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Epic Games Supports Blender Foundation with $1.2M (blender.org)
736 points by brachi 37 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 250 comments

Commoditize one's compliments: https://jasongriffey.net/wp/2012/04/19/commoditizing-our-com...

Unreal Engine, like Unity, right now has to be used with Autodesk products like 3DS Max or Maya, or at least that is the case with the large majority of professionals. This is an impediment to using Unreal Engine and thus makes Epic Games sort of dependent on Autodesk.

There is probably no coincidence that the new general manager of Unreal Engine is an ex-Autodesk SVP, Marc Petit, who used to be in charge of Maya, 3DS Max, etc for a decade (https://www.awn.com/news/marc-petit-leaves-autodesk). He definitely sees the value of building up Blender to remove the dependence of Unreal Engine on expensive tools from other vendors.

I use Unreal+Blender just fine. What do you mean?

That's the whole point. If you're a carmaker, you want gasoline to be a cheap, widely available commodity. Gasoline complements cars.

3D modelling software has had a long history of expensive, esoteric, difficult-to-use applications. Epic, hoping to make money from large numbers of Unreal Engine licenses, would like to see that situation change. Ideally (for them), 3D modelling software would be free and easy to use for everyone, thereby lowering the barrier to entry for those who might make 3D games using UE.

By donating to Blender, Epic hopes to achieve two things:

1. Blender becomes better and easier to use, allowing more developers to enter the market and buy UE licenses.

2. Increased competition puts downward price pressure on commercial 3D packages such as Maya, thus making it more affordable for small-to-medium sized game studios, potentially freeing up budget for more UE licenses.

My question is about OP's assertment:

> Unreal Engine, like Unity, right now has to be used with Autodesk products like 3DS Max or Maya

I am asking why they think this is the case. Not the circular reasoning of "most professionals use it" but I am interested in what they feel the Blender is missing.

There’s huge costs to using a non-standard choice like Blender over 3dsMax or Maya. They both have loads of proprietary tools (and are constantly adding one more every couple of cycles or so). 3D DCCs are not equivalent to each other. Financing Blender is indeed a good move for Epic if they believe (and there’s good reason to) it might make Game production toolsets more available.

I was under the impression that Blender was fairly common in the modeling industry. Not a de-facto standard like Microsoft Office or Creative Suite, but one frequently used option among many.

Not true?

Not at all. Blender is an important piece of software because it is open and free, which helps lower investment 3D uses like research, but its interface and usability is about as bad as it gets. It takes heat for its interface yet still not enough in my opinion.

You have to experience trying to actually get something accomplished to truly understand how incredibly unintuitive everything from names to button placements to object movement to component selection etc truly is. I've used a lot of different 3D programs in a lot of different domains and nothing comes close to blender. It almost seems to go out of its way to make the most basic excersize a puzzle for the user.

The money for commercial programs is completely necessary in a professional context, since time is money and people have expectations.

Have you tried using the Blender 2.8 release candidate UI though? As someone with approximately zero artistic skills and minimal 3D background, I was also turned off by Blender's inscrutable UI patterns 10 years ago.

But with the 2.8 RC news on HN last week I recently tried it again and I have to say that now it seems like the UI is pretty decent. Left click select, a move tool that works like every other move tool in paint, a clear hierarchy view with obvious nestable layers - it seems like many of the weird things I remember (like "drag the divider between the viewport and the menu bar down to see a secret option pane") are gone or redesigned now.

Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBqYTgaFDxU for some example usage or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPVpg4_POww for a preview of the UI/UX changes.

I have not used that particular new version. I hope blender is getting more refined and finally picking all the low hanging fruit. That being said, I have seen this cycle many times over the last 15 years. People say blender is working on its interface, I try it again and my mind is blown by the decisions all over again.

I have high hopes for 2.8 hopefully I’ll get along to testing it soon.

UX. I just gave up trying to convert my architect wife to Blender after nearly a month of effort.. "its just too hard!"

Yes. Years back as a kid, I taught myself a pirated copy of 3DS Max pretty well, but Blender seemed just almost impossible to use.

Blender supports FBX exports so you can bring models from there to unreal, but Maya is the much more popular program with artists for modelling and rigging, there's a whole lot going on with these programs so I doubt its any one thing, if it were close i'm sure a lot of people would be happy to not pay for Maya considering how expensive it is.

> Maya is the much more popular program with artists for modelling and rigging

This is the circular reasoning I'm trying to avoid.

I'm not looking for any one thing either, I'm looking for any shortcomings OP can think of. I've used Blender+Unreal for a number of years and Blender itself for over fifteen years so I could rattle off issues I've dealt with in integrating Blender into the pipeline, but many have been dealt with so I'm curious about OP's particular pain points.

Not the OP, but I've used Blender and UE (though Unity more), and I would say the main problem with Blender is how undiscoverable the core actions in the interface are. I'm sure for you, as a 15 year user, the shortcuts are all perfectly ingrained, and you can crank out work very efficiently. However, if you don't already know all those shortcuts, it's very difficult to learn them, or even to learn what functionality is available.

Some examples: If you already know that `Tab` switches between object mode and edit mode, then it's quick and easy. If you don't, then you have to click the drop down mode selection menu, which is one of the dozens of widgets on screen with highly variable levels of usefulness (seriously, what the hell is 'Grease Pencil'?). And if you hover for a tooltip, it doesn't even tell you that tab is the shortcut!

Or when in the UV workspace, there's literally nothing in the interface window except the vertices/edges. How do I select all vertices? How do I select multiple via box? How do I do numeric input? None of this is obvious.

The defaults are also terrible - eg click to set 3D cursor, instead of select.

Overall, Blender seems to suffer from a classic case of open-source programmer driven development. If you already know how to use it, it's very powerful and customizable - the python scripting is great! But because no one really cares about making it into a product, the UI/UX suffers.

I haven't used Maya/3DSMax, but I have used Fusion 360 (another Autodesk 3D modelling package, but focused on CAD/CAM) extensively, and it is much, much more user friendly. There are easily navigable menus which surface key functionality and respond contextually to the workload - ie if you're modeling, creating components and performing extrusions/rotations is front and center. If you're sketching, applying constraints (and the various types available) is all right there.

Of course, none of this means you CAN'T use Blender with UE, you totally can. And if you're a Blender expert, then none of this probably bothers you, because you don't care about discoverability of functionality since you already know it all. But if you're fresh out of Digipen or whatever, and you have to learn a single software package, then the refined products from Autodesk are going to win.

edit: In fairness, I hear that 2.80 is going to fix a lot of this, and I'm looking forward to trying it.

2.80 is definitely a pretty big UI improvement, and the new EEVEE renderer makes it much easier to work with materials and preview how they'll actually look in game since it is functionally similar to modern game engines.

> Overall, Blender seems to suffer from a classic case of open-source programmer driven development. If you already know how to use it, it's very powerful and customizable - the python scripting is great! But because no one really cares about making it into a product, the UI/UX suffers.

Somewhat amusing comment seeing as though Blender was a product before it was open sourced, and from all I've heard the UI/UX has improved since it became open source.

Probably did but it’s still known in the industry for being very very non-standard.

The quick menu is accessible with Spacebar and provides a way to discover and call any available command. Shortcuts are not necessary for discoverability.

However, shortcuts are well-configured and when using pie menus, you only need to know a handful of them to get started.

> If you don't, then you have to click the drop down mode selection menu, which is one of the dozens of widgets on screen

Tab is one of the first (and only) shortcuts you need to know to get started. The same options can still be accessed from the quick menu however. I wouldn't call this a discoverability issue.

> what the hell is 'Grease Pencil'?

Ask the documentation.

> when in the UV workspace, there's literally nothing in the interface window except the vertices/edges. How do I select all vertices? How do I select multiple via box? How do I do numeric input?

With the same exact gestures used to select vertices in edit mode. Blender's UI is highly consistent these days. Numeric input is as easy as calling an action and then typing in the number before confirming with Enter.

> The defaults are also terrible - eg click to set 3D cursor, instead of select.

I wouldn't call this terrible, just different-- and besides, Blender Foundation has just recently made the cursor defaults reflect the common defaults found in other 3D modeling packages.

> Overall, Blender seems to suffer from a classic case of open-source programmer driven development.

Have you used Blender in the last 7 or so years? These seem like antiquated criticisms. The Blender UX is vastly different and much more focused these days.

Every modeling suite has a learning curve. I'm interested in what Blender is sorely lacking. Blender's discoverability is actually very good and Blender itself might be my favorite example of how to design functional application UX. This wasn't true a decade ago but it's true now.

> What is the grease pencil?

