Steam’s Community Gets A Fix, But What Does It Need?

By Nathan Grayson on August 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

There are, believe it or not, a few drawbacks to growth at such a rapid rate that your fiscal reports probably include statements like “on track to consume the Earth – in a fashion not unlike that of Galactus, devourer of worlds – by late 2013.” For one, organization becomes really, really tricky. Infinite virtual shelves, as it turns out, can’t be tamed by a simple afternoon of taking inventory, so new solutions are needed. It is, then, nice to see Valve attempting to grab the reins of Steam’s Community functionality and steer it toward better usability – especially with Steam Greenlight on the way. Honestly, though, Steam – for all its community-oriented innovation and constant evolution – is still dropping the ball in some seriously important areas. That’s not to say I don’t love Steam, mind you. It is – warts and all – easily the best option out there. But, in the interest of encouraging Valve to do some more under-the-hood tweaks before resuming its Olympic-caliber sprint into The Future, let’s break down what else needs fixing.

First up, here’s the skinny on Valve’s new Community suite. In short, it’s a massive update aimed at “finding and sharing the best community content.” Today, for instance, Valve unveiled Game Hubs, which are “are collections of game-centric discussions, workshop items, screenshots, videos, and news. It’s both community created and official content, as rated by you, Steam users.” The point is to have everything for each game available in one easily accessible place. And, by the looks of things, it won’t be half-bad. Each game has its own set of tabs at the top of the page, so feeling yourself age as you jump from page-to-page should no longer be an issue.

That’s a good start. Most obviously, though, functionality/streamlining along these lines for library pages would be hugely helpful. Steam’s current library system was conceived before the days when our piggy banks narrowly survived countless Steam sales’ Biblical game floods – which, somewhat fittingly, caused many of us to buy two of just about every game in existence. So there’s a lot of clutter and a comparatively small number of ways to sort it all out. I mean, the simple ability to categorize games under more than one umbrella (think “MMO” and ”FPS” instead of just one or the other) would work wonders.

That, however, is just the tip of an iceberg that’s plagued with cracks. Steam in general suffers from clunkiness. It’s often unclear and obtuse in places where it’d actually be quite simple to be direct and to-the-point. Menus, tabs, and categories abound – each with their own additional menus, tabs, and categories. For instance, why even keep library and Community pages for games separate? What does that accomplish other than repeating a lot of information and forcing players to leap through extra hoops when they want to take their new content for a spin? That general feeling of slow cludginess manifests everywhere, too. Simply buying and installing a game requires more than a few unnecessary menu screens, multiple instances of waiting purely so that you can wait for something else, and other bits of head-scratching design.

And then, of course, there are the glitches. Even during the process of writing this article, I encountered a random, completely white screen while trying to purchase a game. I received no explanation for why it happened or what I could do to prevent it in the future. Sometimes, meanwhile, the main store, library, news, and community tabs just don’t work. I click. I wait. Nothing. And how about the rather pressing issue that is pressing shift in some games – for instance, to sprint in FPSes – only to run face-first into the game-obscuring Steam overlay? Again, it’s not supposed to happen, but sometimes, it just does. We live in an era of sleek, smart interface design and speedy performance. So why does it seem like the biggest purveyor of PC games in the world is trapped in 2004? Why doesn’t Steam feel particularly great to use?

Offline mode is another rather perplexing standout, in that – a lot of the time – it’s not really, well, offline at all. Boot up, say, your laptop in an Internet no-fly zone (for example, in a plane, aka an everything-except-Internet fly zone), and odds are, Steam will demand a connection even if you select offline mode. Silly, right? Well, here’s the mystifying part: It’s not even intended to be that way. Problem is, if you shut down your PC without first individually tucking Steam in and telling it a bedtime story, files don’t sync properly and offline mode refuses to work. Is it easy to get around? Sure. But surely there’s some way to automate the process more intuitively or, failing that, an error message that’s actually helpful. I mean, it’s a known issue. It has been for ages. Why hasn’t something been done?

The act of deleting game files, too, suffers from Steam’s lack of clarity and intuitiveness. For instance, I – perhaps somewhat unwisely – have my laptop do double-duty as a work and gaming machine. (My desktop, meanwhile, is gaming-only.) The end result? Not a lot of free hard drive space. So I heap unused games into the furnace pretty often – especially since choosing custom game install locations is such a giant fuss. It’s either wherever my main Steam file is, or an obscure amount of extra work. That omission, frankly, is baffling.

Happily, of course, I can re-download any game I’ve purchased at my leisure, but what about my save files? When a game shuffles off its mortal coil, where does its soul go? Steam, unfortunately, is frequently unclear. If a game has cloud support, you’re fine and dandy. But other games are inconsistent with where they store saves (some default to My Documents, some with the rest of the game’s files, etc), and it’s tough to know whether they’ll come out unscathed unless you do some digging yourself before digging a grave for a game you’re no longer enamored with.

Are any of these things the end of the world? No – at least, so long as you don’t accidentally delete a 200-hour save file. But they are very inconvenient – not to mention fairly intimidating for folks who aren’t in the know but want to get into PC gaming. If our favorite platform’s standard-bearer can’t even manage to roll out the red carpet without asking people to leap over a strenuous series of barriers to entry, then it becomes that much harder to assimilate non-PC-gamers into our mighty collective.

I’m not asking for a “dumbing-down” of Steam or services like it, either. These are simply issues of usability that have gone un-addressed for far too long. So then, Valve, the ball’s in your court. Yes, The Future’s more exciting than it’s ever been – and you’ve built a seriously amazing product in pursuit of it – but that’s no reason to lose sight of the present.

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168 Comments »

  1. InternetBatman says:

    I can’t say that saved games are Steam’s/valves fault. People have been trying to organize where games are saved for years, but in the end its up to developers to come up with and stick to a standard.

    I’m also in favor of the library and community page staying separate. That way it’s available to you when you want it, but it’s not force on you.

    Personally I think the library needs tags the most.

    • Unaco says:

      Actually… that’s something for John to start and lead a Crusade against.

      • InternetBatman says:

        And its a good thing to do, but blaming Valve for something they don’t (and probably shouldn’t) have control over is a bit foolish.

        • NathanH says:

          I dunno, they seem to be the only people who actually have the power to force developers to put saves in the same damned place.

          • Machinations says:

            Wait until we get Windows 8 if you want to see clunky, horrible UI design and glitches.

            Does Steam have quirks? Yes.

            Is it (bar none) the best digital distribution platform and has perhaps single-handedly re-energized the PC gaming industry?

            Absolutely.

            Be happy that Valve is PRIVATELY HELD which is the only reason it isn’t chock full of advertising garbage, DRM and essentially is not complete shit.

            When Valve goes public (if) it will be a bad day for PC gaming.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “Is it (bar none) the best digital distribution platform and has perhaps single-handedly re-energized the PC gaming industry?”

            Did Steam revitalize the PC gaming industry? Certainly. Is it the best digital distribution platform right now? That’s entirely debatable. There are other DD services that do it better, IMO.

            “Be happy that Valve is PRIVATELY HELD which is the only reason it isn’t chock full of advertising garbage, DRM and essentially is not complete shit.”

