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IJBM: Steam's new game library.

edited 2019-10-31 22:56:05 in Media
Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
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?


  • edited 2019-11-12 10:52:01
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    (pasted from my own post)

    Here's a handy list of places to buy DRM-free games:

    * GamersGate (check what DRM the game uses)
    * GOG (all games are DRM-free)
    * Humble Store (look for the DRM-free icon)
    * http://itch.io (check what your purchase gives you. for most games, you get the DRM-free direct downloads. sometimes you get a Steam key too.)
    * Playism (check the store pages. many of their games are DRM-free + Steam key, but some are DRM-free only and some are Steam key only)
    * some publishers/developers operate their own web stores, where they may offer DRM-free games.

    Also if you're into visual novels, JAST USA and MangaGamer are both entirely DRM-free.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    Is a simple plaintext list of all my games really all that difficult to implement?

    Simple is not "cool" or "fashionable". Who needs effective when you can have pretty (or resource-heavy)?
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    (reposted from my post on Steam)

    Some more insight, as I mentioned just now in other threads:

    0. This isn't new but it bears repeating: the interface lags. Scrolling makes it lag more. This is a huge impediment to accessing the games. I suspect the heavy use of images and other graphical features is to blame for this, so my first suggestion is an option to disable game icons and game cover art. We don't buy games to admire the cover art; we buy games to play them.

    1. Big Picture Mode shows us the correct way to implement "What's New": There's a button for game updates. It's at the top of the BPM home page. If you're interested, you click it and it opens up game updates. If you're not interested, it stays closed, as just one button.

    2. Essentially what a lot of us want is custom list options + List View, Detail View, and/or Small View. But what we got instead was custom list options + Grid View, with no ability to list anything (except the list at the left, which is a crappy version of Small Mode because it lags when scrolling and can't disable icons).

    (and recapped/adapted from someone else's insight earlier)

    3a. When you put games on a physical shelf, most people put them so that the spines face the user, not the game covers. Most people don't have space to have every game cover displayed, except maybe a select few favorite games. And this same thing applies to a virtual shelf as well. A shelf of cover art is just a shelf where very few games are displayed. Library size is unlimited, but display space on a screen is not.

    3b. Very often, the cover art often doesn't display the title in a consistent manner. The cover art is meant to be an eye-catcher, to sell the game. The spine, on the other hand, displays the game title clearly (even if in a stylized font). Right now, the shelves lack even a text name for the game displayed above or below each game, and games are arranged in a grid.

    If games were arranged on a shelf in the style of an actual bookshelf or an actual stack of game boxes, we'd be looking at the spines. Essentially, this is a list of games -- i.e., Small Mode or List View or Detail View.

    And we need the ability to rearrange these game boxes to our liking. List View provided some basic sorting options, but the new custom list (and custom dynamic list) features are actually an excellent opportunity to allow for more sorting options.

    It's these advanced sorting options that we needed. Thank you for them. But, we did not need Grid View forced upon us. Nor did we need the lag. These two problems are the crux of the issue here.
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    So, I've had Steam open for the last couple hours or so.

    Just went to open up a game. It's in my recent games list, so I right-click its cover art portrait -- the expanded one that's the very first one, in fact.

    No response.

    Whelp, Steam's library is now frozen. Nothing is responsive. It has been unresponsive for at least ten minutes now.

    Clicking, scroll wheel scrolling, right-clicking, clicking the left sidebar, clicking the Home button, clicking a game update...nothing works.

    Everything outside of the game library still works. I can go to my downloads, I can open up the "add a game" menu, I can access the top bar menus. But if I try to go to a web page, such as by clicking Community, that doesn't load either.

    Current RAM usage:

    Steam.exe 73,828 K
    SteamService.exe 3,108 K
    steamwebhelper.exe 14,268 K
    steamwebhelper.exe 2,068 K
    steamwebhelper.exe 13,268 K
    steamwebhelper.exe 7,216 k
    steamwebhelper.exe 46,524 k
    steamwebhelper.exe 88,196 k
    steamwebhelper.exe 6,780 k

    System: Win8.1 on 4th-generation i5 with integrated graphics.

    Restarting Steam now. hopefully it fixes this. seriously this is bullcrap
  • edited 2019-11-05 05:00:53
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Oh, that freezing bug happened to me twice today.

    Also, discovered something else. Here's a repost:

    How to get rid of the "What's New", and how to (almost) blank the right (main) part of the new Library UI

    This is two different things because they're sorta related. One led to the other by accident.

