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"They love Steam, but they also... like their families"
November 6, 2013 7:08 PM   Subscribe


 
It's just about impossible to talk about the implications of a Steam Box without some idea of price and configuration. That said, I don't get how this makes sense for more than a subset of consumers assuming something like an $600+ price tag for the lowest specs (and more like $1000 for something well equipped).

I totally get how it makes sense for Valve however; Windows 8 threatens their cut of sales from Steam on PC, someday iOS or Android may do the same in the living room. They can talk about consoles all they like and how gamers don't want to be shuttered off in their home offices, but it's clear that every platform is headed for a walled garden where the platform owner gets a 30% cut of everything sold on the platform. I'm just surprised Valve's answer to this it to build their own walled garden.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:25 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


TF BLUE

Oh man, it felt so good to make that joke.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:44 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does this mean I must decide what I love more, TF2 or Alisun?
posted by vrakatar at 7:45 PM on November 6, 2013


Wired is stupid. The Playstation 2 was a credible Linux desktop. The Steambox isn't any kind of PC, no more than a Sega Saturn was a RISC workstation despite being specc'd like one. It's a console.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:48 PM on November 6, 2013


I'm just surprised Valve's answer to this it to build their own walled garden.

N-no because Valve. Gaben. Flat management structure. Hats. Steam Sale. HL3. Greenli-...Valve.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:50 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Gave has confirmed that there will be no Half Life 3 exclusive.

(Because there will be no Half Life 3! Mwha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Not really. Probably.)
posted by Artw at 7:52 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could have saved a lot of time and money by simply developing a lap-desk, so gamers could sit on the couch with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

And yeah, this definitely NOT a PC for the living room. It's another console, period.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:57 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Steambox isn't any kind of PC, no more than a Sega Saturn was a RISC workstation despite being specc'd like one. It's a console.

If it runs Linux software it'll at the very least be a usable HTPC, and I know if I get one the first "accessories" I'm buying are a keyboard and mouse (I'm sure Valve spent a lot of time on that pad but if they think I'm using a controller to play Team Fortress 6 they're out of their goddamn minds).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:00 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that you'll be able to play most Steam games with their fancy new controller without having to do some serious tweaking beforehand with a mouse and keyboard plugged in to get it set up. Even in Portal 2, which I assume is one of Valve's flagship games for Big Picture mode, you can't change any of the game settings using only a controller. You have to mouse over to the "Apply" button to get out of any of the menus.

If Valve can't even be arsed to get their own games working with just a controller, it seems like Steambox is going to be an awful living room experience. Reading here that they're planning to crowdsource controller configuration doesn't engender a lot of confidence.
posted by zixyer at 8:01 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wired is stupid. The Playstation 2 was a credible Linux desktop. The Steambox isn't any kind of PC, no more than a Sega Saturn was a RISC workstation despite being specc'd like one. It's a console.

It's still awfully early to come to any conclusions because the details are simply lacking at this point. My understanding (and I could be wrong!) is that you'll be able to easily install other operating systems, which puts this pretty firmly into PC territory in my opinion (and it's arguable that'd make this more of a credible Linux desktop than the PS2 you cite).
posted by alphagator at 8:02 PM on November 6, 2013


I'm not 100% sold on the controllers but Tommy Refenes liked it so while I may not invest in a steam box I could see getting the controller. Years of playing consoles have robbed me of my ability to use a keyboard for games.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:02 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I like consoles and the idea of this, the mass market is not going to pay $600 for a gaming/convergence box. Smartphones and tablets have done away with the idea of single-function objects. I no longer carry GPS, compact digicam, voice recorder, multitrack, SPL meter, DVD player etc etc etc because the iPhone and iPad replace all of those.

I can see why they're scared of Apple. I think they're right to be scared.
posted by sweet mister at 8:03 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]




And the whole issue is that it's trying to play in the console market without understanding how or why the console market works. The fact that they are putting Titans in some of the beta units really shows a fundamental inability to grasp what they're getting into.

Valve's long term problem can be summed up in three points:

1. The platform they built their empire on - the PC - is dying.
2. The successor platforms to that platform already have the niche that Steam lives in filled.
3. It's becoming clear that developers, especially independent developers, need Steam a lot less than Steam and Valve need them.

zixyer: As the article points out, they're planning on "open sourcing" controller configurations, i.e. getting Steam users to do their job for them (for free, of course.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:07 PM on November 6, 2013


Or to put it another way, somewhere, Trip Hawkins is laughing his head off.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:08 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If Valve can't even be arsed to get their own games working with just a controller, it seems like Steambox is going to be an awful living room experience. Reading here that they're planning to crowdsource controller configuration doesn't engender a lot of confidence.

They're making it so that the controller emulates a keyboard and mouse, which is to say that *all* games should work with their controller (to counter your example, you can use the trackpad to mouse over and hit 'Apply'). The crowdsourced configuration is probably not going to be without a hitch but it's a very Valve-like solution to the problem and at worst case you'll just create your own key map.

The controller's dual-trackpad approach, which I hope they'll be combining with their already-extant 'lotus' onscreen software keyboard, might entirely obviate the need for a mouse and keyboard for most casual computing tasks altogether (apart from heavy word processing for instance). It's definitely the most exciting part of these whole proceedings. It seems likely that the Steam Machines won't live for very long--they won't hit a price point that satisfies unless Valve subsidizes, which I expect they won't do--but the controller will probably live on and might change our whole idea of what input ought to look like.
posted by alphagator at 8:10 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


sweet mister: Actually, it's stupid of them to be afraid of Apple - if they were going to make a play for the living room, Apple would have done it long ago. The AppleTV is the forgotten stepchild of the Apple family at this point.

The reason that Apple never made a play for the living room is simple - there's no real open niche for them to exploit.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:12 PM on November 6, 2013


Oh, god, it's $600?

Wow. OK. Hmm. Where to begin? Coleco ADAM? Neo Geo? Seriously, help me out here, I need a more egregious case of gouging early adopters...
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:12 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The main problem with their thinking is that the PC is not a 'game machine' for most people. It's a thing they buy for other things that also happens to play games. And now the thing that people buy for other things that also plays games is a tablet. Valve should be making a tablet, not a console.
posted by empath at 8:15 PM on November 6, 2013


Slap*Happy: Go with the most appropriate one - the 3DO.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:15 PM on November 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


I tend to shrug when console games are ported to PC operating systems, but wrinkle my nose vice versa (with the Diablo series bearing the brunt of my scorn). But I do enjoy both platforms. I'd love to have a Steambox, and I can't really nail down why. I certainly can't afford one. I just bought an original Xbox at a used book store (!) for $20. The games are less than $5 each. It's weird to go backward (the marketing campaigns are always compelling), but I'm discovering some very equally weird phenomena in the process. For example, online Halo 2 is still a thing.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:17 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really don't think Valve should be making any hardware (console or tablet), tbh. If steam goes away, it goes away, they can still make a pile of money making great games. And once the oculus comes out the whole game market is going to be thrown into upheaval anyway.
posted by empath at 8:18 PM on November 6, 2013


They're making it so that the controller emulates a keyboard and mouse, which is to say that *all* games should work with their controller (to counter your example, you can use the trackpad to mouse over and hit 'Apply'). The crowdsourced configuration is probably not going to be without a hitch but it's a very Valve-like solution to the problem and at worst case you'll just create your own key map.

Yeah, that's sounding to me like all the pre-iPad tablet computers designed by people who didn't want to bother making a completely touch oriented UI so they just gave up and threw in a stylus.

This is sounding a little more glib than I meant it to. But I'm really skeptical that Valve can make this work.
posted by zixyer at 8:22 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


People keep telling me to get a console, because they "do everything" by which I think they mean it plays dvds, which I do not need. An open source PC sitting next to my TV I think I need, if only in order to plug my old big speakers in and rock out. I think that is what we do with the apple tv.
posted by vrakatar at 8:24 PM on November 6, 2013


Let's be honest - Valve's back is against the wall, in part because of how the market has shifted, in part because of their own actions (can we please just burn Greenlight to the ground and pretend it never existed?) I don't think they really have many good choices at this point.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:25 PM on November 6, 2013


Nobody's yet beat the mouse and keyboard when it comes to precision controls and lots of easily accessible buttons. I see no reason at all to suppose that a fucking trackpad mounted to an ergonomic grip has a shot at it. And soft buttons? Please. A button without tactile feedback is the devil walking the earth.

And now the thing that people buy for other things that also plays games is a tablet. Valve should be making a tablet, not a console.

Valve does not make the kind of games (aside from maybe DOTA 2) that function well with the shitty touch interface native to tablets.

If steam goes away, it goes away, they can still make a pile of money making great games.

