Of all the boxes that have turned up in the Stuff stockroom, the one that piqued the most interest was the big flight case from Valve.
At six feet long and deep enough to hold two bodies (probably - we didn't actually try), it looked like it had trundled straight out of the giant facility at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It even had an Aperture Science logo on one side.
The contents were no less exciting – 12 of the 13 Steam Machines that will be released later this year, in a move that Valve hopes will take the scorching speed and grandiose graphics of PC gaming off your desktop monitor and on to your TV.
A STEAMY WHATNOW?
OK, in case you’re not familiar with Steam: it’s a platform where you can buy and play PC games online. Think of it as being like Xbox Live, only bigger – Steam has more than 65 million active users.
It’s run by the world’s most enigmatic games company, Valve, which has also made some of the most influential and popular titles in gaming history, among them the Half-Life and Portal series.
A Steam Machine is a gaming PC built to run Steam on your TV rather than your desktop, so most of them are quiet and small, like consoles. And, also like consoles, they all work with a gamepad – a futuristic new gamepad that Valve has spent the last few years designing.
LET’S HAVE A GO
In case you hadn’t guessed, we’re slightly excited about what Steam Machines will do for gaming. We’ve been to Valve’s offices for a poke around, we’ve fiddled with prototypes, we’ve interviewed the people making this truly next-gen gaming project happen, and we’ve shot every one of these Steam Machines in 360°, so you can zoom, twirl and twiddle them while taking a sniff under the hood.
You smell that? That’s the smell of the future. Or maybe it’s coolant.