The grease pencil is Blender's 2D drawing system. Initially, it's purpose was to allow artists to sketch scenes out onscreen, in much the same way that CGI artists a few decades ago used literal grease pencils [1] to draw on their glass computer monitors.

Nowadays, the grease pencil is a full 2D art system, allowing for hand-drawn 2D art to coexist with 3D assets or tracked with camera footage. The Blender Foundation made a short film called "Hero" [2] to show it off.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_pencil

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKmSdY56VtY

> How do I select all (UV) verticies?

On the bottom edge of the UV editor window is a menu bar. From the left, the menus are editor type (shown as an icon), "View", "Select", "Image", and "UVs". Farther to the right in that bar is the widget that lets you set whether you are selecting verticies, edges, faces, or islands. In the "select" menu is "(De)select All", and a label indicating that the keyboard shortcut is "A". (This shortcut is universal to all of Blender's editors (except the text editor, where it is Ctrl+A).

If you have anything at all selected, then "(De)select All" will deselect everything. If you have nothing selected, it will select everything.

> How do I select multiple via box?

In Blender, this is called "border select". In the same "select" menu I described above, it's the bottom option (the one nearest your cursor when you open the menu). It also has a universal shortcut, indicated in the menu: "B".

> How do I do numeric input?

There are two ways I can interpret this. One is "given a number box, how to I change the value"? There are three ways that you can change the content of number boxes in Blender.

1. Click on the arrows on the left or right sides to decrement or increment the value.

2. Click in the middle, type a value or math expression, and then either click outside the box or type "enter".

3. Click and drag the box, from the middle, to the left or right.

The other way I can interpret the question is "how can I specify the coordinates of a UV vertex"?

Once you have one or more verticies selected in the UV editor, you should see some properties and editing widgets in a tall rectangular area on the right edge of the UV editor window. If you don't see it, you can reveal it by either clicking on the "+" button near the top of that edge, by going to the "view" menu and selecting "properties", or by hitting the "N" key while your cursor is over the UV editor.

In the top of the UV properties shelf I just described is a section called "UV Vertex". (It's called that even when you are in edge, face, or island selecting mode.) It has two numeric boxes in it labeled "X" and "Y". These have the coordinates of the most recently selected vertex. Changing the contents of those boxes moves the selected vertex to those coordinates, and moves all other selected verticies by the same amount from their previous locations.

Great post.

An essential Blender video to watch is Captain Disillusion's presentation at Blender Conf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qSTcxt2t74

Interesting. Any idea if the grease pencil can be used to construct 3D objects, like in Catia Natural Sketch?

eg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2jopay_3Zo

Hah, I appreciate you taking the time to answer all those, but they were mostly hypothetical questions I already knew the answers to but had difficulty discovering without doing a bunch of searching. Except the grease pencil thing.

If you believe Blender is sufficiently able to do what the others can in a fashion as intuitive as those, then the answer to your question is "marketing", as the money would allow Blender to show this to a wider audience. In that respect, Maya being more popular isn't circular reasoning, it's an expression of the exact thing the money can help change, through one method or another.

I think he tried to imply that most pros use 3DS Max or Maya instead of Blender for a reason.

So what is the argument exactly?

Reduce the price of the prevailing high-cost options by increasing the capabilities of other options. Cause them to compete to drive prices down, thereby reducing your supplier costs.

As an Unreal+Blender user, I would be absolutely interested in anything that can take a step off my toolchain.

What kind of steps slow you down?

You're probably not representative

I used to work with Unity and Blender professionally. Not sure what this guy is talking about.

Read binthere's comment for some details.

It's "complements". Commoditizing one's compliments is greeting cards.

Interestingly, Marc Petit came to Autodesk after the Softimage acquisition and back in the days was a big figure in the Softimage community. Softimage then died down completely after the Autodesk acquisition in 2015 (being the third wheel of their animation package with Maya and 3DS Max)

Unreal has had gltf support for a while now, reducing the dependence on fbx for most common stuff.

I never understood when important people force deals with companies they used to work at. He doesn't work for Autodesk any more, why would he care how well they're doing? Is he being paid by autodesk? I mean I know he might be friends with people from those companies still, but he's actively hurting his own company by making these calls.

Here seems to be the opposite, no? He made a move against his old company.

The existence of GIMP doesn't really make less people use Photoshop. The same is true of Blender and Maya.

Because it kind of sucks in comparison. Epic is trying to make Blender better.

As a free open source project blender is always going to be playing catch-up with Maya selling 1K+ licences unless the development is severely mismanaged.

Depends by what you mean by catchup? Complete feature parity hardly is the goal of Blender project so I’m not sure how to figure out what exactly constitutes the feature disparity that should be caught up by blender.

One view to look at it is that polygon based modeling, animation and material authoring can be done using a finite feature set, and once that feature set is complete, further enhancements are nice to have, but not critical.

> One view to look at it is that polygon based modeling, animation and material authoring can be done using a finite feature set, and once that feature set is complete, further enhancements are nice to have, but not critical.

This is definitely true, if the interface is refined. In this respect, blender doesn't just not hit the bullseye, it's as if someone held the arrow and shot the bow straight in the air.

Because GIMP falls short as a Photoshop replacement, but there are plenty of people using Krita instead of Photoshop.

I very much doubt that, given that Krita is an Illustrator competitor.

Not really. Krita and Gimp are raster authoring tools that compete with Photoshop, though all 3 support vectors. Illustrator is a vector authoring tool that Inkscape competes with.

Hmm, I'm going to have to check it out again. I was under the impression that it's mostly for vector authoring, thanks.

Krita used to be a jack-of-all-trades painting program for the first few years of its existence. At some point, the devs figured out that they can get people to fund development more effectively when they focus on one usecase (digital painting w/ tablet) and make that really solid.

Ah, that's why I thought it was a competitor to Illustrator. What I use Photoshop for is photography, which sounds like it's not Krita's main use case.

The most popular Illustrator alternative is Inkscape.

The person is probably most familiar with their former products and can both advocate on merit (i.e., they happen to know about obscure features that no-one knows about for other options) and is more comfortable for them. Knowing people (and being their former boss) probably helps them out, too, which makes it easier to pull things towards their former projects).

But yeah - it doesn't seem like this should happen as often as it does.

Just to be clear, I was making the point that Marc is making a move against his former employer Autodesk by funding Blender like this.

they playing at a different game, the value they bring is their network of connections that can leverage in all sort of deals, fair or otherwise. this is transitive, of course, so as they move the deal go both ways keeping the game net positive. it only works at that level because there's a limited pool of highly valuable connections to leverage, at lower levels the people either don't handle a budget directly, so their leverage is irrelevant, or their relative network value is average, making it not an asset during job negotiation.

People say it's impossible to get someone to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it. People don't do this conciously. Instead, I think people's worldview naturally changes to be one that benefits their employer.

People tend to preferentially value things that they understand. If you understand your employer's business platform, you'll naturally prefer it. I don't think you need such a cynical explanation to get the same end result...

> I never understood when bigshots force deals with companies they used to work at

It's the devil they know. It's not likely malicious or anything conniving, and just something they feel comfortable talking about when making the pitch for their integration.

Still owns private stock or something analogous?

As someone who's done lots of Blender work as well as Maya and integrations with Unity and Unreal Engine, I still think there's quite a long way to go to make Blender a good option for game development. It's free, it kind of works but it's very painful when it comes to animation, texturing, and details.

Right now, this is what I usually do:

  - Basic Modeling: Blender

  - Sculpting + Details: ZBrush

  - Painting: Substance Painter

  - Animation: Maya
So yeah, the last 3 are paid and it's not cheap. Blender can do all three but not as good. I hope that with this additional money the Blender Foundation team can hire more people to close these gaps. In 2.8 they've improved on different fronts but they are still quite behind in those departments.

Last but not least, they should make more effort to improve their keybindings. They've been monkey patching it in 2.8 with the "industry-compatible" keybindings but when you use it a bunch of other things stop working.

Datapoint: I've had/have a really good experience with Blender. Countless opensource resources to fill any gaps in the export pipeline. Not to mention the relatively easy python api that gives you access to all the scene's data.

Blender's Python API, although cleaner and better organized than Maya's, only offers a sliver of Maya's functionality. Maya has a standard maya.cmds API for scripting which works similarly to how Blender's Python API. Maya also has a separate library maya.api.OpenMaya which is a wrapper around its C++ plugin api. Blender doesn't offer anything like this.

I have the same setup as you, except rather than use Maya for animation I use the free UE4Tools plugin for Blender which works with 2.79.

I had pretty good success with it, and wrote a Python addon which builds on top to retarget mocap data from the Perception Neuron suit to the UE4 Skeleton.

