A steam model which requires constant updates/verification is just not going t
  • Video Interview (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrIdiot (816113) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:09PM (#13485581)
    http://valve.1up.com/flat/Themeweek/Valve/video6.h tml [1up.com]
    There's the actual video interview.

    I spoke to some people at Microsoft, and as I said, I can't point to a single feature in Vista that I care about that solves problems for us.
    I can't see a single feature in Vista that solves any problems I've had with Windows on the consumer's side either.

    And I totally see why Sony wants people to write code that runs on seven SPEs and a central processing unit, because that code is never going to run well anywhere else
    You can say the same about DirectX. You can never run DirectX on anything but Windows. (WINE doesn't count). This is common practice, it happens with proprietary formats, why wouldn't it happen with game consoles?

    • Re:Video Interview (Score:3, Informative)

      by thirty2bit (685528)
      You can say the same about DirectX. You can never run DirectX on anything but Windows. (WINE doesn't count). This is common practice, it happens with proprietary formats, why wouldn't it happen with game consoles?
      There is a big difference between API calls and writing code to run on a cell processor-based system. APIs can be thunked or emulated. Processor specific code, or processor feature specific code is a totally different matter. It may take gobs of assembly to implement cell processors which would b
    • Agreed. The smarter developers will band together and create an uber-SDK, with an API which works on all major consoles.

      Sure, it might not squeeze the most performance out, but that API can be wrapped around the 7 different processors and then have higher-level primitives exposed to the developer, so developers won't have to care which platform they're developing for.

      And, since it's open, when developers want extra performance on a certain platform, they can dive into the SDK and do it themselves.

  • What's so special (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xarius (691264)
    about Steam?

    Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content.

    Isn't it just a glorified download interface?
    • Re:What's so special (Score:2, Informative)

      by biraneto2 (910162)
      No, it's not. It's far from a simple download interface, it has a lot of code underneath its graphic interface.
      Systems that provide update features have big advantages over a download by yourself one.

      -The user don't need to know what he needs to update. If you stop updating... and a month later you try the game again you don't bother seeking and verifying the last 8 updates on the site. Not everyone is a linux user.
      -Updates can be released more often, since the system manages the updates needed.
      -Se
      • It's harder to crack the game.

        so it takes 3 hours instead of 30 minutes for a release to hit the net?
      • by Rallion (711805)
        Um, for three of your four points -- ease of updates, frequency of updates, and communication -- the simple updaters that come with lots of other games (Neverwinter Nights comes to mind) work just as well, if not better.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not to be blunt or anything, but getting good performance out of any distributed system is always overly complicated; this will be equally true of multicore PC systems as it is of new console systems. Let's face the facts, few game developers have really had to consider critical sections and racing conditions on the level they're now forced to face them; this means that most developers are simply not up to the challenge and will produce some technically inferior games.

    Now, there will essentially be two clas
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:12PM (#13485597) Homepage
    Apparently the solution to consoles being difficult to program for is to use Valve's proprietary, slightly sucky, extremely annoying Steam content delivery service. I don't get how that works, sorry. And I'm a console developer working on next gen.

    To meet some of the other points he's raised doesn't take too much effort either:

    Apparently nothing in Vista helps him out at all? What a shame. I fail to see how that is particularly relevant, especially since it really doesn't make anything worse. XNA might change things for Valve, but that's not the same thing. Valve only target one OS. If that OS changes under them, perhaps they should have practiced cross-platform development to cover that eventuality...

    I'm not really surprised he says Xbox 360 makes his life worse - a lot of the planned online functionality MS have in store renders Steam somewhat irrelevant.

    And I think he's being a touch cynical about the reasons for Sony's Cell architecture (disclaimer - I work for Sony). But I suppose he could be correct. Again, though, there are techniques for cross-platform development which Valve hasn't bothered its ass using.

    If you stick with writing games for x86 Windows, I don't feel much sympathy for teething troubles when you start hitting the console hardware. Mainly because (shock) it really isn't all that different for the majority of the coders! Yes, you'll need specialists. But huge chunks of stuff won't need to change at all - game logic, frontend, scripts/scripting. This isn't rocket science, and many companies have been releasing titles near-simultaneously on multiple, drastically different hardware platforms for years.

    Sour grapes from a Win32 codeshop. Who'd believe it...