I'd be willing to bet very precious things that they make vastly more money from Steam than anybody, except maybe Blizzard, makes from selling games (and that's mostly on the back of the absurd revenues WoW brings in). Valve's model is premised on their having more money than God, and taking 30% of a good portion of PC game sales will always be far more lucrative than content creation.

And once the oculus comes out the whole game market is going to be thrown into upheaval anyway.

Tech nerd fantasy, imo. While the oculus plus a gun controller plus an omnidirectional treadmill is basically what I've been dreaming of since I first played Doom all those years ago, the vast majority of people do not want to strap on an expensive helmet on to play a video game. It's a neat toy, but it's a niche product at best.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:26 PM on November 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


The reason that Apple never made a play for the living room is simple - there's no real open niche for them to exploit.

Except the stealth adoption of the Apple TV, which everyone I know has.
posted by sweet mister at 8:26 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tech nerd fantasy, imo. While the oculus plus a gun controller plus an omnidirectional treadmill is basically what I've been dreaming of since I first played Doom all those years ago, the vast majority of people do not want to strap on an expensive helmet on to play a video game. It's a neat toy, but it's a niche product at best.

I thought so, but man you should see the reactions of regular people trying it on youtube. The only other time I've seen people react that way to anything, they were high as shit.
posted by empath at 8:30 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I laugh hysterically at the videos of people trying to stand up while doing the Oculus roller coaster simulator and staggering around wildly as their brains try to maintain balance.

Then I feel a little bad.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:31 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wearables always fail. I've seen nothing from the Oculus that makes me think it can buck the trend; a lightweight, thin touchscreen strapped to your face is still a screen strapped to your face.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:32 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually like the idea of an Oculus as a screen for regular use. Strap it on, combine it with a keyboard peripheral that somehow tracks your fingers so that you can look down at a simulation of your hands over the keyboard, and lay back instead of having to sit in a chair or do complicated things to get a screen over your face.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:34 PM on November 6, 2013


I've yet to hear of anyone who actually used the thing who had anything bad to say about it. Other than motion sickness. I just watched a video from gamescon where they asked a guy what he would pay for it, and he just said: "Name your price, I'll get it." The HD one is supposedly leaps and bounds better than the dev kit.
posted by empath at 8:35 PM on November 6, 2013


sweet mister: And I don't know anyone who does own an AppleTV - unless you're in a full-Apple environment, there are other options available, many of which a person may already own.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:36 PM on November 6, 2013


sweet mister: And I don't know anyone who does own an AppleTV - unless you're in a full-Apple environment, there are other options available, many of which a person may already own.


Apple has 71% of the non-console 'set-top box' market in the US.
posted by empath at 8:38 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, if you eliminate consoles, you're basically competing with Roku. Not exactly formidable competition.
posted by zixyer at 8:39 PM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


And you're also not counting smart TVs, and Wi-Fi enabled disc players, and HTPCs, etc.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:43 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're also not counting modern BD players which incorporate set-top functionality as well, nor "smart TVs" with the box baked in.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:48 PM on November 6, 2013


Apple has at least 83% of the Apple market in the US.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:51 PM on November 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Except the stealth adoption of the Apple TV, which everyone I know has.

And yet, no one I know has one. This is literally the first news I've had that Apple TV is anything more than a footnote. Having 71% of the non-console set-top box market would be impressive, except for that "non-console" thing.
posted by JHarris at 8:52 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Really, the "non-console" bit is misleading. It would be more accurate to say that they have 71% of the dedicated streaming appliance market, which sounds impressive until you realize what that omits.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:58 PM on November 6, 2013


Wearables always fail. I've seen nothing from the Oculus that makes me think it can buck the trend

But have you worn one? I tried one at PAX, both at the Oculus booth and at several Indie game booths that had the kit set up.

It's very well done, the current dev kit has a lot of padding on it and you don't notice the weight. Only issue with the dev kit is that the resolution is 720p.

With other 3D systems you get an impression of depth, with the Oculus you get a tangible feeling of depth.

The other big plus is head tracking, which is only limited by physical constraints. In racing games I can spot the apex of turns and be much more effective at the game. In flying sims, I don't have to flick a second joystick around to look at targets.

I think it's the next wave. Lots of games are integrating it and developers are using it. There are game jams centered around the Rift. John Carmack left ID software to work on the Rift. It's not going to be mainstream next year, but it's going to be the high piece of equipment gamers are going to get. And a lot of designers are getting access to usable and relatively cheap VR equipment.
posted by hellojed at 9:01 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could someone explain why Apple is a threat to Steam and Valve? Doesn't Valve make awesome games that people want to play, no matter the fate of the PC?
posted by KokuRyu at 9:02 PM on November 6, 2013


Valve makes what, one game every two years now? Meanwhile, they get a cut of every game sale that goes through Steam. If they had to choose one or the other, they'd get rid of the Half-Life team so fast your head would still be spinning when the next winter sale rolls around.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:06 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think those who are counting Apple TV out will be in for a surprise next year or shortly thereafter. Apple has stuck with that product for years despite it never being a big seller, and pushing iOS to 64-bit right now makes a hell of a lot more sense if you think about it in terms of the future of the one iOS product that would need to address buttloads of RAM in the short term.

Apple has a vision for this product. They don't stick with an unpopular device unless they're pretty sure that the fulfillment of their vision for it will make people want it. Apple TV is already great for Hulu and Netflix and iTunes rentals and purchases, not to mention AirPlay, and yet I think it only represents maybe half of what Apple intends for it. They aren't dummies. They know people's living rooms are as important to them as their pockets and briefcases. Apple TV ain't done by a damn sight.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:08 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu: They aren't, as much as The Newell may try to insist that they are.

middleclasstool: So, what niche does the AppleTV have to exploit? I don't see anything that it can do that half a dozen boxen already attached to my TV are perfectly capable of, without being pushed into Apple's walled garden.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:19 PM on November 6, 2013


Am I the only one that's really excited to try the controller? Like, there will definitely be a learning curve, especially for anything remotely FPS-like. Of course. But after a few days of adjustment time, this thing could be like nothing else. I hate playing games on a desk with a mouse and keyboard. It has too much in common with the 10 hours a day I spend doing professional work. Give me a couch, a controller and a glass of beer. The living room console experience fits properly into our evolutionary leisure path.
posted by naju at 9:19 PM on November 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


The PC is like an aging monarch who just keeps on living despite everyone's predictions (and secret wishes) to the contrary. I don't think Valve is doing this out of some existential fear, but rather out of (perhaps misguided) ambition.

Regarding wearables/head mounted displays (HMDs)/the oculus, there's already one kind of bulky wearable in mainstream use: headphones. So I don't think that being a wearable is an insurmountable problem. In particular, HMDs have so many advantages compared to traditional displays that their eventual adoption is probably inevitable, but whether the Oculus represents the start of this, or whether it's still in some indeterminate future, is a different question.
posted by Pyry at 9:20 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I also think that reports of the PC's death are exaggerated. And Apple TV might be cool, but it's difficult to imagine it like another iPhone, which was unique at the time (because of the tremendous institutionalized cluelessness of cell phone companies).
posted by JHarris at 9:27 PM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Steam OS means a lot to Linux in general. The graphics card manufacturers never really treated Linux seriously and their drivers were often buggy or slow, if available at all.

Now they have a serious financial incentive to write stable, high-performance drivers for Linux.

Also, I find it interesting that that all the game consoles coming out are basically PCs: XBox One, PS4, Steam OS. They have PC processors and PC graphics chips. Before, none of them were. This will make it really easy for game designers to write high-performance, machine-level software that can be ported to all three boxes.
posted by eye of newt at 9:29 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as games are written on the PC, there will be games written for the PC, for the same reason that authors love nothing so much as to write about writing. When the top-selling ipad games are actually written on the ipad, then we can start to fear for the PC's future.
posted by Pyry at 9:37 PM on November 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think those who are counting Apple TV out will be in for a surprise next year or shortly thereafter. Apple has stuck with that product for years despite it never being a big seller

They sold something like 6-8 million of them this year. That's 600-800 million dollars. Valve's total revenue is apparently in the 'high hundreds of millions". I'd wager that Apple's AppleTV business is bigger than all of Valve put together, and that's not even counting itunes sales through it.
posted by empath at 9:52 PM on November 6, 2013


middleclasstool: So, what niche does the AppleTV have to exploit? I don't see anything that it can do that half a dozen boxen already attached to my TV are perfectly capable of, without being pushed into Apple's walled garden.

Cable and satellite TV, as it currently exists, is a usability nightmare for non-technical people. As an example, my parents have cable, a Blu-Ray player, a stereo tuner, and surround sound, and they had to buy a $100 universal remote and pay a tech to program it so they could successfully navigate watching TV and movies without wanting to kill themselves.

