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Relic on GFWL and Steamworks

The Danny Bilson Interview on Shacknews talks with Danny Bilson, THQ's core games boss, who discusses various aspects of the industry (thanks joao). One topic of particular interest is choosing between Games for Windows LIVE and Steamworks for back-end support, as Relic has vacillated between the two services for the Dawn of War series. From Bilson's comments, in spite of a general preference for Steam expressed by most gamers (not to mention himself), this situation remains up in the air:

It's been easier for development [moving to Steamworks], so far, but Microsoft is really talking to me a lot about getting back on Games for Windows Live. So, it's not something I want to comment on because there are a lot of discussions going on about that right now. I like both platforms and I really, really, really like Microsoft as a partner. They're fantastic partners. I want to respect them.

There are a lot of discussions going on about that now because it's a sensitive issue. But from a development point of view, it has been easier on Steamworks. That has nothing to do with Steam as a distribution platform, as you know. The developers really like it, but again, I have incredible respect for Microsoft and they're really fantastic partners. And so, there's a lot of ongoing discussion about that.

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47. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 5, 2010, 09:18 InBlack
 
And the moral of the story is that the sole purpose of GFWL is to make the end user so frustrated with their PC gaming experience, that they give up in disgust and wow to never touch another PC game ever again....hmmmm but what's the alternative to gaming on the PC I wonder???  
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46. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 5, 2010, 02:01 Prez
 
GFWL sucks in so many ways that it would be easier to just list what's good about it.
...


Thinking2


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Umm...


Headscratch

.................


Whatever Okay, I got nuthin'.

Even so, I am looking forward to MS's re-launch of GFWL. On the outside chance (okay way, WAY, WAAAYYY outside...) that they actually make it better, it would be great if it could eventually provide consumers with a viable competitor to Steam. I like Valve and Steam, but going so long without competition can make any company, lazy, arrogant, and overly comfortable.

This comment was edited on Nov 5, 2010, 02:19.
 
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45. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 23:49 Dev
 
I figured I'd address the steam patch thing. Here's todays steam patch:
November 4, 2010 - Steam client update released
A Steam client update is now available. To apply the update, click the File menu inside of Steam and then select "Check for Steam Client Updates...". The specific changes include:

Steam

Updating store pages to show stats and launch options for games you own.
Updated Speex and JPEG libraries
Fix a memory leak when toggling the game viewed in the details view
Fix a crash when receiving and merging updated data for stats/achievements in some situations
Fix sometimes failing to fully recognize a game as exited for certain launcher app setups
Fixed navigating to game guides in the store
Fix Steam Cloud bug where users who converted from the demo to the full version of Everyday Genius: SquareLogic, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, or Jolly Rover would have their progress reverted to the progress they made in the demo while opted into the beta
Fixed community chat bug
Fixed displaying Steam Service dialog under OSX
Fixed a couple rare crashes and added more instrumentation around potential memory corruption
Fixed Steam API logging
Improve tooltips support under OSX
Added installer support under OSX for an upcoming game release

As you can see, it not only fixes issues under other platforms (OSX to be exact) it fixes issues with specific games, and issues with libraries steam (and perhaps its games) need, and patches it to support future games, and of course it fixes issues that steam itself has.
 
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44. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 23:05 Dev
 
Sempai wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 17:16:
I just purchased Fear 2 from GFWL cause it's $4.99 atm.

I will tell you Microsoft are made up of THE most moronic fucking dumbshits this side of fucktardsville.

I downed the game using GFWL service(required)i went into settings to make sure the game went to my E: drive due to my C: drive being a 64gb SSD which houses Win7x64 atm with little to no room left on the drive.

Well..GFWL REQUIRES the game install to the C: no matter if you pointed it to another drive or not.

IT'S REQUIRED IN ORDER TO INSTALL THE GAME.

Therefore i cannot install Fear 2 from GFWL because i do not have the disk space on my C: drive. I have 2 other terabyte drives with plenty of room but hell no. Thank You Microsoft!

I have an E: Folder full of Fear 2 cab files i don't know what to do with..

YOU FUCKING MORONS!...FUCK!!!

It doesn't make it less moronic, but it makes it possible to install. Figure out the folder it wants to make on C: to install it, and make it into a link/junction pointing to your other drive.

I have the same thing, a 60 gig SSD, and thats a problem I have with steam, and same solution.
 