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LurkerXXX (667952)
      I'm not really surprised he says Xbox 360 makes his life worse - a lot of the planned online functionality MS have in store renders Steam somewhat irrelevant.

      That's not what makes his life worse. It's the multi-CPU aspect. Same as with the new Sony Cell chips making things diffucult.

      Check out his other interview on the same topic [bit-tech.net]

      Oh, in case you think he's still just upset about your company 'rendering Steam somewhat irrelevent', check out what John Carmack [techreport.com] of Id (DOOM 3) and Tim Sweeney [arstechnica.com] of Epic

  • Excuse me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:13PM (#13485609) Homepage Journal
    Gabe Newell - the guy who's company has chosen to make their games NOT portable to any thing other than Windows, is criticizing Sony for making their games hard to port?

    The same Gabe Newell who took a relatively portable game framework (Quake) and made it NOT portable (Half-Life)?

    The same Gabe Newell who chose to use a non-portable graphics framework (Direct-3D) rather than a portable graphics framework (OpenGL) for Half-Life II?

    Well, I guess he is an expert in non-portable - we'll allow his testimony.
    • Gabe Newell - the guy who's company has chosen to make their games NOT portable to any thing other than Windows, is criticizing Sony for making their games hard to port?

      Which do you think is actually the bigger factor, the ability to port from the mainstream crowd of consoles to the mainstream crowd of PCs, or the ability to port from a PC to Mac/Linux (which, for gaming, are niche markets)? Newell's talking about the big picture. I don't think it's fair to take his comments and then try to apply them to
  • PC/Console games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by typical (886006) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:13PM (#13485611) Journal
    Will this bring upon a new era of PC Game superiority?

    God, this is a sad attempt to revive a tired flamefest.

    The answer is no, for two reasons.

    First, the PC and the console are two different beasts. The different peripherals and capabilities of each system tend to lend them to different types of games. My favorite PC games have not hit the console, and visa versa.

    Second, console games sell a lot more copies (partly due to the greater Joe Sixpack appeal from easier setups and partly because it's a pain in the ass to pirate games on modern consoles, so you don't see two-thirds of the games out there being pirated, as you do on the computer). A lack of compatibility would probably not be a really good thing for the PC, given that there are more development dollars in console games (actually, a lack of compatibility almost always screws over the end user and benefits only the system vendors).

    In the silver lining department, this is probably a good thing for Linux -- the large and current commercial game library on Windows is one of its greatest strengths in the college crowd, and whatever college students use is what everyone uses in a couple years.
    • There's also a differentiation in the types of games for PCs and consoles. On average, console games are much more geared for the average crowd, then for a techie. I'd really buy a console if I could play "smarter" games like Europa Universalis, Rome Total War or Galactic Civilizations, but I really doubt it's ever gonna happen.
  • Good, will this relieve the slump we've seen in good PC games?
  • by mmp (121767) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:21PM (#13485648) Homepage
    From TFA:

    Newell was equally harsh, if not more so, on Sony for its design of the PS3 architecture and programming environment. "There are incredibly few programmers who can safely write code in the PlayStation 3 environment. And I totally see why Sony wants people to write code that runs on seven SPEs and a central processing unit, because that code is never going to run well anywhere else," he said.

    What he seems to not understand/want to pretend isn't the case is the fact that the architecture of the Cell is a reflection of longstanding trends in computer architecture, not an exotic thing that Sony dreamed up to be troublesome.

    In particular, there has been a longstanding disconnect between the growth in the amount of memory bandwidth available to chips versus the amount of computation that can be done on them. Computational capacity is growing much more quickly than memory access. Over enough years, this disconnect makes a big difference! Nowadways, processor architects will tell you that computation is basically free while communication is what is expensive.

    Architectures ranging from GPUs to multicore CPUs to Cell take advantage of these trends in various ways, deliving much more computational capacity than standard CPUs. All of these architectures are deeply inherently parallel. There just isn't any other viable way to take advantage of all of this computation.

    John Owens has a nice chapter in GPU Gems 2 [nvidia.com] on this topic.

    If Newell (or whoever) doesn't want to program the SPEs on the Cell, he's free to just use the PPC CPU on it. And his game will be much slower than someone who uses it well. But there aren't going to be very many performance gains in the future to be had from single-threaded code running on CPUs. So while Cell is not trivial to program, none of the other choices are any easier. (Note that there are C/C++ compilers for the SPE instruction set, etc, so they're not *that* hard to program.)