I've got one of those suits and would love to give your Python code a try with UE4, if it's available somewhere.

It's here:

The addon script is ue4-neuron-mapper.py. Only tested with 2.7.

You need to enable the addon as per usual along with UE4 Tools, and then once you have a model loaded and parented to the UE4 rig, and an Axis Neuron animation imported, it should be fairly easy to use. There is a "Bake Animation" control in there somewhere that should bake the animation out to an animation strip. I think you have to specify the name of the source rig (ie. the raw skeleton data imported from Axis Neuron), and there are buttons to enable/disable transferring finger/foot data as well.

I haven't used it in a couple of years however, so if it doesn't work feel free to hit me up with questions. It was just a quick hack, very rough and ready. No warranty :-)

Also any patches which improve the accuracy of the retargeting (hands can still be a problem in general) are very welcome!

This quick test clip I did the weekend I wrote it demonstrates the current quality of the retargeting, although it is rendered in Blender and not UE4:


EDIT: it is also worth noting that I believe the Perception Neuron people released a new version of their UE4 plugin a week or two ago. It might be worth checking out yet whether they have improved the workflow or not since the previous version. I wanted the ability to edit the animations directly in Blender and so I wrote this plugin.

Thank you!

I'm curious why you would use Blender over Maya for modeling if you have both?

I tried Blender a decade ago but since I had access to Maya & 3D Studio Max I didn't give it much attempt since the UI seemed more confusing & the material available to learn was lacking.

I also prefer blender over maya for hard surface modeling (sculpting and animation still needs work IMO, and rigging has a better plugin ecosystem in Maya). Here’s my reasoning:

0) Blender is much more stable than Maya. Also it loads more quickly and is less than 10% the filesize. Although it is quite powerful, Maya is still very bloated with decades of technical debt and legacy baked in. Also blender is OSS which makes me prefer it on principle if I can use it.

1) Blender’s interface has a higher “skill ceiling” — it reminds me of Vim in that most common operations are a few single-key presses away. For example, “rotate the selected object 45 degrees around the x axis” can be executed via R->4->5->X->Enter. Many of these kinds of basic operations require the use of a mouse in Maya or a MEL expression. Of course, this also raises the “skill floor” of blender because you have to remember more key combos. However these days the UI is pretty discoverable (even before Blender 2.8).

2) For basic hard surface UV unwrapping, I like the workflow in blender much better. The interface is the same in 2D as in 3D, and the key combos all carry over, which I really like. Maya has more automatic UV unwrapping options, but I rarely reach for those anyway.

3) 100% of blender’s interface is scriptable. You can literally hover over any button and the corresponding blender python code to execute that button will show in a tooltip. This makes it easy to automate basically anything and has empowered a great community of plugin authors. Maya also has this with MEL, and more recently maya python, but those solutions feel tacked on whereas blender’s UX was built from the ground up to support python.

I should also mention that blender has already went through a major UI refresh, so if you haven’t tried in a while it would be worth trying it out again. I would say that the jump in accessibility from the previous UI refresh is the same jump that we see now. So I’d give blender a second chance if you haven’t already!

Blender had a complete UX overhaul some years ago. They even recently just switched the default mouse button actions to match the defaults in literally every other modeling software. It's worth giving it a go again.

I'm curious too. I have only used Blender, I only do this as a hobby.

Ten years is a really long time though. Google's Go programming language didn't exist ten years ago.

Could you please explain what Blender is not good at animation? What major features are missing?

Not OP, but before 2.8 and the depsgraph refactor the viewport was really slow on not so complex scenes. The NLA system (Non Linear Animation) needed some love, since it wasn't so smooth to mix animations (can't recall the details at the moment). The animation library/database, like all of Blender's object system, was a little confusing and was easy to lose your work (e.g. if an animation/datablock was not assign to an object, you would lose it when you restart Blender. The refactor in Collections was a great start in the right direction.

> if an animation/datablock was not assign to an object, you would lose it when you restart Blender

That's what the little "F" button on datablocks is for. It adds a "fake user" to the datablock, which means that it won't be garbage-collected away if nothing is using it when you close Blender.

...yes, but you have to remember to use it.

I’ve lost work this way as well; sure, it’s avoidable, but it’s most certainly a pain point.

> e.g. if an animation/datablock was not assign to an object, you would lose it when you restart Blender

Really? Did not know about it. Thanks! The number of users of a certain entity has always confused to me. I've used Maya a lot, and I can't but wonder why Blender just don't copy the got bits of other software when it comes to usability improvement.

I was wondering that too; Sintel, Big Buck Bunny, and Operation Barbershop all have pretty-decent animation, so it's clearly capable of doing some good stuff.

In the spirit of supporting open software, it would be fantastic if Epic Games Store and its DRM warmed up to Linux next.


The anticheat they use (EAC) for fortnite checks if Wine is in use, and will fail to run the game if it is.

This is taken directly from the EAC dll:


Can't say I blame them.

Linux is ridiculously powerful & versatile as I'm sure we all know...and having that much opportunity to mess with all the net/visual/input subsystems in a way the game can't even see (since it's trapped in WINE) is a major issue cheat wise.

Not ideal but I can totally see why a company might from a practical/commercial point of view just block it outright. Especially given player numbers of WINE players vs upsetting your entire user base due to cheaters.

Windows has no lack of power. All this anti-cheating stuff is mostly a scam to stop the dumbest of the dumb cheaters and probably collect information from your computer that's useful to advertisers/investors/law enforcement agencies.

If I wanted to aimbot in an FPS, I would just analyze the HDMI output from my computer (via an FPGA) and have it directly create the necessary USB transactions to move my mouse to the target's head. I would introduce randomness, "input lag", jitter, and even some misses, so that people looking at the kill cam wouldn't immediately think "aimbot" as they are apt to do whenever they die. (You also don't want to make your mouse movements statistically different from anyone else's, or it's the server that will pick up on your cheating... or at least a well-crafted MapReduce. Do game companies have MapReduce? I hope so.)

Executed well, the developer of the game could do nothing about it; maybe I'm really good, or maybe I'm aimbotting. My computer is completely normal, down to the device descriptors on my mouse and monitor. There's no wine, no virtualization, no additional software running.

In the end, trusting the client is crazy. If you want to decide win/loss based on things computers can do easily, your game is probably bad. And aiming is something computers can do in their sleep.

I think you're missing a major component of these deals restrictions: they also want to prevent running 30 headless VMs on a single computer all botting into games to grind whatever free content is available.

This is actually a major component of bot use for f2p games. A lot of companies try really hard to prevent anything that looks like playing in virtual envs. Having these bots fill up your games and play terribly is a bad look for any game that depends on multi-player interactions to keep people involved.

Ah, that sounds like a very fair argument to me.

I believe you can get pretty affordable Windows VMs these days, however. I'm not sure that blocking wine really accomplishes a lot. (There are also companies that sell access to consumer Windows PCs on consumer ISPs these days. If you don't play Hearthstone, you probably don't mind $10/month in free money for letting someone bot Hearthstone on your computer. And it's not like Blizzard is going to say "look, enough Comcast, shut these people down or else we lock all Comcast customers out of battle.net". It's pretty tough to run a gaming client these days, I would imagine. So so much stuff is totally out of your control. I do not envy their engineers at all!)

It actually was a major issue for Valve with TF2. It used to be you could run the game headless and have it join a server to idle farm items for you. In college my roommate and I each bought about 3 copies of the game then ran them headless in VMs to try and farm hats. Never got anything super great sadly.

Analyzing the HDMI is definetely not an up-to-date hacking technique by any means.

Besides having to rely on real-time computer vision which is more expensive/resource consuming and harder, the results wouldn't be as good as with other techniques (although this might fit your argument of having some misses and jitter/lag/etc... to act as cover).

Next generation aiming for twitch shooters will use a camera that tracks eyeball movements.

Already available in the form of the Tobii 4C for approximately 150 USD. Only accurate for most people to about a circle with diameter of about an inch on the screen though, and it feels strange to use it for an FPS.

What does MapReduce have to do with the rest of your post? MapReduce is used in distributed computing - I thought shooters were basically always single servers to keep the lag reasonable.

(I see two flagged posts asking the same question)

It would be used for analysing past gameplay, not during live matches

Havoc 36 days ago [flagged]

Aimbots...map reduce...HDMI outputs...and jitter all in one post.

...pretty comfortable in saying that you're not up to speed on 2004 era hax.

