Is it getting steamy in here?

Posted by Sweep (8866 posts) -

After watching the Kentucky Route Zero Quick Look, I went and bought Kentucky Route Zero. That seems an underwhelmingly methodical process, and I suppose it was. The only real hiccup was that the game isn't yet available on Steam. And that's actually the extent of the trouble: A single hiccup. I clicked their site, bought the game with paypal, downloaded and unzipped it, then set the exzecutable executable to run through steam anyway. Because I'm just a fucking maverick like that.

However, this last step was crucial.

Not running a game through steam is a death sentence for even the best intentioned purchases. My computer is littered with little indie titles that I picked up but that would only run through some other ridiculous software and not through steam. There are plenty more which I simply never bought because they didn't flash up on the steam storefront. Worse still, there were non-steam games set to run through steam that I hadn't updated, and would simply refuse to start. I would click on them, receive an error saying "This game is out of date" or "Error: something something missing files something" and promptly lose interest. That seems... unhealthy? Steam might not have turned me into a lazy cunt, but it certainly brought it to my attention.

I played the Battlefield 3 beta and I loved Battlefield 3. It was gritty, the guns gave a satisfying kick and, also important, I was pretty fucking good at it. When I was told that I couldn't play the game on Steam and that I would have to use this other "basically steam but not as good as steam" software that seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help, I was not amused. Both Origin and Battlelog are services that work on a very basic level - they function - but unfortunately they do not work for me. If EA want to build their own distribution platform then great, but in making the process so convoluted they have actively detracted from the enjoyment I get from their games. To the extent that I can't even be fucked to play them. Why make all that effort when I have these other games over here on steam that don't require any fucking around at all.

Gabe said something in that Verge interview that really drove this feeling home for me:

"The internet is super smart. If you do something that is cool, that's actually worth people's time, then they'll adopt it. If you do something that's not cool and sucks, you can spend as many marketing dollars as you want, they just won't."

I'm not really a PC fanboy.

I have fought for neutrality as often as I dared - the more people playing videogames the better, regardless of what machine they are using to do so. One might argue, however, that I'm a Steam fanboy. I have been using Steam for 6 years now, and I'm pretty damn comfortable with it both as a service and games hub for my computer. So when I actually took some time to think about Steam, and my dependency upon it, I felt pretty fucking good about it.

It sucks that there are some games that don't or can't go the steam route, though I like to think I'm savvy enough to track down titles like Kentucky Route Zero regardless. The problem is that there is no room on the internet to go backwards - Steam raised the bar; if you can't reach it, you might as well not exist.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

Moderator
#1 Edited by Sweep (8866 posts) -

After watching the Kentucky Route Zero Quick Look, I went and bought Kentucky Route Zero. That seems an underwhelmingly methodical process, and I suppose it was. The only real hiccup was that the game isn't yet available on Steam. And that's actually the extent of the trouble: A single hiccup. I clicked their site, bought the game with paypal, downloaded and unzipped it, then set the exzecutable executable to run through steam anyway. Because I'm just a fucking maverick like that.

However, this last step was crucial.

Not running a game through steam is a death sentence for even the best intentioned purchases. My computer is littered with little indie titles that I picked up but that would only run through some other ridiculous software and not through steam. There are plenty more which I simply never bought because they didn't flash up on the steam storefront. Worse still, there were non-steam games set to run through steam that I hadn't updated, and would simply refuse to start. I would click on them, receive an error saying "This game is out of date" or "Error: something something missing files something" and promptly lose interest. That seems... unhealthy? Steam might not have turned me into a lazy cunt, but it certainly brought it to my attention.

I played the Battlefield 3 beta and I loved Battlefield 3. It was gritty, the guns gave a satisfying kick and, also important, I was pretty fucking good at it. When I was told that I couldn't play the game on Steam and that I would have to use this other "basically steam but not as good as steam" software that seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help, I was not amused. Both Origin and Battlelog are services that work on a very basic level - they function - but unfortunately they do not work for me. If EA want to build their own distribution platform then great, but in making the process so convoluted they have actively detracted from the enjoyment I get from their games. To the extent that I can't even be fucked to play them. Why make all that effort when I have these other games over here on steam that don't require any fucking around at all.