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43. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 20:35 Flip
 
Who in their right mind wants to buy an oddball amount of "Microsoft Points" when they want to make a purchase. Seems like whenever I want something you CANNOT buy the correct amount of "points" you usually have to over buy and pray that you can find something worth having with the leftover balance. Steam charges dollar amounts I can link to whatever means of payment I choose (thanks Steam). That's why M$ has so much cash in this arena, unused points, plus the "Teenage Homophobic turrets sufferers network" that is Xbox Live
Also, GFWL still feels cludgy as hell in Fallout, and I doubt it's better anywhere else.
If Relic goes GFWL, I'll either buy their games via Physical media from a 'brick and mortar' store or not at all.
 
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42. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 17:16 KilrathiAce
 
Relic, stop with this bs. You decided to drop gfwl for next dow title and use steam, stick to your plan. Steam/Steamworks is enough for the title. Further, it allows you for quick patching and no need to submit code to ms for ms certification every time binaries are modified. Stop dancing to everyones beat, stick to your decisions.  
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41. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 17:16 Sempai
 
I just purchased Fear 2 from GFWL cause it's $4.99 atm.

I will tell you Microsoft are made up of THE most moronic fucking dumbshits this side of fucktardsville.

I downed the game using GFWL service(required)i went into settings to make sure the game went to my E: drive due to my C: drive being a 64gb SSD which houses Win7x64 atm with little to no room left on the drive.

Well..GFWL REQUIRES the game install to the C: no matter if you pointed it to another drive or not.

IT'S REQUIRED IN ORDER TO INSTALL THE GAME.

Therefore i cannot install Fear 2 from GFWL because i do not have the disk space on my C: drive. I have 2 other terabyte drives with plenty of room but hell no. Thank You Microsoft!

I have an E: Folder full of Fear 2 cab files i don't know what to do with..

YOU FUCKING MORONS!...FUCK!!!

 
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40. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 17:07 Beamer
 
How many people don't buy PC games at B&M stores anymore? How many people don't buy off anything but Steam or potentially other services like Impulse?

A significant chunk.

I buy from very few sources anymore simply for convenience. I delete games I'm done playing all the time, then later I want to play them again and it's very simple on Steam or Impulse to do these things. More complicated with things like Direct2Drive, EALink, etc. I'm less likely to buy something outside of that realm because of the inconvenience. Most games aren't worth the effort, and the ones that generally are already are on some service(like CSS, TF2, SoaSE, even EVE)

I buy from Steam. Solely. I have one or two purchases from GoG as they have a small handful of exclusives I adore and, if I remember, no client/wrapper (I haven't actually installed those purchases... yet.)
Aside from that just Steam. I have GFWL installed thanks to FlatOut Ultimate (purchased via Steam, left uninstalled for over a month due to avoiding GFWL.) I don't want more programs residing in memory (GFWL, at least in FlatOut, exits when you exit the game, but I don't know if that's common.) I don't want to have to enter my information in more programs, not for privacy reasons but because it's a pain in the ass. I don't want more icons on my desktop or in my start menu (I tend to access Steam games by opening Steam and clicking them) and I don't want to have to remember which game I bought with which service. So I run just Steam.

But that's me. I'm not John Q. Public.
 
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39. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 17:02 bhcompy
 
Beamer wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 16:31:
GFWL does, at this point, but how many people honestly avoid titles due to it? I'd wager an insignificant amount. More have no opinion/clue.

How many people don't buy PC games at B&M stores anymore? How many people don't buy off anything but Steam or potentially other services like Impulse?

I buy from very few sources anymore simply for convenience. I delete games I'm done playing all the time, then later I want to play them again and it's very simple on Steam or Impulse to do these things. More complicated with things like Direct2Drive, EALink, etc. I'm less likely to buy something outside of that realm because of the inconvenience. Most games aren't worth the effort, and the ones that generally are already are on some service(like CSS, TF2, SoaSE, even EVE)
 
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38. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 16:31 Beamer
 

Doesn't address anything I posted. This is the publisher overriding consumer choice which already lead the developers away from GFWL. Unless Microsoft is willing to fund their titles going forward, any money taken now is a bandaid and will just temporarily stave off the larger problem which they already solved by switching away from GFWL.

Assuming it genuinely damages sales beyond any of the other options.