    How to get rid of "What's New"

    1. Go to your Steam install folder.
    2. Open the steamui subfolder, then open up the css subfolder, then open up the file libraryroot.css .
    3. Search for the text "WhatsNew". You should be able to find this:
    .libraryhome_WhatsNewContainer_gdZT7 {
      position: relative; }

    Change the second line so it instead says this:
    .libraryhome_WhatsNewContainer_gdZT7 {
    height:0%; opacity:0; }

    (Make sure that you have the exact same number of characters in the replaced line, or else this won't work right and will keep getting reverted every time you restart Steam.)

    Now save the file. This will cause the "What's New" banner to disappear.

    This will also cause "Add Shelf" to become nonfunctional, for some reason. So you can't add new shelves. But...

    How to (almost entirely) blank the right side (the main part) of the new Steam Library UI

    This is simple. Do the above, then remove all your shelves.

    Now you should have an entirely blank grey rectangle, aside from a pale ghostly "+ ADD SHELF" mark at the top which you should be able to easily ignore.

    The left side is now a crappy version of Small Mode, because it's not small, the icons are forced to load, and you can't start games using keyboard. But, hey, if you wanna do this, all the more power to you.

    Also this may be useful if Valve truly removes all access to what's left of Small Mode.

    How to revert this

    Change that line back to the default. Save the file again. Now What's New is back and Add Shelf is functional again.
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    A new Steam client has been released and will be automatically downloaded.

    Fixed library view failing to fully re-render when changing views for some users without GPU accelerated web views or on Windows 7
    Fixed Steam causing Windows 10 volume slider overlay and capturing media keys
    Fixed web rendering not pausing on Windows when Steam client is minimized or closed

    Steam Library
    Hidden achievements will no longer be shown on an game's activity feed if you have not already unlocked that achievement
    Fixed dragging apps from the Library home page to the collections page
    Improved performance for games with a large number of screenshots saved
    Updated Post Game Summary to be dismissible
    Put black bars over spoiler-tagged images in the activity feed and community.

    (Also stuff on macOS, Steam Input, SteamVR, and Big Picture.)

    None of this sounds like it fixes any of the problems of the new library UI.

    Still, let's try it out. Because we don't have a choice; Steam forces its updates on users anyway.
  • edited 2019-11-07 04:21:37
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Scrolling lag:

    * main library: 5 seconds
    * left sidebar: 2 seconds (it feels a little faster as the icons seem to load at the same time at least).

    Still laggy though.

    Still no option to disable What's New.

    Still no option to disable icons/images.

    Still no game names on shelves.

    When navigating the left sidebar by keyboard, cursor being on any particular game for too long still causes that game's detail page to load, causing extra lag. Scrolling for a long distance is less laggy though.

    Still cannot open a game by pressing Enter.

    Fortunately, Small Mode is still accessible via a browser command, and the above css edit still works.

    For the record, to access Small Mode, one way is to type the following into an external web browser: steam://open/minigameslist
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Designers today need to learn that turning everything into fancy pages in web rendering engines is a BAD idea.

    It's like the old "let's make every website use Flash!" fad.
  • edited 2019-11-07 19:43:58
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    posting for posterity:
    Sheepify wrote: »
    I bit the bullet and decided to revert:

    Used RevertSteam, added the following to host file: client-download.steampowered.com media.steampowered.com

    GG, Steam, just like Microsoft with its forced telemetry security updates that I no longer download, you stopped me from keeping my gaming system secure.

  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    more stuff for posterity:
    Crashed wrote: »
    I think over all Steam is not suppose to be that havey on use
    Maybe if you try
    View → Small Mode
    It may help?
    They removed it from the menu, however it is still in the code and can be enabled by entering the following in a web browser:
    Or for a minimal client:
    steam.exe -no-browser +open steam://open/minigameslist

  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Apparently they put back Small Mode into the beta.

    Good. Now bring back List View too.
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Oh, this video also got circulated starting from shortly after the update first dropped:

    Basically it's a way to replace the files and then lock out updates.
  • edited 2019-11-11 17:28:06
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Someone posted this:
    m4dEngi wrote: »

    Wrote a tiny little app, it will let you run/install games using web browser without loading whole steam client... probably risking account ban/termination.

    My code is garbage, but at least it doesn't spawn 7+ web helpers and tries to eat all available RAM just to launch/install games.

    Dunno how long it'll work, or if this post will get deleted, but it is here for posterity's sake.

  • As someone who owns hundreds of games and never plays them, the new UI has been helpful in convincing me to play eye catching titles that I've ignored for years. That's only true for the main overview UI though; the mini homepage it brings up when you highlight a game is ass because it brings up a slew of laggy community content.
  • edited 2020-04-29 18:31:25
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Steam has updated since the last activity in this thread, and has basically fixed nothing.

