Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 9th Jul 2017 23:16 UTC
Games

Valve's Alden Kroll was at Indigo 2017 to talk about Steam and the changes they're working on. The talk covered the business side of Steam as well as some specific features available for game makers. The company wanted to meet developers face to face, answer questions, and hear feedback and suggestions as well.

The slides of the talk are available at the link (thanks to Valvetime.net), and interestingly enough, the slides states Valve is working on a "overall UI refresh & update" of the Steam client - which I applaud greatly. I hope it's more than just a new skin, and that they are actively going to address the performance issues and UI complexity - preferably by making the clients on the various platforms (Windows, Linux, macOS) feel like proper, native applications.

In addition, one of the slides also shows that Steam is still growing, with 33 million daily users, 67 million monthly users, and 26 million new purchases since January 2016 (so 1.5 million per month). Those are healthy statistics.

Order by: Score:
Make it faster at startup
by crystall on Mon 10th Jul 2017 05:55 UTC
crystall
Member since:
2007-02-06

I almost never use the Steam client when launching games, I have links on the desktop for the games I'm currently playing and I launch those instead. So by far my biggest gripe with it is that it takes a while at startup to launch. This wouldn't be much of a problem for most gamers but I usually work in Linux and switch to Windows to play so I'm really bothered by having to wait for Steam to be connected before I can play my games.

As for the shop I regularly use their webpage instead of the client, it's a much better experience with the only (stupid) limitation that you can't see the list of the games you already own. For all I care they could drop the store from the client entirely.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Make it faster at startup
by ssokolow on Mon 10th Jul 2017 08:35 UTC in reply to "Make it faster at startup"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Is there any situation where you'd have a use for a game launcher/organizer separate from the Steam client if all of the entries were auto-detected?

(Aside from "Here's the folder where I keep manually-downloaded games/ROMs which were installer-less Zip/RAR files.")

I ask because I'm working experimenting with with the feasibility of a Steam client-like tool with a "you choose your service-independence/convenience trade-off level" design and, the more use cases I can keep in mind, the better.

Here's the current state of the prototype GUI:

https://imgur.com/2yQMBZI

Everything you see was autodetected, because I'm still working to improve the accuracy and don't want to get lazy while dogfooding.

So far, my key goals are:

1. Very responsive, native GUI. (PyQt+rust-cpython now, fully Rust once QWidget bindings are more mature.)

2. Pluggable backends (eg. It will already query ScummVM and PlayOnLinux if found.)

3. High-quality heuristics for things which simply have no API to pull data from. (My filename_to_title test corpus has 841 file/folder names and, so far, I've got the accuracy up to 93% with most of the failings being bugs that I'm tracking down as I refactor.)

4. A GUI optimized for efficient keyboard operation.

For example:

- I've got the filter field forwarding various keys to the main widget for a more Launchy/Quicksilver-esque experience.

- Configurable search which defaults to shell wildcards and prefix searching with an implicit "at the beginning of words" requirement. (ie. "pir" will match "Pixel Piracy" but not "Spirits", and "pir* of" will match "Pirates of Pestulon" but not "of pirates")

- You choose whether typing in the search field clears any filters set using the category sidebar.

- I have plans to implement an even more Quicksilver/Launchy-esque mode of operation to be triggerable by a global hotkey.

5. The categories sidebar will support saved searches and allow tags to be grouped (represented via a tree widget), with intuitive AND/OR semantics for multi-select.

(Tags within a group OR together. Each group of ORed tags ANDs together... allowing stuff like "(Play_Status>In-Progress OR Play_Status>Endless) AND (Install_Status>Installed OR Install_Status>Downloaded)".)

Edited 2017-07-10 08:48 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Make it faster at startup
by leech on Mon 10th Jul 2017 18:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Make it faster at startup"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Gnome-Games-App does this already, as far as being a separate game launcher.

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Games

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Make it faster at startup
by ssokolow on Mon 10th Jul 2017 18:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Make it faster at startup"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

I'm aware of Gnome-Games-App. While we overlap, we have different goals.

Their goal is to take the best aspects of various existing launchers and emulator frontends and put them all in one place.

My project's goal is to push the envelope and build a launcher as a side-effect of the "If you want it to be good, dogfood it" effect.

It makes more sense if you see my project as two projects that I'm still working to peel apart:

1. A backend that, unlike Gnome-Games-App, can reliably auto-generate launcher entries when given a path like /mnt/buffalo_ext/games and told "get going".

