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Steam Big Picture Mode Launches

Steam News Announces the new Big Picture mode is now available, permitting easier access to Steam games on televisions. They kick this off with a celebration sale where you can "save big on Steam's controller-friendliest games." Here's word:

Access to the complete Steam store is included, as is the Steam Community. Big Picture is available worldwide in over twenty languages, including German, French, Russian, Korean, and Portuguese.

Gamers’ existing games are all available in Big Picture. In addition to having the complete library of Steam games, each user's cloud files, Steam Workshop content, account information and preferences will be accessible automatically in the new mode.

Steam gamers may easily experience Big Picture on their televisions by connecting their PC or Mac, typically with a single HDMI cable. Big Picture also includes a new web browser designed for televisions and game controllers. It is accessible from anywhere within the Big Picture UI, and even while playing Steam games on a TV. It supports Big Picture's new method of typing with a gamepad, which is useful for entering URLs, filling out forms, chatting, and other functions.

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41. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:44 Verno
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 09:05:
My setup is no more niche than people running a HDTV as their primary display for gaming systems. Both are outisde of the norm, yet Valve obviously decided Big Picture was worth implementing. Further, games like RAGE include in-game options to which display to use so I'm sure a company like Valve could achieve something similar. They could use a behinds the scenes workaround, like temporarily changing the default monitor and restoring it on exit. It's perfectly possible to implement - it would require a bit more work but it would be a lot more compelling functionality wise.

Big picture mode isn't really aimed at people hooking up both at the same time with the intent of using them simultaneously and this is easily seen in the lack of any monitor management. It is for people to have a large interface for a TV.

I like the concept but it's just no use to me as it is. There should be an option to choose which display to launch onto and an ability to make games run on that display. That would I could game on my monitor normally, then click Big Picture to launch games on my HDTV for casual gaming. Really the issue lies with AMD and nVidia or Microsoft but it would still be nice to see Valve pioneer usability.

You can't handwave away the complexity with some vagueness about "a company like Valve" stuff, they have to deal with the operating systems limitations. Applications can hook and send applications to specific monitors but not like "only send to my HDTV", they use the numeric identifiers the OS gives them and those change. You can't fudge it in software. Displays are not hard coded in Windows, their identity changes depending on everything from the power on order to the EDID received. A lot people don't just hook up to an HDTV itself, they hook up to an AV receiver which goes into an off state and also changes monitor identities.

That's just the operating system issues. Now throw the actual games into the mix, they interact with DirectX and the display driver, can redirect their own output too. Let's also not forget that Steam is now cross platform and doing this in a way that would work for all three platforms would be difficult at best.

Multi-monitor management is basically up to the user which is the right way of doing it. Sometimes I want to game on my HDTV and sometimes I want to do it on my beautiful Dell IPS. You can easily script the behavior yourself using Eventghost and displayswitch, you can google the flags for the latter. I have a hotkey that toggles my HDTV and turns off the monitor while I game for example and you can do more advanced stuff.
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