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Old 10-25-2010, 09:03 PM   #1
Mangr0v3
 
 
 
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Post Open Letter

The launch of Steam for Mac has been full of disappointments. First was the announcement that Steam and Source would be coming in April, but the launch of Steam was then pushed back to May, and even now, about 5 months later, we’re still missing Half-Life 1 and Left 4 Dead. Although no promise was made regarding Goldsource games, CS1.6 fans have been left rather disappointed.

However, no matter how good the games are, Steam is consistently letting down the games in terms of user interface, interaction, experience and Mac OS X integration. Whilst I’m sure the developers at Valve are excellent programmers, they seem to consistently be unable to play nicely with anything they didn’t code. This is much more noticeable on Steam for Mac because unlike Windows, Mac OS X has a culture of high-quality software as well as human interface guidelines that every good applications respects. As Steam is the sole gateway to all of Valve’s games on the Mac, it makes it almost unbearable to play any of these amazing games. Additionally, as many Mac Steam users are completely new to Steam, the experience starts off with the installation of Steam.

Starting at the main Steam webpage, the only clue to locating the installer is the small green button in the top-right marked ‘Install Steam’. Nowhere else on the page is it mentioned. From there one is taken to the About page, where there is then the same button in the top-right, but now there’s a bigger ‘Install Steam Now’ button.

Following that is the standard DMG download, but with a EULA. The DMG shows a Steam application with the old iOS-style icon, which is confusing for users when Steam updates and changes its icon. Steam then immediately updates itself, and then completely freezes. Opting to create an account presents the Steam Subscriber Agreement, and at this screen one can already see that Steam does not fit in to OS X. I’m not talking about the appearance/skin here, but the buttons on the bottom are consistent with the Windows button placement, but are not at all compliant with the standard button placement in Mac OS X. First bug, clicking ‘Cancel’ instead of ‘< Back’ quits Steam. What’s the difference between Back and Cancel, if I’m at the first step of creating an account? From here is the account creation wizard, which I’m not going to walk through every bug. I will mention, however, that it becomes clear that this is not a proper Mac application, but rather a port of a Windows application when various windowing oddities occur such as this one: http://cl.ly/bffc2ef8e5a59e46e3bb And how exactly am I supposed to figure out what is going on when I’m presented with a windows such as this?: http://cl.ly/8d3b33c617b86d640674

After creating an account, the experience goes even more downhill. Steam beachballs when logging in, at the useful Steam-is-now-logging-you-in dialog. Resizing the main window (and any other Steam window) becomes a game in itself if you use a dual-monitor setup such as mine, where what you tell it to do and what it does are as vastly apart as the Internet and Privacy. (If you’ve seen that Venn diagram, you know what I’m on about.)

If I try add one of my (2) non-Steam games to my library, Steam appears extremely unresponsive, as the window does not redraw when the table should update or scroll. The file browser does not respect hidden files (either .filename or HFS+ hidden attributes), and lets the user browse above the filesystem root (/). Scrollbars are a couple of pixels too far away from the content, and most of Steam utterly destroys the UI/UX metaphors that we’ve become used to and use in just about every other application. One such example is the ‘tabbed’ interface - what tabs?

The more one uses Steam, the more it becomes obvious that despite Valve’s claims of bringing Steam to the Mac, they’ve simply made it operate under Mac OS X. Much of the Windows environment is retained, for example the “Choose Icon” file browser for non-Steam shortcuts claims to be looking for .exe files, and if one takes a look inside ~/Library/Application\ Support/Steam, there’s a virtual Registry. Steam doesn’t play well with Time Machine at all, as every time a GCF file is opened and closed it triggers Time Machine to back it up on it’s next run, wasting many gigabytes of backup storage. Then there’s the console, which should be used for warnings and errors... emphasis on should: http://cl.ly/fa87da614a3414cee7fe

Even under normal usage, many bugs which have been around for the past 5 months have been major UX issues and trigger events the user does not want, such as switching back to a previous space, or wasting space on-screen with phantom windows in Expose. Tooltips can stay around, windows will not respond or will steal input when they’re behind the window the user wants to interact with, or will pretend they’re active - three guesses which window is the active one: http://cl.ly/fc0c31d1096fe0ce37e5 The ‘back’ button in Steam does not behave as a true back button, but as more of an ‘undo the last UI change the user did’ button, modal windows are abundant and many windows should be sheets or simply integrated into the previous window. Scrolling with the trackpad is horrendous, and sidescrolling or scrolling diagonally does not work at all.

