Oh Hallelujah: Steam Now Lets You Preload To Any Folder

By Nathan Grayson on June 3rd, 2014 at 8:00 pm.

This may sound inconsequential, but I assure you: it is most certainly not anything of the sort. Previously if you wanted to preload a Steam game, you were stuck with good ol’ C:-fault, which was both a) an inconvenient pain and also b) dumb. We’ve been able to download Steam games to any hard drive for quite some time, so the restriction on preloading made zero sense. Now Valve’s fixed that – well, if you’re using Steam’s beta version, anyway.

Valve announced the change in an update, alongside a new Big Picture library section dedicated to screenshot management. Here are the patch notes:

General

  • Fixed in-game overlay sometimes not activating on first hot-key press after game launch
  • Games can be preloaded to any available Steam Library folder

Big Picture

  • Added new library section for browsing and managing user screenshots

In-Home Streaming

  • Worked around a crash in the latest NVIDIA driver (337.88)
  • Implemented brightness controls for games like Dark Souls II and Thief
  • You can toggle windowed mode on the client with Alt-Enter and resize the streaming window
  • Desktop shortcuts will stream games if they are currently available for streaming
  • Added 2’ streaming EULA dialog so you don’t have to go to the remote computer to accept it after installing a game.
  • Fixed the menu bar showing on the client on Mac OS X 10.6

So nothing earth-shattering, but oh jeez thank goodness finally, etc etc etc.

Steam continues to improve little-by-little, though it still has a long way to go before it’s ready for its own increasingly open, over-stuffed Future. One step at a time, I suppose, though. What blindingly obvious improvement would you like to see Steam get next?

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106 Comments »

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  1. dontnormally says:

    What is pre-load? Is this another way of saying “install”?

    • IonTichy says:

      I don’t get it either.
      Also, what is the “good ol’C: fault” ?

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      RobF says:

      It’s when you install a game but it remains encrypted until launch.

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        slerbal says:

        Why would I do that? (Genuine question)

        • bangalores says:

          It allows you to start playing the second the game unlocks at midnight or whatever launch time is.

          Not really a big deal to me, seeing as I quit pre-ordering games years ago and even larger games don’t take very long to download at my house.

          • MrFinnishDude says:

            People these days are just getting needier and needier.

          • suibhne says:

            There’s an associated, more important benefit: it allows you to circumvent Steam’s super-duper-slow download speeds around the launch of a popular game. (It does not, however, improve the stability of the Steam client/service in those same time windows…alas.)

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            phuzz says:

            I guess it’s a bigger need for Nathen as the sooner he starts playing the sooner he can write a review.

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            slerbal says:

            thank you :)

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          Clavus says:

          Fun fact: if you have fast internet (say +50 mbps), it’s probably faster to re-download the game than to decrypt it from the harddrive.

          • Asurmen says:

            Wish it was that simple, but more Steam servers always seem loaded to the point I only top out at 4 MB/sec and usually slower, when I should be getting 3 times that much. No matter where I set my download location to, even if it’s somewhere that’s the middle of the night. Go figure.

          • Press X to Gary Busey says:

            @Asurmen
            Steam’s bandwidth used to be crap for me but the last few years it has improved a lot and I rarely go below 10 MB/s on the scandinavian servers. I’ve got a 250 Mbps connection and sometimes the download even cause my crap hard drive to bottleneck.

      • IonTichy says:

        So it’s basically only of interest if pre-ordering a game.

  2. Darth Gangrel says:

    I’m a person who’s pretty happy with how things are, so I can’t come up with anything that I’d like Steam to add or change.

    • Ross Angus says:

      What, even tabbed browsing?

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        SuddenSight says:

        A working browser would be nice. Haha, I kid but seriously the Steam browser crashes for me all the time. And don’t even ask me about the big screen mode.

      • LionsPhil says:

        I’m not sure why you’d want to use Steam as your browser?

        I think it has tabs in overlay mode, which is the one case where it might have some use, digging up walkthroughs or references or something for a game that’s really touchy about alt-tabbing.

      • Somerled says:

        I’m guessing you mean tabbed browsing in the Steam client? Oh lordy, that would be nice.

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          Stellar Duck says:

          They used to have that but removed it in the continual quest to make Steam into the piece of bloated shit it now is.

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      LegendaryTeeth says:

      Personally, I would love an “Add all unowned DLC to cart” button. Improved sorting would also be ace. I’d love to be able to just shift click a whole bunch of games and drop them into a “Finished” folder so I don’t have to scroll through them all the time.

