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HarryBizzle

Microsoft's UWP and the future of open PC gaming

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2 hours ago, Plissken said:

[...]

 

Speaking as a Windows developer, the above statements are absolute bollocks.

 

I don't give a flying one into a rolling hot dog about top end games being UWP - I can see the massive advantages in terms of single codebase etc.  The arguments are against are rubbish mind "It's vendor lockin" cry people, as they rush off to Steam and the Apple App Store.  "We can't hack other peoples games without permission mod PC games" is the other.  Pfft.

 

But to claim UWP doesn't open up possibilities for normal LOB Windows apps (especially when combined with the other announcements at Build) is horse puckey of the highest order.  Less than a month in and one of my client is already midway through looking into converting to UWP, another has said the next couple of projects will be UWP to see how it goes.

 

I realise there are benefits for developers, but unless I'm much mistaken there aren't really any for users? If there are I'm genuinely interested to hear about them, because all I'm aware of are the restrictions the format imposes. Actually the one benefit I'm aware of is that UWP apps should be much less susceptible to malicious exploits for the same reason they lock out mods and plugins, but I don't think the trade-off is worth it.

 

It's not fair to say that people are complaining about vendor lock-in though, because they're not here at least. There's also a massive difference between modding and "hacking". Is the Nvidia control panel a hack? That's useless for UWP games. Actual mods are a pretty big deal too, and if developers really don't want them there are existing solutions in place. UWP doesn't give them the choice, regardless of whether they're friendly to mods or not. Many game developers got their start on mods and went on to find work in the industry, and most PC developers seem to welcome mods. Heck, I actually bought Colonial Marines the other day purely to try out a mod, when I had no interest in the game before for obvious reasons.

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1 minute ago, Mogster said:

 

I realise there are benefits for developers, but unless I'm much mistaken there aren't really any for users? If there are I'm genuinely interested to hear about them, because all I'm aware of are the restrictions the format imposes. Actually the one benefit I'm aware of is that UWP apps should be much less susceptible to malicious exploits for the same reason they lock out mods and plugins, but I don't think the trade-off is worth it.

 

Depends on user to user I guess but that is absolutely worth the tradeoff for me if I can relax in the knowledge that my family (who aren't as computer literate as I) aren't going to accidentally download some shite that does odd things to the PC.   Or at least the risk of them falling victim to it is significantly reduced.  

 

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That's fair, but then that only really works if Windows also blocks the installation of Win32 apps. I suppose you could encourage people to only install apps from the Windows store.

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9 hours ago, Mogster said:

 

I realise there are benefits for developers, but unless I'm much mistaken there aren't really any for users? If there are I'm genuinely interested to hear about them, because all I'm aware of are the restrictions the format imposes. Actually the one benefit I'm aware of is that UWP apps should be much less susceptible to malicious exploits for the same reason they lock out mods and plugins, but I don't think the trade-off is worth it.

 

It's not fair to say that people are complaining about vendor lock-in though, because they're not here at least. There's also a massive difference between modding and "hacking". Is the Nvidia control panel a hack? That's useless for UWP games. Actual mods are a pretty big deal too, and if developers really don't want them there are existing solutions in place. UWP doesn't give them the choice, regardless of whether they're friendly to mods or not. Many game developers got their start on mods and went on to find work in the industry, and most PC developers seem to welcome mods. Heck, I actually bought Colonial Marines the other day purely to try out a mod, when I had no interest in the game before for obvious reasons.

 

So ultimately this comes down to "I think it is a bad thing because I can't fuck around with the finished product" and "UWP stops people modding".  A resounding "so what" to the first and "where is your proof?" to the second.  It is a bullshit argument.  UWP does not, in any way, prevent modding if developers provide the plugins/hooks for it to do so.  Why would UWP prevent modding when Steam does not?  As usual with PC gaming, the argument for something is "I want to be able to do X/Y/Z" where X/Y/Z is anything but playing the damned game.

 

I'm genuinely curious why you think mods and plugins is an acceptable tradeoff against malicious exploits.  So it is fine to have holes which allow people to get ripped off / stolen etc as long as you can reskin the latest FPS?

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For a thread in gaming discussion about PC gaming, you seem to be really downplaying how useful and valuable mods can be for games and rather childishly too. 

