Toot Toot: Steam Speeds Up, Teases DoTA2

By Alec Meer on July 18th, 2011 at 4:02 pm.

Soon, we'll have other images of DoTA 2 to show! that will be a fine thing

Steam has announced some kind of thing that does a clever something or other that tweaks this thing and tinkers with this other thing, and the result is that downloads are faster. Or, at least, they will be. It involves caching at ISPs, more firewall-friendly protocols (downloads will be coming via good ol’ HTTP ) and, best of all, a system that means more incremental patch downloads, instead of having to re-grab big huge chunks of game. Here, I’ll let them explain – as well as share some bonus good news.

With the Steam content system that’s been in place for a few years now, if an individual file on disk were modified by a game update, your client had to download the whole file. That can be painful when the file in question is really large. The new system supports delivering only the differences between the old and new files, meaning game updates will be much smaller overall.

Given some games do merrily contain multi-gigabyte single data files, that does sound like good news. Better news still? “Soon, Dota 2 will be delivered using it.” Ooh! Ooh! Ooh. With other rumourflies a-buzzin’ around mutters of a possible unveiling soon (some are even claiming GamesCom), DoTA2 suddenly seems to be looming large.

More details on the new system here. They also reckon Steam will be able to shrug off high demand a lot more competently as a result of this system. If that means an end to popular games downloading slowly or being deemed temporarily ‘not available’, I am all for it, yes sir.

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123 Comments »

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  1. Ian says:

    I bet this in some way does one of those things that the AIMs hate.

    Fucking Valve. *shakes fist*

  2. TsunamiWombat says:

    And Steam once again kicks it’s beleagured and struggling competition in the teeth while they’re down.

  3. Kaira- says:

    Shame there’s nothing about offline-mode, because that could seriously use some fixing.

    On more related side, kinda surprised that they are going to release Dota 2 soon. Though if Valve Time is to be trusted, that means anything from two months to seven years.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Offline mode will be broken in some way forever.

      Make sure to sacrifice a goat before you do anything.

    • Calneon says:

      Indeed. ‘Soon’, from Valve, doesn’t mean much.

    • Tuco says:

      I never, ever experienced any issue with offline mode.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      The whole ‘you have to be online to activate offline mode’ has always been a source of irritation for me. Usually my desire for ‘offline’ usage comes *after* the internet disappears. I imagine because some wag has typed ‘google’ into google and destroyed the internets.

      Net result is I can’t play games offline because I didn’t know I was going to be offline.

    • OctaneHugo says:

      @Tuco Me neither, and we’re apparently both lucky. Lots of people I know have had problems with it for years, for whatever reason.

      …Please don’t take me into the Mexican desert and shoot me.

    • President Weasel says:

      I knew in advance that I wouldn’t have internets for a couple of weeks while I moved house (because apparently installing a phone line, in London, is not something that BT are set up to do quickly… probably because there is so little demand for that sort of thing, grumble mutter). I set up Steam offline mode in advance and had the perfect chance to play some games I had bought in the Steam sale and not got round to.
      I realise offline mode doesn’t work for everyone, but for me it was perfect. I like Steam, me.

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      “The whole ‘you have to be online to activate offline mode’ has always been a source of irritation for me”

      I really don’t, ime. You have to have been online at some point, but as long as I’ve got steam saving your password, and as long as the last time I was online I didn’t close it in the middle of updating, it seems to work just fine.

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      I never understand this complaint – my internet went down unexpectedly for a week last week, and Steam worked fine, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t get into.

    • crainey92 says:

      Let me get out my Valve time calculator and calculate the approximate wait time for this fix to be done.

    • PickyBugger says:

      I find with offline mode it’ll only work if you use remember password AND if you aren’t trying to connect to a network (for instance if the router is working but isn’t getting an internets).

      In my experience if you mess either one of these up you won’t be able to connect to offline mode. It also seems that I always mess either one of these up when I want to use offline mode. :/

    • Azradesh says:

      For offline to work your username and password must be saved, the game must have no 3rd party DRM and you must have run the game once(just to finish the install).

      Do this and it should always work, I haven’t had any issues in years.

    • zeroskill says:

      Valve Time: in 1998 soon TF2 will be released! (before 2005) actual release: 2007. For more fun facts go here:
      http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/Valve_Time

    • Wulf says:

      @Tuco

      Never had a single problem with offline mode either, and I’ve been using Steam for years now, frequently running it in offline mode too. I’ve run it in offline mode for up to as much as a month before, which is my longest time leaving it in offline mode yet, and I’ve still yet to have any problems. I just wonder whether this is a ‘YMMV’ thing with computers and operating systems or whether some people are doing something very wrong.

