HL2\Steam Questions (Steam Mainly)

OK a couple of questions here that I hope someone answer.

At my hostel we have internet. Shared internet. Consequently, there is a firewall. Even with the ports for Steam open, it will not work, we cannot figure out why. Valve Tech Support has no answer for me. When I open Steam, it gets to the checking for updates bit, finds that it can't connect to the server, and quits out. This has been fine for playing HL/CS etc, as we don't need it to play the games on our lan, but when it comes to patches etc, I can't get them (not that it matters for HL/CS really.

Anyway, I hear HL2 is going to be fully Steam dependent. Having never used Steam, I don't know exactly how it works. Like how the patching system and everything works.

Will I need to be able to connect to the Steam network to play HL2 normally (single player)?

I don't mind if I need Steam to get patches, as I will be leaving my hostel and moving into a flat at the end of the year, and we will do whatever the hell we want with out internet, so will not have the problems of not being able to connect to steam.

So yeah basically, what I am asking is, what is steam, and how does it work?

Sorry if that's a really dumb question.
Valve said:
* How does Steam work?

Steam is a digital content management system that provides content delivery, component revision control and data security to developers of such content. Steam is embedded within a Steam-enabled application giving it a virtual file system from which it can obtain "resources" (not files) from a local cache, CD or from the Internet.

Communicating with the Steam backend servers, digital rights management allow access to subscription (pay or free) content while at the same time ensuring the user always has current content. Advanced content "preloaders" are used to load the caches during application execution as well as during normal PC (or console) operation.

Caching content locally eliminates the "typical" issues associated with streaming content, that is, the data only needs to be read once. As the cache fills, a Least Recently Used algorithm purges old content allowing new content to take it's place. Additionally, "trickle" downloading allows content to be delivered unobtrusively such that the content "just appears" to the user when it's ready. In the case of Half-Life or Counter-Strike, no more rushing to an ftp site just to fight with others for the opportunity to download the latest update, map or mod. It will "just be there" when Valve says it will.

Steam, in the end, provides game and application developers a much simpler method for delivering content to their users, whether it's for a controlled beta or all out publishing.
I'm not sure how technical of an answer you would like, but that is the official "business" answer to "what is steam and how does it work?" by Valve.

as for patches/etc ... it will matter eventually for single-player games, because they will start fixing bugs and the like (a forseeable 'it is impossible to pass this level as result of a flaw in the level's scripting' is a good example :p )
however, I am assuming that Valve will be releasing HL/CS in a way that it can be played offline, even though it is still through steam. If they don't, I would have to say that they are mental. There will always be people who don't have a 24/7 web connection, or would rather not deal with the online aspect of it all - it's a smart business move for them to construct it in a way that it is meant to be run through steam while it's connected, BUT it can still be played unconnected

of course I could be completely wrong, but that is what I gather, anyhow :)


Political User
From what I understand, your biggest concern is "do I have to use Steam in the meantime to play single player?" ... the answer is no. Multiplayer (on the internet) ... yes ... unless you are on LAN ... then no.

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