So recently we posted news about the Windows 10 market share according to #Steam. Since then, ex Valveemployee Rich Geldreich is back in the news regarding Steam and Linux. Geldreich worked on games such as Portal 2 and Linux versions of other Valve titles. While these titles are based on the original Source Engine, the developer issued a blog post. The post shows Valve’s efforts with Linux and OpenGL on the industry. Particularly in getting Microsoft to support PC gaming better.
So on Valve’s Linux blog, entitled ‘Faster Zombies’ details show off what performance Valve was able to achieve running games on Linux and OpenGL. Hence faster than using Windows with Direct3D on the same systems. Gabe Newell himself ended up paying Microsoft the company a visit.
“Gabe Newell himself wrote a lot of this post in front of me. From what I could tell, he seemed flabbergasted and annoyed that the team didn’t immediately blog this info once we were solidly running faster in OpenGL vs. D3D. (Of course we should have blogged it ourselves! One of our missions as a team inside of Valve was to build a supportive community around our efforts.)” Geldreich’s post outlines.
Aside from raw performance numbers, there is obvious a more pressing reason for Geldreich to post information as soon as possible.
“I stood behind Gabe and gave him all the data concerning GL vs. D3D performance while he typed the blog post in. I was (and still remain) extremely confident that our results were real. We conducted these tests as scientifically as we could, using two machines with the same hardware, configured in precisely the same way in the BIOS’s, etc. NVidia and AMD were able to reproduce our results independently. Also, I could have easily made L4D2 on Linux GL run even faster vs. Windows, but we had other priorities like getting more Source1 games working, and helping Intel with their open source GL driver. From what I understand, Linux has some inherent advantages at the kernel level vs. Windows that impact driver performance.
“I personally suspect his social network didn’t believe it was possible, and/or there was some deeper strategic business reason for blogging this info ASAP.
“A few weeks after this post went out, some very senior developers from Microsoft came by for a discrete visit. They loved our post, because it lit a fire underneath Microsoft’s executives to get their act together and keep supporting Direct3D development. (Remember, at this point it was years since the last DirectX SDK release. The DirectX team was on life support.) Linux is obviously extremely influential.
It’s perhaps hard to believe, but the Steam Linux effort made a significant impact inside of multiple corporations. It was a surprisingly influential project. Valve being deeply involved with Linux also gives the company a “worse case scenario” hedge vs. Microsoft. It’s like a club held over MS’s heads. They just need to keep spending the resources to keep their in-house Linux expertise in a healthy state.”
Now, while this makes us wonder. Things like why most of Valve’s initiatives, both the Steam Machines and the Steam Controller have not received their due potential. Valve has not quite been able to share it’s feats with Linux and OpenGL across the gaming industry. Then again we’ve also seen quite a bit of issues around Steam Greenlight and the CSGO gambling fiasco. So this could be a matter of simply time and effort.
Since Microsoft’s attempts at supporting PC games have come under attack lately. Linux is certainly in a better place than what it was in the past. While rumours of Windows 10 getting a Game Mode, 2017 might just be the stable advantage with Linux and even Vulkan. And PC gamers may have Valve to thank.