Apple's M.O. is finding markets that have good core ideas and shitty user experiences, and moving in and simplifying things and improving UX. They don't compete on features, specs, or price. They compete on design and build quality and delight. And they haven't even gotten into the subject of games on ATV. Yet.

The fact that you have half a dozen boxes (and indeed, the fact that you, like me, favor a plural like "boxen") hooked up to your TV that can access the same services as ATV puts you in a minority of TV users. The fact that terms like "walled garden" come so easily to you and invoke a distaste in you puts you in a very small minority of TV users. Most people marvel at buying a song or video or app on their phone and seeing it automatically pushed to their tablets and laptops with literally zero effort. You integrate the living room TV experience into that more deeply, and people will scramble for their wallets.

I'd wager that Apple's AppleTV business is bigger than all of Valve put together, and that's not even counting itunes sales through it.

Oh, sure, but compare that to iPhone and iPad sales. Compare that to the first month of new iPhone and iPad sales. Apple is an extremely focused company. They say no to good products unless they firmly believe they will be great products. Remember, this is the same company that murdered the iPod Mini at the height of its popularity.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:06 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Steam OS means a lot to Linux in general. The graphics card manufacturers never really treated Linux seriously and their drivers were often buggy or slow, if available at all.

Yeah, but that's typical corporate cluelessness. The secret about Linux is that it won -- not on the desktop, but in servers, in routers, in phones, in set-top boxes, and in tablets. Desktop's the only holdout, and while I think PCs will be around a good while yet, Android's got much wider adoption than Windows 8 will.

They sold something like 6-8 million of them this year. That's 600-800 million dollars.

In revenue. Don't confuse revenue with profits, especially since so much of Valve's revenue is pure profit. I doubt that iTunes sales through Apple TV are tremendously great, but it can play content you got on your other iOS machine. That's pretty good -- but the Steam Machine will almost certainly be able to play games you bought on your PC. It's not so easy to compare the two right now, especially considering the Steam Machine doesn't even exist yet, so let's not declare anyone a winner yet, hm?
posted by JHarris at 10:12 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that terms like "walled garden" come so easily to you and invoke a distaste in you puts you in a very small minority of TV users.

I keep being disappointed at everybody else, but they don't seem to notice.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:16 PM on November 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


assuming something like an $600+ price tag for the lowest specs

You could put together an A10/8gb ram/500gb-1tb hd machine for way less than that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:26 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was hoping somehow that an actual boiler might be involved.
posted by boilermonster at 10:28 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


As long as games are written on the PC, there will be games written for the PC

What's more, as long as PCs are the best tool for making games, many of the most innovative, interesting games be PC games. It's always going to be cheaper and easier for a lone genius to get the next Minecraft running on the machine used to make games than to get it running on a PC and then porting it to a phone.
posted by straight at 10:32 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heck, Minecraft itself is going to keep PC gaming alive for a long time. It's almost a gaming platform in its own right. There are quite a few Minecraft mods with more users than most PC games.

And for all that Steam is seen as synonymous with PC gaming, most of the biggest PC games aren't on Steam. League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, Diablo 3, Battlefield 3, World of Tanks, and Guild Wars 2 -- none of them are on Steam and together they have more players than all the rest of PC gaming combined, with the exception of Dota 2, which is the only Steam game that is in the same league as any of those.
posted by straight at 10:50 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's always going to be cheaper and easier for a lone genius to get the next Minecraft running on the machine used to make games than to get it running on a PC and then porting it to a phone.

It's trivially easy to get games running on mobile devices now. Unreal and Unity both compile cross-platform.
posted by empath at 10:56 PM on November 6, 2013


It's trivially easy if you pay everyone their respective tolls.
posted by JHarris at 11:04 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah pretty simple. WP8 supports almost all of Direct3d except shaders. If you want you can also use MonoGame, and open source implementation of XNA.

Developing for WP8 is only slightly slower than native windows development. I can hit F5 and run in an emulator or have it run over USB on my Nokia WP8 phone. The best thing is that even if it is running on the phone, it will still hit breakpoints in VS debugger.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:05 PM on November 6, 2013


It's trivially easy if you pay everyone their respective tolls.

I don't think it costs anything to develop for android, does it? And very little for ios -- something like $100?
posted by empath at 11:10 PM on November 6, 2013


Unity and Unreal are engines that are great if you are an artist who wants the shortest path to putting your 3d models into a fairly simple game. If you are a lone genius coder, probably you're going to want to write an artistically simple but code-complex game, hence Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress, and while you could try to do such a thing in Unity or Unreal, you'd be going against the grain of the engines. Also, probably you're a control freak and a perfectionist and the thought of not having source-level access to your engine gives you anxiety sweats.

I don't think it costs anything to develop for android, does it? And very little for ios -- something like $100?

Yes, but Unity is something like $1.5K, and Unreal has it's own licensing restrictions (a percentage take of your profits above a threshold I think?).
posted by Pyry at 11:13 PM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unity is free -- pro just gives you access to some more advanced visual effects, etc.
posted by empath at 11:23 PM on November 6, 2013


Also if you're a lone genius coder, you'd just be writing an iOS app in objective C and not dealing with an engine, no?
posted by empath at 11:27 PM on November 6, 2013


There is a free version of unity you can use if you make less than 100k that is missing stuff like LOD and audio filters.

I been doing a comparison of MonoGame, DirectX and Unity with an eye toward an application, not a game though, that requires 3D rendering on WP8.

I can write a software renderer using nothing but direct3d primitives if I have to. I have in the past. But as a non-genius developer I really don't want to.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:29 PM on November 6, 2013


Let's be honest - Valve's back is against the wall, in part because of how the market has shifted, in part because of their own actions (can we please just burn Greenlight to the ground and pretend it never existed?) I don't think they really have many good choices at this point.


The only reason their back is against the wall is because their office is so full with all the money they've been making...

PC Gaming is big business. The numbers who play LOL and DOTA are pretty huge, and Valve have ensured themselves a slice of that action. Sure the PC as a device has not been selling as well, but thats because most people already own one! Valve have an audience out there to convert. I don't believe that people will remove the need for something approaching a home pc.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:54 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


middleclasstool: Already, two of the three eighth generation consoles (the Wii U and the Xbox One) have media integration interfaces, as do CableCARD based systems like TiVo. The AppleTV does nothing that my other devices don't already, sometimes several times over. I really don't see where it's going to be a magic bullet for the living room.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:21 AM on November 7, 2013


I really don't see where it's going to be a magic bullet for the living room.

One thing you'll note is that there is no app store for the Apple TV. I'm fairly positive that that situation is temporary.

I imagine once the Apple tv plays iOS games, you'll see it take up the place in the market that the Wii used to -- casual family stuff. The hold-up is probably still the interface for interacting with it. The remote sucks, and using the ipad to control it is less than optimal. Maybe once the new ios controllers come out, that situation could change.
posted by empath at 12:27 AM on November 7, 2013


I don't think it costs anything to develop for android, does it? And very little for ios -- something like $100?

iOS costs $100 a year. But what is more, most development packages that target mobile make it a point to charge extra for iOS and Android export, sometimes even if the base tool isn't free. If you develop Google's way you can develop for Android, but a lot of tools require cash outlay.
posted by JHarris at 1:07 AM on November 7, 2013


The numbers who play LOL and DOTA are pretty huge, and Valve have ensured themselves a slice of that action.

(Holds up a little flag that says "Team Fortress 2," immediately gets stabbed by a Spy.)
posted by JHarris at 1:08 AM on November 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also if you're a lone genius coder, you'd just be writing an iOS app in objective C and not dealing with an engine, no?

Not necessarily. Lots of budding game designers have interests and skills that don't convert well to bare-metal programming or engine development. Great game designers are often not great programmers. And myself, it seems like every time I finally get conversant with something enough that it seems like I could do actual paying work with it, the goalposts move and I have to learn (or pay for) something new. It's downright depressing.
posted by JHarris at 1:11 AM on November 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sure the PC as a device has not been selling as well, but thats because most people already own one!

Fourth comment in a row? Why not.

The thing about PC sales I don't see anyone noticing is that the big upgrade treadmill has slowed greatly in recent years. The laptop I got last year has one more core, modestly better graphics, and some more memory than the one I got four years before that, which still works perfectly well. The processor speed is nearly same, and memory is damn cheap. And many computers that ran Windows XP, released in 2001, are capable of running Windows 8, three major versions later. People don't need to buy new computers as much as they used to.

