The Steam Boy gets a new name and pre-order price

Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2015 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Steam Machine, valve, Smach Zero

The portable Steam machine previously referred to as the Steam Boy is now called the Smach Zero and you can pre-order it starting November 10th for $300.  The device will feature a 5-inch 720p touch screen powered by an AMD Steppe Eagle SoC with a Jaguar-based CPU and GCN-based Radeon graphics.  It will have 4GB of RAM onboard, 32GB of internal storage with more available vis an SD Card Slot and support for USB OTG.  HEXUS was told the device should be able to handle Half-Life 2, Civilization V, Dota 2, Tropico 5, BioShock Infinite or Cities: Skylines on its integral display or outputted via the HDMI port.  Check out more on the Smach Zero here.

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"Smach Zero Steam Machine pre-order availability and pricing have both been confirmed by the device maker. Smach published a press release yesterday saying that the handheld will be available on pre-order from 10th November at a special introductory price of $299."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: HEXUS

DOTA 2 to Increase Custom Game Mode Player Limit to 24

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: valve, DOTA 2

MOBAs tend to be focus on gameplay mechanics with three to five players per team. The concept is that a handful of players will need to balance between the various attack paths, and a limited amount of cooperation is possible before you start leaving zones uncovered. It also means that one problematic player can tank an entire team.

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This will not change in the official DOTA 2 game, but Valve is expanding the limit for custom games. At The International 5, Valve announced that those games can support up to 24 players. The first public game was a 10 vs 10 match at the end of the fourth day of the tournament. While I don't play DOTA 2, it sounds like Custom Games in DOTA 2 Reborn are a lot like StarCraft Arcade, where users can create mods like dungeon crawlers and even objective-based games. In this case, an increased player limit would be very useful. I am not sure whether it works for the base game, though -- maybe it works better?

This patch launches next week.

Valve's The International 2015

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2015 - 10:55 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, esports, valve, DOTA, DOTA 2, asus, ASUS ROG

Each year, Valve Software puts on a giant DOTA2 tournament where teams compete for literally millions of dollars. As of this writing, the prize pool currently sits at $17.9 million USD, which is divided between a 6.5 million USD first place prize, down to just under $54,000 USD for 13th through 16th place. Granted, these are per-team prizes, so individual players and their organizations will split the earnings from there how they see fit. It will take place between August 3rd and end with the Grand Finals on August 8th.

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Last year, the event was broadcast on ESPN3. While it does not seem to be mentioned on the official website, although the online streaming WatchESPN is listed, ESPN's calendar has The International on its ESPN3 calendar for all six days. That said, you could always watch it online like you obviously watch every episode of the PC Perspective podcast. Right? Live and participating in the chat?

You can also check out an ASUS RoG contest at the JoinDOTA website. The top prize is an ROG G751 Gaming Laptop, a mouse with mousepad, and t-shirt. Second prize gets the mouse, mousepad, and t-shirt. Third and fourth place gets a different mouse (without a mousepad) and a t-shirt. Fifth place has been there, done that, but only gets a t-shirt.

And for the rest of us, maybe someone will snap a picture of a Valve workstation while they're aren't looking... again.

Source: Valve

Podcast #353 - Seiki Pro 4k Display, More News from Computex, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 11, 2015 - 12:15 PM |
Tagged: Z97-Pro Gamer, video, valve, tonga, Steam Controller, Seiki Pro, seiki, r9 390x, podcast, MasterCase, hawaii, Fiji, coolermaster, computex, amd, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #353 - 06/11/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Seiki Pro 4k Display, More News from Computex, 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!

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

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Valve Steam Controller Pre-order Is Dated... Twice.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 5, 2015 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: valve, steam link, Steam Controller, steam

So, if a company says “a limited quantity of orders will be shipped on October 16th, weeks in advance of our official launch”... does that mean October 16th is its release date? What about its official launch date of November 10th? Also, why am I trying to make sense of time when the subject is Valve?

