Just a few days after the end of a summer sale that revealed many of Steam's problems helping people discover new games, Valve has announced a new episode dedicated to "discoverability, video, machine learning, and much more." It's Steam Labs, and the first bits of crazy video game science emerging from it, are promising.
Currently, Steam Labs have three active experiments: micro trailers, an interactive recommender and an automated daily half hour show of games. Microwaves are quite simple: Steam presents you with the choice of six-second trailer organized by genre, curatorial or other categories. If you are fascinated by what you see in a particular game, click on it to visit its store page. It seems to be inspired by long-standing Twitter account "Steam cars on 6s", a proven and useful game detection tool.
The automatic show is composed of similar short game clips, but with several micro trailers for each game mounted in a quad display set to music. I tried to watch the first episode, but I got bored for a couple of minutes, because it was basically the micro trailers, except that I was not in control. The goal was originally that Steam automatically created voice descriptions from the games store pages, but then Valve recalls that robots are weird.
"In the text-to-speech test, THE. COMPUTER. GENERATED. VOTE. VIEWED. Easy. LITTLE, STILLED, so we presented it too little," the company wrote on the new feature's Steam page. "We are working on it."
Most of this improvised lab tour is simply the interactive recommendation. It's a "network model trained to recommend games based on the user's playtime history, along with other important data" based on "many millions of Steam users and many billions of sessions". But it's not just an automated list of games; While initially crunching numbers by chewing on your most played games, you can also tell which games you want to see. For example, the majority of my most played games are RPGs like Divinity: Original Sin 2 The Witcher 3 and Fallout: New Vegas but I could adjust the sliders so I could see progressively more or less niche and newer or older games. With the sliders alone, I was able to configure it so that I got a selection of exciting games over several genres, many of which I didn't know (and only some of them YIIK you knew were definitely bad). In addition, you can limit games with tags. Initially, in response to these new tools from users users and developers seems [cryingly] crying from the torrents of judgment, gloom, and confusion that have followed those latest steam messages. However, Valve notes that these tools are work in progress, and some can never avoid labs blue-haired blacks to see the light of day.
"Some of them may be fine," wrote Valve on Steam Lab's landing page. "Others, we can throw out. We hope most will improve with your feedback and continue to be part of Steam. This is the way for Steam Labs."