Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | March 3, 2012 - 05:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, steam, GDC 12
It is rumored that Valve will announce a Steam hardware platform as early as GDC next week although that could be pushed back as late as E3 in June.
Steam has grown atop the PC platform and consists of over 40 million active user accounts. For perspective, the Xbox 360 has sold 65.8 million units to date and that includes units sold to users whose older Xbox 360s died and they did not go the cardboard coffin route. Of course the study does not account for the level of hardware performance each user can utilize although Valve does keep regular surveys of that.
A console with admined dedicated servers to kick the teabagging and griefing Steam punks.
Within the last couple of years, Valve has been popping in to news seemingly out of the blue. Allow me to draw your attention to three main events.
At the last GDC, Valve announced “The Big Picture” mode for their Steam software. The Big Picture is an interface for Steam which is friendly to users seated on a couch several feet away from a large screen TV. While “The Big Picture” has yet to be released it does set the stage for a great Home Theatre PC user interface for PC games as well as potentially other media.
I must admit, that controller does not look the most ergonomic... but it is just a patent filing.
Last year, Valve also filed a patent with the US Patent Office for a video game controller with user swappable control components. Their patent filings show a controller which looks quite similar to an Xbox 360 controller where the thumbsticks can be replaced with touch pads as well as a trackball and potentially other devices. Return of Missile Command anyone?
Also a little over two years ago, Valve announced a partnership with Razer for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. It is possible that Valve was supporting this technology for this future all along. While motion controllers have not proven to be successful for gaming, they are accepted as a method to control a device. Perhaps The Big Picture will be optimized to support Sixense and compatible devices?
The Verge goes beyond their claims that Valve will announce The Steam Box and has included specifications for a closed-doors prototype of the system. The system was rumored to be used to present to partners at CES contained an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU.
You know if Microsoft had focused on Media Center for gaming rather than the Xbox...
It is very unclear whether Valve will attempt to take a loss on the platform in hopes to make it back up in Steam commissions. It is possible that Valve will just push the platform to OEM partners, but it is possible that they will release and market their own canon device.
I am interested to see how Valve will push the Home Theatre PC market. The main disadvantage that the PC platform has at the moment is simply marketing and development money. It is also possible that they wish to expand out and support other media through their Steam service as well.
At the very least, we should have a viable Home Theatre PC user interface as well as sharp lines between hardware profiles. A developer on the PC would love to know the exact number of potential users they should expect if they were to support a certain hardware configuration. Valve was always keen on supplying hardware profile statistics, and this is certainly a harsh evolution of that.
Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2012 - 01:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, growth, gaming, game
Valve, the company behind the Steam digital (game) distribution service recently announced their 2011 growth data for Steam. Tech Power Up reports that Steam did exceptionally well last year and managed to grow its sales numbers and user base quite a bit.
Among the data, the service saw a more than 100% growth in year over year sales "for the seventh straight year." Further, the service boasted 5 million simultaneous players during the Steam Holiday Sale! Even more mind blowing is the amount of data the company served to users at 780 Petabytes of data (that's a lot of game downloads; about 89.35 million copies of Dirt 3 for example!).
Steam, taking my money since HL2.
Also, Valve managed to bring more games into the Steamworks fold including Skyrim and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Since the program's inception, over 400 games have shipped with the Steam DRM and achievements. Quite a success! CEO Gabe Newell seems happy about the service's success and confident about the future. He was quoted by the site in stating "Looking forward, we are preparing for the launch of the Big Picture UI mode," and that Steam continues to evolve to meet customer and game developer demands for content. More information can be found here.
I'm glad that Steam is continuing to grow. On the other hand, my wallet is going to hate me come the Steam Summer Sale!
Subject: General Tech | January 1, 2012 - 08:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, Space Quest
The holidays are quickly coming to a close; like Times Square, I hope you had a ball. If you were unable to take advantage of the Steam deals as they occurred over the last two weeks, you are in luck: it is deja vu day. If you did not receive Batman, Skyrim, L.A. Noire, Saint’s Row, and various other PC titles in your stocking then this might just be the perfect time to snatch one or two up. Get saddled up for the long winter months until The Darkness 2 and Jeremy’s favorite: Syndicate, the first person shooter, are both released in February.
But wait, there’s more! Oh, you need to wait for Steam servers... right.
What is this you tell me? You do your banking online and you need to pass?
How about a free smile instead? If you were once a fan of classic adventure titles such as those from Sierra -- you will likely enjoy spending a little time cleaning up space one overflown toilet at a time. Just a couple of days ago Space Quest II has been remade by Infamous Adventures as a free download on either the Mac or PC platforms. A few of the most hilarious deaths imaginable for free? Roger, wilco!
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | August 5, 2011 - 03:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: steam, quakecon
A lot of news is blowing up about the exciting conference happening right now called Quakercon. For those of us not lucky enough to bask in the PepsiCo subsidiary that popularized Amish oatmeal delight there is another, smaller conference going on right now called “Quakecon”. Frankly, I think they’re ripping off our wonderful breakfast food company. Still, if you cannot check out Quakercon treating us to tonnes of steamed meals – why not check out Quakecon treating us to tonnes of Steam deals!
Yes I realize there is no such thing as Quakercon… … yet.
