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Valve developer shows off Gamescope for Linux at XDC 2020

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As we highlighted in our initial XDC 2020 article, one of the presentations this year was from a Valve developer who is working on Gamescope.

Gamescope, something we revealed before across two articles (#1, #2), was started by Valve dev Pierre-Loup Griffais, who is one of the most prominent Linux people at Valve after joining them in 2012. Griffais has also been heavily involved in Valve's various external open source contracting, with things like ACO for Mesa and more.

Created as an evolution of steamcompmgr, the original SteamOS session compositing window manager but it's come a long way since then. Being a rewrite to be based on Wayland (and XWayland for what doesn't work with Wayland directly) rather than GLX, giving them much more direct control over everything with Vulkan. From the talk, Griffais mentioned how they began with using wlroots (a modular Wayland compositor library), from there they hacked away at it and merged it with a bunch of what was in steamcompmgr.

One of the aims here ended up being to have it work on a normal desktop, not just in a single-screen / single-activity like SteamOS did with steamcompmgr. The idea is that with Gamescope the game cannot interfere with your Linux desktop, while you also get more direct control over it for things like input, resolution, refresh rate and more. Griffais showed an example of Portal not working well with an Ultrawide monitor, and then when run with Gamescope at least the rendering was correct due to the sandboxing. Example below, launched as normal and then launched with Gamescope.

Another useful feature of Gamescope is that you can set it up so if a Gamescope window is out of focus, it throttles it down so you can interact properly with your desktop without the game sucking away all your juice. Something that would be seriously useful for lower powered devices / laptops and even on a high-powered PC there's certain games that bring your entire PC to a crawl when you ALT+TAB - so there's lots of uses there.

Plenty of work is still left to do, various polishing features still to be done but Griffais thinks it could be quite useful with a nice UI to go along with it. Lots more was talked about during the short presentation, it's well worth a watch if you're interested in one possible way of how games will be run on Linux in future.

You can see the video below, which begins at around 7:08:17. Our embed video should begin there for you to make it easy.

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Quite an exciting project that will currently work with AMD drivers, and Intel is probably "not too far off". Eventually, once NVIDIA actually decide how they will be properly supporting Wayland and XWayland it might work there too.

Learn more about Gamescope on GitHub.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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19 comments
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I love that Valve is doing this stuff, but it bothers me that I don't know their motivation!
shorberg 17 Sep
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Gave this a try last night with the old Touhou games, which can be peculiar about screen resolution, and it Just Worked™!

Very excited about how this will progress.
brokeassben 17 Sep
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I've needed this for CS:GO! I have an ultrawide and CS:GO throws errors when running at 3440x1440 and causes all kinds of texture flickering and stuttering, especially when playing Danger Zone. At 1920x1080 it just stretches the screen out and makes the game nearly unplayable.
shorberg 17 Sep
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I found another neato thing with this just now.

The Neptunia games (thanks again to GoL for the bundle-key), are fixed at a maximum resolution of 1080p, which Proton effortlessly scales up just fine to 1440p. So generally no worries.

However, if you take a screenshot from Steam (F12-key) the resulting screenshot is of the upscaled version which makes it a bit blurry. Running the game through gamescope I ended up with 2 screenshots after the session, one of the final upscaled version and one in 1080p.

If this is the intended behaviour or not, I don't know. But I very much appreciate the choice given me as to which I want to keep.
yokem55 17 Sep
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Quoting: thoughtfulhippoI love that Valve is doing this stuff, but it bothers me that I don't know their motivation!
Development of linux gaming is a moderately profitable hobby for them that hedges their platform dependencies. That's it.
bisbyx 17 Sep
"Do you want to talk at our X11 Conference?"
"Sure I'd love to talk about Wayland"

I really hope that's how it actually went down. Seems like it has been well received (and I have no idea if there is any "bad blood" between X and Wayland devs, hopefully there is a unified "make Linux better" camaraderie).
Phlebiac 18 Sep
Quoting: bisbyxI have no idea if there is any "bad blood" between X and Wayland devs

The X devs turned into Wayland devs; no one is really working on X11 any more.
Thetargos 18 Sep
Quoting: Phlebiac
Quoting: bisbyxI have no idea if there is any "bad blood" between X and Wayland devs

The X devs turned into Wayland devs; no one is really working on X11 any more.
Seems as if X11 has been on Life Support for the last several years (5? more?), though they are still actively fixing bugs and polishing some features. Wayland needed and still does need much more work to get to the point where it can finally substitute X completely (getting there, though). Some times I see Wayland catching up to the X features in the same way as Wine is catching up to Windows (though much, much faster, LOL! )
Phlebiac 18 Sep
Quoting: Thetargos[Some times I see Wayland catching up to the X features

I think most of the "catching up" the last couple years has just been about improving XWayland, i.e. backwards compatibility. It seems Wayland already has features that X11 never will. But since I'm playing games on Nvidia drivers, I'm still running X11! Eventually, enough games will be using SDL2 and thus run on Wayland natively, and XWayland support for Nvidia drivers will have improved enough.
brokeassben 18 Sep
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Quoting: shorbergGave this a try last night with the old Touhou games, which can be peculiar about screen resolution, and it Just Worked™!
I tried compiling Gamescope and kept getting errors. How did you get it working? I wasn't able to find any mention of dependencies or installation instructions on the GitHub page.
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