Windows Vista Doesn’t Affect Indie Game Production

BBC reported the release dates for Microsoft Windows Vista. November 30 will be the date when companies can get the operating systems. Home users will have to wait until January 2007 to get hold of a copy.

Because Vista might have strategical effects (for example regarding what game engine you might use or what computer system you are going to support) I want to remind that I might be totally wrong – so please don’t just blindly accept everything I say in this article. This is only my personal opinion and thinking. Use your own brain, and feel free to argue back and tell your own comments.

Now to my thinking:

I’d argue that Vista doesn’t have much impact in average indie game production for several years.

I must point out that the one-man studios, casual game makers and many smaller indies won’t need to care about Vista. I think that those game developers who look at the future and those who make game engines need to make more changes – but for average game developer Vista doesn’t really matter. I base my argument on the system requirements.

Windows XP (recommended):

  • 300 MHZ (233 MHz minimum)
  • System memory: 128 MB (64 MB minimum)

Windows Vista:

  • 1GHz 32 or 64 bit (800 MHz minimum)
  • System Memory: 1GB (512MB minimum)
  • Graphics card: Runs Windows Aero (minimum: DirectX 9 capable)
  • Graphics Memory: 128MB (minimum not said)

As you can see, the system requirements are much greater than in the past. 512MB system memory minimum for Vista must be a bit sort of joke, because in my personal experience Windows XP pretty much needs at least 512MB – I have 2GB and that seems to do okay, 1 GB is my personal recommendation. Then the graphics card recommendation: 128 MB recommended. How many laptops out there can handle Vista if 128 is recommended? I’m not sure if this recommendation is based on the new user interface features and could be that there’s no real minimum as they said.

The other interesting is the DX9 capable graphics card minimum (and quite good actually if you think about those who make game engines – “forcing” people to DX9 will get some guys angry but for game developers it’s good if players have good hardware and software running). Those older graphics cards that doesn’t support DX9 cannot upgrade.

If you compare the requirements between XP and Vista it looks like players with older computers have to make a major hardware update – or buy totally new computer to get Vista. I doubt how many people are willing to do. I’m doing fine using Windows XP so I have no need to rush to get Vista. Maybe within 2-4 years the situation is different.

And if players aren’t updating their computers – and if indies already target to computers that are 3-5 years old – why should we even care about Vista?

Average indies (who aren’t making mods and are selling their games) are not doing games with the latest graphics. There are developers who target to 5 year old computers. These players with 5 year old computer are not updating their hardware just to get new fancy operating system. Some of them will, but it might happen during time period of several years – not instantly.

Game engines will probably work fine with Windows Vista. There has been some discussion with “graphics errors”, but after updating to latest video cards – these errors might most likely vanish. For engine programmers it’s bit different situation. Those who have done their rendering engines, must now consider the DX10 and make sure their DX9 works also at Vista. I’m not saying these guys are automatically in trouble, but magic words like “need to support 32 bit / 64 bit” and “need to support new operating system” will most likely cause problems and issues for those who are making their own rendering engines and like.

Luckily that’s their problem. We game developers are safe, I think.

5 thoughts on “Windows Vista Doesn’t Affect Indie Game Production

  1. And yes – I might be totally wrong – so please use your own brain people.

  2. > “I hate to be frank, but that’s a rather obtuse assessment.”
    No problem… that’s why I wrote in the beginning:
    “I want to remind that I might be totally wrong – so please don’t just blindly accept everything I say in this article. This is only my personal opinion and thinking. Use your own brain, and feel free to argue back and tell your own comments.” :)

    > “Who do you think develops the game engines?”
    I said:
    “I must point out that the one-man studios, casual game makers and many smaller indies won’t need to care about Vista. ”
    One man indies don’t have time to make the core system (like rendering engines), one man studios usually pick some existing engine (like Torque, Blitz, Ogre, TrueVision etc.) and focus on developing game rather than engine.

    > “Finally, supporting 3 year old computers is the bare minimum – that doesn’t mean we should ignore new computer users.”
    Yes, but
    1) engines might probably work with Vista? I doubt that Microsoft 100% forgets support for any other application.

    Here’s some threads/revies about this issues
    http://www.blitzbasic.com/Community/posts.php?topic=64511
    http://www.winsupersite.com/reviews/winvista_beta2_04.asp

    Here’s the thread you started! :)
    http://forums.indiegamer.com/showthread.php?p=113418&posted=1#post113418

    2) if engines don’t work – then it’s engine maker’s task to make them work (of course this requires indie game developers to think what engines to use…)

    “Games or programs which are built on Vista’s version of DirectX, 10, will not work on prior versions of Windows, as DirectX 10 is not backwards-compatible with DirectX 9″
    http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/article.asp?CIID=24636

    AND

    “There’s also backward-support for DirectX 6, 7 and DirectDraw, and Vista will feature and extended version of Direct3D 9, known as D3D9Ex, that developers can play around with now.”
    http://www.atomicmpc.com.au/article.asp?CIID=24636

    So DX7 games/apps do fine (check here for examples)
    Quote:
    “Vista is somewhere around RC2 at the moment. They’re plannin’ on shipping it to software developers to get their applications ready for its mainstream release. I’ve run Blitz3D apps under Vista, works fine.”
    Quote:
    BLITZ3D works in Vista RC1. I don’t have a newer one, but it does work fine.
    http://www.blitzbasic.com/Community/…hp?topic=64511 – Blitz3D discussion

    Bottom line: Best thing would be to test your application with the beta version and see if it works. If there’s major problems, then you know to take some action.

  3. Actually, I believe Flash or cross-platform engines like Unity should be axiomatic for small production units, leave big engine desing to companies that focus on that. Discover Media is a company tied in with Microsoft, they’re offering a downloadable portal built right into the Vista utility bar. In order to compete with that kind of mostly-vertical integration, you need to focus on agile and innovative designs. The ready-to-order stuff you’ll be able to get in the Vista bar will be like the McDonalds of casual gaming, but the hip will know to go online to the aggregator sites and play the freshest organice produce.

    Then there’s Wii to consider.

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  5. I hate to be frank, but that’s a rather obtuse assessment. Who do you think develops the game engines? And for game developers using pre-spun engines, it’s a very serious issue. An upgrade may never be developed, leaving the game developer with a dead framework and no way to support his customers that use Vista. Finally, supporting 3 year old computers is the bare minimum – that doesn’t mean we should ignore new computer users. Every computer sold after the New Year will sport Vista, making for an ever-growing array of users who can’t play your game because “Windows Vista doesn’t affect indie game production.”

    Sorry to be so harsh, but I think this is some dangerously wrong advice you’re peddling, here.