In the event that you are following Quakecon and for some reason do not own many iD or Bethesda games, there is a bundle that will roll you pretty much entirely up to date for just shy of $70. The Quakecon Pack 2011 contains the following:
- Quake III Arena
- Quake IV
- Wolfenstein 3D
- The Ultimate Doom
- Final DOOM
- DOOM II
- QUAKE II
- QUAKE II Mission Pack: The Reckoning
- QUAKE II Mission Pack: Ground Zero
- QUAKE III: Team Arena
- HeXen: Beyond Heretic
- HeXen: Deathkings of the Dark Citadel
- Heretic: Shadow of the Serpent Riders
- Spear of Destiny
- Return to Castle Wolfenstein
- QUAKE Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity
- QUAKE Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon
- DOOM 3
- HeXen II
- DOOM 3 Resurrection of Evil
- Master Levels for Doom II
- Commander Keen
- Rogue Warrior
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind® Game of the Year Edition
- Call of Cthulhu®: Dark Corners of the Earth
- Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Hunted: The Demon’s Forge™
- Fallout New Vegas: Dead Money
- Fallout New Vegas: Honest Hearts
- Fallout New Vegas: Old World Blues
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion® Game of the Year Edition Deluxe
Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2011 - 02:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: steam, gaming
Could it be? Is there an actual explanation as to why every single Steam game you ever bought just has to install DirectX, even though you just installed it for that last game you bought and the one before that and the one before ...
Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has the explanation as to what is going on, though it is up to you to decide if it is reasonable or not. Gone are the days of one DX fits all games, instead each of the currently used versions of DX, as in DX9, DX10 and DX11 depending on your software and hardware have many sub-versions. In DX9's case, there are over 40 versions of a D3D helper library called D3DX and that number grows in DX10 and DX11 and that is before you toss in 32bit versus 64bit OS versions.
Doesn't it make you happier to know the reason why you are stuck watching that stupid progress bar slowly grow instead of being able to play the game you just bought?
"Oh God, not again – can’t I just play the damned thing? WHY? [Stomp, stomp, stomp."] This is a sound surely as familiar to the residents of the Brunswick area of Brighton as are the constant squawks of seagulls fighting over the contents of their recycling boxes. This is a sound I make, or at least variations upon it, every single time I first run a game I have downloaded via Steam. This time, I always think. This time it won’t ask me to install DirectX again first. Surely the 1023rd time’s the charm. That dream will likely never come to pass. However, at least we now know why – Valve have explained this particularly modern annoyance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Hard Reset: PC exclusive, single-player only, new engine, OMG @ Ars Technica
- Preview of id Software's Rage @ Slashdot
- Diablo 3 will let you buy and sell items for real-world cash @ Ars Technica
- Preorder Battlefield 3 with Origin, get early beta access @ Ars Technica
- Limbo @ HEXUS
- Borderlands 2 Is Really Real, Due 2012 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Titanic Quest: Crate Speak About Grim Dawn @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Dead Island - PC, Xbox 360, PS3 @ HEXUS
- Call of Juarez: The Cartel PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2011 - 12:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: valve, steam, downloader
Steam is not known to be the most reliable when it comes to updating; this is particularly true during the launch of a high-profile game when network traffic is at a peak. One such of those times happened for the last week-or-so during Valve’s fairly epic summer sale. Valve has, as usual, promptly addressed the issue and will be rolling out this new system starting today with a new client update forthcoming to support this new infrastructure.
If other people are any indication: complain profusely while browsing more discounted bundles.
One method that the update will utilize to improve your downloading experience is to switch to the standard HTTP protocol for data transfers. There are two main benefits of HTTP: In the event that you are in a particularly nasty firewall environment, HTTP is more readily permitted than other ports for users with sane network administrators. The second benefit of HTTP is that data that protocol is potentially cached, thus if you and another user share some stretch of the internet between you and Valve, it is possible that you will not need to fetch the data all the way from Valve as the other request brought a copy of the data closer already. Besides HTTP, the other method of improving performance is the ability to perform differential synchronization. If a 2GB file is edited by 4KB, you will soon only need to receive the 4KB difference.
Valve, not being able to resist a troll, closed by teasing that DOTA 2 will be delivered using Steam’s new delivery system. They also claim that if you want to try out the new system, download a 1280x720 trailer from the Steam store because they already rolled out the new update to that part of the system. Let us know what you think in the comments.
If you happened to open up the store page in the Steam client or glance at their website, you may have noticed that Steam has made a moderately big announcement. Valve's digital download service now supports Free-to-Play games, which are games that are free to download and play at the basic level; however aesthetic and other upgrades can be purchased via so-called "microtransactions". F2P games on still will be free to download and will not require a credit card to do so.
Steam seems excited about the new F2P games.
At launch, the service is featuring five new Free-to-Play games including Champions Online: Free For All, Spiral Knights, Global Agenda: Free Agent, Forsaken World, and Alliance of Valiant Arms. According to the F2P Steam FAQ, games in which you wish to purchase content will be done through the use of your Steam Wallet. Further, for any Steam account that does not have at least one purchased (non Free-to-Play) game or a funded Steam Wallet will be considered a "Limited User" and will be restricted in the community features that it is able to access. Specifically, limited users can create community groups, be added as friends, and chat with other users; however, they are not able to send out friend invitations or start chat sessions (a non-limited user must initiate chat).
In adding the new genre to its repertoire, Steam will greatly increase its digital games library and add more options for PC gamers. One game that I have not played in some time that I would love to see make its way onto the new Free-to-Play Steam selection is a FPS game called Crossfire. That game was a good example of Free-To-Play done right as even accounts that did not spend a dime where able to stay competitive. Is there a Free-to-Play game that you would like to see Steam feature, and do you think F2P will add value to the service? Let us know in the comments.
Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2011 - 12:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: steam, PC, gaming
Valve announced today that is is launching the biggest sale in the popular gaming system's history: one that never ends!
PC gamers everywhere are known to empty their wallets for Steam's holiday sales; therefore, these "daily deals" may just require a second job for the really dedicated Steam gamers. To see just how much you've already spent on steam games, you might want to check out the Steam Calculator.
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