      (Same results on XP and 7, for me.)

      @Azradesh

      Interestingly, I can run stuff with third party DRM in offline mode just fine, since that DRM doesn’t interact with Steam DRM.

    • vodkarn says:

      “I never understand this complaint”

      You don’t understand complaints about losing your internet and steam tsaying you need to be online to turn on offline mode? Really?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      Offline mode usually works for me, except when it doesn’t. Which leads me to believe it’s at least a little broken. I haven’t had to try it lately though.

    • JerreyRough says:

      Never had issues with it, even when I’m connected to a network (temporarially) without internet access. Suprisingly, this is on a Vista computer, and a 64 bit one at that.

    • Vinraith says:

      Unanticipated absence of internet connection used to virtually always cause offline mode to fail, it only worked when you connected online and then told it you were going to be offline, which rarely came up for me. Lately, with the new client, it seems to handle unanticipated offline states much better. I’ve still had it jam up once or twice (and that’s still unacceptable, of course), but the vast majority of the time it seems to work these days for me.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      I also don’t have any problems with offline mode. Mind you, I only put it in online mode for donwloading updates and then immediately put it in offline mode again.

      I guess I haven’t lost the internet while having it online. If there is a problem with that, then they definitely need to fix it.

    • shitflap says:

      @OctaneHugo Nice one, I see wat you did thair ;)

    • Starky says:

      My mothers PC had been running my steam account in offline mode now for 6 months error free, keep meaning to update it for her and install a a few games.

      It really is bloody simple to make offline mode work properly.

      1: Have steam remember your username/password.
      2: Run every single game at least once when online.

      That is it.

    • Kadayi says:

      Just as a matter of interest, for all the people saying they’ve had a problem with offline mode, when was the last time they had a problem? Also which particular games cause problems?

      I’m not denying that there were problems (though personally I’ve never experienced them), but I’m also aware that Valve have addressed offline mode on a couple of occasions.

      I also recall one guy mouthing off about how Burnout Paradise wouldn’t work in offline mode and blaming Steam, even though that game itself requires a constant internet connection to play regardless of whether it’s Steam or otherwise.

    • Kaira- says:

      @Starky

      Now, if it only would work after those steps. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, even though the pile of sacrificed goats is starting to bother my neighbours. And even when the offline-mode works, not all games have worked on it, for example, I remember on two occasions to be unable to play L4D2 single player, because the game refused to launch.

    • Kaira- says:

      Hm, apparently comment system ate my comment, so let’s try again.

      @Starky

      Now, if it only would work after those steps. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, even though the pile of sacrificial goats is starting to bother my neighbours. And even when offline-mode works, it doesn’t always let me to play all my games, such as L4D2 won’t even launch while in offline-mode.

    • Starky says:

      Well I guess it is a YMMV issue – still it works fine for the majority of users, not that is any comfort for the people it doesn’t work fine for.

    • anonymousity says:

      While steam is a wonderful service for aquiring games it’s a shitty program to have on your computer, that’s why I crack any singleplayer games I get from it.

    • Kadayi says:

      I’m fairly sure L4D &L4D2 have always required a constant internet connection to run. Sure you can play the game with the AI, but that’s not ‘single player mode’ in the same sense of the campaign in MW2 for example.

    • viverravid says:

      (No one has mentioned this yet?)

      The cause of offline mode mysteriously failing is usually an incomplete update on one or more games. Offline mode only works if all your installed games are either:
      a) up to date
      b) set to not automatically update

      If you suffer frequent random internet dropouts, then disabling automatic updates can help.

      As the new update adds the feature for updates to be downloaded while playing, then applied afterwards, this could conceivably also solve the “mid-update” offline mode problem – though every game would have to download all changes before applying them for this to work.

      They could at least make it an option fairly easily.

  4. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Finally. For both of those.

  5. Unaco says:

    Yay for difference updating, something the rest of the industry have used since… well, since long before STEAM was released, or Half Life 1. Better absurdly late than never, I guess.

    Good to hear they’re improving the downloads. There are quite a lot of issues with them (incorrect file sizes, the ridiculous update sizes, updates coming late and shutting you out of a game for a week or so, updates pausing when I start a Single Player game, poor responsiveness of the Pause/Resume buttons, updates/downloads failing and repeatedly downloading, TF2 patching every 4 hours). Maybe we’ll see some improvements here. I haven’t any issues with download speed though, most of the time (once or twice when using the London Server, but switching to Manchester has made them quite reliable). Just with the sizes, the timing, and the poor reliability at times.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, I was pretty gobsmacked they weren’t doing differential patching already. I just assumed that adding more hats to TF2 genuinely involved touching huge amounts of data.

