Streaming Musings

You maybe aware that last week Valve rolled out one of the Key elements of the SteamOS/Steam Box combo, the In-Home Streaming feature. This will allow you to run higher spec or windows only games on your PC but play and control from the comfort of your living room. This bypasses the age old problem of having Windows games running on other OS’s.

This got me thinking about how Valve could reuse this functionality. Given that recent news hints at a suspected 1 Billion pitch for the video broadcasting website Twitch by Google/YouTube, perhaps online Streaming is a direction that maybe explored.

Broadcasting

What if Valve allowed streaming to external party sites such as Twitch?
It would cut out the middle-ware that can be a pain to configure, the popular X-Split incurs a subscription cost that isn’t ideal for gamers trying out streaming for the first time.
With the rise of E-Sports including Valves own DOTA 2, it may only be a matter of time until this comes to fruition as part of the Steam Interface, lifting restricts around games that allow streaming and have a Let’s Play Friendly stance to avoid that murky legal quagmire.

Future Use

Perhaps it could move a step further, why not allow every Steam user to enable a stream for their profile?

That way a quick visit to http://steamcommunity.com/id/welshtroll/stream/ would allow anyone to watch my stream via the web, via the client or Steam authentication chat can be easily managed.

#Streaming #Steam

SteaMusic

Currently only available via the Big Picture mode in Steam is the Steam Music feature, I got into the Beta recently so I thought I’d share some thoughts. As this looks to be the first element outside of the OS it could be an important element of the media center experience that Valve want your Steam Box to become. I for one enjoy game music, but often it’s nice to play something different, something your in the mood to listen to. Normally this involves having to juggle your game with media player or something similar. And having to Alt+Tab out to swap playlist or pick a different artist.

Happily I can say that the music player is rather straight forward to use, add a reference pointing at a folder containing your music and Steam will scan and import all items it finds. You can then access your the player by selecting play or bringing up the player in you Shift+Tab menu while in game. It’s not offering much new in the way of music players but then it’s no real shock. Additional thoughts:

  • Will they adapt the system to allow users to connect to online radio streams
  • The default folder for music already added is under the Steam folder structure, could this be a sign that Valve may start selling music online via the steam platform?
  • Connections to existing media centers to stream from already existing setups that users may have

I’m excited that Valves direction has a more focused direction, as I was typing this post Steam notified me that cross computer streaming is now available, more on that when I get chance to try it out.

Steam

Steam Punk Music

I am rather excited about the Steam Music announcement. As with many gamers once the in-game soundtrack has lost it’s appeal you lower the music and fire up the media player.
For me this strengthens the case for installing SteamOS as an entertainment centre, the more functionality that a Steam machine can provide the better.

The screenshot look as if you can create and manage playlists, which will be a key feature to allow you to plan songs for that fast paced racing game or to compliment the vistas of Skyrim as you explore.

Just waiting on that Netflix integration and I’ll be set.

Rise of the Machines of Steam

One the main news items to come out of CES has been the stories of the Steam Boxes, don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with specifications of them in this post.

As with PC’s there are wild variations of specifications as each manufacturer brings their own designs and configurations to the table.
Of course this has a massive impact on the prices, of the ones that gave a price, they ranged from between $500 to $6000.
I thought about the huge price range and how that could negatively impact the machines, but as with anything PC related you get what you are willing to pay for, it makes sense to allow PC gamers to “customise” their machine by offering choice.

But …

Steamos

Why do I need another high spec machine when what I have is perfectly capable of running the games I want?
The answer is that you shouldn’t (aside from showing off to your console friends ofc).

In the back of my head there was a small voice that screamed “overkill” as I was looking at the specs of the Steam machines. Sure for the games that release with SteamOS compatibility, they will enjoy the best the machine can offer, but it’s not clear how many future titles will run in native SteamOS, initially or long term.

For me the biggest feature that I am keen to get my hands on is the Streaming from my Windows machine.
Since my PC can handle the heavy work of rendering the game, all my Steam Box theoretically needs to do it display that for me to play the game from the living room.

Dual-OS has been pitch on some of them, which would mean you could reduce your PC count if you wanted, but I’m not overly keen on loosing my desktop PC just yet.

Talking of small machines, I originally started looking at hardware back when SteamOS was announced and found this nice video looking at The Cool master Elite 130 case and installing a nice selection of kit. I’d not want that much to begin with but having a case that can handle more in the future isn’t a bad idea.

Steam plunder

As with each Steam sale I tend to avoid the bigger titles, aiming to get more bang or pew pew for my buck.

So in this sale Rachy and I loaded our wallets up in an attempt to avoid the pull of just buying everything. The result of this has been that we have been a little more frugal and mostly buying those titles that are good value for money. A well kept wishlist is all worth it when the Steam Sale comes to town.

It’s worth mentioning that we recently bought a wired controller for the PC, mostly to play the large number of platformers that we have accumulated over the years.  Plus it opens up alot more that suggest a controller as the preferred input method.

So here are the titles I picked up over the last week:

Party of Sin

party of sinFirst up is a fun platformer that features the 7 Sins manifest into humanoid form, each with a unique ability that you have to utilise in order to solve puzzles and defeat enemies. I’ve not put in a massive about of time with this, but the parts I have played was more that adequate to confirm that the game is enjoyable and to my tastes.
End of stage boss fight wasn’t too taxing and a small amount of trial and error saw me overcome this challenge.

The Longest Journey + Dreamfall

I re-bought the classic Funcom titles as I wanted to play them before next years release of the 3rd game, my previous copies have gone walk about.

Sanctum 2

The follow up the Tower Defense/FPS game. Really looking forward to sinking some time into this as I enjoyed the first game alot.

DLC Quest

A title that carries a warning of DLC going too far, rather annoying but fun.

The Witcher 2

I tried the original title out and found it tricky so, for a lower price I thought I’d give the franchise another shot.

Dishonored

Hear many things about Arkane Studios game, this was about 75% which is a good start for my wallet. I’m really looking forward to getting into the midst of the city of Dunwall.

Reus

reus 200px-UNIVERSITY_COMPLETEThis title from Abbey Games is a God Sim, well kind of. You control a number of giants (gods) who help you to shape a grey barren world. As you progress through the set goals the gameplay continually expands into new and differing tasks and activities. You have to balance the development of the world and the civilizations that evolve.

I also picked the following DLC:

Demolition Inc – Levels DLC
Skyrim Hearthfire
Tropico 4: Pirate Heaven DLC
Defense Grid: Containment DLC
Civ V Korea/Wonders DLC Combo