Meanwhile people who bought the iPad 1 found themselves not able to update their OS to a version released less than two years after it's launch.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 AM on November 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


I really hope Steam succeeds at this. Steam has the best policies, prices, and general usability of any of the online game platforms or any of the video consoles. Microsoft and Sony are legendarily anti-consumer, and Nintendo is insular, restrictive, and keeps trying to drag gaming in odd and unpleasant directions. A good gaming console run by Valve would be awesome.

Imagine it - a gaming console that not only has indefinite backwards compatibility, but old games work better than when they came out! And they're appropriately priced! Use whatever controller you want. No fees for online gaming, no having to buy things with stupid fake money you have to buy with real money. Install your entire living room gaming library on your laptop as well (and the saves might even carry over).

It could be pretty great, and I hope it works out for them.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:23 AM on November 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Let's be honest - Valve's back is against the wall, in part because of how the market has shifted, in part because of their own actions (can we please just burn Greenlight to the ground and pretend it never existed?) I don't think they really have many good choices at this point.

This seems so counterfactual that I'm kind of flabbergasted. Valve is a unique position in gaming, has banked tons of goodwill, and is in a position to attempt anything they want to attempt. They're a juggernaut made out of $100 bills.
posted by Justinian at 2:00 AM on November 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


AppleTV does nothing that my other devices don't already, sometimes several times over. I really don't see where it's going to be a magic bullet for the living room.

It says "Apple" on it. If that's not a magic bullet, I don't know what is. Mr. and Mrs. Average Consumer have no time for routing their jailbroken X-Boxes to a networked hard drive, they just wanna watch those TV shows they bought on iTunes in the living room, dammit!
posted by ShutterBun at 2:04 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It says "Apple" on it. If that's not a magic bullet, I don't know what is.

The second of those things. Apple TV's been out for awhile now and it hasn't sown up the market, so your assertion is wishful thinking. I'm not unfond of Apple, they aren't your typical multi-billion-dollar tech company. But neither is Google, and neither is Valve.
posted by JHarris at 2:20 AM on November 7, 2013


Apple has never really marketed it, have openly said it's an 'experiment', and they've sold 13 million of them, 6-8 million alone this year.

Compare to Google TV which got a major marketing push from several huge corporations and is non-existent today -- logitech alone lost $100 million dollars trying to sell the piece of shit. And chromecast, which is similarly doomed.
posted by empath at 2:50 AM on November 7, 2013


The AppleTV does nothing that my other devices don't already, sometimes several times over. I really don't see where it's going to be a magic bullet for the living room.

Well, first, I'm not arguing that it's a guaranteed success. Only that they aren't done with it. Secondly, you're talking about the current state of Apple TV, but I'm saying that's not the fulfillment of their vision for it.

Third, they don't have to create some brand new gee-whiz service that nobody else has. Blackberry was king of the smartphone hill once, and the iPhone added no new features and took away haptic interfaces, and destroyed them.

Also, I'd gently remind you that the last decade is full of arguments like yours about their other wildly successful products: "No floppy drive, are they insane?" "No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame." "No keyboard on the phone and you can't replace the battery? Who would want that?" "It's just a big iPod Touch."
posted by middleclasstool at 3:38 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Similarity of the names notwithstanding, Apple TV and Google TV were built with totally different use cases - Apple's is a way to play stuff you bought on their store, while Google's was supposed to be a smart browser for all the shows that networks put online through their own sites and services. Which the networks then banned from their sites and services.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:51 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, Apple made a deal with the content providers, and Google didn't but that doesn't mean that they both weren't going after the same market.
posted by empath at 3:54 AM on November 7, 2013


Well, Apple made a deal with the content providers, and Google didn't but that doesn't mean that they both weren't going after the same market.

Netflix made a multi-year deal for exclusive access to Disney (including Pixar) starting in 2016, as well as the Weinsteins and Dreamworks Animation. Amazon has been signing deals with TV studios like NBCUniversal and Viacom/CBS left and right. So Apple already starts way behind on content (especially the gold mine that is children's movies and TV programming), is hobbled by not even having access to their largest content partner, and is basically a front end for several of their competitors. I kind of doubt they're going to score exclusive deals with Universal (owned by Comcast, deep ties with Microsoft), Sony (multi-market competitor, including STBs), or Warner (owners of TimeWarner Cable). That leaves just Starz and Fox, basically. It's not impossible that they would have something up their sleeves, but they're starting at a disadvantage.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:31 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh, itunes?
posted by empath at 4:40 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's always interesting to hear people opining about a product they haven't used. The main use of Apple TV in my house is to watch Netflix, stream video from laptops, listen to streaming radio, and occasionally listen to music from iCloud.

The killer app, which is undoubtedly coming, is the convergence of the Apple TV OS with iOS.
posted by sweet mister at 4:48 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Valve is an amazing company. Aside from altering the gaming landscape, they are high influential in the area of human resource management. Their employee manual has been cropping up in HR case studies a lot these days. If you've never seen it, take a look - probably the most interesting and innovative corporate handbook ever made.
posted by jet_manifesto at 4:57 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh, itunes?

iTunes is focused on purchasing or PPV renting downloadable content, not streaming content. Amazon and Hulu do both, Netflix does streaming with much deeper content and the promise of even more. All three are already on AppleTV, which makes any service they introduce somewhat redundant unless they can scoop up exclusive deals with every other likely content provider, and I can't see "only we have Fox and Starz" getting consumers, let alone investors, all hot and bothered.

The killer app, which is undoubtedly coming, is the convergence of the Apple TV OS with iOS.

AppleTV already uses modified iOS, and interfaces with their various devices already. Sure, eventually you'll be able to play Angry Birds on your bigscreen, but the time for that may have already passed. The Wii seems to have been a flash in the pan, and its successor is a non-player in the market. Meanwhile, letting your kids play casual two-screen games with $400-$1000 tablets when they could do the same with a $100 console that already includes a 2nd screen (WiiU) or a $400 console that doesn't lock to their devices to a single manufacturer and/or OS (PS3 and PS4, probably XBone) seems like a niche market to me.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:04 AM on November 7, 2013


Oh, and if you don't think Chromecast is a shot across Apple's bow, I don't know what to tell you. An STB that literally fits in your pocket and works with both Android and iOS as well as any computer running an extremely popular browser, already supports Netflix and Hulu and Pandora, and that they're practically giving away to millions of de factobeta testers? I kind of wonder if that was supposed to be Apple's big surprise already, and they got beat to the punch.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:12 AM on November 7, 2013


The part of the SteamBox business model I don't get is that, to the extent the point is to run PC games, it seems to be competing with a long HDMI cable. Or HTPCs with decent GPUs. (And a 360 controller, I suppose).
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:13 AM on November 7, 2013


And they're appropriately priced!

I don't know if it's me, but it looks like the AAA pricepoint of 30 pounds has been moving to 40 pounds lately and then you have BS like TW: Rome II that has a nominal price of 45 quid that has been 'discounted' by 33% from the very beginning for the sake of appearances.

Meanwhile, letting your kids play casual two-screen games with $400-$1000 tablets when they could do the same with a $100 console that already includes a 2nd screen (WiiU)


The WiiU doesn't cost $100.
posted by ersatz at 5:15 AM on November 7, 2013


The WiiU doesn't cost $100.

It probably will be by the time the hypothetical AppleTV miracle comes around next year, unless it picks up steam (pun not intended).
posted by zombieflanders at 5:16 AM on November 7, 2013


Also, I'd gently remind you that the last decade is full of arguments like yours about their other wildly successful products

But apple tv faces problems that they didn't. First, unless Apple gets substantially farther into the hardware business, they can't control the whole device -- it's always going to be something you hook up to your tv, with whatever limitations your tv has (ie washed out colors, wonky resolutions, 240hz "upgraded" video, possibly even overscan protection).

Second, again unless they go really far down the hardware rabbit hole, no matter how apple-ey the experience on the apple tv is, it's still going to be one box hooked to one input. If you want to use it, you'll have to switch inputs on your tv or receiver, with all the attendant trauma to people like MCT's parents. If you want to adjust volume, Apple can't guarantee that whatever remote they have will do that (and even if it will control tvs, that won't be simple or transparent to people who need a tech to help them change inputs). Even if they go as far as the XB1 and have an hdmi passthrough from the cable box, that will still depend on cable cooperation for control over hdmi *and* will mean giving up your dvr.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:32 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The platform they built their empire on - the PC - is dying.

People have been saying that since the IBM PCjr. They've been pretty spectacularly wrong so far.

Looking at cross-platform game statistics (BF3 for instance), the PC very much holds its own against PS3 and 360.

For whatever good anecdotes do: everyone I know has at least one Windows PC, or a Mac with Parallells. Some of those might be laptops, but still.

