Steam Clouds Are Forecast (Ha Ha!)

By John Walker on November 4th, 2008 at 6:00 am.

I'm too tired and jetlagged to think of a good joke for tihs image.

You may remember that back in May, RPS was the first place in the world to announce Valve’s new addition to Steam, Steam Cloud. Today Valve have declared that it’s finished, and ready to go live.

Steam Cloud is a feature for Steam which, when implemented, allows players to store their save games and game configurations on Steam’s servers, rather than their own computers. With Steam you can access your games from any computer, so long as you’ve bought them on your account, but you’d have to start the game from scratch or carry your saves around with you. So the idea is, with your saves and configs stored on Steam, you can just pick up and carry on whichever computer you use.

The first roll-out of the system is going to be focusing only on the config stuff. Valve explain,

“Steam Cloud support will ship with Valve’s Left 4 Dead demo later this week and the full game on November 18. In this first release, the information stored and accessible through the Steam Cloud includes keyboard, mouse, and gamepad configurations, as well as multiplayer settings such as spraypaint images.”

Of course, with Left 4 Dead not having saving, there’s no need for the other half of the Cloud feature. But there’s currently no word on when that function will be available. However, it’s also become more clear that it won’t be annoyingly fiddly.

“The Steam Cloud will “just work,” meaning any user changes to their game options will propagate to the Cloud by default. Upon logging into Steam from another PC, these settings will be brought down from the Cloud and automatically leveraged by the game. Any configuration changes on this second machine are then synced to the Cloud for future sessions.”

It’s free to users, and perhaps more importantly, to developers and publishers, and it’s available to be retrospectively added to previously released games. It seems like an idea good enough that it would be quite ridiculous not to include it in any future games. Although you might wonder about the reaction from publishers who seek to prevent customers from installing games on more than one computer. Ideally, the Cloud system becoming commonplace would make such draconian thinking look sillier.

Valve say they have plans to expand the features in the near future, which hopefully means an announcement on save games.

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75 Comments »

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  1. Erlam says:

    “I can see no use for the multiplayer configuration, though. What else, besides the username, can be needed? … Yet it will be a small relief not having to go to the options tab to change the name.”

    For those of us who use invert mouse, t for talk, y for team talk, different buttons for prone, walk, jump, sprint, crouch, etc, it can be extremely useful. Not to mention dev console on, whatever hz your monitor is, etc.

  2. Stan64 says:

    These features should have been picked up earlier, especially when Xbox Live presented them on Xbox 360 a couple of years ago.

  3. cowless says:

    @StormTec – people have insurance for that. You can’t really claim for Steam.
    I do wonder why people don’t just have separate steam accounts for each game. It means you can give them away when you’re finished with them and it’s more secure. It messes with the social parts but frankly Steam is massively inferior to facebook or instant messengers there anyway.

  4. AbyssUK says:

    @StormTec

    Why do people defend Steam so much… it’s slow, it’s basically malware, you must have it running if you want to run tf2/halflife and it dials home, it goes against everything PC users want it’s horrible! My god its the worst DRM out there! Yet everybody loves it because its valve and they make great games…I say keep on making the games but leave the other stuff alone. Come on you can’t even choose where you want to install a game! let alone it’s save files.

    Why have a program like steam at all I just don’t get it… it can all be done in a simple web page…it’s totally pointless. I wish google would buy valve so they can do the steam part correctly.. then valve can concentrate on doing what they do best which is making games.

    The added insult is normally boxed games from the shop are bloody cheaper than downloading! WHY! WHY! seriously people take a closer look at steam and tell me it’s a good application.

  5. fishmitten says:

    Works fine on the two PCs I run it on. It doesn’t inhibit me from playing the games I want to play in any way and doesn’t infringe on my rights.

    Why anyone feels so strongly about such an innocuous program is beyond me. People can be so precious about their PCs.