 

As for the point Rafaqat made - making something safer for less tech savvy users is good. However, you can easily just have an option like you do on android devices and even Oculus Home where by default you disable the ability to run non-store/verified software. Protects users and also gives the option to people to meddle at their own choice. Or just a limited access/rights account.

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30 minutes ago, Plissken said:

It is a bullshit argument.  UWP does not, in any way, prevent modding if developers provide the plugins/hooks for it to do so.  Why would UWP prevent modding when Steam does not?

Not UWP per se, no. But the Windows Store policy states:

Quote

10.2.2

Your app must not attempt to change or extend the described functionality through any form of dynamic inclusion of code that is in violation of Store Policies. Your app should not, for example, download a remote script and subsequently execute that script in a manner that is not consistent with the described functionality.

That sounds relevant to me. 

 

It is, of course, analogous to Apple's famous iOS developer agreement clause:

Quote

2.7 Apps that download code in any way or form will be rejected

...and it seems like a non-controversial point to suggest that at least part of Microsoft's goal with UWP and the Windows Store is to bring an iOS-style ecosystem to Windows.

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What about for UWP distributed outside the windows store? And do those still need to be signed by MS? What about win32 converted by Centennial?

 

Incidentally, apps converted through Centennial aren't sandboxed like native UWP apps.

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22 hours ago, TehStu said:

I shouldn't have mentioned the PS4. I was just alluding to the fact that it's hardly surprising that the platform owner uses 1st party titles to peddle their store. Remember when Half Life 2 came with that apparent crapware Steam? And it'll help, or it'll bite them on the arse, depending on whether sufficient people vote with their wallet.

OK, sure, Steam was lame. But it was lame when there was no alternative; it literally created the digital distribution market around itself. That was 2003. 2016 is very different; we have Steam, Origin, uPlay, and GOG, all of which are perfectly competent.

 

Then along comes Microsoft with a two-pronged attack: UWP and Windows Store. It's confident enough to tie a couple of big exclusive games to this. But even you, Stu, surely admit it's bungled the launch: no multi-GPU support, enforced vsync, etc etc, all on a product aimed specifically at people that care very much about those things. And it comes on the heels of the last lukewarm attempt at Microsoft to own this space (Games for Windows Live), which arrived lame, only got worse, but no-one has forgotten. There was a strong stink about GfWL that it was an example of Microsoft setting high level strategic goals that it hadn't thought very hard about how to implement and hence were implemented poorly; right now, I'd say that (for games) UWP/Windows Store is in the same state.

 

Now, I concede, MS has promised to fix these issues -- and it probably will, although talk is cheap. But here's a cliché for you: you never get another chance to make a first impression. And here's another: you come at the king, you best not miss. Microsoft tried to enter a mature market with an underbaked product, and it's being rightly laughed from the room for it.

1 minute ago, TehStu said:

What about for UWP distributed outside the windows store? And do those still need to be signed by MS? What about win32 converted by Centennial?

Sure, but despite the thread title, I think most people in this thread are talking about UWP and Windows Store in combination, rather than either in isolation.

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43 minutes ago, Plissken said:

As usual with PC gaming, the argument for something is "I want to be able to do X/Y/Z" where X/Y/Z is anything but playing the damned game.

 

This makes you sound like a colossal dickhead and ignores how awful some PC ports are before users get their hands on them. It also ignores a lot of PC gaming in general.

 

"We can't be bothered to spend the time to make the game render at anything above 720p, but we'll absolutely spend the time building the UWP hooks/plugins so you can fix that!"

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1 minute ago, DocG said:

OK, sure, Steam was lame. But it was lame when there was no alternative; it literally created the digital distribution market around itself. That was 2003. 2016 is very different; we have Steam, Origin, uPlay, and GOG, all of which are perfectly competent.

 

Then along comes Microsoft with a two-pronged attack: UWP and Windows Store. It's confident enough to tie a couple of big exclusive games to this. But even you, Stu, surely admit it's bungled the launch: no multi-GPU support, enforced vsync, etc etc, all on a product aimed specifically at people that care very much about those things. And it comes on the heels of the last lukewarm attempt at Microsoft to own this space (Games for Windows Live), which arrived lame, only got worse, but no-one has forgotten. There was a strong stink about GfWL that it was an example of Microsoft setting high level strategic goals that it hadn't thought very hard about how to implement and hence were implemented poorly; right now, I'd say that (for games) UWP/Windows Store is in the same state.

