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It's more than burning coal.

1944 Locomotive firing course. Traffic demands during World War II taxed American railroads to their capacity. Orders for new steam locomotives kept the builders busy. Along with the need for more locomotives came the need for men trained to operate them. Responding to this situation, the Education Department of the State of New York, through its State University system and the Bureau of Industrial and Technical Education, published a Suggested Unit Course in Locomotive Firing. The course was prepared by curriculum writers at Seneca Vocational High School in Buffalo, and was issued from Albany in 1944.
posted by pjern on Sep 13, 2014 - 7 comments

"The whole industry knows DRM is just smoke and mirrors"

Online game retailer GOG--which started (as Good Old Games) with a focus on updating classics to run on modern computers, then branched into offering newer games DRM-free--has announced that they will start selling movies under their DRM-free model. [more inside]
posted by kagredon on Aug 28, 2014 - 13 comments

Because You're Worthless: The Dark Side of Indie PR

Struggling UK indie developer PuppyGames' uncomfortable truths about selling indie games: Steam and bundles have destroyed the market for games, individual customers are now worthless, but everyone has to keep on smiling. Oh, and the demo is dead: 1, 2.
posted by Zarkonnen on Aug 19, 2014 - 85 comments

girls and technology!

WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
posted by divabat on Aug 16, 2014 - 70 comments

"a story about how Steam, Twitter and the App Store came to exist"

Consider the Holy Bible as a product in a marketplace. It has several attractive qualities, foremost among them the tantalizing possibility that it contains the true word of a being who created the universe. But it has several worrisome drawbacks as well. Like most written anthologies it has poor replay value when compared to something like Spelunky; after you read it once you know more or less how it goes. It features a relatively weak Physical Rights Management scheme; for example, you don't need to purchase one for your household if you can simply borrow it from a friend or read it in a local church. Even its branding as a 'perfect document' becomes something of a double-edged sword; the first, purportedly perfect edition might seem very desirable indeed, but who is going to buy Holy Bible: Religious Text Of The Year Edition when the original is supposed to be immaculate? How are you going to make corrections, utilize analytics data or market additional 'content'? Where will your fine sponsors place all their full-page advertisements: After the crucifixion or before?
Form and its Usurpers is a long essay by Brendan Vance [previously] about videogames, Hegel, form, content, what "free" means, how capitalism ruins everything and what to do about it.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 4, 2014 - 26 comments

Iron Horses

Iron, Steam and Coal. Photographer Matthew Malkiewicz captures the timeless beauty of the steam locomotive and steam trains - the steam, the tracks, the folks who run them and just the folks who love them. (Via Petapixel)
posted by caddis on Jul 22, 2014 - 4 comments

[Ba]king [Br]ead

Maybe you've tried a pan full of water. Maybe you've tried to find some way to hack up one of those Steam Shark things. Maybe you just open the door and spray. Those days are over, because the best way to get your oven good and steamy to keep your bread crusts thin and crisp has been discovered, it doesn't require anything you won't almost certainly already have around, and it's dead simple.
posted by DoctorFedora on May 8, 2014 - 53 comments

Text-Book of Seamanship, 1891, is an updated age of sail textbook...

The Equipping and Handling

Vessels
UNDER SAIL OR STEAM.
[more inside]
posted by vapidave on Mar 8, 2014 - 9 comments

Their Motives were just plain Loco

If you've time to spare, the Unusual Locomotives page is a good index for your perusal. [more inside]
posted by pjern on Mar 7, 2014 - 12 comments

I think I can...

On this date in 1804, at Penydarren Ironworks in Wales, the first locomotive hauled passengers and freight for the first time. Richard Trevithick was the inventor who created it.
posted by agatha_magatha on Feb 21, 2014 - 7 comments

Banished: the widely anticipated city-building strategy game released.

