Subject: General Tech | December 4, 2012 - 03:29 PM | Tim Verry
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).
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.
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?
Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, steam, linux, gaming
The developers at Valve have been hammering away at a Linux version of its popular Steam client and software distribution service.While Windows is currently the dominant platform, CEO Gabe Newell has shown his displeasure at with Windows 8 and the Windows Store such that development has been expedited to support the alternative operating systems and port Valve’s own titles to the platforms. Last month, Valve announced a limited public beta would start soon, and that it was taking applications.
That beta is now in effect, with a small subset of the total 60,000 applications the company received being invited to participate in the beta build. Intended for Ubuntu 12.04, the Linux for Steam beta includes the client itself, and several surprising additions (that were previously thought to not be included). Big Picture Mode and 26 games will be part of the Linux beta.
Big Picture Mode is Valve’s 10-foot interface for the Steam client. It is designed to work well with remote or controller such that Steam functionality and games can be easily accessed from the couch with Steam on the living room TV. (I took a look at Big Picture Mode earlier this year if you are curious about what the interface looks like.)
The list of games includes:
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- And yet it Moves
- The Book of Unwritten Tales
- Dungeons of Dredmor
- Dynamite Jack
- Frozen Synapse
- Galcon Fusion
- Serious Sam 3: BFE
- Solar 2
- Space Pirates and Zombies
- Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
- Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
- Team Fortress 2
- Trine 2
- Uplink/Darwinia Pack
- Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
- World of Goo
- World of Goo Demo
Needless to say, there are a number of games more than the previously expected TF2, though Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 are noticeably absent (as are the rest of the Valve/Source collection). Space Pirates and Zombies is sure to suck some productivity out of Linux users’ days, however!
Valve has stated that additional users will be added to the beta from the pool of applicants over time. The company is also looking at making the Linux client available to other Linux distributions as well (even HML?). If you want a chance at getting into the beta, Valve is still accepting new applications via this survey (you need to log in with your Steam credentials).
Have you tried out the Steam for Linux beta?
Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 09:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, tux, steam, linux, gaming
A Steam client for Linux has been a long time in the making, but is definitely getting closer to release with an imminent public beta announced last month.
During the initial announcement, Valve hinted that at least one native Linux game would be available along with the new beta client. Many gamers have predicted that the game will be Valve's own zombie FPS Left 4 Dead 2. Now, thanks to a leaked list of games from Valve's CDR database, gamers can add a few more native Linux games to that list. Among the leaked native Linux games are:
- Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- Crusader Kings 2
- Dungeons of Dredmor
- Dynamite Jack
- Galcon Fusion
- Serious Sam 3: BFE
- Solar 2
- Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
- Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
- Trine 2
- World of Goo
Unfortunately, various id software titles with Linux ports appear to be absent as well as several popular Linux-only games such as Tuxracer, Super Tuxkart, and other games popular with a certain penguin. It will be interesting to see what newer games Steam is able to bring on board after the official launch as well. I expect to see games like FTL, for example. Further, I'm curious to see how well received Steam will be versus software like the Ubuntu Software Center!
You can find a full list of games currently on Steam (for Windows) that have native Windows binaries – and will likely make it onto the native Linux Steam client – on this wiki page.
Are you excited for Linux to (finally) get a Steam client?
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 05:45 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, software, gaming
In August, Valve announced that it would soon begin selling non-game Windows software on its Steam (game) distribution service. This week, the company launched the first titles to be sold on Steam, which are mainly game related applications like benchmarks and art/asset editors.
To sweeten the deal, Valve is offering up the first wave of software titles for 10% off until next Tuesday. The launch titles include:
- ArtRage Studio Pro
- CameraBag 2
- GameMaker: Studio
- 3DMark Vantage
- 3DMark 11
- Source Filmmaker
These applications are available for purchase now, and most will take advantage of Steam features like cloud saving and the Steam Workshop to share your creations with others. Further, I can see the benchmarking utilities appealing to reviewers as they can just let Steam take care of the product keys and it can just be rolled into the same Steam backup that the benchmark games are in! For most people though, I think if the price is right Steam might be a viable option. On the other hand, it will be facing stiff competition from services like the Windows Store in Windows 8. And not to mention the pesky issue that if you lose your Steam account or do not agree to the next EULA change you lose access to any programs you've purchased on Steam (oh joy).
You can find more information in Valve's press release.
What do you think of Valve selling non-game software on Steam? I'm willing to give it a chance but don't think I'll use it all that much unless its included in a seasonal Steam Sale.
Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2012 - 09:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, linux, gaming
Valve software is slowly but surely moving towards supporting the open source Linux operating system with a new Steam client. The latest milestone is an announcement by Valve that it is extending the beta beyond its privately selected internal testers to a limited number of public users.
The upcoming public beta will be rolled out soon along with a sign up page where the public can apply. From that sign up list, Valve will be selecting 1,000 applicants to test the Linux version of its Steam client.
While Valve has not announced a specific date for the start of the beta (or when the sign up page will go live) beyond that it is coming “sometime in October,” the company did provide a couple of tidbits of information on the beta client software.
The (limited) public beta will include the Steam game client, and a single Valve game. This beta client will run on Ubuntu 12.04 or above. Unfortunately, the beta will not include any additional playable games. Also the beta client will not include the recently released (on Windows) Big Picture Mode functionality.
Many users are speculating that the single game hinted at in the announcement will be the company’s latest zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead 2, as Valve has shown off the game running on Linux before. Valve has stated that it is extending the beta beyond its internal testers to attempt to get a wider sample size and to be able to test the beta software on as many varied hardware configurations as possible.
Gamers that want a chance to be one of the 1,000 users that will be asked to participate in the beta should keep an eye out on the Linux blog on Valve's website.
Granted, this is a small step, and the final Steam client for Linux is probably a ways off still, but I am still excited. Like Scott mentioned, gaming is one of the things keeping me with Windows despite my interest in Linux Mint (that OS really flies on my system! ).
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 05:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, pc gaming, greenlight, gaming
Valve announced today that ten of the games submitted to its Greenlight service have been approved. Each of the titles are in various states of development, and will be released on Steam once they are complete. While Valve encountered a minor hiccup when it instituted a $100 (one time per developer) submission fee that goes to the Child’s Play charity to combat an increasing number of joke/spam submissions, it has been overall a very successful program for the company. A number of developers have submitted their games and the community has taken to service and deciding which games are interesting enough to be sold on the Steam Store.
The first titles to successfully be green-lit are listed below.
- Black Mesa
- Cry of Fear
- Heroes & Generals
- No More Room in Hell
- Project Zomboid
Personally, I'm most excited about Black Mesa and Project Zomboid coming to Steam. In the news post on Steam website, Anna Sweet stated that “the Steam community rallied around these titles and made them the clear choice for the first set of titles to launch out of Greenlight.” I am now now eagerly awaiting the Black Mesa download in particular. What about you, did any of the games you voted for make the cut this time around?
Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 09:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steambox, steam, big picture mode
Valve's popular Steam client has been a PC platform since its inception, but the company is slowing moving to the living room. The first step in that transition is a living room TV-friendly user interface because, as Ryan noted in a recent editorial, the traditional Steam client (especially the text) is not optimized for viewing from far away or on high resolution displays.
Enter the long-rumored and awaited Big Picture Mode. The new user interface is designed to be comfortably used from the couch in the living room, and controllable by keyboard/mouse or a game controller. It has been a long time coming, but is finally official, and available to the public as part of a beta Steam update.
Still very much a beta product, the Big Picture Mode allows you to do just about everything you can with the "normal" Steam client from your couch (or PC even, if you are into full screen apps). You have access to the Store, your games Library, friends list, downloads, settings, and the Steam browser among other features.
The Store is just what you would expect, a way for you to browse and purchase new games. The interface is sort-of like the Xbox UI in that you scroll through items horizontally rather than vertically like the PS3's cross media bar. The same games that are featured in the slider on the main page are displayed by default on the main Big Picture Mode's Store page.
From there you can also access the New Releases, Special Offers, Genres, and other categories to drill down to the games you want. As an example, if you move down from the featured games and select Genres you get the following screen that allows you see all the games in a specific genre.
Once you drill down to an individual game, you are presented with the details page that takes some of the elements from the traditional client and makes them easier to read from further away.
There does not appear to be an option to purchase titles from within Big Picture Mode yet, but I would not be surprised to see it by the time the feature comes out of beta status.
Beyond the store, you can access your own game library, including a list of recently played games and your entire library on a separate page.
Recently played Steam games. Saints Row: The Third is always fun.
Your entire games library, most of which I have yet to play...
From there, you can start up your games and get to playing! Alternatively, you can monitor downloads, access your friends list, and browse the web. The friends list shows images of your friends with text underneath with their Steam usernames. You scroll left to right to highlight them, and can interact just as you normally would.
Speaking of friends lists, be sure to join our PC Perspective Steam Group!
