ramblings from a body of somekind

Steam Deck - Getting the Steam Deck

October 23, 2022

  • steam deck
  • games

Before I continue, I need to stress that I have a lot of opinions on the Steam Deck, and I want folks to read this. Not only that, but every day I’m learning new stuff every day with the Steam deck.

Because of all of the above, this will be a series of continuous blog posts on the Steam Deck - feel free to skip certain blog posts and focus on other ones that interest you.

Getting the Steam Deck

I got my Steam Deck on Friday 23rd September 2022.

The lead up to Friday left me feeling quite unfocussed for the week, if only for the fact I was getting this curious, elusive piece of hardware in the mail that until quite recently, people were struggling to obtain. This is no more as Valve have managed to fix a few supply chain issues and optimised the manufacturing so that they can now deliver the Steam Deck when ordered.

Why the Steam Deck

The Steam Deck gave me mixed feelings. Valve’s last attempts at making hardware that would squarely appeal to me failed; I bought the Steam Link on the cheap, and it ended up being a cumbersome way of playing PC games from my Steam library on the TV.

The other device I got was a Steam Controller. It was cheap and seemed to be quite wild with its promises of allowing PC gaming users to finally play a wide variety of PC games from keyboard and mouse all the way to classic joystick. It was… quite mixed.

The Steam Controller was quite interesting to use, sure, but in my eyes it widely failed to knock the keyboard and mouse it seemed so eager to wipe out. There was a ton of configuration needed, and quite a variety of profiles from end users, but I couldn’t help shake the feeling of “I have a keyboard and mouse right there, so why do I need this?”

And lo, here we are with Steam Deck. Visually speaking, it looks like it’s trying to ape the Nintendo Switch but be larger and more powerful. One can absolutely roll their eyes at the idea that a beefier system will sell units - I know I did at launch. Historically speaking, the beefier, expensive units have never sold that well, and generally come in last - the Nintendo Wii outsold the PS3, PS2 dominated the 6th generation, and same with PS1 and the fifth generation etc.

But at the same time, I did pony up some serious cash to buy the Steam Deck, so there must’ve been at least some reason, even if I didn’t think it was going to be that amazing of a gaming machine.

Well after the Steam Deck launched, the consensus was that Valve was regularly updating and patching bugs, issues, and generally making the Steam Deck more and more pleasant to use. Not only that, but even if Valve completely abandoned it, it was running a form of Linux called Steam OS - a highly customized version of Arch Linux tailored to Valve. What this meant is that Valve had complete control over the entire software architecture of their platform to their liking.

Furthermore, they were actually allowing users to go into the Desktop and have a pry at the innards - something no self-respecting console manufacturer has wanted, let alone featured as a selling point in their console. Say what you want, but you got to respect the openness of the hardware.

Playing with the Steam Deck

On Friday the Steam Deck arrived in my stubby hands. I was genuinely shocked at how large this thing is - I kid you not - end to end, it is the size of my forearm. However, something else shocked me. The Steam Deck feels so comfortable to hold and to use for long sessions.

I have a Nintendo Switch Lite (previously the bog-standard one) and I can tell you first hand how uncomfortable the Switch is to play for extended periods of time. For something this beefy, it felt incredible to hold and use.

The initial setup experience of the Steam Deck was nice and simple. The only fiddly bit was me logging into the system as I have a convoluted password - it would’ve been nice to have something like get my desktop Steam to generate an on-the-fly time restricted simple password, which I would have to also validate against Steam Guard 2FA. But oh well, it is what it is (and this is not a Valve-specific problem).

Then it was getting into the Steam Deck and downloading my library of games. That was smooth and seamless, allowing me to download the following games:

  • Bejewelled
  • Black Mesa
  • DOOM
  • Quake
  • Ultrakill
  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Saints Row: The Third
  • Saints Row IV
  • Aperture Desk Job
  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Downwell
  • Manhunt
  • Sonic Mania
  • Spelunky
  • Super Galaxy Squadron EX Turbo

I also ended up buying two games:

  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Sable

Most of these games ran perfectly fine with default Steam controls right out of the box. The only ones that needed tweaking were:

  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
  • Manhunt

A blog by rootfs.ext2.gz. He has opinions and things. Maybe follow him on Mastodon or Twitter? But, you know, only if you actually enjoy any of this.