You Can Try Out Steam’s Big Picture Mode Right Now

By Nathan Grayson on September 11th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Also usable by psychic pets.

It’s here! It’s finally here! After ages of waiting, I thought all hope was lost. I figured we’d have to keep viewing Steam on the humblest of screens: magnifying-glass-worthy monitors, puny laptops, screen doors. But now – after having its arrival heralded by semi-obscure videogame publication The New York Times – Big Picture’s open to everyone. Granted, it’s still technically in beta, so you’ll have to opt in. After that, though, you’re good to go. And goodness, it’s bringing some neat features to the table. The one in your living room, I mean. Because that’s where televisions live.

Unsettling Apple-esque presentation aside, that’s quite the formidable lineup of “Duh, why did no one else think of that? Oh, right: Valve features. The button-based Daisywheel (actual name) might just make typing on controllers not the most painful chore in the history of mankind, and the first-person browser seems like an intriguing concept, if nothing else. Perhaps one day, we’ll even be able to shoot webpages in it – sort of like with this thing. We can only hope.

It also comes with apps for Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube, so clearly, Valve’s focused on taking this thing’s utility pretty far beyond only games. Valve’s plan, then, is to let users have a look around, take their feedback, and then add new features accordingly. If having your brain mercilessly mined for information sounds nice to you, the Big Picture setup process is literally three steps long. Introducing the process actually took more words than the process itself.

So, right then, this all sounds pretty Steam-Box-y, doesn’t it? I doubt Big Picture will suddenly have console disciples embracing the Way of the Newell, but – hypothetically speaking – I could certainly see it providing a nice test bed for features that might show up in a Steam Box. As for the obvious advantages that a PC hooked up to a TV has over a console right now – nicer graphics, PC’s giant library of games and mods, more options, etc – I don’t think those things alone will be enough to lure console users into our fold. Many of them want simplicity without too terribly much muss, fuss, or setup, and Big Picture requires a bit of all three.

Then again, we live in an era that’s seen console players forced to adjust to firmware updates, constant patches, different hardware SKUs, and even some online requirements, so the gap is narrowing. Really, though, this whole scenario could go a million different ways. I can’t predict what users or Valve will do next, but I’m certainly looking forward to finding out.

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131 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge AmateurScience says:

    Had a go with this last night, it’s very slick.

    I suspect that rather than a Valve-made Steam box, we might see system-makers bringing out quiet, smallish HTPC-like (with extra graphics) boxes for under the TV, maybe with some kind of ‘Valve Approved’ accreditation for a minimum level of gaming grunt.

    It might sound like hyperbole, but I think if this is done right, it basically removes the need for a dedicated console completely. Especially given the fact that platform exclusives are getting rarer and rarer.

    • John Connor says:

      My god if consoles died it would be the best day ever.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Yeah, keep assuming that the death of consoles would be a good thing. What do you think would happen to all those heavy post-release discounts we now get on PC games if the console market were wiped out?

        • Shuck says:

          Hell, what would happen with larger budget PC games? Anything that’s multiplatform right now is getting 90% of its sales on consoles. Take those sales away and they wouldn’t all be transfered over to the PC; a lot of development would become economically unsustainable.

          • Premium User Badge PoulWrist says:

            If consoles die, the only game platform left is the pc. So yeah, where would they go…

          • HVO-Jetfire says:

            “If consoles die, the only game platform left is the pc. So yeah, where would they go…”

            Smartphones and the iPad, love it or hate it.

          • MrLebanon says:

            if consoles died then ……

            LONG LIVE INDIE GAMES!

      • Kaira- says:

        Because account- and client-based DRM is so much better.

        • Hunchback says:

          Who cares about DRM?
          It will be the best day ever because games reserved for “consoles only” will start appearing on PC. I could play Tekken, Mario, Sonic, WWE… once more!

          I’ve been praying for the death of consoles ever since OnLive was announced, but sadly it failed to deliver a killing blow.

          • Jenks says:

            Are you making some sort of idiotic stand against some gaming platforms, or can you genuinely not afford the $150~? I’m not sure which case would evoke more pity.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            I’d rather be naive and slightly ignorant like these guys prematurely heralding the death of console gaming, than be a smarmy, pompous ass like Jenks, here. Seriously, guy, it’s sad to you that there are people out there who don’t have 150 bucks to lay down on a console? Did you have the silver spoon removed in childhood, or is it still in your mouth?

            Do something about it then, instead of just offering false, condescending pity.

            My only comfort is the fact that developers also have to deal with people like you:
            http://www.jonas-kyratzes.net/2012/09/06/the-one-hundred-dollar-question/
            http://www.merseyremakes.co.uk/gibber/2012/09/inconcievable/

            Maybe a little self-awareness would do you some good. Peace.

