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Several Sites Publish Their Thoughts On Steam Machines & The Steam Controller

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Note: It's likely I will keep adding to this article.

A few big sites are now pushing out their articles on the new hardware from Valve, so I decided to point them out for you and take a look.

The most in-depth ones I have found yet is engadget and ars technica who deserve some applause here, as they went into quite a bit of detail, and more so than any other website.

They seem reasonably positive about the whole thing. They do note the interface does still have its issues, like accidentally introducing a bug that shows Windows games which will get ironed out properly (one would hope anyway!).

Ars does note this, which will annoy the heck out of people:
arsWe also found a few SteamOS games that still include an intermediate "launcher" screen that asks players to confirm resolution and other settings. That's only an annoyance because these screens can't be navigated with the Steam Controller; you need to plug in a mouse and keyboard to get through to the actual game in these cases. While the SteamOS interface includes large warnings that these games require extra hardware, and Valve isn't directly responsible for third-party developers' unfriendly decisions, it still seems like an oversight to have such games be unplayable out of the box.

Having to get up and down to tinker things with a mouse at times, will be annoying. I am hopeful some developers will go back to update their games, but that depends on the success of it all.

Engadget did notice certain performance issues we all know about ourselves though:
EngadgetThe games that ran poorly surprised me: Shadow of Mordor struggled to hit playable frame rates at my television's native 1080p resolution until I dialed back its graphics options to their lowest settings. I don't know if the game is simply more resource-intensive than I realized, if it's poorly optimized for PCs or if it's just a bad Linux port.

We've seen a fair few people underwhelmed by the performance of SoM, it's not terrible, but it's not exactly the best port we have right now. This is something I am hoping Feral will address in a future patch.

And then this:
EngadgetA few games also suffered from weird stuttering despite running well at high specifications:BioShock Infinite, Spec Ops: The Line and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel would all occasionally drop a few frames, causing the game to look like it was "hanging" for a quarter of a second every few minutes. Weird.

All of which use Unreal Engine, and need to be tinkered to actually work properly without stutters, this is due to the amount of VRAM is selected to be used in the config files. By default for us it's rather low.

I think this is my favourite bit from that review:
EngadgetOn the plus side, Valve carries a lot of weight in the gaming industry, and it has a vested interest in convincing developers to port big-name games to Linux. It's extremely probable that we'll see an explosion in Linux-compatible releases over the next several years. In the meantime, SteamOS' Linux library offers one extra advantage: It's unique. There are literally hundreds of distinct, fun, independent and lesser-known titles lurking in the Steam marketplace that simply aren't available on Xbox One or PlayStation 4.


I certainly hope more developers jump on board, we know market-share is what drives developers for their sales, and the currently announced ports simply won’t be enough to satisfy the majority. We have a few ports coming from Feral that they have confirmed and none have a current release date, Aspyr haven't announced any more recently either, so I hope a lot of ports are being done in-house in secret, otherwise we're not going to see the launch I was personally hoping for.

Another choice quote from engadget:
EngadgetThe Alienware Steam Machine has some growing pains, but it's fun. Lots of fun.

Having fun is the single most important thing here, and if he is having fun, so will lots of others without caring about everything being at a life-like setting.

From reading various others like PC Gamer and tomshardware it seems there are more concerns about the performance. I will go ahead and quote the linked PC Gamer article:
PC GamerLast year I bought an Xbox One. I expect to use it for the next seven years, and I will be able to play every single game released for it during that time. The Alienware Steam Machine? It’s already limited to playing modern games at 1920x1080 on Medium settings—I played BioShock Infinite, Metro 2033 Redux, and Spec Ops: The Line with those presets, and still saw the occasional frame rate dip. And none of those games are cutting-edge releases; they were simply the shiniest Linux-compatible games I owned.

In two or three years? Expect the Alienware Steam Machine to be limited to low settings on big-budget games.