            Being PRIVATELY HELD doesn’t bar Steam from making blatant anti-consumer business decisions, such as locking EULA dissenters out of their current accounts or refusing to offer refunds on the plethora of release-day shovelware games they choose to sell.

            Advertising garbage? Steam is a platform for selling games; it’s full of paid advertising. All you have to do is load up the client to be bombarded with pop-ups and front-page marketing banners. All of this is easily avoidable if you disable pop-ups and skip the Store page, but it’s all still there, isn’t it?

            DRM? There are a fuck-ton of games sold on Steam that use third-party, hard-coded DRM in addition to the DRM service Steam already supplies. Any DRM is shit DRM, and piling on more DRM makes it an even bigger pile of shit.

            “When Valve goes public (if) it will be a bad day for PC gaming.”

            Valve and Steam are going to go down the tubes long before they are ever made public. They’re making damn sure of that with every misplaced step they take in their voyage to be part of the Too Big to Fail club along with Google and Apple.

          • a71236aszaa says:

            Yeah, I’ve been using Steam for less than a year now (when I first came across it was an awful, awful thing, so I didn’t touch it) and I can’t believe the amount of clunkiness. Besides what you already pointed out.

            http://ocremix.org/game/7/final-fantasy-vii-ps1

          • Zombie Jesus says:

            Holy shit, that spambot is smart.

    • princec says:

      The saved games issue is essentially solved for Steam games – use the Steam Cloud. If a game is on Steam and doesn’t use the Steam Cloud, well, go and moan at the developer. It’s absolutely trivial to implement.

      Cas :)

    • Carra says:

      Saved games being all around is incredibly annoying.

      If I format or buy a new PC, I just backup my entire documents folder in the hope of carrying over all my save games.

    • sylock says:

      I don’t agree with that point of view : of course each game is the work of its developpers and they don’t do things the same way. So this is not Valves’ issue. But as a distribution platform, it is up to them to find a solution to handle this gracefully.

      I think about a simple fix: Valve should ask developpers (via a form) when they push their game to Steam (I don’t know how it currently works) where the saved files resides. So Steam can make backups in the cloud regularly or when you remove the game from the computer. My ideais probably a little simple, maybe it would need a script or something more sophisticated but nothing is impossible with computers. You only have to do it …

    • Calreth says:

      The whole saved games issue is one piece of a bigger problem about software choosing to use the ‘My Documents’ folder as a landfill for, well, just about everything. Microsoft did actually publish guidelines on where to save configuration files as well as saved games sometime during the Windows Vista era, but you know what, even some of Microsoft’s own applications ignore that.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      %UserHome%\Documents\My Games\Publisher\Title\Save

  2. MeestaNob says:

    Steam cloud support (for saves/configs) for non-Steamworks games would be amazing. Like Dropbox, but via the Steam client.

    I’ve got numerous games which I REALLY would like to be able to uninstall and forget about until later, if only i didn’t have to go arsing about in the My Documents/My Games/MMMY Docuyments folder or wherever the idiotic devs have decided to hide the files this time.

    • andytizer says:

      GameSave Manager does a good job of detecting save locations and symlinking the saves directly into Dropbox. In many cases, this method is way better than Steam Cloud, because it doesn’t rely on developers to standardise save locations (they never will), and there are no restrictions (Steam Cloud often limits to 100mb or 1 or 2 save game slots).

      • Miltrivd says:

        This looks great, going to give it a try right now. Thanks for the tip.

      • groovychainsaw says:

        That is a superb app – just found all my saves and cloud synced them. Errrm – have some virtual kudos for a great find!

      • field_studies says:

        Just wanted to second the recommendation. I used it for the first time a few days ago to transfer my gaming life to a new computer, and so far it appears to have worked flawlessly. Now I’ll make a point of regularly using it to create backups (and into the cloud!)

      • ElvisMZ says:

        I can’t recommend GameSave Manager highly enough. Everytime I complete a game I backup my savegame. GameSave Manager also tells where the savegames are located so I can then easily remove them from some obscure folder which awlays stays on your harddrive after you uninstall the game.

      • emotionengine says:

        Thanks for this! I had been doing this very same tedious task manually for years now…

      • grimnir says:

        This guy has a twitter account too with a paltry 30-ish followers. @GameSaveManager

        I feel this is unjust.

      • Ice-Fyre says:

        That gamesave manager is great! So much easier to backup now

  3. Novack says:

    Excellent write up. And glad someone with a big voice tells this, the Steam guys are not really prone to hear anything beyond they beloved statistics.

  4. Tei says:

    Yea. Just because steam is downloading (not even installing!) a update for a game, don’t make sense to block offline mode.

    My personal pet peeve is this beavior of stop downloading a game wen other start playing. This make sense for mp games, but wen you are downloading a game, normally you play a singleplayer one to wait for the other to download. Having to return to steam to unpause the download gets me. Is a littel thing, but I would love if there was a solution so I don’t have to unpause these things.

    • LukeNukem says:

      Yes – especially when a game is not very well-behaved when you Alt-Tab out of it. If there was an option such that this was disabled for SP only games, or it offered you the option when you launched a game and it was downloading at the same time as to whether you wanted to pause downloading or not that would be great.

      • Spengbab says:

        A while ago, I can’t remember whether it was here on RPS or some other site, I read about how this very phenomenon was going to be adressed in a beta release Soon®. Sadly, I havent found anything related to that since.

        I gues Valve are just worried that having a download going in the background will affect people with low-end machines (which it will, to be fair)

        • mjig says:

          The solution to that seems simple. Two little things would make the downloading experience vastly better.

          Allow us to go to the Steam preferences menu and choose whether or not games will continue downloading while others are running. This would be set to ‘no’ by default for those on lower end machines who are not as computer literate. Then, allow us to manage our downloads through the Steam overlay in game. This way, if you start up a multiplayer game, you can just pop up the overlay and pause your downloads manually.

        • mseifullah says:

          I’ve got two solutions, either or both could be used.

          1) Continue to pause downloads when you launch a game, but add the downloads tab in the Steam overlay. So now you’d be able to resume downloads without alt-tabbing and pausing them again when you play in multi-player.

          2) Add a checkbox option in the properties tab or right-click menu of games in your library that says “Don’t pause downloads when this game is launched.”

  5. Reapy says:

    Several times when I want to do something in steam I’ve had to actually google around to find where the stupid option is. The whole thing could get a usability pass, and I hope this is it… like what they just announced here, I was basically shocked to hell and back when I went to look for skyrim mods it was basically its own page and I didn’t see it connected to skyrim at all in the UI. Maybe I just missed it. Either way I went back to the nexus.

    Still, nice initiative, hopefully they get some more obvious things in there, and also keeping my fingers crossed for better multiuser support, though doubt we’ll see that.

  6. Assaf says:

    have you thought about sending this to the steam team for their response?

    • Miltrivd says:

      People have been asking the Steam support for fixes and features for years (not an exaggeration, widely supported forum posts can go back several years for basic features).

      • protospork says:

        I do remember being explicitly promised, by someone on the team, that there’d be a proper downloads scheduler very soon after they finished that last overhaul on the downloader. The overhaul they did at least 18 months ago.
        It’s been so long I don’t even have metered internet anymore, but I’d still like to have the thing.