All of these bugs and more have been reported months ago, yet no action has been taken to make Steam more OS X-friendly and user-friendly. I understand that Steam has a large and complex codebase, but traditionally building one UI to rule them all ends up with a horrible experience for the user, two other examples of which are Tweetdeck (Adobe AIR) and BlueJ (Java).

Mac OS X usage has dropped from 8.5% at launch to just over half of that since launch. Whilst this may have boosted due to Left 4 Dead 2’s launch earlier this months, the fact remains that Mac Steam users are dropping like flies, and none of the users I’ve talked to are happy with it (even ones not on these forums).

Wake up Valve! Your users want to enjoy Steam and your wonderful games, not battle with it. Trying to use Steam has ended up like the poor guy in this comedic video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEAGmBRC1dc ), but search and replace “Macintosh” with “Steam”. You’ve made some great games, but you’ve made them all but impossible to play. And whilst Steam Community is just one part of Steam, it’s the one most users I know use most often, yet it has become a right PITA to use.

Some communication on these bugs would go a long way, and some communication on the overall state of Steam on the Mac. I guess we’ll just stay neglected whilst you work on the great games that are just out of grasp to be able to play and enjoy.

By the way, warning or infracting people for complaining about shoddy software doesn't make it any better. It also doesn't make them any happier as users.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:07 PM   #2
Cjelli
 
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I agree.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:07 PM   #3
travislopes
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangr0v3 View Post
The launch of Steam for Mac has been full of disappointments. First was the announcement that Steam and Source would be coming in April, but the launch of Steam was then pushed back to May, and even now, about 5 months later, we’re still missing Half-Life 1 and Left 4 Dead. Although no promise was made regarding Goldsource games, CS1.6 fans have been left rather disappointed.

However, no matter how good the games are, Steam is consistently letting down the games in terms of user interface, interaction, experience and Mac OS X integration. Whilst I’m sure the developers at Valve are excellent programmers, they seem to consistently be unable to play nicely with anything they didn’t code. This is much more noticeable on Steam for Mac because unlike Windows, Mac OS X has a culture of high-quality software as well as human interface guidelines that every good applications respects. As Steam is the sole gateway to all of Valve’s games on the Mac, it makes it almost unbearable to play any of these amazing games. Additionally, as many Mac Steam users are completely new to Steam, the experience starts off with the installation of Steam.

Starting at the main Steam webpage, the only clue to locating the installer is the small green button in the top-right marked ‘Install Steam’. Nowhere else on the page is it mentioned. From there one is taken to the About page, where there is then the same button in the top-right, but now there’s a bigger ‘Install Steam Now’ button.

Following that is the standard DMG download, but with a EULA. The DMG shows a Steam application with the old iOS-style icon, which is confusing for users when Steam updates and changes its icon. Steam then immediately updates itself, and then completely freezes. Opting to create an account presents the Steam Subscriber Agreement, and at this screen one can already see that Steam does not fit in to OS X. I’m not talking about the appearance/skin here, but the buttons on the bottom are consistent with the Windows button placement, but are not at all compliant with the standard button placement in Mac OS X. First bug, clicking ‘Cancel’ instead of ‘< Back’ quits Steam. What’s the difference between Back and Cancel, if I’m at the first step of creating an account? From here is the account creation wizard, which I’m not going to walk through every bug. I will mention, however, that it becomes clear that this is not a proper Mac application, but rather a port of a Windows application when various windowing oddities occur such as this one: http://cl.ly/bffc2ef8e5a59e46e3bb And how exactly am I supposed to figure out what is going on when I’m presented with a windows such as this?: http://cl.ly/8d3b33c617b86d640674

After creating an account, the experience goes even more downhill. Steam beachballs when logging in, at the useful Steam-is-now-logging-you-in dialog. Resizing the main window (and any other Steam window) becomes a game in itself if you use a dual-monitor setup such as mine, where what you tell it to do and what it does are as vastly apart as the Internet and Privacy. (If you’ve seen that Venn diagram, you know what I’m on about.)