      • PopeRatzo says:

        That last is an especially good idea. My library has gotten somewhat unwieldy. I would like to make my own categories.

        Also, I would like to be able to tell the store to never again bother me with any “early access” games. I’m a big fan of greenlight, but not early access. Also, text adventures. No need to use up my bandwidth showing me games that don’t interest me in any way.

        • Berzee says:

          Making categories in Steam is already a thing you can do. (Unless you’re talking about something else than what I’m thinking of).

          (Shift-clicking on the games before categorizing is a thing I’ve tried to do before though, yes =).

          • mechabuddha says:

            Unfortunately, if you use the same Steam account on multiple machines, it really messes with your categories. I spent way too much time organizing my games on my new machine, only to have them all reset to their old categories every time I log in to another machine. I just use the Recent list now, but I really wish there was drag-and-drop or some sort of better organization.

    • AngoraFish says:

      The ability to increase font sizes please.

  3. Horg says:

    ”What blindingly obvious improvement would you like to see Steam get next?”

    A replacement for the 100 item vertical list in the store page, preferably with something that has individually selectable pages, categorical search filters, and remembers your place when you navigate to another page. For all the technical work that goes into making something as complex as steam work, you would think that someone at Valve would have been able to make a better list.

    • IonTichy says:

      Pretty much this, the embedded browser is just absymal by today’s standards

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      basilisk says:

      And tabs! And generally making the built-in browser more than just barely usable, and streamlining the unholy mess of javascript that are the community pages. Or the store pages, for that matter. Basically the entire website part of Steam, which is extremely clunky considering how important it is and how much stuff they keep piling on top of it. The rest of it is fairly acceptable these days; the glaring omissions have been mostly fixed by now (installation folders, option to switch off DLCs, offline mode that should hopefully work fine etc.).

      • IonTichy says:

        In this dept, they should have a closer look at Desura

      • povu says:

        I feel like most people overlooked the new option to disable individual DLC at will, because it was bundled with the patch that released the in-home streaming service. With all the shitty pre-order/special edition bonuses you get It’s pretty damn useful to be able to disable all that free shit!

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Clicking that bloody “next 10″ button over and over, then losing your place in the list when you hit “back”. This is annoying in no small way.

      • Frank says:

        Precisely this! Don’t they want people to browse their catalogue? Isn’t that how luxury items get bought on the internet?

    • DrMcCoy says:

      Yes, THIS!

      Tags instead of groups (with each game allowed to belong to several tags) and better filters would change the world.

      Also, something that actually show me what kind game I just selected in my list. Without the need to click on “Community Hub”, and then the “Store” button. Why doesn’t the big page to the right of the list show me the blurb and the images from the store, instead of “To install the game, press install” (thanks, I never would have guessed!), which of my friends played the game (who cares?), achievements (again, I don’t give a rat’s arse) and news that are often outdated and/or useless.

      In fact, right now, that stupid big page is nearly entireless useless for me. I never look at it, expect for the install button and the “Community Hub” link.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Absolutely this. Why steam can’t just plug in one of the significantly faster and better browsers is beyond me.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s already embedding WebKit, i.e. the Chrome/Safari engine.

        (I really hope it’s also updating it regularly, since nothing on the desktop sees a constant stream of vulnerabilities/fixes like browser engines these days.)

        (Previously it embedded the Windows HTML component, i.e. IE, but obviously that’s not much cop cross-platform. And since we’re talking the pre-IE9 ’00s, not much cop under Windows either.)

        • InternetBatman says:

          I knew that, but it’s based on a very old version (at least the in game browser is; whatismybrowser says chrome 18) and the steam main page updates so slowly (15 seconds, then 5, then 1 at my last count) that I only check it rarely now (and thus buy less games from steam). They also include java in the browser, but its a full year behind updates now, which seems like a pretty huge mistake.

          I still think they could do better by outsourcing the entire thing.

  4. Poppis says:

    Would be nice if you could rename categories without first removing every single game from it.

    • natendi says:

      Totally agree! Better library options should be a priority!

    • Frank says:

      Yeah, I got over their refusal to do tags, but just some simple folder management, like renaming, would go a long way

  5. Shadow says:

    It is quite inconsequential if you’ve installed Steam on the drive/partition you want your games to be. This only saves the people who originally made the blunder to install the application in the wrong place (i.e. the OS partition).

    So more than a blindingly obvious improvement, this change is merely a convenience for those who made a blindingly obvious mistake.

    • IonTichy says:

      This is no problem, you can always create another Steam-library on some other partition and install away on that one.
      I have the application installed on C:, yet all my games reside on a dedicated steam partition…works like a charm..
      You can even fix such a situation without internet access as you can backup a game and reimport it into the library of your choosing.

