A Series of Ramblings

Blogging when I remember to

I believe in the house that Gabe built, even if it bewilders me.

Last week, Valve made several announcements as part of an upcoming assault on traditional consoles. There was the SteamOS, the Steam Box I mean Steam Machine, and the Steam Controller. Which means once again, I held hope for Half Life news, and got crushed. I should have learned my lesson by now. Anyways, back to announcements!

The SteamOS was seriously out of left field to me. Didn’t see it coming at all, but after the other two announcements were made, it makes sense. A lightweight operating system built around Steam, aimed at being used on a television, for entertainment purposes. It’s well, what any home console essentially has on them for an OS. My dad, being a big Linux guy, loves the thought of it. He’s got a computer hooked up to his TV now for media streaming, so using the SteamOS for that, plus getting the benefits of Steam, is right up his alley.

The Steam Machine is basically baby’s first gaming PC. What better way to get people who haven’t really gamed on a PC to get used to the idea of hardware customization than something like this? “Hey, it’s like the console you’re used to, with the ability for you to upgrade whatever whenever!” I mean, what better way to get people used to that, then ultimately bring them to PC gaming than that?

Now, the Steam Controller… Well… that thing is ugly. Not gonna like, it looks like a boombox and a Mad Catz gamepad got together and aborted this thing. I’m apprehensive as fuck about the thing. Trackpads? Really!? I’d almost be better with trackballs… Buttons, everywhere. And a touchscreen? Upside, at least it’s wildly different and unique, and challenges us to rethink what we’ve gotten used to as far as controllers go. We’ve probably gotten too used to the design that originated with the SNES, and evolved into what we’ve got for the PS3/Xbox 360/Wii U Gamepad/PC gamepads/etc.

I want to try it though. Those who have tried it say that the trackpads are nothing like the ones we’ve used before, that the controllers have the heft we’re used to, that once you get accustomed to using it it’s great. I’ll remain skeptical, but hopeful for now.

Are these announcements weird, crazy, far too hopeful? Probably. But hey, it’s a start for Valve’s entry into the living room proper. Let’s face it, nothing that Valve has released (key word here being released) has ultimately not been praised and loved by the masses. Every game has been hailed as a piece of gaming excellence in the industry. All the work done with the TF2 community has created a world where players can make bank in collaboration with Valve (hell, a lot of mods have been enveloped by Valve, with the creators getting some sort of compensation). Their lack of management structure makes for interesting company interactions. And as for Steam… probably one of the most forward-thinking ideas for its time. Sure, it was a little out there when it first launched, and no one quite understood it, but we can’t think of modern PC gaming without it. And as Valve branches into Mac and Linux gaming, they’re cementing their place as the saviors of computer gaming. No one is going to topple that hold for a while. EA is trying with Origin, and there’s several smaller digital distribution groups that sell computer games (but don’t have the extras that Steam does), like Good Old Games and Desura, but Steam is the kingpin of the PC gaming world.

And so, I trust them with the SteamOS, the Steam Machines, and even the Steam Controller. Valve doesn’t throw time and money into things they don’t believe will work. They’ve got the vision, the money, the manpower, and the community behind them. They will make this bigger than any of us can imagine.

But man… remember when Valve used to make video games?