If I try add one of my (2) non-Steam games to my library, Steam appears extremely unresponsive, as the window does not redraw when the table should update or scroll. The file browser does not respect hidden files (either .filename or HFS+ hidden attributes), and lets the user browse above the filesystem root (/). Scrollbars are a couple of pixels too far away from the content, and most of Steam utterly destroys the UI/UX metaphors that we’ve become used to and use in just about every other application. One such example is the ‘tabbed’ interface - what tabs?

The more one uses Steam, the more it becomes obvious that despite Valve’s claims of bringing Steam to the Mac, they’ve simply made it operate under Mac OS X. Much of the Windows environment is retained, for example the “Choose Icon” file browser for non-Steam shortcuts claims to be looking for .exe files, and if one takes a look inside ~/Library/Application\ Support/Steam, there’s a virtual Registry. Steam doesn’t play well with Time Machine at all, as every time a GCF file is opened and closed it triggers Time Machine to back it up on it’s next run, wasting many gigabytes of backup storage. Then there’s the console, which should be used for warnings and errors... emphasis on should: http://cl.ly/fa87da614a3414cee7fe

Even under normal usage, many bugs which have been around for the past 5 months have been major UX issues and trigger events the user does not want, such as switching back to a previous space, or wasting space on-screen with phantom windows in Expose. Tooltips can stay around, windows will not respond or will steal input when they’re behind the window the user wants to interact with, or will pretend they’re active - three guesses which window is the active one: http://cl.ly/fc0c31d1096fe0ce37e5 The ‘back’ button in Steam does not behave as a true back button, but as more of an ‘undo the last UI change the user did’ button, modal windows are abundant and many windows should be sheets or simply integrated into the previous window. Scrolling with the trackpad is horrendous, and sidescrolling or scrolling diagonally does not work at all.

All of these bugs and more have been reported months ago, yet no action has been taken to make Steam more OS X-friendly and user-friendly. I understand that Steam has a large and complex codebase, but traditionally building one UI to rule them all ends up with a horrible experience for the user, two other examples of which are Tweetdeck (Adobe AIR) and BlueJ (Java).

Mac OS X usage has dropped from 8.5% at launch to just over half of that since launch. Whilst this may have boosted due to Left 4 Dead 2’s launch earlier this months, the fact remains that Mac Steam users are dropping like flies, and none of the users I’ve talked to are happy with it (even ones not on these forums).

Wake up Valve! Your users want to enjoy Steam and your wonderful games, not battle with it. Trying to use Steam has ended up like the poor guy in this comedic video ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEAGmBRC1dc ), but search and replace “Macintosh” with “Steam”. You’ve made some great games, but you’ve made them all but impossible to play. And whilst Steam Community is just one part of Steam, it’s the one most users I know use most often, yet it has become a right PITA to use.

Some communication on these bugs would go a long way, and some communication on the overall state of Steam on the Mac. I guess we’ll just stay neglected whilst you work on the great games that are just out of grasp to be able to play and enjoy.

By the way, warning or infracting people for complaining about shoddy software doesn't make it any better. It also doesn't make them any happier as users.
To be honest, tl;dr. Please post summarized version.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:08 PM   #4
Mangr0v3
 
 
 
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TL;DR: Dear Valve, please give us a client that we can actually use, and that you should be proud of. kthx
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:20 PM   #5
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I would have to agree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by travislopes View Post
To be honest, tl;dr. Please post summarized version.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangr0v3 View Post
TL;DR: Dear Valve, please give us a client that we can actually use, and that you should be proud of. kthx
TL;DR: Dear Valve, please give us a client that we can actually use like a normal piece of software on our system. The response (or lack thereof) to bugs involving the client since release has been dismal, to say the least. It feels like you've put this out as a breakthrough (which it is, and I appreciate it) and then dropped the ball behind the curtain while giving excuses like "it's not a priority," "it is that way by design," or "you don't understand how long it would take to fix that" when asked about if and/or when something will be fixed.