The downloads section can be accessed by navigating to the top left corner and selecting the icon to the right of your name. In the downloads screen, you can resume and pause ongoing downloads just like the normal steam client. For some reason, Witcher is stuck in a ever-paused update no matter how many times I hit resume (in the normal client). And Big Picture Mode seems to suffer from the same issue...
The web browser is an improvement over the one in the normal Steam client's overlay in speed and the large mouse cursor should help you navigate around with a controller as easily as possible. I don't foresee web browsing being painless as most sites simply are not designed to work from far away and with controller input, but it seems serviceable for the few times you would need to check something on the web without leaving the Steam client on your living room PC.
Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2012 - 05:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Counter-Strike, global operations, steam, gaming
Somehow, after years of it existing as a free mod and then a part of a bundle not only are their people that still want to play Counter-Strike, they are willing to pay for the pleasure. If you want to enjoy Counter-Strike Global Operations then you ought to get playing soon, before the hacks become available to everyone and the language in the chat hits rock bottom. In fact, if you have purchased the game on Steam there is a good chance that it will be the game of choice after the PC Perspective Podcast tonight. If you are on the fence, GameSpot put up a quick overview of the game here.
"Global Operations, a putative Counter-Strike killer by Barking Dog Studios, is kind of like having to eat a banana split with your hands--just because it's a little sloppy doesn't mean it isn't still good. The game is primarily a team-based tactical shooter, combining Counter-Strike's system for cash rewards and equipment purchases, Rogue Spear's real-world settings and large weapon selection, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein's character classes and objective-based maps. For good measure, the developers have added some innovative ideas of their own to this mix. The game did ship in an unpolished state and suffers from demanding bandwidth requirements and a severe lack of servers. However, these problems are generally overshadowed by the simple fact that when everything comes together, Global Operations is one of the deepest and most satisfying multiplayer tactical shooters currently available."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The Secret World Gaming and Performance Review @Hi Tech Legion
- The Rebirth of PC Gaming - Bring on the Modders! @ Techgage
- Microsoft Windows 8 Gaming Performance @ techPowerUp
- Rockstar teases with Grand Theft Auto V vehicles @ The Inquirer
- Valve readying beta of Big Picture Mode for Steam @ HEXUS
- Battlefield 3's Armoured Kill Looks Like Quite The Thing @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Risen 2 on Xbox 360 @ The Inquirer
- Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance Nintendo 3DS @ Tweaktown
- Risen 2: Dark Waters Review (Xbox 360) @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, valve, steam, software, mac os x
Valve’s popular Steam digital game download service has been slowly expanding its software offerings. It has offered a Mac OS X client as well as a planned Linux client. Further, the service has started to offer software beyond games including game map editors, digital magazines, and videos.
According to a recent announcement by Valve, the company is going to even further expand its non-game software offerings starting September 5th. Whether this is in response to the Windows Store or if it has been planned for some time and the Windows Store is why Gabe Newell is irked by Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is unknown.
While the company did not mention any specific pieces of software that will be available at launch, users can look forward to software in categories ranging from creativity to productivity. Even better, some of the new software titles will be able to take advantage of Valve’s Steamworks service to offer cloud syncing of files and automatic updating (et al).
The new programs will start showing up on September 5th, and developers can start submitting their applications to Steam using its Greenlight service.
Valve’s Mark Richardson stated that “The 40 million gamers frequenting Steam are interested in more than playing games. They have told us they would like to have more of their software on Steam, so this expansion is in response to those customer requests.”
The automatic updating in particular is exciting, and it could well give Microsoft’s Windows Store a run for its money. If Valve brings the non-game software to all platforms–Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows–it could easily rival Microsoft’s Windows 8-only offering. What do you think about this announcement, would you use Steam for software other than games?
Event kickoff, hardware workshop prizes, packed BYOC!
Yesterday marked the official start of Quakecon 2012 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas. This four-day event includes PC gaming awesomeness for more than 2,800 gamers in the Bring Your Own Computer LAN section as well as access to numerous gaming vendors and PC hardware exhibits. The event is sponsored by many big names in the gaming and PC hardware industry as well like Alienware, Intel, Ventrilo, Plantronics Gamecom, Cooler Master, Western Digital, and many others.
The day got off to a rocky start as id Software co-founder John Carmack's annual keynote address was delayed by more than two hours. Hundreds of gamers also lined the hallways waiting throughout the day for the opportunity to get into the already packed BYOC. But, unfortunately many were turned away from gaming at the event. This is one of the first times in almost a decade that the BYOC area was filled to capacity on the very first day of Quakecon!