We love it when companies just get it. Valve Software and its announcement of SteamCloud is a prime example. As reported by John Walker at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, SteamCloud will let anyone using Valve's Steam PC game download and networking service carry over saved game files, mouse, and keyboard configurations and other player-specific info regardless of where you log in. In other words, if you're at a friend's house and you want to jump into a game of Team Fortress 2 on his or her PC, all you need to do is log in to Steam and … Read more
When you hear the word "iTube," you're probably more likely to assume it's the name of a grossly self-obsessed version of YouTube. But you'd be wrong, as fans of Fatman--the company, not the game--would tell you. The iTube 452 is in fact Fatman's uber-stylish new valve amplifier and it comes with the ValveDock for seamless integration with iPods.
Valve amps claim to offer a warmer, more natural musical sound than that from today's common transistor-based amplifiers, and they're often favored by audiophiles. With the iPod's arguably good sound quality and … Read more
Already got the weighted companion cube fuzzy dice in your Astrovan and the cardboard helmet to match? There's hope for you dear portal fan. Here's yet another Aperture Laboratories-themed creation to show off your geek fetish to the world. This time it's numbered parking permits for both Aperture Laboratories and Black Mesa, the fictional experimental science organizations found in Valve's Portal and Half-Life games. The Black Mesa one's been around a little longer, but the Aperture Labs reared its wonderful head last month. Both run for $10 and come with bonus Half-Life themed bumper stickers.… Read more
One thing that struck me during Steve Jobs' keynote yesterday was this odd moment when Jobs was trying to rationalize many of the reasons MacBook Air owners would be happy not having an optical drive in their laptop. He was going down a list of things we need optical media for and replacing them one by one with various Apple creations. Apple's perceived solution for not having a drive would be to buy all your media through iTunes and play it on your iPod, delegate the task of reading discs to another computer in your house, or simplify things with a new and proprietary $99 external drive. Sounds simple, right?
It's commonly been referred to as the "Steve Jobs reality distortion field" and there hasn't really been a clearer example of it since Apple launched the "simpler" version of its one-button mouse that actually had five. In this case, it's the importance of optical media and the role it still plays in our lives. While I applaud Jobs and Apple trying to get rid of what's admittedly become a weak and cumbersome format, I'm a little disappointed that Apple hasn't decided to offer a real solution to the problem they're creating for novice computer users and road warriors who want to avoid optical media altogether--at least not yet.
What I'm getting at is that Apple's in the perfect position to start offering digital software downloads to the masses, and tie it into a software system that millions of people are comfortable with giving their credit card information to on a daily basis. I'm speaking of course, about iTunes.
Apple's got all the pieces in place to start offering people computer software the same way Valve's been doing with video games with its hugely successful Steam service for the last six years. I love Steam for many reasons, but primarily for its built-in updating tools and easy-to-navigate digital storefront that make it easy to buy software with one click and not have to worry about it again. If I could get the same performance from an app that's admittedly become a little bloated but already has a decent updating system, I'd be happy as a pig in mud.
Two things stick out in my mind as being good signs such a service is in the works via iTunes:
Portal has caused something of a stir among gamers. The unassuming little physics-warping first-person puzzler has gotten a lot of attention for two of its unique characters, the SHODAN-on-valium computer system GLaDOS and the Weighted Companion Cube. GLaDOS hasn't seen much love among DIY gamers, mostly because she's a disembodied voice for most of the game. The Weighted Companion Cube, on the other hand, has seen replicas, cakes, and even (like in my case) Halloween costumes.
Valve has recognized the WCC nerd-obession and plans to duly cash in on it. The company will sell plush Weighted Companion Cubes. … Read more
Gordon Freeman and company are back in the next episode of the critically acclaimed Half Life 2 series. The Orange Box collection not only includes the original Half Life 2 and Episode 1 games, but also Team Fortress 2 and the reality-bending puzzler, Portal. Most importantly, though, the Half Life saga will continue with the latest tale, Episode 2. Half Life 2: The Orange Box debuts October 9 on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.