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Stardock's Wardell: 'Switch To Windows 7 As Quickly As Possible'
Stardock's Wardell: 'Switch To Windows 7 As Quickly As Possible' Exclusive
June 17, 2009 | By Chris Remo

June 17, 2009 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC, Exclusive

Gamers and developers have never fully embraced Windows Vista -- but Brad Wardell of PC-focused developer and digital publisher Stardock (Galactic Civilizations II) told Gamasutra "it would be good if everybody switched to Windows 7 as quickly as possible."

CEO Wardell, whose most recent major publishing partnerships were with Ironclad on Sins Of A Solar Empire and Gas Powered Games on Demigod, is famously frank with his opinions even on companies and products linked to Stardock.

He has criticized Microsoft for shipping Windows Vista before drivers were ready and without proper performance optimization.

Windows 7 is an evolution of Vista, however, and reports so far have suggested many of its predecessor's kinks have been worked out. "Apparently, performance is really good," Wardell said.

In particular, he pointed to a feature called WARP -- Windows Advanced Rasterization Platform -- that will allow a system's CPU to perform DirectX acceleration when a video card doesn't support certain rendering features, or if a discrete card isn't included in the PC at all.

That ties into one of Stardock's fundamental principles: "We want the game to look incredible on high-end systems, but I want people to be able to play this on their three-year-old laptop on the airplane," Wardell said.

"One of the things that comes up often is, 'How has Stardock made so much money on these niche games?' Well, because our games run on millions of boxes."

And so, despite the enthusiasm for Windows 7, Stardock isn't rushing to start requiring users to support Direct X 10 or 11.

"We've taken the view that we're pretty much sticking with DirectX 9 until Windows Vista hits critical mass," Wardell explained.

"The developer can still build the same features into their game, and that's what we've been doing with our engine. You don't need DirectX 10 or 11 to do that lighting; [with them] you just don't have to write the code to actually make use of those features."

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Mike Lopez
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"it would be good if everybody switched to Windows 7 as quickly as possible."

Good for him as a developer no doubt. Anyone who got burned by Vista will likely be more cautious.

Leandro Rocha
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Good for everyone. Who tested the Beta versions knows about how (much) better Windows 7 is compared to Vista (and XP). I'll buy my licence in the launch month.

scott anderson
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WARP could be huge. Although its not going to help high end games, it will allow for less graphically intensive titles to use modern rendering techniques and still run on low end hardware. No more complaints of "I don't have shader model 3 hardware so the game won't run." Its a shame that its DX10DX11 only.

Ian Morrison
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The reports I've heard say that Windows 7 is basically Vista minus all the BS, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

Joel Bennett
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WARP... so is that about like the next generation of the DirectX Reference Rasterizer? Hopefully performance will be a bit better than the latter...

Kevin Reese
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It seems like it will be a really, really long time before games that don't support DirectX9 will come out.

Caleb Garner
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yea Iíve heard a lot of good stuff about windows 7, but yea Iím curious if there is much trouble with backwards compatibility for older games. sure even XP had a few games (sigh.. original AvP I miss you) that wouldn't work, but it was pretty acceptable..

I would like to run an objective 3dmark 2001 test to see how it really runs.. Iíll never forget a test I ran on a friends new XPS desktop where a clean standard install of vista got a score of 8000... where the same system with XP got 12000. So yea Iíd like to see how xp/windows 7 compare.. the WARP thing does look interesting, but I wonder how efficient it really is.. are you robbing Peter to pay Paul? meaning perhaps without it the game wouldn't run.. but with it.. it runs like crap. not really much of a gain.

because despite the push for dx10 and up games.. most games out there really don't need all that heavy hardware except 3d intensive stuff, which in the big picture of all games being produce is not a majority of the games out there... a host of existing titles already made, almost any 2d game, flash/browser titles, emulation and so forth just need good CPU's and modest video cards.

Robert Rhine
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@Lopez Well, that's the developer's point: That Windows 7, unlike Vista, is stable and supported enough to actually jump into, and delay would probably hold up development cycles both for developers and other companies involved. Jumping to Windows 7 early, if it actually does hold up to snuff (as many industry analysts are purporting), could save enterprises and developers (and, subsequently, consumers) a lot of time and money

@Caleb Garner: I've been using Windows 7 RC for a couple of months, and I've been playing all sorts of games, from older games to Mass Effect and other modern titles, as well as different MMORPGs, all without incident. The only issue comes from having to manually install Direct X 9, which most of these titles will do upon install anyway. If you are upgrading, then just install DX9 yourself, and you are good to go. Gaming is actually better, because of the lower overhead applications require compared to vista, etc.. Of course, this is my personal observations, and not scientific, but I have been experimenting with a variety of platforms, as well as both 32 and 64 bit platforms, with very few complaints as far as compatibility.

Ed Alexander
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As someone who has been running W7 beta since build 7000... It's a day 1 buy. Well technically more like a Day 547 buy since beta testers can get like a year and a half of 7100 for free. ;)

Raymond Grier
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There's a lot of talk around this article about DirectX 9-11. I'm curious to know how many Gamasutra readers are still unhappy that Microsoft is basically ignoring the "OpenGL support relies on a good graphics card issue" on Vista since I have heard nothing to indicate Microsoft is changing this in Windows 7. Please comment on how you feel about this. Thanks.