    (I'd like to hope that Newell actually knows all this and is just posturing in he middle of his Steam pimping and that this doesn't reflect reality in Valve's world!)

    -matt
  • Spoiled brats (Score:5, Insightful)

    by acidblood (247709) <decio@decp p . n et> on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:25PM (#13485674) Homepage
    Maybe I'm just too impressed with Cell's architecture to see things clearly, but here's my opinion...

    Generation after generation, developers have been given ever more powerful processors with a corresponding extra cost in hardware. Some of this is really needed to overcome architectural limitations (register renaming to make up for the scarcity of registers in x86 comes to mind) -- indeed I think x86 is too crippled to perform well without lots of hardware assistance.

    But the fact is that we've hit a wall of performance. Power increases due to ever more complex chips, plus certain effects like leakage currents (that were disregarded in previous manufacturing processes) are becoming ever more problematic. So the free performance lunch is over, and CPU designers are having to trim the fat of their designs. The result is nice power-efficient architectures like the Pentium M, but there's only so much that power-conscious design can do if you still must have the complexity of out-of-order execution and other modern CPU features.

    So there's really no way around. If you need a power-efficient processor, you're going to have to resort to completely new architectural ideas, like extensive use of SIMD and multi-core as Cell does. Programmers are going to pay a price in terms of complexity and cost of software development, yes; but there's no other way, the growth of CPUs we're used to is flattening out, unfortunately, and can only grow again through adoption of these alternative programming models.

    Which is why I say these people are spoiled brats. If CPU designers are guilty of anything, it's feeding off this illusion that infinite growth without laying any burdens on programmers was possible. But complaining is no good now; either they're going to adapt or die. It's clear that no ordinary out-of-order design, using the same transistor budget, can reach the peak power of Cell if correctly programmed. So if these guys really want the extra power to make better games, they'll have to learn these new programming models and bear the burden of extra complexity.
    • Re:Spoiled brats (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PsychicX (866028)
      New programming models are in order, yes. The entire industry is more or less in agreement that multiple processing cores are in order. The Pentium D and the Athlon64 X2 are the desktop side evolutions. The consoles, however, are a rather more touch issue.
      See, the problem is that Sony's architecture is very powerful in numbers. The 2 TFLOPS number is real...in a very, very limited set of circumstances. Cell is designed a lot like a GPU in some aspects, and a lot like a video decoding processor in some asp
      • Re:Spoiled brats (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770)
        And one of the problems the Cell seems to have, at least as it's being implemented in the PS3 is that the core can't get data in and out of memory fast enough for the units to do as much good work as they should be able to. A fast coprocessor is neat and all, but if the main chip can't fetch data fast enough for it, and it can't fetch data itself, then it's kinda academic.
    • Re:Spoiled brats (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xugumad (39311)
      Kinda with you on this. I'm not a big fan of Cell - I can't shake a feeling it's overhyped - but I do think multi-core/multi-processer systems are the way forward.

      In particular, I don't think they're going to have that big a problem porting between platforms. Split your game engine into a generic CPU-orientated thread, plus 6 threads designed to work well with the various cores in Cell. Admittadely, this leaves one non-generic core unused, but I don't think that's going to be an issue for games in the short
  • Fan-boys go away... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 0xDAVE (770415)
    The PS3 architecture is quite odd...

    Its a fact that, n parallel processors is less efficient than one n-times-faster processor. And Sony does have some quite none standard C++ extensions compared to microsofts use of OpenMP.
    • Its a fact that, n parallel processors is less efficient than one n-times-faster processor.

      And n-times hotter, because they use n-times the energy. Hello, ever heard the term "performance per watt"?
    • by SQL Error (16383) on Monday September 05, 2005 @09:34PM (#13486842)
      The PS3 architecture is quite odd...

      No it's not. It's basically a better-organised and larger version of the PS2's Emotion Engine... Albeit with a different instruction set.

      The PS2 developers love it. "256KB of memory per SPE? And we can program it in C? Woot!"

      Its a fact that, n parallel processors is less efficient than one n-times-faster processor.

      It's a fact that you can't get n-times-faster processors, so tough bickies.
  • not portable? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krunk4ever (856261)
    I always thought because the XBox used DirectX support, it made it easier to port games to and from PCs (using Windows).