You control a group of exiled travelers who decide to restart their lives in a new land. They have only the clothes on their backs and a cart filled with supplies from their homeland.
Created by a single developer, Luke Hodorowicz, Banished reached 13 500 active players* on its first day of release on Steam. [screenshots] [more inside]
posted by Gomez_in_the_South on Feb 18, 2014 - 42 comments

Steam Tags

This past week the digital game distribution service Steam unveiled a new beta feature: user contributed tags for games. Unsurprisingly, the feature was quickly abused, leading to Steam introducing means to moderate tag usage. The plus side to all of this is that you can now play a game where you match Steam tags to the games they describe! Steam Tags: The Game
posted by codacorolla on Feb 15, 2014 - 31 comments

The Slippery Slope of Video Game Sales

When Jason Rohrer's Castle Doctrine hits Steam later this month, it will be on release sale for 12 dollars. After that, it will be 16 dollars. Forever. Rohrer talks to Giant Bomb about why he thinks constant sales are bad for games. (previously)
posted by graventy on Jan 23, 2014 - 100 comments

Designer locomotives? You bet.

Steam locomotives weren't always brute machines. About 220 of them in the United States were streamlined for (mostly) competitive reasons. Some of them were masterpieces.
posted by pjern on Jan 9, 2014 - 26 comments

Mountains of Post-Mortem-ness

"Last April, I began working on a game. In October, I released it. This is the story of Eldritch." David Pitman tells the story of developing and selling the roguelike/FPS Eldritch, described as equal parts Lovecraft and Minecraft. Includes lots of lovely sales figures.
posted by Artw on Jan 7, 2014 - 22 comments

To the gods I caused oxen to be sacrificed.

The initial beta release of SteamOS became available for download yesterday. Intended to run on Valve's emerging SteamBox platform [Prev] , you can also install it on a fairly modern desktop PC today, presuming it can match up with the adoption-limiting early hardware support requiring UEFI BIOS and Nvidia GPUs ("AMD and Intel graphics support coming soon!"). [more inside]
posted by laconic skeuomorph on Dec 14, 2013 - 40 comments

Twenty Years of Ultra-Violence

Twenty years ago tonight, id Software uploaded Doom to an FTP server at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completely changed the video gaming industry. [more inside]
posted by Pope Guilty on Dec 9, 2013 - 92 comments

"They love Steam, but they also... like their families"

Wired takes a look at the Steam box.
posted by Sebmojo on Nov 6, 2013 - 173 comments

The Leidenfrost Maze

When a liquid is dropped onto a smooth plate that is heated to a specific temperature well above its boiling point, boiled vapor will get trapped underneath the remainder of the droplet insulating it from the hot plate, allowing it to dance around the plate like oil on a wet surface in what is known as the Leidenfrost effect. Intriguingly, surfaces that are grooved into the shape of a saw blade will cause droplets suspended by the Leidenfrost effect to predictably skitter in the direction of the groove, allowing University of Bath undergraduate students Carmen Cheng and Matthew Guy to build a fascinating maze. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 2, 2013 - 32 comments

What could possibly top Valve's announcement of the Steam Box?

IT'S HALF-LIFE 3 NERDS
posted by boo_radley on Oct 1, 2013 - 100 comments

Gone Home

Released today on Steam, Gone Home has garnered praise for its deeply affecting narrative, stripped-down design and a unique aesthetic steeped in 90's nostalgia and riot grrl culture. "When I played Gone Home I had the stunning realization that there could be a game for me. Someone can make a game for me." -Leigh Alexander. "It’s touching, unsettling, deeply honest, and enormously compassionate. -Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "Gone Home is an epic story, but its definition of epic is far removed from how we usually talk about scope and drama in games. It’s epic, personal and revelatory to the people involved, and that’s why it’s so special." -Giant Bomb. Polygon's 10/10 review. How Gone Home's design constraints lead to a powerful story. The Fullbright Company's Journey Home.
posted by naju on Aug 15, 2013 - 197 comments

Obsessive-Compulsive Development: Retro/Grade Postmortem

An honest, heartbreaking, and ultimately informative postmortem on the positively rated game Retro/Grade presented at the 2013 Game Developers Conference.
posted by SpacemanStix on May 28, 2013 - 16 comments

Steam Powered Box Factory

Youtube video of "Americas last steam powered mill."
posted by Faux Real on May 9, 2013 - 17 comments

The Finances of a Successful Indie Game

"When we first started working on Dustforce, it was frustrating to not be able to find much data about whether indie game development is a realistic thing to do with your life." Hitbox Team helps remedy that for future designers in this article about the finances and sales of their game, Dustforce.
posted by gilrain on Apr 16, 2013 - 37 comments

Is the Steam Box here?

