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PC Games (Games) Games Hardware

How To Make PC Gaming Better 337

New submitter RMingin writes "Bruno Ferreira at Tech Report has a number of suggestions that he feels could improve PC gaming. Some are quite thought-provoking. For example: 'When technology advanced [in the '90s], the industry came up with a certification specification to ensure punters didn't miss out—and consequently spent more on better PCs. That spec was called MPC, short for Multimedia Personal Computer. The first version of the MPC spec said, in simple terms: Thy computer shalt be blessed with a sound card and speakers. Thou shalt be provided a CD-ROM drive in which to receive silver discs. Thy processor shalt not be completely crap. At the time, this spec meant a lot—and, to be honest, I think it worked marvelously. We need something like that again. People wanted MPC, everyone sold the better hardware, and everyone was happy. Let the powers that be come up with a new baseline specification. Call it MPC-HD or whatever acronym the marketing Nazgûl want to give it. I'm fine with whatever, as long as it gets the job done.' He also calls for an end to the unintuitive model numbers for GPUs and CPUs, and more consistent driver support."
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How To Make PC Gaming Better

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2012 @07:57PM (#42415299)

    Port everything over to Linux so we can ditch Wine and Windows.

    Someone had to say it.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @07:59PM (#42415329)
    It's called Tablet App Gaming. Thy computer shalt have no native input device save the screen. You shall not have full control of the device. Some of your data must needs live in the cloud.
  • by irwiss ( 1122399 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:02PM (#42415351)

    Those who finds model numbers unintuitive usually asks one of their geek friends to build a PC for them, those who don't even bother looking at model number but rather look up the benchmarks don't care about the model numbers.

    The real issue with PC gaming is that a lot of games these days are shitty console ports with atrocious controls, awful camera and graphics that are still stuck on xbox360/ps3 level which are already outdated by just about any discrete video card, and there's no incentive for companies to change their "make console game -> port to pc to milk" agenda.

  • by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:03PM (#42415359)
    There's nothing wrong with it. In fact, it's miles better than any console. An I5/I7 paired with a midrange graphics card blows them out of the water. The problem isn't the hardware, it's the software writers who write for consoles and then port that back to PCs... Case in point, Skyrim, which has about the most awful interface ever inflcited on the keyboard & mouse using public ever. More first-person shooters that all look the same. No innovation any more. No, the problem is the game companies and their crap.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:06PM (#42415403)

    Port everything over to Linux so we can ditch Wine and Windows. Someone had to say it.

    OK. First convert all GPL-based libraries to LGPL so that they are non-viral, sometimes you have to statically link. Someone had to say it.

  • by arbiter1 ( 1204146 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:10PM (#42415455)

    Port everything over to Linux so we can ditch Wine and Windows. Someone had to say it.

    OK. First convert all GPL-based libraries to LGPL so that they are non-viral, sometimes you have to statically link. Someone had to say it.

    Second, make it so when you install video drivers you are not almost guaranteed to spend some time at a CLI prompt cause gui don't want to start. Someone had to say it.

  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:24PM (#42415613) Homepage Journal

    Actually the problem is gamers who keep buying the crap made by game companies. Said companies are making fistfulls of dollars so what is their incentive to improve the crap they put out?

    I do tend to differ with you on Skyrim though. I found the interface quite easy to use on my PC. I've never played any of the console versions though.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:29PM (#42415635)

    its not crappy console ports anymore.

    its crappy PC ports of shitty console games.

  • These are so much better than the original article. I have a two year old computer that I put together new for about $500 that can run just about every game I've played on medium-high to high graphics settings with at least 30 fps minimum. While I don't play a lot of modern games, such as Metalfield 428 or Halo 9 or what have you, Planetside 2 is quite beautiful nearly maxed out.

    These are the ways to make PC gaming better. The article has a handful of suggestions for manufacturers to make selecting a PC better, the level of quality being somewhere between obvious and pointless.

    Article demands a spec for hardware. Windows 7 has a rating for hardware. It's called the Experience Index. It sucks, but so does any other spec you'll come up with because specs can't be as simple as "cd-rom drive and SVGA graphics" anymore. Peggle and Crysis won't have the same minimum requirements, ever. Linux does not have something like this because it hasn't been needed, both due to a lack of games and because I can only assume Linux users generally know what the fuck they're doing.

    Article demands a spec for rating (benchmarking) processors. Author hates not knowing if another core is better than an extra 500 megahertz. Great. Problem is that the answer is (and always will be): "It depends."

