Valve announced last night that they're beginning the proper roll-out of Steam Playtest, a system that allows developers to bring in testers without messing with beta keys. Additionally, a new Steam Client Beta is up.
For developers, this new Steam Playtest (announcement) system is going to be extremely useful. Usually when developers want to invite players to test, they have to mess about with manually producing keys and sending them out. Keys have long caused issues, and while this won't replace other methods like handing out keys, it sounds better. We actually mentioned this feature a while ago, when Valve were testing it with the first title. The idea is that Steam store pages get a big button for users to request access, and developers can manually invite users too.
Now it's open to all developers, although with it being in Beta, developers need to request access to the system until it's properly ready. What's interesting is that the Playtests happen on a different Steam ID, so it doesn't mess with the main app for things like playtime or ownership of the main game. Sounds really great for Steam developers.
As for the new Steam Client Beta update from November 4, there's some nice Linux fixes and improvements included. For all platforms they have improved the disk space pre-allocation performance when installing or updating content, and the Steam Overlay along with the built in web-browser should see better performance on Linux and macOS. For Steam Input, there's also a regression fix for controllers not showing up.
Just for Linux, we saw a number of improvements too:
- Improve the filtering of available compatibility tools in the game properties dialog
- Fix launching of non-Steam games over Proton 5.13 (steam-runtime#287)
- Fix games not getting stopped via the 'Stop' button in the client UI (steam-for-linux#7435)
- Auto migrate Steam libraries using the old 'SteamApps' directory casing to 'steamapps' when possible (Proton#4206)
Detect and warn the user if transition is needed but not possible.
- Improve how host LD_LIBRARY_PATH settings are picked up and transformed for the Steam runtime (steam-runtime#274)
Full changelog here.