2. A frontend which serves as both a test bed and something I can use in day-to-day life instead of Gnome-Games-App because I'm not a fan of GNOME 3's UX.

While I do want to have frontend features they lack, I also hope to eventually export a C API from the backend and let Gnome-Games-App use it too. (Or, even better, an API based on their efforts to improve the interop story between Rust and GObject Introspection.)

TL:DR; Their project is a proven-style frontend that's growing backends. My project is an experimental backend that's growing a frontend. Also, their frontend doesn't fit my tastes.

Edited 2017-07-10 18:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Healthy statistics?
by avgalen on Mon 10th Jul 2017 07:57 UTC
avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

Maybe I misunderstand, but

67 million monthly users, and 26 million new purchases since January 2016 (so 1.5 million per month). Those are healthy statistics.

1.5 million purchases per month on 67 million monthly users means that on average people only do a new purchase once per 4 years

Reply Score: 3

Please, no
by birdie on Mon 10th Jul 2017 09:59 UTC
birdie
Member since:
2014-07-15

I love the current client - seriously and I find it perfect for its use case.

And I'm pretty sure it will be updated to look like modern Windows 10 apps and Web 3.0 website - i.e. like pure shat: awful big fonts, big controls, a whole lot of white space, with features which are very difficult to discover and which have almost zero configuration options.

Yeah, Thom, let's turn yet another application into modern shat.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Please, no
by denis.lafronde on Mon 10th Jul 2017 14:08 UTC in reply to "Please, no"
denis.lafronde Member since:
2016-04-03

Steam doesn't even support HIDPI monitors. It's a big fuzzy blob of uglyness on Windows, MacOS and Linux on any recent displays. How can you love that?

Steam needs native widgets for performance and integration, it needs HIDPI support, and it need MUCH faster loading time.

Steam is a old and clunky software. There's nothing to love about it, it's not even giving advanced sorting features or tools to manage a games library.

At least those "bad" Windows 10 apps are able to look nice on my HIDPI display, can suspend themselves in the background and not use any resources, and can start without almost any wait.

Edited 2017-07-10 14:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Please, no
by birdie on Mon 10th Jul 2017 16:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Please, no"
birdie Member since:
2014-07-15

You are so freaking confused I have no words, but I'll try to find them anyways.

> Steam doesn't even support HIDPI monitors.

Less than 1% of Steam users use HiDPI monitors and the fact that it doesn't yet scale properly doesn't mean it has to be rewritten from the scratch to match the modern monstrosity of design.

> It's a big fuzzy blob of uglyness on Windows, MacOS and Linux on any recent displays. How can you love that?

Define what's not ugly? You'd better not start with Windows 8/10, iOS >= 7.0, Android >= 5.0, etc. These are all the worst examples of modern design. A lot of nothingness, indiscoverable or removed features, controls which you cannot understand.

> Steam needs native widgets for performance

There are plenty of apps which do not use native widgets and work lightning fast, e.g. Google Chrome under Linux does not user native controls but it's miles faster than Firefox which uses GTK3.

> and integration

Integration with what? It already has Start Menu entries, it can already open steam://id links. What else do you want?

> it need MUCH faster loading time.

It cannot be MUCH faster. I'll enlighten why it takes so much time to load for you:

1) Steam verifies all of its files, because it absolutely has to since it's a DRM solution.
2) Steam verifies your OS and its running processes to defend itself against various malware which interferes with its games.
3) Steam fetches quite a lot of network data and verifies your account.

Also, tell me why Uplay and Origin are almost equally slow on Windows. Huh?

> Steam is a old and clunky software.

And it does its work very well.

> There's nothing to love about it, it's not even giving advanced sorting features or tools to manage a games library.

Yeah, let's turn it into a Modern App which has 100 times less functions and you'll get roughly 10 times less information on the screen. Right. Let's make it a perfect companion with people with OCD/ADHD.

> At least those "bad" Windows 10 apps are able to look nice on my HIDPI display, can suspend themselves in the background and not use any resources, and can start without almost any wait.

Again, I don't give a fuck about your 32" 4K display. Also shove your nice totally unusable Windows 10 apps up in a place where the sun never shines. Every Win32 application out there is MILES better than your Win10 apps. In fact I don't know a single worthy Win10 app - they are all toys for people with OCD/ADHD who have never created any content or done anything for this world.