        • Magnetude says:

          All the major consoles already have account and client-based DRM anyway with their respective marketplaces, and the next gen will be much more focussed on digital sales than the current gen (stamping out those pesky second hand sales). Sure, most sales are currently physical, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of the next gen of consoles ships without an optical drive as standard. Steam remains the Land of the Relatively Sort Of Free!

          • Jahandar says:

            Yeah, the point is steam still runs on PC, and while it may be the mainstream marketplace, its still promotes the platform which is necessarily open and allows other avenues.

            Steam Big Picture can run a drm-free game from GoG just as easily. Which brings up the other point: PC is ephemeral. I can still play games I bought in the 90s when the N64 was en vogue, and in a decade I’ll still be able to play the games I buy today, on the same platform.

            I think people underestimate how valuable it is. I won’t have to hope for my favorite games to be re-released in the next gen so I can have the privilege of re-buying them.

      • Premium User Badge AmateurScience says:

        I should stress I don’t think consoles are bad. But I do think they need to change a great deal in the next hardware generation, and I’m hopeful that things like this, Ouya/Raspberry Pi Giving us TV Android, and whatever Apple TV and various other smart TVs end up being drives MS and Sony to innovate.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      That’s sort of the thing I’d imagine the steambox being, simply every 3~5 years or so, Valve puts together a list of hardware for a PC build (this CPU, this card in partnership with Nvidia, etc), and that is the Steambox insertyearhere.

      A bit like Google produces new Nexus hardware every couple of years, simply getting together with hardware makers, picking some choice pieces, putting Android on it, and then selling it.

      Maybe they could even allow you to source your own prices for the same hardware (i.e. if you can get the same parts cheaper), build it yourself, and have Steam run a system-check to certify your machine as whichever Steambox it matches.

    • vodka and cookies says:

      Would never happen, it’s still a PC with the whole underlying host operating system to contend with, mainstream audiences who buy consoles don’t want a PC (I can’t emphasise this enough), they want one box which does it well enough with minimum fuss and that’s it.

      It’s like the HTPC vs WDTV Live crowd same scenario, consoles will always be the preferred game platform by the bulk of people out there at least until all our phones turn into one.

      • Premium User Badge AmateurScience says:

        True, I wonder where the ‘fuss versus utility’ interface is for most. I know I tend to err on the side of the latter, which is why this excites me. There’s a parallel with iOS vs Android in there somewhere too.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        *cough* Steam on Linux with supported hardware *cough*

      • uh20 says:

        actually it is pretty flipping easy
        and steam on linux could get even more easy, as someones going to undoubtfully create a distro with instant virtuabox boot into steam bigscreen, then it would quite literally be your computer and all it could run (strictly speaking)

    • atticus says:

      How about removing the need for a dedicated TV-network provider?

      I can’t be the only one who wanted to see some “Movies” and “Series” tabs in that menu. A HTPC/Valve-box could take care of all my needs for entertainment.

      I try to watch as many new movies as possible at my local cinema, I buy music and games online, but I get my TV-series, and a few movies, from a certain bay of water-related plunder.

      I’m certain that a service as convenient as this would end, or at least minimize, my pirating ways forever. I am willing to pay for my entertainment, but if something I want to watch is available, I’m unable to wait 6 months for it to appear on my Norwegian-based screen.

      • Premium User Badge AmateurScience says:

        With the browser they don’t even need to build it into the client: just link to iPlayer/Netflix/YouTube/whatever. The addition of non-gaming programs in Steam will let you launch media from within the interface, and surely *someone* will realise that making a controller controllable media player available on Steam is a winning idea.

      • Derppy says:

        I don’t know if Steam is the right platform for it, but I really want a service that sells movies and TV shows in the same fashion as Steam sells games.

        You buy a movie and it’s in your library, which you can access wherever and whenever you want. You can either stream various packed versions of it, or download a high quality 1080p version.

        You can “pre-order” a season for a TV show, so each episode appears under the show in your library when it’s released and you’ll eventually have the whole season.

        Then have sales and bundles, 10 old movies for xx$, all seasons of TV show for xx$.

        While the rental services are cool, I want the illusion of owning the stuff and building a library of movies and TV shows. I’d throw lots money at old classics I might watch again some day.

        If the pricing and release dates are right, this sort of thing would instantly end my piracy of movies and TV shows like Steam ended my piracy of games.

        • meatshit says:

          Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought iTunes already did this (minus the sales and competitive pricing).

      • Magnetude says:

        The issue with this is the legacy media corporations’ silly approach to copyright. What Valve are smart for doing, though, is using products from small ‘indie’ companies to test out new business models and prove their worth to the bigger players. I could see Valve opening up a library of creative commons works and Source Filmmaker movies to test the water for this, it’d totally remove the point of my Xbox that I haven’t turned on in months anyway.

