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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.

Gamersí 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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52. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 5, 2012, 12:55 Verno
 
You can get something like a Zotac Zbox or one of those new Intel NUG thingies, throw any SSD into it and 4GB ram then instant Steam box. It won't run Borderlands 2 but Steam has a massive back catalog. I have a little HTPC in the living room that does all of that stuff + emulation, the 10 foot interface saves me having to automate everything through a remote (1080p is unreadable from 8 feet without a special interface).  
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51. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 5, 2012, 09:51 Krodge
 
durandal wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 22:34:
I don't really see the point of this.

Well its great for me, Great timing too.
I just put together a PC out of a bunch of old parts so my wife could play all the steam 'console' type games she loves (like Darksiders) on the tv. Now its way easier for her, and she can also use it to browse the internet, All with a controller.

I dont have to waste money on a 3rd replacement xbox. And steam games are a shitload cheaper than store bought console games, especially when they're on sale.
Seriously. $4 for darksiders on steam, $65 for xbox. $3 for LA Noire, $98 for xbox *NZ btw.
I'm sure I could find them cheaper if I ordered them online somewhere, But this is cheap and almost instantaneous.

Yea I think I like my new pc-console.
 
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50. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 17:44 Krizzen
 
I think they're onto something. If there is any way to hammer out some better multi-monitor support, I could totally see running both your "home computer" and your "gaming system" on a single PC. In this way, mom or dad can do their facebooking and grownup tasks on the actual PC while the kids play Steam.

I think this would be possible because CPU core count is going up, and typical CPU utilization of games rarely goes over 80% because perfect parallelism is near impossible to achieve.

Clearly there are some underlying OS issues, namely that of Windows multi-monitor support and perhaps using multiple keyboards and other HIDs. This could be why they're experimenting with Linux. Of course, this is all wild speculation, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility.
 
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49. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 10:48 dj LiTh
 
John wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 10:15:
DDI wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 21:00:
How do I turn off the ugly as fuck giant button on my Steam UI
It's not that bad.. I've been on the Steam beta for several weeks with that button up there and it doesn't bother me. You get used to it after a while.

You'd think they'd just put a toggle for it in the steam settings.
 
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48. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 10:15 John
 
DDI wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 21:00:
How do I turn off the ugly as fuck giant button on my Steam UI
It's not that bad.. I've been on the Steam beta for several weeks with that button up there and it doesn't bother me. You get used to it after a while.
 
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47. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 10:08 Verno
 
PHJF wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 10:00:
I would just love to fucking see a driver-level or OS-level option to toggle between multi monitors on an app specific basis. I shouldn't have to change my TV to my primary screen to get a game to grab it.

Very rarely a game comes along with a .ini value that does just this.

That's really what is needed but unfortunately multi-monitor support has always been kludgey in most operating systems. There are some programs that sort of let you do this (UltraMon) but they inevitably break down when Windows changes something behind the scenes and screws up the monitor profile.

Windows should just treat display devices like it does audio devices, with an enabled and disabled state so that you can still manage them and retain identities regardless of where they are physically connected, powered on/off and etc.

I deliberately avoided getting into technicalities but as I said, Valve could simply switch the primary display when launching Big Picture mode and restore it on exit. In fact that functionality should be built into Steam regardless of Big Picture mode. I'm sure there's probably a smarter way to do it but I don't know enough technical details to suggest what that may be.

It can't though and for many reasons as discussed. There are a lot of things I want in Steam but I can't just ignore the technical realities. Steam has no way of knowing which displays are intended to be primary and those identities can change regardless. For example Windows sometimes decides to make my HDTV the primary monitor if its turned on and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the driver software packages from AMD/Nvidia can make this "stick" and other times they can't, it's difficult to make assumptions about multi-monitor stuff.

For your specific situation you could easily script it with Eventghost or AHK and using displayswitch.exe, you can flip between them by using the /internal and /external flags. Enable Big Picture, flip displays, launch game from Big Picture interface. In fact that's what I would suggest you do because I don't think Steam getting monitor management is very likely.

This comment was edited on Dec 4, 2012, 10:16.
 
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46. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 10:08 theyarecomingforyou
 
PHJF wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 10:00:
I would just love to fucking see a driver-level or OS-level option to toggle between multi monitors on an app specific basis. I shouldn't have to change my TV to my primary screen to get a game to grab it.

Very rarely a game comes along with a .ini value that does just this.
Yeah. I'm surprised that nVidia or AMD haven't implemented this at a driver level. Really it should be Microsoft that does it but it's not a forward thinking company any more and PC gaming is at the bottom of its priority list.
 
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45. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 10:06 theyarecomingforyou
 
Verno wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 09:44:
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.
I deliberately avoided getting into technicalities but as I said, Valve could simply switch the primary display when launching Big Picture mode and restore it on exit. In fact that functionality should be built into Steam regardless of Big Picture mode. I'm sure there's probably a smarter way to do it but I don't know enough technical details to suggest what that may be. It's the same with sound - there should be an option in Steam that allows you to automatically change your sound device, so that you could default to HDMI audio when gaming and it reverts back to your soundcard after that.

