For the most part, Valve tends to be very, very secretive when it comes to developing projects. The company does seem to be warming to the idea of being a little more open about what it is working on, such a the development of the Knuckles (now called Valve Index) controllers. Today, that trend continues with the launch of Steam Labs, a place where Steam users can see and test experimental features.
There are three experiments to have a play with, Micro Trailers, Interactive Recommender and Automatic Show. Each one is designed to provide a different service and all need to be looked at as works-in-progress.
Micro Trailers are fairly self-explanatory, providing short six-second game trailers for quick and easy consumption. Sounding very much like a long GIF, the Micro Trailers are sorted into collections such as Popular New Games, Roguelikes, Adventure Games, RPG’s and so on. Clicking on a collection will bring up a grid of videogames, you can then hover the mouse over one title to start the trailer or over the entire row to start them all. In another section simply scrolling down will start the trailers going.
Then there’s the Interactive Recommender, the one VRFocus likes the most. Steam has a gargantuan library of titles and hundreds are added each month, so you’re bound to miss a few. While Steam does have several ways of finding content, the Interactive Recommender puts a new twist on things. Using machine learning the experiment will look at your play history and generate a personalised list just for you. But you can play with the settings as well to fine-tune things.
There’s a slider to weigh recommendations by popularity, and another slider that works on age, going from released in the last six months up to ten years. You also have the tags option, showing videogames with certain tags or excluding certain tags. Of course, virtual reality (VR) tags are included so you can go straight to the good stuff.
Finally, there’s the Automatic Show, which is kind of like a video showcase you’d see at press conferences for events such as E3. The automatically generated video is 30 minutes and features the latest Steam launches, all in separate categories.
As these are experiments Steam is looking for feedback and recommendations from the community, whether to push forward with certain ideas or to drop them. VRFocus will continue its coverage of Steam Labs, reporting back with the latest experiments.