 

Now, I concede, MS has promised to fix these issues -- and it probably will, although talk is cheap. But here's a cliché for you: you never get another chance to make a first impression. And here's another: you come at the king, you best not miss. Microsoft tried to enter a mature market with an underbaked product, and it's being rightly laughed from the room for it.

 

Of course they have. Like I said, I've written ad nausea on the Windows store since picking up an SP3 shortly after launch. I don't disagree with anything you've said. Their first party apps are farcical. 

 

However, incompetence does not correlate with the concerns put forth in this thread. It's entirely possible they're screw this up like the did the bone launch, and umpteen other things before it. 

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5 minutes ago, DocG said:

 

Sure, but despite the thread title, I think most people in this thread are talking about UWP and Windows Store in combination, rather than either in isolation.

 

OK, but who is affected by this, in the context of the thread? Microsoft Game Studios and... anyone else brave enough to launch their games only on the Windows store, which is a number likely tending to nil.

 

The only people losing here are Microsoft, and those without sufficient will to vote with their wallet perhaps.

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31 minutes ago, Plissken said:

 

So ultimately this comes down to "I think it is a bad thing because I can't fuck around with the finished product" and "UWP stops people modding".  A resounding "so what" to the first and "where is your proof?" to the second.  It is a bullshit argument.  UWP does not, in any way, prevent modding if developers provide the plugins/hooks for it to do so.  Why would UWP prevent modding when Steam does not?  As usual with PC gaming, the argument for something is "I want to be able to do X/Y/Z" where X/Y/Z is anything but playing the damned game.

 

I'm genuinely curious why you think mods and plugins is an acceptable tradeoff against malicious exploits.  So it is fine to have holes which allow people to get ripped off / stolen etc as long as you can reskin the latest FPS?

You're really twisting my words here. Like I said, "fucking around" in this case includes making use of Nvidia and AMDs graphics driver tools, making old games playable on new systems or just adding massive improvements to the experience like DSfix. I fail to see how preventing this stuff is of any benefit whatsoever, and it's not like you're forced to use DSfix to play Dark Souls. It's an option, and it's great to have.

 

As for the second point, like I said before I'm well aware that it's possible to mod UWP games if a developer specifically develops the support for it, along with the tools and the distribution method. Those devs are awesome, but how often does this happen? In many cases it's simply an unreasonable ask of them when they have so much else to do to get the basic game finished, and modders can often work wonders regardless of whether the official support is there. Take DSfix again for instance. It was hardly From's artistic vision to port Dark Souls with a mandatory 30fps cap, 720p resolution and letterboxing on anything other than a 16:9 monitor. DSfix sorted all of that out in no time.

 

UWP and Steam are two totally different things. Steam is just a store, while UWP is a format. Some games on Steam cannot be modded for various reasons, while others can be. And as I've said many times, this sort of "fucking around" is to make games better, and in some cases make them playable at all when it comes to some older titles. The argument is "I want to be able to play the game the best way I can".

 

As for your last point, it's not that simple is it? Every time I leave my flat I expose myself to all sorts of potential risks, but that's not a good excuse to shut myself inside forever. Besides, how often do you hear about exploits like that targeting games?

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1 hour ago, DocG said:

That sounds relevant to me. 

 

That doesn't sound like it forbids modding, it forbids the sort of exploit where the developer could release an app and without creating a downloaded update swap out the script for something nefarious on the server - remove the ability, remove the attack vector. Mods would be downloaded code - i.e. not dynamic, and would be third-party anyway.

 

I've noticed you doing this a lot DocG, throwing around enough shade to cast murk on something, even when you know what you're saying is wrong.

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I don't work for a game studio - I write business applications, many of which have to work.

 

As long as PC gamers consider that fanpatches and such like are completely acceptable - desirable even - then there is no incentive for the original game to be of better quality/reliability.  A single UWP package covering XBox and Win10 is going to have to be better, because if you fail, you fail across two very large markets simultaneously.

 

But that is it, isn't it?  If UWP via the Windows Store takes off, then developers will be producing single packages for XBox and Win10.  And then where will the PC Master Race be?  Instead of fucking around with control panels and vsyncs and squeezing out extra FPS at higher resolutions and joining in a circle jerk about how wonderful your rig is, then you are just left with playing the fucking game as released. And what happens to the superiority complex then?