Either way, the new Steam Controller has been put up for pre-order and given a release date. The input device will sell for $50 USD, $59.99 CDN, or £40 GBP depending obviously on where you are. It also has a finalized design that is very similar to the Xbox layout, with thumbpads replacing the d-pad and right analog stick. Going to the device's Steam page will send you to a gaming retailer to make the pre-order (wat???). I get EB Games, because I'm Canadian, while Americans get GameStop, which is the same company anyway.

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Unlike previous Steam Controller designs, the left thumbpad is shaped like a cross, which I would like to see used as a d-pad because most PC controllers that I've used are either terrible at it, or are horrible at everything else. The video also uses the left thumbpad as a scroll mechanism, but I wonder what other functionality Valve allows because I have yet to find a single mouse driver that can do everything. For instance, Razer's is unable to record mouse scroll (up, down, left, or right) events in macros.

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The rear of the controller is very interesting. The main trigger is analog up to the end, which is a tactile switch. These can be bound to independent actions, although you will obviously need to have the maximum analog command play well with the click command. The given possibility is for first person shooters where you use the analog part to bring up your iron sights while you fire with the click. I could also imagine a racing game where the throttle is analog and clicking at the end activates a boost. There are also buttons in the grips for your ring and pink finger to activate. It also looks like there's shoulder buttons above the triggers, but I can't quite tell. This would basically yield six shoulder buttons, along with all of the face inputs, which is about the max that I could imagine.

The official launch is November 10th, but a pre-release run is shipping on October 16th. The Steam Link is supposedly also available at the same time for the same price, which is basically a streaming target for Steam on the TV.

Source: Valve

Steam Allows Refunds

Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2015 - 09:23 PM |
Tagged: steam, valve

Valve has added a refund policy to Steam. They say that they do not care about the reason, but there are obviously restrictions including a blanket “abuse” clause that lawyers love. First and foremost, the refund must be done within fourteen days of purchase or two hours of game time. If you feel that your circumstance is an edge-case, even if you are outside these windows, you are free to ask for a refund anyway and Valve will take a look at it. Pre-purchasing is not considered a sale until the game launches, but “Early Access” has not been addressed. I assume Valve would handle that on a case-by-case basis. Valve says that refunds will be processed within a week.

SteamLogo.png

This system is very similar to EA/Origin's refund policy, with a few obvious differences. First, EA's policy only considers “participating third parties”, although they fully put their money where their mouth is with their own catalog. EA's policy lasts seven days, while Valve's last fourteen. On the other hand, EA allows returns within the first 24 hours of launch, while Valve counts the first two hours of execution, seemingly regardless of how long that takes to happen.

We're hearing a bit of concerns from developers, especially those who create quick experiences. That's a bit of a hot-button issue, but I feel as though it is something that you will need to agree to in order to ship on Steam. Honestly, I expect that users will overwhelmingly not request a refund unless they feel slighted, even for a short game. It's a pretty convoluted way to pirate a game, for a brief time, and runs the risk of Valve cutting off the account from refund requests under the “Abuse” clause.

A final note: Valve will officially support refunds for titles purchased just before a sale. If you buy a game, and it goes on sale within the refund window, you can return it and re-purchase it at the sale price.

Source: Valve

GDC 15: Valve's GDC VR "Aperture Science" Demo

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 14, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: vive vr, vive, valve, re vive, Portal 2, Portal, mwc 15, MWC, htc, gdc 15, GDC

At the recent Game Developer Conference and Mobile World Congress events, Valve had a demo for HTC's Vive VR system that was based in the Portal universe. The headset is combined with two controllers, one for each hand, which sound like a cross between Valve's Steam Controller and the Razer Hydra.

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When HTC briefed journalists about the technology, they brought a few examples for use with their prototype. C|Net described three: a little demo where you could paint with the controllers in a virtual space, an aquarium where you stand on a sunken pirate ship and can look at a gigantic blue whale float overhead, and a Portal-based demo that is embedded above. I also found “The Gallery” demo online, but I am not sure where it was presented (if anywhere).

Beyond VR, the Source 2 engine, which powers the Portal experience, looks good. The devices looked very intricate and full of detail. Granted, it is a lot easier to control performance when you are dealing with tight corridors or isolated rooms. The lighting also seems spot on, although it is hard to tell whether this capability is dynamic or precomputed.

