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Star Citizen will drop DX12 for Vulkan to avoid forcing users to upgrade to Windows 10

One of the key offerings Microsoft has to try and tempt gamers to upgrade to Windows 10 is DirectX 12 support. The latest API has been picked up by plenty of games in the last year and while the folks over at Cloud Imperium Games planned to include it in Star Citizen, the engineers over there have since changed their minds, with plans to drop the planned DirectX 12 support and use Vulkan instead to ensure cross-OS compatibility.

Right now, Star Citizen runs on DirectX 11 but the plan was to eventually phase that out for DX12. Since then though, Star Citizen’s director of graphics engineering, Ali Brown, has decided against this move and will use Vulkan as “it doesn’t force users to upgrade to Windows 10”.

There is a bit more to it than that though. While Linux and cross-generational Windows support is a key factor, the fact is, Vulkan has the same feature set and performance advantages as DirectX 12, making it an obvious choice for a developer looking to support as many users as possible. Retaining support for Windows 7 makes a lot of sense too, as the stats over on NetMarketShare show that Windows 7 still holds around 48 percent of the PC market.

Here’s the full quote from Ali brown on the Star Citizen programming forum: “Years ago we stated our intention to support DX12, but since the introduction of Vulkan which has the same feature set and performance advantages this seemed a much more logical rendering API to use as it doesn’t force our users to upgrade to Windows 10 and opens the door for a single graphics API that could be used on all Windows 7, 8, 10 & Linux. As a result our current intention is to only support Vulkan and eventually drop support for DX11 as this shouldn’t affect any of our backers. DX12 would only be considered if we found it gave us a specific and substantial advantage over Vulkan. The API’s really aren’t that different though, 95% of the work for these APIs is to change the paradigm of the rendering pipeline, which is the same for both APIs.”

So if DirectX 12 can suddenly provide a notable performance advantage over Vulkan, then the Star Citizen team will revisit the idea of supporting it. For now though, it seems that Vulkan has the advantage due to its cross-platform support.

KitGuru Says: Vulkan has been getting quite a bit of support from developers recently. It will certainly be interesting to see if more developers follow suit and opt to support Vulkan over or in addition to DX12 in the coming years. 

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  • BigJimbo

    I don’t really get their decision.
    If you can’t afford to upgrade to Windows 10 then you cant afford the hardware to play SC. Support for older versions of windows is dropping pretty fast too. Intel is dropping support for older versions of windows so anyone with a new rig will have to be running windows 10 anyway…
    And for supporting the Linux gaming community? How many people game with Linux? I’m guessing about 5 people at most.

  • Tomas Michalik

    I doubt it’s about the money, some people just like Windows 7 and don’t want to upgrade for as long as possible. If they wanted to upgrade, they could have done it while it was free.
    And for Linux, I like the fact that Star Citizen will be supported, but the biggest deal breakers are drivers (at least for NVIDIA, which wasn’t able to release fully functional drivers for a really long time and open source drivers have REALLY low performance).

  • WhiteSkyMage

    You will be surprised to know, but there is a whole organization in Star Citizen that ONLY games on Linux and only uses Linux. Once those drivers drop, there will be no point of virtualization a windows machine and Linux users can play star citizen through Linux with no problems. Yet as you can see there are still many people that are on Windows 7 – it’s because of the older CPUs are still supporting Windows 7 (older than Skylake). They are making the right choice for going on to Vulkan. There is no problem with this – cross platform is always better, and with the same capability of DX12, I don’t see the issue here.

  • Tyrann

    I seen much more performance from Vulkan than DX12 so don’t really care. This benefits both AMD and Nvidia. Their reasoning for not forcing users to upgrade to Win 10 is strange though.

  • Phillip Spearman

    Wasn’t it recently revealed that native multi-GPU support in Vulcan requires Windows 10? if that’s the case then Windows 10 will still be mandatory for many gamers anyway.

    I still don’t understand why so many people choose to handicap their hardware with an older OS.

  • Adam Chambers

    Well not necessarily because many gamers don’t run sli/xfire because of cost to performance. I used to be advocate of it. We had a good 2 years where both worked well on most games and now it’s in decline again.

    And there are other issues with older OS to new OS. I am happy with W10 although a decent Linux would be my preference in a year or two if more games go Vulkan.

  • Adam Chambers

    Why? 50% of the market on W7 means that is 50% of their player base would not be able to play if W10 is forced on those who don’t want it. I mean I really like W10 and what it can do etc with terms of speed and stability I have zero issues but I don’t see the need for people to upgrade just to be able to play a game.

    Since it also works with Linux and there is a small player base there where Vulkan may actually get there as the distro of linux are getting better with ones such as Loki Elementary or Cinnamon Mint or even Antergos for Arch Linux that are more user friendly and means most can get on with it relative simple.

  • BigJimbo

    But only gaming on Linux is the same as forgoing cars because you want the hassle of a horse and cart. There are no gains and stupendous amounts of loss from fixing yourself to only Linux for gaming. As long as pandering to Linux fans doesn’t cost anything then I’m fine with it….but I wouldn’t have used it to inform such a large decision.