 

Prediction BTW.  UWP catches on.  Windows Store still doesn't.

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15 minutes ago, Plissken said:

As long as PC gamers consider that fanpatches and such like are completely acceptable - desirable even - then there is no incentive for the original game to be of better quality/reliability.  A single UWP package covering XBox and Win10 is going to have to be better, because if you fail, you fail across two very large markets simultaneously.

 

 

This doesn't explain why console games are so routinely of poor quality and unreliable.


See also: Batman Arkham Knight on PC being removed from sale for being so poor. Despite being removed from sale and worked on by Rocksteady for like 6 months the thing still isn't fixed. 

 

Quote

But that is it, isn't it?  If UWP via the Windows Store takes off, then developers will be producing single packages for XBox and Win10.  And then where will the PC Master Race be?  Instead of fucking around with control panels and vsyncs and squeezing out extra FPS at higher resolutions and joining in a circle jerk about how wonderful your rig is, then you are just left with playing the fucking game as released. And what happens to the superiority complex then?

 

You're like a child.

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The thing with DSFix is how it seemed to have a snowball effect as well:  

 

1.  With Durantes fix Namco saw more sales and how popular Dark Souls became on PC (currently sitting at 2.3 million sold roughly according to Steamspy and it still sells)

2.  From Software makes better PC versions of their games in the future with Dark Souls 2 and 3 (not saying they're perfect but much better than Dark Souls 1 on release)

3.  Namco Bandai start releasing more of their games on PC.

4.  You see more japanese developers releasing more of their games to PC when they see how viable the PC is as a platform - ie Nisa with the Neptunia games, XSeed with Trails Of... and even more niche games like Way Of The Samurai

5. From Software eventually remove GFWL from the game and it becomes Steamworks.

 

Now imagine if noone bothered to try and mod the game or even couldn't perform some fixes due to UWP, PC players go fuck that and it doesn't sell.  From Software/Namco decide it isn't worth it and don't bring over more games and everybody loses.  That's just one scenario out of many where modding/tweaking have benefitted both the consumer and the developer.

 

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Good point. They even tweeted specifically that Souls 3 was built for 60fps on PC, rather than leaving things as 30fps and relying on Malicious Exploit Boogeymen to fix their game.

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Another cool recent mod is templarfx's Colonial Marines overhaul, that turns a complete arse of a game into something, well, not quite so terrible. He's addressing pretty much everything you can think of, from the graphics through to the enemy AI. I had no intention of playing the game on any format before now, but the mod has suddenly makes it look far more appealing. That game was never going to get official mod support, or indeed any official support going forwards, but now it might actually be worth a look all this time later thanks to a mod. 

 

It is of course terrible that this deviant is hacking this work of art without Gearbox's permission though, so I will be reporting him to the highest authority forthwith.:P

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1 hour ago, BruceBruce said:

 

The Bethesda way.

 

Basically, but tell that to the poor bastards on PS3 who suffered from major lag/framerate issues in Skyrim once they reached a certain playtime.  At least on PC with issues in Bethesda games you can stick on godmode, clip mode or whatever.  Sure modding is why Bethesdas games have such a long shelf life on PC.

 

To give another modding example - just tonight I wanted to start a replay of Bulletstorm on PC.  So I download it from Steam and I remember it's infected with that GFWL shit.  It was never patched to remove it because the game didn't sell great or whatever reason and when I went to start the game Windows 10 itself basically tells me 'sorry mate windows 10 doesn't support that GFWL' and it wouldn't even run.

 

So I take a look on PC Gaming wiki and low and behold theres a DLL i can download made by some nice modder, bung into a folder and what do you know it runs like a dream with no GFWL needed.  You can even uninstall GFWL.  It means you miss out on multiplayer but it's basically dead now and the single player campaign is the best part of the game anyway so not as bad a situation as it could be.

 

Then there was a Bulletstorm ini editor on the same page I could download to edit the ini files as they were encrypted, again made by some nice modder.  That let me change FOV, remove mouse smoothing, unlock framerate and even have the ability to skip the starting videos.  All the things which made the game more comfortable for me to play.  Sure you could argue that those should be options in the menus and I'd agree, but I could at least edit the ini files so no major harm done.

 

Just finished the first act before writing this reply and it's still a fucking awesome game too :)

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I see mention of updating DLLs. Are we saying you can't update the contents of an APPX container and run it unsigned, like you can do on Android for apks?