    • egg-zoo-bear-ant will e 91 says:

      The biggest issue with replacing consoles is surely multiplayer. I guess more PC developers will bother with that if this takes off. It’s great for me, I just have the desktop opposite from my bed and armchair, and the one screen I have for Steam is also my TV and has the PS3 plugged into it. Been squinting and struggling with keyboard and mouse for ages now.

      I sort of wish Games For Windows Live was better though. A bit of competition is prefferable to a monopoly. And maybe there could be third party applications offering interfaces layered over Steam that would tie in to Chat and Friends from Battlenet and GFWL etc? But I guess that’s the optimistic internet nerd view.

  2. Innovacious says:

    If the web browser is so good, why doesn’t the normal steam browser use some of its tech for loading webpages? It’s still so damn slow.

    • Jahandar says:

      I think the improvements are in how navigable it is with a gamepad compared to other console and tv browsers in the past.

      You might try disabling “Automatically detect settings” in Internet Options > Connections > LAN Settings to try to reduce steam browser lag, it has helped many people, and is generally unneeded anyway unless you use specific proxy setups.

  3. Fazer says:

    It doesn’t come with “apps” for Reddit, Google etc., it just has already defined bookmarks for these services and loads them in its browser, just like normal webpages.

    Other than that, looks like solid work :)

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah the clue there is that they’re under the ‘favourites’ tab inside the browser :p

  4. baby snot says:

    It’s pretty neat. After reading that I can launch bpm with the home button on the controller it was a no brainer that I have Steam start at boot and use it to launch XBMC from now on instead of vice versa. Has anyone done the first person browser idea before? Because it just seems so intuitive (or more so then anything I’ve used before from the couch).

  5. Flukie says:

    Tried it on my Win8 PC last night, Crashes constantly, I believe this might be to how Win8 deals with Xinput differently, hopefully they can sort it out soon, won’t hold my breath with how much they seem to hate Win8 so far.

    • djbriandamage says:

      Big Picture Mode worked perfectly fine for me on my install of Win8 x64 RTM, although I controlled it with a mouse and not a gamepad. It’s pretty lousy with the mouse – sometimes you’re presented a screen with no way to exit but to press the Esc key.

    • Sir-Lucius says:

      Are you running Win8 in a VM? I had the same problem on my Win8 install and the only thing I can think of is that the virtual machine drivers were causing issues. Worked fine in a dedicated Windows 7 install.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I’ve been using it on Windows 8 with a 360 pad with no problem.

      In fact, I would say it works better with Windows 8, and really suits the metro interface. You can just stick a link to big picture mode on the start screen, use a combination of touch screen and 360 pad, and eliminate the keyboard and mouse entirely from your setup. But no, Windows 8′s eeevil!

  6. Nemon says:

    It looks interesting enough, and might make it a little more interesting to try out this strange couch-and-controller-thing.

    Also, there are three pets in front of the TV and one lurking behind the couch. Does that confirm any games??

  7. Hoaxfish says:

    first-person browser

    I’m trying to read that without thinking about dubstep remixes.

  8. The First Door says:

    Had a play with it last night and I have to say this is everything I wish the Xbox interface was: Clean, simple to use, focused on games, attractive, surprisingly good keyboard (much better than the stupid Kinect line of letters) ad-free, actually uses more than 50% of your screen, no un-removable Sky TV rubbish and with a web browser.

    Seeing as I already have my computer plugged into my TV and use a controller for some games, I am really happy!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I’ll be taking bets on how long it takes Steam TV to take on all the bad from the latest Xbox dash and lose the good (just as the Xbox already did!). :(

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah it’s kinda shocking how much better than the XBox Live interface it is.

  9. Eddy9000 says:

    This could be great for PC gaming, especially if valve release a PC for £300 that can play AAA games at console quality settings. Not all PC gamers enjoy being sat behind a desk as Rab says ‘like a buisnessman’! I have my monitor set up on on a desk side table next to a recliner with the keyboard on my lap and the mouse on a side table on the other side, I still own at TF2 and writing reports is just so much more comfortable. My posture will probably be fucked by the time I’m 40 though.

    Any chance of an article on solutions for hooking up the tv to your PC for the middle aged digitards amongst us?

    • thaumoradiance says:

      Well, as longs as you happen to have a reasonably recent TV – and the same goes for your GPU – both should have HDMI inputs and outputs. They transfer both audio and video, so, I suppose in a such case all you need is a really long cable or two.

      Personally, I’d love having one of these monitors with pretty much all input ports in the world that are not obsolete yet. At least some of them (new) cost about 150 pounds or so, which is not terribly much for a such investment, as long as you have the money. More for bigger screens, of course.