You expect users not to be irked yet never give any indication of your intentions to fix something other than "it will be addressed," if even that. How can you expect the user base to be content
in a situation like this, especially when infractions are given out for expressing distaste towards the way it is being handled?
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:21 PM   #6
vtor67
 
 
 
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inb4 every poster gets infraction.

im just glad we finally got the games.
i honestly dont use the client enough to experience the pain everyone else apparently is (i just play the games).

no hate here.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:40 PM   #7
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with 1 in 3 computers sold today, the mac market share breaching 10% now and Apple recently moving into #3 for computer sales, I think Valve has to make the Mac a priority. Therefore, the client will be worked on, however it needs a lot of work and I hope someday we see cocoa.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:49 PM   #8
Mr Boogeyman
 
 
 
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The "Mic" issue should have been fixed by now, but other then that i'm happy with Valve's progress.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:50 PM   #9
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I'd say Steam is doing pretty well for the amount of time Steam for Mac has been out. Windows version of Steam took years to get anywhere near decent. What matters most is the direction Steam is heading. You may not be excited about their pace, but they've been releasing regular updates and fixes and show no signs of stopping. I know Mac users are used to their pristine and well behaved software environment, but they're also pretty used to being almost completely ignored by every game publisher out there.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:55 PM   #10
Mangr0v3
 
 
 
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I'd say Steam is doing pretty well for the amount of time Steam for Mac has been out. Windows version of Steam took years to get anywhere near decent.
You would think they could take a decent platform and bring it to another OS without it reverting to being crap, wouldn't you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cronq View Post
What matters most is the direction Steam is heading. You may not be excited about their pace, but they've been releasing regular updates and fixes and show no signs of stopping.
There hasn't been much innovation coming from Steam's progress, and what has come has either been suggested many many times on the forums (e.g. clock in the overlay, tabbed chat) or when it has been delivered it's been half-baked (e.g. tabbed chat).
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:57 PM   #11
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Thanks for taking the time to write up your concerns in a well-worded letter.

I have to disagree. While Steam has some UI quirks, the framework of the engine is run on both Windows and Mac. Meaning that they can render the same page on Windows and the Mac client without having to make special case code for the Mac client because you think it is important. Mac users are notorious for having such a high-standard of "treat me special" that it is downright sickening. This thread is just a prime example of it. Making a special version that meets all the Mac UI requirements that you're spouting is pretty low-priority in my opinion. Steam is completely usable on the Mac. I can add non-steam games without it freezing, and having a directory on my computer act as a registry is not a big deal. Many apps do very similar things, look at your Application Support folder sometime. I agree, that currently Steam doesn't feel like a native Mac application, but it is definitely usable. I think you're making a big deal about a few pixels here and a few pixels there.

Honestly want a bone to pick about UI standardization and feel why don't you aim your sights at the biggest violator, Apple. Do you think iTunes and Finder feel like the same environment running on the same OS? I think they're pretty much as different as Steam is.

You justify these concerns with the drop in the OS X user base. I think the drop in users come from a variety of things:
  • The quality of MacOS X's OpenGL implementation is very poor, and most users will boot into Windows to get a better frame rate or higher graphical settings. This will hopefully improve with more support from Apple. However, I honestly feel that Valve and Blizzard are helping push Apple to get their butt in gear in supporting OpenGL and improving 3D driver support.
  • The support for Steam from 3rd-party Mac publishers has been dismal. Aspyr, Feral, VP, and more just don't want to give up the revenue that they are getting by charging more for Mac versions. So there just isn't much of a non-Source market on Steam besides some indie titles.
  • I'm not blind, there are definitely issues with both the Steam client and Source games which are not present or not as apparent under Windows.

Having said that, if I had to choose between Steam as it currently stands or no Steam at all, I'd easily pick Steam as it currently stands, wouldn't you? The benefits of having Valve pushing OpenGL and Mac gaming has been a huge benefit to the platform and far outweighs the visual UI nitpicks that you are relentlessly obsessing over.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:06 PM   #12
vtor67
 
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
  • The quality of MacOS X's OpenGL implementation is very poor, and most users will boot into Windows to get a better frame rate or higher graphical settings. This will hopefully improve with more support from Apple. However, I honestly feel that Valve and Blizzard are helping push Apple to get their butt in gear in supporting OpenGL and improving 3D driver support.
  • The support for Steam from 3rd-party Mac publishers has been dismal. Aspyr, Feral, VP, and more just don't want to give up the revenue that they are getting by charging more for Mac versions. So there just isn't much of a non-Source market on Steam besides some indie titles.
  • I'm not blind, there are definitely issues with both the Steam client and Source games which are not present or not as apparent under Windows.
I have to agree with these bullet points 100%. Apple's graphics drivers are horrific, but Valve is actually doing a great job working with Apple to help fix things up on their end. ( i can't play l4d2 on OS X without input lag, and dont mention hyperdock)

Regarding third parties, why can't companies use the GL codebase that Valve supplied to steamworks partners?

