Technically this could be "Tech" but it's really both Tech and Media since it's about video games.
Steam unveiled a new game library interface yesterday.
And it's like an Actually Horrible Halloween Nightmare.
The new Library is:
* laggy, because it loads pictures for everything. There's a sidebar with icons of games, and the icons lazy-load in and out as you scroll -- which makes the scrolling lag. Then there's the main body of the library, which is a grid of game box cover art pieces, which also lazy-load in and out as you scroll, so scrolling is a pain. This lag is apparently present even on powerful systems.
* very wasteful of space, compared to any plaintext list of games -- which was basically List View, Detail View, and Small Mode. List View, specifically, allowed listing some 30+ games on one screen depending on how big your window was, and...well, let's go to the next point.
* very confusing as to where to find information, and doesn't display it neatly at all. List View also included their attributes (e.g. install status, last played date, size on disk, etc.) as columns in a spreadsheet. And you could sort or reverse sort by any of these attributes. The new Library interface tells you install status by a very pale icon (that easily blends in with lighter colors) in the corner of the game's box art (if it's there, it's not downloaded, otherwise it's not there), or by whether the game name is brighter in the left sidebar. It tells you last played date and total hours played but only when you mouse over the game box art. You can sort by size on disk/installation status (though it's missing the "Update required" status), last played, alpha order by title, but you can't reverse sort anymore. And you can't see all this information at the same time.
* unable to tell you the name of the game, in text, in the main Library view. For some strange reason, it features all the game box art pieces but doesn't actually list the name of the game in plain text. There is a list of game names on the left, but these can't be rearranged -- unless you go through and define custom categories for everything, or select only games that are installed to display, or just want to see your recent games. Oh, should I also mention that developers often change their game's box art to advertise new features/DLCs/etc. and events?
* impossible to use via keyboard alone -- which was possible with List View and Detail View and I think Small Mode, from the old interface.
* forcing you to read what's basically an advertisement about updates to games in your library, as a banner at the top of the Library's home page. This even includes games you've never played before and don't ever plan to play. You can make it disappear, but only if you dismiss each story one by one. There's no way to minimize it into a little thing that you can click to open up when you want to see it but keep collapsed when you don't want to see it.
Essentially, the new Library interface is trying to be a virtual display shelf where you get to see all the pretty cover art of your games. And it also offers a variety of custom list options, including dynamic lists, which is the main draw of the update.
But it breaks the fundamental functionality of the Steam client program. It's meant to be a launcher, that serves as DRM for games. You have to turn it on in order to play games bought through Steam (at least this is expected in most cases). So the right way to do this is to make it unintrusive, and fast.
Steam picked up a variety of social features over the years, and really emphasizes them, because they give people a reason to use the platform in the first place -- consumers wouldn't just buy into DRM without getting something in return out of it. And these social features -- along with some game install management features, and other convenient things like an overlay making for convenient screencapping, and a very robust multiplayer lobby system -- are part of what made Steam so successful.
And I'm fine as long as I can just focus on my games. There was List View, which gave me a spreadsheet list of my games, along with various useful information. Not the best -- could use some better columns i.e. information types -- but certainly usable. It loaded quickly, it had lots of information compactly available, and it had at least some keyboard support (the Steam client as a whole has always been kinda bad with keyboard-only interface support).
Well, now, it's all gone.
The closest thing left is Small Mode, which just produces a list of all games in alpha order, either all games or only installed games, and that used to be accessible through the Steam client's main menus, but now the only way to get to it is using a browser command or launch parameters.
The new Library view is basically a glorified Grid View, just as laggy, with some sorting options tagged on, and then custom list drag-and-drop features. It's very graphically intensive. It's supposed to look pretty when it's implemented right, but it's laggy as heck and confusing to use. And besides, I don't buy games to ogle the box art.
Is a simple plaintext list of all my games really all that difficult to implement?