Steam is powerful, hot, and painful. It can move trains, boats, and has driven minds crazy with the power of invention. And now, the power of steam has come to Linux. That’s right, Linux. Until recently Linux users were the most unloved members of the gaming world. They have been the outcasts, the rejects in the corner who preferred an operating system, which quite frankly, is the most logical of all of them. They are Linux users. And now, they have arrived.
Ok, enough with the dramatics; Portal is available if you’re running Valve’s Linux Steam client, you’ve got it. If you don’t have it, get it, because the Steam Box is coming. While PC, Xbox, Play Station, and Mac users have all had a gaming advantage, the love for Linux users has never been there. Until now.
Linux gamers now have access to Valve’s Half-Life,Half-Life: Blue Shift, and the just-released beta Left 4 Dead 2 (L4D2). And that’s good news.
For all the mega super awesomeness that this news could potentially be, it’s not quite the best. Valve’s current catalog for Linux is still quite sparse. With only 13 titles as of this article, it’s barely a scratch against the wall of Mac and PC game titles out there, but hey, it’s a start. I mean, Portal is a game from 2007, and the original Half-Life was first published in 1998.
This padding of the Linux library is likely part of preparations for the Steam Box console, which is expected to run the OS. Valve’s entire catalog will probably be available for Linux before long. The question is whether any other big-name developers will follow suit. There are over 100 Linux titles on Steam right now, but most of them are smaller games from indie developers. The Steam Box may have to stream games from a Windows-equipped PC if it wants to offer a similar selection of blockbusters to next-generation consoles.
Now, Remember that Valve utilizes a Direct3D -> OpenGL layer for its ports. It takes the D3D9 with extensions and dynamically created oGL calls. Not only does have to call oGL but it also has to deal with that translation overhead. Despite that, it still ends up being faster than native DX where no translation is done.They still use d3d9 but go through live translation to oGL calls and still they outperform the native DX9 implementation despite having the same limitations. Faster than native despite having additional translation overhead is nothing short of impressive especially when you consider Valve had next to no oGL experience when they started this ( although then basically then hired an all-staroGL team to carry out the endeavor.
It’s hard to talk about the Linux OS without talking about the Steam Box, which, if you believe Valve head Gabe Newell, is the console killer. Newell has confirmed that Valve’s own Steam Box will come packaged with Linux. The OS is anathema to the walled gardens of Windows, being both free and open-source. It’s just as alien to the Xbox and Playstation front-ends. Where they curate content and load up with adverts, the Steam Box is as open as an average PC.
Newell says you’re free to install Windows on Valve’s Linux box, and download whatever you fancy. Imagine a console with Adblock. Imagine a console that isn’t hamstrung by its components half a decade down the line, a console that doesn’t force its creator to make a loss on each sale or to devote a gigantic chunk of budget half way through its life cycle to make its successor.
The Steam Box should scare console makers. 2012 was a monster year for PC gaming, the portents of doom that dogged the platform for years finally shaken off as the once dominant consoles felt their teeth grow too long.
With the upcoming Steam Box, and Portal and Left for Dead 2 coming to Linux, the rise of the few should be a concern to all.
Author Bio: The article is written by Jason Phillips, a freelance writer and an enthusiast. His passion about gaming inspired him to write gaming articles, blog about gaming and starting an online gaming site Zombie Games 365.
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