GameArena Help and Support
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Steam?
Steam is Valve's new way of getting games into your hands ASAP. Games like Half-Life, Counter-Strike, and Counter-Strike Condition Zero are all being made available through Steam.
Steam games are automatically kept up-to-date with the latest content and revisions. Steam also includes an instant-message client which even works while you're in-game.
At its core, Steam is a distributed file system and shared set of technology components that can be implemented into any software application.
With Steam, developers are given integrated tools for direct-content publishing, flexible billing, ensured-version control, anti-cheating, anti-piracy, and more.
How much does Steam cost?
As per the official Steam FAQ entry on this topic, Steam is free to use, as long as you have an existing, valid CD key from Half-Life or one of the Half-Life family (such as Counter-Strike or Day of Defeat).
However, please be aware that there may be other charges that are incurred by your Internet Service Provider. If you are a BigPond broadband subscriber, for example, there may be usage costs that are incurred as Steam can download from sites that are metered.
It is very important to read this FAQ in full so that you understand how Steam works and how it may affect you if you are a BigPond broadband user!
What Does Steam Do?
Once you've installed Steam, all of the following features are available on your desktop and while you're playing Steam games.
EASY AND FAST ACCESS TO GAMES
After installing Steam, you'll have instant access to Valve's full library of games. And when you choose one to play, you don't have to wait for the whole thing to download -- you can start playing in a matter of minutes.
Say goodbye to game patches forever--they're a thing of the past. Steam will keep all of its games up-to-date for as long as you want to keep playing them. No more hunting for download sites just to get up and running!
INSTANT MESSAGING, EVEN IN GAME
Keep in touch with your buddies through "Friends," Steam's instant-messenger. It even works while you or your friends are playing games -- you don't have to stop playing to communicate.
SERVER BROWSER - FIND YOUR FRIENDS' GAMES
Now it's incredibly easy to find a quality game server -- one that's fast, that's running your favorite game, and even one that has your friends already playing on it.
How do I get Steam?
Before downloading Steam, it is important to remember that it is primarily a content distribution method, and as such its primary function is to download content. This means it may download a large amount of data!
To get Steam, you need the following:
After you have downloaded the Steam Installer, you can simply run it and install it like a normal application. During the installation you'll be prompted to create a Steam account, which will require a valid CD key and email address.
Please note that after installing Steam, it will auto-update its files, which may download from metered sites that will add to your monthly usage. Keep careful track of your usage when using Steam!
How does Steam download files?
Steam is basically a specialised download system for Valve Software's games. It is distributed by means of a small, simple client - the Steam Client - which is the front end that users load. Using the Steam Client, a user can select a game or list of games that they wish to have installed on their system. The Steam Client will then access one of the Steam Content Servers and download the files that are required.
How do I stop Steam downloading anything?
Unfortunately, as the whole purpose of Steam is to download files, it isn't immediately obvious how to stop it from downloading content to your computer. There is no way to stop it downloading updates to the Steam engine itself, but these updates are generally very small - almost certainly less than one megabyte in size.
To stop Steam downloading content for individual games, it is necessary to click on the 'Games' button on the Steam main page. For each game that is listed in the Games dialogue, you will need to right click on each game and select 'Properties'.
You will then see a section on the Properties panel that says 'Automatic updates'. You will need to change the dropdown under this section so that it reads 'Do not automatically update this game'.
This should stop Steam from automatically downloading content for those games. Please note, however, that there is no guarantees that Steam will actually stop downloading and download no further. It is very important to keep track of your usage if you are using Steam.
Why Can't GameArena Run a Content Server?
GameArena does, in fact, run a content server, and has done for quite some time. However, after much discussion with Valve Software, it has been concluded that running a Steam Content Server is no guarantee that users will get unmetered traffic through Steam.
Unfortunately, Valve Software are not prepared to make any guarantees to GameArena that BigPond broadband users will be correctly directed to the GameArena Steam Content Server. As such, we have no way of being sure that users are downloading Steam content from an unmetered site.
What is a Steam Content Server?