Valve and Xi3 team up to bring the Piston to CES.
posted by Artw on Jan 8, 2013 - 112 comments

Samuel Morey: an American inventor

If you've been along the Connecticut river in eastern Vermont, you may have crossed the Samuel Morey Memorial Bridge, relaxed at Lake Morey, or seen some road markers mentioning Samuel Morey. Besides being the second person in the world to be in a car accident, who was Samuel Morey? [more inside]
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike on Nov 30, 2012 - 8 comments

It ain't easy getting Green

Steam Greenlight is Valve's initiative to expand their catalog by letting the community vote on the games they want to see distributed (sound familiar?) Developers are generally positive, but issues with discoverability and outright trolling have led Steam to institute $100 entry fee (with all proceeds going to charity) that runs the risk of "[limiting] Greenlight's appeal by crowding out hobbyist developers that ... lack the will or ability to risk $100." In response, Dejobaan Games announced their plan to loan the fee to one aspiring developers and is calling on others to do the same. Meanwhile, the first ten games have made to the coveted Greenlit section.
posted by griphus on Sep 12, 2012 - 28 comments

Game Maker Without a Rule Book

"Behold the future of video games. Or at least the future as envisioned by a bunch of gamers, programmers, tinkers and dreamers at the Valve Corporation here. This is the uncorporate company that brought us the Half-Life series, the hugely influential first-person shooter game. The Valve guys aren’t done yet. Founded 16 years ago by a couple of refugees from Microsoft, Valve makes games that wild-eyed fans play until their thumbs hurt and dawn jabs through the curtains. But what really makes Valve stand out is its foresight on technology." [more inside]
posted by SpacemanStix on Sep 9, 2012 - 51 comments

Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road. -- Stewart Brand

Steam to sell productivity software [main link]. Gabe's dislike of the Windows 8 app store [BBC] may be explained. It's particularly interesting given that Steam is about to launch on Linux [Valve] [previously on Mefi]; it's one app store across all three platforms. [more inside]
posted by jaduncan on Aug 8, 2012 - 29 comments

Steam’d penguins

Valve confirms Steam for Linux
posted by Artw on Jul 17, 2012 - 88 comments

Consumer Rights in the Age of Steam

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that people can resell used software licenses. Rock, Paper, Shotgun speculates about what this will mean for gaming, an industry which has embraced digital distribution wholeheartedly.
posted by gilrain on Jul 3, 2012 - 77 comments

"If you believe in a principle, never damage it with a poor impression. You must go all the way." Charles Parsons

Unusual marketing technique: an inventor offered a demonstration of his custom-built speedboat design by speeding past security and crashing the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. [more inside]
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow on Jun 4, 2012 - 21 comments

A Corrective Prescription For Reality

It looks like the speculation on a near-future market for wearable computers is already heating up. However, the first competitor to the recently-announced Google Glass project comes as a surprise to almost everyone: Valve, the gaming company renowned for Half Life, Portal, and many others, in addition to their digital distribution heavyweight Steam. This will be their first foray into hardware of any kind.
posted by gilrain on Apr 14, 2012 - 50 comments

Posible names: "Junction Box", "Dry Riser Inlet", "Jar'o'Nails"

Are Valve working on 'Steam Box' gaming console?
posted by Artw on Mar 3, 2012 - 55 comments

The return of steam on the London Underground

The return of steam on the London Underground. [more inside]
posted by ArmyOfKittens on Feb 26, 2012 - 33 comments

Internalise This Deep Wisdom

You will never kill piracy and piracy will never kill you.
posted by Sebmojo on Feb 4, 2012 - 216 comments

A factor of 40

How Valve experiments with the economics of video games
posted by Artw on Oct 24, 2011 - 80 comments

Model railroad show today

The age of Steam - Three minutes and forty one seconds of wistful fun (sylt)
posted by the noob on Sep 12, 2011 - 14 comments

What clicks may come

Trauma is an escape-the-room -dream game with a hauntingly beautiful aesthetic that tells the story of a young woman recovering from an accident. It is a cross-platform download or can be played in its entirety for free in Flash. [more inside]
posted by Thomas Tallis is my Homeboy on Aug 31, 2011 - 9 comments

Humble Indie Bundle 3 (or is it 4?)