Gabe said something in that Verge interview that really drove this feeling home for me:

"The internet is super smart. If you do something that is cool, that's actually worth people's time, then they'll adopt it. If you do something that's not cool and sucks, you can spend as many marketing dollars as you want, they just won't."

I'm not really a PC fanboy.

I have fought for neutrality as often as I dared - the more people playing videogames the better, regardless of what machine they are using to do so. One might argue, however, that I'm a Steam fanboy. I have been using Steam for 6 years now, and I'm pretty damn comfortable with it both as a service and games hub for my computer. So when I actually took some time to think about Steam, and my dependency upon it, I felt pretty fucking good about it.

It sucks that there are some games that don't or can't go the steam route, though I like to think I'm savvy enough to track down titles like Kentucky Route Zero regardless. The problem is that there is no room on the internet to go backwards - Steam raised the bar; if you can't reach it, you might as well not exist.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

Moderator
#2 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

Never stay in a steam room to long. It could lead to passing out and possible death.

Remember kids the cloud is not all ways your friend.

#3 Posted by Ravenlight (8040 posts) -

@The_Laughing_Man said:

Never stay in a steam room to long. It could lead to passing out and possible death. Remember kids the cloud is not all ways your friend.

You dare to question the Almighty Cloud? Seal him in the steam chamber!

#4 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@Ravenlight said:

@The_Laughing_Man said:

Never stay in a steam room to long. It could lead to passing out and possible death. Remember kids the cloud is not all ways your friend.

You dare to question the Almighty Cloud? Seal him in the steam chamber!

TO THE MURDER SLINGSHOT 
#5 Posted by crusader8463 (14422 posts) -

I do everything in Steam as well. I have some random games not in Steam, but I just forget I have them. If I want to play a game on my PC I pop open Steam and scan down my list of installed games and it just never occurs to me that I might have stuff outside of it.

#6 Posted by Atlas (2448 posts) -

I was trying to see about some simulation games, seeing about getting some demos and trying stuff out. So I tried to see if there was a Euro Truck Simulator 2 demo, and the game has been greenlit but isn't on Steam yet. Having to download the demo from the game's website was...weird. I had to download a game in my browser! Shit's fucked up.

It is pretty impressive how effortlessly Steam has become the default standard for all things relating to buying games, playing them online, arranging online groups, all that stuff. I guess goes to show that all you have to do to get something to really click with people is to make it ubiquitous and make it better than any of your competitors can.

#7 Posted by GetEveryone (4455 posts) -

Steam took another step towards perfect when it began to allow custom tiles for non-steam games (and steam games!).

Verging on 300 games. As far as I'm concerned, my PC is a virtual "Steambox" already.

#8 Posted by ShaggE (6459 posts) -

I'm still fine with non-Steam games, it's just when you have to install a Steam competitor or two or five that it gets bad. Way too many annoying services to keep track of.

I still get a kick out of how Steam has evolved. Hard to believe it's been 10 years since everybody was cursing Valve's name for introducing it.

#9 Posted by Mento (2550 posts) -

Steam's cool, I guess. It's actually been kind of resting on its laurels of late; instead of catering to its fanbase, which is now large enough that no further pandering is necessary, it's finding ways to branch out a little to entice those still not on board. The console kids, specifically. It's an interesting evolutionary path it's on right now, but it's ceased to care for its core to the same degree it used to. Take the Steam sales of the past two years; they've not had the inventiveness of what they tried to do with that coal/ticket/meta-achievement race previously, instead just giving you a bunch of discounted items to choose from. Which isn't terrible, obviously, nor is it less than you want when you hear a sale's on. It's just evident that they've moved on from those humble beginnings, when they used innovative methods to draw in that initial crowd and overcome that initial poor reputation.

