Tag Archives: Steam

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Games released on Steam in 2014 already surpasses games released in all of 2013

Ever had those times when you didn’t have any games left to play? The gaming blues as we gamer folks like to say it. Well, if you had or are having it now all you have to do is to turn to Steam to blow it all away. According to an analysis report by Gamasutra, Steam has seen more game released in the last 20 weeks than it has released in all of 2013!

The large influx of games in 2014 on Steam is something that is credited partly to Steam’s Green Light feature that allows the community to elect a game to be published on Steam. In fact only recently there were as high as 75 games released on Steam in a single day too! The trend, as analyzed by Gamasutra in their graphs, has grown exponentially and judging from the recent trends of May, it seems that it will continue down that part.

This trend however has both pros and cons. The pros of this trend being that indie developers now have a definitive platform where they can independently showcase their ideas without having to go through the hoops related to publishers. And since is a community driven process, the developers have a minimalistic quality level to take care of too which is again reinforced by the competition.

However, the con of this system lies in the sheer number of games being released each day. As more and more games are released every day, their time on the front page is getting diminished; as such developers can’t showcase their games for longer than 24 hours at max. This is a big problem, which was the reason the concept of publishers came in the first place. There are a lot of indie games that are perhaps never seen by people and subsequently never played as it get buried under the big number of releases on Green Light every day.

Valve has however announced that the days of Green Light are numbered and will be removed entirely to make way for an even more open self-publishing system. Although nothing has been announced officially, nor said definitively by Valve, the new system will allow anyone to publish their game with the users of Steam acting as the curators. The developers can also host their own web-based Steam web-front.

Whatever it is Valve implements, one thing is for sure, indie developers will be given more freedom in releasing their game more effortlessly. Along with that they will be facing a tougher competition as the sheer number of games released reduces the exposure time each game gets drastically.

Source: Gamasutra

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New Steam for Linux Beta Update released: Features Performance fixes for Big Picture

Following hot on the footsteps on the last update, Valve just released another Beta update for Steam. This time however it is targeted towards Linux. This beta update brings a slew of much needed updates and most importantly various performance fixes for Linux.

According to the update log, this version specifically targets the various issues and bugs plaguing the Big Picture Mode. The Big Picture mode has been optimized further to improve performance. Although the performance boost is available for all platforms, the highest gain is on Linux. Apart from that, the Big Picture mode’s out of focus or in game bug has been fixed. Additionally, previously, when entering the quit menu, the focus wouldn’t be on the first item. This has been fixed with this Beta update. Finally, the issues with the Daisy Wheel that Big Picture utilizes for text entry has been fixed. Previously, it wouldn’t show successfully is it were launched through a launcher other than the default one. Those Steamwork games have now been fixed. The Beta update is available for all users of Steam for Linux. Though being a Beta update, you need to opt in to the Beta program through the preference menu. The official announcement as found on the announcement board is as follows: Big Picture:

  • Improved performance in some cases with the Big Picture window out-of-focus/in-game. The biggest gain here is on Linux, but all platforms should see some benefit.
  • Fixed focus when entering the quit menu sometimes not being on the first item
  • Fixed Steamworks games that utilize the Daisy Wheel for text entry in Big Picture not showing it successfully if they were launched via a launcher or other multi-process scenario

Source: Steam Announcements

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Steam client beta update released: In-home streaming for all enabled

A new Beta update for the Steam client has been released. The major breaking news with this update, apart from the general fixes, is that this update makes available to the Steam In-Home streaming feature. Previously it was selectively activated on specially selected Steam users. Post this beta update, any Steam user can now use this feature once they download and install the update.

An introductory dialog box has been added with this update so that people are not left grasping in the dark anymore and the proper features explained when the feature is started for the first time. Along with that a dialog box has been added that notifies if a game needs to be played at the Cloud Sync Resolution.

For people who have been lucky enough to be using this feature before others, there is something for you people too. This new update brings several bug fixes and optimizations too. Performances for asynchronous capture performance on both OpenGL systems and D3D systems have been improved. Along with that the precision for refresh rate and framerate capture has also been improved. Apart from these fixes include the fixing the bug where the client resolution would be changed on a crash with software decoding. Several issues related to latency have been fixed too, like the cause for infinite latency when the client is too slow along with reducing the latency when the streaming is being done at the client’s refresh rate.

Like always the update also carries a host of general bug fixes and optimizations. For a detailed list check out the release notes over at the official Steam website.