  10. princec says:

    This is pretty fantastic, super slick; when it’s proper stable and out of beta I can see a lot of consoles gathering dust. Valve don’t even have to release a £300 PC – you can buy one right now, complete with Windows, install Steam on it (and, ahem, some fucking new video drivers, ok?) and that’s all there is to it.

    Cas :)

    • uh20 says:

      ahem
      complete with linux
      you mean
      godawful microsoft

    • fish99 says:

      Don’t think you’ll get much of a PC for £300 if you’re including the cost of a W7 oem license.

  11. Premium User Badge Makariel says:

    So, does that make “Ouya” bascially obsolete?

    • Premium User Badge Rikard Peterson says:

      Oo, yah!

    • TechnicalBen says:

      No, not if they can run it on the Ouyayaeee. Although you’d probably be limited to lower spec games (perhaps Steam have 2 lists to list by “grahpics card needed” and “will run on andriod”).

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I’m rather thinking Steam will go on OUYA eventually. Then I’ll definitely get one.

      • Jahandar says:

        Ouya runs on an android OS, it took them long enough to get it on Mac, and they are just starting on Linux, so I think it’ll be a while before we see it there. Most android hardware is a bit on the weaker side anyway, since its mostly for mobile use, not AAA games.

  12. OrangyTang says:

    That virtual keyboard looks like an evolution of Ken Perlin’s (yes, that one) radial keyboard designs from a while back:

    http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/demos/quikwriting2_1-rel-notes.html

    Which is nice, I always thought it was a neat idea that nobody seemed to notice.

    • James says:

      OnLive also has basically the same thing – http://support.onlive.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1021/kw/keyboard

    • Magnetude says:

      I can’t find any pictures of it, but I *think* that the first Killzone game on PS2 did something very similar. Might be wrong but I definitely saw something like it in the late PS2/early PS3 era and thought it was a neat idea, surprised both the big consoles went with the awful compromise of a full onscreen keyboard.

      • protospork says:

        Killzone’s system was similar, but if I remember correctly they used at least two smaller wheels instead of Steam’s big 8(?)-point ‘daisy wheel’ thing. I too thought it was neat.

  13. andytizer says:

    There are two current issues (which may or may not make it out of beta into the full release):

    Firstly, the Steam browser can be significantly sped up by disabling the Windows detect proxy settings.

    Secondly, if you use high DPI settings in Windows (likely if you are using Steam on a TV!), the taskbar will show above the Steam Big Picture mode. You can fix this through the option ‘Disable display scaling on high DPI settings‘ on the Steam shortcut.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Jeezus fricking Christ that difference is amazing. That dramatically sped up my normal steam browser to where it’s useable. Thank you.

  14. thaumoradiance says:

    This is going to sound somewhat awkward, but:
    This + Steam on Linux = way to make portable (embedded?) USB gaming consoles that one can take on the go, as long as he or she has a spare USB stick, a Gamepad and others have decent/not-so-old PCs with big screens in their homes.

    Or take something like Raspberry Pi, just with x86 achitecture, and plug it in directly into the TV.

    • thaumoradiance says:

      Oh, another thing: someone please figure it out how to make this live in perfect symbiosis with XBMC (on Windows or Linux, although once Steam is out on the latter, I’d prefer that). It’d be the loveliest thing.

      • Herzog says:

        This!

        • uh20 says:

          i agree, a tidbit of linux news, it looks like yesterday steam added steamlinux to the database (and got found out by data mining) and the beta update has more references to linux, such as a divider for games supported for linux, etc.

      • Jahandar says:

        You can add XBMC as a “Non-Steam Game” and run it from the Steam interface to watch your stuff, then when you’re done, exit and it will kick you right back to Steam. Ditto for OnLive, Plex, etc., I already do this for a number of apps, I just tag them with the category “Apps.”

  15. Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

    I’ve already made some suggestions on the hellish wasteland that is SPUF, but here’s my thoughts to make it work better:

    1) Separate servers for different inputs.

    We all know that in match ups between controller users and mouse and keyboard users, the pad user will get destroyed nine times out of ten. It’s essential then that pad users are protected from miserable experiences by Valve running dedicated pad only servers for their games with security to keep trolls out. Of course, pad players should still be able to join ‘normal’ servers, but with a health warning that they’re likely going to find it hard going. I say all this as my biggest criticism of CS:Go to date is the lack of ability to join pad only servers, making online play on PC with pad pretty much a no go when i’m crashing out in the living room.