Something like PhysX support is a bit of a no-brainer, as it really doesn't damage anyone.
GFWL does, at this point, but how many people honestly avoid titles due to it? I'd wager an insignificant amount. More have no opinion/clue. And this is Microsoft's attempt to convince them, and even those that dislike it, that the product is good and worthwhile. Yes, many people will avoid the product for GFWL, but the goal would be for Microsoft to pay enough to compensate these losses and then some, or at least pay money when it's needed now on the assumption (often correct assumption) that less money is needed later.

That's without going into the issues that many publishers face where they have over stuffed themselves on many useless positions and spend far too much money on advertising. The game publishing business model is inherently broken these days and relying on Microsoft's money isn't exactly an intelligent solution to it, what with their hot and cold attitude towards PC gaming.

Plenty of evidence out there showing that advertising is one of, if not the, most important expenditure when it comes to sales. You can spend 25 million perfecting a game or 25 million on 2 minutes of advertising during Monday Night Football. Guess which gets you more sales?

This comment was edited on Nov 4, 2010, 16:52.
 
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37. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 16:09 Verno
 
Doesn't address anything I posted. This is the publisher overriding consumer choice which already lead the developers away from GFWL. Unless Microsoft is willing to fund their titles going forward, any money taken now is a bandaid and will just temporarily stave off the larger problem which they already solved by switching away from GFWL.

That's without going into the issues that many publishers face where they have over stuffed themselves on many useless positions and spend far too much money on advertising. The game publishing business model is inherently broken these days and relying on Microsoft's money isn't exactly an intelligent solution to it, what with their hot and cold attitude towards PC gaming.

This comment was edited on Nov 4, 2010, 16:16.
 
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36. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 16:05 Beamer
 
They didn't run out of money in the first place though. This is THQ just wanting as much money as possible, to the possible detriment of it's end products which provide its main source of revenue in the first place.

They have a budget for game X. Game X is running way over budget, and it's already pushed about as far as they think they can go without incurring a mostly guaranteed loss.

What do you do? You can push it out early, which sucks and makes no one happy. You can find ridiculous advertising which, the longer you go, the more ridiculous it gets, to the point that you're feeding Verizon Wireless ads in-game. Or you can sign on with a third party solution that pays you big money to support their product, be it a hardware-based physics solution or whatever GFWL claims to be right now.

Plenty of games use both it and Steam, so I really don't know what one would expect to do over the other.
 
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35. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 16:01 Flatline
 
Verno wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 15:18:
Again, Steam isn't perfect and no one is claiming that

Actually, someone *was* saying that steam was perfect and I was disagreeing.

I hadn't realized that they had done major platform releases. Yeah, I would expect a flurry of patches for that. At the time it just seemed like it was some under the hood stuff that they liked to release every few days.

I'll stand corrected on that.
 
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34. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:49 Warskull
 
Beamer wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 15:42:
If GFWL is chosen over Steam then it shows Danny Bilson, THQ and Relic's true colors; money is more important than making a great game. The fact that they're even contemplating GFWL means they don't trust their game, or their customers. Neither of which I want to do business with...

In fairness, when half-baked games tend to be released people here complain and moan "why didn't you develop longer!" When it's pointed out that the company ran out of money, the response is typically "find more money!"


This is THQ finding more money.

Yet, Relic is famous for still releasing half-baked games. The original DoW 2 used GFWL and released with catastrophic, game destroying bugs. Units permanently ate up pop-cap in multiplayer so eventually no one could make units. Then due to Relic's inability to test and make a proper patch, combined with GFWL requirements, they took over 3 months to fix these patches.

Relic is a company that cannot test to save their life. They literally do zero QA. A program like GFWL that slows down Relic's patches to fix their original incompetence is disastrous.
 
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33. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:44 Verno
 
They didn't run out of money in the first place though. This is THQ just wanting as much money as possible, to the possible detriment of it's end products which provide its main source of revenue in the first place.  
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32. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:42 Beamer
 
If GFWL is chosen over Steam then it shows Danny Bilson, THQ and Relic's true colors; money is more important than making a great game. The fact that they're even contemplating GFWL means they don't trust their game, or their customers. Neither of which I want to do business with...

In fairness, when half-baked games tend to be released people here complain and moan "why didn't you develop longer!" When it's pointed out that the company ran out of money, the response is typically "find more money!"


This is THQ finding more money.
 
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31. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:26 bhcompy
 
Flatline wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 14:10:
necrosis wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 12:36:
including one where after every game patch I have to fiddle around with the server list window for 20 minutes before I can update the master server list. Or I can launch Half-life 2, because apparently running HL2 fixes TF2. Go figure.