Can you please not snark or post unsubstantive comments here? We're trying for a bit better than that. If you know more, it would be great to share some of what you know so we all can learn something. Alternatively, it's always ok not to post.


jrockway 36 days ago [flagged]

I can tell you're a member of the gaming community because you have basically dismissed my comment in a condescending manner without providing any actual information.

Please don't respond to a bad comment by breaking the guidelines yourself. That doesn't help and only makes this place worse.


Windows is the land of the reverse engineering. Linux, despite its powerful tools still lacks far behind in this area (reverse engineering and cracking apps).

I'm not sure that's different in windows. What do you think is stopping you from messing with net/visual/input there?

>I'm not sure that's different in windows.

It definitely it. Read up on anti cheating stuff...the windows stuff is down-right rootkit grade....to the point where there are privacy concerns from every the privacy tone-death crowd.

Very very different ballgame from "runs in a WINE container with no visibility beyond that".

Yeah, I know that it's a rootkit-type service. But I'm saying that still doesn't prevent you from going deeper than the checks. Especially if you're using custom code and not a known cheating tool. (Those will get picked up by signatures) Unless they require a fully certified system, you can always play with device drivers which are going to be lower level than anti-cheat.

It's an arms race, but whatever they can check, you can patch. Worst case, you can still virtualise everything.

"EAC/Wine compatibility is currently in a beta state with several games whose help we appreciate, but significantly more work is needed to get it to a suitably stable and hardened level for all." https://twitter.com/TeddyEAC/status/1125678854390067200

Wow, that's just evil.

Probably not evil, just incompetent. Many internet multiplayer games today place trust in the client in order to grant a smoother experience on higher latency internet connections, which makes it easier to implement cheating mechanisms. The fight against this is all about verifying the client and the environment it is running in. WINE is quite hackable, so one can see why they'd want to blacklist the platform outright. Doing it in such a trivially bypassed way is pretty silly though.

They probably prevent it from starting and later do self checks (checksums), check for wine using other methods and then game-ban accounts in waves to hide how they detected cheating/wine.

There isn't a general way to prevent cheating on open platforms with this kind of game, so it ends up being a kind of cat and mouse game. Think of an aimbot (instantly moves your mouse cursor to an enemy as soon as the enemy is seen) or a wall hack that makes enemies visible behind obstacles. The only way to detect those is to check if your runtime environment is being modified by known methods. Opening a wine front (where you'd somehow have detect Linux processes/a modified wine or even a modified kernel etc.) is probably too costly compared to the number of non-cheating players on Linux.

CSGO (where leagues and MM use third-party anti-cheat) is an example where the community deems the vendor's AC insufficient. The most extreme example is Rockstar Games / GTA V, the multi-billion-dollar revenue AAA title where anyone with a free to download menu has far more power than all Rockstar administrators combined.

CSGO VAC is garbage though, and can't not be garbage without being granted extreme levels of access to the system. On Linux you can just run your cheats as root, and they will never get detected.

The slippery slope of giving companies higher access is also seen in CSGO where (Faceit/ESEA, dont remember who exactly) put a bitcoin miner in their anti-cheat. Capcom put a rootkit into Street Fighter V to check for cheaters. Is that acceptable?

>Probably not evil, just incompetent.

Incompetent, or rational decision in terms of bang-for-buck to reduce cheats?

That's a fair distinction here I suppose. From my perspective as a hobbiest game developer, and of course player, any benefits of trusting the client are far outweighed by the problems, but that's a matter of opinion I suppose.

Evil is a strong word. Can you explain?

I guess the GP refers to treating all linux gamers as "cheaters" is not cool.

Like another comment says, maybe it's easier to cheat using Wine, and thus banning the platform is faster/cheaper, even though they might end up catching a lot of legit users in this broad dragnet.

Not evil - it's what has been attracting users to their platforms. PUBG had terrible anti-cheat, really hurt them for a while. In all these claims a reminder that client is trusted. EPIC does "ok" with anti-cheat - be curious to hear others impressions. Cheaters are a TOTAL drag to online multiplayer, so calling efforts to fight cheating "evil" is silly.

Yeah, but how does running a Windows game on Linux = cheating? I understand the need for modern multiplayer games to have anticheat (however unfortunate, and I still refuse to play games that use literal rootkit-esque anticheat [1]), but just trying to run a game on Linux isn't cheating in itself. Does Wine help cheats cloak themselves?

[1] e.g., https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/NProtect_GameGuard

Wine is a fully open implementation of Windows APIs on Linux. The game cannot assume that the API's behavior is fixed on WINE because anyone can change any of the functions to do something unexpected with a quick patch. One example may be hacking up the DirectX implementation to draw some objects as transparent rather than opaque.

Of course, it's possible (if much harder) to go in and hack up the DLLs on Windows. Anti-cheat addresses that by whitelisting known-good MS hashes and/or requiring some type of signing. There's a lot more overhead involved in doing something like that for WINE, since every distro's build would be different, it's common for users to have their own builds with game-specific patches enabled, etc.

I've been out of the WINE scene for a while, but I'll say that I don't believe many WINE users are trying to exploit the platform to cheat. I think it's purely a cost-benefit tradeoff. The vendor doesn't feel supporting a legitimate WINE use case is worth the expense of figuring out a reasonable way to validate behavior, handle integration with distro builds, support debugging/custom patchsets, etc.

Well, using Tor doesn't mean you're looking to abuse a website. But you may find out that 99% of your Tor traffic is abuse and decide it's worthwhile to you and your users to block it.

I would imagine Wine is in a similar predicament.

I find it hard to believe that a majority of people running Fortnite under Wine would be attempting to cheat. Even if Wine would make cheating somewhat easier, would it really be that significant?

It seems far more likely to that most players are just using Wine for its intended purpose—to play Fortnite on Linux.

>Does Wine help cheats cloak themselves? Obviously it could, because it is providing windows API from an uncontrolled source. It would be significantly more difficult to provide hacked system libraries on a windows host.

> calling efforts to fight cheating "evil" is silly

their method (blocking Wine) is questionable though. it reminds me of websites that block Central/Eastern European IP's "because of bots" (yeah, it happens). the goal is nice, but the method hurts many honest users.

As far as I understand, the problem with wine is that the wine sandbox prevents other anticheat mechanism from working.

Epic owns EAC for the record.

I'm sure there's ways to hide/change that.

"“Open tools, libraries and platforms are critical to the future of the digital content ecosystem,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games."

Contradictory sentiments like these are what lead me to believe this grant is mostly for marketing purposes. (tin-foil hat mode)

Epic Games are infamous for opposing openness in various forms. (Buy these games … only on the Epic Games Store. Install this spyware … no, you can't see the source code. Use any current OS you want … as long as it's from Microsoft.) Supposing that some of the ulterior motives behind this grant are questionable does not seem overly paranoid.

However, I don't see the contradiction in Sweeney's statement. One can appreciate the advantages of open tools, libraries and platforms, and still want to publish a proprietary game on top of that technology.

It's kind of like an omnivore chef joining a forum full of vegans to work on improving seasonings for braised veggies. They might not be pleased when they find out that she wants to make a side dish to be served with steak; but that in itself doesn't mean her goal is exploitation or sabotage, rather than mutually beneficial cooperation.

> Use any current OS you want … as long as it's from Microsoft.

..or Google or Apple. Or Nintendo. Or Sony.

The Epic Games Store only works on Microsoft Windows.

First, that is incorrect. It exists for Mac as well. Second, why on Earth would anyone care about the store as long as they can get the games on their platform?


Who cares?

"I don't give a rip whose money it is, mate" - Steve Irwin, when asked about accepting money from "unethical" groups and using it for conservation. https://youtu.be/-1gVkTFam1w?t=753

If it helps a good goal, what does it matter?

If accepting the money implies or enforces certain favors in return even if that is just silence, then it matters. If making the donation is used as a PR smokescreen to advance or obscure other unethical behavior, then it matters. That doesn't mean the money shouldn't be accepted it just means organizations should not allow donations to change their behavior and if a donation has a detectable nefarious ulterior motive then they should think twice about accepting the cash.

Source on that quote?

Updated to slightly correct quote and post source

What matters is if the accepting of the money outweighs the good of turning it down. It's not always an easy equation.

But that money is going to exist whether you accept it or not. You not accepting the money doesn't mean the way it was acquired stops happening.

Some philanthropic donations are kinda prestige-for-cash deals. My employer, Oxford University, accepted a large chunk of change from Wafic Saïd to endow their business school. If they hadn't taken it, he'd certainly still have the money. But we wouldn't have lowered our own reputation by associating ourselves with a... not spotless businessman.

If it's done anonymously, then sure: you're quite right. But if it isn't then there is, in fact, a price. And it's not always a great deal.

