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Steam Rolls Out New Chat/Friends Interface

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Gerowen    1,206

Not sure if it has been posted here already but I thought I would share this little bit of information.


Steam has rolled out its new friends/chat interface.  Per the announcement page it aims to offer the following features:

- A richer chat experience

- Better friends list organization

- Making it easier and more fun to game with friends


The friends' list interface button has now been renamed to "Friends + Chat".  Your friends are now sorted first by the game they're playing, next by their online status, so you'll see the people on your friends' list who are in a game listed first.  If more than one person is playing a particular game they will be grouped into a heading named after the game they're playing.


Among some of the other features listed on the announcement page are chat groups, higher quality voice chat and "Rich Presence", a feature allowing game developers to report additional information about your status in a game that your friends will be able to see.  Presumably this could be used for things such as reporting your current gameplay mode within a game, health, boss you're fighting, etc., but the announcement page ends that bullet with "Or whatever the game developer chooses".


The chat experience is now also supposedly "multimedia friendly", touting the ability to share video, pictures, tweets and more in-line directly in your Steam chat instead of having to link to external sources.


You can also now have group chats with multiple participants, and then save those group chats with a title and avatar to make it easier to get that same group of friends together later, or even just casually pass messages to or check in with that group of friends even when you're not gaming.  You can also use voice within these groups and even create "channels" within the groups so that if you have a large group of friends, but some of them want the ability to segregate themselves off to play a different game, they can do that all within the confines of that chat "group".  This all seems like they're adding a lot of functionality that previously required the use of external/third party software like Discord.  You can even generate "links" to your group chat that you can easily send to people through other services to help them get connected.


The Steam voice chat was, quote, "Re-written from the ground up with a new WebRTC-based backend".  What this means is that the voice traffic is encrypted and uses "high quality Opus encoding", and that Steam acts as a middle-man for all voice traffic instead of the traffic being sent directly to your peers.  Voice chat and group chat membership is also a status that can be viewed within your friends' list.


Lastly, all of these new features can be used within the Steam website right in your browser; the Steam client is not required to make use of the new chat system.


I haven't taken the time to thoroughly examine all of the new features, but I thought I might bring it to the attention to those of you with more Steam friends than myself so you could check it out if you wish.


Source: https://steamcommunity.com/updates/chatupdate



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