Valve has opened up the use of a handful of APIs to partnered Steam developers, granting them tools geared toward better multiplayer play.
Developers can find a full rundown of exactly what Valve has offered up in a Steamworks post, but in short the release grants access to Valve’s own network infrastructure and additional tools like the ISteamNetworkingUtils API and SteamnetworkingSocketsAPI.
With these tools at their disposal, Valve says devs should be able to offer faster and more secure connections to those playing multiplayer games.
Using Valve’s network, for example, anonymized traffic and protects game servers and clients from DDoS attacks and ultimately makes it more difficult for external forces to disrupt gameplay. Valve also notes that this set up can improve ping time experienced by players and says that 43 percent of players saw an improvement in ping time under this system.
The ISteamNetworkingUtils API offers devs tools for estimating pings, something explained in the full post, and the SteamnetworkingSockets API acts as a general-purpose transport library for games and has features geared towards encryption and authentication as well as fragmentation, reassembly, and retransmission, both of which are also available in the open-source version of the API.
Valve says that this is the first of several updates it has planned to help Steam devs improve their networked games. “Specifically, while this update has primarily improved peer-to-peer networking, we're also working on making the solutions we have developed for our own dedicated servers available to partners,” says the post.