    2)Enable ‘Friends’ to display what input people you know are using at that time

    While allowing all Steam users to see exactly what input other users prefer is a recipe for segregation and trolling, Steam should give the option to display to your friends what input you are using and for what game you are presently playing. Additionally, when using Big Picture Mode your friends list should automatically reorder itself in relation to what input you are using (i.e. pad players first) to make it easier to get a party together.

    3) Better matching by input method

    We know Valve can do matchmaking (TF2 / CS:GO), but the missing piece is matching via input, without this Big Picture Mode could be more frustrating than it needs to be.

    4) Overhaul TF2 to make it accessible for pad users.

    While all modern Valve games are fully optimised for pads, TF2 on PC using a pad at the moment is a mess. While the console commands are there, none of the menus or back end supports pads and the lack of controller only servers makes what should be Valve’s biggest draw (free, vast, fun game) a complete no go. Patching decent support in for pads would be the making of Big Picture Mode and attract many more of my console loving friends over to Steam given that the entry price for a good test game would be free.

    • ArthurBarnhouse says:

      I don’t know, I’ve played tf2 on the pc for years with a gamepad and it hasn’t been a problem. Yes k+m is probably better but in games I’ve played multiplayer I just haven’t noticed it being that much harder with a 360 controller.

      • Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

        If putting yourself at a disadvantage suits you, then fair enough. But you can’t argue that a pad can stand up against mouse and keys in online multiplayer unless you limit your options somewhat. I admit that certain TF2 classes you can get away with pad play (Medic / heavy / engineer) but it’s still like chopping a leg off. As I’ve said, to ensure a level playing field, there needs to be some measure of segregation, if not for you, but to welcome console players in.

        My real concern was that none of the back end of TF2 is optimised for pads, barely any of the menus etc.

        • ArthurBarnhouse says:

          Let me ask you this: have you ever actually played a PC multiplayer with a controller? Because it’s fine, it certainly isn’t “playing with a leg chopped off.” if I was playing competitively it would probably make a difference, but in pub servers, people with k+m aren’t particularly better than people with a gamepad.

          by the by, my preferred classes are spy and pyro.

          • Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

            I have, like i said i’ve tried TF2 quite comprehensively on servers with other mouse and keys players and other FPS’s where the results have been variable. The key determinator when it comes to most online competitive FPS’s are twitch skills which are much more attainable with mouse and keys than pads (other games it’s less of an issue of course). While you may be an ace with a pad, the average player may be left disheartened and put off if they are lumped into a game where they’re facing an uphill struggle.

            It’s important for BPS because its what its success among a certain type of former console player will hinge upon, not to mention people like myself with nomadic tendencies who aren’t interested in having god like skills to match up to players with more responsive control methods.

    • Premium User Badge alexheretic says:

      You actually want to cut the gaming population into partitions by input device?
      And you’d inflict this on us all because of a perceived disadvantage with your favourite set of buttons? Well that, and presumably an indomitable will to sit on a comfy sofa.

      I mean come on, that is a bit mental right?

      • Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

        The gaming community is already divided by input method as much as by platform and I am not saying any walls shouldn’t be permeable, but they should always be recognition that for the average player, there is going to be a difference in performance dependent on input method. It’s no fun playing with other people when you’re at a disadvantage, by all mean offer the challenge, but let people have access to a level playing field also.

  16. Buemba says:

    Pretty slick, but did I miss something or is a mouse still required if a game has a launcher? The first games I tried in big picture were Skyrim and Saints Row 3 and couldn’t find a way to get past either of their launch screens with just a gamepad.

    Also, the “take screenshot” button combo needs to be reworked. I think it would work better if quickly pressing the “home” button took a screenshot and holding it for a couple of seconds opened the Steam overlay.

    • fish99 says:

      That is quite a problem, and of course there’s going to be games in your library that plain don’t work with a controller too.

      I think if you’re serious about setting up your PC next to your TV, you’re going to need a wireless mouse and keyboard too.

  17. Cuchulainn says:

    So, every time I see someone reinvent a radial keyboard I cry a little because no one has bought the keyboard system used in Beyond Good & Evil from Ubisoft. Why?!?! It was a lovely and intuitive way to type on a controller.

    • olemars says:

      I was going to write exactly this, I loved the BG&E spiral. The “daisywheel” looks like an excellent solution too though. Can’t wait to try it.

      • Premium User Badge particlese says:

        Hey, that spiral interface looks pretty cool, and it looks like it would be reasonably fast with a mouse or gamepad.

        The daisywheel looks fast, too, though (haven’t tried it yet), and the way it works reminds me of that real-world input device that looks like two strategic commanders glued onto a large piece of plastic. *google* The Orbitouch.

  18. Premium User Badge TheApologist says:

    I used this to play a bit of Darksiders this morning, and my first thought was – now I don’t have to buy a console next generation.

    Responsive, easy to use, looks lovely – it’s great!