Game consoles, tablets, Chromebooks, ultrabooks, smartphones, and whatever else is supposedly killing the PC, are all things that people have in addition to PCs.
posted by Foosnark at 5:32 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Valve is a unique position in gaming, has banked tons of goodwill, and is in a position to attempt anything they want to attempt. They're a juggernaut made out of $100 bills.

Actually, if my Steam buying habits are any indication, they're a much larger juggernaut made out of $5 bills.

In the last two years alone, I've bought more games through Steam than I did from any source (retail, download, etc) in my entire 20 years of PC ownership. That's been made possible by lower price points and a super-convenient buying interface.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:02 AM on November 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Compare to Google TV which got a major marketing push from several huge corporations and is non-existent today

Only because most people are unaware of the joy of XBMC running on a $60 android stick.
posted by srboisvert at 6:07 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny thing about the controller is that you won't able to use it with their most played game. Weird. Not really, but that's a thing that even they can't solve.
posted by bdz at 6:27 AM on November 7, 2013


I'm sure it'll be compatible with Dota2 (or LOL, whichever). Whether it'll suck is another question entirely, but gamepad controls are garbage for literally every first-party game Valve has ever made, and that hasn't stopped them from selling okay on XBox. I'm sure people will suffer through.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:37 AM on November 7, 2013


I think that what is going unsaid is maybe valve's greatest strength - leveraging peoples existing games libraries. It seems to me like the steambox right now is aimed primarily at pc gamers who want a console in their living room and console gamers who happen to have an old pc and are thinking about upgrading, not necessarily a straight-up rival to a next-gen console system. So that saves worrying about backward compatibility ( a recurring fear with every new generation in the console world, right?) and re-buying games.

That in my mind makes some of their biggest threats console-exclusive games (which makes their no-walled-garden approach make some some business sense, not just ideological, and I'm not trying to imply that that isn't a genuine belief), console-only (non-pc) games, and general lack of cross platform multiplayer.

So, long term, my .02$ guess is use leverage cross-platform game library to encourage initial adoption, and then use this niche product with good, developer-friendly support & policies (and generous steam-store developer fees, percentage cuts, etc) to encourage steam-os/pc ports, leading to a reasonably growing adoption rate, plus boost htpc and utility software, and eventually nicer interplay with their mobile apps.

No idea if it'll work, price is also high which will be hard on adoption, but it's an interesting play and I don't imagine that it'll be an instant failure unless developers just don't hop on.

I think this all collapses though if they can't make steam-os nearly bug/crash free on the wide variety of open-hardware that is going to comprise the steam boxes. Console owners don't want to fuck with hardware or software. That's a big part of the console allure, is its a game box.
posted by McSwaggers at 6:41 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys, the sole reason the appletv exists is so people who buy movies from itunes can watch them on TV. It's not console competition. It's not competition with netflix, or whatever. They aren't trying to 'capture' the set-top box market. It's an accessory for your ipad/mac. It's fantastic at that and only has netflix or whatever as an afterthought. Apple is not going to come out with a competitor to netflix. They're a hardware company and they only create internet services so they can sell hardware. They aren't trying to get into the netflix business.

Now, that may change when/if they ever allow an app store for it or come out with a tv or what have you, but in the mean-time, I'm sure that apple is happy to collect a few hundred million dollars a year for an ipad accessory.
posted by empath at 6:46 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Steambox is either doomed to irrelevancy or will necessarily limit PC gaming development.

This isn't appleTV or a $100 gizmo to play flash games. This is targeting high end PC gamers, They have a $1000 video card in the thing.

If the install base becomes significant, this simply becomes another console, a console that developers of high end PC games have to target.

In a couple years even a titan will be dated. At that point one of two things can happen, PC devs will continue targeting the steambox or the steambox becomes irrelevant.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:07 AM on November 7, 2013


Second, again unless they go really far down the hardware rabbit hole, no matter how apple-ey the experience on the apple tv is, it's still going to be one box hooked to one input. If you want to use it, you'll have to switch inputs on your tv or receiver, with all the attendant trauma to people like MCT's parents.

This is an excellent point. My guess is that, unless empath is right and I'm wrong, they're going to try to create an environment that most people will like enough that they won't want other inputs 90% of the time. If they can work out a deal with enough TV content providers, my guess is that they'll be selling a device that lets you do what the ATV currently does, plus live/on demand TV, and maybe even fold iOS games in long-term.

The userbase here skews pretty tech-savvy and media-demanding. Many people here have multiple game consoles plus PCs/Macs. Many have media servers and are quite good at navigating four remotes with 50 buttons each. We torrent. But a colossally huge chunk of TV users don't fit that mold and would embrace substantially scaled-down access to TV networks if it meant that (1) they could get to *enough* of the content they want and (2) they could have one box with one simplified remote control that could let them buy/rent movies and TV shows, watch live TV, and also access online services like Netflix and Hulu and let them stream their iTunes libraries and iDevices. No switching inputs, no five remotes on the coffee table, just turn on your TV, click the button on your Apple remote, and you're off.

Hell, I think a lot of people would welcome way fewer than 400 channels. I haven't had cable for years and only wish I had maybe ten cable channels at the outside. I'm personally drooling over this rumor that Comcast will offer a stripped-down package of internet, HBO and HBO Go, and 20 other channels.

Again, Apple isn't interested in competing on features. Their primary pitch to customers is that they'll make it simpler and more pleasant. If what I've said is some approximation of their plan, then they just have to acquire a fairly small critical mass of TV content in order for ATV to be the next big thing.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:23 AM on November 7, 2013


See the Dramatic Evolution of Valve’s Steam Controller
- at one point it had a trackball.
posted by Artw at 7:35 AM on November 7, 2013


Who the fuck cares about AppleTV ?

Apple may one day make the ATV a beer dispensing tv device of awesomeness, but they aren't doing that now, have not announced plans to do that in the future, and are basically poorly positioned to do that with the existing ATV installed base.

As it stands it's a not-even-a-Tivo with some Itunes integration.

Meanwhile, Steam is actually beta testing an actual gaming box, an actual gaming OS and and actual gaming controller that if things work well will allow me and my wife to play stupid dumb games in the living room once in a while and still let me access the same library of games on the supercomputer in the office AND let her maybe use it to replace our aging Ti-Faux.

Can't do that on ATV.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:36 AM on November 7, 2013


my biggest question is how Steam Support will be handled moving forward. a cursory google search will show that it's sort of notoriously hard to deal with, with obstinate representatives largely handling issues via copypasta, not responding to the actual issues you're reporting, and ultimately in many cases saying simply "we've discussed this issue and you have all the information we will provide, any further contact regarding this issue will result in a ban of your account".

if they're looking to significantly expand their userbase through this project, they're going to need to pay a whooooole lot of attention to how support issues are handled to not come out of this with a very negative reaction from these new users.
posted by radiosilents at 7:44 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is targeting high end PC gamers, They have a $1000 video card in the thing.

Isn't that for the beta unit? Valve has said that there will be a variety if steam machines brought to market. My assumption is that they will range from little better than devices that run Steam OS and stream games/play low graphic titles all the way to console Cadillacs that can run all the latest titles. The key though is to not have too many model types out there, as it will confuse consumers. So it will probably be enough to count on one hand.

and Nintendo is insular, restrictive, and keeps trying to drag gaming in odd and unpleasant directions.

You mean unpleasant directions like the DS, Wii, and Wii Fit? Don't count out Nintendo. When GameCube was out and it was getting slaughtered by PS2 and X-Box people were saying the same thing. Some thought Nintendo was going to be like Sega. That was a decade ago. Nintendo's cash position is better than before, AND it still has Pokemon, Zelda, and Mario.
posted by FJT at 7:45 AM on November 7, 2013


On development:

Even without exclusive Valve games, though, SteamOS might have more support than you'd expect. Valve's Anna Sweet says she started talking to partners about Linux three years ago, and games will be surprisingly easy to build. "If you're using the Unity engine, you're already done… if you've done a Mac game, you're most of the way there."

...which sounds like if you're interested in expanding to Apple you're also interested in this thing.
posted by Artw at 7:47 AM on November 7, 2013


My assumption is that they will range from little better than devices that run Steam OS and stream games/play low graphic titles all the way to console Cadillacs that can run all the latest titles.

I still think the Cadillac model becomes the new de-facto minimum spec for high end games. If it gains any traction all publishers will want a "supports steambox ultra" checkmark on the box.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:54 AM on November 7, 2013


I think the thing a lot of people are missing here is that Steambox isn't the product here, SteamOS is.

Valve seems to be taking pages from Google's Android playbook. The Steambox is equivalent to the Nexus line: it's reference hardware that they can point to and say "See, this is what our software can do!"