      Mind you, the Linux world still do OS updates that way, at least for Debian derivatives like the currently fashionable Ubuntu. Apparently some hosting organizations don’t mind burning tons of bandwidth unnecessarily!

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Mind you, the Linux world still do OS updates that way

      In fairness, each individual piece is fairly small (rarely over 10-20MB), and you almost never update everything on your system all at once. And if you’d worked on package managers, trust me, you wouldn’t want to add even more complexity. Nevermind the extra storage requirements per mirror server to host all the binary diffs.

      It’s quite hairy, and the tangible benefit to everyone but the bandwidth-limited is nil. Pretty low on the priority list.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Well, it helps when packages get split to try to increase granularity manually, e.g. game-foo and game-foo-data. I appreciate it’s not a trivial problem, but it is an example of another large software distribution service redoing from scratch on updates, and for a looong time. Microsoft have been doing differential updates for a long time and Windows Updates do have interdependencies and users are empowered to selectively let half of them get out of date and otherwise make tangled messes.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Microsoft have a teeny, tiny number of “packages” all entirely controlled by them. They do not have complex dependencies, multiple packages that can fill the same dependency, various flags that affect the capabilities of each package, and on and on. Nor do they have many universities around the world hosting all their stuff to the public for free :-)

      I’d also toss the iOS and Mac App Stores into this discussion, which do redownload everything every time. Again, probably due to the sheer volume of third-party apps (they certainly can’t test everything).

    • Wulf says:

      I think the reason why the Linux system still uses packages instead of differential matching is simple. It’s simply more safe to replace an entire package than it is to do differential matching to update them, since with the latter things can go wrong and there’s a history of Windows updates gone awry that backs that up.

      Google’s Android works off the package updates system too, so apparently Google thinks it’s a good idea and I’m inclined to agree, but for ‘just games’ the safety of the ‘complete package’ approach is kind of overkill. So I can see why Valve made the switch. Even if a worst case scenario happens then all you have to do is reinstall your game.

    • Starky says:

      On the bandwidth issue. bandwidth is a non issue for almost every hosting company these days, even for small ones – the big cost is in CPU cycles.

      As such it is often much, much better to just serve 1 massive file a few thousand times, than serve a few thousand files, a few thousand times – even if that latter case would probably reduce bandwidth usage by like 80%.

    • LionsPhil says:

      They do not have complex dependencies, multiple packages that can fill the same dependency, various flags that affect the capabilities of each package, and on and on.

      I’m not so sure on half of those—part of the reason for the need for a few reboots on a fresh install before it stops picking up updates is that they do have complicated dependencies, such as patches which are required as a prerequisite of installing other patches, e.g. how fresh XP will install Windows Installer 3 first. I’ve not seen package flags used outside of Gentoo, where there were a complete mess and a good way to absolutely flounder the package manager unless you always used exactly the same set across time and packages, in which case they almost may as well not exist.

      Nor do they have many universities around the world hosting all their stuff to the public for free :-)

      I suspect this is a large contributory factor though. ;)

      Also maybe someone gone terrified that sending whole Windows system files intact through the Intertubes might help TEH PIRATES. Unfortunately not everything Microsoft do is entirely rational.

      It’s simply more safe to replace an entire package than it is to do differential matching to update them

      Bytes do not get “dirty” if you don’t touch them, and MD5sums and their ilk are an easy and common way to verify if it’s all gone tits-up for some reason (like the user, the user’s hateful software, or malware fiddling with the original file).

      Google’s Android works off the package updates system too, so apparently Google thinks it’s a good idea and I’m inclined to agree

      Google thought Wave was a good idea. I think your appeal to authority could do with a better target.

      As such it is often much, much better to just serve 1 massive file a few thousand times, than serve a few thousand files, a few thousand times

      Nothing about differential patching requires that the differences can’t live in one big bundle…? Unless you are talking the case where users are going to be going from version N to N+5 with only next-step incremental patches, which is prrrrrobably less likely in this world of Everything Autoupdates Always, and can be avoided to some extent by building diffs across wider gaps. Storage is cheap, and we’re talking machine-generated machine-consumed binary diffs here, not actual patching applications like one may find on ye olde cover disks.

    • Josh W says:

      Google wave was 90% a good idea, the trouble is that they missed off three features; the delete button didn’t delete, the undo button didn’t undo, and the invite system hardly let you invite anyone to join the service.

      But apart from that it was groundbreaking.

