Hubs, Bub: Steam’s Community Revamp Open To All

By Nathan Grayson on September 5th, 2012 at 11:00 am.

I wonder if people would worry less about Valve one day turning evil if their logos didn't look like they were conceived in the middle of a maniacal cackling and lightning storms convention.

It’s not exactly a secret that Steam has a fair bit of clunk in its trunk, but Valve – to its credit – is slowly taking steps to make its digital giant a wee bit gentler. First up, the community. Once a cluttered mess of clicks and disorganized, disjointed pages, it’s now evolved into a promising fusion of Facebook, Reddit, and the color gray. And now, with a brief beta out of the way, you can come on in, take off your gaming coat, and have a look around.

Pretty solid, huh? The Reddit-ish nature of Game Hubs has potential – though they still feel a bit limited at the moment. Also, I’m all for freedom of speech, but let’s have a look-see near the top of Dark Souls’ hub, shall we?

Yep. So there are some definite kinks to work out – especially in terms of both what content is curated and how exactly Valve and the community will go about doing it. On the upside, it’s nice to see Steam Workshop and Steam Greenlight get more prominent placement. Greenlight, though, is still in kind of an odd spot. I mean, it’s possible to share Greenlight games with friends now, but only by clicking over to Greenlight, searching for the game in question, and then posting it back to your community profile. The new tagging system, unfortunately, leaves Greenlight out of the equation.

Meanwhile, collections – an, in theory, promising means of promoting both Greenlight and Workshop content – are awkward to create (I have to favorite a game and then add it at a separate collection menu?) and tucked away in the deepest reaches of friends’ profiles. So the community update seems like a decent start at putting everything in one place, but its practical utility still falls short – especially where integration with potentially game-changing community-driven systems like Greenlight is concerned.

But then, Valve’s mighty Tinker-Tron 9000 has been in overdrive lately, so I doubt it’s done turning Steam into a better-oiled machine just yet. Valve is, after all, not generally the sort to toss a project out into the wild and then just leave it with nary a peep. Well, except with that one thing, I mean.

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58 Comments »

  1. ain says:

    But is grey really a colour?

    • Hyoscine says:

      Yes.

      • AngoraFish says:

        No. Gray is a shade. A colour is something that can be made out of primary colours (eg RGB, CMY, RYB, etc).

        • Hyoscine says:

          Grey is a shade, and it’s also an achromatic colour (which isn’t the contradiction it sounds like). Also, it’s incredibly easy to make every shade of grey using RGB. RYB and CMYK are more to do with the practicalities of mixing pigments rather than colour theory as an abstract, so aren’t really helpful when it comes to defining colours.

    • Monchberter says:

      Yeah, what happened to ‘old’ Steam’s choice of other dull colours?

    • Mrs Columbo says:

      No, it’s a color, apparently.

    • ShowMeTheMonkey says:

      All fifty shades of it.

      • Prime says:

        If the whole world could now stop using the phrase “fifty shades of grey”, or derivations thereof, every two minutes that’d be completely awesome, thanks. Please move on.

    • Ahtaps says:

      Pssshhh. Grey’s easy. The real question is whether pink is a colour.

  2. Flukie says:

    Its better than before, but browsing on steam is still painfully slow.

    Their internal browser just feels so sluggish compared to any standard desktop browsers.

    They should sort it out by now really.

    • Monchberter says:

      Aye, it’s slightly clunky and I wish that they’d do more with the in-game web browser, no bookmarks and the only favourite’ you can set up is your homepage, but tabs are in?

      Steam does also creak around the edges pretty heavily on major update days, especially for Team Fortress 2 where the trading and backpack systems usually grind to a halt.

      • beema says:

        Am I imagining things, or is the steam web browser just like a graphical overlay of IE?

        • LionsPhil says:

          It used to be. These days it’s WebKit, like Chrome.

          But I don’t think it does any of Chrome’s process separation. The real killer for me is the absence of NoScript to make the web sit down, shut up, and just serve me some text unless I tell it otherwise. I’m better off alt-tabbing to Firefox than shift-tabbing to the overlay. (And, frankly, why not, unless the game’s especially cranky about it.)

        • Phasma Felis says:

          Don’t be ridiculous. IE is less terrible than Steam’s browser.

    • jrodman says:

      Indeed, it lacks any sort of reasonable cacheing functionality. The rendering is painfully slow, and it seems to serialize all network requests.

    • Mrs Columbo says:

      Anybody else get Steam imprinting over Chrome webpages if you try to switch between them?

      • Optimaximal says:

        Probably because its WebKit.

      • milman says:

        Imprinting on Chrome is easily the thing that annoys me most about Steam. I’ve grown to live with Steam’s sluggish and unresponsive attitude when I’m actively using it, but just when I least expect it that hybrid mess of Chream appears to remind me just how much I secretly hate it.

    • maninahat says:

      Worse for me. Mine almost always freezes at some point, the reload button yielding nothing. Plus I tend to end up with dozens of “start up” processes for games which don’t close, making it inconvenient/impossible to exit steam. I’m assuming its my laptop that is somehow at fault, but still, it never used to be an issue.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Yes, this. I won’t even begin to get excited until Steam’s browser is in decent shape- don’t care about the Community stuff if I can’t use it.

  3. Gnoupi says:

    I was about to say “Try the Saints Row 3 hub, it’s also a delight of good taste.”, but I actually see that moderators cleaned up the place nicely and followed flags.

    Now it’s more or less normal, from what you would expect from Saints Row. Not the full page of obscenities it was.

    So I guess that they actually put effort in moderating the place.

