Steam launches

The kettle just about boils. Plus: Valve shows off its Sourcey side.

Valve has finally released its non-beta Steam client for paying customers, giving heave-ho to the freeloaders that previously populated the beta service which allowed full versions of Half-Life and Counter-Strike 1.6 to be downloaded free of charge in order to test its legs.

Obviously Valve feels the service is at a stage where it's ready for mass market consumption, but the problems the developer has experienced in getting the thing out this week are shadily reminiscent of Steam's failure to get its engine running earlier in the year when it simply collapsed under the demand for a new Counter-Strike release. Today the site itself is still having problems rendering properly, and at the time of writing the general network load seems to be extremely high according to the service's status page. Hopefully, for the sake of both gamers and Valve, the servers will withstand the assault of all those CS players itching to get their hands on the non-beta Counter-Strike 1.6.

You can pick up the initial 500KB Steam client download at the official site, or this 3D Downloads mirror if you prefer. Once you've installed the basic components, Steam will then update itself via the web - it's been sat on our taskbar for about ninety minutes now. Remember that you will need a valid CD key from one of Valve's products to register for the service.

Valve has also released another one of those high resolution direct feed videos, this time with the intention of showing off some of the Source engine's DirectX 9 effects. The fairly short 116MB demonstration starts off inside a rickety wooden loft area punctured with holes that let the bright sun bleed into the room. The player then makes his way out onto the rooftops, checking out some impressively shiny roofing until he stumbles across a similarly shiny alien - it's the big fella from the end of the HL2 Bugbait video (available on Steam and websites of your choosing). However, this chap is keen to pose for the camera and sways his head in a docile manner, showing off his... shininess. It's all very shiny in fact, and as one of my cohorts commented: "It looks like a wet day in London". Should you wish to bask in the shiny too, you can pick the file up from FilePlanet, 3D Downloads, and 3D Gamers.

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Martin Taylor

Martin Taylor

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