The Source engine is a 3D game engine developed by Valve Corporation. Its unique features include a large degree of modularity and flexibility, an artist-driven, shader-based renderer, accurate lip sync and facial expression technology, and a powerful, efficient and completely network-enabled physics system.

As all you HL multiplayers will know, VALVe's new toy, Steam, has been the subject of much argument. Let's take a look at it from beginning to end, see what you think of it once you've finished reading.

Posted by jacksonj04 on Dec 7th, 2003

Right. For those of you who don't know, Steam is VALVE's (You know, the Half-Life people) shiny toy, created in order to make multiplaying, updating, buying, finding, and loads of other game things much easier. With Steam, there is no longer and waiting in a queue at FilePlanet for a 90mb patch, instead it just works when VALVe says it does (trickle update, you download the patch before it is 'released' then you get switched over automatically).

Servers have a similar idea, they just update. You don't even have to know there is a new version out. The Ready-To-Go games are great as well. Start playing Half-Life single player on any PC with Steam installed by logging in, downloading about 50mb, and you're away. The rest of the game is downloaded as needed.

Looking for a new game? If it's available on Steam, double click it's icon and up pops a screen. Enter an existing serial code (Half-Life, for example) or buy the game totally online. Steam checks to make sure nobody else has ripped your code, then ties it to your account to make absolutely sure that your copy registered to you.

Still, some people hate Steam. Why? Most of the dislike of Steam originates from the version 2.0 public release, the first fully official (non-beta) release.

2.0 was horrible, to put it nicely. Ticket errors, crashes, slowdowns, network congestion, you name it and Steam had it. True, a lot of it was caused by 500,000 people all trying to download 700mb worth of data at once, but still the client was horrible. And it wasn't helped by people running it on machines far below the minimum spec.

Still, after a reinstall or two, and when the chaos had calmed down, you could actually get hold of what you wanted and all worked well(ish). The releases of pre-cached copies (with all the game files included) helped the system along. Then came the first update. More chaos, since the update was fixing part of the update code which caused the platform to update really badly (Got that? Good.). However, when everbody had that patch the whole network started ticking over much, much better. If your PC was above the specs (as any gaming machine should be, they're not that high) and you had a decent connection (56kb was the slowest you could realistically cope with) all was good, you could get games and updates, and even do clever stuff with Friends.

The vast majority of Steam bugs are ironed out, yet it has aquired an undeserved stigma. New users should find it very nice apart from a couple of unintuitive nasty bits.

Feature Image

Friends, what a wonderful invention. Think of MSN, integrated with the multiplayer game of your choice, the server browser, and some minigames.

Friends is probably the best bit of Steam after the content distribution bit. Friends allows you to add other players (clan members, friends, anyone who accepts your request) and then chat to them. This would normally be nothing special, MSN does it quite well. No, the fancy bit about Steam's Friends is that it can see where they are. Not a mere online/offline, but Steam can tell you which server they are on, playing what game, how long they've been there, and then join you to the server. Beat that MSN.

On top of this rather cool feature are the minigames, such as chess and draughts, which are great for passing the time between rounds in Counter-Strike. So overall, a very useful piece of kit.

It is worth noting, however, that Friends is notorious for not working or randomly logging people out. This is slowly improving, but to be honest I would stick with 3rd-party IM for organising games.

Steam, along with the nice game updating, has also aquired the ability for people to preload games, and even buy them through Steam. Suddenly, CDs become a bit unnecessary. Half-Life 2 prior to release was preloaded by over 50,000 people. Instantanious playing as soon as you add a CD key to your Steam account, or alternatively use your credit card (sadly no debit cards yet) to buy the game online.

So, Steam was hated by pretty much everbody in the beginning. But now, a few patches down the line, it is an incredibly useful tool for not only playing games, but also updating them, piracy control, and even getting hold of the games. New cache filesystems and Ready-To-Play mean that you can start gaming from a clean install relatively quickly (The machine I'm writing this on has never seen a Half-Life CD or CDKEY, it was all downloaded and the key was tied to my account on my old machine).