 

Edit- never mind, it's just a zip file, one file of which contains a key ) if signed).

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1 hour ago, mr_woo said:

 

Basically, but tell that to the poor bastards on PS3 who suffered from major lag/framerate issues in Skyrim once they reached a certain playtime.  At least on PC with issues in Bethesda games you can stick on godmode, clip mode or whatever.  Sure modding is why Bethesdas games have such a long shelf life on PC.

 

To give another modding example - just tonight I wanted to start a replay of Bulletstorm on PC.  So I download it from Steam and I remember it's infected with that GFWL shit.  It was never patched to remove it because the game didn't sell great or whatever reason and when I went to start the game Windows 10 itself basically tells me 'sorry mate windows 10 doesn't support that GFWL' and it wouldn't even run.

 

So I take a look on PC Gaming wiki and low and behold theres a DLL i can download made by some nice modder, bung into a folder and what do you know it runs like a dream with no GFWL needed.  You can even uninstall GFWL.  It means you miss out on multiplayer but it's basically dead now and the single player campaign is the best part of the game anyway so not as bad a situation as it could be.

 

Then there was a Bulletstorm ini editor on the same page I could download to edit the ini files as they were encrypted, again made by some nice modder.  That let me change FOV, remove mouse smoothing, unlock framerate and even have the ability to skip the starting videos.  All the things which made the game more comfortable for me to play.  Sure you could argue that those should be options in the menus and I'd agree, but I could at least edit the ini files so no major harm done.

 

Just finished the first act before writing this reply and it's still a fucking awesome game too :)

 

I'm just saying, it doesn't give developers an excuse to make shitty ports in the hopes that the user base will fix everything themselves.  But tons of devs get lazy and do that anyway.  I'm a PC gamer myself, and I love that we can solve these issues with mods, but at some point we need to hold the developers responsible for releasing games that are horribly optimized because they know modders will fix the issues.

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Will direct X 12 with its lack of abstraction not completely kill the home modding to fix graphical issues market anyway? Or will they just specifically target the direct X 12 implementations in the game engines rather than at the API level?

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12 hours ago, mr_woo said:

The thing with DSFix is how it seemed to have a snowball effect as well:  

 

...

 

There's also Just Cause 2, where the unofficial multiplayer mod impressed the original developers so much they let them release it on the Steam store, driving more sales of JC2.

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10 minutes ago, RubberJohnny said:

Why are people still talking like mods wouldn't be allowed?

Quote

Mods, on the other hand, will be more complicated. Spencer referenced Steam Workshop as the model for how it'll work, which appears to suggest only developer-sanctioned mods will function in the environment. Asked whether users can mod software that doesn't come with developer-created tools, Spencer did not rule it out entirely, but his answer also didn't offer any confirmation.

 

"The mods where we’ll probably have some discussion, is... if I go in and change the executable in a way—if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn’t originally intend, [then] the problem is, I don’t know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it’s capturing my passwords as I’m typing them into Chrome. 

 

"I don’t know as the developer, or more importantly as the consumer, which of those it is," he continued. "So I would always try to find an endorsed path by the game creator to say, ‘here’s how we want people injecting code and modifications into the game’ and us supporting that, which we will go do. This idea that things can kind of run amok on the machine, and put, I’m going to say, malicious code—not saying mods are malicious, but it’s hard to differentiate."

This basically means that, while developer-sanctioned mods (such as those allowed for Bethesda's ESO and Fallout games via Steam Workshop) will be fine, the environment won't support modding to the extent that Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has seen. Which to many in the modding community, will be a limitation too far.

Also, I just saw that some Spider-Man game is on sale on Steam at the moment. Superhero stuff is a thing of mine, but apparently this one doesn't work on Windows 10. The only solution is to run the exe in Windows 7 compatibility mode. Good luck doing that if you ever encounter this kind of problem on the WIndows Store with some UWP game!

 

(Plissken would probably respond to this with something like: "so what? You already bought the game, now you also expect to be able to play it? You fucking Master Race gamers and your superiority complexes!")

 

13 hours ago, Plissken said:

Instead of fucking around with control panels and vsyncs and squeezing out extra FPS at higher resolutions and joining in a circle jerk about how wonderful your rig is, then you are just left with playing the fucking game as released. And what happens to the superiority complex then?

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