At it's heart, SteamOS itself is basically just Ubuntu with a controller-friendly window manager. The real value-add is that Valve used what weight they had to a) pin down nVidia and get them to generate non-shitty drivers for Linux and, b) cajole some developers into developing Linux games.

So they're going to "give away" their cleaned up Linux and hobbyists are going to tinker with it, and some third party OEMs are going to sell little Atom boxes for $149 that can do Netflix and the casual/legacy titles and Dell will probably release a ridiculous $1500 model if only to scare Microsoft into offering them better pricing on Win8 licensing and the forum people who whine they can build a whitebox for half that can TOTALLY DO THAT for free. Meanwhile they'll still keep offering Windows and Mac and generic Linux versions because why not.


The fact is, gamers and their money follow Steam. "Gaming on Mac" used to be an oxymoron, but logging in right now I see I have over 200 mac games on steam, and I've never purposely bought a single one, thanks to Valve's urging of publishers to bundle all platforms to a single purchase. Linux gamers make up less than 2% of their customer base as of their last system survey, but they still service that base. It may not be AAA Xbox/PS4 money, but it doesn't really need to be, either. There's money to be made in a billion-dollar niche of a hundred billion dollar industry.
posted by Freon at 8:08 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


SteamOS itself is basically just Ubuntu with a controller-friendly window manager

Doesn't really matter but no: "... the OS is built on Linux (not based on Ubuntu, we're told, but entirely custom), though you'd never know it as the only interactive layer is all Steam."

One thing there is also important about the Steam economy: the 3rd party key sellers. Lot of bundles, digital games stores (Gamefly, Gamestop), even Amazon sells Steam keys. Games that are only playable on Steam. And that is huge (though it's the publisher's decision to provide Steam key or not).

Like I bought 3 bundles today, 16 games (A+ titles!), all redeemable on Steam... for 15 USD? That's a big push for Valve. And everyone knows that. You can even find thread were people are complaining that Steam keys are not provided. We want that DRM! Come on (:
posted by bdz at 8:18 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


technically Steam IS a form of DRM. they're working on improving offline mode currently (which has been a news item in gaming news in the last week or so), but as it stands right now you MUST have an online connection every X amount of days in order to continue to be able to play your paid-for-and-installed library offline.

also i believe that the way it currently works is that you must have an internet connection to go INTO offline mode, so if you lose your connection suddenly and unexpectedly you may be out of luck playing your games until you have a connection again.

also, and most importantly, the ToS for Steam clearly state that you do not own copies of these games, you're only essentially subscribing to them for an undetermined amount of time. if Steam bans your account, you will lose access to these games with no recourse. similarly, if Steam chooses to remove a game from their library (which has happened), you will again lose access to the content you paid for with no recourse.

i'm a big, big fan of Steam but you need to be aware of these sorts of things as a user.
posted by radiosilents at 8:26 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doesn't really matter but no: "... the OS is built on Linux (not based on Ubuntu, we're told, but entirely custom), though you'd never know it as the only interactive layer is all Steam."

Oh, that's very neat to know! I know the Linux beta was originally heavily recommended to be used on the Ubuntu LTS and I think somehow that assumption just entered my head.

And yes, Humble/Royale/Groupeez/Bundlestars/etc. are the only reason I have a "Director of Acquisitions" badge.
posted by Freon at 8:28 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody's yet beat the mouse and keyboard when it comes to precision controls and lots of easily accessible buttons. I see no reason at all to suppose that a fucking trackpad mounted to an ergonomic grip has a shot at it. And soft buttons? Please. A button without tactile feedback is the devil walking the earth.

Everything I've heard about the way they've handled tactile feedback for the trackpads has been great, the way it changes feedback depending on where your thumb is to let you know that there's a "button" there if it's set to have "buttons", or emulating a kind of trackball feel (mentioned in the Wired article), using linear actuators which feel a whole lot better than cheapo rotary vibrators. The controller's definitely the thing I'm most excited about (well, that and all the actual money and effort being poured into fixing some Linux driver hell).
posted by jason_steakums at 8:58 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


they also like their families

This is a common idiom, and I think it is insidious in that it promotes an idea that the only acceptable reason to not work all the time is family obligations. The single person who'd like to ride her bike or read or see a film or do yoga in the evenings is just a whiner, who should get back to the cubicle?
posted by thelonius at 9:23 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The context of that quote has nothing to do with work/life balance. It's a reference to playing games in the living room (where the family is) instead of at the desktop PC in the home office.
posted by Uncle Ira at 9:28 AM on November 7, 2013


busted - I have not read TFA
posted by thelonius at 9:39 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


most importantly, the ToS for Steam clearly state that you do not own copies of these games, you're only essentially subscribing to them for an undetermined amount of time

Yes and no. I look at it that way. I think of Steam as a long-term rental service for games and with the ridiculous sale prices, I'm fine with paying $5 to indefinitely rent Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I wouldn't pay $60 to rent a game from Steam, but I wouldn't pay $60 to buy a new game any more than I'd pay whatever ridiculous cost to buy a brand new car.

On the other hand, if you buy Deus Ex: Human Revolution through Steam and download it to your computer, you can pretty easily crack the DRM and play it without Steam. It's no different from getting a no-CD crack so you you can play the game you bought on disk without putting it in the machine every time you want to play it.
posted by straight at 10:06 AM on November 7, 2013


League of Legends, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, Diablo 3, Battlefield 3, World of Tanks, and Guild Wars 2

Do any of these top selling games really have demanding technical requirements? Maybe BF3 does (haven't played it) but my ~3 year old "gaming laptop" handles all the other games well enough. I can't play GW2 on the highest settings mainly because of the way it was coded (not taking full advantage of GPUs). JHarris was right about the gear upgrade treadmill slowing dramatically.

I'm really hoping the steam controller can bridge the gap between console controllers and mouse/keyboard controls. Playing an FPS on my PS3 is so imprecise compared to a PC, but playing a driving game like Saints Row without an analog stick really blows. I bought Rogue Legacy on steam a few weeks ago and it plays a lot better with a gamepad, but there's no way I could play an MMO on one (my mouse has around 17 buttons on it). I'm sure there are a lot of other examples.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 10:12 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm really hoping the steam controller can bridge the gap between console controllers and mouse/keyboard controls.

I doubt it. Really I just can't imagine playing Dota or LoL with the Steam controller. Some heroes needs ridiculous micromanagement skills and you can't do that without the keyboard+mouse combination. No way.
posted by bdz at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2013


I'm pretty sure you can play DoTA on it, being that it's their main focus of development (outside of Steam) right now.
posted by Artw at 10:38 AM on November 7, 2013


“Somewhat ironically, our flagship at the moment that we spend a lot of time thinking about is Dota 2,” Coomer said. “You can definitely play Dota 2 with this controller, but we wouldn’t say to anybody who’s a serious DOTA player that this is an acceptable replacement for a mouse and keyboard for that game.”

“We have an internal joke. You can play Dota with the controller; you just can’t win,” Hope laughed. “Unless you’re playing against everybody else who has a controller, and then it’s a tractable problem.”

posted by bdz at 10:52 AM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


“We have an internal joke. You can play Dota with the controller; you just can’t win,” Hope laughed. “Unless you’re playing against everybody else who has a controller, and then it’s a tractable problem.”

See also literally every attempt to have PC and console FPS players playing together.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:12 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


And yet console FPSes sell by the googleplex, so apparently people don't care.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:13 AM on November 7, 2013


They don't care because they're playing against other console players. Developers have deliberately prevented competition between PC and Console gamers (which is relatively easy to allow) so that console players aren't plunged into fits of existential despair when they are dispatched with ease by even poor players using computers.

If they allowed competition we'd see a sudden upsurge in the people playing on PC.
posted by Justinian at 11:23 AM on November 7, 2013


If they allowed competition we'd see a sudden upsurge in the people playing on PC.

PC gaming master race confirmed
posted by bdz at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2013


And yet console FPSes sell by the googleplex, so apparently people don't care.

Which is double interesting because multiplayer is not free on concoles. You have to pay a monthly fee. (Free on PS3 as of now but you will need a subscription on PS4.)
posted by bdz at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2013


What would be a killer feature is if Steam Boxes could be given a designation rating system, so that users know to play a new AAA game you need at least a SteamBox that rates at 4.8 or whatever, but to play Quake I you only need a 0.3.
posted by wcfields at 12:13 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing that frustrates me about video games on consoles is that while consoles certainly have the living room locked up, I hate having to be in my living room to play a particular game.

I think that a streaming solution (AirPlay, et al, but probably more optimized for interactive use, akin to a local version of OnLive driven by a device you own) will eventually win out. This is where passive entertainment is *right now* (Netflix, Amazon, iTunes), and video games will follow that path.