      • Assaf says:

        yeah, i see.
        but still, i thought their response might be different if its one of the biggest gaming websites online. i thought (naively?) maybe they’ll want to respond instead of leaving themselves out in the cold with people in the comments saying all these stuff, about the long-due updates.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          Steam’s We Care philosophy is an illusion, especially when it comes to technical requests. I’m ballparking here, but I’d say that 1 out of every 2000 request posts at their forums gets an actual response, and it’s usually by the same overworked community manager who tends to read off a prescribed sheet.

          Actually, now that I think about it, Steam’s comm manager hasn’t been around much lately. Volunteer mods (a.k.a. the guys who have no idea what they’re talking about) seem to be the ones doing all the public relations work.

  7. Similar says:

    Just something as simple as a ‘back’ button that worked in a sane manner would be nice when browsing game categories. As it is now, if you browse the list of, say, ‘under 5 Euro’ games, go to a game’s store page and then click the back button (because you can’t open the store page in a tab), you end up at the beginning of the list, rather than wherever you got to. When the list is twenty pages long, that very quickly gets tedious.
    In other cases, it sometimes even takes you to seemingly random pages too.

    It’s not very good design if you’re trying to get people to buy something.

    • Shuck says:

      That’s particularly irksome. Also the fact that they only show the first 100 items in any category. If you want to see all the games by a particular publisher, and they have more than 100 games – well, good luck.

    • jrodman says:

      I love how it has all the downsides of browsers (slow rendering, content network failures, high memory use, weird hitboxes on links) but none of the upsides of a modern browser (bookmarks, open document in new tab, download to file, etc)

  8. diamondmx says:

    “Are any of these things the end of the world” – well, if we are sims in someone else’s poorly concieved Zynga ripoff, and that ripoff is in Steam, and the save file disappears, then yes, it in fact is the end of the world.
    Who else is worried that they might be stray bits in a 14.6 billion year save file with worse garbage collection than a Bethesda title?

    • MacTheGeek says:

      I used to worry about the universe being accidentally overwritten.

      But then I found out that Jesus saves. Religiously. And He apparently lives in the cloud(s), so we should all be fine.

  9. andytizer says:

    Steam Community would benefit from a well-moderated, user-editable wiki or knowledgebase of information for fixing problems with games (instead of having stuff buried in forums.. even if stuff can get stickied, it’s still massively time-consuming to find common fixes to games).

    Of course, this would completely put PCGamingWiki out of business..

  10. Theory says:

    Some of these can be answered:

    - The Library is a piece of Steam UI that has to work in offline mode. The Community is a web page.

    - The blank white screen was an empty web page. Either the web servers had a hiccup or something between you and them resulted in the page being blank.

    - The overlay opening when you press shift suggests that your keyboard is damaged and thinks that the other key (tab by default) is held down. I’ve certainly never heard that problem before.

    - Steam never deletes saved games or config files. It only removes files that were downloaded as part of the game itself.

    Offline mode failing unless you exit Steam manually is just shit, though. :-)

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      Even with the Overlay, you can set what hotkeys you want to use. I use ctrl+numpad0. Very difficult to mess that one up. And if I feel it risky because of a key layout, I just turn off Num Lock. :P

    • Anorak says:

      I don’t think it’s a damaged keyboard, I’ve had the same thing happen to me on multiple computers. I think what causes it is if you alt-tab from the game, then alt tab back in, next time you press shift it appears to “remember” the tab key.

      This of relies on you using shift + tab for overlay, of course.

      • Highstorm says:

        There does seem to be an issue with key presses getting stuck upon Overlay use. I use CTRL+Shift+TAB, bound to a macro key on my keyboard, and the CTRL & Shift keys seem to get stuck every time. I have to tap them again to get them to release.

        But yes, in terms of overriding in-game bindings, just re-bind the overlay control to something obscure, problem solved.

  11. ArcaneSaint says:

    ” I – perhaps somewhat unwisely – have my laptop do double-duty as a work and gaming machine.”
    Wait, aren’t “work” and “gaming” more or less the same for you guys (work=gaming+writing+getting paid for it as well)?

  12. Milky1985 says:

    “Problem is, if you shut down your PC without first individually tucking Steam in and telling it a bedtime story, files don’t sync properly and offline mode refuses to work. Is it easy to get around? Sure.”

    Thats not really a steam issue, more a user training issue. Its the same sort of issue you will get if you close your computer without shutting down, files aren’t put back safely where they should be. they might be able to add some extra hooks to the shutdown force quit, but its not going to be 100%. Will probably get worse with windows 8 because of the changes they are making :(

    But yeah the saved games? thats defo not a steam issue, for a while game developers have been trying to come up with a standard place for them, and a lot put them (sensibly) in the my docs folder, but some don’t (and a discussion on this very site happened before, people were arguing about if the proper location should be app data, imo they are wrong) Maybe they can enforce a location before they are allowed on steam? but then people will complain about valve throwing their weight around.

    Rest of the ideas are good ones however, the community stuff needs chaning and it is annoying how the site just fails to work for no sodding reason.

    • wccrawford says:

      That’s a Steam issue.

      If I’m playing a single player game that doesn’t require internet access, Steam shouldn’t care if I’m online or not. I should just be able to play.

      I’m okay with it phoning home every month while I’m on the net and double-checking that I didn’t reverse charges on my credit card or something. But to have an “offline” mode, but then require online access is silly.

      Why should I have to specifically request to move to offline mode? It should be automatic.

      The user shouldn’t have to be trained to do things oddly. It should just work.

      • Milky1985 says:

        Would you blame windows if a file got curropt because you just turned your computer off at the socket rather than going down the shutdown procedure?

        No, you wouldn’t, again users expect windows to just work, they also ARE worried about turning it off at the wall without shutting it down because they know that can cause it to not work.

        Its the same sort of thing here.

        People have been trained to use the shutdown button on the computer . Steam can make things better by locking the files until they are needed etc but unless the program is closed down correctly there is always a good cahnce that you are forcing a shutdown while it is reading/writing from the files that it needs for offline mode sure. They can make things better but cannot solve the issue fully without a bit of leeway from the users as well from what i know of how the system works.

        • RabidZombie says:

          It IS Steam’s fault. The only time Steam gets closed improperly is because Windows gives up waiting for it to close during Shutdown and force closes it.

          Have you SEEN how long it takes Steam to close? It’s ridiculous.

        • grable says:

          You seem to forget that users dont always have a choice in the matter as to when their internet is available.

        • NathanH says:

          At the very least, an error message along the lines of “You probably shut down your computer without first closing Steam, this can make offline mode fail”, rather than their wonderfully useful “Error: that operation cannot be performed offline”. Until today I had no idea that not manually shutting down Steam caused such problems.

        • diamondmx says:

          Btw, windows does a thing called Journalling that means that even in the event of a power-off during a file write, it can fully reverse the action and undo any damage. It can do this transparently, and the user will never know that a failed write happened.

          How it works:
          You plan a file write,
          you write the changes to another location on disk
          you write the changes to the proper location on disk
          IF and only IF this worked, you delete the data copy.

