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Valve clarifies how they test Native Linux or Proton for Steam Deck

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For people who watch SteamDB updates, there's been a little bit of confusion on how Valve has been testing titles ready for the release of the Steam Deck on February 25. They've now fully clarified.

The issue surrounds what version they will pick for Deck Verified when games have a Native Linux build. There were a number that appeared on SteamDB, noting Steam Play Proton as the runtime picked instead (meaning the Windows build was used). As example, an update for Portal 2 on SteamDB (their own game) shows the recommended runtime being Proton. Turns out, this was not intended.

Valve shared via email (making clear this was not embargoed info): "early on, there were a limited number of titles that were tested via Proton before Linux before we made some policy changes. Since then all of those titles are already back in the queue for re-testing using their Linux builds".

Additionally, the developer documentation has been updated (right at the bottom) to state:

If my game has a native Linux version and is selected for review heuristically, will the compatibility review take place on the Linux build or under Proton?
By default, we will test a Linux build if one is available. If the Linux build fails compatibility tests or otherwise experiences significant issues, we'll then test the Windows build of your game running under Proton. Our goal is for customers to have the smoothest experience possible on Deck, so we'll submit whichever set of test results is more favorable.

Your compatibility test results will specify what runtime they were generated on. You can see details in the "Details" section of your report under the "Recommended Runtime" field.

If you believe we tested the wrong version of your product, you can always submit for a re-review and specify the platform you'd like us to test.

Something to remember: nothing is final, and even after the Steam Deck releases the Deck Verified program will be an ongoing thing. No doubt there will be changes to how it's run after release too as they continue to try and give players the best experience.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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48 comments
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aejsmith Feb 17, 2022
Quoting: alejandro-bringasI hope that at some point they will remove the "launchers" from Feral games, such as Rise of TR or dirt games, where it can become annoying.

IIRC, Feral games shouldn't show the launcher when run under big picture mode in Steam. I hope the Deck UI hasn't broken the mechanism for detecting that.

I also hope that Valve haven't chosen to override Feral's ports where there's no good reason to do so. I can understand it where cross platform multiplayer doesn't work, but given that I've already heard of several cases where perfectly good native ports have been overridden to Proton without good reason, I don't have much hope.
dubigrasu Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: alejandro-bringasI hope that at some point they will remove the "launchers" from Feral games, such as Rise of TR or dirt games, where it can become annoying.
I rather see them being kept. I find them well done, very useful and as opposed with many launchers, they can be navigated with a gamepad. Feral did a good job and put some love into them, most if not all are customized for each game.
They can also be dismissed after the first run.
D34VA_ Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: Ehvis
Quoting: pete910
Quoting: BielFPsBut I wonder how they'll handle cases like Borderlands 2 that, while having a "performant" native build, the last DLC can only be played through Proton.

BL2's situation is embarrassing to be frank. The port from Asprey runs really well but basically it's abandoned from the looks of it. Whether thats due to Gearbox or whomever I don't know. Could be the deal/license has run out as in the case with some of feral's ports.

BL2 default must be native. Because installing it with proton will install the HD texture pack which will cause out of memory crashes. You need to manually untick that DLC for it to be stable(ish). Default experience has fewer issues although proton can run double the fps.

I forced LAA, completed the DLC multiple times.
slaapliedje Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: BielFPs
QuoteIf the Linux build fails compatibility tests or otherwise experiences significant issues, we'll then test the Windows build of your game running under Proton.
Judging by this message, I bet Dying Light will be one of those games who will be opted to run on Proton by default despise having a "native" version.

But I wonder how they'll handle cases like Borderlands 2 that, while having a "performant" native build, the last DLC can only be played through Proton.
Huh, Dying Light ran awesome natively for me. Granted I don't know if running under Proton makes it run better, as I had no reason to test it.

Quoting: CFWhitman
Quoting: JpxsonI feel bad for Feral, I'm guessing Proton will be selected for all their games.

I wouldn't count on it. The Steam Deck has an AMD GPU.
I always buy nVidia GPUs, but the Feral ports have ran fine for me.
Aeder Feb 18, 2022
Dying Light native literally didn't work for me on a RX580. There seemed to be no easy workaround either since it was asking for a driver feature that was implemented differently between vendors and failing to launch when it didn't work as expected.
Eike Feb 18, 2022
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QuoteThe issue surrounds what version they will pick for Deck Verified when games have a Native Linux build.

I'm unsure what the implications of these tests are.

Is it only the compatibility badge?
Unlikely, you would show a game as been fully compatible due to say Proton, but run a different version by default on Steam Deck?!?

Does it define the default being run on Steam Deck?
Well, I guess so.

So, most important:
Do these tests define what is run by default on a normal Linux PC?


Last edited by Eike on 18 February 2022 at 8:43 am UTC
Frawo Feb 18, 2022
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Quoting: slaapliedjeHuh, Dying Light ran awesome natively for me. Granted I don't know if running under Proton makes it run better, as I had no reason to test it.
It definitely does run better in Proton, see Liams and Xpanders videos on youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11dZ0iuzH-M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKdT3RuL9jQ

Even if the game runs "good enough" with the native version, I think they still will prefer Proton as it seems to be more efficient and should draw less power from the battery.

It could also be because of the controller support. I don't know about Dying Light, but controller support in the native version of Trine is pretty much broken, while in Proton it works as expected.
Ehvis Feb 18, 2022
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Quoting: ST34MF0XI forced LAA, completed the DLC multiple times.

So did I. The DLC seems to be ok, it's the base game that is not. Especially Sanctuary was very prone to crashing.
berarma Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: JpxsonI feel bad for Feral, I'm guessing Proton will be selected for all their games.

I think you've missed the point. Valve will test the native port and use it as long as it passes the tests for the Steam Deck. They will not choose the one with best performance on anyone's PC or based on what works best for some users. It's a validation program for the Steam Deck.

In addition, they're old games, I don't think Feral will be making any money from those games. Their porting licenses are expiring, and games that were already in our libraries won't affect Feral's income.


Last edited by berarma on 18 February 2022 at 9:53 am UTC
ripper81358 Feb 18, 2022
Quoting: denyasis
Quoting: pete910
Quoting: JpxsonI feel bad for Feral, I'm guessing Proton will be selected for all their games.
Particular reason why?

The assumption is that the older ports that still remain use older opengl and wrapping technology that is less efficient than modern Wine/Proton with DXVK.

The Main reason for using Proton instead of a native Feral Port would be the lack of crossplattform multiplayer support. Valve will most likely make sure that you can join multiplayer games running on Windows.


Last edited by ripper81358 on 18 February 2022 at 11:12 am UTC
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