> But that money is going to exist whether you accept it or not

But by accepting the donation you may be signaling that you're ok with how the donor made their money. By turning it down, you may also have a PR opportunity to spread a positive message.

Often when people see others do a good thing, they argue that those people aren't doing all the good things. They think this incentivizes doing all the good things. They are wrong.

I'm sure the Blender community will welcome this grant with open arms, as they should.

I am merely pointing out that Epic's list of bad things outweighs their list of good things, regarding the open source community.

Blender is a complimentary offering. Improving it indirectly boosts business.

Assuming there are tax benefits for donating, it becomes a win-win.

Tim Sweeney thinks Win32 is an open standard.

I think he's operating with a different understanding of the word "open" than the rest of us.

Quote on that?

Also, there's Wine and ReactOS, no? Aren't those two alternative (even if somewhat incomplete) implementations of Win32?

See "The Solution", where he argues for Win32 as a truly open standard, as explicitly opposed to UWP and Android, which he considers to be closed.


He never call Win32 an "open standard." He calls it an open platform, or open experience, which he means anyone can build win32 games and distribute them on their own.

Using the word "standard", which he never does in that article, is quite misleading.

I don't think it's worthwhile to split hairs over standard/platform; I've heard Win32 called both, many times, by respectable sources.

As it is, he argued that Win32 is more open than UWP or Android; regardless of whether you think the API is a standard or a platform.

His statement is definitively true on the software distribution side. Google wants every App installed via play store and now even Microsoft Office is only available there. Classical Windows on the other hand allows Chrome to be installed without MS acting as gatekeeper.

Yes, it's not totally black and white. Android does kinda allow side-loading with shitty usability. MS did start its own store and lets not get into telemetry. Classical windows still gives the user a lot of control, though.

I would not claim that any of Android, UWP, _or_ Win32 are open.

They do share a lot of code, though; so there's really more like 1.2 alternate implementations of win32.

They may be alternative implementations, but they're still no good in this case. See elsewhere in the thread where it's pointed out that Epic's anti-cheat software intentionally fails to run the game if it's running on Wine.

Those are reverse engineer not blessed by Micrsoft's nor it is win32 an open standard

Further if the Oracle v Google suit does not get overturned MS could put an end to both Wine and ReactOS in a heartbeat

There is a future where in the long term Unreal Engine (and maybe Unity3D as well) is FOSS in the same way that browsers are. Epic's business model would have to move away from engine royalties, which currently depends on the success of their store or potentially lasting longevity and growth of Fortnite.

Unreal Engine kind of already is open source, for weak definitions of open source: https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/ue4-on-github

That's not Open Source as defined by the OSI. You can't redistribute source code and commercial use requires paying license fees to Epic (5% of revenue). So just don't get the wrong idea about that license, please.

With UE4 they have created an engine that was extensible only via C++ and via their graphical scripting language. With the notorious instability and incompatibilities of ABIs of different C++ compilers, Epic didn't have a lot of options other than releasing the engine source so that their customers could recompile the whole engine with a single compiler version. And with Unity eating away at the indie market at that time, Epic needed a successor to the free, closed source UE3 UDK to keep a foot in that market. I don't think that Epic had a lot of other options at that point.

Unreal is source available, but not FOSS. There are a lot of restrictions in the license, sharing engine source without a (free) Epic login is against TOS for example, although you can fork the engine on GitHub and give other users that are part of the Epic organization access. I'm thinking a MIT (or some other permissive license) licensed UE.

Also considering their behavior regarding platform exclusives. This is at least the second time that Sweeney has said something in contradiction to his company's behavior in the past month.

> Epic Games Store and its DRM

EGS doesn't have DRM, it is up to each game to implement their own if they want, but the store itself doesn't provide any.

Which is great since most games do not bother :-P (although i'd prefer it if they had a DRM-free stance like GOG, but Epic is too publisher-friendly to allow that).

Try downloading assets from the Unreal store on Linux.

What does EGS not providing DRM itself have to do with downloading assets from the Unreal store on Linux? AFAIK EGS isn't even supported on Linux.

They should offer DRM-free options, and Linux options as well. And no more of that exclusive nonsense.

Awesome. Blender is on the cusp of releasing a major UI overhaul (2.8) that will make it more accessible to newcomers (left-click is now the default!). I'm excited to see it getting some major support from the gaming industry as well as the film industry.

That's great news. I've learned Max and Maya, but my brain could never wrap itself around Blender. I'd definitely try it again once the update comes out.

More info about the changes set to come here: https://www.blender.org/download/releases/2-80/

It's not _that_ much of an overhaul imho. I still find it to be weird, coming from other apps (Cinema 4D in my case).

This is great!

As a slighty OT aside, I really hope blender's UI changes sloooow down. I've been using it for 16 years. 2.8 versus 2.7 is so different, It almost feels like they're making changes for change sake.

I've been trying to use their various 2.8 RC's so I don't have to say I don't know how to use blender anymore when it pops.

They made the following things toggleable at launch, but man these are some muscle memory breaking changes that are now the default.

- Changed selecting objects from right to left click - Space bar no longer opens up the function search. The search is like 50% of my workflow, so this one hit me in the gut until I changed the setting.

Then there's some other things that feel renamed for no discernible reason.

- I can't search for 'remove doubles' anymore. There are certain geometries that I've come to build by snapping to axis, extruding, snapping to vertices, remove doubles. Now it's buried in a menu at mesh->clean up->'merge by distance'. It also makes a GUI element pop with the distance argument, and there's no obvious way to "apply". So weird. - Ambient occlusion in the view appears to have been renamed 'cavity'. - The tool panel lost its words, it's now just icons. Functionality has to be discovered by hovering. This is the worst UX habit from mobile, I wish it would stay out of my desktop tooling. - The view/selection/snap/etc settings bar has moved from the bottom of the screen to the top. Why? - Properties tabs moved to the side from the top. I can see why. - I can't make objects unselectable but visible in the outliner. Why?! - Layers are gone, they're now "collections" but they don't do the same thing at all!

This is the stuff I've hit in a about 2 hours of messing. I'm willing to acclimate to about 90% of these changes. So far it's just the layers / merge doubles thing that really sucks. Eevee is really pretty, so it's got that going for it, which is nice.

Pretty sure you can change a lot of this no?

Tbh the UI being terrible was one of the main reasons I stayed away from Blender. The fact they changed it makes me have hope I can start using it seriously.

Some ways to merge vertices by distance (aka "remove doubles"), in edit mode:

1) Mesh > Clean Up > Merge by Distance

2) F3 operator search. Start typing "mer..." and hit Enter.

3) Ctrl-V to show vertex menu, then Merge Vertices > By Distance

4) The quickest: Alt-M + B (show vertex merge menu, B to select "By Distance")

I scratched my head a bit first too, but frankly "merge vertices by distance" is far more descriptive than "remove doubles".

The UI that pops up is just the operator parameters that used to appear when you hit F6 (eg try adding a Circle, see the parameters that pop up) It's better this is visible to users, rather than hidden behind some secret hotkey. As with previous Blender versions, operators are "applied" by default - you can change the parameters via the UI until you like the result. Once you switch operator, move on, or change mode, the UI will disappear and the operation becomes undoable.

To make objects visible/selectable/renderable etc... open the filter menu on the Outliner (top right, looks like a funnel). This lets you add more toggles to the items.

To move the view/selection/snap settings to the bottom just right click, Header > Flip to Bottom/Top.

Collections replace layers and groups (eg you can instance a Collection), though I haven't completely got my head round them yet. But they look quite powerful.

"The tool panel lost its words, it's now just icons. Functionality has to be discovered by hovering. This is the worst UX habit from mobile, I wish it would stay out of my desktop tooling."

One more thing on this - hit Shift-Space to show the available tool icons with labels as a context menu.

If you prefer this (I do), you can then hide the icons on the left via View > Toolbar (or equivalently, toggle via the T key).

Right/left-click to select and the spacebar action can both be set on the first run of 2.8, or in the Keymap tab of the preferences.

Remove doubles can be done with Alt-M -> tap 'B'.

The 3D header (and any header in Blender) can be moved to the top or bottom: right-click the header, select "Flip to Top" or "Flip to Bottom".

In the Outliner, you can enable the "toggle selectable" button in the Filters popup. Click on the "Filter" icon, then click on the mouse cursor to enable the button. Now, you can click the cursor next to any object to make it unselectable, and it will remain visible in the outliner.

Collections can do everything Layers could do, and many more things besides.

Yes, I understand your frustration, and it has options to use the legacy UI (IN PART).

I'll get over everything (i've complained about so far) except how collections work and how merge doubles is gone. If the devs don't sort it out by release, I'll solve it with addons.