If it's the common problem many people have it's because you have Steam set too high in the connection setup. Some firewalls/routers have UDP flooding settings that you can tweak that will fix this issue, but the easiest fix is to lower your connection speed in Steam.
 
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30. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:18 Verno
 
Flatline wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 15:00:
However, most of the bugs I see on the revision list have to do with the core program, not with how it interacts with applications. I could understand what you're suggesting but a lot of this has to do with "core functionality". In fact, there's even a patch today! Christ, World of Warcraft, which is orders of magnitude more complicated, doesn't patch that often, and Steam has been out longer.

Again, you have no real understanding of the underlying program or the complexities involved as is evidenced by that WoW comment. I'm not trying to be a dick here but you insist on pushing so... of course there's many patches when they just launched a rewrite that runs on multiple platforms. Sometimes they need to also update the platform itself so that future games can still run. Sometimes they need to update the platform for changes in things like system libraries from Microsoft. Sometimes it's just a complicated application that has to manage hundreds of products, not to mention launching them and also interacting with the backend -over the Internet- which presents its own set of problems. There isn't one fucking guy sitting in a room with mountain dew writing the thing, it's managed through a source control system and probably has dozens if not far more developers working on it. Hell in my lifetime I've fixed bugs and had someone else re-introduce them because I forgot to properly document a bloody variable.

The list goes on and on, I could write a full page just on the complexities alone. The changelist isn't some holy document, there are probably hundreds of undocumented bugfixes for everything slipped in every month. Regardless, you point to the patches that update Steam alone while ignoring everything else.

You said it yourself... most games. I understand PC performance issues and stuff, but Steam takes an extreme hands-off approach to games released on their network. I don't expect GOG level of commitment, but the standard of what's acceptable on steam and what's acceptable in the rest of the industry is kind of a double standard.

I wouldn't mind at least a warning when you go to buy certain games. Take Independence War for example. It's an old game, and uses either software rendering or Glide. Unless you're willing to dig up a compatible Glide wrapper, you get software rendering. Nowhere when you buy the game does it mention this, and the advertisements all show the Glide graphics. I don't blame Valve directly for this

Impossible for Valve to do for every machine. Even GOG has a support email for a reason. Again, that's pretty much PC gaming in a nutshell, people have enough problems with CURRENT games, let alone having Valve try to manage back catalog titles and deal with software studios that might not even exist anymore, only the publisher is present. Regardless, if this really matters to you to the point that it ruins the service then the only answer is consoles. I don't want Valve requiring publishers to meet X imaginary standard because that's what consoles do already and it creates shitty closed platforms which encourages more of the same.

I agree Steam is, ultimately, better than GFWL, but I don't think it works "well", just "well enough". I guess for a 5 or 6 year old program I'd expect most of the basic issues to be ironed out at this point. I suspect part of the reason why we don't see them ironed out is specifically because there is no challenger to steam. They can do things however they want and are still the 800 pound gorilla in the online retail market.

Again, Steam isn't perfect and no one is claiming that, I have a list of things I dislike about Steam but there is a reason that it's popular. You may not agree with it but that doesn't change the fact that it's true. Can something else come along do better? Sure, that's kind of the nature of things. There is always room for improvement. The "best" is always "good enough" when something better comes along but until that happens..

This comment was edited on Nov 4, 2010, 15:37.
 
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29. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:14 Kxmode
 
Brumbek wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 14:55:
Overon wrote on Nov 4, 2010, 14:39:
If you are Microsoft you don't have to make your stuff better than steam, you can just pay your way to get developers to use your GFWL that so many hardcore gamers detest.
Exactly right! And the fact that this Bilson guy would even still consider the inferior GFWL is really frustrating. I seem to think game dev's should do what's best for gamers, crazy idea I know...

If GFWL is chosen over Steam then it shows Danny Bilson, THQ and Relic's true colors; money is more important than making a great game. The fact that they're even contemplating GFWL means they don't trust their game, or their customers. Neither of which I want to do business with...
 
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28. Re: Relic on GFWL and Steamworks Nov 4, 2010, 15:13 Icewind
 
I have to laugh at the people upset about the "constant" patches to Steam.

I've been using Steam since HL2 came out in the fall of 2004. I've never seen a Steam client patch last more than 20 seconds.

If you can't wait less than half a minute to play your game then you have issues.
 
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