  6. Kieron Gillen says:

    Abyss: The reason why people like it is that it adds functionality for them. It’s the only way to get people to like DRM – by offering them something that they can’t get without it.

    (e.g. Consoles are basically a DRM system. No-one really mentions this because of all the things they allow you to do – ease of play, etc.

    e.g. MMOs. The login to play is a DRM. However, it’s the only way that sort of game could work, and since it offers stuff, people accept it – in fact, they even love it)

    People like STEAM now as it’s got a mass of features which make life a lot easier. Rather than EA’s DRM which makes life harder, Steam’s DRM makes life – generally speaking – easier.

    And that’s why people like it – and it’s the reason why a lot of people would rather buy from Steam rather than a DRM free verson direct from the developer.

    KG

  7. Nick says:

    It’s annoying when they have retail DRM on top of steam sold games. Fucking third party publishers.

  8. fishmitten says:

    Exactly.

    I’m all for having Valve DRM on my PC if it means I can have integrated friend/clan management, game updates and now game save backup.

    The only other software I can think of that offers this on PC is EA’s equivalent and I don’t think anyone can claim that to be preferable.

  9. Nick says:

    EA Downloader or EA Link or whatever it is called now is a piece of software coded by Satan himself.

  10. Adam says:

    @Abyss

    You seem to be missing the fact that you can download steam games as many times as you like, onto as many computers you want.
    I don’t mind DRM – piracy is a problem. When it gets obtrusive is when I get annoyed, and so far steam has improved my gaming experience.

    The only thing that is strange is that although games on steam start off below retail price, some of them (I’m looking at you Bioshock) stay at that price seemingly forever. Bioshock is still about 25 quid on steam, yet I bought it for 13 in a store.
    But as I said, steam is good for games that have just come out.

    Let google buy valve? Are you mad?

  11. Fumarole says:

    I hope it is better implemented than Microsoft’s horrible Gears of War stuff. You HAD to be online to be able to save there. Also, the server was so poorly implemented there was only one save file per player, and saves where not atomic.

    Oooh, I want one of those kind of saves. Are they in Fallout 3 perhaps?

  12. StormTec says:

    @AbyssUK

    Steam is not perfect, but it is by no means the digital manifestation of all that is evil and inhumane as some (not necessarily implying you) make it out to be.

    And, as Kieron and fishmitten say, people like it because it actually has functionality. Functionality that, it would appear, a fair amount of PC users are quite happy about. I’m not denying that it’s slow, that it needs to be running to play a game, or that it dials home, but most people just don’t seem to see that as such a big deal in the face of Steam’s more positive features. Basically, the DRM parts of Steam aren’t as intrusive (for many), and Steam on the whole (as a form of DRM) offers more than it takes away, in my opinion. Though it would be nice if it was perfect, of course.

    I’m sorry if I’m playing the other part of some fanboy war here. I’m not saying anyone should like Steam. I’m just saying that it isn’t exactly a crime against humanity in digital form, and that there are some valid reasons for people liking it (as some seem to think that there aren’t any).

  13. RichPowers says:

    Amazingly, I’ve had zero problems with Steam in the many years I’ve used it. Looking back, I’m rather impressed by how seamlessly it’s been incorporated into my PC gaming experience. Even so, I only buy non-Valve games if they’re on sale.

    My biggest gripe is not with Steam, but with the idiotic publishers who put SecuROM and/or install limits on top of Steam’s inherent DRM. Screw ‘em.

  14. pepper says:

    I love steam, i can use it on any computer at home, and quikly load up HL for some testing at school whilst having a free hour. It doesnt whine about keys, or anything, it just installs and allows me to play the games i have.

    yes, steam didnt start off perfect, but i think it is the best thing out there right now.

  15. Tei says:

    I suggest any box with “SecuROM” to include a small warning “This game include malware / rootkits”.