For convenience's sake, I'd say Desura and GOG are right up there with Steam. Desura especially seems to have learned a lot of the same lessons, and GOG just gives you a DRM-free zip folder and installs it for you without even needing an applet. (Incidentally, and I wholly admit I might be projecting here, but the fact that GOG came upon a particularly ingenious way to sell bundled/publisher packs that Steam hasn't followed suit on either displays their arrogance or their indifference - those packs have been the biggest issue with Steam sales of late, due to people owning most of the items in them by now.) I'm with you on how convenient these clients make playing PC games, as temperamental as they used to have a reputation for being, so it might be you're just spoiled in that respect and only Steam specifically because it's the most prevalent.

Moderator
#10 Posted by granderojo (1788 posts) -

By the time the second episode is out I bet they'll be on Steam. I'm in no rush to play this so I'll just wait.

#11 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -
#12 Posted by yoshimitz707 (2453 posts) -

@Sweep: They're on steam green light so you should vote for them, you lazy cunt! Also, I'm adding you on steam and we should have all mid all meepo games!

#13 Posted by AlexW00d (6275 posts) -

I generally forget I own stuff if it's not on Steam.

Online
#14 Posted by Rafaelfc (1348 posts) -

You can add non-steam games to the steam list and not have to worry about it anymore.

#15 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

People should go and vote for Kentucky Route Zero on Steam Greenlight.

#16 Edited by Chaser324 (6556 posts) -

@Sweep said:

Steam raised the bar; if you can't reach it, you might as well not exist.

Do you hear that hissing sound? That's the sound of actual steam coming out of the ears of thousands of pissed off indie developers after reading that line.

I agree with you that Steam is an excellent platform, but as you've already noticed, there are a ton of indie developers out there crafting great polished experiences that still can't get their games on the service. Steam Greenlight is a step in the right direction, but it's an imperfect system that is in need of further refinement. Take a look at a game like Cook, Serve, Delicious!. It's a game that has managed to garner a lot of very positive attention, including from a lot of well-known and sizable enthusiast sites like Giant Bomb, and yet it can't manage to break through the Greenlight process. Even more egregious in my opinion is the way proven developers like Wadjet Eye Games are treated. When their latest game Primordia was released, they already had several positively reviewed games on Steam, and yet they still had to take Primordia through the Greenlight process.

I don't really blame Valve for being a bit slow and methodical about how they open up their platform to indie devs. Striking the right balance between curation and openness is difficult, and all you have to do is take a look at Xbox Live Indie Games if you want an example of just how poorly it can go. On the flipside though, understand that there are a ton of indie developers working very hard on excellent games that regardless of their efforts can't get their games onto Steam.

Moderator Online
#17 Posted by BombKareshi (996 posts) -

@Sweep: Your blog entry has earned itself a great big THIS.

I feel exactly the way you do about Steam, from losing interest to non-Steam games the moment they give me crap right down to the Gabe fucking Newell quote being spot-on.

#18 Posted by Sweep (8866 posts) -

@Chaser324 said:

I don't really blame Valve for being a bit slow and methodical about how they open up their platform to indie devs. Striking the right balance between curation and openness is difficult, and all you have to do is take a look at Xbox Live Indie Games if you want an example of just how poorly it can go. On the flipside though, understand that there are a ton of indie developers working very hard on excellent games that regardless of their efforts, can't get their games onto Steam.

The other flipside is that you end up with the app store, which is drowning in useless tat that nobody wants or cares about, and is actually counter-productive in that it obscures the genuinely experimental and interesting new titles. There needs to be some kind of quality control somewhere down the line, and Steam Greenlight seems like a pretty good start that i'm happy to rely upon.

Are there any actual cases of Steam being unreasonable when handling requests from Devs trying to get their games on steam? Has anyone actually come out and said "My game worked fine, Valve refused it for no reason"? You hear horror stories regarding PSN and XBLA but I haven't heard much in the way of complaints regarding Steam. Maybe i'm just not looking hard enough :D

Moderator
#19 Posted by nintendoeats (5975 posts) -

I feel similarly with the key difference that I'm not sure that I'm ok with it. If it weren't for Steam, I would probably play more of the old disc-based games that I never got to. I want to do that, it just seems tedious in comparison...probably because it is...

#20 Posted by rentfn (1280 posts) -

Steam is amazing. Picture what it was when CS and Half Life Two launched. They made it amazing. I was ready to curse Steam to death when I first dealt with it. Now I can't picture PC Gaming without. Great Blog!!!

