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!

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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

Limited Linux Steam Client Beta Begins With 26 Games and Big Picture Mode

Subject: General Tech | November 7, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
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.

Steam running on Ubuntu.jpg

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
  • Aquaria
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales
  • Cogs
  • Cubemen
  • Darwina
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • eversion
  • Frozen Synapse
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Space Pirates and Zombies
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Team Fortress 2
  • Trine 2
  • Uplink
  • Uplink/Darwinia Pack
  • Unity of Command: Stalingrad Campaign
  • Waveform
  • 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?

Source: Valve

List of Games for Linux Steam Client Leak

Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2012 - 09:26 AM |
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
  • Cubemen
  • Dungeons of Dredmor
  • Dynamite Jack
  • Eversion
  • Galcon Fusion
  • Serious Sam 3: BFE
  • Solar 2
  • SpaceChem
  • Steel Storm: Burning Retribution
  • Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP
  • Trine 2
  • Waveform
  • 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?

Source: Bit-Tech

Steam Begins Selling Non-Game Software, Software On Sale Until Oct. 9

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 05:45 PM |
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.

Steam Software.jpg

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
  • 3D-Coat
  • 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).

Steam Software.jpg

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.

Source: Valve

Limited Access Steam for Linux Beta Coming In October

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2012 - 09:07 PM |
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.

tux_valve.jpg

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! ).

Source: Valve

Valve Announces First Greenlight Approved Games

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
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.

steam_greenlight.jpg

The first titles to successfully be green-lit are listed below.

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?

Source: Valve

Valve Releases Big Picture Mode Beta for Steam

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2012 - 09:48 AM |
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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Main Screen.jpg

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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Store Page.jpg

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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Genres.jpg

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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Game Details.jpg

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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_recently played games.jpg

Recently played Steam games. Saints Row: The Third is always fun.

Steam Big Picture Mode_All Games.jpg

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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Friends List.jpg

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...

Steam Big Picture Mode_Downloads.jpg

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.

Steam Big Picture Mode_Browser.jpg

Continue reading to see more Big Picture Mode screenshots!

Source: Valve

... and Black Mesa makes it out before Half Life 3

Subject: General Tech | September 5, 2012 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: valve, source engine, black mesa, half life 3, mod, gaming

We've been waiting close to a decade for the remake of the original Half Life using the Source Engine and entitled Black Mesa.  The mod project is a total rebuild of the original game, with larger areas a tweaked storyline and all of the eye candy that the Source Engine can provide.  If all goes to plan we are a mere 9 days from the scheduled release on Sept. 14th and you will be able to play through until the big battle of the Lambda Core, Xen isn't quite ready yet and is still in development.  We will also see new multiplayer maps at some time in the future but not quite yet.  If this doesn't get your blood pumping then check out all the links at the article on Hexus and watch the trailer below.  Still no news on Half Life Episode 3.

"The first release of Black Mesa will take place on 14th September 2012. This is a total conversion of Half Life 2 based upon ye olde 1998 classic Half Life brought up to date with an improved version of Valve’s Source Engine. The Black Mesa mod project started in 2004 following fan disappointment with the official Half Life: Source (2004) - it didn’t improve the eye candy to the full potential of the Source engine. Black Mesa will have improved graphics, more realistic physics and environmental effects, also some storylines will be tweaked and maps enlarged."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: Hexus