Valve Unveils "Big Picture" Mode for Steam

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,364
888
126
Valve unveiled a new UI mode for Steam today that's designed for viewing on a TV (commonly called a 10-Foot UI) called "Big Picture". Here's a quote from the article on Ars Technica.

Source: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/09/steam-comes-to-the-living-room-tv-with-big-picture-mode-beta/
Valve will take its first big steps toward moving its popular Steam digital distribution service from the PC monitor to the living room TV on Monday by launching a beta version of its long-planned "Big Picture" interface.

Kotaku got a chance to try out the new mode ahead of the public launch, showing off an interface comparable to the Xbox 360 dashboard, with bigger fonts and large, rectangular picture icons designed to be viewed from a living room couch rather than a desk chair. Navigation in Big Picture mode is handled with a standard handheld controller (like that on the Xbox 360), rather than a mouse and keyboard, letting users click the triggers to switch between tabs for the store, game library, and community features. An integrated Web browser is also designed to be used with a controller, letting users multitask without returning to the computer desktop.

For text entry and text-based communication, Big Picture mode also features a unique on-screen keyboard that has been redesigned to take advantage of handheld controllers. Rather than scrolling through a full on-screen QWERTY layout, users choose from eight groups of four letters by tilting the left thumbstick in one of eight directions, then choose a specific letter using the face buttons on the other side of the controller. The interface bears more than a passing resemblance to the TwoStick text entry system which was first introduced back in 2007, and reportedly leads to much faster text entry times than other controller-based on-screen keyboard systems.

Though Big Picture mode puts Steam into more direct competition with other TV-based game consoles, Valve's Greg Coomer told Kotaku that this is not necessarily the first step in Valve's long-rumored plans to design dedicated hardware for playing Steam games.

"What we really want is to ship [Big Picture mode] and then learn," Coomer told Kotaku. "So we want to find out what people value about that. How they make use of it. When they make use of it. Whether it's even a good idea for the broadest set of customers or not. And then decide what to do next."

UPDATE: Valve has posted a video trailer showing off some of Big Picture's features. Watch it below.
Here's the video in question:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFrL6-OhN94&hd=1


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I'm actually tempted to open another Steam account and give it some of the indie games or things that would work well on a TV. Humble Bundle games would probably be great for this! I'd prefer a separate account because I would imagine that using the same account and having to log out all the time would get annoying.
 

cmdrdredd

Lifer
Dec 12, 2001
27,038
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It is actually really good and IMO easily beats Sony XMB and Microsoft XboxLive interface. Especially the typing with a controller. It just needs the right support.
 

Maximilian

Lifer
Feb 8, 2004
12,601
6
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As long as its not forced on everyone ala windows 8, this looks really cool! I could see myself putting a used 5850 into the HTPC and playing some of the console ports with an xbox controller :thumbsup:
 

Sureshot324

Diamond Member
Feb 4, 2003
3,370
0
71
Not bad at all. Way better than the 360 or ps3 interface.

I use one of these to control my HTPC so the regular inteface works fine.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,364
888
126
I tried it out last night. To note, you need to set Steam up to receive beta updates for the "Big Picture" button to appear in the top right of the Steam menu. Here's where my problem comes in.

The problem that I have is that Big Picture mode is just a separate screen at this point. It looks good and works pretty well, but I would much rather have it be an actual separate mode for Steam. In other words, when I hit Shutdown/Close in Big Picture mode, don't just switch back to the normal Steam window. Make it perform the same action as clicking 'x' in the Steam window (hides Steam). I would much prefer tying Steam + BPM with XBMC so XBMC could launch it (or rather, XBMC would unhide it). Closing Steam would merely send me back to XBMC.

Right now, when you hit Shutdown or Close (I can't remember which it is), it just brings you back to the normal Steam window. You need to be able to swap between modes or something.

Almost makes me wish I had installed windows on the HTPC.
I'm not sure what you have installed, but with Valve pushing Linux support, you may not have a problem.
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
30,029
7,201
136
i'll have to get my roommate to throw this on his HTPC so we can play around with it.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,364
888
126
i'll have to get my roommate to throw this on his HTPC so we can play around with it.
This got me a bit excited since I finally bit the bullet on a new HTPC build yesterday prior to the announcement. I've been wanting a dead quiet system for awhile, and my new system will be completely fanless. Unfortunately, it's not really feasible to use a full-fledged card in the system, but I made sure to pick up an Ivy Bridge with HD4000 graphics. Let me tell you... when Anand listed that there was an i5 with a lower TDP with the HD4000, he practically made my day! It wasn't 35W like I was hoping, but 55W is still far below the case's thermal envelope.

If I like the smaller case, I may move that one upstairs and get a larger one for downstairs with a beefier passive GPU. I really want to avoid AMD though... their drivers don't play nice with Splashtop (I know from experience), but Intel and nVidia don't have any problems. I much prefer Splashtop for remote administration compared to using RDP.
 

Dankk

Diamond Member
Jul 7, 2008
5,558
25
91
To think I just bought a PS3 a month ago, if I only waited a month I could've built a cheap $350 gaming computer to use with my new HDTV, and have play all the games I already have on Steam to boot.

Anyone wanna buy a like-new PS3 from me? :(
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,364
888
126
To think I just bought a PS3 a month ago, if I only waited a month I could've built a cheap $350 gaming computer to use with my new HDTV, and have play all the games I already have on Steam to boot.

