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:

Gaming

Source: Hexus

Time to start up the old Half Life 3 rumour mill again

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2012 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: half life 3, gaming, valve, rumour

If you have yet to recover from the shattering realization that Valve lied about Episode 3 then you better not look at this post on The Inquirer.  It seems it is time to drag out all your old theories on how Apeture Science and Black Mesa are related, just how Gordon spent his time where the G-Man stuck him or if Breen is truly dead.  That's right, a listing for Half Life 3 was spotted at the German gaming convention, Gamescom and the rumour mill is going crazy. It has since been removed but keep an eye out when the convention opens tomorrow and runs through until Friday.

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"RUMOURS about the next installment in the Half Life game series have re-ignited after a listing for Half Life 3 was spotted in a Gamescom event document.

The listing was spotted by T3 magazine in the Gamescom exhibitor list. The PDF document, which is still available through the Gamescom web site, does include a listing for Half Life 3, but it also includes a cautionary note."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: The Inquirer

Could you make money off of Linux games if they played better than on Windows Mr Carmack?

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: valve, linux, left 4 dead, john carmack, gaming

While running at a measly 6fps means that the zombies will get you, at 315fps you can't complain that you didn't see them coming.  That is the current frame rate Valve is reporting their Linux test machine can produce when playing the Linux implementation of Left 4 Dead.  That hardware was a Core i7 3930k, GeForce GTX 680 and 32 GB RAM and we were given a result from the same hardware running Win7; a slower 303fps after tweaking OpenGL.  That takes performance concerns out of the picture when discussing gaming on Linux but it does not quite answer what John Carmack brought up in his QuakeCon keynote speech.  As he points out, building goodwill among the Linux community hasn't paid for the programming in the past and simply increasing performance will not directly translate into better sales figures.  However if we start seeing more Linux based Valve titles outperforming Windows on the same hardware, some enthusiasts are likely to set up a dual boot system, if not move their gaming rig to Linux solely.  Read more at The Inquirer.

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"Valve announced its plans to port its Steam content delivery service and Left 4 Dead 2 to Linux just last month. The firm has already made astonishing progress, announcing that with various performance tweaks it has managed to get the Linux version of Left 4 Dead 2 using OpenGL to run significantly faster than the Direct3D Windows 7 version."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: The Inquirer

Valve to Sell Non-Game Software On Its Steam Platform

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
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.

steam_non_game_software.jpg

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?

Source: Tested

Meet the Pyromania

Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: valve, tf2

The last of the Team Fortress 2 Meet the Team videos has been released. Is the Pyro a male or a female? Who knows, I wrote this article the morning before it aired. And let us be honest -- we probably did not get that question answered anyway… or the gender is revealed as “Pyro” or there are two videos or something like that. We also get new items but that is common these days.

Update: For the machinima fans -- the Source Filmmaker has also been announced with sign-ups available to their Beta. You can use the same tools that Valve has used for all over their Meet the Team videos for your own stories.

Forget the Spy: the Pyro is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Who is the -- man? -- who can rock the old propane tank, car muffler, and gas pump nozzle fashion all year round? Who is not satisfied with an axe until it is wrapped in barb wire? The answer is of course that we do not know. What we do is that they might just be more of a handy”man” than the Engineer.

Pyromania.png

Agent 00 Leet.

The Pyromania update introduces a new map and game mode. Each team fights to deliver rocket fuel so that Poopy Joe the space chimp can deliver a recalled Australium suitcase nuke to the Soviets. Apparently Australium was always radioactive -- who knew. Eleven new achievements accompany this new game mode.

A half dozen new items will also be made available including a speed booster for the scout that charges with successful hits and discharges completely when you jump. Also available is a multirocket launcher for the Soldier which should be familiar to Unreal Tournament fans.

There will be cauterized wounds.

And the reason why you are all here… apart for indepth and reliable computer hardware news… is that Meet the Pyro is now available. Enjoy.

Steam Allows Remote Installation of Games

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2012 - 03:48 PM |
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.

installsteambeta.jpg

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?

Source: Valve

Valve, tired of rumors, announces wearable computing

Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | April 14, 2012 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: valve, wearable computers

Valve has been under the public eye since rumors of The Steam Box broke. To put out the rumors, Michael Abrash -- now at Valve -- announced their mystery project investigates computing devices that you can wear.

Great, that is just what we need, more Steam punks and their costumes.

