Valve Fully Details Community Update, Kicks Off Beta

By Nathan Grayson on August 17th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.

You're not a real Valve fan unless you can take this image, decode its hidden messages, and prove it contains the release date for Half-Life 3.

I still have my reservations about Steam’s general clunkiness and a few very user-unfriendly quirks, but I have to say, this Community update’s quite a doozy. (Does anyone use the word “doozy” anymore? Did anyone ever? Am I the sole keeper of its honorable and incredibly dorky-sounding legacy?) On top of much-appreciated Game Hubs, group pages are getting an overhaul, personalized content will all display in one spot, and friends will get their own separate tab with Facebook-like statuses and feeds. But when, pray tell, can you lay claim to all these shiny new features and become a better friend? Well, it’s complicated.

Now that all the changes are out in the open, a not-so-open beta’s the next step. Here’s Valve’s stance on the matter:

“Two beta invites each are going out now to the first 50,000 recipients of the Pillar of the Steam Community badge. More invites will go out daily until we end the beta period and turn it live for everyone.”

That particular badge isn’t particularly difficult to earn (it simply involves joining a group, commenting on profiles, and doing other community-oriented things), so you would’ve needed to be pretty quick on the draw to land in the first 50,000 of more than 40 million. If you were, kudos! (Does anyone use the word “kudos” anymore? Have I been some kind of cultural caveman all along?) If not, it looks like you’ll be waiting an undetermined amount of time with the rest of us misanthropes.

Everyone, however, can take their first peek at a Game Hub by visiting Team Fortress 2′s here. It seems pretty convenient, too, so long as you steer clear of the “All” tab – an information overload I can best liken to that one scene from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. Yes, that one.

So now we wait. Fortunately, Steam betas are usually pretty brief, so it shouldn’t be too agonizing. And until then, we can always take our minds off it by chatting about the recent spat of 2013 delays while queuing up for Mann vs Machine.

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46 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Faldrath says:

    Half Life 3 to be released on June 18th? Sometimes the best way to hide something is to have it out in the open!

    (not really)

  2. Eophasmus says:

    The TF2 sample community update is quite nice, I think; I’m looking forward to this being released, although the ‘workshop’ page is very slightly differently laid-out to the rest of the pages, so I hope they fix that before it’s released. For obsessive-compulsive purposes.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Shame the text for TF2 is gibberish:

      “The most fun you can have online” PC GAMER Is now FREE!

      There is some really important punctuation missing there

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        The colon. All the cool kids have them.

        “The most fun you can have online” PC: GAMER is now FREE

  3. Delphi says:

    I managed to get into the beta last night, I was rather surprised that I was one of the first 50k of people to get the badge. Anyway my thoughts on the new upgrade…. meh. It doesn’t actually seem to change much, and I’m not that impressed with having all the information of my steam friends in one place. They are trying to drive the steam community to becoming larger and more encompassing than it was before.

    I’d like to see steam sort out their issues with the main client and how some buttons don’t work as expected – and multiple categories for each game in your library!

    • svenofix says:

      The Steam client needs a complete UI overhaul, imo.

      • Bobtree says:

        It needs more than UI work, Steam runs like a dead dog. Not that it won’t inexplicably freeze up for seconds at a time too. They need help.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          It has been getting progressively worse, hasn’t it? I chalked it up to my computer being old and needing a fresh OS installation, but recently I’ve started to realize I only really have problems with Steam…

  4. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Jeez Louise Nathan, you do sound old fashioned.

  5. Mctittles says:

    Stop with the endless scroll already web.

    I want back my pagination!

  6. fiddlesticks says:

    For what it’s worth, I very much like the word “doozy” and I wish it was used more often. It’s a doozy.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I used the word “doozy” earlier on today – about an hour ago. “There was only one, but it was a real doozy” were my exact words.

      • Arglebargle says:

        I fully support the recycling of antique slang. Everything else gets recycled, why not that. It’s the bee’s knees, not a bummer at all! Let’s all hop that freight.

  7. RegisteredUser says:

    Kudos on this doozy of an article.

  8. TheWhippetLord says:

    I do love the idea of trying to improve player behaviour by turning socialisation into a rep grind.
    What truly horrifies me is that it might work.