    Next suggestions are "stop letting the marketing guys name products cause they do it bad", and "drop the suck when you write your drivers". These are both fantastic ideas. Unfortunately, they've been the issue for about the last 10 years, or at least, when ATI first started building cards that required drivers (on the topic of bad drivers) and Nvidia's "Geforce If I have FX in my name, I suck regardless of my number".

    And the crazy thing for me is that I feel like in the last 3-4 years, I've had a lot less fucking around with games/hardware to get them to "just work". For all of it's flaws, Steam is pretty magical. I feel like if this article would have come out years ago, I'd have agreed wholeheartedly. Now I just shake my head at Captain Obvious.
  • by armanox ( 826486 ) <> on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:34PM (#42415693) Homepage Journal

    If you grab the blob from nvidia's site you have to install at the CLI.

  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:42PM (#42415771) Journal

    CPU model numbers are fine.

    i3 i5 i7.
    Biger has more power.
    220, 3470 etc... bigger is more power.

    Quick, hotshot! Which has more power, a 5450,or a 4870?A 2700K, or a 3470?

  • Steambox (Score:5, Insightful)

    by J-1000 ( 869558 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @08:55PM (#42415877)
    The upcoming Steambox will hopefully be the new benchmark for software. It would be nice if they'd release a certification badge upon release that other hardware makers could use. I agree 100% with the comment about GPU/CPU naming conventions. They are even worse than cell phones. If there's one thing we can learn from the iPhone, let it be simple names.
  • by qwak23 ( 1862090 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @09:08PM (#42415959)

    I have to second this. Though I cherish my memories of playing the Ultima series in my youth, I find the games practically unplayable now. Sure, they had a very detailed world and story, but the systems while fairly fresh at the time, seem very primitive and unfriendly now. Granted the games did do a few things that I've rarely seen since (if at all - granted I haven't played every game in existence so I may be missing some things) that would certainly be welcome (by me) in a modern game.

    I remember that the story in Ultima VI wasn't exactly linear, though you could follow cue given to you by NPC's and work your way through the game in a linear fashion, you could also avoid the major conflict with the gargoyles from the start and forge your own path through the game. Sure, some things could only be done one very specific way, other could be done multiple ways, especially if you got creative (and if you really got stuck somewhere, you could go the evil route and kill a few npc's or steal some goods to get what you needed, granted you could also make the game unwinnable this way).

    I really don't think the state of PC gaming is in that bad of shape. I've also been hearing complaints about the state of PC gaming for almost as long as I've been gaming on a PC (1985). Sure, some companies do crappy ports, others just try to get some fodder out the door to capitalize on the current trend, and other companies cater to the PC audience even while courting the consoles and for others, the PC represents the vast majority of their output.

    The first Borderlands runs and looks better on my tower than it's console version does, and can even be dialed down enough to be playable on my laptop (inexpensive laptop purchased primarily for school work, not gaming). I haven't tried to run 2 on my laptop yet, but it's still awesome on my tower. Skyrim? sure the menu system may suffer from consolitis a bit, but everything else about it is better on PC, and again runs great on my tower and can be dialed down to be playable on my laptop. That's not even consdering the mods (and support of!) available for the PC version.

    Sure, there are plenty of games out there with poor PC support, barely playable on my tower due to poor optimization, lack of video settings or both, but I'm usually not surprised by those ones when I see who developed/published the game.

    Of course there are also several genres that thrive on the PC and rarely, if ever see the light of day on a console (how many 4X games make it to consoles?) and certain games that hold a larger (or longer) PC following. How many people still play Morrowind on the Xbox vs. how many people still play it on the PC? Hell, given how cheap it is on steam, the various (new!) mods, and younger audiences being introduced to TES for the first time by the latest game in the series, I'm sure Bethesda still sees a fair amount of sales on Morrowind for the PC.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @09:13PM (#42415991) Homepage Journal

    You have (and shall) never hear the term "console port".

    The main problem with a LOT of PC games, nowadays, is they've been dumbed down, and lots of features stripped out or simply never done (or done right) in the first place. Simply to make it easier to share code-bases between a console port and the PC game.

    DCUO is a prime example of this.

    It's so incredibly limited, and the controls for the game absolutely SUCK. Why? Because they designed it with a controller in mind. They limited the game's models and costume options because most consoles just couldn't handle the sheer variety a full-blown costume/model system would have given them.

    As a result, you have a console fighter game masquerading as a PC MMO. And it does NEITHER well.