    (Though it did also made me think some pad-centric revamps of the UI of older Valve games would be good…)

  19. bill says:

    But…. my tv screen is smaller than my PC screen…

    • Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

      Indeed it may be, but the real benefit is in being able to navigate using something other than a mouse and keyboard, that’s something you can still do even if you use it on your PC, but less relevant as most people game with mouse and keyboard.

      I’m waiting for wheel and joystick support to be patched in. ;)

    • thaumoradiance says:

      My situation is actually the same. I do wonder how some older family members tolerate that small, antique CRT screen of theirs. It’s like a holy grail of television of sorts; it cannot be replaced nor improved.

      As long as the PC’s monitor is big enough for viewing from a distance, people like us still can just plug in their PCs (or consoles) and enjoy gaming that way. The key point is that even if the viewing area is the same, it allows one lay down in a bed or a couch and enjoy the wonderful thing that is PC gaming.

      • bill says:

        But my PC screen isn’t that big…. i just have a small antique CRT tv… *sad face*

        mind you, I never watch tv so that’s why i haven’t bothered upgrading it.

  20. Premium User Badge tengblad says:

    I tried Big Picture Mode this morning and was really impressed by how slick it is. I’ve been nursing the idea of building a gaming PC to hook up to my TV for a while now (my desktop is too far away and I don’t want to run cables all across my apartment) and the introduction of BPM is certainly making it look like an attractive option.

  21. Dave L. says:

    Having the Guide button on the Xbox 360 controller open the Steam overlay is fantastic, but it also conflicts with the Guide button opening the GfWL stuff in GfWL games. Overall though, Big Picture is pretty nice. And if no SteamBox is in the offing, it does point pretty clearly to how a SteamOS might look (though, almost ironically, it does have more than a few similarities to the Xbox 360 version of the UI formerly known as Metro, albeit a fair bit slicker, what with the integrated web-browser and theoretically better controller based typing interface).

  22. Crimsoneer says:

    So, is there a small box somewhere out there I can put under my TV, plug a KB/Mouse into and stream my PC to wirelessly? Or do I need to actually have my PC in my living room?

    • thaumoradiance says:

      The last time I tried TightVNC in a wireless system, it lagged quite badly – somewhat usable for web browsing, but definitely not for gaming. Perhaps it was my 801.11g connection, and perhaps it was lack of any kind of black magic that Windows Remote Desktop and OnLive have hidden under their sleeves.

      This is an interesting question, as I’d like to be able to play games on, say, a laptop or some other less-powerful device while putting all the processing burden on the main PC upstairs.

    • uh20 says:

      a computer out of the rooms more tricky

      the best way i think to do that is to get this thing i forgot the name of, its sort of like a computer with no processor, that you connect everything to, and it then just sends signals back to your normal one for power, do know theres usually a bit of display lag that goes this way, but it would mean just a tiny thing the size of a postcard

    • HothMonster says:

      Two boxes should cover it, a wireless USB hub and hdmi over ethernet.

  23. lukigi says:

    oh no, that will mean more games designed for game-pads and TV screens

    • Eddy9000 says:

      The only AAA games that aren’t primarily designed around a gamepad now are online shooters and RPG’s, strategy games and ARPG’s and I’m pretty sure these will keep getting made. M&kb works well from the sofa anyway, WoW with a wifi keyboard and mouse on the sofa is the way to play, and you can’t call yourself an armchair general until you’ve played total war on a projector screen in an armchair. I prefer gamepad anyway so suits me, I like having the control over movement speed that you don’t get from WASD keys, and i find the buttons more intuitive; keyboard can feel like finger yoga sometimes.

  24. Ravelle says:

    I wish Playstation’s XMB looked like this, I love sony but their interface is horrible and slow.

  25. videogangs says:

    Well that had me puzzled for a little while but figured it out- My behemoth in my office is a standard keyboard, mouse 24″ setup. so I tried setting up big picture on my bedroom telly using my retina macbook- only to discover that mac support isn’t there yet. I even just ordered a wireless xbox receiver off of eBay. Ah well, hopefully it won’t be far behind.

    • Magnetude says:

      Mac support is coming soon according to the Steam site :)

  26. Prime says:

    Anyone remember when Valve used to make games? By ‘eck, those were t’ days.

  27. Tiguh says:

    What is a television? I thought they’d died years ago, no?

    • Nucleus says:

      You know those large monitors that for some reason are bundled with integrated tuners? Those are the “tele-vision” things everyone talks about.

  28. Premium User Badge jezcentral says:

    That was a very Double Fine-esque presentation.

  29. flaillomanz says:

    Now all I need is an IMAX cinema to hijack.