Just engaging in the time honored tradition of hand wringing.

"Merge doubles" is renamed "Merge vertices" (alt-m) > "by distance"... in the "Vertex" menu. (Though the change makes sense to me, I wish they kept an alias so people can still find it.)

The remove doubles operator is now called "Merge by Distance". You can find it in Mesh > Clean Up. That's actually the first thing I added to the new quick favorites menu which you can access with the q key.

Blender has really developed and come onto its own. I'm really happy for them and wish they can attract more users from the general community.

This is really smart move that helps Epic more than you might think.

UE4's own tools (which are based around creating environments from existing models, placing actors, and realtime rendering) are WORLDS ahead of common Autodesk modelling tools eg 3DS Max and Maya (which Epic itself uses). UE4 is easy to pick up, but then you have to learn Maya and it becomes a grind.

There needs to be something as powerful as Maya with a better UX to stop modelling being a blocker for new UE4 users. Being Free As in Beer and Free as in Freedom help too.

There's no real comparison between a game engine and a modeling/animation package. They are built to do very different things. However, it is definitely in Epic's best interest to support a robust and freely available tool for the content creation side of things.

> There's no real comparison between a game engine and a modeling/animation package.

Sure there is.

- UE4 needs to move a viewport around 3D space, so does Maya. UE4 uses game controls. Maya you need to hold down something or tweak it to do that.

- UE4 involves creating and manipulating objects in space for BSP. Maya involves creating and manipulating objects in space for modelling.

Maya has a UI that's 20+ years old with minimal changes. UE4 does not.

> They are built to do very different things.

No, they're built to do different but related things. I'm not sure why you would think that modelling and environment creation are very different. For the purposes of gamedev or archvis, they're both tools to support making the environment. And one is a barely maintained cash cow.

I just did some research on Chinese tech companies and realized how big Tencent is in the gaming. They have 40% stake in Epic Games, majority in Supercell, Grinding Gear Games, Riot Games and Miniclip.

That's probably a drop in the bucket for Epic, but it's still much appreciated!

Yup! So stoked on the work they are doing. Epic has been funding some awesome projects / people. I am really stoked on what they are doing. I can only imagine if other companies with Epic levels of cash were doing the same thing. I love it, and support all the stuff they are doing. Tim Sweeney is a good guy. Looking forward to see what else they come up with

> Tim Sweeney is a good guy

Not knocking the donation per se but it's a bit easier to be a good guy when you're sitting on the world's biggest pile of kid's pocket money.

Several friends have stories along the lines of their children taking not spending any money on their summer holidays because they want to save it for Fortnite hats or whatever. It's carefully designed smack for kids and there has to be a certain amount of moral push-back on that.

> because they want to save it for Fortnite hats or whatever.

You could easily replace "Fortnite hats" with "Pokemon cards", "Yugioh cards", "Gameboy games", "MMO items", "Starcraft expansions", etc.

The difference with Epic is that they've managed to take a much larger chunk of the market, which is why parents have started to notice it more.

Yep. And I have qualms over some of those things too.

I guess it's a tricky one as toys are not really much different despite having a physical manifestation. I would have happily spent every penny I could get my hands on on Star Wars figures when I was of that age. Is marketing a useless blob of plastic to kids any different to marketing a useless bunch of bytes?

> Is marketing a useless blob of plastic to kids any different to marketing a useless bunch of bytes?

The physical blob is, well, physical. It exists for longer, and 20 years later you may dig it out and relive some of childhood memories. Bytes in the cloud tend to have much shorter life, usually defined by how long the vendor bothers to keep the server applications up.

EDIT: Funny I managed to post an exactly opposite opinion to 'DonHopkins at the same time :). Let me just clarify: I prefer no marketing of useless anything, but for toys, I think physical beats digital because digital is ephemeral.

It's better for the environment to market useless bunches of bytes that useless blobs of plastic.

Especially when they use some of that money to support useful bunches of bytes like Blender!

(That said, I sure loved my Star Wars action figures!)

The environment impact of useless bunches of bytes might surprise you.

It is easier to do when you have a lot of money of course but we don't see a lot of of companies doing it. Epic games is giving 100 million dollars out of the 1,5 billion they made last year (they made 3 billion but their investors get the other half).

Epic isn't really doing anything predatory they don't use RNG or other such things.

On top of that Sweeney is also doing quite a lot personally both as a conservationist and philanthropist.

There always have been money extraction schemes targeted at kids Pokémon, Magic the Gathering and so on come to mind. It is the parents responsibility to counter that.

As adults not participating, it feels like a waste of money. The rewards aren't 'valuable'.

To the kids, the cost is worth it, bringing them happiness, social experiences, and a fun childhood to look back on. As long as it the amount doesn't get unreasonable relative to the means of their parents, it may be a good investment.

Making financial mistakes on a small scale will also help to make kids financially better educated adults and prevent them to make those mistakes on a bigger scale.

>I can only imagine if other companies with Epic levels of cash were doing the same thing. You're not even trying to be subtle about shitting on Steam, are you?

>Epic levels of cash

do you mean Steaming piles of cash? :)

So, this will fund ~2-3 people over the next 3 years. That's by my estimate.

keep in mind the Blender Foundation is based in The Netherlands, not San Francisco. That salary might go a much, much longer way compared to if Blender was based in the US (maybe, I do not know the average compensation for skill programmers in that country).

According to Glassdoor the average "programmer" salary in the Netherlands is 60.000€ ($67.000) [0] compared to 74.000€ ($84.000) in San Francisco [1]


[1] https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/san-francisco-programme...

Yes, this does sound about right. Makes it feel like a drop in the bucket, though. The amount of ground that Blender is trying to cover is ridiculously large because they're deliberately trying to turn it into a jack of all trades (compositing, audio and video editing etc.). The result is that it is a true master of none.

I hope it's no strings attached.

You can read more about Epic's MegaGrants here:


It doesn't look like it has many (any?) strings. Aside from being split over three years in Blender's case.

It is worth considering that this is in Epic's best interests as Blender + Unreal Engine is a common platform for startups/indie devs.

Making Blender better may make the games that people develop using Unreal Engine better, which might mean higher license income for Epic. So it is a win for Epic and a win for Blender/the community.

We received a devgrsnt for our video game about two years back. The grants are super no strings attached. Epic is by far the nicest organization to work with in the video game industry. Yet that was even before the Fortnite money.

Me too, but I suspect at worst it would be like "and make sure to develop and refine the export to UE4 functionality," which is something the community benefits from anyway.

Let's pretend that's explicitly the case. Is there something inherently wrong with that? How many open source software developers would love it if instead of "please implement x feature" it ends with "...and here's $1.2 million to finance the development of it" at the end?

End users get new features they may actually use, massive OSS gets funding. Win-win for all parties.

Nothing wrong with that at all. I meant the "at worst" to carry an implicit "and there's nothing wrong with that, so it's nothing but a good thing."

What about something like. Please don't implement that feature that benefits our competitors.

Anyone interested in following a fantastic Twitter account that is always doing fun stuff in Blender, especially with Grease Pencil.

This is a 2D animation generated from a 3D environment. Mind blowing ->


Shameless self plug: If you use Unreal Studio and Blender, please check out the project I am working on: https://github.com/0xafbf/blender-datasmith-export

Don't they earn this amount of cash several times per day solely off fortnite?

Other successful gaming companies/platforms should do the same.

This is great news. Blender is an incredible tool

Thanks Epic!

countdown to 2.90 I suppose

Congrats Blender and great job Epic!!

Epic are doing a great job improving fairness in the gaming industry, and the economic conditions for developers. I'm looking forward to their Epic Store opening up to more (high quality) Indie games.

The % deal they are offering is a good start but I'm not sure buying exclusivity of game releases is good for "fairness in the gaming industry."

I am interested in hearing other opinions, but I personally do not care about exclusivity. I can download any store front application (Steam, Epic, GoG, Uplay, etc) for free, so the only inconvenience is having another app. Compare this to the days of console exclusives, and it's almost a non-issue. Outside of couch coop, I have no familiarity with Xbox exclusives like Gears or Halo because I could never afford more then one console until this current generation.

My first experience with the Epic store was to get Satisfactory. And while it was annoying not being able to have it on steam, it really became a non-issue since everyone I play with uses Discord. Again, I am curious to hear other opinions on this because I really do not see the big deal in my experience.

> Compare this to the days of console exclusives, and it's almost a non-issue.

That's the thing though, console exclusives at least saved developers the resources needed to port to another console. Especially in ye olden days, that was a non-trivial cost. The storefront exclusivity on PCs is completely artificial.