          There is no reason steam cannot do this with it’s sync facility:

          You notice an update/sync
          You download the data to a download location
          Once this is finished, and checked for validity, you then overwrite the actual game files
          Therefore, in no circumstance does losing internet connection prevent you from finishing or ignoring a partial update/sync, you always have all the data necessary to run the game.

        • jrodman says:

          If i yank power on a windows box, and a file that an application was writing at the time is corrupt, I won’t blame windows, I’ll blame the application. At least if there was a version of the file before the save. It’s easy to do atomic updates. Write out the new version of the data. When complete, close the file, then rename over the old version. At no time is the document corrupt or incomplete.

          If it’s a new never-written-before file, okay fine, some incompleteness may exist.

          However, if the filesystem is corrupt and not automatically recovered without any intervention from the user, then I’ll blame windows, and file a bug.

          This “steam gets its panties in a bunch and requires manual help to avoid trouble” is not acceptable. This is consumer software and it should damn well sort itself for unusual but completely expectable scenarios. We software developers are actually *paid* to solve problems like this!

    • Chufty says:

      This is the most exaggerated case of irrational Steam zeal I’ve heard for some time.

      Failing to launch in offline mode because Steam was not closed down before shutting down Windows is a dictionary-worthy example of a software bug. One of Steam’s many bugs.

      Outlook, Opera, Calculator, Free Cell, Origin, Visual Studio, Paint.NET, Hentai Tentacle Orgy for Windows and Microsoft Excel all seem to work fine if I shut down Windows while they’re running.

  13. soldant says:

    Steam needs an interface overhaul. It’s a bulky mess. Honestly sometimes I think that the old interface (that boxy solid green gone) is better than what we’ve got now. It seems like they’ve bolted on more features (which is great) but apparently forgot that aesthetics over utility doesn’t always result in a better interface. Even then, Steam can be ugly.

  14. aliksy says:

    Not sure how I feel about steam community. I usually only interact with unknown steam users if I’m looking for something specific like a mod of bug workaround. I kind of assume the unwashed masses are too much “gay doesn’t mean homosexual when I use it as an insult” and “Isabella isn’t white enough for me, can I get a mod to make her aryan?” ‘

    Maybe it’s not that bad always.

  15. Miltrivd says:

    Yeah, I’ve been using Steam for less than a year now (when I first came across it was an awful, awful thing, so I didn’t touch it) and I can’t believe the amount of clunkiness. Besides what you already pointed out.

    - Can’t select installation folders.
    - Can’t disable Overlay for non-Steam games.
    - Steam groups are too basic and clunky (won’t even support html links)
    - Lack of basic features in the Friend List.
    - Lack of customization of the Library.
    - Who can forget the lack of a volume slider on the media player.
    - Can’t manage cloud saves.
    - Screenshots are a pain in the ass to locate and manage in your hard drive.
    - Lack of customization for the Screenshot Manager.
    - When a game abandons Beta it leaves your Library, but the folder with the game remains untouched in your HDD (happened to me twice).

    And that’s from 8 months using it. Who knows what most experienced users have come across.

    • MrKay says:

      Agreed on pretty much every point.
      Steam has really grown fast and I’m continuously surprised that development of new features and optimization is going to slow. Being the largest digital store by a long shot, you would think that would be a bigger priority for them.

      • stupid_mcgee says:

        Well, in all fairness, the team that actually works on Steam is still fairly small. It’s a lot bigger than it used to be, but it’s not a lot of people. I think they have around 20 or so people now. Back in ’08, when I joined, I think there was only something like 5 people. Seriously, it’s a VERY small team. I think the reason for their small size is that Valve wants to play it safe about expanding. If they hired 100 people to work on Steam, how much more productive would that actually be? Furthermore, would there be changes being made because they make Steam better, or just people messing with things because they can? It’s a Quality vs Quantity thing and it’s something you need properly balance.

        Steam, now, is much different than it used to be, and I think they still have to deal with and work around some archaic design choices. For example, Steam just recently began offering incremental updates for files. It used to be that an update would replace whatever file was there. If a dev had all of a game’s maps bundled into one file (like a single PAK file), this could be a problem. It meant that updating a single map required a massive download for that huge file (like aforementioned PAK) that contained all the maps. Now, the file can be updated instead of having to be replaced. In order to do this, it required a whole new file system for Steam. This had initial drawbacks. e.g. PAYDAY: The Heist opted changed to the new system and it basically (if not literally) had to redownload the whole game. Now, imagine if your entire Library did that at once!

        So, while there are definite areas for improvement, I think that the Steam team is trying to transition over to a newer system and newer way of doing things, but they still have to contend with some of the old groundwork, some of which cannot be simply or at all ripped out without causing severe issues.

        • jrodman says:

          When will control actually be handed to users legitimately about when and when not to update games. So we can actually fucking play them on the day we planned to instead of realizing it’s just started a 10 hour download after deleting half the game.

  16. markcocjin says:

    “Uses the desktop computer as the gaming computer”

    Now it all makes sense. Typical Macta-

    Mac User.

  17. MrKay says:

    The save game problem is an old one and not specific to Steam, but I would agree that they should offer all games using Steamworks (at least) the opportunity to put their save files in some standard folder, preferably one that can be changed at any time by the user. And yeah, add some kind of synchronization to that folder too.
    Also, it would be nice if Steam improved the placement of all game files, configs and what-not. Currently, the organization of anything below /Steam/ is a mess.

    I kinda like the way Origin does it, where you can just change installation path before installing a new game. It’s not perfect yet, but I least I can now store my games on multiple drives.

  18. MadTinkerer says:

    “Even during the process of writing this article, I encountered a random, completely white screen while trying to purchase a game. I received no explanation for why it happened or what I could do to prevent it in the future”

    Usually happens to me right after I confirm a purchase. About ten seconds later, it clears up and Steam informs me the purchase has gone through. Haven’t really considered it a problem so far.

    “odds are, Steam will demand a connection even if you select offline mode.”

    Pretty sure this has something to do with DRM on certain games, particularly Ubisoft ones. If all of your currently installed games are DRM free*, it shouldn’t check for an online connection. This is just my observations based on trying different sets of games, and might not be 100% scientifically accurate.

    *Other than the “fact” that “durrr… Steam am DRM! Steam am as bad as GFWL! durrrr…”.

  19. LXM says:

    Offline mode is by far my biggest issue with steam. It sucks being punished because I didn’t forsee that sudden internet outage that lasted 5 hours when I really wanted to play the witcher 2!

    • Revisor says:

      That’s why you bought The Witcher 2 on GOG or at least made use of their generous DRM-free backup or everyone. No?

  20. Harlander says:

    Do they plan to add anything like an easy way to pick, on an optional, game by game basis, where a game is installed? I know you can faff about with symlinks and whatnot at the moment if you’ve got, say, a SSD and a normal drive, but…

    • phuzz says:

      This.
      Little programs like SteamMover work well and all, but it would be nice to have a supported solution.

  21. MajorManiac says:

    Much like the Savy Gamer, Steam has completely transformed the way I buy (and install) games, and for that I am very pleased with it. But as you say its not perfect.

    One thing I would like to see introduced would be the option to pool accounts together. So that they could shared the licences bought by each account in the group.

