Posts Tagged ‘Steam Machines’

Hands On With Valve’s Hardware Bonanza

Sitting down with Valve’s Eric Johnson this morning, one thing seemed to become increasingly clear. Valve, a studio that has arguably been pretty quiet of late (not least with the failure to ship Steam Machines in 2014), is coming to life again. With a slew of announcements at this year’s GDC, the HTC-tech-incorporating VR Vive, a proper announcement of Source 2, in-home streaming tech in Link, available builds of Steam OS, and a final build for their much anticipated controller, you could almost forget that none of them is a game. While Graham was being pulled into a virtual world, I had a play with the controller on games running on a couple of Steam Machines, on some rather enormous televisions.

So the first thing you want to know: is the controller any good?

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Gabenship Down: Steam Controller Delayed To 2015

Half-Life MOBA trading card art game Diablo clone lawnmowing simulator confirmed

Calm your consoles. Give your Blu-ray/DVD/VHS (???) a soothing pat. Tell your ottoman it can stop whimpering in the closest. Your living room is safe – for now. Valve’s takeover plans have been pushed back to next year, as steady Steam Machine testing progress has revealed just how far the little Linux box/controller that could still has left to go. The controller won’t be out until 2015 at the earliest, meaning that it’s now entered the hallowed chronological halls of Valve Time.

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Alienware: Steam Machine Will Be Our ‘Least Profitable’ Ever

I find it interesting how Valve both is and isn’t investing a lot of time and precious, precious GabeNcoins into its Steam Machine initiative. On one hand, this is the PC juggernaut’s plan to bull-rush through the living room’s console-lined walls and play jump rope with the entrails of enemies within, but on the other Valve is hedging its bets as cautiously as possible. It’s letting countless hardware manufacturers take the risk on building and distributing these things, and it’s hoping audiences will give them some clue as to what they should do after that. It’s not a terrible strategy by any means. It’s just a very Valve-centric one. Hardware manufacturers like Alienware, then, are worried, even as they place utmost faith in Valve’s time-proven ability to prime penniless pumps until money cascades out like a Biblical flood.

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Huh: Alienware Steam Machines Can Be Upgraded After All

Remember when Alienware said you won’t be able to upgrade or customize its Steam Machine just a few days ago? Yeah, well it didn’t really mean that. Not entirely, anyway. Dell’s mighty squad of moon men have explained that you’ll technically be able to worm around in its pristine innards – for instance, by cracking its shell with a large mallet – but don’t expect to have an easy time of it.

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Why Early Steam Machines Need To Be Upgradable

Steam Machines might be Valve’s answer to consoles, but that doesn’t mean they play by the same rules as Sony and Microsoft’s increasingly indistinguishable boxes. Linux is an open platform and Steam is constantly evolving. I do not think it’s unreasonable, then, to expect elements of PC gaming to creep into Steam Machine hardware as well. Just, uh, maybe don’t get your hopes up for Alienware to kick off that trend. The intergalactic planetary PC supplier has decided that upgrading its Steam Machines won’t be a modular process. If you want shiny new CPUs, graphics cards, or even memory, you’ll have to pick up a whole new box. While SteamOS can change conveniently and for free, hardware, as ever, comes at a price. And that’s a problem – one that hardware manufacturers should consider remedying if they want us to be at all interested in their first round of Steam Machines.

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About Face (Buttons): Steam Controller Overhauled

I will never stop watching yo-- OW FUCK YOUR THUMBS ARE IN MY EYES

Steam, monopolizing all the news? What are you talking about? STEAM IS THE NEWS. The two have become one, a pulsating mutant announcement machine – or announcemutant for short. The latest and greatest? Word from Steam Dev Days is that Valve’s revealed the first big overhaul of its (somewhat finicky) beta controller. Say goodbye to that touch screen that never actually saw the light of day. Its variable button approach was interesting, but perhaps not in the best interest of backward compatibility. So it’s out. Don’t expect any biometrics either. At least, not initially.

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Valve Talks SteamOS And Diretide, Defends Communication

Valve is a strange company. The mega-dev has always paddled against the inundating current of conventional wisdom, but it gets especially odd when it defies its own internal logic. Oh yeah, also infuriating. As we’ve observed on multiple occasions, the house that Newell built is often extremely open, responsive, and communicative… except when it’s really, really not. Half-Life 3, a recent bout of (still-unexplained) layoffs, Diretide, etc. These lapses don’t make Valve a Bad Guy or anything, but they do strain the developer’s relationship with its 65-million-strong audience. It’s an odd dichotomy that’s more relevant than ever with the evolution of Steam Machines and SteamOS apparently in the community’s hands. So I decided to ask Valve a simple question: What gives?

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So Then, Why Should You Buy A Steam Machine?

Yes, that’s right: You. That is who this article is for. Absolutely, positively nobody else. And by that, I of course mean Yousef Johnson, the world’s most average PC gaming enthusiast. He spends much of his leisure time playing on his own custom-built PC, largely by way of Steam. According to Valve, You (and perhaps by extension, also you) are who the initial line of Steam Machines is aimed at. And yet, so far it’s difficult to find many reasons to care. There’s the living room appeal, sure, but what’s to stop You from simply installing SteamOS on his own machine, buying a Steam controller, and doing a bit of quick (not to mention free) legwork? I asked Valve to justify its massive yet arguably over-cautious endeavor both now and in the long run. Here’s how the PC juggernaut replied.

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Why Valve Isn’t Releasing Its Own Steam Machine… For Now

And poof, just like that, there were a hundred-billion Steam Machines. Or, well, maybe not quite that many, but a lot – ranging in price from reasonable to WHAT HOW YOU HAVE TO BE JOKING. But while Valve’s CES catwalk was littered with sparkling boxes from every manufacturer under the sun, one was missing: Valve’s own. It was powering demos off in the background, but it received no spotlight during our brief peek inside Gabe Newell’s magical toy factory. Why, you ask? Well, because Valve has no plans to ever release it. At least, for the time being. Many figured a standard Valve system spec would give PC gaming a lower barrier to entry, but that’s not how the digital juggernaut sees its role in all of this. 

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Watch Us Critique Valve’s Steam Controller

Why yes, I do groom that thin film of arm hair meticulously every day. Thank you for noticing

Valve’s robot owl Steam controller has been the talk of the town since the town learned to talk, but talk is cheap. While attending Valve’s recent CES Steam Machine event, I realized I had light and a camera, so it was time for action. Go below to watch me comment on (and gripe about) a beta Steam controller’s many, er, eccentric ins and outs while playing games like Metro: Last Light and Starbound. Valve’s onto something, I think, but there’s still a worrisome amount of work to be done before primetime. 

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