Tagged: steam, origin, ea

What do they want Origin to be?

GamesIndustry International conducted an interview with EA's Executive Vice President, Andrew Wilson, during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 2013). Wilson was on the team which originally designed Origin before marketing decided to write off all DOS-era nostalgia they once held with PC gamers through recycling an old web address.

The service, itself, has also changed since the original project.

'"Over the years ... there've been some permutations of that vision that have manifested as part of Origin," Wilson said. "I think what we've done is taken a step back and said 'Wow, we've actually done some really cool things with Origin.' It is by no means perfect, but we've done some pretty cool things. As you say, the plumbing is there. What can we do now to really think about Origin in the next generation?"

Fans of Sim City, who faithfully pre-ordered, will likely argue that Origin does not have enough sewage treatment at the end of their plumbing and the out-flow defecated all over their experience. A good service can be built atop the foundations of Origin; but, I have little confidence in their ability to realize that potential.

Wilson, on the other hand, believes they now "get it".

One assertion deals with customers who purchase more than one game. He argues that multiple update and online services are required and that is a barrier for users who desire a second, third, or hundredth purchase thereafter. The belief is that Origin can create a single experience for users and remove that barrier to inhibit a user's purchase. In practice, Origin ends up being a bigger hurdle than a single-game's service. It washes a bad faith over their entire library and fails to justify itself: games, such as Sim City, update on their own and old titles still have their online services taken offline.

What it comes down to is lack of focus. Wilson believes development of Origin was too focused on the transaction, and that lead to bad faith, presumably because customers would smell the disingenuous salesman. Good Old Games (GOG), on the other hand, successfully focused on the transaction. The difference? GOG gets out of your way immediately after the transaction, leaving you with just the game plus its bonus pack-ins you ordered, not DRM and a redundant social network.

Steam is heavily focused as a service and that is where EA desires Origin to be. The problem? Valve has set a high bar for EA to contend with. Steam has built customer faith consistently, albeit not perfectly, over its life with its user-centric vision. Not only would EA need to be substantially better than Steam, it is fighting with a severe handicap from their history of shutting down gaming servers and threatening to delicense merchandise if their customers upset them.

A successful Origin will need to carefully consider what it wants to be and strive to win at that goal. While possible, they are still content to handicap themselves and, then, not own the results of their decisions.

Steam Might Allow Shared Games?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: steam, DRM

You can learn a lot by scanning configuration, registry files, and so forth; many have made off with a successful bounty. Most recently, some Steam Beta users dug around in their user interface (UI) files to notice a few interesting lines, instructing the user that the title they are attempting to launch will kick off a friend it is currently being shared with.

Wait, what?!

Steam-UI.png

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicense_Title" "Shared game library"

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_OwnerText" "Just so you know, your games are currently in use by %borrower%. Playing now will send %borrower% a notice that it's time to quit."

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_BorrowerText" "This shared game is currently unavailable. Please try against later or buy this game for your own library."

Sure, this whole game DRM issue has been flipping some tables around the industry. Microsoft tried permitting users share games with their family, utilizing about the worst possible PR, and eventually needed to undo that decision. Users would like flexible licensing schemes, but the content industry (including the platform owners like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony, who receive license fees from game sales) are unwilling to cooperate unless they are assured that users are honest.

Of course, what usually happens is honest users get crapped on and pirates enjoy a better experience, after initial setup.

While there is not much difference, from a high level view, between Steam and the proposed Xbox One, there are a number of differences. The obvious difference is Steam's offline mode, but probably the larger reason is trust. Valve has demonstrated a lot of good faith to their customers; where Microsoft shuts down access to content people paid for, Valve has shown they have intentions for both long-term support and consideration for the user's experience.

Ultimately, I feel as if DRM is not a necessary evil, but while it exists at least there are companies such as Valve who earn trust and use DRM both for and against users. I expect that some day, the industry will turn against DRM either willingly, by legal intervention, or because companies like cdp.pl will use DRM-free as a promotional tool and nibble their way to dominance.