    So if I buy Fable 3 with my account, and want to play ARMA 2, my son can then play -that- Fable 3 game on his account at the same time. Of course this would need some basic rules applied to it, to stop 1,000 people sharing one game, but it would certainly improve the service for families.

  22. woodsey says:

    ‘And how about the rather pressing issue that is pressing shift in some games – for instance, to sprint in FPSes – only to run face-first into the game-obscuring Steam overlay? ‘

    Uh, does it? I’ve never had that one. You could just try changing the overlay to some obscure button. ‘Scrl Lk’ on the numpad, for instance. I don’t even know what the hell that’s for.

    The only thing that bugs me particularly is the Community tab, which has always been messy (increasingly so with the features they’ve added) and that’s now being fixed.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      You can also use multiple keys, obviously. I use ctrl+numpad0.

      BTW, Scroll Lock used to lock the arrow keys to scroll inside a document instead of moving the cursor around or having any other functionality. It’s pretty much worthless nowadays, and I don’t even think anyone programs for its use anymore. Some keyboards don’t even have it anymore.

      • volcano_fl says:

        Scroll Lock still works in Excel, and I use it a lot, actually.

  23. Vinraith says:

    “It is – warts and all – easily the best option out there.”

    Wow. Just… wow.

    • Berzee says:

      Remember those dark days, when you got a DVD with “setup.exe” on it?

    • Kaira- says:

      I guess it’s the “best” if you for some reason want to use IM/browser while gaming and exclude systems that aren’t storefronts. Because honestly, Xfire does that better than Steam, and I think there are many other systems offering similar features.

      And then there are the other issues like DRM.

      • Vinraith says:

        I’m honestly a little horrified to see RPS advocating Steam over direct-from-developer purchasing and over GOG. Convenience is nice and all but come on, any client-based system is going to be an intrusive, bloated creature and Steam is no exception.

        • Unaco says:

          I don’t find Steam intrusive, or bloated. Each to their own I guess. Yes, Steam is DRM… but it’s the good sort of DRM. It asks something from the user, but gives so much in return. It ‘enhances’ the gaming experience.

          • Emeraude says:

            That’s a point I really seem to have trouble passing across to Steam fans at times: if you enjoy the services it brings, then Steam is probably a good thing for you, and you’re willing to ignore the bad in it, DRM and all.

            If you do not enjoy those services, or even find them intrusive and inconvenient, then all it has to show is the bad – and of course you’ll resent being forced to use it.

        • Milky1985 says:

          I don’t see any advocation of any sort here :/ Didn’t realise that RPS pushed for steam! I must follow.

          Baaaaaaa

        • wu wei says:

          There’s a big difference between Steam having my credit card info and every single game dev company having the same.

      • aliksy says:

        I do want an IM and browser while gaming. I like talking to people (who I know) and being able to look things up without minimizing the game.

        Of course, I don’t even know what xfire is. Maybe it’s wonderful. Sounds like another redundant layer, though.

        • stupid_mcgee says:

          Well, with Steam, XFire is redundant. However, XFire is a good program and was the default go-to back in the day. Chat, tracks game hours played, has an in-game browser, take pics, record video, etc. It was, and still is, a great tool. The convenience with Steam is that you have a lot of these features without having to download another program. But, before Steam had these things, XFire was a leading program for gamers to use.

    • MajorManiac says:

      Out of curiosity (and with no malice intended), I’m interestd to know what services you prefer to Steam and why?

      You always seem to be on-the-ball and I’m genuinely interested to know.

      • Vinraith says:

        If at all possible, I’ll buy DRM-free (or DRM-lite) direct from the developer for anything independent. Failing that, GOG would always be the best option, if they have the game, as they completely get out of your way and give you a totally DRM-free title. Failing that, my next choice is usually Gamersgate, as there’s no client, you can easily keep downloaded files for backups without having to go through a slow, pointless “backup” process like Steam’s, you can install the game wherever you like, and there’s no need to “check in” with Gamersgate when you want to play it. In short, it’s just a lot less intrusive.

        At the end of the day it all depends on whether you value convenience or freedom and control more. I’m surprised, though, to see RPS take such an overt stance in favor of a particular store front.

        • phuzz says:

          I don’t see it as “The Official RPS Viewpoint (TM)”, just Nathan’s personal viewpoint.
          Personally that’s why I like RPS, they’re never afraid to say what they think, even if it’s a bit controversial.

        • MajorManiac says:

          Ah, I see what you mean.

          I do like how I can use Steam to store my install files online (instead of my hard-drive) when I don’t need them. But there is the terrible price. One day, for whatever reason, those install files on Steam will disappear.

          Buying directly from the developers is a brilliant thing. I find it strangely satifying knowing my money is going straight to them. Its funny how lazy Steam has made me. When I do get games from the developers, I often find myself wishing I had that game on Steam, if only to make updates automatic. I guess if developers could add that feature to their games it would become the best of both worlds.

          • woodsey says:

            Whilst they will disappear from Steam at some point in the year 2997 (no doubt just days before the launch of HL3!), it’s not really a problem, is it? An inconvenience, sure. But a problem? I’m sure we all know ways in which we could reclaim access to our games, seeing as we’ve already paid our dues for them.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            Disappear? Why? Valve has said that they plan on making all games on Steam available forever. Even once a game is no longer sold, you can still download it. I can still download Prey any time I want to, even though it’s no longer officially available. Same with Dragon Age 2.

            The bigger problem is going to be that your old games won’t be compatible with whatever new OS and/or hardware. In this regard, GOG is clearly above Steam.

          • Kaira- says:

            “Disappear? Why? Valve has said that they plan on making all games on Steam available forever”

            You mean that unsourced quote from Gabe from time before Steam hosted 3rd party games? It’s naïve to believe that Valve would do such thing.

          • MajorManiac says:

            “Disappear? Why?” – Well simply put, Steam has a finite life-span.

            Whether it closes tomorrow or after all the Stars in the Univers fade to black, it will inevitabely end. On that day we’ll loose our games. Which is a shame as we’d need access to games to help us forget about the lack of stars.

          • Vinraith says:

            I expect Steam will be bought by something large and broadly consumer-unfriendly in due course. It may take awhile, it may not, but it’s too much of a money press not to have caught the eye of some of the larger players.

            And yes, I expect this post will immediately prompt cries of “Gabe will never sell!” That may or may not be true, but even if it is how long do you really expect Gabe to be around?

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            I NEVER attributed that to Gabe Newell, so don’t go around stuffing words in my mouth. However, it has been said, repeatedly, by Steam’s moderators. Currently, it is the de-facto rule. Until things are proved otherwise, that’s the way it is. That’s the current policy. Can you name me a single game that Steam has discontinued access to? Until that day, then we have to take them at their word.

            This notion that “it won’t be forever” is unknowable and nothing more than a guessing game. We don’t know that the Earth won’t split in half tomorrow, either, but that doesn’t mean that we should start thinking that it will without any credible evidence.

            Also, data storage, in case you haven’t noticed, is extremely cheap right now and it’s only going to get faster and cheaper. Hosting a bunch of older games really isn’t as big of a deal as you seem to think.

          • Vinraith says:

            Forum moderators have no authority to make guarantees of that sort, and even if they did there’d be no reason to believe Valve will even be in a position to keep that promise. The “Valve will patch everything to be Steam-free!” myth really needs to die, it’s inhibiting informed consumer choice by derailing honest discussion of what happens when Steam shuts down or, far more likely, is bought.