#21 Edited by shrinerr (137 posts) -
#22 Posted by Phatmac (5726 posts) -

I still play PC games without steam like Blizzard games. I'm not a full on steam fanboy but I do like the service.

#23 Posted by jozzy (2042 posts) -

Just checked the game (Kentucky Route Zero) on steam to vote for it and it seems like it's greenlit!

#24 Posted by Chaser324 (6556 posts) -

@Sweep said:

There needs to be some kind of quality control somewhere down the line, and Steam Greenlight seems like a pretty good start that i'm happy to rely upon.

I agree that there is a need for quality control of some sort. Apple's app store, Xbox Live Indie Games, and several other services with similarly low barriers to entry are testaments to that fact.

Steam has for many years done a pretty good job of allowing the best of the best indie games onto their service, and in many cases, a lot of smaller niche titles that might have otherwise wallowed in relative obscurity have been able to have a tremendous amount of success. Steam Greenlight though has really done little to change what ends up on Steam, and in some ways it appears to actually be negatively impacting some things that might have previously made it through. If you haven't seen some indie devs complaining about that, we must not be following the same people on Twitter.

You've kinda got my motor going on this a little bit. Rather than just ramble on in your comment stream on this tangent, I think I'm going to just need to write my own blog post to fully summarize my feelings on Greenlight and the plight of the indie developer.

Moderator Online
#25 Posted by Sweep (8866 posts) -

@Chaser324: THEN I CONSIDER THIS A GREAT SUCCESS

Moderator
#26 Edited by medacris (660 posts) -

I don't think every game should be mandated to run on Steam, although it makes things easier if they are. I do believe you can set non-Steam applications to run through Steam anyways, though.

It does get on my nerves that Ubisoft games require you to run two different clients (if you buy it through Steam, you have to run Steam AND UPlay) just to run one game, though. With a very timing-based game like Assassin's Creed, this can cause a lot of lag (and thus, a very frustrating gaming experience) if your computer isn't amazing.

#27 Posted by WarlockEngineerMoreDakka (432 posts) -

Steam's good- no denying that.

That said- I have taken steps to ensure that I'm not completely dependent upon Steam like some people are. :P

As such alongside Steam: GOG, Impulse/Gamestop, and GamersGate are other digital platforms I use on a relatively regular basis. I even have some outliers on other services like Onlive, Green Man Gaming, and Origin.

That- and I still have plenty of stand alone purchases and Free-to-play titles to keep track of. (Its not THAT hard people! :P )

That said though, I can understand people loving the convenience of having everything in one Steam box. :)

#28 Posted by Dalai (7031 posts) -

First off, once Kentucky Route Zero is greenlit (and I guarantee it will be greenlit) I'm buying it. I'm rarely swayed by Quick Looks, but this one... man the game looks so awesome and weird I have to try it.

Also, I'm a lazier fuck than Sweep so I'm going to wait until then.

#29 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6206 posts) -

My only real problem with sites like GOG and Amazon is that they don't have a great client for automatic updates and streamlined downloading.  Trying to download The Whispered World on GOG is a nightmare - there are three different sets of files with no instructions on which order to download them.  Get it wrong, and the game won't install.  Amazon's sales have been rivaling Steam's as of late, and a lot of their games are activated through Steam, so I have less of a complaint with them.
Moderator
#30 Edited by jakob187 (21675 posts) -

It's getting steamy because we all want you inside us, you delicious British burger, you.

To actually for once comment on the topic at hand: I love how cheap I can get games for on Steam, but I don't think that Steam is the end-all be-all for me. I buy a lot of games on GOG and independently from the developers (my copy of Amnesia is actually through the Frictional website, and it is DRM-free, so I have it backed up on a flash drive as well).

I guess where I stand is that I don't mind having to do work on a game as long as it'll end up working. PC development and gaming is a fickle bitch. Steam has alleviated a lot of those problems, but they still have their issues where games will choose not to work (Company of Heroes and its expansions have been pissing me off lately, and Saints Row The Third STILL has a corrupted .exe file that can cause some headaches). It's seldom that these problems really pop up for people (in most cases I've seen on Steam forums, they are easy to fix by "verifying the cache").

