Valve sorta kinda in a roundabout way added In-Home Streaming in a Steam beta update a little while ago, but not in a way you could actually, you know, use. If you like the idea of streaming games to another PC in your household, however, you should probably keep an eye on this Steam group. And by 'keep an eye on' I mean 'join the heck out of', as Valve will be randomly picking members for an upcoming beta test "later this year".
Diretide was the title of last year's Halloween Dota 2 event. It added a new game mode in which players battled for candy while avoiding the clutches of the monstrous but relentlessly persecuted Rancor, Roshan. There was candy, and giggles, and there were Greevil eggs you could massage with magical essences in preparation for the wintry Greeviling event.
As with all of Valve's seasonal events, Dota 2 players assumed that Diretide would return this year, but October 31 rolled around and nothing happened. As Valve explain in a post on the Dota 2 blog, they decided to drop Diretide to finish work on the next big update, but then slightly forgot to tell anyone. Good news, though! It will roll out with that update, and they've "made a few changes to Diretide that we think makes it more fun than before."
That sleek, polished dime up there wasn't made by Valve with the snap of Gabe Newell's fingers. It came after other prototypes the company tested first. When initially designing its Steam controller, Valve experimented with numerous iterations and designs before coming to one that it felt comfortable with. Valve detailed two of the unused prototypes today during the newest info dump on its upcoming Steam Machines, including one "Frankenstein" of a gamepad.
Valve may have decided to go it alone when it comes to manufacturing Steam controllers, but the company’s getting a little help in pushing out the box itself. Valve’s Greg Coomer told IGN that we’ll know which companies will construct Valve’s fleet of Steam Machines sometime during CES 2014, which runs from Jan. 7-10, 2014.
Now that Valve is introducing its own operating system, it would make sense that the developer would make its upcoming games (and one rumored legendary follow-up in particular) exclusive to the platform. Nothing would get gamers to switch from Windows to SteamOS faster than, say, a sequel to a beloved FPS that only runs in Linux, right? We'll never know, because Valve has sworn to stay away from operating system exclusivity in today's Steam Machine PR blitz.
If, in the months since the announcement of Steam Machines, you've been waking up in cold sweats, shaking in terror at the possibility that Valve's hardware wouldn't be a grey box... well, your fears should now be set to rest. A new Seattle Times profile of Valve's living room ambition contains among the first few pictures of the prototype Steam Machine, showing dark and light shades of the plain, grey theme. While they're 48 short of an erotic novel, it's more than enough for a news post.
The fact that Steam requires you to pop online once every few weeks is a bug rather than intentional design according to an official forum response spotted by Blue's News. "There are many components involved in Offline Mode," writes Valve poster Henryg, "some of them have known issues and bugs which we are continually working to improve. We're aware that it doesn't always work as flawlessly as we want it to, but please keep reporting bugs with Offline Mode. It is not broken 'by design'."
He also mentions that Valve are in the process of converting every game on Steam to a new authentication procedure. "Some day soon, once this work is completed, we will eliminate the old authentication system (represented by the ClientRegistry.blob file) and Offline Mode should immediately become much more robust."
Quicker than you can say "boo" - assuming you elongate it out by a few hours - Valve followed up yesterday's TF2 comic with Scream Fortress, their fifth annual Halloween event. This time around it's the Payload Race map Hightower that's been spookified, turning it into the corpse-pushing Helltower. Also: there are skeletons, and the mercs have magic spellbooks now.
I like Team Fortress 2 but, at this point, I think I like Team Fortress 2 comics more. Luckily, one usually coincides with the other, meaning that everyone wins. At least, everyone except those traumatised veterans, huddled in their corner, muttering about how everything was better when this was just a patch of dust, and before fancy headwear meant that everybody looked fabulous. The next update will, inevitably, be the annual Halloween event. In preparation for that, here's a comic about some ghosts.
Dota 2's latest update is massive. From general gameplay to hero abilities to item perks, patch 6.79 carves a wide path through the free-to-play game's online infrastructure. The details released today by Valve only reinforce the notion that there's an incredibly deep and granular complexity under the surface of Dota 2.
Everything you know about the PC gaming world is set to change over the next twelve months. We’re going to experience a tectonic shift in the coming year on a scale not seen since the introduction of Windows 95 and the death of DOS. Valve have struck a blow for open-source gaming must have reverberated around the corridors of Microsoft’s Redmond HQ like the last peal at a funeral.
Okay, that's overselling it a bit, but the groundswell of support surrounding Linux as a viable gaming OS alternative to Windows, currently spearheaded by Valve, really could change things. We'll at least get a range of gaming PCs that look like nothing on the market right now. Next year Valve have announced that they will be helping hardware partners sell branded Steam Machines specifically designed to run with a bespoke Linux-based OS and sit under your TV in the living room. One of the advantages they'll have over the consoles is that they'll be modular and upgradeable, and rely on the hardware we use to power our desktops right now.
That means we'll be able to build our own Steam Machines to fit our living rooms. With that in mind, I've scoured the world of small form-factor hardware to create two sample Steam machines, a no-holds barred powerhouse and a powerful but more sensibly priced offering. Want to build your own Steam machine? Here's what you'll need.
Looking again at the specifications for Valve’s own prototype for their Steam Machine one thing jumped out of the page at me - this powerful, fully specced gaming PC isn’t even going to be 3-inches high. That's slimmer than the XBone, and there's a GTX Titan inside. I sat down with a ruler, a mini-ITX motherboard and a Titan to try and visualise the way the Steam Machine is likely to be laid out inside, and with a little imagination you can see what a lovely, sleek little device this could turn out to be.
Like all the really great things in geekdom, it began with Star Wars. Former Valve employees Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson have come up with a way to bring that holoprojected chess match between R2D2 and Chewbacca, Dejarik, a reality, and the solution is castAR: augmented reality projecting glasses. After 18 months of prototyping, Ellsworth and Johnson have launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish production.
Something interesting has cropped up in the latest Steam beta update: streaming capability, even if it's not quite, um, capable yet. The wily devils at the unofficial Steam Database have unearthed (after some "tinkering") an option called In-Home Streaming, which will obviously let you stream games from one PC to another or others, over a local network. Will is the operative word here - the option is there, in an unfinished form at least, but it's currently hamstrung by Steam's one-PC-at-a-time login restrictions.
Valve has announced a two-day game developer’s conference in Seattle called “Steam Dev Days” that will allow game creators from around the globe to speak in roundtable discussions, attend industry lectures, and test out SteamOS, the Steam Controller, and an assortment of Steam machines.
Even as Valve is trying to ease access to PC gaming in the living room, its plans for the Steam Machine won't be held up by an adherence to a single manufacturer of graphics hardware. The proposed SteamOS-based systems will support a variety of graphics builds with GPUs from AMD, Intel, and Nvidia when they launch next year, according to a report at Maximum PC.
Valve has revealed the specs for the Steam Machines prototypes. Evan, Tyler, Cory, and T.J. weigh in on the implications. Plus: Mongols racing F1 cars, gobbleshaft transplants, the Battlefield 4 beta, and callbacks to the bizarre world of early '90s television.
Dan Tabár, the game designer behind Cortex Command, got his hands on a prototype of the recently announced Steam Controller and says he has "no qualms" with the ergonomic feel of the controller and is "surprised how well it worked." He told us he's excited to see how the device will affect the feasibility of PC gaming in the living room.
The Saxxy Awards, the annual competition for short films produced inside Source Film Maker, are back for a third year. Now that the SFM community has had full access to Valve’s animation software for over a year, expect the number and quality of entries to increase dramatically.