  9. Innovacious says:

    I got in myself. I’m not sure about it yet. There are a few neat new changes, i really like the new groups and how each group has its own discussion board now. But it seems like steam wants to be facebook, and its made everything REALLY cluttered in the game pages and the activity feed.

  10. Olderman says:

    I’m much more interested by how that greenlight thingie will turn out.

  11. Magnusm1 says:

    I guess this means HL3 is close to release.

  12. Premium User Badge

    PoulWrist says:

    So, where’s the outcry that steam is becoming bloatware and turning into facebook? It’s GAMING AND SOCIAL in the same sentence. In every other article where that’s combined, there’s nothing but scorn and butthurt. Where is it now?

    Do people ever play with their friends Fuck me if I know. Maybe I’m just weird for having a circle of about 15 actual real life friends who game, but I can’t scroll down my steamlibrary and find many games that we have in common or even play together….

    • stillunverified says:

      “steam is becoming bloatware”
      Lol.

      ” It’s GAMING AND SOCIAL in the same sentence. In every other article where that’s combined, there’s nothing but scorn and butthurt. Where is it now?”
      Because it’s not IN THE GAMES, lrn2context.

      To me it just looks like mostly the same shit steam community has ever been, just with a new layout, whether that’s better or not remains to be seen.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Because you have mostly two kinds, the real friends which are playing their own games, and the random people you can add because you had a nice game with them.

      With these ones it can be interesting to have “social gaming”

  13. Stephen1212 says:

    I have an invite to this beta if anyone really wants to see it. Its buggy but looks fresh and not much else.

    • Fierce says:

      I’ll bite if you still have it. What do you need in order to send it to me? Steam Profile URL?

  14. Kadayi says:

    Got sent an invite off a friend (big up to Hools). The hubs look faintly interesting, but I must admit I’m struggling to see why I should care for a lot of it, plus the page load up is longer. Still early days.

  15. Godwhacker says:

    Every single post from the forums on the TF2 game hub is someone complaining about some aspect of TF2. Do Valve really want this?

    • ShrikeMalakim says:

      ideal class balance: The state of a class-based multiplayer game where there are equal numbers of complaints about each class on the game’s official forums.

  16. Moraven says:

    Wondering what whats in my inventory.

  17. ninjapirate says:

    I think nobody’s heard the word “doozy” more often than Phil (Bill Murray) in Groundhog Day.

  18. Nim says:

    So how do I make the hubs go away forever?

  19. JohnnyMaverik says:

    I just can’t wait for Greenlight to come alone, no more waiting five months for point and clicks to turn up on Steam.

  20. Premium User Badge

    RobF says:

    The hub pages are a complete mess. They’ve made it even harder to find update news now, and it just looks like someone’s random Tumblr filled with everything, all the contents. I don’t really want that. I want quick and easy access to the information I need not a jumbly load of old shit.

    The new blotter stuff is a bit better though but why would I want to thumbs down a screenshot? I hope that’s not going to make its way through to Greenlight as well because then I really won’t be fucked with that sort of thing. And obviously, welcome to the internet screenshots, when I checked last night it took 6 whole screenshots until gaping flaps on the TF2 page.

    So yeah, the friends stuff is good, the rest is all a bit we got carried away with an idea and umm oh yeah. If anything, it makes the community stuff -less- valuable to me because now it’s just content and noise.

    • ShrikeMalakim says:

      “The hub pages are a complete mess. They’ve made it even harder to find update news now,”

      Game Hubs are new Community pages, not replacements for the existing Store pages. “Update News” is still right where it was before on the game’s Store Page. Beyond that, the Game Hub has a very clear News tab, which does include Updates.

      Honestly, I like the update. The Friends page itself was basically useless before (and like the Community page and Game Hubs don’t change Store pages for games, this replaces just the Friends homepage, not the Friends list or the individual profile pages), and the Community page was just a static page load that got in the way of getting to any other part of the Community section.