  • by Altanar ( 56809 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @10:01PM (#42416279)

    A game that costs $100,000 to make, but sells at $2/game has to sell over 50,000 copies to make a profit. A game that costs $2,500,000 but sells at $50 has to sell the same. Your first point is only valid if you're willing to pay a higher percentage of the cost.

    Dear Indie Game Devs:

    • Your game isn't intrinsically better than others because it looks like a SNES game.
    • Stop making games that think that difficulty for difficulty sake is the best mechanic a game can have.
    • Stop making clones of games from the early 1990s.
    • Stop refusing to sell your game on marketplaces like Steam, Origin, and the Windows Store. You are not hurting "the Man"; you are hurting gamers and yourself.

    PC Gamers:

    • Buy games that you like.
    • If a game is worth playing, it's worth paying for. No excuses.
    • The *only* point made when you pirate a game is that the PC has a pirating problem. You are not hurting "the Man"; you are hurting gamers and yourself.
  • Re:better ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qwak23 ( 1862090 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @10:34PM (#42416545)

    #1 - Don't make me obligatory xkcd you! ;) yeah, one solid standard is nice assuming it can be maintained properly. Unfortunately the latter part of that is pretty rare. Either not everyone adopts updates to the standard, or the standard stagnates, 2 or 3 potential replacements arise to take the torch and we're back to competing standards for awhile. Standards are awesome, but without a walled garden approach (and even then...), I have a feeling this will always be a problem.

    #2 - I have mixed opinions on this. I'm not a big fan "virtual goods" sold by the service provider that make game play easier or progress faster as that gives the company incentive to do just as you describe, however I don't really have a problem with a player driven market exchanging virtual goods for real world cash as in most circumstances I've seen this in (MMO's mostly) it really doesn't affect my game play experience if I choose to not take part.

    #3 - I totally agree, though I'm not really sure it would be feasible. I think a better option would just be a stipulation that if you are going to provide such services, that should you go out of business or suspend services you allow private entities (individuals, other companies, etc) access to the server side software and code so people may choose to keep the game going at their own expense if they choose and if the server side houses all player records, that those records be made available to the player so they can readily transfer them to a private server if they choose. Of course, re-reading your post, you do seem to mention this option ;)

  • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @10:51PM (#42416691)

    True, but so did windows. Linux today gaming wise is probably where windows was back in the days of 98SE. You can install most drivers without having to fuck with the OS, and it's 3D API is starting to emerge as notable enough to use (again)... sort of.

    But it's still crashy both on video drivers and API being badly implemented in it, and you still need fairly deep knowledge of the OS to get stuff properly installed, configured and running.

  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Friday December 28, 2012 @11:13PM (#42416865)

    With this attitude, no wonder Linux ain't a gaming platform yet.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 28, 2012 @11:26PM (#42416975) Journal

    I'll add get rid of X-Server and give us something better than Pulse which seems to crap itself on update more times than I can count.

    But personally I don't know why anybody would bitch about PC gaming now, if anything I'd say we are in the middle of another golden age. I have NEVER been able to get games as cheaply as I am now under Steam, I'm talking whole catalogs for less than the cost of a single console game (such as the THQ bundle for $30, great set) and the cards and chips? Cheap as cheap can be. When I started if you spent less than 2 grand you were gonna be struggling 6 months after you got it, now I can build a PC for $450 that will play games for years AND make me a profit. Hell you can buy a fully loaded 6 core AMD for like $250 in a Tiger kit, slap a $50 HD4850 and tada! You can play the vast majority of games with plenty of bling. Spend a little more, say $100 for an HD6850 or $120 for an HD6870 and you'll be gaming on it for the next 4 years, no problem.

    So what is there to complain about? The games are cheap, the hardware is cheap, hell you can buy Win 8 for $40 and just use Start8 to kill that Metro crap and have you a cheap gaming PC that will get updates until 2022 and I wouldn't be surprised if the games would all still run on it fine, its rare to see a game require more than a dual core for a minimum even today. These kids just don't realize how good they got get off my lawn!

  • why don't you first convince Nvidia to make their drivers install the first time without issue.

    On ubuntu, there are 5 different options for installing. Choose the wrong one and you may have to reboot like 9 times and install/uninstall like 5 times.

    And I'm experienced at installing them and have been doing so since they first released it.

    My latest ubuntu installation on my computer was for the steam ubuntu beta. It took me 2 hours to get the drivers installed using software central. I had to resort to apt-get to manually force different variants to install before finally finding the one that worked. The original one. Which wouldn't work prior because of missing deps, which should automatically be installed if I'm installing something that needs them. It didn't do that on ubuntu using the software center. And that's why Linux still isn't ready.