To me, the issues in the source games are more apparent than the bugs in the client. Steam is usable enough for my purposes (which isn't a lot)

Last edited by vtor67: 10-25-2010 at 10:11 PM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:08 PM   #13
Mangr0v3
 
 
 
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Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
I have to disagree. While Steam has some UI quirks, the framework of the engine is run on both Windows and Mac. Meaning that they can render the same page on Windows and the Mac client without having to make special case code for the Mac client because you think it is important. Mac users are notorious for having such a high-standard of "treat me special" that it is downright sickening.
I'm not asking to be treated specially, I'm asking to be treated as a regular customer. The Mac has so far been treated as second- or third-class as far as the Client is concerned, and is definitely not up to par with Valve's promises of being Tier-1.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
This thread is just a prime example of it. Making a special version that meets all the Mac UI requirements that you're spouting is pretty low-priority in my opinion. Steam is completely usable on the Mac. I can add non-steam games without it freezing, and having a directory on my computer act as a registry is not a big deal. Many apps do very similar things, look at your Application Support folder sometime. I agree, that currently Steam doesn't feel like a native Mac application, but it is definitely usable. I think you're making a big deal about a few pixels here and a few pixels there.
Everything adds up. I dont know if you've noticed, but Google Chrome, Skype, Teamviewer, VMware, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop etc. all have a different UI on Mac OS than they do on Windows; whereas CloudApp was rewritten for Windows (as FluffyApp). Just because something compiles doesn't make it good software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
Honestly want a bone to pick about UI standardization and feel why don't you aim your sights at the biggest violator, Apple. Do you think iTunes and Finder feel like the same environment running on the same OS? I think they're pretty much as different as Steam is.
Whilst iTunes 10 has lots a lot of the HIG compliance, it's a lot more similar to Finder than Steam is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
You justify these concerns with the drop in the OS X user base. I think the drop in users come from a variety of things:
  • The quality of MacOS X's OpenGL implementation is very poor, and most users will boot into Windows to get a better frame rate or higher graphical settings. This will hopefully improve with more support from Apple. However, I honestly feel that Valve and Blizzard are helping push Apple to get their butt in gear in supporting OpenGL and improving 3D driver support.
Since the launch of Steam, the drivers have only gotten better and better, to the point where under some conditions Source under OS X can match or outperform Windows 7 in bootcamp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
  • The support for Steam from 3rd-party Mac publishers has been dismal. Aspyr, Feral, VP, and more just don't want to give up the revenue that they are getting by charging more for Mac versions. So there just isn't much of a non-Source market on Steam besides some indie titles.
Users generally don't sign up because they think some game will be available in the future. Aspyr etc. didn't promise any Mac games, so why would Steam's userbase be dropping because a third-party publisher isn't publishing their third-party game on Steam?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferazel View Post
[LIST][*]I'm not blind, there are definitely issues with both the Steam client and Source games which are not present or not as apparent under Windows.

Having said that, if I had to choose between Steam as it currently stands or no Steam at all, I'd easily pick Steam as it currently stands, wouldn't you? The benefits of having Valve pushing OpenGL and Mac gaming has been a huge benefit to the platform and far outweighs the visual UI nitpicks that you are relentlessly obsessing over.
A few people here have chosen no Steam at all over a piece of software which consumes excessive resources, drains battery life, and negatively impacts on the user experience of other applications (e.g. when using Expose). I'm not nitpicking over the visuals, but it's the behaviour and ideaology that's been utterly neglected.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:21 PM   #14
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It is important to differentiate between the Steam client and the games available through it.
It is also important to differentiate between "using" the Steam client ("Oh, look! I use it to launch TF2!") and actually using the Steam client for all the feature it is supposed to offer.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:22 PM   #15
vtor67
 
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzz Bucket View Post
It is important to differentiate between the Steam client and the games available through it.
It is also important to differentiate between "using" the Steam client ("Oh, look! I use it to launch TF2!") and actually using the Steam client for all the feature it is supposed to offer.
i don't know if thats directed at me, but i never made a claim about the steam client. and i agree, I won't say anything about the client unless I have used it enough.
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