Final words, well done VALVe for sticking with it and making it work, well done to the believers who stuck with it and aren't obsessed with WON, and well done to the content hosts who let us download 700mb worth of stuff on a regular basis.

Post comment Comments
leilei Dec 7 2003 says:

:thumbup: to article
:thumbdown: to Steam

-1 votes     reply to comment
SupaNinjaMan Dec 14 2008 replied:

ah, the "past" people were right.
except now, steam pwnts.

+1 vote     reply to comment
chicken2112 Jan 14 2009 replied:

you got that right

+2 votes     reply to comment
aea Dec 9 2003 says:

Yea, steam stinks; it screwed up my connection :P

+2 votes     reply to comment
JynxDaddy Dec 21 2003 says:

You didnt mention the fact that Friends in also ingame... Thats what makes it better than msn to me :)
On a side note, my friends list got wiped the other day...

Nice Article.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mr.T Dec 30 2003 says:

u can use hlsw for Friends spotting

+1 vote     reply to comment
Robo_Ronald Feb 16 2004 says:

Hate steam? I absolutely LOATHE it!!! I don't need another program wasting my space and eating up system resources. Why oh why did they make CS 1.6 steam only?

+2 votes     reply to comment
Damn!T Jun 19 2004 says:

Who Even Uses Steam?
Cuz id rather just stick with 1.5

+2 votes     reply to comment
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Lord_Draco Nov 13 2004 says:

Dunno about you, but the WON client was one of the worst things I have ever used. It would constantly move winamp around the place, graphical glitches and random crashes. It got worse with every upgrade. running the WON client on my current machine sucks right now, if you go into the men mid game you can't get back into the game without quiting and restarting the game. Steam works much better

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ProgramZeta Dec 7 2004 says:

You can install mods into Steam, just install them to:

Steam has gained a bad reputation as a system hog and general unworkingness, but I have not had problems with it. I bought Half Life 2 the morning after it was released, and I was able to play within 15 minutes. Although the original versions of Steam were severely flawed, many updates later I'm able to update with a double click. Steam is the future regaurding game deliviery, and after the Friends list is fixed, the ability to join friends in games. Once people adapt to using a background program that takes minor resouces, greater steps can be taken to fix the actual bugs instead of people nagging that Steam is evil and shouldn't be allowed to exists.

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lhavelund May 28 2005 says:

Agreed, programzeta. And yes, you DO need steam to play HL2, I quote from the Half-Life 2 quick reference card (Collectors Editon):

Half-Life wrote:
A Steam account is required to play Half-Life 2 and an internet connection is required to create and use your Steam account. During installation you will be prompted to create your Steam account and validate your CD key, once this is complete you can play Half-Life 2. An "Offline Mode" will also be available if the "Remember my Password" box is checked on the Steam login screen.

There you go, Steam is Required. And to prove it, my nifty scanner's always there to help out:

+1 vote     reply to comment
swisstaco5 Aug 11 2005 says:

I downloaded a cracked version without steam because im 15 and my mom wont let me get it. But it wont let me download mods without steam. Does anyone know of mods i could get?

+1 vote     reply to comment
kabo0m Feb 1 2006 says:

Cracked versions don't work and you DO need Steam now. You used to not but things have changed since (I think Oct) of 2004?

Anyway, Ya Steam sucks but is getting better. But it is really frustrating and they have to really work on it. I mean, it is so easy for your account to get hijacked and I paid good money for HL2 and don't go to net cafe's and live alone and don't have any keyloggers and I scanned my computer and changed the password and email and it still took from Dec 2005 to Jan 29th 2006 for them to finally reactivate my account and reset my password and secret question. I was so mad I wanted to just return HL2 because I could not play it because you need STEAM. It really frustrated me because I paid for HL2 and also my account is an old one I have had since Steam first became manditory (I really hated when CS 1.6 HAD to be played thru Steam and not WON .. I simply quit playing CS altogether. That is how upset them forcing Steam on me made me!!) and the CD key I have I have is from a game so old that it was from a time when all that exsisted was WON. So for them to not let me play my paid for games ****** me off because I have been a long time HL mod player.