    It's because of jerks who think chasing down deps is actually freedom to choose. When it should be, "you're installing X and Y is necessary so it's being installed first.

  • by ridley4 ( 1535661 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @12:43AM (#42417381)

    Actually, a power tool is precisely the model to go after, really.

    I insert the safety key and press the on button. The motor turns on and it just works. Dangerous? Mildly to extremely depending on the tool. But it Just Works and that's what matters whether it's some skilled artisan who has turned more bowls on his 25,000 dollar lathe and hand-sharpened every tool he's forged himself or something absurd like that or an underpaid illegal immigrant sticking screws into a wall frame with a handheld drill/screw gun. It just works - pull trigger switch, motor turns, screw goes in. Obtuse things like spitting out errors that are purely a number just doesn't make sense in this era of 64-bit monster rigs that can churn out well-encoded, efficiently compressed video at or above the native framerate - can't we spare a couple bytes to stick a descriptive error string after looking up the error in a stored table? It isn't like we're dealing with featherweight embedded computers with barely enough space to stick a primitive FORTH in. Maybe I just need to turn in my geek card in, or something. I don't know.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday December 29, 2012 @01:03AM (#42417459) Journal

    That's a rather hard comparison to make, as windows improved in different ways than linux.

    That's a rather hard comparison to make, as windows improved in different ways than linux.

    Not really.

    In 1991 Linux was a stone bitch requiring high voodoo just to get it to run - and then only on a perfect clone of Linus' box, only at the command line and with an distressingly short subset of unixland apps. The quality, utility and reliability were appalling to someone versed in SVR II/III, and nobody in corporate took it seriously. Now Linux powers watches and the world's largest supercomputer, and everything in between - effortlessly and with grace. Instead of being slow with drivers, Linux driver development now usually starts in the design phase for the device - because it's the thing you can test in a simulator to tweak the features of your device. By this facility device (and processor or architecture) developers can prove their device or architecture change works in the simulator before they do an expensive silicon run. Linux now supports both more devices and more architectures than any other OS ever. You buy a Linux/Android device, turn it on, log in and it automatically has all the apps you paid for ready to reinstall - usually with your data too. In that span Linux has gone from "not useful to anybody, not even Linus" to powering the global Internet economy including Google, Facebook, Twitter - and even Microsoft, providing you universal access to all your apps and data and people - in your pocket. From only being able to run for a few days to being the OS NASA puts in satellites.

    In 1991 we were already on Windows 3.0, so it already at least had a GUI. So Windows started from a higher level and to have improved as much would need to have become truly outstanding by now. But it hasn't. They still haven't even solved the malware problem yet, and they were five years into it at that time. Windows is the OS that only Iran is dumb enough to run their nuclear research on. It takes 4 hours of expert service to take a Windows machine from "retail" to "usable" condition. After that it takes an indeterminate amount of time and expense to reinstall - and usually re-buy - the apps you used to have in the prior version and recover your data. Only then can you begin to relearn where they've moved the buttons. It's deliberately incompatible with every OS that isn't Windows and all applications that compete with Microsoft's. It has an upgrade treadmill that requires you to replace perfectly serviceable gear and software every time they refresh the OS. It has a built-in fragmentation where it's even not compatible with the oldest versions of itself, and while new features and their own applications like the browser could be backported older versions are not to keep the treadmill moving. And yet for giving up your devices and apps what does this new version give you? A UI that didn't sell on phones, so they're trying to push it to desktops and servers to make it familiar so as to sell the phones that 99% of everybody doesn't want. The client OS is designed to induce dependence on both the server OS and their own-brand apps, and this design is mutual. Apps are built on their platform-of-the-day, so developers have to relearn their entire skillset as often as Microsoft remembers that they lacked forethought and have to burn it all down again and start over. And it's from Microsoft, so knowing their long history I doubt any of these things are going to change ever. It's failtacular. A festival of fail. It's got recursive levels of failure built-in that make it a failure fractal. And yet it's got a cult with selective recurrent amnesia.

    In '91 Unix with X was technically as far ahead of Windows as Windows was ahead of Linux at that time. And now Unix is pretty much dead: the legacy software stack is owned by Attachmate, who is legendary for making VT-100 terminal emulators that integrate with Microsoft Office

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Saturday December 29, 2012 @02:37AM (#42417931) Journal
    This year Android/Linux moved more devices than Windows did. By a good stretch. Next year by 3x at least. Looks like you guys are on the run.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982