“A few weeks after this post went out, some very senior developers from Microsoft came by for a discrete visit. They loved our post, because it lit a fire underneath Microsoft’s executives to get their act together and keep supporting Direct3D development.”
– Veteran game programmer and onetime Valve engineer Rich Geldreich recall the repercussions of Valve’s public show of support for Linux in 2013.
In the summer of 2013, Valve made a show of throwing support behind Linux by moving to port its game engine and Steam platform to run on the cult favorite operating system, generating a bit of cautious optimism among game devs.
PC game makers may recall that Valve even launched its own Linux-focused blog, and shortly after launch it published a post outlining how the company had tweaked Left 4 Dead 2 to the point that it actually ran better on Linux using OpenGL than on Windows 7 using Direct3D. Now, years later, devs may be curious to hear that one of the primary engineers on that project believes it helped encourage Microsoft to bolster its support for Direct3D tech.
Longtime game engineer Rich Geldreich (who currently works at Unity and occasionally blogs on Gamasutra) was working at Valve on the Steam Linux project in 2013, and this week he published a post to his personal blog reminiscing about what it was like to be there in the room with company chief Gabe Newell helping to write that Left 4 Dead 2 Linux performance post — and how Valve’s big push for Linux influenced the industry in some surprising ways.
“It’s perhaps hard to believe, but the Steam Linux effort made a significant impact inside of multiple corporations,” wrote Geldreich. “It was a surprisingly influential project. Valve being deeply involved with Linux also gives the company a “worse case scenario” hedge vs. Microsoft. It’s like a club held over MS’s heads. They just need to keep spending the resources to keep their in-house Linux expertise in a healthy state.”
It’s also worth pointing out that just a few months ago Microsoft joined The Linux Foundation at its highest-possible tier ($500,000/year) alongside companies like Intel, Samsung and — at a lower membership tier — Valve.
For more of Geldreich’s memories about working at Valve, including some thoughts on how working on the Steam Linux project brought him much more stress than expected, check out the full blog post.