  6. johnpeat says:

    They NEED better patch downloading for some games (incl TF2) – they also need to fix some of their buildbot scripts because I’m tired of them trying to install stuff I already have EVERY time I run some games…

    Overall it works tho – OK, it was deadslow during the summer sale but it still WORKED :)

    Next stop – fix the ‘recently played’ and ‘time player’ stuff as it’s clearly bollocks :)

    • Unaco says:

      I forgot about the buildbot stuff. That definitely needs some improvement/fixing/time alone in a dark basement with a man of questionable ethics. I’ve probably ‘installed’ DirectX as many times as I’ve installed and started games on Steam… which can be quite annoying, especially if you’re trying to check a re-install has worked after having registry issues or similar… that extra 5 – 10 minutes while it goes through trying to install everything can be frustrating. I’ve also had issues with it trying (and refusing) to install .NET Framework several times.

      I don’t see how it would be difficult for STEAM to keep a record of the 3rd party programs either you have installed, or if that is maybe not possible, at least a record of the stuff that IT HAS INSTALLED ITSELF. That way, you’d only have ‘install’ DX 10′ or whatever once, then it would have a record that that program/library is not needed to be installed again. Also, give the option when starting a game… Do you want/need to install DX10? Do you need this version of .NET?

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      Mmmm… yes. Completely forgot about the buildbot as well. Although that’s only an issue you have to deal with once for a game. Massive update downloads seem to be the bigger bugbear right now.

    • Calneon says:

      There tend to be lots of different versions of these libraries such as DirectX and .Net Framework, so it’s probably required more often than you think, though I agree that there must be a way to check whether that version is installed and if so, skip it.

    • Unaco says:

      @Calneon

      Back before Steam, and even now with non-Steam games, you’ll find that they’ll start the DirectX or similar install, and then stop it if the same or a more up-to-date version is installed… that’s probably because it’s the DirectX install application that it runs, which doesn’t seem to be the case with Steam games. It’s only with Steam that you have to go through the install of DirectX everytime you start up a new game (or try and cancel the install, and hope it then bypasses when you start it again).

    • Aemony says:

      The prerequisted files will always be installed, no matter how much you whine. This isn’t a problem with Valve but of that with the publishers. Since they need to ensure that the players always have the needed versions of said components the installations will always proceed.

      However! Within these installers most of them support checking to see whether or not something is already up-to-date. This is what usually takes so long. Simply because Steam runs the silent installation of DirectX or .NET Framework doesn’t mean that the packages actually are installed, it merely means that the silent installer scans your system and installs the missing components.

      So what some of you are asking for (at least regarding the prerequisted files) are already included, it’s just that the current way Microsoft has implemented the “check if installed already” thingy goes for a slow, but bulletproof, way of ensuring that the components are installed.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Did you know there are about 30 versions of direct X 9.0c?

      No i’m not joking, every 6 months or so they released a new version,and although most programs are properly coded and will just target the latest version some would only target a very specific version or needed the newer features.

      This doesn’t explain why it has to install sodding xna 4 for the 7th time tho.

    • Fazer says:

      It’s not Valve’s fault, but Microsoft’s – for not creating a package dependency system, like the ones you were able to see running on Linux for years. This issue even has its name – “DLL hell”.

    • daf says:

      More “advance users” can simply go into [steam folder]steamappscommon[game folder] and delete/rename the installscript.vdf or similarly named file with vdf extension.
      This will stop steam from going trough the “install” procedure, just be sure to open the installscript.vdf in notepad and check you have all the listed dependencies (usually a mix of directx, .net, xna, physx and the several visual c library versions) or the game might fail to start, ofc you can always manually install the dependencies after as they’re still in the game folder (unless you delete them which i don’t recomend as it will make “verify game cache” redownload them when you run it).

      It’s already been suggested on the steam forums that steam itself should have a built in dependency manager to handle all this instead of blindly trying to install them every time a game starts for the 1st time game which doesn’t always go well (some of the scripts are badly written so when the library is already present you need to uninstall it or repair it so the script completes successfully and stops trying to run everytime you run the game) but it seems it’s low on their priority list even though it would save everyone loads of bandwidth and time in not downloading redist files for the nth time.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Simply because Steam runs the silent installation of DirectX or .NET Framework doesn’t mean that the packages actually are installed, it merely means that the silent installer scans your system and installs the missing components.

      This, and hard. What Valve should do is remove the fucking text from the dialogue because people are too stupid to not be annoyed by it doing exactly the right thing.

      @Fazer: This is not DLL Hell. Nor would package management lead to a particularly different situation, even though I generally agree that it’s a good idea (with some holes and missed opportunities in current popular implementaitons).

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      Malibu Stacey says:

      It’s not Valve’s fault, but Microsoft’s – for not creating a package dependency system, like the ones you were able to see running on Linux for years. This issue even has its name – “DLL hell”.

