You may remember that back in May, RPS was the first place in the world to announce Valve's new addition to Steam, Steam Cloud. Today Valve have declared that it's finished, and ready to go live.
Steam Cloud is a feature for Steam which, when implemented, allows players to store their save games and game configurations on Steam's servers, rather than their own computers. With Steam you can access your games from any computer, so long as you've bought them on your account, but you'd have to start the game from scratch or carry your saves around with you. So the idea is, with your saves and configs stored on Steam, you can just pick up and carry on whichever computer you use.
The first roll-out of the system is going to be focusing only on the config stuff. Valve explain,
"Steam Cloud support will ship with Valve's Left 4 Dead demo later this week and the full game on November 18. In this first release, the information stored and accessible through the Steam Cloud includes keyboard, mouse, and gamepad configurations, as well as multiplayer settings such as spraypaint images."
Of course, with Left 4 Dead not having saving, there's no need for the other half of the Cloud feature. But there's currently no word on when that function will be available. However, it's also become more clear that it won't be annoyingly fiddly.
"The Steam Cloud will "just work," meaning any user changes to their game options will propagate to the Cloud by default. Upon logging into Steam from another PC, these settings will be brought down from the Cloud and automatically leveraged by the game. Any configuration changes on this second machine are then synced to the Cloud for future sessions."
It's free to users, and perhaps more importantly, to developers and publishers, and it's available to be retrospectively added to previously released games. It seems like an idea good enough that it would be quite ridiculous not to include it in any future games. Although you might wonder about the reaction from publishers who seek to prevent customers from installing games on more than one computer. Ideally, the Cloud system becoming commonplace would make such draconian thinking look sillier.
Valve say they have plans to expand the features in the near future, which hopefully means an announcement on save games.