I'm not a gamer. Early on, when game graphics were at the level of Open Arena and Doom, I tried my hand at first person shooters and even the new-fangled online competitions. Drop-down consoles made me feel so, I dunno....7337.
But as it is with many other things, one's first negative experiences with any given scenario can taint it forever. My first competitive FPS taught me a valuable lesson.
I suck at gaming. No, really. I mean I truly and honestly suck at gaming.
Within 3-5 seconds of popping into any given map or field, I am blown into bloody puddles of unrecognisable DNA, my nemesis shrieking with glee as he dashes off to dispatch another n00b.
So no, we all live to capitalize on our strengths, and most certainly, I have no business in a FPS map.
But many of you do. That's what I want to talk about.
Gaming in Linux is just about to take a Proton Energy Pill. Steam is chugging ahead at an accelerated rate, doing what many of you would not have imagined a few short years ago. With beta testing for Steam under way, some pretty amazing things have happened in a relatively short amount of time.
1. Is filed under "well, duh"....real, honest, native gaming is coming to Linux. You would have to be tending goats on the Serengeti in order to have missed this.
2. It would strongly appear that Valve's foray into Linux is driving (sorry) GPU improvements for Linux Users.
Early on, we're talking about 2005 or so, I was sorely chapped over Nvidia not releasing their code to the open source community. These days, I am a bit more tolerant of the binary blobs released by Nvidia.
First off, open sourcing these drivers would put a large number of people out of work. Secondly, I am grateful to Nvidia for releasing anything for Linux that remotely works (note to ATI/AMD). Nvidia is under no requirement to provide working drivers for Linux...they have done so in the name of good will. With vast improvements in performance, now Nvidia may have a chance to recoup much of that investment via card sales to Linux Users. And speaking of ATI, how long has it been now since they open sourced much of their code? 5 years? And still, on the majority of machines I try these cards and drivers on, the performance is abysmal.
A closed source binary might not be ideal in a Linux environment but the fact that there is a working, well-performing driver now for the Nvidia R310...Well that says a lot about just how much Valve's inclusion of Linux has impacted our environment. I run a fairly ancient Gforce 8800 GT and this new driver has almost doubled my performance. I'm impressed that their new driver reaches that far back to improve performance of a card this old.
But still, there is a valid concern over a topic that has become more prevalent over the past few years.
Any hardware of software that limits the user's ability to use that product should be looked at carefully before purchase. Microsoft is locking down their bootloader by replacing the traditional BIOS with UEFI, making it extremely difficult to dual boot their ARM-based Windows 8 computers with Linux. there are so many forms and implementations of DRM that it would take a great deal of time to cover them all, but suffice it to say, DRM has become a standard.
Many of us can fully understand a DRM scheme that is engineered to protect a game or a piece of software from being pirated. That's just the world in which we live, but many hardware manufacturers, like Razer, have stepped over the line, according to a ton of their users.
Here's the deal.
Razer makes gaming devices. Expensive gaming devices. The problem is, when you buy a number of Razer gaming mice, you are required to have an online connection in order to "configure" the mouse. Those configurations are stored in "the cloud", so ideally, you have your pre-sets available to you regardless of where you game or where you go.
The problem is, you cannot use the mouse without "registration". It's not just simple registration. It's the information Razer wants in order to register. But nowhere on the box does it say that it requires an online connection to get the mouse to work. That's only one of the pleasant surprises that await you after the unboxing. From the sited article:
Synapse, the software driving the cloud setup, has both an online and offline mode. Unfortunately, you can't access the offline portion until you've registered your new hardware. This is a problem, especially when the company forcing you to create an account before you can use your mouse that can't keep its servers up. Furthermore, if you're away from your own computer (with its offline settings synched) and without an internet connection, your mouse becomes useless again. And it's not just spotty internet connections that cause a problem. It's also other software.
If you work somewhere that has a network behind firewalls, chances are even though you can download the Synapse software, the firewall may also block you from activating and using the software as well.
So again...I'm not a gamer. But many of you are and I have to wonder, even with the much-anticipated arrival of Steam on Linux, how much DRM is acceptable in order to gain the ability to interact with the software or hardware involved? I've heard both sides when it comes to Steam and DRM. Some of it I can understand, some of it I can't. But what I can't understand or would not tolerate under any conditions, is a mouse that required me to have an Internet connection before I can use it.
I am hoping the return lines for these Razer products are long. Or better yet, you might want to reconsider this purchase over the holiday season