But also, yeah, my computer is full of enough bloated useless-ware. At least GoG and Itch don't make me use a client.

It's not artificial, it's financial.

I was against Epic's aggressive moves, until I realized just how much cash they're injecting into developers. In the video game industry developers are the ones that bring the most value to customers.

Valve has been a dragon hoarding its gold. The services they provide are better than Epic, but they really don't reflect their near-monopoly position for over a decade. 30% out of the majority of PC game sales, and what do we have to show for it? Valve doesn't even seem willing to compete and lower its cut.

In the end going with Epic will guarantee the studio can make it to the next game. That's worth downloading another client. That and the free games.

> 30% out of the majority of PC game sales, and what do we have to show for it?

Steam links, Steam controllers, Steam on Linux, Proton, and the OpenVR SDK to name a few. Sure several of those things were failures, but it isn't like they aren't trying.

> In the video game industry developers are the ones that bring the most value to customers.

That's some trickle-down theory right there. I'm not convinced that what's good for developers is necessarily good for gamers or the gaming market. Case in point: loot boxes.

It's not trickle-down theory. It's actual redistribution of wealth from publishers to developers. If a developer you like cuts a deal with Epic and ensures their own existence for one more game, then you should be very happy.

Studio closures are common, game services shut down, mass layoffs, and project cancellations. An exclusivity deal is much better than a publisher going in and changing monetization or game design to fit their strategy.

> If a developer you like cuts a deal with Epic and ensures their own existence for one more game, then you should be very happy.

Where do you get off telling me how I should feel? The way I feel is that exclusivity that has nothing to do with technical constraints and everything to do with corporate sumo wrestling is not and never will be good for gaming as a whole.

Not you personally. Rhetorical you, the gamer.

Exclusivity can be good if it results in more games being developed, at a better quality, cheaper. Do you disagree with that?

I wouldn't say it's completely artificial. Steam offers APIs for things like cloud saving, workshop, achievements, cards, etc. and any games that want to make use of those things pays dev costs to integrate it EXCLUSIVELY for the Steam version. I'm sure the Epic Games Store offers something similar and more dev costs would be associated there to integrate. And so on.

Neither modern console nor PC game store exclusives are "completely artificial" when those contracts provide an influx of cash for the developer or studio.

Gamedev isn't cheap, especially for indies and smaller studios.

I'm legitimately surprised to see so much good will towards Epic and Tim Sweeney here.

I'm happy about their revenue share and was excited when they got started - until it became obvious that their tactics didn't align with their PR.

Yeah, their revenue share isn't about helping developers, it's about hurting Valve. When Epic pays a publisher for exclusivity, a lot of the time it's actually "sell it anywhere except Steam". Their deals still allow the developers to sell the game on stores that take the same 30% cut that Steam does. Plus there's the issue of a game being developed with Linux support, then Epic pays the publisher for exclusivity and the Linux version goes away because the EGS is Windows only.

EGS supports Windows & Mac. This link is directly from their home page https://launcher-public-service-prod06.ol.epicgames.com/laun...

A few exclusives is more than worth breaking Valve's near-monopoly and 30% toll on game revenue. That 30% is coming straight out of gamers' pockets and HN usually hates middlemen; it's baffling to see so many people in support of Valve.

30% became the industry standard not just for video games for a reason. It costs money to seamlessly do business across n countries, and it's not like Valve does nothing else to try and earn that fee either.

Epic's play is to try and see if being a better looking deal for game devs will translate to being better for gamers or other groups (like linux users, open source advocates) too. We'll see. Valve has already demonstrated their goodwill towards all the groups multiple times, even if it's motivated by keeping their platform dominance.

> 30% became the industry standard not just for video games for a reason.

Yeah, it became the industry standard because it rakes in mind-blowingly huge revenue for the app store owner, e.g. https://www.cultofmac.com/601492/app-store-google-play-reven.... From the article: "It’s no wonder Services — which includes App Store revenue — has become an increasingly important business for Apple as hardware sales have slowed.".

While you're correct that it costs money to run Steam, it's not _that_ much money.

There are probably economies of scale, sure, which is part of why Epic can get away with a lower fee for now. But it's also just business. They know how much it costs without economies of scale, and that sets a floor.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=stxVBJem3Rs Here's a talk from a very old indie company, there's one section talking about how they existed pre-Steam (and other stores they use since Steam's not exclusive) and appreciate what it's enabled.

With the right time : https://youtu.be/stxVBJem3Rs?t=1564

The only reason 30% is the industry standard is because network effects and walled gardens make competition very difficult. The cost to valve, Apple, and Google aren't anywhere close to that, which in an efficient market means that the price should go down as competitors enter the space.

Steam isn't so much better than the competition that no one can compete with them--they just got into the market at the right time and network effects have taken over.

What are the costs close to, and what are the costs of distribution if you did it yourself? Feel free to break it down into cost of business across n countries, cost of storage and bandwidth, some bare-minimum listing fee somewhere to at least enable theoretical discovery, and ignore all the other services the platforms provide.

I mentioned probable economies of scale in a cousin comment, but I don't think they offer all that much. Do you have a % in mind that you intuitively think could be knocked off from the stores of Valve, GOG, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce App Exchange, and Amazon Appstore, all taking around 30% before you get into the fine print?

The costs aren't 30%.

Assume a $50 game. 100,000 sales. 5 gigs.

Storage and bandwidth = $28,000 (per Amazon's calculator) Cost of doing business in N countries = use paypal = 2.9%+0.30/sale = approximately $1.75/sale = $175,000

Costs = $203,000 Revenue = $5,000,000 Ratio = 4.1%

So yeah, Valve is not the shining knight here and that 30% fee is unjustifiable. Even Epic's 12% share is still very much profitable for Epic.

The 30% fee is also nowhere comparable to wholesale pricing schema of the retail model (effectively a 40-60% fee), since that involved the sale of physical copies of goods, and the retailers had to deal with issues like shrinkage and the risk of unsold inventory.

I don't have any numbers, but I would not expect the median sale price to be anywhere near $50. I'd expect there to be more sales of <$30 games, as a percentage of revenue, than >$30 games. And the cost of distribution goes up relative to the cost of the game as the sale price goes down.

Assuming the sale price of the game in the OP's example was $10, distribution still cost less than 3%, and paypal goes up very slightly because of the $0.30 base charge, but the main fee is percentage based so it doesn't change. So even for a $10 game we're looking at less than 9% in total.

This example is also using s3 retail pricing and paypal retail pricing, which already factors in profits for Amazon and Paypal.

None of the big marketplace's costs are anywhere near 30%.

It became and Industry standard because Apple is Greedy as fuck, not because it is hard to make a store

I hate Epic for their Exclusivity, but lets not pretend that 30% Fee is nothing more than a money grab by Apple, Google, Valve and the rest of these platforms

Originally, Steam's 30% cut was a huge windfall for developers (retail stores could take 60%+). But I won't harp on that, just a historical note for why people (including developers) might still like the (existing) middlemen.

The 30% figure is a bit deceiving. If you sell a lot on Steam, you can get a better cut from Valve, but you don't even need to sell a single copy to get a 100% cut - Valve charges nothing for Steam key generation. You could sell keys on your own website and only pay payment processing fees, or get a decent cut from Humble, GMG, etc and not have to manage a storefront. One-third of all Steam game registrations are key activations [0], so this isn't some insignificant revenue stream.

What HN gets annoyed with is exclusivity and lies. Valve never required exclusivity and did not try to become a monopoly (you could sell on GOG, Origin, and any other storefront alongside Steam if you wanted), they just sucked less than the competition (GFWL et al) and developed consumer loyalty through their sales.

Valve is far from perfect, but they're decent and aren't anti-consumer, so when Tim Sweeney starts handing out $2 million for exclusives [1] to undermine everyone else and lies through his teeth on Twitter, people get mad. Epic doesn't want fair competition or they'd focus on making a much better launcher and sell their platform on its merits rather than its exclusives. Tim doesn't care about introducing competition, because it already exists (GOG, Origin, UPlay, etc), and people are still happy to stick with Valve.

>That 30% is coming straight out of gamers' pockets

This implies gamers care about the cut like it's a tax, and that if Valve lowered their cut, games on Steam would be cheaper. I did a quick check and saw the new Watch Dogs: Legion can be preordered on EGS for $59.99. Logically speaking, if the 12% cut is priced at $60, buying from Ubisoft directly (where there's a 0% cut to EGS) should be even cheaper, but nope, it's the same price. The lower cut translates to more profits, and executives won't lower prices just because they're getting more money. The reason for this is that video games are intellectual property, not commodity goods where people can directly compare prices for equivalent products (that is, while I can pick and choose a generic paper towel brand over Bounty and get similar utility for less money, choosing Need for Speed over Forza will result in a very different experience, such that you can't really compare games on price).