The HTC Vive developer kit is coming soon, before a consumer launch in the Autumn.

Source: YouTube

GDC 15: Valve's $49.99 Steam Controller Coming In November

Subject: General Tech | March 6, 2015 - 01:54 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, peripheral, gdc 2015, gdc 15, gaming, controller

Valve has given the elusive (vaporous? heh, I'll leave the good puns to Scott) Steam Controller a release date and several refinements to the design. Slated for a November 2015 launch, the Steam Controller will ship with most of the Steam Machines offered by OEMs. Users will also be able to purchase controllers directly from Valve (via Steam) for $49.99.

Valve Steam Controller.jpg

The final controller features a curved design with lots of rounded edges (no sharp angles here), large handles and dual circular programmable trackpads. The four button d-pad has been replaced by an analog stick while the four A, B, X, and Y buttons sit where a second thumb stick traditionally resides.

A circular Steam button and two smaller buttons finish out the face controls.

The two large (and despite my impressions from photos apparently ergonomic) handles each host two dual stage (analog and/or digital) triggers on the top and a button on the underside of the controller.

The Steam Controller is powered by two replaceable AA batteries and is wireless.

Users will be able to create and save custom configurations to their Steam profiles as well as share those custom settings with other Steam users. This should make adoption a bit easier since you will be able to jump into games with a recommended configuration that other users report works well. Or at least it will be a better starting point for your own custom settings rather than being thrown to the wolves with a new and unfamiliar controller. I think it is going to take practice to get good at this even with the jumpstart on suggested configurations though.

It will be available in November (Steam Store page link) for $49.99 which is just cheap enough that I will likely pick one up just to try it out and see what the hype is about. If it is as comfortable as some writers (who have gotten hands on time with them at GDC) are claiming, I’m willing to give it a shot now that it includes a thumb stick (I think I need to be eased into this dual trackpad setup).

Engadget has several more photos from the GDC show floor that are worth checking out.

What do you think about the final Steam Controller?

Source: Valve

GDC 15: Source 2 Is Free But Must Be Available on Steam

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 5, 2015 - 10:40 PM |
Tagged: valve, source engine, Source 2, gdc 15, GDC

At the Game Developers Conference, Valve has formally announced the Source 2 engine and that it would be free for content developers. At the same time, they committed to releasing a version of it that is compatible with Vulkan, the graphics API from the Khronos Group that we have been talking about a lot over the last couple of days. Of course though, free can mean many things. As it turns out, there is one string attached: the game must be made available on Steam at launch. It can be available elsewhere too, but Steam must be one of the launch retailers.

SteamLogo.png

I do wonder what will happen if someone makes a title that Steam refuses to publish. Of course, the natural thought is “What if Valve refuses to publish for content reasons?” That is an interesting thought, and maturity is one area that many other engines (like Unreal) do not restrict, but it is not the only concern (and Gabe Newell is quite laissez-faire with his -- albeit loosely defined -- content guidelines). What if your content simply does not make it on Steam? For instance, with is someone creates a title in Source 2 and has a failed attempt at Greenlight because it was unpopular? Are you then unable to publish your content through alternative channels, too? This seems like something that Valve will need to provide a little clarification on.

Try as I might, I could not find a release date for Source 2, however. It will arrive when it does.

Source: Valve

Podcast #339 - NVIDIA SHIELD and Titan X, AMD Mantle, OpenGL Vulkan, and much more from GDC!

Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2015 - 03:22 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, vive, video, valve, titan x, strix, Silverstone, shield, Samsung, rv05, re vive, raven, podcast, nvidia, Nepton 240M, liquidvr, Khronos, Intel, htc, gtx 960, glnext, coolermaster, amd, 750ti

PC Perspective Podcast #339 - 03/05/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA SHIELD and Titan X, AMD Mantle, OpenGL Vulkan, and much more from GDC!

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!

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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Ken Addison

Program length: 1:22:13

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News item of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: Um, I don’t know, SteamOS sales I guess?
  4. Closing/outro

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