      Fazer you appear to be posting from somewhere in the late 20th century. The next 10-15 years will be interesting for you. I’d suggest investing in Apple, Google & Facebook in the meantime.

  7. Otto Lidenbrock says:

    Got to say this is one of the few Valve games that I probably won’t buy, just not interested in DOTA type games at all. Of course if it’s free to play (which seems quite likely) I’ll try it out.
    Came across this interview with John Patrick Lowrie (the chap who voices the sniper in TF2) in which it certainly sounds like it will be free to play (at 17:58) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEpg7YfSkv0

    • Calneon says:

      Oh god I hope it’s not Free To Play.

    • Synesthesia says:

      yeah, i hope its not
      wait what?

    • Rich says:

      Yeah, because nothing I didn’t put money down for was ever good.

    • Thants says:

      Free to play can often cause a lot of problems but Valve know what they’re doing after TF2 and LoL has shown a way to do it that works pretty well.

    • Daniel Klein says:

      Why would it be anything other than free to play? I’d be highly surprised if they charged a box price for it. As a matter of fact, I’m accepting bets ;)

  8. Srekel says:

    “downloads will be coming via good ol’ HTTP”

    Hope this means it’ll be possible to use Steam from behind a company firewall :) Of course, not that it matters to me in a month.

    • dethgar says:

      What a shame.

      Seriously though, best of luck.

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      I suspect the authentication system will continue to use something else

    • Ovno says:

      Its worth noting that impulse works through my work firewall without problems.

      It’s how I tend to download games for lunchtime play =D

  9. Steven Hutton says:

    I must be the only person in the world who isn’t excited about DOTA 2. (Except a few hard core DOTA fans that I know but nothing will make them happy).

    It’s super rare for me to find nothing to like about a game but the whole DOTA thing (which I’m defining as DOTA and its many clones and refusing to call a genre out of principle) holds no interest for me. Which is a real shame because I want to be able to see what the (very passionate) fans see in the game but just find the whole thing dreadfully dull.

    I have the same problem with Starcraft.

    I haven’t had difficultly getting into other very competitive games scenes. I had no trouble getting to the inside of hardcore fighting game fandom or getting the skinny on competitive smash brothers or pokemon scenes. Nor is this an RTS or Action RPG problem since when I was younger I was heavily into the hard core side of Diablo 2 and, later, DoW2.

    But I really can’t see the appeal of DOTA can anyone explain it to me?

    • Icarus says:

      I’m also in the not-super-excited corner. It’s a new Valve game, so it has my interest, but DOTA as a gametype, or genre, or whatever, never really grabbed me. I’ll give it a looksee if it’s free, otherwise I’ll probably pass it by.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      I’m not terribly interested in DotA 2 that much either, but it’s a new Valve game and usually there’s something new in the engine that will be made available for other games (I think cloth simulation?) so it’s worth keeping an eye on it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      Pretty much the same boat. Never really been interested in the genre, but do love everything Valve has made before. For that, I think it is probably worth a look.

      And when I say I have no interest in the genre, I mean I have never played any of the previous games with the idea, so I might end up finding something I like. As this is Valve, you know the learning curve will be welcoming, so it won’t be as daunting as the DOTA-alikes. I just hope, as this will be a game with a competitive edge, that Valve do cater for both the new players and the more experienced. I’ve always felt Left 4 Dead was a game, as great as it is, could be even better if it acknowledged that some of the players are pretty damn good at FPS games. Make the game easy to understand, but tough master is the key.

    • Ovno says:

      Thanks god, there are others like me…

      All my friends say its just cus I’m shit at it, but I truly just don’t like the gameplay at all, which is strange because I love hero focused rts….

    • Calneon says:

      If you don’t like the genre of game, then you obviously aren’t going to like the Dota games that have been coming out recently. Nobody is blaming you for not liking them, but you have to accept that lots of people do. It’s highly skill based and competitive (if you want it to be), that requires a lot of teamworking, similar to any other team sport such as football or rugby, you could ask just the same question about those games.

    • iHavePants says:

      I’ve found MOBAs engaging enough on the gameplay front but the community which fills them are by far the worst I’ve ever experienced. It’s especially horrid for a new player trying to get into it, but the diatribe only slows somewhat when you’re past learning the ropes. Even playing with friends you’ve still got to deal with the other team and their never ending racist, homophobic hyper aggressive cuntery. It’s not like other games don’t have the odd player like that but it seems to be contained within a pure concentrated form in MOBAs.
      That said, looking forward to checking out DOTA 2, especially seeing as all signs point to it being F2P. Hopefully there will be a comprehensive way of blocking out unwanted communication even down to the text chat.

    • Rhin says:

      The appeal is that it requires somewhat twitchy mechanical skill coupled with strong teamwork dynamics.