Source: Steam

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Steam Client Updated: Ubuntu 14.04 support added, VR mode gets even better!

Valve just pushed another update for Steam, their digital distribution platform. The update contains a variety of bug fixes. In addition to that, this update now makes Steam for Linux officially compatible with the new distribution of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 14.04, which was a pretty fast move on the part of Valve. Apart from those, this update also improves and readies Steam to be fully compatible with Steam’s Virtual Reality. Instead of having to start it by the –vr command line option, the VR support is now integrated into Steam and it is capable of turning it on and off based on the hardware presence.

To start off, the biggest news for Linux users is that this update adds the official support for Ubuntu 14.04, which is quite impressive since the latest OS just got released. In addition to updating the runtimes for Ubuntu compatibility, the update also fixes a game crashing bug on Linux. The crash occurs when more than ten processes gets attached to the Steam overlay. This no longer occurs after updating. In addition, the Big Picture mode in Steam for Linux now supports setting of voice input devices from within the Big Picture mode.

Speaking of Big Picture, it too has received some fixes in the update. The mode is now more localized, with the ability to display the correct localized EULA if the language is changed. In addition, the percentage display for queued items has been fixed to display the percentage correctly. The UI for pre-loading the games have also received a facelift. Lastly, the login screen now has login help support for forgotten usernames and passwords.

And finally we have the VR segment. This segment is the one that has received the most upgrades perhaps. The view mode now shows “Virtual Reality mode” if SteamVR is installed and a compatible headset is found. Steam can also detect a VR headset if plugged in when Steam is running and goes into the appropriate VR view instead of Big Picture Mode. The switching between the various modes has also been improved. The new update will be downloaded automatically when Steam is next started.

For a detailed view of the changes, check below:

Linux + SteamOS

  • Updated the steam-runtime for Ubuntu 14.04 compatibility
  • Fixed potential hang when using certain UI toolkits that relied on SIGCHLD
  • Fixed a game crash occurring when more than ten processes were attached to the Steam overlay, fixing “CID The Dummy” on Linux
  • Added support for setting voice input device in Big Picture

Big Picture

  • Load correct localized eula if the language changes in the Choose Language panel
  • Fix progress % displayed for items that are queued for download
  • Fixed a bug in Web browser where big pages would be erroneously clamped
  • Fixed UI for pre-loading games
  • Added login help support for forgotten password and account name

Virtual Reality Mode

  • Added “Virtual Reality mode” to the View menu and removed the –vr command line option. This will only appear if SteamVR is installed and if a supported HMD is detected
  • Added support for switching from desktop mode to VR, then back to desktop and into Big Picture
  • Added support for detecting when an HMD has been plugged in after Steam has started
  • When running in VR mode Steam will now open only the VR window and not the normal Big Picture window
  • Moved VR mode log files under the Steam client install directory

For additional details on bug fixes on other platforms, check out the official Steam Update news site.

Source: Steam News

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Glitchspace now available on Steam

Glitchspace, a queer little game, that was waiting to be green lit on Steam, has finally been green lit and entered into Early Access on Steam. The game was featured as one of the 12 entrant to the carefully selected games shown at the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at the Game Developers Conference 2014. The game is currently available for $6.99 on Steam and is in Early Access stage, meaning free upgrade to the full game and the ability to interact with the Developers while also influencing the game as they build it with your feedback.

I say queer because Glitchspace is a game about finding and debugging glitches. So basically it is a program that has you debugging glitches! The game is centered on the concept of visual programming mechanic. The players solve the glitches by manipulating them. The game even has a little plot associated to it, in that you, as the player, are trying to find Glitchspace in the realm of cyberspace, where the game is set. Glitchspace is a by-product of Cyberspace due to all the glitches accumulating. It is a land of infinite possibilities that can also allow access across any and all kind of system, so the player is dropped into cyberspace, from where he/she has to find and exploit the various glitches in ways only limited by the user and find victory.

The game is based on a node based concept with the visual system dubbed as Null. Null allows for chunks of functionality to be applied to objects with ease, and makes the programming a visual, dynamic, and instantaneous feature.

Objects in Glitchspace are either programmable, or non-programmable. You can make an object programmable through decryption using a decrypter, and similarly you can make it non-programmable through encryption using an encrypter.

