Steam will today be updated with Big Picture Mode, which will blow up the scale of many of its elements in order to ease use for TVs and gamepads, reports Kotaku.
While it may look a lot like the Xbox 360 dashboard there are a few major changes, including the addition of a virtual keyboard you can use without wanting to throw your controller at the screen. Character selection is performed via a lotus flower-shaped interface, which splits the alphabet and a few common characters into 8 “petals”. To type a sentence, a user must point the analogue stick to the relevant petal (organized alphabetically) and tap a corresponding button on their gamepad (A, B, X or Y). It really works, and much better than most virtual keyboards.
There are plans to allow multiple users to sign in simultaneously and play splitscreen on TV.
There have been rumors of a Valve console for a while, and the company keeps making these little hints to the possibility of it becoming a real thing. Greg Coomer is the man who’s headed the Big Picture project, and he admits a Valve console could happen, going ever further to say that this operation is testing the water. "What we really want is to ship [Big Picture mode] and then learn," said Coomer. "So we want to find out what people value about that. How they make use of it. When they make use of it. Whether it's even a good idea for the broadest set of customers or not. And then decide what to do next."
"So it could be that the thing that really makes sense is to build the box that you're describing. But we really don't have a road map. And we think we're going to learn a tremendous amount through this first release."
The report went on to make reference to a device with similar functionality to the Wii U or Microsoft’s Smart Glass. "We are really interested in it but it hasn't been any of the focus in our work... Having a secondary experience, driving the primary experience, augmenting it with stuff that's social but ancillary - all those things are great, it's just not at the front of our priority list right now."
There’s a launch trailer below, why not have a little look?