  30. Herzog says:

    I should be writing my master thesis. Instead I am planning my future water cooled highspeed gaming HTPC… Thanks Valve :(

  31. Reapy says:

    I keep getting all mixed up with the tech I’m supposed to have. I used to use a modded Xbox as a media player, when that had trouble keeping up with file size, swapped to the 360, but that had some trouble too, finally got a htpc with xbmc and that works great.

    My tv is weird, it’s 720p plasma, has a VGA hookup, no hdmi, so I had to give up Netflix because the silver light player stretches it weirdly. YouTube is messed on a browser, but the xbmc pluging fixes it, though it’s hard to watch movies you encounter while browsing.

    For games it could handle decent things with the onboard video, but you can’t really tax it. Xbmc has some good game plugins like rom collection browser and advanced launcher that cover a lot of this.

    But damn it is hard to settle on a good set up. Obviously I want to game on my high res monitor with my expensive gaming rig, but for me at least, need that on a desk. Getting hard to figure out where you want things set up and what front end you want to running, but it’s cool to see some options out there.

    I guess though it’s odd to me this rush to push apps and something like that android console when really you just want a badass machine hooked up to the tv running software that is optimized for the available input devices you have there.

    • Zanchito says:

      Reapy: I’ve been trying different media centers, and I can’t really see a reason to use them over the traditional windows interface if my stuff is properly classified, as it should be. I have to confess I haven’t used them much, though. Is there anything I’m missing?

      • Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

        Agree with you. All media centre set ups are bobbins. Even the very expensive case I bought from Antec came with shocking outdated software and a nice, but ineffectual remote. Best to stick with Windows and a keyboard with a trackpad (alternatively an Android tablet with something like Unified Remote can be ok).

        Whatever you do, don’t go anywhere near Windows own built in ‘zoom function’ for your desktop as it completely messes up your games, stick to the ‘slightly too small’ large icons setting and extra large pointers. Most browsers can also install decent zoom plug ins, the one I use for Chrome works 80% of the time.

        Good things that work; new Steam (yay!) and Windows Media Centre. Everything else is rather crap still sadly.

        Will add though that MS have a really poor history in supporting the needs of those of us who dare attach our PC’s to the telly, I guess because it encroaches on the sacred Xbox.

        Metro and Windows 8 may well be a step towards being usability, but I bet you that it doesn’t support controller navigation out of the box. Also bear in mind that while MS officially support the Xbox pad in windows, all of the pad peripherals (headset / mini keyboard) don’t work at all.

        While Big Picture Mode is looking good, the OS’s it has to piggyback on are just totally unsuited still.

        • uh20 says:

          although it poses another problem, steam bigscreen over a super basic desktop in linux would probably be the best, the problem being theres only a short list of games going to be supported for the first few days, at least its longer than a console-launches list hehe

        • Jahandar says:

          If icon size is your problem, hold control and scroll up with your cursor on the desktop.

      • Reapy says:

        Meaning, why use the xmbc shell over just clicking the videos and playing? Honestly when it comes down to it it’s control method and presentation over using just windows I think. At first it was a discovery on xbox with xbmc that I could stream stuff to my tv that I liked. Once it was just a windows pc, I think I just find xbmc easier to use and faster to find movies.

        First thing is like steam here it is designed for use with a couch friendly controller, either a remote, mobile device (use ipad sometimes) or wireless controller. I finally got a wireless kb and mouse, I store it in the cubby under the coffee table, but it sure takes up a lot more room than just using the ipad to flip around.

        The second is the browse interface and scraping of media information. I really like the presentation of having all your shows up with their fan art. But really it’s just nice and simple to swap to the computers source, go to shows on a the recently added widget, click play, and you are watching stuff.

        I also like it a lot for the milkdrop plugin for music, when we’ve had people over I just leave that going full screen and it is a nice and easy way for me to get music going.

        For emulated games, I think I really liked being able to scroll through the list and see screen shots of all the games and in some cases play the little emu movies for it.

        I guess at the end of the day the number one feature is just that it’s fast to get to your shows with a remote and has a nice presentation to boot. But if you have your library all set up anyway and a wireless kb/mouse and are comfy with it’s set up, there’s no reason to use a media front end.

        It does make people go ‘oh wow whats that’ when you show someone though.

  32. Premium User Badge Carra says:

    So, does anyone know of a device which can connect my PC to my TV wireless for a reasonable sum (they stand about 5 meters apart)?

    • olemars says:

      HP wireless TV connect. Costs about 100-200$. But why not just get a 5m HDMI cable?

      • Premium User Badge Carra says:

        I did some searching, I should be able to get a 10m HDMI cable for around €15.

        Of course, I bought a wired x-box controller a year ago. If I had know, I would have bought a wireless.

