What the heck is this a picture of? A black hole swallowing the earth? A palantír? A bowling ball-shaped plasma globe game console? One of Thor’s kidney stones?
I vote bowling-ball game console, but all we know for sure is that it’s the image Valve’s teasing for what looks to be the first of three announcements, or reveals, or…who knows, really. Valve’s playing a game, you see, one involving three blank circles, each with arcane symbology faintly visible (and a countdown timer to Monday beneath the first). What do those two halves of a smaller circle within the first circle mean? The brackets around the next one? Are the circles us? Or are those symbols for buttons on a Steam Box gamepad?
“Last year, we shipped a software feature called Big Picture, a user-interface tailored for televisions and gamepads,” writes Valve below the circles. “This year we’ve been working on even more ways to connect the dots for customers who want Steam in the living-room. Soon, we’ll be adding you to our design process, so that you can help us shape the future of Steam.”
And beneath that, this curious image: a silhouette of a cat — that’s a cat, right? — staring at an old-school gamepad.
Cats tend to hang out where again? That’s right, soft places. Couches. Plush chairs. Comfortable rooms. Not hard wooden, formica or glass desktops (well, unless it’s winter and your desktop’s really a laptop, in which case all the cats I’ve lived with gravitate to warm places like my MacBook Pro’s keyboard). So this is probably a living room tease; that, or Valve’s about to launch the world’s first game interface for pets.
A few days ago Valve honcho Gabe Newell rekindled speculation at LinuxCon 2013 that Valve might be planning a Linux-driven, PC-focused games console for the living room — the so-called “Steam Box.” Could this be that? We’ll get the first piece of the puzzle Monday morning.