      “Strong teamwork dynamics” meaning you will be repeatedly called a fag by your own team if you don’t know the minor nuances of whatever character you’re playing. This is the type of game where having a weak member on your team is worse than being a man down.

      These types of games are not designed to appeal to the largest common denominator, but they are designed to push the right buttons for a lot of competitive gamers. It should be no surprise that while it has a large fan-base, it also has a large anti-fan base.

    • Zogtee says:

      The gametype doesn’t appeal to me personally either, but I still approve, because I’ve been wanting to see Valve branch out into other popular genres. After this, I want to see them take on a MMOG and the competitive manshooter.

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      Vandelay says:

      I wouldn’t mind seeing their involvement with this leading onto a real strategy game. That could be very interesting.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’m not that excited about Dota II either. I like Moba’s just fine, but I liked LoL better than Dota and I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the HoN crowd when I tried it. All competitive games are kind of a niche thing anyways (some niches are just huge). I don’t like Street Fighter, but I get why some people are crazy about it.

      The Dota community is particularly bad though. About 50% of the time I pug I mute all players.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I really want to start listing all the things that put me off of Dota (and by extension the things that put me off of LoL and Demigod – although most of what put me off of Demigod was that it was just bad).

      I think what I’d really like to see most of all is a game in this vein take a bigger risk with the formula. It seems that most of the dota clones are very close to dota (which is why I’m reluctant to call them a genre) I’d like to see someone move further away from that design. Just because I don’t like dota specifically doesn’t mean that I couldn’t like a game with a similar structure and a slightly different emphasis.*

      I hate Star Craft but I love Dawn of War 2. I don’t like Street Fighter 4 much but I love many other 2d fighters.

      * Specifically I’d like to be able to fight my opponent in the early game instead of spending five minutes furiously trying to optimise my grind to a higher level. That feels more like a single player race to me than like a competitive multi-player game. If there isn’t much point in trying to fight the other player ’til you hit level 6 then I’m forced to ask why don’t the characters just start at level 6?

      …and I’m going to stop there before I begin to ramble.

    • Thants says:

      “If there isn’t much point in trying to fight the other player ’til you hit level 6 then I’m forced to ask why don’t the characters just start at level 6?”
      That’s not really true. At least in LoL, you start fighting against the enemy level 1, early kills are common. It can be fairly passive though.

      Anyway, it sounds like Bloodline Champions is exactly what you’re describing.

  10. Yargh says:

    This is good news, even better news is that they will finally be adding in download scheduling and bandwidth throttling tools as well, a major plus for those of us with peak time fair use policies.

    • Rich says:

      Yeah! This way when Ep3 comes out, we won’t have to wait… ages…
      I, I just can’t finish that sentence. I’m s-sorry. …sob*

  11. sana says:

    So about that offline mode…

  12. Premium User Badge

    shoptroll says:

    Good news all around. Incremental patches is woefully overdue after the Witcher 2 debacle which resulted in 10 GB downloads for a lot of people. Australia in particular should be quite happy.

    ISP caching sounds gravy as well. I’m getting about 1.5 MB/s on average since I live in close proximity to one of the Steam content servers, but if this can increase that even further that’ll be amazing. Also, if this finally kills the whole “Steam servers are too busy to process your request” errors that happen when there’s a sale, it’ll be worth whatever pain they had to go through for this.

    I’m wondering too if the HTTP switch means the service will play better with some university networks as well.

    As for a DotA 2 launch (beta or otherwise) at Gamescom…. I wonder how much publicity they’ll need for this game. Given DotA was online only and spread mostly by word of mouth, is it possible they’re just planning a lower scale PR campaign than say Portal 2 (which no doubt benefited greatly from EA’s marketing muscle)? Plus I wouldn’t be surprised if they just throw it on Steam with little warning like they did with Alien Swarm (I do hope they come back to this game at some point as well).

    I really don’t see a retail release in the cards, at least initially, for this game so I doubt they’ll need much for hype. MOBA games are still a small genre and most of the games seem to get by just on banner ads and word of mouth. In addition, I doubt retail is going to take a huge risk on it despite the pedigree. In addition, I’ll be very surprised if they don’t go F2P with this game. That’s the main business model for the genre, and if they want to bring DotA/LoL/HoN/BC players over they’ll need to keep the barrier to entry as low as possible.

    There’s also the fact that TF2 is their playground for experimentation and I’d be very surprised if the Mann Co store, F2P update and coaching system weren’t adapted from the work they were putting into DotA 2. The recent F2P push on Steam seems curiously timed to say the least.