Anyone wanna buy a like-new PS3 from me? :(
Having a HTPC connected to my TV doesn't make me ditch my consoles. In fact, most people think I'm crazy because I have 3 360s and 3 PS3s! :p ...oh, and they also say, "yeah, you're single." :biggrin:
 

zinfamous

No Lifer
Jul 12, 2006
108,776
26,092
146
so when does Gabe get to buy EA then break them back up into all the independent companies that they deserve to be?

:wub:
 

HeXen

Diamond Member
Dec 13, 2009
7,828
35
91
I tried it. This would be good for a pure gaming only PC where Steam is the only app installed and used. The issue would be if this could come up full screen when windows boots without having to mouse to select Steam first. If so, would be very much like a console.
I noticed some 360 keys do nothing and when i went to browser, i could not get back to library... prolly a bug.
i didn't notice any way to open windows taskbar for the mouse, though obviously this isn't intended for mouse or desktop users.

Kinda reminds me of a crappy version of XMB for Ps3. Shame they didn't just copy Sony's interface.
 

ImpulsE69

Lifer
Jan 8, 2010
14,946
1,074
126
I tried it. This would be good for a pure gaming only PC where Steam is the only app installed and used. The issue would be if this could come up full screen when windows boots without having to mouse to select Steam first. If so, would be very much like a console.
I noticed some 360 keys do nothing and when i went to browser, i could not get back to library... prolly a bug.
i didn't notice any way to open windows taskbar for the mouse, though obviously this isn't intended for mouse or desktop users.

Kinda reminds me of a crappy version of XMB for Ps3. Shame they didn't just copy Sony's interface.
One would assume that any person who knows how to use a PC would just alt-tab to desktop....I play games on my big screen, but they are correct that doing anything that requires detail is kind of a pain. I tried playing League of Legends on it and it was kinda annoying.
 

HeXen

Diamond Member
Dec 13, 2009
7,828
35
91
One would assume that any person who knows how to use a PC would just alt-tab to desktop....I play games on my big screen, but they are correct that doing anything that requires detail is kind of a pain. I tried playing League of Legends on it and it was kinda annoying.
but i was talking about the mouse. One would assume using a keyboard to press the windows key vs 2 keys at the same time, and voila, works fine for steam big screen...just a little faster pro tip.:hmm:
for me, the less i have to touch my kb, the better, never was into hot keys or stretching my fingers across the keyboard to press one and the other, inefficient if you ask me
 

WiseUp216

Platinum Member
Mar 12, 2012
2,251
50
101
I game on a 50" plasma and have never had a problem with Steam as-is.

This is still pretty cool, though.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
30,364
888
126
How do you get to it? I don't see the little icon they refer to on the page?
You have to enable Steam beta.

In Steam, do the following:

  • Click on Steam in the menu bar
  • Click on Settings
  • Under the "Account" tab (default tab), look for "Beta participation" near the bottom
  • If it does not say "Steam Beta Update" click the "CHANGE..." button
  • On the "Beta Participation - Steam" screen, set the Beta participation combo box to "Steam Beta Update"
  • Hit OK
  • Hit OK
  • Restart Steam (it will prompt you to).
 

A Casual Fitz

Diamond Member
May 16, 2005
4,654
1,017
136
This is cool... but now I need to think of a good way to get it to work out in my living room. I don't feel like lugging my desktop back and forth or running a long cable.
 

Grooveriding

Diamond Member
Dec 25, 2008
9,090
1,242
126
Pretty sure this is paving the way for Valve's upcoming console system they are rumoured to be releasing. Some iteration of this new UI is going to end up as the front end for the console they release.

Watch out Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo! :thumbsup:
 

Blitzvogel

Platinum Member
Oct 17, 2010
2,012
23
81
Pretty sure this is paving the way for Valve's upcoming console system they are rumoured to be releasing. Some iteration of this new UI is going to end up as the front end for the console they release.

Watch out Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo! :thumbsup:
Now that Valve titles support OpenGL and many other mainstream games are jumping on board with the API (thanks to Mac ports, and indies), a Steambox with custom Linux/Unix OS running Steam is certainly plausible in the future as opposed to having to build Windows based machine in past if Valve wanted to go that direction. I just hope they always support mouse and keyboard and PC gaming. In fact, I hope said Steambox would still be fully functional as a Linux based PC, and maybe perhaps even have advanced tutorials on using the OS.

Oh and I've been using my desktop on a 32" HDTV for three years. It's pretty sweet. I sit in my Ikea chair (super comfy!), I use a stool as my mouse surface, and I just rest my keyboard on my lap. And yes, I sit pretty close lol, but it makes me happy that HDMI is defacto these days with graphics cards and laptops. I still prefer the general PC desktop setup for gaming (notably FPSs of course), but my setup is very comfortable for any PC use really, unless I need to look at a book, notes, or paper (you know, "practical business"?) as I type and what not.
 
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Ninjahedge

Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2005
4,148
1
76
Would be interesting to see if Steam tried to make the box with the option to upgrade using generics.

One of the biggest problems with things like the Xbox is having to use Microsoft software (zune?) to stream multimedia from your file server or not being able to hook up a generic USB KB to it.

If Valve/Steam makes a box that can play vids, hook up to your server, surf the net, and will accept 3rd party peripherals (or even upgrades, like HD/SSDs) you might have something that will trounce the current "do almost everything" systems.
 
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