    Is that changing in XBox360? or has there always been high discrepancies between XBox's DirectX and Window's DirectX?

    And what does Nintendo do that makes it easier for them to port (noting that he didn't criticize them). I'm pretty sure Nintendo uses their own proprietary graphics engine too. Speaking of that, HAS ANY GAME CONSOLE ever made it easy to port games to and from their console?
  • Is it just me, or do game programmers seem to be the only group of coders who get away with flaunting their apparent inability to write portable, flexible code?

    Word is they couldn't even get Half-Life 1 to run on Macs because there was too much platform-specific code. I'd assume the same issue occurred in HL2 (there was an Xbox "port", but that's really just a repackaging of a windows app). Most other groups of programmers would seriously love to have the opportunity to write code for neat new hyper-paralle
    • console games are written for specific machines, the computational power is much more limited but is also near constant. more code runs "bare metal" and fast performance without any errors is expected. patching is rarely an option so code has to be written very close to the hardware running the console
    • by Tim Browse (9263) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:16PM (#13485912)
      The entire game industry apparently can't figure out how to make sound and video run in separate threads

      You've got some sort of evidence to back up this assumed truism, have you?

      Before you answer, consider that for example, on a PS2, the sound is handled by a different CPU anyway, so you can't avoid having multi-process code for sound/syncing.

      Games do have some difficult problems to solve, to maximise performance, so while you don't mean to belittle the game dev community, you probably are anyway. They usually involve trade-offs - e.g. you want to animate a character's vertices, but due to your parallel architecture, that data is currently being used to render the character. So you have to double buffer the data...but that uses up pretty significant resources...so you might have to come up with some complex interlocking mechanism. Oh, and you're also trying to run the AI at the same time in this parallel world, which probably needs to know the current position/orientation of the character, not what it was for the previous frame, etc. Physics too, maybe. Have fun with that.

      That's not to say Gabe's complaints are all that valid though. Technology changes, and you move on, as you say.

      It's just a pain when you have a large code base that is hard to port (through no particular fault of your own). Direct3D issues are pretty small compared to re-architecting your system to run on 7 cpus instead of one.

      I still remember when a few guys came back from a Sony conference, and said that Sony's advice for performance optimisation was to not use C++, because the EE was piss-poor at running it, due to the tiny I/D caches. Apparently on most PS2 games, the EE was idle/stalling for about 50% of the time due to C++ usage patterns.

      Of course, most engineers' reaction to that was, why did they build a console that would run C++ code poorly, when they knew the majority of devs would use C++?

      I think Gabe is fearing a similar situation with the PS3. Having experienced Sony's idea of what constituted 'development tools' for the PS2, I'd probably be worried too, if I was in his shoes.

      • You young whipper-snappers should learn from decades of experience with SIMD processors in the scientific supercomputing community: if you want high-speed parallel code, you use Fortran.
    • It's not just game programmers who are "weird." Most people, including programmers, just aren't very good at doing things they haven't already done before. And just because you can write code and 95% of the population can't doesn't mean you have the talent or skill to handle any coding task thrown at you.

      You and I have been comfortable coding for multithreaded environments for awhile, but the game industry hasn't been forced to feel that pain yet, and Gabe Newell is pissing into the wind about it when he s
    • If you compare two general-purpose computers or embedded systems, they will generally contain the same type of components in them, things that will be abstracted away by your programming language and OS. If you look at the old game consoles, this was not the case for several reasons.

      Firstly, you were not necessarily programming to a standard library, and you weren't necessarily programming in C or C++. You didn't get those abstractions.

      Also, you were programming to specific hardware that was built into the
  • Steam-like system (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phriedom (561200) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:41PM (#13485752)
    I don't think a Steam-like system is going to have much luck on consoles, since X-Box Live already exists, unless you count X-Box Live as a Steam-like system.