Valve has a leg up here not just because of the higher quality PC games themselves, but because I can play any game on Steam anywhere now. (or at least, that's the promise -- mobile is, rightfully, left out until the hardware catches up). No one has this for games you want to play on a TV set yet. Apple is the next closest, but their hardware is not good enough yet (yet...).

The ideal solution is a mobile device which has the power to play AAA games that you can display on your TV set, or computer monitor or the device itself on the go. This is basically netflix for games. Apple is quite obviously on its way towards that, Valve is approaching it from a different direction, and I don't think microsoft or sony have really taken it seriously yet.
posted by smidgen at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2013


Right now, my preferred gaming machine is a laptop with Steam that I can hook up toa tv if I want to, about as close to the future as I can get right now :-)
posted by smidgen at 12:23 PM on November 7, 2013


Steam is a DRM layer, yes, but it made it big because it's not just a DRM layer. They gave users something in exchange for their piracy protection, that is, keeping track of your vast game library and making installing and uninstalling super easy, while offering sales so frequently that severely cut the incentive to pirate.

It's almost as if Gabe actually read those thousands of message posts of people complaining about game companies, detected a need, and filled it. Valve isn't perfect, but they're damn nice at the moment. They kind of remind me of Apple, around the time of the original Mac.

Also: wow this thread blew up.
posted by JHarris at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is targeting high end PC gamers, They have a $1000 video card in the thing.

A $100 GTX 460 will run nearly every game in existence right now, generally at maximum settings and 1080p. The long console generation has been very kind to the gaming upgrade curve.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:40 PM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Valve is an amazing company. Aside from altering the gaming landscape, they are high influential in the area of human resource management. Their employee manual has been cropping up in HR case studies a lot these days. If you've never seen it, take a look - probably the most interesting and innovative corporate handbook ever made.

Though it's worth noting that one of the reason it works so well is that every year they round up the entire company, rank them, and fire the bottom 10%.*

*Number pulled out of ass
posted by Sebmojo at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2013


This is targeting high end PC gamers, They have a $1000 video card in the thing.

A $100 GTX 460 will run nearly every game in existence right now, generally at maximum settings and 1080p. The long console generation has been very kind to the gaming upgrade curve.


This could be the biggest problem with the Steamboxes. How will Valve solve the fragmantation?

You can get a Valve Steambox with an Nvidia Titan (or at least some prototypes has this card), or get an _insert_shitty_pc_manufacturer_name_here Steambox with a cheaper card. Not a big difference in specs but a big in gaming experince.

I just hope Valve won't license the brand and SteamOS to anyone. (It's like the vanilla Nexus Android vs anything else story)
posted by bdz at 12:57 PM on November 7, 2013


I think that a streaming solution (AirPlay, et al, but probably more optimized for interactive use, akin to a local version of OnLive driven by a device you own) will eventually win out.

Latency would be a huge issue for many games. Maybe when Google Fiber finally spreads to real cities instead of just out in the middle of nowhere.

Right now, my preferred gaming machine is a laptop with Steam that I can hook up toa tv if I want to, about as close to the future as I can get right now :-)

My "gaming laptop" is always plugged into my TV for passive media consumption, but I never output the display when gaming because finding a comfortable way to use the laptop keyboard and a mouse while sitting on a couch seems to be impossible.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:58 PM on November 7, 2013


Latency would be a huge issue for many games. Maybe when Google Fiber finally spreads to real cities instead of just out in the middle of nowhere.

That shouldn't matter when it's just connecting two devices that are both inside your house - LAN has been shorthand for "no latency" since forever. SteamOS claims to be able to do this already - for Windows-only games, it can run the game on your Windows desktop and stream everything to the Steambox in your living room. The downside is that you have to keep the hardware in your old Windows PC up to gaming spec, and it ties up both machines.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:11 PM on November 7, 2013


Latency would be a huge issue for many games.

Not locally in the home, that's why I explicitly restricted my hypothesizing to that. I do think OnLive like stuff over the internet will be much more viable in a further future, but in the nearer term you can certainly get the latency you need from 802.11ac if you're willing to work at it.

Ethernet would work almost immediately, but is a non-starter for this kind of application, you might as well plug your machine into the tv directly if you're going to use cables.
posted by smidgen at 1:19 PM on November 7, 2013


A Steam Box would be perfect for me. I'm a Mac user, with a laptop that struggles to play even the games that are compatible with OS X. I have tons of other games that I've bought because they were dead cheap or part of a bundle, but I can't play on OS X.

A Steam Box which at least allows me to play some of those games very well would be most excellent. I really, really want to play Portal 2 again, this time at a proper resolution, while sitting on the couch with surround sound.
posted by milkb0at at 1:20 PM on November 7, 2013


Oh interesting, I did not know steamos did that. (Looks up feature list again)
posted by smidgen at 1:21 PM on November 7, 2013


I just hope Valve won't license the brand and SteamOS to anyone. (It's like the vanilla Nexus Android vs anything else story)

According to the SteamOS page it will be available as a free download and as a licensed OS.

What I take from that is that I'll be able to build my own SteamOS box with my own, or maybe some handmedown hardware from my main PC. (ASS-U-MING the hardware is supported of course, but I already choose hardware with good linux support, so....)

That's sweetness, right there.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:25 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


A $100 GTX 460 will run nearly every game in existence right now, generally at maximum settings and 1080p.

Crysis 3 at four frames per second is particularly challenging.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:01 PM on November 7, 2013


He did say nearly every game in existence.
posted by JHarris at 4:25 PM on November 7, 2013


COD Ghosts doesn't even run 60fps at 1080p on a titan.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:40 PM on November 7, 2013


Crysis 3 at four frames per second is particularly challenging.

Hm good point if only there was some way of OH WAIT

Here is a video of Crysis 3 on a GTX 460.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:37 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the install base becomes significant, this simply becomes another console, a console that developers of high end PC games have to target.

In a couple years even a titan will be dated. At that point one of two things can happen, PC devs will continue targeting the steambox or the steambox becomes irrelevant.


Well, no. The thing that many appear to be missing -- which is a massively important thing, even if I don't personally care about it -- is the Steambox is going to allow you to stream any and all games you currently own or might buy in the future, even if they don't run natively on Linux and thus locally on the Steambox itself, from other machines with Steam installed on your local network.

So every single game you own on Steam -- and with an installed userbase of 65 million users at this point, it was recently reported -- will be playable, without porting or fucking around in any way, on your TV through the Steambox, instantly. Any new games released in future -- again, whether or not they have a Linux port that will let them run natively on Steambox itself -- will also be playable, streaming locally.

Local latency isn't really an issue, nor, I expect, would bandwidth be a problem, even at 1080p or better.

This is huge, and this leveraging of people's current, existing libraries, with games that range from the latest and dumbest COD game to Doom and everything in between, making them immediately available even if you buy the lowest-specced Steambox that's just good enough to stream from your (presumably existing) home PC, is a massive distinguishing advantage over other consoles.

People who don't own a gaming PC already can of course buy a gruntier Steambox (with easily swappable and upgradable commodity parts, because it's just a PC, by design), so they can run things local to that box, like a regular console.

Honestly, even though I am a big fan of Valve and the way they do business for the most part, I have no interest in buying a Steam box, but I think they've got this thing pretty well dialed-in.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:38 PM on November 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I take from that is that I'll be able to build my own SteamOS box with my own, or maybe some handmedown hardware from my main PC.

Precisely. Valve's taken care to make this as open as possible at every step, in line with their stated beliefs about the way things should be.

I'm far from sure it's going to be a success, but if they can get the message out about how this is in just about every imaginable way a better approach for consumers and enthusiasts than the closed, daddy-knows-best console systems: I think this might end up being a boon to gaming, PC gaming, that has only been matched in scale so far by the way Valve has already revivified PC gaming in the previous decade.

A Steam Box which at least allows me to play some of those games very well would be most excellent. I really, really want to play Portal 2 again, this time at a proper resolution, while sitting on the couch with surround sound.


You'll be able to play every single game in your current Steam library on the TV, streamed to the box, if you buy or build one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:44 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


is the Steambox is going to allow you to stream any and all games you currently own or might buy in the future

I did miss that. I certainly won't be buying the $600 ultra version then. I'll just wait for the streambox.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:45 PM on November 7, 2013


Steambox is either doomed to irrelevancy or will necessarily limit PC gaming development.

It's hard to believe that it could limit PC gaming development more than the Xbox 360's limitations have limited PC gaming in the past several years. And that's widely regarded as a good thing, in that we've had a golden age where you didn't really have to worry about the upgrade treadmill. There were two or three years there where I basically never had to pay attention to the system requirements for a PC game.
posted by straight at 6:49 PM on November 7, 2013


This could be the biggest problem with the Steamboxes. How will Valve solve the fragmantation?