My point is that there's plenty that can be done to improve the user experience but Valve really isn't doing a good job with Steam at the moment. The Community features have improved but they're still slow and unreliable; the game library is poor at handling a large amount of games, especially when each game can only be in one group; the built-in browser is considerably slower than Chrome, despite using WebKit; the install process still involves excessive numbers of prompts and lags like hell when installing multiple games; the DRM often adds an inconvenient delay when launching games (it should store temporary authentication tokens from Valve to allow it to perform as fast as offline mode).

Steam is great but it's hugely underdeveloped considering how much money it is making and how many people use it. It's about time they updated the visual style, with a native-UI option and a lighter colour option (even if not default).
 
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44. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 10:00 PHJF
 
I would just love to fucking see a driver-level or OS-level option to toggle between multi monitors on an app specific basis. I shouldn't have to change my TV to my primary screen to get a game to grab it.

Very rarely a game comes along with a .ini value that does just this.
 
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43. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:52 Verno
 
Shineyguy wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 09:47:
Because Wake-On-Keyboard or Wake-On-Mouse is a setting that has never been a part of Windows.. Not sure if there's the same for a controller, but I don't see how it couldn't be implemented.

Hmm? USB wake is supported in Windows, I do it with my HTPC all the time. Getting devices to wake from S3 is easist though, waking from S5(off) is essentially a power toggle and difficult without a physical power addin tab or IR hookup.
 
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42. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:47 Shineyguy
 
durandal wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 22:34:
I don't really see the point of this.

First, you have to put PC next to TV, unless you have long HDMI cable.
You have go over there to push power button to start PC, unlike consoles, which you can start by pushing center button on your wireless controller.


Second, on Windows you have to start Steam first and then turn on Big Picture mode, which requires using mouse. even if your mouse is wireless, it's kinda annoying to use it without desk to put it. Moreover, if you have a wireless mouse, it's just easier to click on the shortcut and start up the game straight away, then use gamepad.


Because Wake-On-Keyboard or Wake-On-Mouse is a setting that has never been a part of Windows.. Not sure if there's the same for a controller, but I don't see how it couldn't be implemented.
 
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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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40. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:32 ^Drag0n^
 
jimnms wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 02:21:
^Drag0n^ wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 21:22:
DDI wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 21:00:
How do I turn off the ugly as fuck giant button on my Steam UI

press the [X] button in the upper right corner.

That doesn't get rid of the button.

You missed the point.
 
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39. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:31 avianflu
 

I've been playing most of my Steam PC games via HDMI to a plasma TV for well over 2 years now. The nvidia driver is already very smart about outputting to a TV's resolutions.

Not entirely sure what the big deal is
 
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38. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:26 netnerd85
 
jimnms wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 02:21:
^Drag0n^ wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 21:22:
DDI wrote on Dec 3, 2012, 21:00:
How do I turn off the ugly as fuck giant button on my Steam UI

press the [X] button in the upper right corner.

That doesn't get rid of the button.
lol, it does in way

But omg, it is an awful button.

Waiting for a lawsuit to end client based DRM. Oh PLEASE!
 
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37. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:12 dj LiTh
 
@Verno indeed partnering with XBMC would be truly epic and impossible to beat!

@theyarecomingforyou you record a macro say from the desktop of you changing your monitor from one to the other, then you speed up that macro a rediculous amount (testing along the way). Its what my friend does, he's got the entire process down to 2s, and that includes the scream flickering back to default.....Also you can have a different macro+kb shortcut for any of those options you do manually.

This comment was edited on Dec 4, 2012, 09:20.
 
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36. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:05 theyarecomingforyou
 
dj LiTh wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 08:40:
May i suggest a macro program with a nice simple kb shortcut. Thats pretty much my friends setup, and he was going crazy having to switch back and forth his primary monitor all the time for certain things. Now he just uses a macro program and it switches in about 2s.
How would one go about doing that? I have a soundswitcher, so I can change between my sound unit and HDMI audio with a click of a button or a keyboard combo; how would I add changing the default monitor to that? I seem to recall I looked into a shortcut a while back and had some trouble with it. Also, that doesn't help when I sometimes choose to play on monitor and sometimes on HDTV, as it means I have to manually change the resolution.

Verno wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 08:42:
That's not really an issue in general, just a niche issue pertaining to you as that's not what the feature is aimed at. You could easily script your problem away by using displayswitch.exe. What you're asking for to be automated is almost impossible due to how games having direct access to display controls and how Windows identifies displays, the EDID problems alone with receivers would likely be insurmountable.
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.

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.
 
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35. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 09:00 Verno
 
dj LiTh wrote on Dec 4, 2012, 08:55:
They should find a way to include netflix/hulu etc etc, those types of 'apps' or programs...add in a way to access mkv's/avi's/mp4's etc and you have a winner.

I used to think the same thing but honestly, a potential Steam video library function could never rival something like XBMC and there are already Netflix apps available. I think they should just partner up with some of the XBMC team and do up a little STB based on XBMCBuntu or something. That might be the reason for all of the Linux port stuff, who knows!
 
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34. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 08:56 dj LiTh
 
Double post....how the f...did that happen...  
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33. Re: Steam Big Picture Mode Launches Dec 4, 2012, 08:55 dj LiTh
 
They should find a way to include netflix/hulu etc etc, those types of 'apps' or programs...add in a way to access mkv's/avi's/mp4's etc and you have a winner.  
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