Valve has traditionally been somewhat of a quiet company accustomed to public speculation. In a change of pace from the typical cries to release Half Life 2: Episode 3, Valve has recently been subject to rumors about breaking into the hardware business. In another change of pace, Valve has announced their hardware project is wearable computers and publicly solicited for job applicants to join in the research.

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Want me to show you my knife collection?

(Photo Credit, Giant Bomb)

Michael Abrash wrote in his blog on Valve’s website what his work is based on and it is quite similar to what Google is looking at with their augmented reality glasses.

By “wearable computing” I mean mobile computing where both computer-generated graphics and the real world are seamlessly overlaid in your view; there is no separate display that you hold in your hands (think Terminator vision).

While this is very interesting, it still remains to be seen where Valve intends to be involved with this project. Steam is pushing out from the desktop PC to the home theatre with their Big Picture UI and what that could potentially spread out into.

It is entirely possible that Google and Valve both see some link between Steam/Google TV and Wearable Computers/Augmented Reality glasses that we are just unable to perceive yet and are lunging for the same target. While the blog posting is very interesting, it still reveals little about the technology itself.

Also, this announcement does not mean that Valve is not working on a hardware platform to accompany The Big Picture, it just says more about what Valve is currently working on in secret. The previous rumors could still have some shred of truth in them.

As for when we will see wearable computing? It’s still a long ways out in Valve time.

To be clear, this is R&D – it doesn’t in any way involve a product at this point, and won’t for a long while, if ever – so please, no rumors about Steam glasses being announced at E3. It’s an initial investigation into a very interesting and promising space, and falls more under the heading of research than development.

So, which will we see first? Valve augmented reality devices, or the stunning conclusion to Gordon Freeman’s story-arc? That is a bet that will require one heck of a patient bookie to make.
Source: Valve

Valve denies Steam Box, posts job for Hardware Engineer

Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 13, 2012 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box

Doug Lombardi of Valve denied rumors of the Steam Box console last month, but fell short of denying future possibilities and so forth. Recently, Valve has posted a job opening on their website for an electronics engineer.

When Valve’s Doug Lombardi responded to rumors of a “Steam Box” console, he used the following words which were posted all over the internet as Valve denies Steam Box console rumors:

We're prepping the Steam Big Picture Mode UI and getting ready to ship that, so we're building boxes to test that on. We're also doing a bunch of different experiments with biometric feedback and stuff like that, which we've talked about a fair amount, […] All of that is stuff that we're working on, but it's a long way from Valve shipping any sort of hardware.

GabeNewellTrollFalse.png

That is not a denial!
(Image created with Memegenerator.net)
(And yes, I know that's Gabe Newell, not Doug Lombardi)

 

As it turns out Valve has just recently posted a job position for a Hardware Engineer with the following duties:

Work with the hardware team to conceive, design, evaluate, and produce new types of input, output, and platform hardware

Join our highly motivated team that’s doing hardware design, prototyping, testing, and production across a wide range of platforms. We’re not talking about me-too mice and gamepads here – help us invent whole new gaming experiences.

While that hardware engineer position could be any number of things including peripheral development, it is clear that Valve wants to get into hardware more than they let on. This looks to be more than just development hardware.

Source: Valve

GDC 12: Valve & Razer renew their motion partnership vows

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 6, 2012 - 03:41 AM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Box, GDC, GDC 12

Valve and Razer formally agree to support Razer Hydra motion controller in Valve’s four most popular titles and two upcoming ones.

A little over two years ago, Valve and Razer announced a partnership for their Sixense high-precision motion controllers. During CES 2010, attendees were able to experiment with a prototype motion controller from Sixense to control Left 4 Dead 2. Sixense TrueMotion controllers were later released by Razer last June as the Razer Hydra.

Now you're thinking with controllers.

This Game Developers Conference (GDC) fast forwards us to almost a year after the launch of the Razer Hydra. The price for the controller has dropped $40 to $99.99 at some point between then and now. Valve has also announced that support would be extended from Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead 2 to include Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2 and upcoming Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The fishiest part of this whole announcement involves the Steam Box rumor from a few days ago. Valve appears to be very focused on the best portions of console gaming for the PC all of a sudden. I could easily see motion controls be used to support The Steam Box or whatever it might be called -- especially if it were used for more than just gaming and by more than just gamers.

So what do you all think?

Source: WebProNews