Yesterday, GTTV’s 20-minute Valve-centric episode went live. While many expected some sort of big game reveal (I suppose the community always does that), the episode itself brought us quite a bit of new information, especially on the upcoming Steam Big Picture Mode (also known as the Ten-Foot, or 10′ UI), set to completely revolutionize the way Steam works.
As a matter of fact, they even gave us a sneak peek at what it might look like, as well as a timeframe for its beta period. Read on!
Starting from 06:00 in the GTTV episode, Geoff Keighley talks to Valve’s Greg Coomer, one of the developers central to the Big Picture Mode’s development (he was Valve’s eighth ever employee, and actually helped give the company its name – he was also the lead developer on Prospero, one of the first games Valve ever cancelled, and his face was even used as part of a composite image used to create Gordon Freeman’s visage on the Half-Life 2 cover).
In the video, he states that some time in early September, the Big Picture Mode beta will go live on Steam. He also implies that it’ll be a public opt-in beta: “in early September, you’ll be able to hop into a beta, click a button, and see Steam reformatted for your TV and useable with a PC game controller, or a mouse and keyboard“.
Then there’s some footage of a wall, with printed mock-ups of the actual Big Picture Mode plastered all over it. I was going to make a joke about how these are pictures of the Big Picture, but then my fellow staff members told me that in older parts of the world, you’re beaten to death with dead chickens for making jokes that bad.
So we’re saving that one for when I can make sure I’m adequately protected from any and all forms of chicken-murder.
That’s about all we could snap. I’d definitely say these are actual, working designs – and they look really, really great. You can tell they spent a lot of time on this, because they’ve managed to synthesize the entire Steam experience into something that can be used on a TV, with a games controller. They’ve even got the overlay’s web browser in there, which is really sweet.
So early September is when we can expect to start seeing a lot more out of this thing. I’m still really curious to find out how it’ll work exactly… is it simply going to come down to connecting our PC to our TV?
How are they going to make sure it’s so accessible and easy-to-use that people like… well, people like me, will get to use it? I don’t know, but I certainly hope they’ve put a lot of thought into it. And if they ever want to do a… Vic Picture Mode, or something, then I’m available for all business requests. And that pun was so bad I’m now being told Valve will never answer my e-mails again. Eep.
The other big thing that came out of this was the world reveal of the trailer for a yet-unannounced Dota 2 documentary, which focuses on the lives of 5 competitive Dota 2 gamers from all over the globe, and sets that in contrast with their experiences at the first International Dota 2 tournament, which took place last year at Gamescom.
This is Valve’s first-ever major film production… and yes, I’m choosing to discount 2005’s Zombie Movie, and 1999’s Half-Life: Uplink. One of those is so glorious that it occupies its own class of cinema (that’s Zombie Movie), while the other represents the most appalling and despicable 5 minutes I have ever experienced in my life (that’s Half-Life: Uplink). In the words of the noble Fragmaster:
Half-Life: Uplink is so bad it should be illegal (maybe that’s why it is). It’s worse than Blue in a thong. It’s worse than John Romero’s dandruff. It’s worse than the Mac Deluxe, seven-year-old Spam, and Ebola served over a steaming plate of sour frog ass. This movie should have a warning label, I had to flush my eyes for ten minutes with water in a vain attempt to ease the pain.
I’d say this is looking very promising. It looks like a very engaging, insightful and interesting film overall. Generally, I think projects like these, which focus on the game community first and foremost, contain much more inherent value than simply making a film which tries to portray the game’s fiction in a cinematic way.
It’s also a format which could easily be adapted to some of Valve’s other game endeavors focused on competitive play, like Counter-Strike. And it’s a very mature kind of concept, and I’m really glad that Valve is giving this idea all the attention and effort it needs.
Overall, I’m really excited about this movie, and I can assure you that even though I’m far from a Dota fan, I’ll definitely be watching it when it comes out soon (and that means something). I guess it’s safe to assume that it’ll be distributed on Steam, though I’m really interested in seeing what the pricepoint will be for that.
Aside from that little reveal, there’s one more fairly important snippet of info which came out of the GTTV episode. Starting from 06:53, Geoff talks to Anna Sweet, who is in charge of business development at Valve. She goes a bit into detail on the upcoming Steam Greenlight, and as it turns out, Steam Greenlight is going live on the 30th of August, which is barely 10 days away. Looking forward to that as well!
It’s times like these that really put Valve’s activities in perspective. They have so much going on right now, that it is almost impossible to imagine how they manage to keep up with everything, and do such an exceptional job in almost all respects. And I’m absolutely certain there is so much unannounced stuff brewing behind the scenes, that they aren’t even close to discussing just yet. Sadly, Vic Picture Mode is not one of those things.