Portal Patched

Steam News announces a new patch is now automatically available for Portal, to update Valve's first-person puzzle game. The list of changes follows.

  • Fixed screen "fuzziness" caused by color correction operation
  • Fixed text not rendering in game if font Tahoma was disabled
  • Fixed startup video not playing fullscreen
  • Added optional -snd_openal command line parameter to force the engine to use the OpenAL api, can be used if Portal is playing no audio when launched normally
  • Added mac_fsbackground convar, on Snow Leopard or better you can set this to have Portal still visible when it is not the foreground application
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7.
 
Re: Fix the bugs before you ship the game.
May 14, 2010, 03:17
Sho
 
7.
Re: Fix the bugs before you ship the game. May 14, 2010, 03:17
May 14, 2010, 03:17
 Sho
 
There is no valid reason why bugs such as these couldn't be rooted out before release in a timely manner.

Looking at the bugs, I have to disagree. Your earlier post referred to the fact that the game is three years old at this point, but to me this patch changelog feels like a number of these are fixes for new regressions rather than three-year old bugs, probably due to recent engine changes brought about by the brand-new Mac release. A Mac port means an OpenGL port of the engine, which means significant amounts of new code, and their changelog doesn't say which fixes apply to which platform (except for that last one that mentions OS X Snow Leopard by name).

So let's look at them more closely:

Fixed screen "fuzziness" caused by color correction operation

This is probably a Mac-only "fix". I put fix in quotation marks because I have a feeling whether it was actually broken is probably contentious; this sounds like a change in response to customer feedback about the looks of things. The reason I assume it only affects the Mac release is because color correction is a post-processing shader effect, and an OpenGL port requires rewriting all shaders in GLSL rather than HLSL, which means new code only exposed to customers now.


Fixed text not rendering in game if font Tahoma was disabled

Hard to say. Might be a fix for the Windows version. If so, it's certainly a fix for an extreme edge case, because a Windows system without the font that's been Windows' standard UI font for a decade or so (up until Vista, but it's still bundled and used hard-coded by many apps) is likely to be pretty rare. It might be for the Mac version, though, because Mac OS X has a built-in ability to disable fonts without uninstalling them, and the changelog uses that term. That said, Steam for Mac is only supported on Mac OS X 10.5 and higher, and all versions of Mac OS X since and including 10.5 have bundled Tahoma by default. Since it's used on a ton of websites and is a well-implemented screen font, most users won't disable it. So, still an edge case and something that's rather easy to miss before letting what is essentially a new game (code-wise and platform-wise) out into the wild.


Fixed startup video not playing fullscreen

Pretty sure this is also Mac-only, because I don't see how it wouldn't have been fixed long ago for the Windows version. I agree though that it's curious how this particular problem got through QA, unless the problem is somehow contingent on a particular hardware/software environment (but then, the Macintosh hardware/software environment is much less varied than the PC world, so it's easier on QA).


Added optional -snd_openal command line parameter to force the engine to use the OpenAL api, can be used if Portal is playing no audio when launched normally

Sounds Mac-only, too, and is not really a bugfix but probably more of a workaround for people to try who have some problem with their audio hardware when the game is using the Core Audio API rather than OpenAL. OpenAL is also available on Windows (and Linux, where it actually originated), but AFAIK the Source engine doesn't use it there.


Added mac_fsbackground convar, on Snow Leopard or better you can set this to have Portal still visible when it is not the foreground application

Also pretty workaround-ish, I think. Most likely they chose to suspend the game when Alt+Tabbing away to save the CPU cycles (and on laptops, consequently, battery power), but this then means that the Exposé window overview feature on OS X won't show a live view of the game anymore, and this option allows you to force it not to suspend. It's also conceivable that it's a proper bug though if they forgot to limit the suspend logic to the fullscreen case, i.e. if the game suspends every time its window loses focus. Obviously this paragraph has been heavy on speculation.


Anyway, the bottom line is that I doubt any of these changes really apply to a "three-year old game" -- the Mac version is new, and substantially different code-wise. That's no excuse for bad QA, obviously, but none of these sound particularly scandalous. Runs the gamut from feedback-motivated visual change to fixes for rare edge cases to providing workarounds for those stuck with faulty drivers or so. Out of things to get one's panties in a twist over, this is a strange one.

This comment was edited on May 14, 2010, 04:02.
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    Re: Fix the bugs before you ship the game.
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