And yes, despite the fact that this will be confused with bias: if you prove that you are untrustworthy before, you will get away with less later regardless of your intentions.

L4D2 Beta Coming to Steam For Linux This Week

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2013 - 07:25 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam for linux, steam, pc gaming, linux, l4d2, beta

Users of Valve’s Steam for Linux client will be getting access to the beta version of Left 4 Dead 2 later this week. The L4D2 beta will come with the new Enhanced Mutation System (EMS), which adds advanced scripting options to the multiplayer zombie survival game.

In fact, all Left 4 Dead owners will get access to the new beta release via the Steam client (not just the Linux platform) for free. The beta will appear in the all games list as a separate download from the main Left 4 Dead 2 game. It will allow beta players to connect to beta servers and other L4D2 beta users.

L4D2 Beta with EMS.jpg

The EMS system is the biggest addition to the beta currently. It gives developers access to custom script logic as well as custom spawn points and control entities. New maps, characters, and weapons are beyond the scope of the EMS, however.

Interested gamers should keep an eye on their Steam games list as well as the Left 4 Dead blog.

Source: L4D.com

Podcast #242 - AMD's new Richland APUs, Steam Box Prototypes, Seagate Hybrid Drives and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2013 - 03:36 PM |
Tagged: Strider, steambox, steam, sshd, Silverstone, Seagate, Richland, quadro 6000, quadro, podcast, hybrid, APU, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #242 - 03/14/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMD's new Richland APUs, Steam Box Prototypes, Seagate Hybrid Drives and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 0:59:45

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:01:30 Silverstone Strider Power supply
    2. 0:03:00 Richland Unveiled: AMD releases new A10-5750M
  2. 0:14:33 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:15:35 Steam Box Prototypes in the next few months
    2. 0:24:00 NVIDIA allegedly part Quadro 6000 GK110 card
    3. 0:25:30 Seagate SSHD Lineup
    4. 0:30:00 WebM now official with Google and support from MPEG LA
    5. 0:33:40 GF Actually Shipping 28 nm Product!
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:42:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Tranquil PC Intel NUC case
      2. Josh: Cheap and Pretty!
      3. Allyn: Automatic
      4. Morry: Edimax 150mbps wireless nano USB adapter
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Steam Box Prototypes Will Reach Developers Within The Next Four Months

Subject: General Tech | March 8, 2013 - 05:26 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, pc gaming, gaming, console, big picture mode

In talking with the BBC, Valve CEO Gabe Newell revealed several details regarding the company’s upcoming Steam Box gaming PC. The console competitor will go up against Sony’s PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 successor. So far we know that the Steam Box will utilize Valve’s Steam distribution service and its Big Picture Mode user interface. Valve will be manufacturing its own reference design, but third parties will also be allowed to construct Steam Boxes that will tap into Valve’s gaming library. Xi3 in particular looks to be at least one of the likely Steam Box partners to produce hardware.

Newell indicated that Valve would be sending prototype devices to customers within “the next three to four months.” The designs are not yet finalized, however, as evidenced by Newell’s statement that the prototypes would be used to gather feedback, and Valve is still working on balancing heat, noise, and performance.

“We're working with partners trying to nail down how fast we can make it.” - Gabe Newell in an interview with BBC before receiving an award for Portal 2.

Further, Valve has not yet determined exactly what it wants the controller to be. It will reportedly be shipping several different prototype controllers along with the Steam Box PCs. One area that Newell is particularly interesting in is in gathering bio-metric data -- such as heart rate -- and using that data to change the game experience for the gamer. This would be one area that Valve could focus on and have an advantage over other consoles. As a fully-fledged PC, the Steam Box could tap into existing bio-metrics technology and easily have the horsepower to effectively parse the bio-feedback. I can only think of a few situations in which such data would be useful (horror games, party/dancing/exercise games), but I do see it as being at least as beneficial as the Kinect was/is to the Xbox.

