Build your own small Steam Box PC using Valve's Big Picture Mode
As PC gamers, we’re big fans of Valve Software’s Steam service and can’t imagine life without it. We’ve got a huge library of installed games, all of our friends are on it, and almost every AAA title is released on Steam, making it indispensable. The only “problem” with Steam has been that its interface was designed for sitting 24 inches away, at a monitor, making it incompatible with couch-bound gaming. Valve has rectified this dilemma with its recently launched Big Picture Mode, which slaps a 10-foot interface on top of Steam and makes it easy to control with a gamepad. Since distance and connection issues can get in the way of running your desktop PC on your HDTV screen, we’re going to walk you through a more workable solution. First, we will advise you on selecting a small-but-powerful PC that’s suitable for a living room, then we’ll walk you through selecting appropriate peripherals, and finally we’ll show you how to get it all up and running, ready for Big Picture Mode deployment.
Note: This article appeared in the Holiday 2012 issue of the magazine.
After months (years?) of rumors and whispers, it's finally official: Bethesda just announced that it's developing "Elder Scrolls Online," an MMO version of its much-beloved role playing series. Just scanning the press release's subject line sent butterflies fluttering through my stomach: can Bethesda take its superb single player universe online successfully, or will this prove to be a proverbial arrow in the knee for the series?
Last year, Valve teased gamers around the world with the promise of eventually releasing a level editor for Portal 2. The company's been frustratingly close-lipped about details since then -- until yesterday, that is. Valve announced that the level editor is shipping as a DLC offering called the Perpetual Testing Initiative, coming to PC and Macs on May 8th for the low, low price of absolutely free.
Love gaming on Linux but don't have a taste for Wine? Look for a nice hot helping of Steam-brewed titles to come to the rescue sometime in the future. After a couple of years of rumors -- and denials -- that Valve was working on a Linux port of its blockbuster Steam service, it looks like the project is actually happening. Valve recently invited Mike Larabel, the man behind the Phoronix website for Linux lovers, out to the company's offices to give him a glimpse of the Steam for Linux in action.
Attention would-be witch doctors and wizards: it's time to reschedule whatever you had planned for the weekend. Homework, quality time with your significant other and bleaching your grandma's teeth all take a backseat to your new to-list entry -- blasting demons and devils in Diablo III. Last night, Blizzard announced that the game would be free for all this weekend as part of a stress-testing open beta. Actually, you can start swinging your swords any minute now.
So what’s a poor RPG lover to do when he’s done slaying dragons in Skyrim? Mass Effect 3 isn’t coming out until spring. Rather than sitting on your couch and staring blankly into space, why not spend some quality time with a quality older title like Fallout: New Vegas? Yeah, it isn’t exactly new and it still has more bugs than a cheap motel, but there’s a damn fine game buried in there and one of its developers recently released a mod designed to make the game harder than ever before. There’s a catch, though.
If you subscribe to GameFly, your plan just got a whole lot better. The GameFly Unlimited PC Play finally threw off its private beta shackles and entered public beta today, which means that anybody with a GameFly account can play select PC titles as much as they want, as often as they want after downloading GameFly’s client. The program also lets you manage your queue and buy games. Best of all, it’s completely free! No extra subscriptions required.
PC gaming is awesome. Steam is awesome. Getting free stuff is always awesome. Mix all three and what do you get? This year’s Steam Holiday Sale, which kicked off today. In addition to the usual savings, this year’s sale includes multiple daily “Great Gift Pile” challenges, which give you a chance to win additional discounts (and maybe even free games) every day. If you don’t win, you’ll get a lump of coal, instead, which sucks compared to a free game at first glance – but those lumps of coal are the key to the cool things being doled out in the Epic Holiday Giveaway.
Ubisoft hates it when pirates plunder the company’s gaming wares online. They’ve been at the forefront of the DRM battle, and by that, we mean they’ve been forcing DRM-ridden content down PC gamers’ throats left and right. It gets worse: Ubisoft won't even be publishing its upcoming “I Am Alive” on the PC due to piracy concerns. Disappointed PC players have been vocal in their displeasure, but all the “bitching” doesn't change the facts, creative director Stanislas Mettra says.
Doom 3 might not have blown away interactive storytelling standards when it launched on the PC back in 2004, but it definitely raised the bar as far as visuals were concerned. Despite the awesome eye candy, the Internet quickly filled with mildly disgruntled gamers who griped that they could have made a better game by, say, changing up the monster closet-filled gameplay and adding a flashlight to weapons. Well, big talkers, here’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is: yesterday, iD finally released Doom 3’s source code, nearly seven years after the game launched.