Categories
video games

People Make Games on Valve’s Gambling Problem

Valve has a gambling problem with loot boxes and items for sale on Steam. People Make Games has done an excellent job covering here in part one of this two part series interviewing the people suffering from gambling addiction due to the situation, experts on the subject, and people who worked for Valve.

As PMG discusses in the video, Valve partnered with a gambling site for their DOTA 2 competition The International which strikes me as something that is easier for them to be comfortable with when professional sports like Baseball are including gambling, scam crypto sponsors, and odds during games.

It is disgusting to watch gambling pervade and ruin every facet of modern entertainment. Not everything needs to be for profit and make money. Not everything needs to exploit someone to raise up a rarified few who are profiting on being the middlemen in the gambling ecosystem of pain.

Categories
video games

Checking out some Steam Next Fest 2022 Demos

Lets take a look at a few of the demos from Steam Next Fest 2022 on NuclearMonster Live.

Here are the games I checked out:

Anger Foot
Melatonin
Ghost Song
Midnight Fight Express

Keep in mind that these games aren’t all complete, these are pre-release demo versions, and may be different when they come out.

Got any more demo recommendations? Let me know in the comments.

Categories
linux video games windows

Steam Deck Gets Windows Drivers “As-Is”

The people working on Valve’s Steam Deck had a lot of complicated hardware and software hurdles to overcome in order for it to just be a functional handheld gaming computer. My guess is that the biggest hurdle after everything else is probably Valve’s WINE-fork, Proton. Fortunately, Valve can continue to update Proton after the Steam Deck was released. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will undo the damage they’ve caused to the people who were porting games to Linux natively for two decades. Windows compatibility layers like Proton will also never provide perfectly accurate Windows operating system compatibility and it’s gotten to the point where Bungie is threatening to ban users who try to play Destiny 2 through Proton. That’s not entirely unreasonable from their perspective running a multiplayer game, but it stinks for Destiny 2 players.

Because the Steam Deck is “just a computer” Valve is now providing an incomplete set of drivers for Windows to run on the Steam DeckDual-booting SteamOS isn’t supported, neither is Windows 11 which requires TPM support, Valve says that both of those will work later on. The built-in speakers and microphone jack also won’t work for now, but Valve says that users can use Bluetooth or USB-C audio adaptors.. Valve is also calling this release unsupported “as-is,” and not offering any official support for the drivers but points users to this page to download the driver packages and this guide for restoring the Steam Deck back to SteamOS.

Destiny 2 runs on the Steam Deck when Windows is installed.

Categories
video games

Valve’s Aperture Desk Job Coming Soon

Valve announced a small, free, game in the Portal universe to introduce users to the Steam Deck’s users:

Aperture Desk Job reimagines the been-there-done-that genre of walking simulators and puts them in the lightning-spanked, endorphin-gorged world of sitting still behind things.

You play as an entry-level nobody on their first day at work — your heart full of hope and your legs full of dreams, eager to climb that corporate ladder. But life’s got other plans, and they all involve chairs.

Designed as a free playable short for Valve’s new Steam Deck, Desk Job walks you through the handheld’s controls and features, while not being nearly as boring as that sounds.

If Aperture Desk Job is a native Linux game, great, if it’s running in Proton this will be a bad harbinger for what’s to come in terms of Valve supporting Linux.

Categories
video games

Steam Deck Shipping & Reviews

The Steam Deck handheld gaming computer from Valve is finally shipping to users who pre-ordered it last year, and final reviews are going up. 

Patrick Klepek wrote for Waypoint that it offers personal computer gaming freedom, with some caveats:

That magic comes with caveats: the (hot) fan runs loudly and constantly, even when idling; the battery life is all over the place and rarely lasts more than a few hours on games that are modestly taxing to the hardware; it’s large and awkward to hold. But time and time again, it accomplished a simple but complicated task: play games wherever I want, whenever I want. It suggests a world that broadens the definition of a “PC gamer,” making it less about how much you overspent on a GPU and more about PC gaming’s other biggest benefit: freedom.

I think that freedom is a great way to think about it, a handheld gaming computer that ships with Linux, starts at $400 and isn’t locked to just running Valve’s software is potentially very freeing compared to what people are used to from consoles and it’s a great option for beleaguered people who are interested in computer gaming but can’t buy the parts because they’re too expensive and unavailable. 

Wes Fenlon at PC Gamer ran into the problems I was concerned with regarding Valve’s WINE fork, Proton:

What’s harder to predict is how quickly Valve will expand its selection of ‘Verified’ games that it has tested and declared to be ‘Great on Deck.’ Out of the 540 games in my Steam library, the number of Verified games has crawled from 40 to 59 since I got the Deck. SteamDB notes that fewer than 500 of Steam’s nearly 65,000 games have earned the badge. Another 350+ games have been marked as Unsupported. There’s simply no way the Deck comes anywhere close to Valve’s goal of playing every game on Steam in the near future. 

Still, Valve will let you install any game in your library and give it a shot—you can even choose to boot a game with a specific older version of Proton (the software that makes Windows games work on SteamOS) if you’re the type to read through bug forums and think Dragon’s Dogma will run better on Proton 5.13-6, for example. Of the dozens of games I’ve tried that Valve has yet to verify, almost all of them have worked just fine.

I still believe that any game working with a Windows compatibility layer is a coincidence and that seems to still be true given these reviews. A user shouldn’t need to roll back to an earlier version of Proton or even know what Proton is, and I’m concerned that Valve may still be pushing game developers towards Proton instead of native Linux game ports. That puts developers like Ethan Lee out of a job, which is absolutely horrible to think about. It is also not great for Linux as a platform and the Steam Deck overall because game compatibility will continue to get worse over time as games that were once Deck Verified could become broken due to Proton changing.

Games that were ported natively to Linux also break over time, but I believe that’s a slower process and less likely to happen without underlying hardware changes like the move from 32 to 64bit architectures. I doubt many of Loki’s software from 1999 and 2000 runs smoothly today without some work, but that’s also true of some games from that era on Windows natively. It would be curious to test games from that era in Proton. Stuff like Heavy Gear 2, and especially something like Quake 3 that has a native port of that era, a Windows version, and later became open source. It’s wild that game console emulators are a more stable platform than Windows compatibility layers like Proton and they also run great on the Steam Deck according to Fenlon:

I ran into a few other issues here and there that were simply quirks of emulation and not unique to the Steam Deck, but on the whole it’s been as smooth as I could’ve hoped. The one emulator I didn’t test is Yuzu, simply because I don’t have any Switch games ripped (guess I have some jailbreaking to do). But I now have Super Nintendo, PS1, PS2, PSP, GameCube and Wii games on a portable device with the power to play (almost) all of them, and this is before emulator developers have a chance to test the Steam Deck themselves. It’s a damn good start.

I hope to check in with Ethan Lee and other developers again soon. If you’re a game developer with thoughts about the Steam Deck and Linux, or someone who is on the fence about keeping their pre-order for the Steam Deck due to Proton, please get in touch. I don’t have a Steam Deck yet so I can’t speak from personal experience with the hardware and software combination, but I’ve been writing about Linux for over 20 years now.