    Anyways, looking forward to hearing what’s announced/revealed at Gamescom. Would be awesome to get some details on the “Big Screen” UI they mentioned at GDC as well. Or the Portal 2 DLC.

    • iHavePants says:

      “(which no doubt benefited greatly from EA’s marketing muscle)?”
      Valve dealt with all Portal 2 marketing themselves, as they weren’t happy with communications between external companies handling the advertising previously.

      And you were right about coaching, they were talking about it being a feature for DOTA 2 long before it was announced and released in TF2.

  13. roy7 says:

    I’m still so happy with LoL it’ll be hard to bother trying DOTA2.

  14. rocketman71 says:

    No more “Steam servers are too busy?”.

    HELL YEAH!

  15. Vinraith says:

    I’m less concerned with speed than access during high traffic periods, hopefully this will help with that as well. I’m really, really sick of that “The Steam servers are too busy to fulfill your request at this time” message.

    • johnpeat says:

      TBH, outside of the sales that’s a pretty rare message.

      What’s more annoying is that when you DO get it, retrying once usually fixes it – why they don’t just ‘queue’ it for retry automatically I’ve no idea.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah. If nothing else, that’s a broken UI. Try again automatically in 60 seconds, FFS, don’t show me a useless message.

    • warthog2k says:

      Ah, I had that with The Club, but other games were fine. I found that renaming the clientregistry.blob and restarting Steam fixed this. (See Steam support – https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=5483-YUFN-0521)

    • Vinraith says:

      @warthog2k

      That solution is, generally, for a different issue. The previous posters have it right that usually all you have to do is try to restart it, though in my experience it usually takes more than one attempt (my average over the summer sale was probably 5 or 6). As Till rightly points out, this could easily be corrected in the UI with an “auto-retry” function.

    • daf says:

      A “nicer” solution is to simply go to Settings->Downloads+Cloud and change your region to one where it’s 4-9am. After restarting steam as requested it should work fine although your download speeds may be really really slow (I normally get 2-3mb/s when doing this during a steam sale i go as low as 150kb/s).

    • Vinraith says:

      @daf

      I’ve done that many times, yes. Sometimes it works brilliantly, others it rather surprisingly doesn’t.

  16. Premium User Badge

    DarkNoghri says:

    Finally! Three years, and 24 pages of requests, and they finally start building in basic download management tools! Woohoo!

    http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=731183

  17. Tei says:

    Linux has the rsync protocol, that does something like this. Sync’s two folders (remote or local) moving only the data that is different. For some reason the tool is so solid, that is the type of tool you want to use even to copy data from a disk to another disk.
    If the Valve algorithm is half good, it will be awesome.

    Downloading by HTTP can be good for my ISP. I already use the maximum download of my conexion. But if the caching works, I would be downloading from a cache in the ISP, so will be cheaper for my ISP. To other people can be beneficial, if able download from offices, and dorms.
    I don’t know how it will afect in the net neutrality territory. It may be worse (easier for ISP to limit the speed) or better. I think ISP’s have very powerfull tools to illegally control the download speed based on who and what, so probably this change will not affect that. Maybe in some cases will fix problems where this illegal control breaks the old Steam protocol. One imagine HTTP downloads will be more resilient against that. Also, some poor bastard will see how all his downloads are corrupt. Wen you fix something for a lot of people, you always break it for a few dudes.
    On the long term, if the Steam data is cheaper for ISP’s (because caching of HTTP files) is possible that this illegal throlling will be removed, making data much faste for people.
    Is possible that if some content is public (like videos or other data), it would be possible for Valve to use a CDN network, or some similar magic, to make data available even faster and more cheap.

    tl;dr

    This is not beneficial for me, but can be beneficial for other people ( Evil ISP’s, university students, Valve) so can be good for me in the long term.

  18. Dinger says:

    So the upshot is: Valve is deploying a complete overhaul to their downloading system, and the open beta for this overhaul is codenamed “DOTA”.

    • Premium User Badge

      shoptroll says:

      Last year we got a new Steam client UI, updated builds of HL2, DoD: Source, and Episode 1, all in the name of putting Source on the Mac.

      This seems about par for the course.

  19. aircool says:

    Will it improve my 120Mbps download speeds?

  20. Vile Vile Vilde says:

    Oh.
    Oh.
    How glorious.

  21. Balm says:

    If updates are currently being handled that way (redownload entire changed file) – then I wonder, how did it handle FuildWars if you buy it on steam? Because GW is holding entire game in single 4GB Gw.dat file.

  22. warthog2k says:

    My last download over the weekend was 6.2GB at a steady 6MB/s – I was rather chuffed with that one.

  23. dethgar says:

    Download throttling would be nice. Steam sometimes chokes my connection, making browsing slow.