    • zerosociety says:

      Or for people who put their folder exactly where they wanted it on their main drive but every once in a while want a specific game to go to a different drive. Likely to their SSD.

      Because, and I realized this apparently isn’t blindingly obvious to you, but there are different PC configurations than yours.

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        optimus_hippo says:

        My problem with an SSD + HDD system is I really want the games I’m currently playing to be on the SSD but as that has limited space, keep the games I have already downloaded and might play again in the future on the HDD. And ideally, be able to switch games between the two drives easily. I’m not sure how they would build that into Steam and keep it simple though.

        There’s a couple of third-party programs that do it.
        Windows: http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover
        Linux: https://github.com/benopotamus/steam-game-mover (written by me! Hooray!)

        • P.Funk says:

          ” I’m not sure how they would build that into Steam and keep it simple though.”

          Select the “Change local file directory” under an individual game’s right click menu from the library. You get a folder dialogue you fill in or browse to. You press okay, some confirmation shows up. Steam then proceeds to copy all files to the specified directory, remove the old files, and clean up the registry entries and other errata in order to make everything recognize the new place, like a light installation process or repair.

          I never understand how some GUIs end up messy.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Or for people whose main drive has filled up, and they want to start putting new games on another drive. But I guess that’s not blindingly obvious enough either.

      • Shadow says:

        I’m used to freeing up space by deleting old games I no longer play. But sure, that’s a valid concern and this convenience comes in handy for it.

        I can’t blame Valve for not implementing the feature sooner, though. And it seems I’ve proven “blindingly obvious” as an expression is unsurprisingly extreme and likely inaccurate, and rubs people the wrong way (as it did me originally) no matter the context. :D

    • Asurmen says:

      How is it an obvious mistake?

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      jrodman says:

      Remind me why windows still lacks a volume manager, or multidisk filesystem?

      • Phasma Felis says:

        My guess is that, for the average home user, there’s a lot of value in being very very clear about which physical volume your files are on.

        • P.Funk says:

          To my mind the confusion an average user has in a basic windows file system resembles being uncertain which room you’re in at any given moment in your own home.

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          jrodman says:

          Sure, there’s value in that.

          However, providing the OPTION of spanning filesystems across disks is very 1990s.

          In the 2010s we can even do things like “I want to remove this disk, so please move all my data to the disks I’m not planning to remove” and have the system deal with it just fine.

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        Harlander says:

        It actually has both of those things. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/dn451252.aspx

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          jrodman says:

          Well, this isn’t a multidisk filesystem, but it is mostly as good as a volume manager.

          So the 1990s have arrived, and people can stop waiting for steam to figure out paths.

          • LionsPhil says:

            Except much of the reason to have two disks in a gaming machine is because they have wildly different characteristics (SSD and bulk HDD), so you don’t want to unify them under one amorphous lump of storage. It actually does matter which drive you put what on.

    • Jazzyboy says:

      I installed Steam on my 120GB SSD because it then loads up much faster, which is important because I have it set to launch at boot and I don’t want it getting in the way of anything else at that time.

      I install most of my games on my 1TB HDD, which is much slower than the SSD.

      So no, there is not a blindingly obvious mistake here. Just a very delicate PC configuration.

  6. Tyrric says:

    What blindingly obvious improvement would you like to see Steam get next?”

    the ability to arrange titles in the library via drag and drop, plus the ability to move more than one title at a time to a category.

    Steam Music for desktop mode.

    The ability to know what DLC you already own via the games main page, just like Enhanced Steam does for the web site. Also, having checkboxes to select multiple DLC for addition to your shopping cart would be nice, as opposed to either hitting ‘Add all to cart’ then weeding out the ones you do not want or having to click on each DLC to add it to the cart.

  7. Jamison Dance says:

    I imagine this is a much bigger deal for the RPS writers than the general gaming population. Maybe they preload games so they can start reviewing them as soon as they launch? I dunno, seems like a small tweak for a standalone article.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      No, its not just a big thing for them. I have Steam located on a 250gb SSD, and games located on another 250gb SSD. Having pre-loads automatically go on an SSD that may be short on space e.g Wolfenstein’s 50gb pre-load going on it is hassle, and its nice to be able to allocate it to a different one.

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      jezcentral says:

      My c: is an SSD with not much space, and I wanted to pre-load the (free) Dota 2 film Valve released. I couldn’t, as it wouldn’t allow me to change the target drive to my 2Tb d:. Now, it will allow me to do so.