          • Unaco says:

            Steam/Valve have been pretty good to the consumer/user. I have no reason to doubt that they’d come up with some sort of solution to provide access to the games we have, even if/when they get bought, or Gabe moves on.

            There’s also nothing to suggest that Steam/Valve will be sold to someone, broadly consumer unfriendly or not.

            There’s also nothing to suggest that GabeN isn’t ploughing all of his profits into a Life Extension device… and so he’ll never, truly, leave the Company.

          • Kaira- says:

            “However, it has been said, repeatedly, by Steam’s moderators”

            Oh, repeatedly even? Sure you could link one or two occasions of such thing happening then?

            Also, what Vin said.

          • stupid_mcgee says:

            This notion that “once Gabe goes, so does the company” is bizarre. He can’t hand it over to someone he trusts to run it properly? He won’t groom a successor? Who’s to say they’ll ever sell or go public? Candy makers, Mars, are not only a private company but also one of the oldest and still run within the family.

            Who knows, maybe I’ll be dead in 30 years, well before Steam dies off? Maybe Steam will adapt and become a massive online software seller? Maybe one of Gabe’s two sons will take over? Maybe both of them? Maybe they’ll sell it all and buy a gravel pit and hire mercenaries to wage endless war over it while they squander their father’s money? Who knows. If we’re going to play this game of, “what the future may bring,” then we’re dealing with some highly speculative shit that really has little bearing on any form of rational or realistic debate.

          • InternetBatman says:

            @Vinraith
            The “Valve will patch everything to be Steam-free!” myth really needs to die, it’s inhibiting informed consumer choice by derailing honest discussion of what happens when Steam shuts down or, far more likely, is bought.

            By the same token, what guarantee does anyone have that any digital distribution site is safe from the same issues? From what I understand, Steam is relatively easy to crack. I’ve found most local data storage less reliable than Steam so far, and the sheer size of the files prohibits saving a large library in the cloud unless you want to pay for storage. The sheer size of Valve and its profitability provide some small degree of assurance that your data will exist in the future.

            I think you’re absolutely right that we need to start having serious discussions about the persistence of digital goods, but I don’t know if that talk will end up going against Steam in the long run.

            And I agree that these are serious issues for consumers, but I think there’s another serious issue we need to think about. Steam has been fairly successful at supplanting the other forms of DRM, would people who buy games from major publishers be better for its absence? At least now the DRM is centralized, and somewhat out of publisher control. Considering what the DRM looks like when publishers make their own, I don’t think that Steam is anywhere near the worst option out there.

          • Vinraith says:

            @InternetBatman

            We absolutely should be discussing this with regards to all digital distributors. My preferred distribution methods, in order, are DRM-free (or light) from the developer, GOG, and Gamersgate. The first two don’t involve any kind of “check-in” with the source, so if for example GOG disappears tomorrow my archived games will still function just fine. The latter is, without going into excessive detail, straightforward to circumvent, much more so than Steam.

            I’m not aware of Steam being an easy to crack system. I’ve certainly had serious issues doing so with some Steamworks titles in the past.

        • Berzee says:

          Sometimes the attraction of Steam is not convenience, but price. When I use it, it’s usually to get games that I have felt like I wanted for a long time, but never really been sure about. It’s not like I am strapped for cash exactly, though. If I cut back on a few of the stupid bad habits I spend money on (read: Caramel Frappes, of all things o_O) I could easily afford to get all the games I wanted from one of the aforementioned sites, and I would be a lot happier when I wanted to play games on the bus or something, since there would be no “offline mode” to worry about.

          On the other hand, it’s just so cheap!

          I know how you feel about the deeply discounted games, vin, and I tend to agree 99% of the time; but sometimes I discover, when staring at the $3.49 price tag on a $25 game I’ve wanted forever, that it is still a somewhat theoretical rather than practical conviction. =\

        • Llewyn says:

          How does one back up Gamersgate install files in a way that’s easier than Steam? Despite religiously checking the option to save the downloaded files for future use I’ve never been able to track them down after installation.

          • Kaira- says:

            Select to keep the files, they should be under “GamersGate temp files”-folder or such.

        • Kefren says:

          I’m with Vinraith. When Nathan said: “That’s not to say I don’t love Steam, mind you. It is – warts and all – easily the best option out there.” I though – whoah! DRM-free games with no middleware is the best option for me! GamersGate or direct from developers are definitely second place. I only use Steam for games I can’t get elsewhere, and generally find the experience to be a pain.

          A recent example: in May I started playing Magicka. Steam really pissed me off – I installed the game, but then it had to install Steam, then XNA network, then Direct X (again), then Steam wanted to update itself, then it wanted to update the game – it took an hour AFTER I’d installed the game before I could even play it single player! Then it had achievement popups which I hate. “Well done, you clicked on the button we told you to click on.” I quit to find out how to turn them off. It turns out that to turn off achievement notifications I also have to turn off the thing that lets me chat to my friend in-game via Steam. I just wanted to play. I don’t want to work out if there is an offline mode and do it for every game, don’t want to have to run Steam first. I tried to work out offline mode. The Steam FAQ was confusing – can you go back and forth? What if you want to play multiplayer later? We turn off the wi-fi at night, or when leaving the house, I don’t want to then not be able to play a game, or to have to plan it beforehand, setting offline mode to play Magicka for a bit single player, then switching back. Also the instructions made no sense: “when the game shows as 100% – Ready it is ready to be played in Offline Mode.” I have played it a few times but it doesn’t say “100% Ready” anywhere.

          Steam is great if you want all that stuff, but I don’t. Whinge over, ladies and sirs.

          • Unaco says:

            So… Maybe Nathan wants all that stuff, and was saying that Steam is the best out of the Client based systems that offer that stuff.

          • Kefren says:

            Unaco – I’m not disputing that, I’m sure you’re right.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I think some of your complaints are mistargeted. Steam doesn’t reinstall directX (despite what it says), it adds the versions of the file that the game needs to run to the existing directX. This is a good thing, because outside of GoG’s curated efforts, it’s one of the best ways to ensure backwards compatibility. It’s better to have that done automatically than have to search forums for fixes like we used to.

            The same thing happens with XNA, except the difference is that using XNA was the choice of the developer, not Valve.

            Are achievements really that big of an issue? There are twenty in Magicka, and I don’t find them very different than when the game has a big sign pop up that says “you found a secret area.” Not that I don’t think a button that turned all achievement notifications off would be bad thing.

            And I don’t understand the whole point about offline mode. Why would you look at a faq first before just trying to put it an offline mode? If you want to play a multiplayer game just put it back into online mode. That should be self-evident from the words offline and online.

            Don’t get me wrong, Steam has plenty of problems and their faqs can be obtuse, but a lot of these problems seem to be self-created. Also, it briefly says 100% ready when it’s finished downloading the game or a patch for the game. So it was saying you can play the game offline when it’s updated and on your harddrive.

  24. Berzee says:

    “If a game has cloud support, you’re fine and dandy.”