With that said, we still do not know much about the Steam Box. Much like the PS4, we still do not know what the actual hardware will look like (though we have at least been shown the PS4 controller). Pricing is also one of the major unknowns, and BBC reporter Leo Kelion quoted an industry analyst Lewis Ward (IDC) as noting that Valve will likely not be able to subsidize the hardware nearly as much as the other major console players (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) are able to. The Steam Box is inevitably going to be priced more in like with PCs than with consoles, as a result. On the other hand, gamers that buy a Steam Box can look forward to getting games that are much cheaper than the console equivalents. Give Steam Box gamers a couple of Steam holiday sales and they will easily make up the price difference!

What do you expect the Steam Box to be, and will it finally take PC gaming to the masses?

Source: BBC

Finally SHODAN rides again

Subject: General Tech | February 13, 2013 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, system shock 2, GOG, steam, kick ass

It has been a long drawn out battle but gamers can finally claim a victory as Good Old Games and Steam finally get the rights to distribute System Shock 2, one of the best FPS games ever released.  Not only were the mechanics, (can you say leaning?) and the AI but the story and atmosphere were the scariest around at the time and still compete well with similar modern games such as Dead Space.  The team at Night Dive has been working hard on stability and option improvements as well as adding in soundtracks, interviews and other historical documents from the games inception.  You will be able to pick up the game 16.5 hours from the writing of this post for $10, well worth the investment and much more fun and probably less buggy than Colonial MarinesCheck out Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN's interview with the team that has finally been allowed to provide the most requested old game around.

RPS_sshock2c.jpg

"RPS: You have updated the Night Dive website to read: “System Shock franchise to resurface with GOG/Steam release”. What is your involvement in the release and is the digital version an update, with high-res textures etc, or a straight re-release?

Kick: Night Dive Studios secured the license to distribute the game, and made the initial modifications to allow the game to run on most current operating systems.

Rambourg: There are some user-made mods out there which do phenomenal work on the game’s stability, but none of them were quite perfect, so we took the game to our expert techninjas to analyse and swat the remaining bugs. It was some work to get it done, but as this is a game that we’ve wanted to release for four-plus years, it was also definitely a labour of love."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Valve Opens Steam for Linux Beta to General Public

Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming

Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.

Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however. 

Steam For Linux Beta.jpg

Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.

Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.

The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).

Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.

Source: Valve

Podcast #230 - EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini ITX board, Our Holiday Gift Guide, Steam Box and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2012 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: Z77, valve, stinger, Steam Box, steam, podcast, pcper, itx, i7-4770k, haswell, gift guide, evga, Crysis 3, 4770k, video

PC Perspective Podcast #230 - 12/13/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini ITX board, Our Holiday Gift Guide, Steam Box and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Chris Barbere

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:29:11

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. We are going to try Planetside 2 after the podcast!
  2. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:03:30 EVGA Stinger Z77 Mini-ITX Motherboard
    2. 0:06:45 Cutting the Cord Series
      1. Part 3 - Windows 7 Install and Setup
      2. Part 4 - Media Center Configuration
    3. 0:09:00 Seasonic G Series 360 watt PSU
    4. 0:11:30 PC Perspective Holiday Gift Guide!
  3. 0:40:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  4. News items of interest:
    1. 0:41:30 Transporter Private Storage
    2. 0:47:00 Intel will support sockets into foreseeable future as well
    3. 0:51:00 Crysis 3 will have advanced PC options
    4. 0:53:30 Valve Confirms the Steam Box is coming
    5. 1:06:15 Low power Atom chips for servers
    6. 1:10:20 ASRock Board with pass through for Thunderbolt
    7. 1:13:00 Haswell 4000 series CPUs will be 84 watt
  5. Closing:
    1. 1:16:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Lenovo X230 + Slice Battery
      2. Jeremy: ASUS VS229H-P Same in the US and Canada, though we get free shipping
      3. Josh: Intel 335 SSD for Cheap
      4. Allyn: iStarUSA BPU-126-SA
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