For each programmable object, a canvas can be brought up, and function nodes can be added to it upon the canvas. These function nodes have input and output connections, and can be connected to each other to create functional code that does something to the object, to another object it references, or to totally new objects it creates! The game developers say that you can even recreate Portal and the Gravity Gun is you are creative enough! So the possibilities are endless! This sure is shaping up to be one awesome game!

The requirement of the game states a Debian based distribution, so that might also point to a possible SteamOS release too.

Source: Reddit

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New phishing scam capable of bypassing Steam Guard security

Following hot on the footsteps of the Heartbleed bug vulnerability of the Steam OS, another security concern for Valve has surfaced. This time however it is regarding Steam and by extension of a wider field of possible affliction. A new type of phishing scam can allow attackers to by-pass Steam Guard.

Steam Guard was introduced by Valve way back in 2011. It is the extra layer of security that Valve implemented to maintain security of your account across multiple devices. With this security measure activated, if you or someone else tries to access your account from a different device, Steam will send a confirmation code to the associated email which needs to be entered during log in to be able to log in successfully. Users can however assign computers as trusted computers and prevent Steam Guard to ask for the confirmation every time the user tries to log in from that device. The phishing scam it seems exploits this very feature.

The new kind of scam asks the users for their username and password. On entering the credentials, the scam then states that it needs to download a special SSFN file from your computer. This file is located in your Steam folder, and is in place to tell Steam Guard that it doesn’t need to security check your computer. Chris Boyd from Malware Bytes says that anyone with the login credentials and the SSFN file can very well be the master of the associated Steam account. As such they will have full access to the account. Attackers generally then can proceed to drain the wallet, items and trading cards. Although, they cannot buy any new games since they would need the card security details.

This is indeed a serious issue and Valve has asked its users to not send the said SSFN file to anyone, which is one way of keeping secure for now, till a time Valve comes a counter measure for such a phishing scam.

Source: Gamasutra

Exploring the flora of Mars

5 puzzle games you should check out today

While mainstream gaming tends to revolve around space marines and army guys (and a bit of Batman), the indie scene tends to pick up the genres that can get overlooked a little. We all like to feel smart sometimes, and nothing helps that feeling like a good Puzzle game. When all the pieces finally line up and you get that feeling of “Oh man, that’s so obvious” in hindsight, you know it’s a good afternoon.

As an added bonus, puzzle games are usually something you play for short intervals of time, without requiring the 20+ hour commitment of a big roleplaying game or strategy game. These games are generally all fine for young children, having little to no questionable content or scary parts. Smaller children may still benefit from playing with a parent, to avoid getting stuck or frustrated.

So here are five little puzzle games you should consider checking out today:

Frozen Bubble

This one goes back quite a ways, and can be found in most distro repositories. It’s a simple colour matching game: You shoot coloured bubbles into the air, and if they touch existing bubbles of the same colour, they pop and disappear. Your goal is to clear the screen before the ceiling descends on you. Cute, colourful graphics (with penguins no less), relaxing music and a two player mode round out this very nice free offering.

Frozen Bubble is likely in your repo’s and otherwise available here

Dynamite Jack

A mix between a 2D stealth game and a Bomberman clone, Dynamite Jack has you walking around a prison complex, trying to escape by blowing up obstacles, avoiding guard routes and bypassing locks and barriers. It’s one of those titles where you’ll understand the basics in minutes, but you’ll be surprised how much tension a silly little 2D game can generate, when you are rushing to hide from a swarm of guards.

http://www.galcon.com/dynamitejack/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/202730/

Crayon Physics Deluxe

You are trying to get from one point to another. To do so, you draw things on the screen, and those things appear in the game. This is the sort of game that’s actually easier to explain to children. Wonderfully intuitive and with a good amount of levels (and bonus points for coming up with clever solutions), this is a solid and original puzzle game.

http://www.crayonphysics.com/

Linux version not currently on Steam

Waking Mars

Physics platformer seemed to be the default state of indie gaming for a while, and there’s been quite a few. I found this one rather enjoyable. You are interacting with different, alien plant life, each of which will respond to certain influences. As you make them grow, react and change, they will help you overcome each challenge in turn. As a bonus, the game is nicely voice acted, and has a level of polish a bit above that of your average puzzle title.

http://www.wakingmars.com/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/227200/

Gravity Badgers

My son is a huge fan of Angry Birds, and this game plays on a lot of the same elements, while not being an exact clone.
You are propelling badgers through space, hopefully avoiding obstacles in the path. Some objects will attract the badger while others will repel, teleport or stop the poor critter. There’s a fair bit of trial and error going on, but you can usually figure out reasonable attempts by carefully looking at the screen. As a bonus, you even get a bit of story inbetween the levels as well, in a nice cartoon style.