    Refreshing the complaints.


    TL;DR of the linked list is:
    1. No way to turn off What's New shelf
    2. No List View with its information density and options
    3. No way to turn off images in main Library view, and no plaintext game names
    4. Library lags while scrolling, just to load images
    5. Still not keyboard-navigable
    6. Mouse-over still produces slideshow of screenshots from store page, just pauses it
    7. Small Mode still unable to uninstall games on its own (confirmation prompt is routed through a browser-rendered page)

    Meanwhile I am still recommending that people manually remove What's New and/or use -no-browser to launch Steam without much of the bloat. I am already doing the latter, and gradually exploring ways to launch games without going through Steam's interface. Also, not buying anything from Steam.

    I check my purchases to make sure they're DRM-free where possible, and have basically punted buying any games that aren't available DRM-free. I encourage you all to do the same; if you're dependent on DRM there's no telling when something unacceptable to you could happen to your means of access to the game.

    Meanwhile, the only improvements Valve has made are:

    * officially restore access to Small Mode.
    * allow turning off the icons in the left sidebar, which makes it load faster and scroll more responsively.
    * give a whole bunch of ways to tweak and customize what shows up in the What's New shelf...but just not actually give us a simple way to turn it off.

    I get that the new Steam client is supposed to be more developer-friendly and allow developers to communicate more effectively to their customers. I think this may be a noble goal, but the way it's implemented is NOT the right way to do it.
  • edited 2020-05-02 20:16:07
    Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    My computer's instance of GOG Galaxy 1 updated itself to GOG Galaxy 2 yesterday. So, as I have done with the new Steam client UI, I tried using GOG Galaxy 2, tweaking its various features and trying out different viewing options.

    Galaxy 2 is by no means perfect, and I have various criticisms of it.

    However, one thing it does better than Steam's current UI is the it has a List View option. Specifically, one that (1) can display a variety of columns of information, (2) can use those columns to reorder the list (plus some additional sorting options, such as sorting by category using those columns' data) while simultaneously seeing the rest of the table of information, and (3) can have all images disabled so that only text appears in the table.

    The Galaxy 2's List View is still a little laggy (about as bad as the main Steam Library UI's left sidebar in terms of lagginess), and the overall Galaxy 2 client appears to use a little more RAM than Steam (even when Steam is run without the -no-browser launch parameter).

    However, let us remember that Steam has no List View option at all.

    As for Grid View, GOG Galaxy 2 handles that option far better than Steam does, by allowing for the choice of displaying plaintext game name and various other attributes, beneath each game portrait in the grid. Galaxy 2 also does not generate a pop-up slideshow of store page screenshots on mouse-over, even for games that are on GOG itself. Finally, but quite importantly, Galaxy 2 takes only around 4 seconds to load about 18 game cover images, as opposed to Steam taking about 7 seconds to load 21 game cover images.

    While Galaxy 2 has a (currently unshrinkable) left sidebar even to the left of List View, it is not just a list of games but a list of broader game categories (e.g. platforms, if you connect it to other platforms such as Steam or Uplay). There is a little section with a couple of links to the GOG store, so that counts as advertising...but there is an option to remove this advertising entirely, unlike the Steam Library's What's New shelf.

    Galaxy 2 is still in need of more customization features (for example I'd like to be able to tell it to launch Steam using a -no-browser launch parameter), but even now it is already on balance more useful than the Steam client.
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    Following a pair of recent updates to the Steam client (on June 1 and June 5), it seems the Steam client has stopped working for people who had reverted it to an older version.


    This user presents what at least seems to be a plausible explanation for it:
    The old client is probably broken because the backend started enforcing the use of package tokens. It used to be the case that the Steam backend would give metadata about the contents of all packages to anyone who asked.

    Now it requires that you present tokens to get package information, and you can only retrieve tokens for packages that you own. The old client is older than existence of support in the Steam client for retrieving and using package tokens, so it can't get the tokens, can't request access to package metadata using tokens, and so can't access package metadata any more. The break in that step is probably what's breaking it.

    This isn't a targeted measure to disable the old client; the main casualty is the third-party SteamDB's ability to scrape and display information about packages.

    Similarly, new / updated games not working with the old client isn't mysterious, or evidence of some concerted conspiracy to force people onto the new client. It's just that new games use new versions of the Steamworks API that the new client has support for, and the older version doesn't. You'd have got similar breakages throughout the history of Steam if you'd forced the Steam client onto some specific version forever.

    FYI SteamDB is a third-party site that looks through the Steam database for package information -- i.e. information on what games (etc.) are on Steam. https://steamdb.info/
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