There's a new Humble Indie Bundle out. (Previously, Previously, also Previously.) The popular pay-what-you-want game distribution offers up Crayon Physics Deluxe, Cogs, VVVVVV, Hammerfight, and And Yet It Moves for all three major OS platforms, and works with Steam. You set the price; you decide what charity gets the money. [more inside]
posted by hippybear on Aug 2, 2011 - 48 comments

Achtung! Dinosauriergruppe

To promote the launch of Dino D-Day, an FPS where you fight Nazis and their resurrected dinosaurs, Steam created a line of WWII-style propaganda posters that are pure win. (Via)
posted by gottabefunky on Jun 8, 2011 - 41 comments

The following thread is in *massive* spoiler quotes

Portal 2 has finally hit the streets, and despite a somewhat rocky start with their controversial promotional ARG (previously), it looks to be a huge success. Interestingly for such a critically-acclaimed blockbuster, the title's core ideas steam from a pair of concept projects from student design school DigiPen: the original portal system from Narbacular Drop (video - download - previously) and the sequel's physics-altering gels from Tag: The Power of Paint (video - download - previously - previouslier). Combine these innovative ideas with some Lost-meets-Life After People level design, excellent voice acting, and top-notch writing, and it's easy to see why so many people called in sick this past week. But playing the game is just the beginning -- look inside for a collection of easter eggs, story theories, videos, and other goodies from the post-mortem. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Apr 21, 2011 - 425 comments

Soft and sweet and shaped like a potato

You say potato, Valve say... potato.

Just over a year after the Portal 2 announcement ARG (previously) had people dialing up a mysterious BBS, on April 1st Valve pushed out updates to thirteen indie games through Steam, under the tag #potatofoolsday. Some of the games got a little starchy straight away, but more interesting was the appearance of cryptic glyphs, which seemed to link to other games in the set, and nonsense phrases. Alongside a cheeky coded shoutout to members of the Facepunch forums, a hidden frame in the latest Aperture Science Investment Opportunity video (1, 2, 3) appeared to confirm there are 16 glyph-and-letter sets, and 13 phrases to be found in and around the games. But what to do with them even when the set's complete? And what of the uplifted talking raccoon and the blogger whose boss's brother has been kidnapped by sentient potatoes? [more inside]
posted by emmtee on Apr 6, 2011 - 115 comments

Steampunk Philly

BRUCE ROSENBAUM and his wife, Melanie, cook their food on what looks like a cast-iron Victorian stove. But the stove, like many items in the Rosenbaums' kitchen, has been gutted and repurposed. There's a modern appliance inside that antique shell, a theme that repeats itself from the fridge to their water heater. "We created this romantic Victorian feel to it," Bruce Rosenbaum said. "But everything works." The Massachusetts couple have steampunked their kitchen. [more inside]
posted by fixedgear on Feb 28, 2011 - 113 comments

The limits of adhesion

The Hunter Valley Steamfest in New South Wales, Australia holds a Great Steam Train race every so often. [more inside]
posted by pjern on Oct 30, 2010 - 7 comments

Steam Punk

Captain Sensible travels on the historic Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch steam railway to Dungeness [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Oct 28, 2010 - 18 comments

Build it and they will come

PC Gamer: Do you have a good sense of piracy rates with Steam games?
Gabe Newell: They’re low enough that we don’t really spend any time on it.

Gabe Newell on Steam, piracy and DRM, part of PC Gamer's Valve Week.
posted by Artw on Sep 15, 2010 - 153 comments

Alien Swarm: Valve's newest, freeest, game

If you don't mind installing Steam and are running a version of Windows, you can download and play Alien Swarm for free. It's a top-down shooter with four-player co-op of you and your friends against the aliens.
posted by demiurge on Jul 19, 2010 - 72 comments

Steam for Mac

Steam, the hugely popular online videogame distribution network, is now available for the Mac. MeFi favorite Portal is also free via the service (both Mac and PC) until the 24th. (previously)
posted by mkultra on May 12, 2010 - 246 comments

TF2 on a Mac?

Hang on: Steam is coming to Macs. Christ. [more inside]
posted by hnnrs on Mar 3, 2010 - 114 comments

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