    However, I DO think that Steam and Steam-like systems, properly done, have great potential to break the strangle-hold that the publishers have on the industry. An alternative, low-cost, popular (that is the tough one) distribution system could create a market for smaller developers and games with smaller budgets that won't get picked up by Sierra and EA and won't ever get on store shelves. Everything people hate about today's game industry could be destroyed by good independant distribution.
  • Unless and until I see 4 people sitting around their 'Media Center' PC with USB controllers playing a 4-player offline game on the TV...

    let's just say we should leave the hyperbole to the fanboys...
  • PS3 cores (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The difficult thing to port games to and from the PS3 won't necessarily be due to the multi-core sets or differing GPUs, as OpenGL is common place and multi-cores are becoming standard across PCs and consoles. The difference is that most of the cores in the PS3 are more akin to DSPs rather than full on GPUs: they are designed to crunch floating point math almost exclusively for physics and graphics over AI and network. This is somewhat untested and unproven territory, as shown by Apple's refusal of design
  • Well.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Monday September 05, 2005 @05:57PM (#13485824) Homepage Journal
    "Newell says he believes that Steam-like systems will be extremely helpful for developers on the new consoles due to their ability to provide updates and new content."

    This is to be expected, he has funded the creation of Steam from scratch, of course he is going to sign it's praises and say software like it is the future. The thing that he doesn't have control over is the customers, and they will decide what the future is.
  • Blah Blah Blah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justin_saunders (99661) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:11PM (#13485894) Homepage
    With Unreal 3 and Havok already on XBOX360 and PS3, I would be worried about trying to sell Source too.

    All I read was:

    Blah blah blah, Consoles are hard to develop for, blah blah blah, we can't get our technology to work on them, blah blah blah, buy our product, blah blah blah.

  • by SuperDuG (134989) <be.eclec@tk> on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:29PM (#13485979) Homepage Journal
    Game makers who want their games to play on anything and everything out there. I think it's obvious that nintendo, microsoft, sony, and the computer are completely different machines. While they do have simularities between them, it should stand to reason that they are still DIFFERENT.

    Halo and Halo 2 were games designed only for X-Box (and later they made a PC varient) that sold wonderfully. Haven't we finally come to a point that it can be proven that a title can be successful if only written for one platform?

    Halo and Pikmin are two games that I absolutely love to play, but are only available on one system (XBox and Gamecube respectfully). This idea that you have to have a game play on every platform is the pitfall that we've experienced in special part thanks to EA.

    Even today most games are designed to play on the xbox or playstation 2. Nintendo has been making millions of dollars since day one making and endorsing games that are only available on their systems, when are the other consoles going to start to do the same?

    If you write a game for portability and not to take advantage of the pros of a system then you'll have the same mundane game across all platforms.

  • Nintendo Revolution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:55PM (#13486095) Homepage Journal
    This is the sort of thing that Nintendo has been criticising for a while. They have actually stated that they would rather make a console that is easy to develop for, than one that has the all the latest bells and whistle.

    The only thing that is holding Nintendo back now is the "family oriented" image they have always paraded. It will be interesting to see if Nintendo maintains this approach, or whether they will change this?
  • Resisting progress (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cassius105 (623098) on Monday September 05, 2005 @06:57PM (#13486111)
    while i can understand things like the CELL architecture making his life more difficult i think its a bit stupid to slam the idea all together because processor architecture has to progress at some point and should be encouraged

    what hes saying atm is its bad that sony are using a new and possibly better architecture just because no one else is
  • by LordZardoz (155141) on Monday September 05, 2005 @09:12PM (#13486730)
    Making that complaint is akin to complaining that you cannot buy a Whopper at Mc Donalds. Sony needs its platform to be successful. Why should it accomodate the needs of those looking to write multi-platform code that can only potentially hurt its market share?

    Sony must make the PS3 as easy to program for as possible, but that does not at all mean that it should keep its architecture even remotely compatible with competing platforms.

    Besides, it may just backfire on Sony. Having done well in one hardware generation is no guarantee of success for the next generation. Being able to leverage its previous successes are important, but people eager to play PS2 games are not going to buy a PS3 to play those games if they already have a PS2 and would rather play X-Box 360 or Revolution titles.

    END COMMUNICATION
  • by gozar (39392) on Monday September 05, 2005 @09:28PM (#13486809) Homepage
    The complaints from developers at the time was that it was too difficult to write code for the two processors, so most games were written for the motorola 68000 (the same that was in the Genesis). This made games appear slower than on other contemporary game systems. It didn't have to be that way:
    From AtariAge.com:
    Technically, the Jaguar was impressive. Five processors reside in three chips, two of them being proprietary (Tom and Jerry) with a third being a Motorola 68000 coprocessor. The GPU runs at 26.591Mhz and is rated at 26.591 MIPS (Millions of Instructions Per Second). There is a 64-bit data bus for communication and two megabytes of fast-page mode DRAM.

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