Sci-tech

Steam Labs Lets You Test Valve Experiments Like Machine Learning

Steam Labs Lets You Test Valve Experiments Like Machine Learning”

For the most part, Valve tends to be very, very secretive when it comes to developing projects. Apparently Valve likes those accounts too, because as part of a set of experimental new Steam features called Steam Labs, it took the idea and ran with it: "Micro Trailers are six-second looping videos created to quickly inform viewers about titles on Steam with a presentation that's easy to skim".

There are too many Steam games for anyone to keep track of, including Valve, and the company has spent the past few years working on ways to offload the curation and discovery process to a mysterious set of algorithms.

The first three Labs experiments are Micro Trailers, the Interactive Recommender and the Automated Show. Each one is created to provide a different service and all need to be looked at as works-in-progress. Micro Trailers are (as you might expect) ultra-short six-second game trailers.

The presentation of these trailers is quite nice: they're big thumbnails until you mouse over them, at which point they start smoothly playing a video clip.

Because it's an experimental feature, we don't know how, or if, these micro trailers will be fully integrated into Steam, or how much manual work is involved in what we see here.

The main event of this impromptu lab tour is easily the interactive recommender. "STILTED, so we tabled that for a bit", the company wrote on the new feature's Steam page. It's a "neural-network model that is trained to recommend games based on a user's playtime history, along with other salient data" based on "many millions of Steam users and many billions of play sessions".

You can choose how heavily you want the tool to weight things like game popularity (you can adjust it between "Popular" and "Niche"), release date, and more. You also have the tags option, showing videogames with certain tags or excluding certain tags.

The Automated Show is akin to in-store programming at GameStop, where a half-hour video showcases some of the latest Steam game launches.



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