  33. johnnyboy101 says:

    Anyone know if you can add your own custom images to big picture mode?? I have non steam games and i’d like them to be nice and shiny like the others!

  34. GeeKay says:

    I’m not seeing the big picture in this. When I want to connect my PC to my telly, I do so anyway. Big Picture offers very little gain considering if you’re dragging everything through from the spare room, you may as well bring the keyboard and mouse while yer at it.

    Wonderful if one can afford to build a second rig and have Big Picture running on startup thus consolefying the PC.

    For me personally, I don’t want to use an older PC that I have that way. I upgraded my rig to play the latest games and make them look loverly. To use my older machine in the living room is a bit defeatist and only allows me to play certain games that it can handle.

    No, I don’t want to disconnect my PC and rewire it into the telly each time I want to use it. The time I have done that, my criminally finite gaming time will be eaten up. What I want is great hardware solutions at a cheaper price. Wireless HDMI that doesn’t have latency issues would be a great advantage. Bluetooth mice and keyboards are readily available but the what is becoming industry standard – the Xbox 360 controller isn’t Bluetooth (i don’t think it is anyway?) .

    My heads always in the future of how a PC should be accessed and like other utilities in the house, why can’t the it be installed in a cupboard or something like a boiler, or an intruder alarm system. It’s accessed as a hub that can output to any source/telly in the house. Gaming whilst having a shit shouldn’t just be for the DS and Vita people :)

    I think the biggest let down would be the fact that you would have to download each game on each setup if you had 2 PC’s. And if the game didn’t have cloud support for game saves, then we’re back to that great debate of standardising game save folders :)

  35. RogB says:

    So games that support the 360 pad will work seamlessly, but what of mouse controlled games?

    heres somethign intriguing:
    the PS3 version of the UDRAW wireless graphics tablet uses a USB dongle and someone has already written a windows driver.
    since it tanked so hard, you can pick it up for 8 QUID!

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/uDraw-Tablet-including-Instant-Artist/dp/B005PJRM6G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347366645&sr=8-1

    so in theory: perfect wireless mouse controller for the sofa. sadly mouse+keys is still not going to be very good so no quake3… should be decent for strategy stuff though!

    • HothMonster says:

      There are 3rd party programs to force gamepad support into games that are not designed for it. e.g.

  36. BatmanBaggins says:

    I don’t get it… I can’t watch the video, but what is this doing that you couldn’t do before, other than adding a new TV-focused UI for Steam?

    • HothMonster says:

      Other than adding a TV centric gamepad supporting UI? Nothing

  37. Zanchito says:

    I hadn’t watched the video yet, but I have to say that albeit a bit too “markety”, it’s pretty good at what it wants to do.

    • Premium User Badge Monchberter says:

      I think it was marketty and quirky to capture the unrefined lumpen tastes of our console brethren. PC users aren’t the key market for BPM I hazard to guess.

      • HothMonster says:

        As an avid PC gamer who has had his computer hooked to his TV for years I can say that some of us are certainly in the market for this.

        Even for non-gaming purposes. I watch a lot of netflix through the computer on the TV and can’t wait to do so using the controller browser.

        But yeah the video definitively wasn’t aimed towards me, I paid little attention to what he said and looked for easter eggs. Did you notice the dog with 3 legs? HL3 confirmed!

  38. MythArcana says:

    Daily Valve media tour. Moving on….

    • Unaco says:

      Not before you make your predictable and slightly delusional comment, as usual.

  39. Shortwave says:

    This is amazing. I want to hump Valve.

    Seriously just made my life that much better.
    Now I don’t even need to leave my bed to browse/game.
    Maybe I’ll actually weight more than 120 pounds soon!
    THANKS GUYS! WEEEEEEEE!

  40. King in Winter says:

    That presenter in the vid has a really weird… accent-ish going for him. Has the side effect of making him sound rather goofy to my ears.

    But, it is mentioned that I can use a console controller with the Big Picture. Does that mean Valve has written drivers for them? Which are, as far as I’m aware, proprietary hardware?

    • fish99 says:

      Microsoft released windows drivers for the 360 pad ages ago, they even released a version of the wireless pad with a USB wireless receiver to plug into your PC, and called it ’360 pad for windows’. And DirectX has functions built in for reading the 360 pad too.

      Unless you’re referring to other manufacturers gamepads, Logitech etc, in which case I don’t know.

  41. Wedge says:

    Damn, I just installed TF2 too. Can you get it to move the installs with this? Majority of my games go on a regular hard drive with the steam install, but want to be able to install games that would actually benefit from SSD speeds on my OS drive…

    And I don’t know how I got to this thread from the one about the install locations… oh well.

  42. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    Good on them for having the first user icon at the video’s start say “SPAAAAACE is now playing: Portal 2.”