 

Valve and Gabe Newell Confirm Steam Box for Living Room PC Gaming

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: valve, steambox, Steam Box, steam, htpc, gaben, Gabe Newell, big picture mode

Well it finally happened this week - Gabe Newell confirmed what we all assumed was going to happen - a Valve software branded and controlled PC for gaming and computing in the living room.  We first started grumbling about the "Steam Box" back in March at GDC when Valve announced the Big Picture Mode for Steam and rumors of the hardware platform first began.   The next moth, Valve's Doug Lombardi denied the rumors but fell short of saying it wouldn't happen in the future.  In September the Big Picture Mode for Steam went into beta bringing the Steam interface into the world of TVs and 10-ft design, followed this year with the full release. 

And let's not forget the Linux client beta currently on-going as well as the capability to buy non-gaming software on Steam.  Valve has been a busy PC company.

valve1.jpg

Big Picture Mode was the first necessary step

Based on an interview with Gabe at Kotaku, there are a surprising amount of details about the hardware goals that Valve will set for the "Steam Box" in addition to the simple confirmation that it is a currently running project. 

He also expects companies to start selling PC packages for living rooms next year—setups that could consist of computers designed to be hooked up to your TV and run Steam right out of the gate.

valve4.jpg

HTPC builders have been making "Steam Box" computers for some time...

Interestingly, Valve is saying its contribution will be more tightly controlled than we might have thought:

"Well certainly our hardware will be a very controlled environment," he said. "If you want more flexibility, you can always buy a more general purpose PC. For people who want a more turnkey solution, that's what some people are really gonna want for their living room.

No time tables were discussed and we are left once again with just a hint of what is to come.  I think its pretty obvious based on the direction Valve is going that we are going to see a Linux-based small form factor PC with Steam pre-installed available for consumers in 2013.  If Valve starts pushing Linux support as hard as we expect it could mean quite a bit of trauma is ahead for Microsoft in the enthusiast community, one that is already reeling from the problems with Windows 8.

valve3.jpg

If you were to potentially add to the "Steam Box" a pre-configuration tool like NVIDIA's GeForce Experience that sets game options based on your hardware for you, the PC could easily turn into a solution that is nearly as simple as the console for gamers.  And because Steam is already accepting non-games, it won't take much for there to be Netflix and Amazon apps in addition to anything else you currently have running on HTPCs or tablets. 

Source: Kotaku

Steam Officially Releases Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2012 - 03:29 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam, living room gaming, controller support, big picture mode

Valve took the beta wraps off of Steam’s Big Picture Mode yesterday, ushering in a new 10-foot interface for PC gamers wanting to game on the TV from the couch.

While the feature was still in beta, I tried it out with both a mouse and keyboard and an Xbox 360 controller. You can find the full article along with screenshots of the various interface features on PC Perspective. Now that Big Picture Mode is officially out of beta, I took a look at it again. In general, it seems like Valve has mostly made under the hood performance and stability tweaks rather than UI changes in the interim. On the plus side, Big Picture Mode no longer crashes on me and you can purchase games from within the overlay rather than needing to drop out to the traditional steam interface to complete transactions. With that said, there are some odd delays on certain interface buttons that were not present in the beta (and that will hopefully be fixed soon).

Steam Big Picture Mode_All Games.jpg

All in all though, I do think that it is a neat interface for couch gaming or just relaxing at your desk with a controller and Dirt 3.

Big Picture Mode Celebration Sale.jpg

Interestingly, along with Big Picture Mode, Valve is running a new wave of sales on games that include controller support. If you missed some titles over the previous holiday sales, now is a good time to pick them up. L4D2 is $4.99 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive is only $7.49, for example. The full list of games is available in the Big Picture Mode store or on the steampowered website.

Have you tried Big Picture Mode yet?

Source: Steam