      Yay, for more options!

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        Mitthrawn says:

        Yes, I’m in the same boat- 120 gb SSD main drive, 3 tb drive for steam library. So I couldn’t start downloading wolfenstein till tuesday at midnight and couldn’t start playing till a day later. Not a huge deal, but definitely a convenience.

  8. LionsPhil says:

    Some kind of “here is the bunch of friends together looking for a game, give us a shortlist of what we all have, and a near-miss list of the things we almost all have so we can fill in the gaps”.

    There are third-party sites that try this, but it’s kind of a suprising first-party omission given it’s basically “sell me games based on social data”, which is about 95% of what Steam’s community features do.

    • Excelle says:

      This. Steam’s discoverability – especially of YOUR OWN GAMES – is beyond terrible. Sometimes I know the kind of game I want to play, but I’ve emptied so much money out of my pockets from Steam Sales and Humble Bundles that I can’t see the wood for the trees in a list of hundreds of games.

      And a lot of the time finding a game to play with friends descending into a got-not got farce for 20 minutes.

  9. PenGunn says:

    This is the same idiot that hated ESO. I see a paterren. “FZ”

  10. Premium User Badge

    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I sorely miss when all the writers on RPS would incorporate puns into their headlines. I thought that was a requirement of sorts, honestly.

    • phelix says:

      Save the endangered image alt-text! Nathan and Alice seem to be the only ones still making them for their posts.

  11. zerosociety says:

    Oh, I could have used that for Watch_Dogs.

    I could have also used a time machine to go back in time and slap myself in the face before I could pre-purchase Watch_Dogs.

  12. RuySan says:

    A reasonable way to manage the wishlist!

    • MykulJaxin says:

      Earlier this week I would have laughed at you, but when the Outer Space game was reviewed (Adama was in it?) I was like, “Oh, I’ll go find it, I put that in my wish list!” And I opened up Steam and saw I had 71 items on my wishlist and gave up instantly.

  13. apa says:

    Open source the Steam application.

    • LionsPhil says:

      …and remove the DRM aspect of Steamworks!

      And the moon on a stick!

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        jrodman says:

        What’s the stick for?

      • BlueTemplar says:

        Not all Steamworks titles have invasive DRM, you know? Some of them can be launched without Steam being open… so it would seem this is a choice that the developers/publishers of a game make, rather than something that Steam forces on them.

  14. Phantom_Renegade says:

    This is a basic function and it’s arrival should be met with us saying, shit wasn’t this standard before? Also, until they start charging before release, and not when you pre-order, their pre-order/load system is still a con, especially since release dates have proven to be so incredibly fluid.

  15. fish99 says:

    I’d definitely like to see an easier way to group games, it’s a total pain to add and remove them one by one and then not be able to rename the groups (categories).

  16. Premium User Badge

    HKEY_LOVECRAFT says:

    As ashamed as I am to admit that I have over 1800 games in Steam, Valve should be more ashamed that there’s never been a way to display only games that are not installed. Having to find a single grey entry among dozens/hundreds/thousands of titles is ridiculous; I simply cannot fathom how something this easy to implement has been overlooked for so many years.

    So, basically this plus everything else listed ’til this post. The Steam client is in shambles, and all it would take is one FTE to document its shortcomings, fix a majority of them (pure database, layout and organization-type work), then pass the highly technical fixes to their ‘upper echelon’ programmers.

    You hear that, Valve? I’m available!

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      jezcentral says:

      Over 1800 games?

      Half of me wants to laugh loudly at you, the other half wants to BE you. I’ll go with the latter.

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      Mitthrawn says:

      Hit organize by size on disk- it’ll show you all the uninstalled games in one place. And I have over 2200 games. But who keeps count anymore :p?

  17. MrMista says:

    Is it possible to move a install after Steam has downloaded it? I know there are 3rd party tools that use symlinks but I was wondering if Steam itself can do this.

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      basilisk says:

      Not from within Steam, as far as I know. But you can set up another “Steam Library Folder” in settings and then just move the steamapps/common/%game% folder and the corresponding appmanifest_%gamenumber%.acf file there manually. Steam will find them there.

      • LionsPhil says:

        The process I have seen recommended to try to avoid confusing the poor dear is to copy the steamapps/common/whatever from one library folder to another, tell Steam to uninstall it, then tell Steam to install it in the new library. Steam thus believes itself to be in full control of the world, as it is wont to, but will also avoid redownloading all the files it discovers it already has at their new destination.

        It’s worked for me.