    Unless you ever foolishly try to have two sets of saves on two different computers. In that case, one person’s set of saves is probably going to get wiped out when Steam decides it’s time for you to sync your files before you’re ever allowed to play again. =

    It might have just been me being stupid somehow; but it shouldn’t be possible for a stupid person to delete their save games by clicking a button that doesn’t say “delete save games” on it.

    Yes! Unrelated Steam Complaint! But I figured I’d mention it as long as we’re talking about what needs fixed.

    Edit: I just remembered that I always forget it’s possible to turn the steam cloud off. It is, right? Is it possible to do it across the board, or must I remember it for every game? Could I google for these answers? Yes, but that would be less “Community”.

    • woodsey says:

      The option is hidden in the incredibly misleading location of Steam > Settings > Downloads + Cloud.

  25. Flint says:

    For instance, why even keep library and Community pages for games separate?

    Usually when I view my library I’m only interested in my library, not about the community. Don’t really see why they should be combined either.

  26. aurens says:

    this is the dark side of valve’s freeform corporate structure. if it’s not an interesting problem like adding a new feature it doesn’t get solved. figuring out why tf2 replays barely work and rearranging steam ui elements to make sense aren’t interesting. there’s no one making sure the grunt work gets done.

  27. Unaco says:

    Never had an issue with Offline mode… save my details, only use it when actually offline, and it has no problem starting. I know others have some issues, so it could maybe be more reliable for them.

    I’d like to see some more options and/or fixes/changes with downloading. A way to choose the download speed, so I can still comfortably do web browsing while the downloads are happening. And for it not to pause downloads when I play a Steam game. Also, I’ve had the ‘Pause download’ button lag on me for ~2 hours before… meaning I pressed pause so I could buffer a video, but it didn’t do anything, so I went on with my day. 2 hours later I noticed the download had paused, sometime randomly in those 2 hours… have had it lag a couple times like that, though not by 2 hours. It’s relatively small beans, but would still be good to see it fixed.

    I’d also like it if Steam didn’t freeze up for 2 minutes when I plug in my headset. That usually means I’m about to jump into a game… usually on Steam.

    • Unaco says:

      Favorites as well… that needs to be fixed. There’s a default category, Favorites. But I’m British, and I love me some pedantry and Queen’s English. It means I can’t use that category, and instead had to make my own called Favourites. Steam can tell that I’m in the UK… can it not spell things right for me based on that?

      • TheWhippetLord says:

        Amen to that. The UK is one of the biggest markets for games. There’s no reason at all for them not giving us our own language/regional settings.

    • Shooop says:

      I’m the polar opposite – I can never get Offline Mode to ever work no matter what. And even though I’ve never suffered a long-term Steam failure to connect, the idea that so many of my games are tied to Steam servers and I can’t get them working offline frightens me.

  28. tattertech says:

    This is missing hte number one feature I’ve wanted in steam for the past few years – the ability to install games to different hard drives. With SSD becoming far more standard for people (but still low capacity). I would love a way to put a current game that I want high performance with on my SSD, leave the rest of my library on the HDD. Without needing horrible windows hacks to fake it.

  29. Jenks says:

    The multiple categories in the library is something that has bothered me for a long time. Things like genre, indie, gamepad, even personal rating shouldn’t exclude the others, I would love mutiple ways to search/sort.

    It would be nice if they added a quantity field to the cart. You can’t add the same game multiple times, and buying the same game 3 or 4 times for different people can be a pain, especially if there is DLC. I need 5 copies of Secret of the Magic Crystals, just take my money!

    • InternetBatman says:

      Absolutely. This is the change I would like the most.

  30. Kaira- says:

    The whole UI is mess and needs proper work done to it. And the browser… dear lord the browser. It’s barely usable, and when in-game I prefer using the Xfire browser than Steam’s clunky mess. Even using the “Community”-tab feels like I’m trying to navigate in a swamp.

    • Mungrul says:

      That browser :(
      I just want a bookmark ability or to be able to use my Firefox favourites. Is that too much to ask?
      After all, as far as I’m aware, the overlay browser is based on Mozilla.

      • Kaira- says:

        The browser is based on WebKit, which is used by Chrome, Safari, Firefox, IE, Opera and apparently also Android’s browser, as well as Symbian’s browser. And then there’s Midori, Rekonq and lots of other that utilize it.

        • sickhippie says:

          So, according to you, every major (and most minor) web browsers run the same rendering engine. Try to mention that to anyone who has a more-than-passing interest in the Internet, and you’ll be laughed out of the room. The difference in rendering engines is the main reason we have something called “cross-browser compatibility”, and is the biggest hassle in the web development world.

          Chrome, Android Browser (Chrome Lite), Symbian, and Safari run Webkit (along with several others, as you mentioned). Firefox runs Gecko. Opera runs Presto. IE runs Trident.

          Steam used Trident, the least standards-compliant, most buggy modern rendering engine for a very long time. Chances are good it was a holdover from when most applications that were primarily a web browsing shell were written as an IE shell for ease of coding. Now it does use Webkit, which is much much better (and much quicker with javascript and garbage collection).

  31. TheWhippetLord says:

    Steam irritates me by being fixed width. If I want to browse for games in the store, why can’t I use my widescreen monitor fully?
    I like the community junk seperate from the game library so I can (try to) ignore it – I want steam to manage and launch games, not hug people. The grumpy old man in me wants that faux-facebook crap seperated from the bits I do use by a firewall. I do use steam friends so I can play with my friends, but why does the dratted application assume I want to stalk them by monitoring their game usage, and pester me with their purchases during a sale? Why can’t that stuff be turned off?
    To be fair I know that my reactions to social media stuff are probably very uncommon, and some of the young folk probably get a lot of joy from that tomfoolery. I just hate the feeling of being pushed into being ‘social’.
    Steam needs two things – a total redisign of the UI and more off switches for the fluff.

  32. Yargh says:

    many good points above, but the one thing I really want from Steam is the ability to define times when automatic update downloads are permitted and forbidden.

    Mostly because I’m stuck with an internet connection that caps me on data transferred during peak time (16:00 to 00:00).

  33. Malk_Content says:

    After multiple instances of bringing up the steam overlay whilst sprinting and trying to look at the scoreboard at the same time, I changed my shortcut for the steam overlay. Problem solved.

  34. deadly.by.design says:

    At this point in my life, I will take convenience over total control. My inner nerd might have cringed at that years ago, but this married guy doesn’t prioritize gaming or computer details the way he used to. I still love to game, and I still love to tinker with my PC, but there’s so much less time to be had. So, I’ll put up with what is technically a DRM client, since it allows me access to community features and amazing, intellectual property-chEApening (hah) sales.

    What Steam needs most, IMO:
    - More reliable Offline mode (this is the biggest complaint I see from Steam-haters & Internet survivalist types)
    - Ability to install over multiple drives

  35. Fatbubba says:

    I’m hoping for an option to block all incoming group invites from non-friends to be part of the upcoming update.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      I know, right? The number of unsolicited/unknown invites has multiplied in the past month and a half.