This was one of my major concerns, especially with the recent heavier ports we have been getting. Seeing this from another major site doesn’t fill me with hope, but if you’re going to buy a Steam Machine are you expecting to run everything on maximum setting? I don’t personally think so, but you never know what technical level people will be on buying one. It is going to become a big issue, and more so over time. There’s also the issue of people comparing it to the Xbox and Playstation, where you can pick up any game and expect it to look pretty great, but a comparable priced system for SteamOS just won’t run games as well, and it’s something these websites are already doing and people who buy them will pick up on.

It’s going to be a very interesting time next month, but it’s still anyone’s guess which way this will go for us Linux gamers. I wonder if there will be new graphics drivers pushed quickly around the release to help with some of these performance issues? We know the GPU guys do this for Windows, so maybe they will start to do it for us too.

There’s a lot more to see on it all, so I suggest you check out engadget at the very least as they are very detailed. I just didn’t want to fill a dozen pages with quotes based on someone else’s thoughts. I haven't even touched on what they say about the Controller either, so go check them out.

I will have my Controller hopefully on November 10th, so keep an eye out for my own thoughts on it.

How are you feeling about it all? I’m more than a little concerned, but hopeful. My main concern right now is if my tiny hands will reach across to the X button, damn hands, why did they make the sides of the controller so damn fat? Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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Liam Dawe 15 October 2015 at 7:30 pm UTC
tuxisagamerArstechnica also went in depth. http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2015/10/steams-living-room-hardware-blitz-gets-off-to-a-muddy-start/

Thanks, added a link to that too. Will take a look and update the article if I find anything interesting/different in it.
WorMzy 15 October 2015 at 7:30 pm UTC
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In other Steam hardware news, the early pre-order units have shipped and should be arriving in the next couple of days.

I got this email this afternoon:
QuoteThe first Steam Link and Steam Controller pre-order units are scheduled to arrive over the next few days.

We're eager to hear your feedback as we continue to make changes and improvements leading up to the full retail launch on November 10th. For the next few weeks, we recommend that you opt in to the Steam client beta (through the System settings panel in the Big Picture UI) so that you'll be running the most current fixes and functionality.

We'll be keeping an eye on forums everywhere, but we've also set up a contact email address for everyone on the team: SteamHardwareFeedback@valvesoftware.com. Whether you're having a great time or running into issues, we want to know.

Thank you

It's nice to see that they're actively seeking feedback. They're not just shoving out a product and moving on.
Liam Dawe 15 October 2015 at 7:39 pm UTC
Article updated, added some more thoughts of my own.
metro2033fanboy 15 October 2015 at 7:54 pm UTC
My hope is high! image
minj 15 October 2015 at 8:01 pm UTC
Well duh. You either pay little for a device and a lot for games or you pay more for a device (including upgrades) and less for games.

http://www.ign.com/wikis/xbox-one/PS4_vs._Xbox_One_Native_Resolutions_and_Framerates is not that impressive either.
Frame rates being unstable is a definite problem though and this is where devs/porters and vendors need some ass-kicking. Hopefully Vulkan will help with that in the future.
Pecisk 15 October 2015 at 8:57 pm UTC
What did you know, Steam Machines looks actually good deal.
linux_gamer 15 October 2015 at 9:00 pm UTC
My package arrived in Germany so I'm confident to get my hands on the controler tomorrow! So I will see by my own.
edo 15 October 2015 at 9:28 pm UTC
PC Gamer has not relation to PC World. Please fix it.
And so far, the reviews are very cool, the Engadget guy got a $700+ machine so his opinion about it is very good, but the guy on pc world got a $400+ machine, so it has older hardware, thats why he talks not so good about the performance.
And I wonder if the guy on Engadget use the nvidia-specific-launch-option, that would help him getting better performance on SOM.
Comandante Ñoñardo 15 October 2015 at 10:15 pm UTC
How to improve the performance of the Unreal Engine 3 games on Steam Os or Ubuntu with that config file?
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