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      phuzz says:

      This is the one I’d quite like as well, so I could shift games to/from my SSD depending on what I’m playing at the moment.
      That said with however fast our internet is (I see download speeds on Steam of 14-15MB/s*) it’s almost as quick to just download it again.

      * just realised that’s about 10,000 times faster than my first internet connection!

  18. Artiforg says:

    This is the most important change in this patch, for me:

    Fixed in-game overlay sometimes not activating on first hot-key press after game launch

    I bought a new keyboard a few months ago (must’ve been around the time that this bug arrived in Steam). First time I played a game and tried to open the overlay it didn’t open, then pressed the key combo again and it opened. Until I read this post I thought my new keyboard was a bit flaky! Phew!

  19. Tom Walker says:

    I’d like Valve to make some more video games.

  20. SkittleDiddler says:

    I’m really curious about #4 on that list. I’ve been suffering from random crashes with some of my Steam games (especially multiplayer games) for a couple months now, and I’ve been drifting between blaming Steam, Nvidia’s shitty drivers, or some kind of conflict with Flash. I actually wasted the weekend reformatting and reinstalling Windows in the hope of fixing it, so if it was nothing but a Steam/Nvidia conflict I’m going to be pissed.

  21. The Dark One says:

    Rather than being about entitled gamers who can’t stand to wait to play their games, pre-loading helps out those with the slowest connections. In the case of Half-Life 2, they even let people pre-load without ordering, so when they released the demo version, it used the files that were already on-disk.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Self-entitled.

      And yes, I am going to keep doing this until you all get it.

      People say you can’t stop change in language use, but they just aren’t trying hard enough.

      Oh, hey guys, what’ve you got there, a straitjacket? Hey, what’re you doing with that syr

  22. Frank says:

    Judging by the comments, it looks like you’ve succeeded in improving your nerd cred, Nathan.

    Not only do I not care what partition my games go on, but I only preorder and predownload games a few times a decade (DHXR, maybe some Firaxis games…).

  23. Jason Moyer says:

    This and the recently added ability to individually uninstall dlc are huge for me.

  24. eataTREE says:

    It just occurred to me that the Steam logo is a tie rod (from a steam engine). Yes, it took me a dozen years to figure this out.

  25. schlusenbach says:

    I’d like control over my gaming stats. Let me reset and disable gametime-counters & achievements if I want to.

  26. agitatedclimax says:

    Detect the version of DirectX and C++ Redistributable installed and skip installing them, again and again, if I’ve already got the current version. How hard can that be?

    • LionsPhil says:

      The redistributable installers already do this. Steam is doing exactly the right thing.

      The correct fix is to not show the message, since it misleads people.

  27. bstard says:

    ”What blindingly obvious improvement would you like to see Steam get next?”

    I’d like to limit the store to only show finished available products. No early access or pre-ordering. When I walk into a store I want to look at what is available to buy. When I want to preview something, I go to youtube/RPS and watch news of upcoming titles.

  28. Rollin says:

    For the wishlist to remove games from itself if I already own them. I found two games like this the other day.

    Not sure if this already exists, but for Early Access games on my Wishlist to email me when they’re finished.

    Also if you press back after browsing down a long list of games and having clicked one, it goes back to 0-10 and not 40-50 where you were in the list.

  29. Ryuuga says:

    Scaling of the UI and fonts. I’m often using the computer from the couch. The teensy tiny font in chat windows is all but unreadable.

    There used to be a fiddly change-stuff-in-some-file-in-the-steam-install way to at least change the font size, but then that stopped working.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ooh ooh.

      Just throw out all the theming stuff entirely. Bin it. Fire whoever implemented it.

      Stop trying to look like WinAmp and/or some leet dark-like-my-soul haxor program from the late ’90s, and look like a standard Windows (or Mac or GTK+) application using the standard OS colours and widgets.

      Then your maximize button might even actually work properly because you won’t have to reinvent your own window management. (To this day it still gets confused about what state it’s in.)

      • Ryuuga says:

        Yeah, that’d be a reasonable way to do it, especially since they don’t seem too fond of working on their UI. Regular windows stuff I’ve scaled up 25% or so, and that looks pretty ok. Not great, but well.. better than having to squint at the text.

  30. BlueTemplar says:

    - Allow us to go back to any version of the game : quite useful for when a new patch breaks the game or your save games; especially important for modding support as mods often take awhile to be updated to the last version of the game, if ever.

    – Allow us to start playing the game while the patch files for it are already downloading : this is especially important for bad Internet connections, as starting up Steam then finding out you cannot play the game you wanted to for an hour because a patch is downloading gets tiring after awhile…