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Delving into the depths of surprise Steam bestseller Wallpaper Engine

It's not all boobs

The Steam charts are reliably staid much of the time - ever-present Counter-Strikes and GTAs, whatever the multiplayer survival flavour of the month is, and a big new release if there was one. This week brought a true oddity, however: Wallpaper Engine. It's a desktop wallpaper tool, and it's outselling almost everything else on Steam. Times, they are a changin'.

So, what is this thing, and why would an estimated (via SteamSpy; not necessarily accurate, of course) three quarters of a million people be using it instead of just, y'know, setting a desktop wallpaper? And, of course, is this £3/$4 application any good? The finest minds in Christendom gathered to investigate - and to show off the best and worst animated wallpapers they found for it.

Pip: What's that screensaver tool you mentioned? The one that's in the Steam charts, I mean

Alec: Something called Wallpaper Engine. Looks like the big draw is that you can download a gazillion user-made animated wallpapers from the Steam Workshop, or upload your own.

Pip: The first three reviews:

"I set a pornographic movie for my wallpaper

"Has steam workshop. Which mean moar weeaboo wallpaper obviously"

"we want more hentai on desktop"

I think I'm just not the target demographic for this. Like, if you want to watch porn you watch porn - what's the point of having it playing in the background like it's Radio 4?

Alice: Because you can combine it WITH Radio 4 and have the bodies on your desktop jiggle in real time with an Archers conversation about drainage in the upper field.

Pip: The top rated - one of these things is not like the others...

Alec: Looking at what's included in the app itself I don't think they realised that would happen, bless 'em. And hey, the Workshop's not all hentai. Here's some bacon cooking for an eternity, for example.

There's also a few nice abstracty patterny ones. Included with the actual install I mean. Like the dots here slowly move and fade. Not unpleasant.

Pip: maybe I should just write this up from the perspective of a person from the non-porn animation desktop generation.

Graham: And there's Sax Gandalf. Do the wallpapers actually play the music? Asking for a friend.

Oh my, they do.

Alec: 24 hours a day, every day.

John: Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen

Pip: what is MMD? There is a lot of lingerie in that one.

Alice: Men Mineapple Dappleden. It's another Hatsune Miku doodad, the Japanese virtual pop star.

Pip: Alice, have you been hanging out with young folk?

Alice: Dragonball. That's what they're into. Rollerskates. Hula hoops. Tin whistles.

Pip: Medusae

John: Some of these wallpapers are really nice! I'm using it! (Not anime, I should probably add.)

Alice: Right John, because TECHNICALLY it's manga

Graham: I wouldn't want the music but I like this Life Is Strange school garden one.

Pip: Someone's made one out of this

We could do a post of nice ones in amongst the tits. I mean, the tits would deserve their own category at this point

Alice: What if there are some great tits as well as the GREAT TITS!

John: Well, there is this.

Alec: Found in the Nature category: "Adolf Hitlers epic speech." You know what, I'm not even going to link to that.

John: this one is completely lovely:

Pip: That's the same artist, or at least the same tumblr, as the fish one. There are some lovely cityscapes on that.

Graham: There are a bunch of just Chloe from Life Is Strange sitting down places. I'm beginning to think Alice has known about this tool for a long time

Alice: You know I recorded all those scenes.

Alec: This one's like 80% there but frustratingly short of actual greatness. Not enough neon and noodle bars for me.

Alice: Y'all would love Tumblr.

John: Hehe. Alec, these achieve greatness.


Now this is more like it. A little piece of history.

Adam: I've been thinking these are screensavers this whole time. Why would I want an animated wallpaper? That seems like it'd make me dizzy. The wallpaper is where I go to rest!

Alice: Do you not have magazines in the bog? I recommend Chat! It's Fate ofc.

Alec: This endless FTL scene is more nerdery I can get behind.

John: Oh man, I thought that was going to be the FTL swoosh from Dungeon Master : (

Alec: sadly the only AT-AT one is weird rotating static model with disco lighting. Not even as good as it sounds. (Note: and subsequently withdrawn from the Workshop too. Boo!)

There's this, for very specific tastes. It says not to upload copyrighted stuff but somehow I don't thiny Bucky O'Hare has a crack team of intellectual copyright lawyers these days.

I tried to find something nice but this happened.

Alice: hahah

Alec: OK, I did a quick dick about to make one of my own. It's a bit jerky cos a) I was using FRAPS which is basically horrible for video capture and b) I am very lazy.

I've always loved that opening shot from Kentucky Route Zero. The gentle throb of the truck, the traffic in the distance, the parallelogram clouds, the eternal sunset... If I could get it playing more smoothly I'd have this as my wallpaper forever. Though it doesn't look bad at all if you set the playback speed to 50% in Wallpaper Engine settings.

(Note: 54 people have subscribed to that wallpaper even before I ever posted about it here. Erk.)

Wallpaper Engine is out now on Steam.

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About the Author
Alec Meer avatar

Alec Meer


Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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