  24. Vinraith says:

    If they’re messing with the update architecture I do wish (without any hope of it being answered) that they’d give us a “roll back to previous patch” option.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Daiv says:

    It’s faster because instead of sending data over the Internet that hefty-looking man in the picture will crash through your wall with a bag of DVD-ROMs.

  26. killmachine says:

    will dota2 be a mix of first person shooter and tower defense? something like monday night combat, but more epic? i would really like that.

    i cant imagine valve doing something different than first person. did they ever have, other than this alien swarm thing? dont think so. plz let it be something like that. plz…

    • skinlo says:

      No, it won’t be. Look at DoTA 1 for seeing roughly what it will look similar to.

    • killmachine says:

      nah, i somehow doubt it. there is league of legends and thats pretty popular. if valve would do dota2 just like this, it would basicly be the same with different graphics. i really hope for something different.

      maybe the collaboration between monday night combat and valve hints something how dota2 could be?

      fact is, we dont know what valve is working on. could be with top view, could be first person, who knows? we will see this august in germany i guess.

    • zeroskill says:

      Gameplay for Dota 2 will be exactly the same like the original Dota. Have a look at the offical blog for more info.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Same gameplay as Dota. They’re even porting over the original characters. They’re adding some new ones and new map(s), but in general it’s supposed to be pretty similar. If people want changed gameplay there always is LoL.

  27. slpk says:

    Great news! Even though steam crackers have been able to do this for a long time. It’s called patching.

  28. kickme22 says:

    WHAT IS DOTA 2. I have heard. 10 different people say it’s and rts, no it’s an fps, no it’s an mmo, no it’s dungeon siege 3! What genre is it!!!

    • RakeShark says:

      It’s a horror puzzle platformer.

    • Vinraith says:

      It’s a second person point-and-click adventure game with time shifting elements and an open-ended narrative.

      No, but really: http://tinyurl.com/66fxqb9

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s its own genre. That’s kind of asking what genre Minecraft is. It’s a birdseye game where you control a hero that works with other heroes and a stream of minions to protect/ attack the enemy structures while the enemy does the same thing. Your heroes level up and get items.

    • Rhin says:

      Dota defined a genre of video game.

      1) Interface: mostly topdown-thirdperson clicking, think RTS-with-single-unit, Diablo, etc. You control a “hero” for one of the sides, fighting alongside an AI-controlled army.

      2) Goal of the game: 5v5 Capture the Flag. Every hero starts at level 1 with no equipment and gains gold/exp from kills. The map features multiple lanes of attack and intermediate defensive checkpoints for both sides.

      [Gold/Exp is not persisted between games. Dota is not an RPG]

    • Rhin says:

      Curse you, batman!

    • JerreyRough says:

      Its genre is called ‘multiplayer online battle arena”, or MOBA. Basically, its an RTS intertwined with RPG elements in an arena game.

      Aeon of Strife is the first MOBA, with DotA growing from it, popularizing it, and giving the genre the MOBA name.

  29. Rich says:

    My main problem with DOTA 2 will always be its name, which I will hence forth be typing as dotta-two.

  30. Vile Vile Vilde says:

    I hate the whole damn concept of DOTA 2

    My earlier “glorious” was in reference to speeeeeeeeeeeeeedy Steam.

  31. sharkh20 says:

    I’ll let Valve understand it, so I don’t have to.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Hypocee says:

    Can you queue your downloads so it doesn’t mean a choice between flail/babysit for hours now? How about leaving some bandwidth for other people on your network?

    *Reads*

    Nope, not yet, but at least they’ve promised it now. The poor old system just can’t handle putting numbers into an array, bless its heart.

  33. Daiz says:

    What I personally don’t understand is why Valve doesn’t boost their downloads by using BitTorrent / peer-to-peer downloading besides the server download. Combining the two of them would probably result in consistently fast speeds even when there’s a lot of traffic (like say, during big sales).

    • Tei says:

      Most P2P networks (Bittorrent included) have a lot of overhead wastage. While I have see experts love the idea of “maximum conectivity”, as a no-expert I feel that p2p networks are mostly a good way to waste network resources. As a user, I almost always get faster downloads with normal direct connections. Only wen the server is weak, and the files are very popular, p2p make sense. But Steam has good servers, and people may choose to buy a very rare game no one is interested in. So probably (but this is a uninformed opinion) Steam is the case where Bittorrent would be worst.

      Also, users with download caps don’t seems to like bittorrent, either.

  34. Screamer says:

    I hate Steam-ing-pile-O-shit™…..I really really do :<

  35. SpinalJack says:

    I have steam on my laptop and I frequently take it around with me where there’s no wifi and never once did I have problems with offline mode.