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    • By Caleb Wysor
      As Valve's Steam Labs launch three new experimental features today, one has caught the interest of many Steam users: its new algorithm for game recommendations based on Valve's machine learning technology.
      Valve says the Interactive Recommender uses a "neural-network model that is trained to recommend games based on a user's playtime history, along with other salient data." The data is modified by two sliders that users can edit: one ranges from "popular" to "niche," while the other slider ranges from "older" to "newer" games.

      Rather than base recommendations around genre or category, the Interactive Recommender instead scans through Valve's data sets to find other Steam users with similar tastes. The model then recommends titles the user might enjoy based on other games played by like-minded Steam users.
      Valve also says they discard most category information about the game when entering it into their model.
      "We don't explicitly feed our model information about the games. Instead, the model learns about the games for itself during the training process. In fact, the only information about a game that gets explicitly fed into the process is the release date, enabling us to do time-windowing for the release-date slider. It turns out that using release date as part of the model training process yields better quality results than simply applying it as filter on the output," Valve said. They also discard information about review scores and tags, relying only on popularity and age variables.
      Users worried about this experimental technology replacing their regular Steam recommendations have nothing to fear for the time being. Rather, Valve says users who want to try the Recommender will have to specifically choose it under the Steam Labs experiments section. Regular Steam recommendations will still function as before.
      Since their algorithm discards the categories most other game recommendation algorithms operate by, Valve also claims that developers won't have to worry about optimizing their game description to make it more likely to be recommended. 
      "The best way for a developer to optimize for this model is to make a game that people enjoy playing. While it's important to supply users with useful information about your game on its store page, you shouldn't agonize about whether tags or other metadata will affect how a recommendations model sees your game," Valve said.
      If you want to try the Interactive Recommender, head over to the Steams Labs experiments section.
      (via PC Gamer)
       
    • By Caleb Wysor
      Crystal Crisis launched for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch earlier this year. Now publisher Nicalis has announced that Crystal Crisis will be coming to PC via Steam at the end of the month.
      The competitive puzzle fighter features popular characters from Cave Story, The Binding of Isaac, and Astro Boy. Seen as a spiritual successor to the cult Capcom arcade game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Nicalis describes Crystal Crisis as the "apex of the head-to-head puzzle battle genre."
      Crystal Crisis launches on Steam July 31 for $19.99, but pre-purchases will receive a 25% discount, lowering the price to $14.99.
      You can find Nicalis's full description of Crystal Crisis below.
       
    • By Andytizer
      Classic games The Lion King (1994) and Disney's Aladdin (1993) have been delisted from Steam without so much as a word. 
      Thankfully GOG.com have given a short warning of just over 24 hours in this forum post announcement :
      Another Disney game, The Jungle Book, has been delisted from Steam but still available from GOG.com - who knows if more Disney games will be delisted in the future?
    • By AnotherGills
      This year’s Steam summer sale introduced the Steam Grand Prix, a meta-game which gives players the chance to win their “Most Wished For games”. The wording of this competition has caused confusion as many Steam users believed that winners would receive random games from their wishlist. This led to many Steam users removing cheaper games from their wishlist, most notably from independently developed games.
      As such, many developers and publishers were less than thrilled with this year’s meta-game.  Developers receive notifications based on additions and deletions of games to users wishlists. Within hours of the Grand Prix launch, developers watched large amounts of users remove their games from wishlists in nearly real-time.
      Dan Hindes, developer of the upcoming title, WildFire, tweeted about the situation, showing a graph chronicling wishlist deletions for Wildfire.

      Thankfully, Valve addressed the furor before it could erupt, and modified the promotion’s guidelines. The new rules now clarify that “if your team makes it to the podium and you are randomly chosen to win something off your Steam Wishlist, then we’ll grant you the top item.”
      Hopefully, this revision can ward off some of the damage caused by the wishlist purging.
    • By AnotherGills
      Steam Database, a group known for tracking Steam player counts, tweeted about this year’s Steam summer sale, the “Steam Grand Prix Summer Sale”, stating that it will begin today at 10AM PST on June 25th. The information was found on a Chinese Steam Community forum, SteamCN.
      The forum also included details about a new event for the sale, replacing the Steam Trading Cards typically distributed during sales. SteamCN user Cvisy posted a screenshot pertaining to the Grand Prix event.

      There is currently no information regarding the purpose of the Grand Prix Boost Meter, nor the correlation between purchases, purchase prices, and Boost Meter points awarded for the purchases.
      However, if one were to divide 100,899 by 999 (the current USD price for the Valve Index VR Kit), it can be assumed that $1 USD is equivalent to 101 Grand Prix Boost Meter points. Of course, this is merely speculation, and subject to change.
      What are you looking forward to purchasing during the sale? Do you intend to take advantage of whatever new promotion the Grand Prix entails?
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