Monday, August 27, 2007

Gabe Newell: DirectX 10 for Vista was a mistake

According to an online survey by Valve Software, only one in fifty players who access download service Steam has a DirectX 10-compatible graphics card and Windows Vista installed. In an interview with heise online, Gabe Newell, president of Valve Software, said that Microsoft made a terrible mistake releasing DirectX 10 for Vista only and excluding Windows XP. He said this decision affected the whole industry as so far only a very small percentage of players can use DirectX 10.

When developing cross-platform games which are also released fo Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, developers look for the smallest common denominator. And since neither Microsoft's nor Sony's new consoles support Shader Model 4.0 for DirectX 10, only few games use it, he said.

In addition, Newell bemoaned the increasing lack of input device diversity in PC gaming culture. He would like to see controllers like the Wiimote or the Guitar Hero guitar, but since DirectX support for devices like these had increasingly been reduced over the last few years, developers didn't dare implement these expensive innovations.

The Half-Life 2 Orange Box, which will be released for PC and Xbox 360 on 12. October, uses DirectX 10 functionality only for accelerating some mimics. Visually, however, it was virtually impossible to differentiate between the versions. The PS3 edition is being developed by an EA studio and is scheduled for release two to three weeks later.

The game will already be available from download service Steam on 10. October. Newell said the later release date for the retail editions was requested by the retailers. Retailers also didn't want different versions, resulting in the release of a complete package containing Half-Life 2, Episode 1, Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress. Even before the release date, Valve will announce additional bundles for Steam so that existing Half-Life 2 users don't have to buy a second copy of the game.

The source engine was expanded for Episode 2. A special alpha blend mode generates smoother anti-aliasing edges. In addition, the demo version exhibits new distortion effects and soft shadows. The Orange Box console versions will also apply the new engine features, including high dynamic range rendering and multi core support, to the main game. The PC main game was not revised. Half-Life 2 runs at a resolution of 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

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