    Steam/stuff… how convenience can be usefull to add features, and the Steam Cloud seems the perfect machine to build this feature into and deliver from all “steam-games”. I will still play *and buy* no-steam games, but Is nice that steam is becoming soo good platform for gaming on PC’s. And other RPS guy say, XBox Live invented this years ago… we are late on the party!

  16. fishmitten says:

    Aaanyway… back to Steam Cloud:

    Does anyone know if we’ll have control over which settings are exported from each PC? I use my Steam account at work and at home and my two PCs vary quite a bit. It would be nice to be able to share my control, avatar and spray settings, but leave my video settings unchanged if possible.

    If this isn’t how it’s going to work, I can see a lot of people having problems.

  17. Taxman says:

    Tei – Securom is not a rootkit it has been around a very long time and the charge that it is a rookit is a load of bollocks and been proven wrong on multiple occasions by security experts.

    Securom generally offers two flavours of DRM a disc based check which is the oldest one an online product activation component again nether are a rootkit and the whole business got started off in Bioshock by a clueless user who didn’t know how to use analysis software in the first place then started shouting rootkit, rootkit from the rooftops. Of course there are those with an agenda such as pc gamers pirates and anti-drm people who try to spread the false message as much as possible.

    No I don’t work for Securom but I strongly dislike people spreading false information about the security of computers its like peter crying wolf.

  18. Tei says:

    Taxman: humm???… that is new to me. SecuROM install as a driver, that on Windows is the OS level, and use tecniques to be hidden to the OS (That include ofuscated registry keys).

    Microsoft tool to detect toolkits, also detect SecuROM has one.

    Download the tool:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/es-es/sysinternals/bb897445(en-us).aspx
    Try it, on my computer it detect securom.

    Arrgh..we are talking again about this crap. Is boring, lets talk about something else. Is more interesting how to CREATE NEW THINGS (what cloud is tryiing) than to STOP THINGS (that is what DRM is about).

  19. ru says:

    taxman sounds like shill

  20. Will says:

    I’m fine with Steam as DRM, its great! however, not removing the TAGES DRM on the Steam version of Stalker: Clear Sky was a big mistake. Now I cannot play my game, as although one DRM works fine (my steam account), TAGES will only let you “activate” the protected game 5 times. Such “activation” can occur over swapping hardware, or formatting your PC. What’s more, neither Valve, the game developer (GSC Games), or TAGES will take ownership of this problem and revoke or replace this awful DRM! So, guess what? now the only way i can play it is to pirate it.

    btw anyone else who has sorted this problem pls post xD

  21. nakke says:

    This was a obviuous feature back wen Counter-Strike was popular

    It still is the largest MP FPS, by a quite large margin. (http://www.onlinegamingzeitgeist.com/games/ That recent huge dip was because an update that rendered people being unable to join servers until they were restarted (and thus updated), it’ll probably go back up in a week or so (because the site uses a 7 day average))

  22. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    The way Valve works made it impossible for me not to buy Left4Dead. I tried to save my money for GTA4(PC) but I simply couldn’t resist spending it at Steam. DAMN IT, haha.

    Nice work, valve!=)

  23. RacerX says:

    Well, I just can’t accept the idea of having to be online to play a single player game. I don’t accept Steam. I bought HL2 and used Steam years ago and I just can’t go back to it.

    Anyway, this new “cloud” feature sounds awesome but i just don’t like Steam. I admit that this service is better than draconian DRM, just chalk me up as an Angry Internet Cave Man.

  24. frymaster says:

    “Well, I just can’t accept the idea of having to be online to play a single player game”

    …except you don’t, you know. You do have to be online to _install_ the game, yes, but something like half-life 2’s probably had most of its own weight in patches anyway, so you’d be needing web access any way. After the game is installed, and can be played, then you can quite happily take your laptop somewhere with no net connection, turn it on, and play your games.

    the question then becomes “is having net access when installing these games a barrier?” and for most people, of course, it isn’t. If it is for you then fair enough.

  25. Lemon says:

    with this update I started to hate steam…