And where else can you get a game with badgers?

http://www.walesinteractive.com/#!gravity-badgers/cbuf

http://store.steampowered.com/app/267060/

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Valve releases Direct3D translation layer codes

One of the main stumbling blocks that prevent most of the developers in porting their games to Linux is the fact that Windows uses Microsoft’s proprietary Direct3D architecture for rendering graphics while Linux uses openGL to do the same. Both of the architectures are quite different and converting code from one to other requires a lot of effort and time. Engines supporting both the platforms natively have built in translation layers that convert the necessary codes from one architecture to another without the extra overhead. In an unlikely move, Valve just posted their own Direct3D to openGL translation layers on github.

The source codes are provided without any support and as is form. The features of the translation layer codes provided on the github page are as follows:

  • Limited subset of Direct3D 9.0c
  • Byte code level HLSL -> GLSL translator
  • Some SM3 support: Multiple Render Targets, no Vertex Texture Fetch

The codes have been taken directly from the DoTA tree and as such there are quite a few hard coded Source Engine stuffs left in the code uploaded to github. There aren’t any detailed documentations, so getting it to compile and run would, in all probability, require some tinkering and groping around in the dark.

Releasing the source code on the internet for something crucial like the Direct3D to openGL translation layers would finally give developers the tools to easily and painlessly port their games from Windows to Linux without too much effort and having to make drastic changes. Also, if this code is picked up by a team of developers they could easily document and perhaps also decode the hard coded Source Engine stuff to allow others to jump in and start porting their games over to Linux.

Find the source code on github.

Source: Slash Dot

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Steam Family Sharing now open to public

Valve is one of those few profit making companies who know how to engage users and build community around their products from the early days. They are also known for keeping their products under limited beta testing unless it’s ready for prime time. So seems to be the case with Steam’s new feature, Family Sharing. After being in the limited Beta phase for about 5 months, Valve have finally decided that their product is ready for the world and thus have announced Family Sharing to be available for all Steam desktop client & Big Picture users.

The announcement came over the Steam Community Boards, where it was announced that the Family Sharing feature is now available to the general public. Through this feature, a single user can share his/her entire Steam Library with up to five family members over ten different devices. Once the members are authorized, they can play any or all of the game through their own accounts. The achievements, saves and other related records achieved by the gamer will be tied to the gamer’s individual account using cloud saves.

So, even if the owner has all of the achievement unlocked it won’t matter to the authorized user and vice versa. The only caveat is that apart from the owner the other members have to stay online while playing any of the games in the library. Also, if the owner is playing the game, the user can’t play the game. In addition, if the owner starts playing the game while the user is playing the game, the user is given a few minutes with the choice of either quitting or buying the full game. Not all the games support the sharing features though, as games requiring specific user details, like product keys or additional account validations, aren’t shared. Also, the sharing is done over the entire library rather than individual games.

Additional information on the sharing feature can be found over at the Product page with the FAQs.

Source: Steam Community

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Steam Developers can design their own sales

Valve is well known for their pro-developer image. To further fortify the fact, Valve just announced that developers can now design their own sales with custom discounts for their own games. The new sale system will allow developers to put up their games for sale for as much discount as they see fit, whether it is more or less of what Steam would’ve decided doesn’t matter.

In addition the developers can also set their own sale periods, thus creating their own custom sales. The developers are still free to participate in the upcoming weeklong sales and other sales as and when organized by Valve. The developers will have access to the sale tools through the Steamworks interface where they can design and set their own sales. Once the specified date arrives, their games will automatically be put on sale. The developers can design and pre-book a sale slot for as much as two months in advance, while the custom sales can run for a period of up to two weeks in length.

Valve made this announcement over the private Steam Development forums. The news was spotted and reported by Reddit user Sharkiller.

Valve had announced the Steam Green Light system back in 2012 by which indie developers vying for a spot on Steam to showcase their game could do so with the help of the community. In addition, they also introduced the Early Access system, through which the developers can sell their Alpha and Beta versions of the game and work towards the main release while having a direct feedback from actual gamers testing and pointing out where the games can be improved.

This move might be developer friendly, although this just spelled doom for my poor wallet, and I think I can hear it weep gently too.

Source: Joystiq