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Valve announced today that Steam Cloud will be the next major update for the digital distribution service, allowing gamers to store not only their profiles and key bindings online, but also all of their savegames created through Steamworks-supported applications.
Steam has had 114 client updates since their launch in 2003, but the biggest one is yet to come. Steam Cloud is Valve’s plan to further engage PC gamers with their games, and is one more step to Steam becoming the core of the PC gaming experience.
Community enhancements include improved event planning – RSVP, calendar functions, and official communities are all part of the feature list. Gamers will be able to coordinate tournaments, use calendars to check up on their friends, and join communities set up by game publishers and developers.
The biggest news is that game-generated data will now be stored with your Steam accounts in Valve servers. This includes game profiles, configuration settings, and even savegames! Valve will first be rolling this feature out to existing games like the Half-Life franchise, TF2, Counter-Strike. Left4Dead will be the first new game to remotely save your progress.
This system will be completely transparent to the user. The files cache locally, and will upload when Steam detects an internet connection. There will be no restrictions on users – no save quotas or file management – the system will “just work.”
Any Steamwork game will be able to support these features, and it’ll be FREE for customers and developers. Steam Cloud is set to launch in the “near future.”
The next step is enabling the system to save other types of game-data remotely, including deathcam screenshots in TF2 and game demo recordings of your online matches. Other possible updates may include user-created annotations in-game (similar to the commentary tracks in Portal and Half-Life 2) that gamers can use to share gameplay strategies.
Steam will also deliver automatic driver-updates for hardware and integrate a system requirements checker for games (which will provide useful feedback to gamers), which developers can also incorporate with the Steamworks development suite.
Valve also announced that "Meet the Sniper" will be the next Team Fortress 2 video.