Given that Tim wants to force everyone to use his crappy launcher with no intention of Linux support, I can see why HN would rally around Valve. Middlemen are necessary for distribution, server hosting, and dealing with scammers trying to chargeback thousands of transactions, so we might as well have a company that isn't actively hostile to consumers doing it. Valve could lower their cut, but it would do nothing unless they stooped to Tim's level and started paying for exclusives, and Gabe has made it clear he wants PC gaming to remain an open platform, making paid exclusives unlikely. Doing so would result in a race to the bottom, and Tim knows that although Epic has tons of VC money to fund such a race with, Valve's refusal to take VC funds over the years would result in them losing.

[0]: https://twitter.com/Mortiel/status/1120357602305560577

[1]: https://www.pcgamer.com/phoenix-points-epic-store-exclusivit...

Your reply on "coming straight out of gamers' pockets" reminded me of something. I wonder if there's an official term in economics for it. But it comes up when people discuss levying new taxes on various product categories (we might consider it in this thread as Epic raising their fee back up to an industry standard) and a counterargument would go something like "companies will just pass the cost through to the consumer". Except that's not what happens, what happens is the company just has to eat it and try to survive. The market has already priced the good and has reached an equilibrium. If a company could get away with raising the price to a new value, and even after accounting for a decrease in sales still end up with the same or higher profit within a static time frame, they would have already done it.

One can also look at the possibilities by modeling more than just the $60 game in isolation. Include the cost, it took $X to create, and each $60 sale chips away at $X by some $Y so that after enough sales over some time window breakeven is reached (and profit after that). A new tax means that $Y becomes smaller, so you need more sales than before to reach breakeven within the same time. Except you won't get more sales than before, because the price is the same. You have to eat the tax. You could try raising the price to say $70 or whatever is needed so that $Y remains the same, and now you only need the same number of sales as before, let the customers eat it. Except you won't get the same number of sales as before, because the increase in the product's price will result in a decrease in customer demand, you'll have fewer sales than before within the same time frame. Compared to the difference with $X, it's still the company who has eaten the tax and has to deal with its consequences on their continued existence.

> Given that Tim wants to force everyone to use his crappy launcher

This is a pretty wild accusation to make with no lead-up or follow-through.

The store does not have a shopping cart feature, and started flagging people for fraud for buying multiple games in a row during a huge sale

That's a problem with their anti-fraud not a problem with missing a shopping cart. And that's probably been fixed.

iTunes, Apple App Store, Google Play Store, even Amazon Kindle book store, all are missing carts. Because a one-click buy is way easier to navigate than adding to cart, going to cart, and then finally checking out.

Does epic have one click buy? I also don't agree that one click buy is better for the consumer, as I like to see all the money I'm spending when buying multiple games, but that's opinion of course.

Even if everything you're saying here is 100% true, I don't see how it would support the accusation that Tim wants to force everyone to use his launcher, which is what I quoted and took issue with. Can you explain how the lack of a shopping cart and some mistaken bans are meant to prove the accusation true?

What I said does not support the that accusation. Are you saying a business does not want to own 100% of the market? Are you disagreeing with the "force" verbiage?

Yes, I was disagreeing with the thing I quoted. Given that saltminer was contrasting Tim's desire to "force everyone" to use his launcher with Valve's wishes for the world, I don't think it was uncharitable to read it as an accusation of something more nefarious than run-of-the-mill capitalism.

You get a better cut if your revanue for a game is above a million $ or something. For majority of devs out there the cut is 30%

They are generous with giving away steam keys, I agree with that. However the alternative for them is people selling exe on their websites instead of the steam key and losing potential customers over it. Also giving away free keys like that allows them to force devs keep the price same as steam prices

I agree with their stance that exclusives are the only way to break the hold Steam has on the market.

Yes, it's the only way when your product is objectively worse than Steam in practically every way, so the only way to get anyone to use it is to force them.

It's not a good approach to competition though, and only hurts users instead of motivating innovation. I agree that Steam could use some competition, but Epic isn't actually competing with them, they're just forcibly buying their way into the market.

I think it's quite possibly the only way regardless of how your product compares to Steam. Steam has huge platform lock-in as well as other inherent advantages as an incumbent monopoly. Your platform can be better in every way and people will still use Steam because that's where all their games are and where all their friends are. The history of computing is full of better products that failed to beat lock-in. See, for example, the insane lengths we've gone to keep computers compatible with the 8086 instruction set.

People also ignore that Steam built itself up on exclusives too. Heck, Valve bought Turtle Rock Software a few months before Left 4 Dead's release to get an exclusive lock on the Left 4 Dead franchise in perpetuity, then froze the original developers out. But somehow gamers are more scandalized by Epic paying developers to release on Epic's platform a few months before Steam, despite that being less predatory in every possible way.

Is steam really that great? I say this as someone who plays many hours of games.

I think some things they do well are (which are admittedly important things):

* reliability * security * fast downloads * consistent achievements between games

But I think they're lagging others (mainly discord) in chat and social. Their voice quality is comparatively horrible. They don't really have a good space for a group to have a server like discord does, which really helps with cohesion. So while I definitely don't think epic is killing it in any of these areas, I don't think steam has that much going for it outside their core competency.

> Is steam really that great?

Yes. Yes it is. Steam built the online games distribution market from basically nothing to where it is today. They helped usher in the indie game explosion, and gave players unprecedented tools for finding and assessing games. Not to mention the normalization of high-discount sales.

Oh yeah, and also Valve went ahead and made Linux gaming a more realistic proposition than it has ever been in history.

I agree that steam's existence has done wonders for gaming, and I'm also happy with their work on linux gaming (and never mind some cheap sale games)

But that doesn't mean that steam today is the best experience for gaming, and I would probably go so far as to argue that their hold on gaming is harmful to the industry, the largest issue imo being their large take of sales.

I disagree with pretty much everything you've said. Steam is the best experience for PC gaming I know of. It provides discovery tools, cloud saves, forums, reviews, gifting, a shopping cart (Epic still doesn't have one), and is just as happy to promote Nobody Studio's latest interactive visual novel as it is BigCo's annual AAA Call of World of Battlefield. Their "large" take is pretty standard for an online storefront and they provide huge value for it. In fact, if you don't want that value you're free to sell Steam keys to your game on any store you want with Valve receiving no cut at all.

Steam is where it is today because it first earned, and then kept, gamer trust. All the anti-Valve propaganda out there the past few years doesn't change that.

I would argue that most consumers act as follows, based on anecdotal evidence from myself and friends, when they have some game that they want to buy. (so distinct from impulse buys that they see)

If you're buying the game to play with someone, you buy it on whatever platform the other person has it on.

Otherwise, you look at whatever platform you spend the most time on. If it's available there and the price is "reasonable" for you, then you buy it there. End of story. I don't believe that most people actively search out a new platform.

Otherwise, if it's not available or you think you can get it for lower cost elsewhere, then you go to the next store you think is likely to have it or have it cheaper.

Given that framework, it doesn't really matter how good a platform is for a consumer outside of being able to buy a certain game. The main factors for that platform are:

1. How many people are on it. and 2. How wide the selection on the platform is.

So I would argue that not only does the platform compete for users on 1 (which I've argued is mostly based on 2 and pricing), but also for developers on 2. I think steam's behavior with their features is mostly oriented towards making the platform attractive to developers, and Epic is offering exclusives and $$$ to draw developers in.

As to whether Epic's exclusives are good for that gaming community, you can argue that they will allow for an ecosystem of epic subsidized developers, and lead to more competition from steam for holding developers.

IMHO it's not that Steam is that great, but rather than many of the major competitors have been quite bad.

Also, for a consumer there's a big convenience advantage to having a single store - from UX perspective (but probably not from the wider market leverage perspective, tragedy of commons yadda yadda) I'd very, very much prefer using a single service that's good enough to having to use three or more separate places that each individually are somehow better but each doesn't carry all the content that I want. The same applies to most other media - movies/shows, music, books.

IMHO the only way to get competitiveness would be to ensure that exclusivity deals are impossible/illegal, so that you might have multiple services each providing all content but competing on other qualities.


WTF I love Tim Sweeney now.

I still don't. His actions last month will not have me loving him in a while.

Something I missed? Could you be more specific?

They've decided to completely stop trying to support Linux even on games that already had support and are intentionally disabling any workarounds to keep them running.

So when will blender drop Linux support and require the Epic Store to Launch it?

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