I read something in in the last few days that Valve has said they plan to use their Steam Hardware Survey to finally have useful hardware recommendations for games. Steam will look at your hardware and compare it with the hardware of people who successfully run a game you're interested and then tell you what if anything you need to upgrade.
posted by straight at 6:53 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's been pretty great. I built my computer as a mid-range machine in 2007 and I'm only now having to start to worry about the processor.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:54 PM on November 7, 2013


Yeah, if you stick to 1280x1024 or turn the settings down a bit, a 9800GT is still a very capable card for most games and that's from 2008.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:09 PM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


1280x1024? What are we, animals?
posted by Justinian at 1:18 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


TWO THOUSAND AND EIGHT
posted by Sebmojo at 4:49 AM on November 8, 2013


The more I think about it, the more I'd be happy just picking up the Steam Controller, and skipping the Steam Machine and SteamOS altogether (that's possible, right?) I have a few-years-old Macbook that can easily run the games I'm excited to play, and a simple HDMI adapter takes care of the living room problem. It's not like I need the newest bleeding-edge graphics card, I just want to play strategy and indie stuff with modest requirements.
posted by naju at 6:53 AM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


technically Steam IS a form of DRM. they're working on improving offline mode currently (which has been a news item in gaming news in the last week or so), but as it stands right now you MUST have an online connection every X amount of days in order to continue to be able to play your paid-for-and-installed library offline.

also i believe that the way it currently works is that you must have an internet connection to go INTO offline mode, so if you lose your connection suddenly and unexpectedly you may be out of luck playing your games until you have a connection again.

If you lose your connection while you have Steam open, you can restart it into offline mode. If you turn on and then you notice there's no connection, that's when things go south.

I was reading the other day that if your computer doesn't communicate with a modem, offline mode can run indefinetly. Valve should fix it though.

PC gaming master race confirmed

No need to reference Nazi shit on Metafilter just because someone might prefer to play on a pc.
posted by ersatz at 2:02 PM on November 8, 2013


COD Ghosts doesn't even run 60fps at 1080p on a titan.

I'm playing on a measley GTX660 at that resolution and am getting high 50's with everything just about maxed. Looks terrific, though.

Hm good point if only there was some way of OH WAIT

Here is a video of Crysis 3 on a GTX 460. yt


I'd definitely describe that as "playable." (granted, I was kinda exaggerating with my 4fps estimate) Still pretty impressive for a card like that.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:09 PM on November 8, 2013


ersatz, The Glorious PC Gaming Master Race is a joke from Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's Zero Punctuation videos.
posted by straight at 1:04 AM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uh, Chromecast is Amazon's #1 seller in Electronics and has been since it came out. It is alarming the entertainment industry because it changes television viewing habits. It certainly has in my household. I expect things will get stranger with the Pandora app. Music sounds pretty good on the TV.
posted by xowie at 5:15 AM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


straight, I've seen the video, but I'm guilty or reading the comments on gaming sites and it comes up a lot; the launch of the new consoles can't come soon enough if you ask me.

So people stop babbling about them, not that either interests me.
posted by ersatz at 11:57 AM on November 9, 2013


I'm playing on a measley GTX660 at that resolution and am getting high 50's with everything just about maxed. Looks terrific, though.

I'm going by Total Bisquit's review. He had to turn off one of his card due to the SLI causing stutter and then was getting like 40fps in some parts.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:27 PM on November 9, 2013


Most hardware gets a big buildup and then turns out to be crap, but this is kind of exciting. Valve are good people, and that Steam Controller is really interesting. In the demonstration video it looks so cool. Hope they don't wear out extra fast after all the rubbing and clicking, tho.

I'm not as sure what would make the Steam Box better than already existing HTPCs, but if it helps kill that horrible Windows 8 store, then more power to 'em.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:54 AM on November 10, 2013




Who Will Buy A $500 Steam Machine?
posted by homunculus at 10:24 AM on December 1, 2013


Well, I might, and set it up to dual-boot SteamOS and Win7. Or build myself something similar.

Be able to play Fallout 3 / NV on the big ol' screen without all the problems in the PS3 versions (and with mods if I want), be able to play Borderlands on a big screen w/ mods, be able to play Civ3/4/5 on the big screen, use it for streaming stuff like Hulu that gets all bitchy about non-pcs, use it for playing less than legitimately sourced files that have cinavia.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:21 AM on December 1, 2013


An Xbox One costs $499. A PS4 costs $399. Compared to those, a Steam Machine's price seems reasonable, plus you can run other software on it (because it itself is a form of Linux), things like VLC, plus it's an actual computer you could run other OSes on if you chose, plus you can play a significant portion of your Steam library on it, plus those games probably aren't going randomly obsolete when the next generation comes up, plus patches are going to be frequent and not have to wait for gatekeepers to approve them.

The Steam Machine is such a better deal than those other two things it's not funny. I wouldn't hesitate to get one before any of the other consoles this generation.
posted by JHarris at 2:31 PM on December 1, 2013


If you bought Half Life 2 in 2004, that game and every other game you've bought on Steam has been available on any computer you own continuously for the past nine years. I can't think of any other game service with a track record like that.

If you bought an Xbox game in 2004, you likely couldn't play it on your Xbox 360 in 2005 and you certainly can't play it on your Xbox One in 2014.

The back-catalog "launch titles" available for a Steam Box is going to be enormous compared to what's available for the PS4 and Xbox One.
posted by straight at 8:47 PM on December 1, 2013


It's the direction gaming has been heading in for a long time. The only drawback is that, being based off of Linux, your whole library won't be available. I'd be surprised if they weren't working on solving that problem, and when they do solve it, it'll make Virtual Console look pitiful.
posted by JHarris at 8:54 PM on December 1, 2013


it'll make Virtual Console look pitiful.

They'll have to work pretty hard to be better at that than Nintendo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:27 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's the direction gaming has been heading in for a long time. The only drawback is that, being based off of Linux, your whole library won't be available.

This is the bit that people keep missing, and I keep repeating, because I think it's so huge. The Steam box will let you stream gameplay, locally, from your current gaming PC if you have one, where all your games might well be on Mac or Win, through the Steambox to your TV. So it literally doesn't matter that it's a Linux box, or that it might be relatively low-powered. There's no hard and fast requirement to be running games locally on that actual steam box itself, so no need for it to be super grunty unless you want it to be, nor does the Linux OS matter at all for your current library of games.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:02 PM on December 2, 2013


I wonder if you could stream non-Steam or browser based games too. Sort of like Chromecast for games.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:08 PM on December 2, 2013


The Steam box will let you stream gameplay, locally, from your current gaming PC if you have one, where all your games might well be on Mac or Win, through the Steambox to your TV. So it literally doesn't matter that it's a Linux box, or that it might be relatively low-powered.

But I think we were talking about the back catalog as a selling point to get people who don't already have a gaming PC to buy a Steambox instead of an Xbox or PS4.
posted by straight at 12:58 PM on December 3, 2013


Also, if it's relatively low-powered, then you spend $400-$500 on the Steambox...and you still need to upgrade your old Windows PC to play demanding new games.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I think we were talking about the back catalog as a selling point to get people who don't already have a gaming PC to buy a Steambox instead of an Xbox or PS4.

Sure, I get that. What impresses me is the flexibility here of building (or buying) and upgrading as you like just the box you want to run SteamOS, balancing how much you spend (and how much grunt you get) with whether you have a primary gaming PC and how powerful it is. Build or buy a powerful living room box if you want to run things locally (which has the downside of only being able to play games with linux ports, which probably won't happen with older unsupported games, but they won't need all that much grunt and could be streamed from a weak windows PC), build or buy a cheap streaming steambox if you have a grunty gaming PC, or anywhere in between -- and upgrade with commodity parts as necessary.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:12 PM on December 3, 2013






Well, not exactly:

"Valve has produced a lot of important innovations in the gaming industry. They also built a gamepad you control with your butt. They’re calling it a 'posture-based game controller,' but come on. That’s a butt joystick, and you know it, Valve."

So no, Valve doesn't say you can, the website "Geekosystem" says they say that.

Other articles currently featured on Geekosystem:
"Celebrate the 80th anniversary of Repeal Day with These 35 Geeky Cocktails, Just Not All at Once"
"Stop Making Fun Of Valley Girls Because You Might Sound Just Like Them: Uptalk Dialect Spreading to Male Speakers"
"Mathematicians Wrote a Paper on How Zombie Apocalypse Won't Kill Us All, Made Us Grateful for Math"

So Geekosystem's writers are now composing their articles using a butt-based keyboard. They might claim otherwise but come on, with content like that you just know it's true.
posted by JHarris at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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