  21. Poppis says:

    Since the clock for total screenshots/videos/workshop items is still ticking, I shall now predict that the update will go out of beta once they hit 100 million.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Sinomatic says:

    I’m quite liking it so far. There’s still some features to be ironed out yet, I’d say (not to mention that it’s still quite buggy, naturally), but I do like it. As a lover of screenshots, the game hubs are great for me – there’s a potential wider audience for the good shots you take, and you can scroll through some of the great shots other folk have taken. Right up my alley. There *is* the (sadly all too typical) issue of nsfw material floating up to the top though, so I’m not sure how (or if) they plan on dealing with that yet.

    Having discussions attached to groups will be nice too, although I can’t yet set it to be members-only yet (results in an error), but will be really handy as a place to keep game instructions/help and the like for group members.

    As for ‘steam turning into facebook’ (and I can’t stand the faceplace, for the record): no one is being forced to use the community features. No one is making you look at gamehubs or friend feeds. They’re quite apart from the library and the store page, so you can have little to no interaction with them, should you choose not to take part.

  23. Beelzebud says:

    I’m annoyed that my 8 years of service badge counts for less than someone that signed up a month ago and linked their Facebook account to Steam.

  24. Scuzzball says:

    Yo, I got two tickets, add me on steam to get the extra one. http://steamcommunity.com/id/scuzzball555

  25. Jahandar says:

    I got into the beta yesterday as well, but I really like it. I like having more information and pictures in the friend feed and the game hubs seem pretty neat. My favorite feature though is being able to assign a nickname to people in my friend list.

  26. D3xter says:

    Cause nothing proves how much of a “Pillar of Community” you are like signing up for a Fa*book Account…

  27. The Dark One says:

    We need some kind of Steam corollary to Godwin’s law. As the number of contributions to a Game Hub increases, the probability of the featured screenshots including T&A approaches 1.

    The last time I checked, Nude Alyx mods keep getting upvoted in the HL2 hub. Batman AC is all Catwoman ass. The Fallout NV hub congratulates you having “sex with the ugliest ‘person’ on earth!!” The L4D1 hub is, for some reason, filled with anime.

    • Tyraa Rane says:

      I’ve also seen some stuff that verges on gorn. Apparently it’s possible to just upload random pictures and tag them as a game (or something, I don’t know), and now with the new Hubs, suddenly, surprise porn and smashed body parts (ya rly) and whatnot.

      Bonus points: took me forever to find the report button due to the fact that the screenshot kept trying to be bigger than my Steam window, so I couldn’t access the view details/report feature without a bunch of fiddling. Good thing I skipped lunch today.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Check out the hub for The Witcher 2. Steam is already censoring or removing some of the more explicit screenshots.

        I would imagine it’s the same situation for The Darkness II.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Well I guess it’s a good thing they opened the beta to all those “pillars of the community” first then.

  28. Tyraa Rane says:

    Been using the beta all day so far. My impressions are not so good. It’s an epic visual overload (pictures, pictures everywhere), and the split between “Friends” and “Community” tab just seems unnecessary. Especially when you consider that they did away with the “News” tab to do it (you now have to go to Store -> News to get to the news feed. Unnecessary clicks ahoy!).

    The page for your screenshots is a particularly atrocious example of visual overload combined with lack of information, especially if you’ve got a ton of screenshots. (They all tile up quite randomly, and it’s impossible to see comments on them without clicking to embiggen the screenshot, then clicking AGAIN to put it in a new window so you can see view stats/comments for it. What were you thinking, Valve.)

    Oh, and an added bonus…it uses more than 2X the memory footprint the old Steam client did. (Old Steam client used ~75MB when not doing anything. I’m now sitting at 171MB.) I presume because of the endless scrolling / insane amount of pictures it’s trying to load.

    Sigh. I’m trying really hard to like the update, but…all the extra steps/clicks I have to take with the new community to do things I did with the old are not making a good impression on me. :(

  29. edwardh says:

    Horrible DRM, horrible client – I wish people would stop throwing so much money at that crap of a distribution system. Especially since because of that, so many games use Steamworks DRM. Which I just won’t put up with any more. Which means I won’t be able to play many games I would want to play. Even nice indie efforts on occasion.

  30. zaxor0 says:

    The word is actually spelled “duesy” because it refers to a big fancy and expensive car from the 20s and 30s which was called a Duesenberg. People used to say it all the time.

    (edit: i think the origin is actually uncertain but this is supposedly a good guess)