      • Mungrul says:

        It’s been annoying me recently, with unsolicited “Traders” randomly trying to befriend me, so I had a dig and found a solution:
        Open Steam and go to “Community”.
        On the right side of your community “Home” page, click “Edit my profile”.
        Select the “Settings” tab.
        Using the radio buttons there, I think I’ve managed to set my account up so I’ll no longer get those spurious befriendings.
        As an example, my settings are:
        Profile Status: Friends of Friends – Viewable by your friends and their friends, too.
        Comment Permissions: Friends Only – Only your friends can leave comments.
        Inventory: Friends Only – Only viewable by your friends.
        And I’ve ticked the “Keep your Steam Gift inventory private, regardless of your inventory setting above.” box.
        So far, no more random assholes.

        However, I think they could improve this by making these options more visible, say by offering a link to Profile Settings whenever you receive a friend request alongside the Accept, Ignore & Block options.

  36. Bobtree says:

    Steam is the clunkiest piece of software I have to put up with. There’s no good reason why it should be so slow at launching games, shutting down, and so on. My box is very fast, but Steam drags it down.

  37. AngoraFish says:

    better offline gaming support, ability to increase/scale font size

  38. BreadBitten says:

    Oh man, I was waiting for this day to come, RPS finally acknowledges Steam’s wonky offline mode! I cannot count the times I’ve seen that screen slap me on my virtual face every time my internet decided to be a bitch or if I was late on paying the bill. There is a workaround (with it’s own chances of possible failure of course) but it feels ridiculous to put Steam in offline mode and then online again EVERY TIME before I shut off my PC for the day and go to bed. Maybe if we made enough noise Valve will finally give in and fix this goshdarn thing already! Ehh, who Am I kidding…

  39. NathanH says:

    One thing I would really love is for the “do you want to upload local files or download cloud files” to have an option “neither, just skip the cloud sync this time”. It’s tiresome to have to cancel the operation, restart Steam in offline mode, and then restart the game, just to check whether the problem is with the local version or the cloud version.

  40. Syra says:

    I’ll be happy when you cna change the bloody font size in steam chat…

  41. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    As far as I can tell Valve is still building on the 2004 foundations of Steam, which is why there’s still such clunkiness and oddities in the system.

    And hell, I’ve been using it since 2004 and I’ll be the first to say: Valve you need to sort out that online mode, even EA are doing a better job then you at the moment.

  42. AlexxKay says:

    I really want a bandwidth manager. I share my internet connection with a large household, and it’s Not Cool to eat up all available bandwidth to download multi-gigabyte games. I ended up having to purchase a 3rd-party program to handle this.

  43. Fhoenix says:

    Well, compared to PSN Store, Steam is a work of technological wonder and slick design. And I rather like to have my list of games and my list of achievements on separate tabs. But yeah, there is a lot of room for improvements.

  44. beema says:

    How about when a game says it’s updating, and then it doesn’t, and then it just sits in this maybe-updating-but-paused-for-no-apparent-reason limbo forever? EYE Divine Cybermancy has been that way for almost a month now on my computer. I have no idea what the deal is.

    • Baines says:

      Do you mean when it downloads an update and then just stalls at completion? I’ve had that happen on maybe three different games. I don’t know if the fault is Steam, Windows, Microsoft Security Essentials, or a combination of all three.

  45. The Random One says:

    Even if the game has cloud saving it’s not really fine and dandy. Definitively not if the game in question is The Binding of Isaac.

    Though Flash is probably more to blame than Steam on this one.

    • Baines says:

      Doesn’t Binding of Isaac save to a text file somewhere on your harddrive? “serial.txt”, I believe? I don’t believe I’ve played it since switching gaming PCs.

  46. Text_Fish says:

    I’d like to have access to a simplified library by just right-clicking on the task bar icon. I would also like the option to include tools in the same library as games.

  47. Highstorm says:

    I’ve long wanted a feature where you can compare your games library to a friend’s, preferably multiple friends. Something where I could easily see what games I have in common with others. Frequently a few friends and I will want to play something together, and have to waste a bunch of time remembering what our options are by scrolling through our libraries individually.

  48. Xerian says:

    Awesome! It even displays game-reviews! Theres a Wot I Think: Dawnguard on the screenshot of skyrims page… Thing. http://bit.ly/QvSLaP
    (No, I’m not a bot trying to sell a toothbrush covered in faeces – I’d make a really bad bot, I simply like keeping track of clicks, which I realise is silly)
    ANYWAY. This shit is looking dope, and I expect something will be done about offline mode and a bunch of other stuff, what with “only” two steps / days being revealed thus far, out of a total of four, so I’m hopeful! (Even though it doesnt affect me – It affects alot of people, and it’d eliminate one of the biggest complaints from “haters” of Steam and whatnot)

  49. Beelzebud says:

    Would it kill them to let me install my games wherever I want? That is my biggest problem with Steam. Having to rely on symbolic links, because the Steam client is locked to one partition, is just stupid. Let us pick where our games are installed!

  50. Bluefox says:

    Another downside to Steam – mods.

    I’ll use Skyrim as an example, since that’s a popular mod target. Here’s the problem: subscribing to a mod from the Workshop installs it. Unsubscribing to a mod merely sets it to not load.

    This is fine for some mods (adding new weapons, houses, NPCs) and horrible for others (increasing dragon spawn rates, replacing textures, etc). That’s essentially the difference between a mod adding something new (local variable, easy to get rid of) and modifying content (global variable, much harder to remove). So if something goes really, terribly wrong with a mod, you have little recourse.

    Usually, with a Bethesda game, I’d have a last-ditch option of running the uninstall, deleting the last scraps in the game directory, and reinstalling fresh. But Steam, oh that glorious harbinger of technology, preserves the changes to the entire game folder, rather than just the saves. Which means, of course, that your game is well and truly mucked up until you hunt down every last resource the mod touched and fix it yourself.

    It was enough for me to swear off the Workshop entirely, and switch to the Nexus. At least the Nexus Mod Manager actually uninstalls a mod when I deselect it.

    • Emeraude says:

      Ouch.
      When I said I thought Bethesda using Steam would hurt modding in some ways that’s not what I had in mind. But I can totally see that being… lets say obnoxious.

    • Kaira- says:

      Wha-

      How did anyone think this would be a good idea? At all. Ridiculously bad design. Well, I guess I have a good reason to swear off Steam Workshop now.

    • HothMonster says:

      I thought if you unsubscribe from a mod and re-verify the game it clears it out?

      • Bluefox says:

        OK, you’ve made me curious enough to play with this and see if re-verifying does, in fact, uninstall the mod.

        I went into Nexus, and uninstalled all my mods. Then I went to the Skyrim Workshop on Steam, and subscribed to a bunch. Once I verified that they existed in Skyrim, I exited the game, unsubscribed to all the mods, launched the game. The mods were still active. Exited the game, right-clicked on the list in Steam, and selected “Properties.” Then I selected the “Local Files” tab and clicked the button marked “Verify Integrity of Game Cache.”

        It took a few minutes, but eventually the files were “validated.” So I launched the game again.

        And I think it worked. This will require a lot more testing than I can do in a night, but after I deleted the *.esp files leftover, and finished validation, I think it may possibly have worked. So: thank you!

        Edit to say: if this is true, and this is how one well and truly uninstalls a mod from the Steam Workshop, this should be posted in large, bold letters on the Steam forums, possibly even using the deprecated flashing font tag, so that everyone knows.