Steam Content Servers are the back-end systems that distribute content (that is, game files) to all Steam users. You can check out the Steam Content Server listing which is kept up-to-date by Valve Software on their Steam website right here.
The Steam Content Server system is a load-balanced system which serves clients based on geographic location. As such, some of the servers may be under more load than others.
How do I select which Steam Content Server to use?
Unfortunately, Valve Software have decided not to include the ability for users to select which Steam Content Server they wish to download from. Ostensibly, this is to ensure that the integrity of the load balancing of the Steam content distribution system is maintained to a nominal degree.
In 2009, Valve added some new functionality to Steam that allows users to select a 'download region'. While this can help you to get the GameArena servers, it is not a guarantee that you will end up downloading from the GameArena servers - it merely tries to use them if they are available. For various reasons, they may not always be available. We do recommend that you select a GameArena region.
There is currently no completely reliable method to effectively change which Steam Content Server you are using. Please be aware that any changes that users suggest you make to change your Steam Content Server almost certainly will not work.
Is playing on GameArena Steam servers still unmetered?
Generally speaking, playing on GameArena game servers with Steam-based games is unmetered.
More specifically, data traffic from Steam-based games that is sent to the GameArena servers and sent back is unmetered.
However, please be aware that loading the Steam platform may download other files to keep your local Steam Cache for a particular game up-to-date.
GameArena STRONGLY RECOMMENDS to Bigpond broadband ADSL and cable users to keep track of your usage when loading the Steam client.
Why do we have to use Steam, anyway?
The complete migration to Steam is something that Valve Software have been working on for some time. As soon as Valve are comfortable with the stability of the Steam system, the old online authentication system (the 'WON' system) will be shut down, rendering all of the old versions of Half-Life and its modifications unplayable over the Internet.
As such, the migration to Steam on our part is a necessary step to allow us to continue providing Half-Life-based game services to the GameArena community.
Will any old versions of Half-Life-based games still be available?
As mentioned above, the complete migration to Steam, once completed, will result in the removal of the authentication system which is a requirement for the older versions of Half-Life-based games such as Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, and Natural Selection. As such, GameArena will be unable to maintain older versions of these titles.
Do I still need COGS to play on GameArena Steam servers?
Yes - you will still need to be running COGS, as it will authenticate you to the GameArena service.
How do I make COGS work with Steam?
When you install Steam, you'll need to launch the game once through the normal Steam interface to create the directory structure required for your local Steam Cache. Once this has been created, you can load COGS, and it will automatically detect the location of your Steam Cache and the required files.
From there, you can use COGS as normal - open the game server listing for the game you wish to play by clicking on the game in the list on the left hand side. From there, you can simply double click the server you wish to join, and you will be automatically connected to the server.
Why don't I get a Counter-Strike tab any more in COGS?
For COGS to detect your Steam installation, you must first launch the required game through Steam. Taking Counter-Strike as an example, start Steam then click 'Games', 'Counter-Strike', 'Play Game'. Once you have reached the Counter-Strike in-game title screen, quit Counter-Strike and restart COGS. Counter-Strike should then appear in the Games Menu.
Steam crashes with a "Win32 StructuredException" error.
From this forum post on the Steam forums, this is a common Steam problem. The error you get will look something like this:
steam.exe (main exception): Win32 StructuredException at 0163048B: Attempt to write to virtual address 2439276314 without appropriate access rights.The solution is simple - simply browse to your Steam folder (usually c:\program files\steam) and delete the file "ClientRegistry.blob". Restart Steam and it should work fine.
Please note that fixing this problem may revert or delete your active Steam settings - you may need to manually go through and ensure your games are not set to 'Automatically keep this game up to date', or else Steam may download large amounts of content in the background.
Where can I get more information about Steam?
You can get more information about Steam from the following sources:
Official Steam Website
Official Steam FAQ
Official Steam Messageboards
I get a "can't find filesystem DLL" error when trying to join a Steam server from COGS?
This appears to happen when a Steam update isn't installed completely or correctly and is easily fixed.
Simply open up Steam, and click the 'Servers' button. Join a server from within the Steam menu system. This should allow it to complete the update process. After you've successfully joined a server, you should be able to connect from COGS with no problems.