Steam can perfectly suspend itself - you can do it by minimizing it. And when it's minimized it barely consumes more than 300MB of RAM which is nothing compared to Win10 itself (over 1GB of RAM usage) or any modern web browser (over 1GB of RAM usage for 10 open websites).

> and can start without almost any wait.

You must be insane. Really. Win10 apps start fast only because they are preloaded with the OS itself.

I get it - you're a huge fan of XBox One. Go use it and forget about PC gaming.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Please, no
by denis.lafronde on Mon 10th Jul 2017 17:23 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Please, no"
denis.lafronde Member since:
2016-04-03

"You are so freaking confused I have no words, but I'll try to find them anyways."

You could try to be a little politer, you are very angry about a piece of software. Take some distance, and you will see, debating like an adult is quite easy!

"Less than 1% of Steam users use HiDPI monitors and the fact that it doesn't yet scale properly doesn't mean it has to be rewritten from the scratch to match the modern monstrosity of design."

Still, it means it's an old software built on old technology. And it shows. HIDPI displays are more important, and will be the standard fast enough. Almost all relevant apps have migrated to HIDPI support. Steam is clearly late in updating the platform. This is a problem.

"Also, tell me why Uplay and Origin are almost equally slow on Windows. Huh?"

Well, for me they are a lot faster (for example, launching Uplay for a Ubisoft game in Steam is much faster), but yes, it's still slow. I don't see why we should be ok with that. I just want to launch a game most of the time, nothing else. So just load what I need for the game, and do the rest in the background or some other time. Why should I launch the entire Steam client BEFORE I play my game? It's just lazy and a pain.

"Yeah, let's turn it into a Modern App which has 100 times less functions and you'll get roughly 10 times less information on the screen. Right. Let's make it a perfect companion with people with OCD/ADHD."

You're the only one suggesting that. I want a modern, powerful app. There are thousands of modern, powerful apps, with HIDPI support, modern and standard interface, no wasted space... Why are you obsessing about apps made for tablets, phones and Xbox?

"Again, I don't give a fuck about your 32" 4K display."

Come on, don't use that kind of language here.

What kind of argument is that? And 1440p+ displays are becoming standard for high-end gaming. Steam should be ahead of the gaming market, not behind it.

"Also shove your nice totally unusable Windows 10 apps up in a place where the sun never shines."

Well, some of them are perfectly usable in my Surface Pro when I use it in tablet mode, so I will keep them where I can use them. Why are you so aggressive about those apps? Don’t use them if you don’t want to. I will not force you to 😊.

"In fact I don't know a single worthy Win10 app - they are all toys for people with OCD/ADHD who have never created any content or done anything for this world. "

You are insulting a lot of people here. Most people using computers are not content creators, and that's ok. Everyone is doing something different. I for one work in a hospital, not writing software. I'm doing a lot of good, and it's ok. Still, I play games on my computers, and I want a great software for that.

"Steam can perfectly suspend itself "

It doesn't, I don't even think the Win32 api has access to that, like Universal Apps. Yep, my Steam client is minimized in the systray right now and still showing doing... something, using the CPU from time to time, depleting my battery for nothing.

“And when it's minimized it barely consumes more than 300MB of RAM which is nothing compared to Win10 itself (over 1GB of RAM usage) or any modern web browser (over 1GB of RAM usage for 10 open websites). “

I don't care that much about memory. But I want that memory to be available if necessary. But... Come on, comparing a OS to a game launcher... I don't think that's relevant.

"You must be insane. Really. Win10 apps start fast only because they are preloaded with the OS itself. "

More insult? What kind of adult uses that tone to make a point? Don’t you have any faith in your argument, so you try to compensate with something else? It’s not necessary. Why are you taking critics about Steam so personal? That's strange. And yes, some Windows Apps are loaded with the OS. That's great! Taking NO memory if a need it (that's the way they work), completely transparent and not in the way of anything, not making me wait for anything (Windows 10 is usable very fast even with this preloading). Why don't Steam does that?

"I get it - you're a huge fan of XBox One. Go use it and forget about PC gaming."

Why would I be? I never talked about the Xbox One. I am criticizing Steam because I'm using it. Very strange that you think that caring about something should be blind faith and admiration of a piece of software. And yes, even the opinion of someone liking his Xbox One is perfectly fine, I don’t see why something so trivial so be of any importance here.

Reply Score: 1

Valve fill a niche...
by dionicio on Mon 10th Jul 2017 13:44 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

Non strategically fill-able by anyone else. Hopeful they're on works to smooth their profile.

Reply Score: 2