    • RaveTurned says:

      The moderators do seem to be doing a good job taking down most distasteful imagery, but it’s still a reactive system so sometimes stuff gets through that community users might not expect to see.. Also there are issues around what is distasteful and what isn’t – the argument that if stuff exists in the game already then it should be fine to post. Generally I think that should be the case, but there seem to be at least a couple of issues there.

      1) Last I looked, all game hubs were open to everyone, even without a login. Some games contain age-restricted content (not just risqué images of scantily clad ladies, but visceral violence and nudity) and have a corresponding rating from PEGI/ESPA/BBFC etc, but none of the community sites require you to give even a token age check. I’m pretty sure Steam asks for a date of birth for access to games with these ratings, or at least used to. Why not for community content from those games as well?

      2) The game hubs overview page uses recent user content in the links to that gamehub, and again the links that are available aren’t restricted according to game ratings. A younger user could easily be presented with legitimate in-game content from an 18-rated game from just browsing through the list of available hubs.

      I’ve tried to discuss this on the Steam forums before now, but it’s really hard to try to discuss solutions to the above without being shouted down by both free-speech anti-censorship advocates on the one hand and moralistic ban-all-filth crusaders on the other. :/ Surely there’s some middle ground?

  4. Big Murray says:

    Trying to read Nathan’s text with that picture in the middle is somehow difficult …

  5. Njordsk says:

    Weirds breasts

  6. Kaira- says:

    Amazing chest ahead.

    • apocraphyn says:

      Impressive booty awaits, men! Yaharr!

    • Snidesworth says:

      More like “Beware of amazing chest.”

      When a game that’s been repeatedly trying to murder you for the past dozen hours sticks you in a room full of soothing music and throws a pair of giant boobs in your face you’ve got to wonder if it’s trying to pull any tricks on you.

      • Bobtree says:

        Attack her and see what happens. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

        • TCM says:

          The best part about Dark Souls is discovering all the fascinating ways that even NPCs can brutally murder you.

    • AlonePlusEasyTarget says:

      Need holding with both hands

  7. Zanchito says:

    Are those boobs? If so, what’s the problem?

  8. Victuz says:

    Breasts and all but the player character on the right has a really weird face. Anybody else noticed that?

    Guys…?

  9. jaronimoe says:

    Am I the only one who read “taking steps to make its digital giant wee a bit gentler” instead of
    “taking steps to make its digital giant a wee bit gentler” ?

  10. JackDandy says:

    What’s wrong with featuring Gwynever’s beautiful breasts on the frontpage?

    It’s in-game material after all.

    • Jenks says:

      Haven’t you heard? The blogosphere has determined that women need to be protected from having to see fictional women as sex objects. You know, because thinking women are weak and need protecting isn’t even more wildly sexist.

  11. JD Ogre says:

    Ugh. Dammit. Change for the sake of making something more “social” is never a good thing. Especially since the changes seem to have made everything about Steam a LOT slower, even outside the Community section. :/

    • RaveTurned says:

      As someone who enjoys sharing my pastimes with others, I disagree. I’m not 100% sold on some of the details of this implementation, but in general I think innovations that aim to make gaming more social are a good thing.

  12. Chaz says:

    Well the Forums link now no longer takes you to the forums, and the discussions bit is next to usless as it only give you that weeks 5 most popular discussions and there seems to be no way to change the settings to be able to expand that range. To get back to the forums proper I had go via the Support link route. Not impressed.

    • D3xter says:

      Yes, it certainly seems a lot less useful and informative. I couldn’t really imagine a single situation in which this new “community feature” will be more helpful than forums with important threads like the DSFix etc. Stickied at the top and threads with some of the most important issues going on.

      This seems a lot like that “change for change’s sake” thing and because a few Valve employees apparently are obsessed with Facebook or similar and not change to make something better or clearer.

    • MattM says:

      Yeah they need a prominent link to the real forums.

      • Didero says:

        I agree.
        To solve that (and I apologize for the self-promotion), I made a Greasemonkey script that adds it back in, which you can download here.

  13. Ultra-Humanite says:

    “A promising fusion of Facebook…” Did I wake up in an alternate reality?

  14. beema says:

    Can anyone explain why this amazing new Community revamp has no direct way to get to Greenlight or Groups? Seems like a massive oversight. You have to click through a bunch of other stuff to get to either.
    They also failed to implement some much-needed things like the ability to sort your friends list in to categories.

    • Zap Brannigan says:

      How to get to greenlight.
      In the main Steam window at the top, click on “Community.” Underneath the word, there will now be a line with more words starting with “Friends, Profile,…” the last choice is Greenlight.

      How to sort your friends. It can only be done in that floating friends window. call that window up and click on the little triangle after anyone’s name. A window will pop up with a bunch of commands: “Send Message, View Steam Profile,….” once again, you want the last choice: “Tag As”. From this screen, you can create groups, and add that person to the group. A person can belong in more than 1 group if you want, and everyone stays in Favorites. The Friends window will now sort by the groups you make.

  15. Tei says:

    This just show how doomed is Nintendo.

    You have a game like Demon Souls, that is very dry, and the way to write messages is limited to build macros with very limited options. Lines like “Amazing chest ahead” and “Try luring them out” and “Need humanity” have a strange innuendo when combined with a screenshot of a pair of boobs.

    People is creative when breaking limits.

  16. roxahris says:

    “The Reddit-ish nature of Game Hubs has potential…”
    “I’m all for freedom of speech, but let’s have a look-see near the top of Dark Souls’ hub, shall we?”
    What’s the problem? You said Reddit-ish nature. It’s working exactly as designed.