Steam: some news, further speculation

The TPV/Developer meeting on the 24th August included an interesting, if brief, discussion on the forthcoming link-up with Steam, in which a little more information was revealed, and comments were passed that allow for further speculation as to how things might be handed.

In keeping with the Steam format, there will be a promotional video for Second Life which will be available for Steam users to view prior to initialising the Steam download / installation process. This video (produced by Linden Lab) apparently does not promote Second Life “intensely as a game”, but rather as a “place with a lot of cool content”, with the overall approach to the video being described as “kaleidoscopic” and fast-paced in terms of images shown.

Perhaps the most interesting comment however, came from Oz Linden in response to a question relaid by Jessica Lyon, on users being able to log-in to SL “from Steam”, in which he said, “Yeah, it creates a Second Life account…I don’t know how the name gets created … the two are connected somehow.”

This sparked a short discussion on how this might be possible, and what the mechanism would be for handling names, with some in the meeting wondering if the link-up would allow them to use their Steam user IDs with SL. I’m going to go right out on a limb here, and suggest that when it comes to creating an SL account “from Steam”, we might already have the answer sitting in front of us.

How Steam Works

For those unfamiliar with Steam, obtaining a new game is a matter of using the Steam client or web page to browse available games (listed in several categories). Individual games can be previewed in a dedicated panel / page, which includes the options for promotional videos and stills to be added, as well as a description of the game provided.

A typical Steam client game preview panel

Should the user opt to play the game, they can start a download / install process from within Steam (on PCs running Windows 7 32-bit, games are installed into C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\ common, for example). Links are created to the user’s Steam library, allowing games to be launched from there as well as through things like short cuts on the desktop, etc.

What is interesting here is that many of the games have some form of sign-up process. However, rather than being incorporated in Steam itself, these generally take the user to an external website to complete the sign-up process. Could Second Life simply take the same route?

The Answer, My Friend, is (Maybe) Written in the Viewer (apologies to Bob Dylan)

Last month, I commented on changes made to the SL Development Viewer’s splash screen – specifically the dialogue box pointing the user to the need to sign-up for an account in order to access SL.

SL Development Viewer, (August 16): initial prompt asking the user to create an account – included for the Steam link-up? (click to enlarge)

This has been included in all subsequent Development viewer releases since August 16th, but is only displayed if there are no avatar account files located on the host PC. Once somone has logged-in to SL and the account files created, the prompt is no longer displayed in starting the viewer.

At the time I reported this update I speculated as to whether it might be related to the upcoming Steam link-up. It’s hard to see why else LL would add such a prompt to the viewer’s splash screen – and the arrival of the update, just a couple of days after the original announcement did seem rather timely (although the splash screen changes have yet to be seen in any other flavours of the official viewer). Certainly, handling things this way would eliminate the need for complicated links between the Steam client / website and the SL website / sign-up page, and eliminate the need for any API interaction between the two.

If this is the case, however, one assumes steps will be taken to update the SL sign-up pages – the final step of which is to download the viewer; as Steam users will have already have effectively done this already, having the prompt without clarification could lead to some confusion.

The potential rebuttal to this is that Oz is involved with the viewer – so if the sign-up process was simply a matter of adding a dialogue to the viewer in order to direct the user to SL’s sign-up page, he’d know? Or is he simply being coy in his response, pending the official launch?

Will SL be Promoted as a Game?

During the TPV/Developer discussion, speculation is voiced that SL will in fact be promoted by Valve as a game on Steam. If correct, then one assumes that SL will be appearing in the Free Games category on Steam. However, this did not apparently come from Linden Lab, but rather from one of the TPV developers at the meeting.

As it is, Valve are due to launch their non-game offerings (described as “creativity and productivity” software this coming Wednesday, September 5th (which some have taken to be the date SL will appear on Steam, although this again is by no means clear) – so we might gain some further insight as to how SL might be pitched then – assuming SL isn’t one of the first offerings on the list.

Given that the original blog-post from the Lab announcing the link-up stated it would be happening in “the next month or so”, it would seem that we may have a couple of weeks yet in which to speculate, rather than perhaps getting a definitive answer this week.

Time will tell, as they say…

Related Links

Viewer release summary 2012: week 35

This summary is published every Monday and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Viewer Round-up Page, a list of  all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware) and which are recognised as being in adherence with the TPV Policy
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information as the week progresses
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.  

Updates for the week ending: 2 September, 2012

  • SL Viewer updates:
    • Beta version rolled to on August 30 – release notes
    • Development: rolled to on August 30
    • Mesh Deformer updated to: on  August 31
  • Firestorm released version 4.2.1 on August 27, before withdrawing it and rolling to on August 28 – core updates: pathfiinding, Flickr snapshots upload, mute Group Chat, RLVa 1.4.7, client AO improvements, OpenSim improvements – release notes – my 4.2.2 review here
  • Kokua made pre-release available on August 30 – core updates: media fixes
  • Zen Viewer rolled to Zen version on August 28 – core updates: sound explorer added; LSL fix for (llTargetOmega() (spinning / rotating objects); angular velocity for vehicles fixed; updated HyperGrid support
  • Cool Viewer:
    • Stable branch rolled to, on September 1- core updates: improved mesh uploader with male / female shapes radio button; numerous 3.4.1 backports and updates (incl llTargetOmega() for spinning / rotating objects); added work-around for disappearing / non-rezzing attachments following log-in / TP;
    • Experimental release rolled  to also on September 1 – core updates as per plus fixes
    • Release notes for both
  • GroupTools rolled to installer release on September 2

Related Links