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!
Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 02:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, linux, source engine, steam
If you have ever bemoaned the fact that your gaming habit is the only thing preventing you from dumping Windows and moving to Linux then your excuse might just be about to expire. As Phoronix informed us a few short weeks ago, Steam is taking gaming on Linux seriously and the project to get the Source Engine up and running on Linux moves ever forward. Their team has recently grown with the addition of the designer of Battle for Wesnoth, David White and they are still looking for more Linux developers. If you are interested in playing Portal on a Linux box, or if you are a Linux Guru who'd like to work for Steam, you should check out this post on Phoronix.
"Things appear to be moving along nicely in the Linux cabal at Valve Software as they work to enable Steam and the Source Engine on the Linux desktop. Here's another one of the new tenured Linux developers that will be starting soon."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Founding: Pay For Mechwarrior Online Now, If You Want? @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Perspective Does That Clever Dimension Shifting Thing @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Gods & Kings is an essential Civilization expansion @ Ars Technica
- HOWTO: Multi-Display Online Gaming @ HardwareHeaven
- Hauppauge HD PVR Gaming Edition Review @ eTeknix
- Jig’s Up: Secret World’s Last Beta Weekend Open To All @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor (XBOX 360 Kinect) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ghost Recon: Future Soldier PlayStation 3 @ Tweaktown
- Dragons Dogma PS3 @ eTeknix
- Dragon’s Dogma (PS3) @ Guru of 3D
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2012 - 03:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, steam, gaming pc, gaming, games
Valve recently released a beta update for its Steam client that allows users to remotely install games to their local machine using the steampowered.com website.
After installing the beta update to the local Steam client (Steam > Settings > Beta Participation), just leave the client logged in on your machine. Then navigate to Community page of the Steam website. After that, click on the Games category where the website will then list all the games tied to your Steam account. If you have a game you want to download and install while you are away, just hit the install button to the right of the game’s name.
This is certainly an interesting feature for some, especially if you happen to be on vacation during a Steam Holiday Sale! (hehe). More details on the process can be found here. Is this a feature you’ll be using?
Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2012 - 03:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, linux, steam
It seems the Gabe Newell doesn't like hearing that you can't game on Linux and is planning on releasing a Linux version of both Steam and the Source Engine. The implementation is planned to be natively supported by Linux with no need for Wine, Phoronix has seen it running with an install of Ubuntu and a Catalyst driver for the Radeon that was providing graphics. The Linux community has been waiting a long time for this day and now that Gabe is focusing his attention on this project there is hopes that it will soon come to fruition. Phoronix could not be happier.
"For those that have doubted the exclusive Phoronix claims for quite a while now that the Steam client and Source Engine are in fact being ported to Linux, the doubts can be nearly laid to rest. Even I began to wonder how long it would take before the clients for their popular games would be publicly released under Linux. However, after confirming the information perhaps a bit too soon, their level of Linux interest is much more clear after spending a day at their offices. A meeting topped off the day with Gabe Newell regarding Linux where he sounded more like a Linux saint than an ex-Microsoft employee. Valve does have some great plans for Linux beyond just shipping the client versions of Steam and their popular games on the Source Engine."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Play Diablo III for free this weekend @ HEXUS
- Tribes: Ascend GPU & CPU Performance Test @ TechSpot
- Avernum: Escape from the Pit @ Kitguru
- DiRT Showdown Preview (PC) @ HardwareHeaven
- Waveform PC Review @ eTeknix
- New Call of Duty game to be revealed next week? @ HEXUS
- Stalker 2 Dead (Again), But Now There’s Survarium @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Crytek On Fusing Crysis 1, Crysis 2, And District 9 @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Pandora's Tower (Nintendo Wii) Game Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D Nintendo 3DS @ Tweaktown
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!
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