Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2013 - 02:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Xi3, valve, trinity, Steam Box, ces 2013, CES, amd
Going from a failed Kickstarter to Valve’s premier console? Sounds like a good anecdote to tell.
Valve has finally discussed the Steam Box in more concrete details. Get ready for some analysis; there are a bunch of hidden stories to be told. We will tell them.
Update for clarity: As discussed in IRC technically this was an Xi3 announcement that Valve will have at their booth but not an official Valve announcement. That said, Valve will have it at their booth and Valve funded Xi3.
Another Update for new information: Turns out this is not the Valve-official device. Ben Krasnow, Valve hardware engineer, made a statement that the official Steam Box is not planned to be announced in 2013. What we will see this year is 3rd Party implementations, and that should be it. News story to follow.
Image by Engadget
As everyone is reporting, Valve hired out Xi3 Corporation to develop the Steam Box under the codename Piston. Xi3Corporation was founded in 2010 and revealed their first product at CES two years ago. In late September, Xi3 launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter to fund their latest designs: The X7A and the X3A.
The X7A Modular Computer is the most interesting as it seems to be what the Piston is based on. Regardless of the Kickstarter’s failure, Valve still reached out to Xi3 Corporation chequebook in hand. According to the Kickstarter page, the X7A has the following features:
64-Bit Quad-Core x86 processor up to 3.2 GHz with 384 graphics shader cores.
- My personal best guess is the AMD A10-4600M Trinity APU.
- 8GB of DDR3 RAM
- 1 TB of “Superfast” Solid State Memory
- Four USB 3.0
- Four USB 2.0
- Four eSATAp
- Gigabit E
- 40Watt under load
“Under $1000” although that includes 1TB of SSD storage.
- Also Valve could take a loss, because Steam has no problem with attach rate.
The key piece of information is the 40Watt declaration. According to Engadget who went hands-on with the Valve Piston, it too is rated for 40Watt under load. This means that it is quite likely for the core specifications of the Kickstarter to be very similar to the specifications of the Piston.
Benchmarks for the 7660G have the device running Far Cry 3 on low settings at around 34 FPS as well as Black Ops 2 running on Medium at 42 FPS. That said, with a specific hardware platform to target developers will be able to better optimize.
During the SpikeTV VGAs, Gabe Newell stated in an interview with Kotaku that third parties would also make “Steam Boxes”. They are expected to be available at some point in 2013.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | December 28, 2012 - 03:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valve, ubuntu, steam, opengl, linux, gaming
Gamers were given an early holiday present last Friday when Valve announced it would be opening up its Steam for Linux beta to everyone. For the past few months the company has been testing out a version of its Steam client software intended to run on Ubuntu 12.04 Linux. Valve initially performed internal testing, and then proceeded to invite users to a closed beta. And now (finally), it seems that the company is comfortable enough with the applications stability that it can release it to the general public. While it is still very much beta software, it is actively being developed and improved.
Along with the move to a public beta, Valve is transitioning to GitHub to track changes and bug reports. Further, an apt repository is in the works, which should make installing and updating the Steam beta client easier, especially on non-Ubuntu distros (like Ubuntu forks). From the documentation available on the Steam website, it seems that apt-get install gdebi-coreand gdebi steam.debis still the preferred command line installation proceedure, however.
Further, Valve has fixed several issues in the latest Steam for Linux client. (Users that were in the closed beta will need to update). The company has improved the back navigation arrow placement and added discount timers and other UI tweaks to Big Picture Mode, for example. Valve has also fixed a bug concerning high CPU usage when playing Team Fortress 2 and an issue with the Steam overlay crashing while playing Cubemen.
Right now, the game selection is very limited, but the client itself is fairly stable. The traditional and Big Picture Mode UI are identical to the Windows version that many gamers are familiar with, which is good. Installation on Ubuntu was really easy, but I had trouble getting it to work with the latest version of Linux Mint. In the end, I was not able to use the CLI method, but the GUI instructions that Valve provides ended up working. At the moment Valve is only officially supporting the beta on Ubuntu, but it is likely to be expanded to other Debian forks as well as used in Valve’s Steam Box console.
The full announcement can be found on the Steam Community site, and the repository files are located here. Another useful resource is the getting started thread on the Steam forums, where you can find help getting the client installed (especially useful if you are trying to install it on an alternative distro).
Have you used the Steam for Linux client yet? I’m excited to see more games and engines support the Linux OS, as that will be what will make or break it.
Subject: General Tech | December 13, 2012 - 02:43 PM | Ken Addison
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!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Chris Barbere
Program length: 1:29:11
Podcast topics of discussion:
- We are going to try Planetside 2 after the podcast!
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:40:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
News items of interest:
- 0:41:30 Transporter Private Storage
- 0:47:00 Intel will support sockets into foreseeable future as well
- 0:51:00 Crysis 3 will have advanced PC options
- 0:53:30 Valve Confirms the Steam Box is coming
- 1:06:15 Low power Atom chips for servers
- 1:10:20 ASRock Board with pass through for Thunderbolt
- 1:13:00 Haswell 4000 series CPUs will be 84 watt
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Ryan Shrout
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?