Valve has been hard at work on a variety of new apps and programs behind the scenes, and with the unveiling of the new Steam Labs online hub today, we can have a glimpse at what the developer has been experimenting with.
That's the idea behind Steam Labs at least. It's an online home for all works in progress Valve is tinkering with, such as features with codenames like The Peabody Recommender or Organize Your Steam Library Using Morse Code. Users can evaluate these different modules and share feedback. Should Valve continue development? That's your opinion to share, as well as thoughts on how each feature should change and evolve, if at all.
The first three Labs experiments are Micro Trailers, the Interactive Recommender and the Automated Show. Micro Trailers are a series of six-second game trailers arranged on a page for you to view all at once. You can peruse these new micro trailer collections for builder games, RPGs, adventure games and plenty of other genres.
The Automated Show is akin to in-store programming at GameStop, where a half-hour video showcases some of the latest Steam game launches. It's meant for you to take in and check out a few hundred games at a time, or leave on as background noise.
Finally, the Interactive Recommender uses machine learning to recommend new titles to you based on games you're currently into. Using a neural network trained to recommend games based on a user's playtime history and other collections of data, it analyzes various play patterns, preference and a wide variety of additional information about the games you gravitate toward.
Interactive Recommender doesn't require developer optimization. Instead, it works with information gleaned from the Steam community itself. The feature learns about games for itself during training. In fact, the only information it does get is the release date during the preliminary setup process. It's a hefty undertaking by Valve that's unlike anything the developer has tackled in the process just yet. You can give it a try here.
For additional Steam Labs experiments coming down the pipeline, you can join the Steam Labs Community Group and keep an eye on when new additions join the hub. For now, you can try out these three intriguing new experiments and share what you think with Valve. Meanwhile, we'll be watching to see where this all goes.
Pleased to see that competing storefronts are giving them a little nudge in the right direction though. Steam's been stagnant in terms of innovation for nearly a decade.
Stagnant in innovation? How many other distribution applications support Linux ad heavily? How many others have Big Picture mode? How many others put in native support for non supported controllers so people could play with the controller they like? In the past 10 years they added plenty of features most others have not, even before EGS got involved.
I highly doubt this was thought up and developed in the past few months because of EGS, especially when EGS doesn't even match Steam in current features. They have been working on the new interface for the past couple of years as well.
However this will turn out like anything else. A good idea that will probably be ruined by the community then VALVe will be lambasted for it by said community much like Greenlight.
Their efforts on adding more game support to Linux has been exemplary and should not go without praise. That being said, the platform itself is clunky, buggy, and unintuitive to anyone that hasn't been using it for years. The storefront is awful, the chat systems are buggy, adding friends is a tedious process, etc. Very little has changed to alleviate any of these issues in the past decade. Furthermore, very few new features have been added at all for the amount of time we're talking about.
I guess in my eyes the current version is better than previous versions. Considering they have had no competent competition they have done well.
I typically use the beta update always and have no bugs that are major enough to speak of. The store is fine and not hard to use. People just don't like to put the time in to learn something. Compared to say Google Play or the Microsoft store its just as usable.