  • Calum

    For windows platforms yes….Linux no such issue, you have multi gpu setups on any of them

  • Fantasm

    A lot of people don’t want Windows 10 for a variety of reasons. Trying to force them to go to windows 10 might end up in less sales. Not everyone will downgrade to Windows 10 to just a run one game…

  • Fantasm

    It’s not about hardware for many people . One of my friends has a game that simply won’t run under W10. It’s her favourite time waster. So she stays on W7.
    Also, Linux is getting a revived interest from a lot of people who are not happy with where MS is going with W10…

  • drno

    I get the love for windows 7. It was the best OS I’ve ever used, and I come from the AMIGADOS era. But games run better on 10, and the technology moves 10 times faster than devlopers can keep up with. Eventually they will be on 10. Just be sure to image at least once a month 🙂 Hail acronis!!

  • Villz

    No win7 can’t do it you mean. because of the WDDM 1.0
    Linux doesn’t have WDDM to worry about.

  • BigJimbo

    Im assuming that such a game is very old and has been made poorly as those are the only reasons a game would work on w7 but not w10. So its a bit silly to choose your OS based on one old and poorly made game and then also expect to play the most cutting edge game ever made.
    The interest in Linux is still limited to hobbyists or programmers as it is such a pain to use. It would have made more sense to choose Vulcan to support macOS instead as that has a significant use base.

  • Robert Kelly

    Uhhh, latest from Vulkan, Multi GPU on Windows 10 only.

    Why even bother having it as a standard then? Not on Apple and hamstrung on Linux, what chance does it have then. Way to go guys, you just assured your crap never sees widespread adoption.

  • Robert Kelly

    No gains? I guess security and privacy are worthless to you, luckily for the world not everyone thinks the same as you.

  • Robert Kelly

    Ahh the uneducated masses speak again.

  • Robert Kelly

    “Just be sure to image at least once a month 🙂 Hail acronis!!”

    What high praise for an OS.

  • BigJimbo

    Yes, it is worthless as I’m not hiding anything and a standard off-the-shelf firewall will suffice. Why do you need such security hm?

  • BigJimbo

    Troll harder kid.

  • SpinazStyle

    not in older WINDOWS OS older than 10…WINDOWs…Linux is not affected by this

  • SpinazStyle

    And if there is going to be support from MAC/apple also apple

  • anubis44

    Trouble is, Kaby Lake and AMD Ryzen users won’t be able to use Windows 7, even if they want to. Microsoft is blocking updates for those CPUs.

  • WhiteSkyMage

    I think you are forgetting something here BigJimbo, you are forgetting something big – first of all, have you EVER used a MACOS? Seriously, cuz you sound like you think that MAC is that different from Linux…ooooh mate…you really have to try some of the other OSes rather than staying on Windows all the time.
    Actually there was a statement made by Chris Roberts HIMSELF that once Crytek finishes off with the Linux support drivers for Star Citizen (yeah apparently it was something to do with graphics), you will have BOTH Linux and Mac OS support on Star Citizen, not just Linux. Go back to watch some of the “10 for the chairman” and stop being ignorant like you are some fanboy of M$ (I’m sure you probably are).

  • BigJimbo

    Lol – if you think MacOS is in anyway similar to Linux then you are delusional. But I guess you probably just spend your entire time in terminal on a Mac and fapping over pissing around with the kernel on your linux machine. But answer this; if Linux is so good, then why is uptake so low for a FREE product? *rollseyes* But I guess you are too spergy to realise that.

  • Adam Chambers

    Hey now there is no need to call W10 a downgrade thanks.

  • Adam Chambers

    Actually not sure what WhiteSkyMage is on about as MacOS support idea was dropped in favour of Linux. Now with that the reason being originally was actually to do with the way MacOS supports game and graphics drivers via the compiler which they have working for Linux but haven’t for MacOS.

    It basically makes it stupid. With that also then a user can always dual boot a Mac with Linux and thus play the game so Linux support will cover the 9% player base that Windows does not.

  • Adam Chambers

    Update on that front. It appears the reports are wrong. It is fine now that we will get multi-GPU support for W7 and up

    http://www.dsogaming.com/news/vulkan-will-officially-support-multi-gpus-in-windows-10-windows-7-windows-8-1-and-linux/#more-97089

  • Adam Chambers

    http://www.dsogaming.com/news/vulkan-will-officially-support-multi-gpus-in-windows-10-windows-7-windows-8-1-and-linux/#more-97089

    Update so all fine for W7 and up. Also to add you can also dual boot into Linux then and thus have support with MacOS via a free OS system so it is pretty good on that front really.

  • WhiteSkyMage

    well perhaps then I missed the news if it was dropped? I am not sure – Chris said it in one of those 10 for the chairman videos, but if that is scrapped then alright, you have your point then!
    And BigJimbo, I tried MacOS, but i wasn’t really that much satisfied. And truth to be told, i am actually spending my time on the Linux command line. I used Debian, Kali and Ubuntu and I was thinking of trying out SteamOS, but didn’t get the chance to. Now i use Linux with VM of Windows 7. It works great for the games I play so I don’t really have any need of Windows 10 currently.
    My next PC upgrade is only going to target Star Citizen, no other game, only Star Citizen. I do not care if I buy Vega 10 and this is the only game it performs >= nVidia’s GTX 1080 and it’s shit on all other games…

  • drno

    Yeah, windows 10 was more of a lateral move, but you use what you have to use lol. OS X and linux just doesn’t have what I need for what I do daily. Nothing wrong with them of course.

    Besides, OS X (and apple’s ‘STAY OUT’ hardware) has its problems as well.