Yet ... the hijacker can play my account whenever without paying. How does this help the paying customer at all???

+1 vote     reply to comment
Neil__ Mar 26 2006 says:

Cracked versions DO, REPEAT DO WORK

Half life 2 only needs steam for online play.

I know because I'm playing it now

+2 votes     reply to comment
halfalive1409 Apr 19 2006 says:

yep,steam really sucks,i tried to register one my legit games on steam and it said that my cd key was invalied,i dare say that someone has used my cd key...rrrrrr....
anyways my friends and i belive that steam is highway should be banned,its not fair for people that work hard for their cash,buy a game,try to register it on steam just to find out that you can play it online( online is much better than playing against the cpu).....

+1 vote     reply to comment
halfalive1409 Apr 19 2006 says:

sorry i meant cannot play it online instead of can play it online....... my bad

+1 vote     reply to comment
DawGwath Jun 20 2006 says:

ok, some of you say you CAN play mods for HL2 WITHOUT STEAM, but none of you explained how the hell you can do that. I've searched on the internet and even myself tried to work it out, but I simply can't manage it. Can someone please tell me how can I play MODS WITHOUT STEAM, because STEAM has really ****** me off, I think I've tried a million times to play HL2 with Steam... and failed, so I had to resort to cracks (sorry)... PLEASE HELP!!!

0 votes     reply to comment
dahgutfather Sep 16 2006 says:

I just downloaded the ESF mod for half life 1......the first version of the mod works but the 1.2.3 version doesnt keeps asking for the cd half life my cd key works but when i use the mod it keeps asking again.....and again.....and......well.....again.....and i think again................and as you may have allready guessed.......yes AGAIN!!!!! Could this be becouse of steam or something? (i have a steam account)

0 votes     reply to comment
Ramses_IV. Dec 29 2006 says:

As someone set before... HOW PLAY MODS WITHOUT STEAM ? I agree with you all ...Steam sux ... but i saw many nice mods to HL2 , how i can play it or just test it ? I really want to. There must be a commands to console or somthing to run it, i think. pls help!

0 votes     reply to comment
daorn Jan 30 2008 says:

Hi, i've seen someone who says that before 2004 hl2 needed steam to play, but I've played on nov of 2007 and it worked fine, but now it doesnt work anymore, it keeps saying: "connection to steam servers lost could not retrieve necessary files" and just kicks me out of the game. how can I solve this? I also have a lot of trouble with the mods, I've downloaded a lot and none of them works, they just don't have a .exe file to start them so I can't play them even with steam...

+1 vote     reply to comment
blackaurora Apr 22 2008 says:

HEY People, Steam is a waste. Me at my home doesn't have internet connection. Steam always error when there's no internet connection.
Then if i want to play Half-Life 2 or play it's mod it means that i need to carry the mods everywhere. Install it at nearby Internet Center only to play it's mod. The Internet Center computer specs is lower than mine at home. Should i reduce the quality or play in distorted performance.
Steam is sucks... Someday, i hope someone can hack through Steam and allow us to play the mod freely. Every time i overwrite the half-life data with the mod data. My half-life 2 is corrupted and cannot be played so i have to reinstall it.

Steam! Just go to HELL

0 votes     reply to comment
radu0202 Aug 24 2008 says:

if you hate Steam don't complain here. Steam rules .period.

-1 votes     reply to comment
Phar Oct 16 2009 says:

Oh shut your ******* mouths. If you don't like STEAM you don't need to ******* use it. Bitching here is not gonna go you much good.

Also... I ******* love STEAM. I think it works great and I love how they have their things set up. Maybe you people just have really ****** machines...

@rady0202 I completely agree.

+1 vote     reply to comment
alphawolf Jan 30 2011 says:

Lol Weasil, Your a idiot.

If you don't like steam then don't get any games that use it.

Plus Half-life 2 is made by valve, Who also made steam.

I <3 Steam, I know i am a year late But Your wrong, Almost everyone loves steam.

So about you get your bloody facts right!

+1 vote     reply to comment
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