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Old 17th August 2012, 12:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Post A few articles about Windows 8 and Indie games

Minecraft creator warns locked down Windows 8 could be 'very bad' for indies, stays wary of Steam too -- Engadget


EA cautiously optimistic about Windows 8 | TG Daily


http://www.computerandvideogames.com...orm-isnt-open/

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Old 17th August 2012, 05:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yeah, as an indie developer myself, I'm concerned about Windows 8. It's the first step to phasing out Win32, the framework of just about every piece of Windows software in existence today. In fact, even developing C++ Metro-compatible Win32 titles, the app-market penetration is limited only to the desktop and the Surface Pro. Neither Windows Phone 8 nor the standard Surface (which only runs Windows RT, on an ARM chipset) are Win32 capable. Worse than that, Windows 8 Phone won't even run HTML/JS Metro applications, limiting you almost solely to developing non-portable code purely for the RT platform.

Win32 likely will still be around a few years yet simply because of the overwhelming software base for it, but it'll be disappearing in likely Windows 10 or 11. It's not as simple as everybody moving to Metro, because Metro is sandboxed and doesn't allow mixed-mode applications (with the sole exception, apparently, of web browsers). Which means, no Steam for Metro. You can't make an App which launches programs, so no Metro integration for Steam or any other popular indie launch platforms.

The single biggest limiting factor to developing for Windows 8 is complexity. To develop Metro applications which work across the Windows platforms (Windows 8 & Windows RT) you're pretty much limited to using their development tools, and these are going to be more limited. XNA, the most popular Microsoft games development platform today is being phased out. Actually, it's being phased out with Windows 7. It's not supported by Metro. The Win32 applications generated by it will still run in Windows 8, but you can't produce Metro applications with it. There's a project called MonoGame which produces valid Metro targets for VS2012 from XNA code, but the "free" edition of VS2012 is going to be the most restricted in years.

In short: It's going to be much more restrictive and much more expensive for indies to develop titles for Windows 8/Windows RT/Windows 8 phone. The existing tools are being locked out across the board and can't be used to develop Metro applications. The one freely accessible resource that is capable of developing Windows 8 applications - HTML/JS - won't be able to run natively on Windows 8 Phone, outside of a browser (which in turn severely limits the performance you can get out of JS).

While there'll always be alternatives to developing for Windows, able to produce all manner of COM applications, these will largely be missing the most vital component of Windows 8 - Metro integration. They still let you play in their sandpit, but you don't get any of the toys, unless you've got the time and/or money to do so. This won't matter to the major application developers.. people will still use a desktop Photoshop application, for example, and lack of Metro integration means zilch. People will still buy the major games, and will buy Call of Duty 9 regardless of whether it's a desktop or Metro.

But for indies, it's a bad sign. The relatively unrestricted Win32 access we've had for years has built the industry tremendously, but now that indies are finally making money, the major players are moving into the indie space and they have money and resources we could only dream of. Various corps have been going around snatching up as many profitable indies as they can for the last few years. Microsoft's been in on it. EAs been trying their hand at it - hell, they own Popcap now. And Zynga.. the company which just craps all over every indie developer by, whenever they see a successful indie game, they just copy it in its entirety and give it a new name .. their marketing arm is so much stronger and richer than anything we can compete with.

These are the companies which will occupy the Windows 8 "indie" space. Indies are being forced out of the market they've built up over years. The companies that help them build it up - Steam, Desura, GreenManGaming, etc, are being forced out with them.
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Old 21st August 2012, 11:59 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Personally I think Windows 8 is a pile of crap. I think a lot of people will simply skip it and keep Windows 7 for as long as possible. I'm considering changing my old win xp computer over to Ubuntu rather than Windows 8. The whole concept of Windows 8 is laughable, why would you ever want to have the same operating system on a desktop computer, a pad and a phone? They are completely different entities, and it is so very visible when you limit the desktop computer so extremely much as when using Metro. As BlackD mentions you can actually only open ONE program at a time. ONE. On a modern computer. And everything is designed to be used with fingers on a touchscreen.

Although I think the decision to drop Win32 isn't a second too soon. They should have done that years ago because it's so damn hard to work with. MFC (which is a very shallow try of making a C++ version of Win32) for creating desktop apps is also crap. The easiest things, like resizing a window or drawing graphics takes hours upon hours to get to work acceptably in MFC. So I say good riddance to that at least. Too bad they only allow the new framework in Metro mode. So if you want to use the non-gimped non-metro environment you're still stuck with MFC and Win32.

Though about Steam in Metro, I think it could be done if you redesign Steam. Instead of having it launching applications, the actual Steam app could be the game itself. If all games were designed in such a way that they are only data files that tie into the Steam exe then you could circumvent Metro. But then again, I'm starting to think that Windows is on a slippery slope to lose it's usage as a gaming platform.

I would suggest indie developers to go over to Linux instead, feels more right imo. Though I'm no Linux lover in that regard (I have never owned a Linux computer before I got my NAS that happens to have Linux on it) but if there were more games available for Linux I would gladly skip Windows.
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Old 21st August 2012, 06:42 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaedalusAlpha View Post
The whole concept of Windows 8 is laughable, why would you ever want to have the same operating system on a desktop computer, a pad and a phone? They are completely different entities, and it is so very visible when you limit the desktop computer so extremely much as when using Metro.
Well the concept is great Microsoft has just completely ballsed it up, Apple runs the same Pretty much the same OS on Mac and iPhone(iPad and iPod too), iOS started life as OS X the only thing they did was take out the services and apps that weren't needed and swap Finder (OS X's GUI app) for Springboard (the GUI app form iOS). Android is the same, it's just Linux with a UI that works well on a phone or tablet. (well some thinks it does)

The problem for Microsoft is the approach they took in building Windows which has come to bit the, in the butt. Microsoft decided to go the route of ignoring all the hard work and brilliant design the Unix community had put in and do their own thing back with NT which the leagacy we are left with and now they want to change and they are struggling to do it.
The biggest issue is they went with the mostly monolithic approach, whereas everybody else who is using a Unix based OS (Apple with OS X and iOS, all the Linux PC stuff, Android and all the BSD's) has the modular approach which allows for much more agile development, you can keep the kernel and change other stuff like GUI which means porting apps between platforms is much much easier.

I see this change driving developers away and they will embrace the other platforms like OS X and Linux, Valve has lead the way with all their new games shipping for Windows and OS X at the same time, and it looks like they will soon be adding Linux to that list.
The problem Linux has is that they don't have a standard environment which can make developing a little harder, what I think Valve should do is create their own desktop environment for steam, to compete with KDE and Gnome (niether of which I really like, I used to use KDE back in the day but switched to Mac as my work platform and leave Linux for my servers)
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Old 21st August 2012, 10:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well it looked like Valve was targeting Ubuntu. All that is needed really is that one of the Linux distributions get some popularity, and everyone will start targeting it, making it more and more popular. Giving a snowball effect.
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