Nonetheless, I've had the most success using GOG and Origin overall. I also would like to say that I think you give Origin less credit than it deserves. I've found the service to be much quicker than Steam overall (much like the speed difference of Firefox vs Chrome). When I want to quit a game, it quits out and syncs quickly. When I log out, it logs out immediately. The service has made a lot of strides from when it first launched up. It has a long way to go, but I feel like the only thing holding me back from using it at this point is a lack of library in comparison to Steam. I don't really use the community features and stuff with Steam, so maybe that's where we are a bit different.

As for GOG, I just generally like having DRM-free games. I don't like jumping through bullshit hoops in order to get my game installed and going. When I get a game from GOG, it's "download game, double click, run installation, launch game." Four step process. Simple, quick, easy, and then I'm in my game. If EVERYTHING was that goddamn easy, I think PC gaming would just generally be better off. Hell, even with Origin, I think the most I've gone through on an install was "click install, click play." Battlefield 3 took a little more, but beyond that, I seriously can't think of another game where I had to jump through hoops, wait for it to install VC Redistributables, Direct X stuff (both of which probably already exist on my computer anyways), and all kinds of other shit...after I ALREADY pressed the Install button on Steam. When I press "Install", it should be INSTALLED...not just a folder downloaded that still needs setup before I can play. It's just an annoyance.

Therefore, I don't think that Steam has it exactly RIGHT. I just think they've got the foothold on the PC market that others are seriously challenging with better improvements on their systems but do not have the library and prices to contest it.

#31 Posted by Demoskinos (14848 posts) -

I didn't know hamburgers could use computers.

Online
#32 Posted by TwoLines (2811 posts) -

So you're sayin' you want everything on Desura? I hear ya.

#33 Posted by Sweep (8866 posts) -

@jakob187: The thing is, I really wanted Origin to succeed. I don't want Valve to get comfortable, or complacent. The idea of anyone resting on their laurels does not sit right with me at all. However, the current setup is not the solution - they still have a long way to go before they are even considered a competitor, let alone a replacement,

Moderator
#34 Posted by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

@McGhee said:

People should go and vote for Kentucky Route Zero on Steam Greenlight.

Already done. :)

#35 Posted by jakob187 (21675 posts) -

@Sweep said:

@jakob187: The thing is, I really wanted Origin to succeed. I don't want Valve to get comfortable, or complacent. The idea of anyone resting on their laurels does not sit right with me at all. However, the current setup is not the solution - they still have a long way to go before they are even considered a competitor, let alone a replacement,

At the same time, Steam took a long time to become what it is today. Hell, it took nearly four or five years before people said "YEAH, STEAM!" That thing was a fucking waste of hard drive space for the longest time.

Origin has made some big improvements in performance and ease since its launch. I've bought games on it, which says something for me since I typically hate intrusive always-online DRM. However, in terms of just performance, I feel like it beats Steam hands-down. The time it takes for me to launch a game on Steam versus a game on Origin - Origin wins every single goddamn time, and it's insane to me. When I close the game out, it's done nigh instantly. I don't have that slight freeze-and-stall before it closes up. I've yet to have a game crash on Origin. It's little things like that where I say "man, that's fucking nice and convenient, good on ya, EA."

That doesn't mean it's perfect by any means, and Steam is still the program where I have a majority of my games (although GOG is probably about equal at the moment). I do like Steam.

It's interesting, though, that you present the idea that Valve shouldn't get comfortable. Valve is a company that has ALWAYS marched to the beat of a different drummer. The games they've made are literally unique in so many ways - most people just can't do what the hell Valve does and get away with it. They are an exciting company, and they consistently seem to handle themselves in the most gentlemen way possible (aside from constantly teasing and trolling the Half-Life community). They continue to make these big changes with Steam that continue to improve its versatility while also challenging the rest of the PC and console market.

So yeah, I'm not anti-Steam. I'm just not a massive fanboy of it. = /

#36 Posted by Virago (2486 posts) -

"Steam might not have turned me into a lazy cunt, but it certainly brought it to my attention."

Real talk.
<3

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