Posts Tagged ‘Valve’

Campo Santo acquired by Valve, booze acquired by Campo Santo

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While the company webpage still reads “Campo Santo is a small but scrappy video game developer in San Francisco,” that will probably need some updating in the immediate future. The twelve person team behind Firewatch and the forthcoming In The Valley of Gods has been acquired by Valve, where the team will remain intact. Campo Santo is responsible for critically and commercially successful titles, and they will continue work at Valve in Bellevue wrapping up In The Valley of Gods, which of course, will now be a Valve game.

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Australian court rules Valve must pay £1.6m penalty over Steam refund policy

Valve must pay a fine of AU$3 million (about £1.6m/US$2.3m/€1.8m) for misleading Steam users in Australia by stating they were not entitled to refunds for faulty games on Steam, though Australian law guarantees rights on faulty products. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) went after Valve for this back in 2014, before Steam offered widespread refunds, and in 2016 the Federal Court agreed. Valve appealed that court’s decision but the High Court of Australia have now ruled that it stands, and that Valve must pay. They ACCC say that this “is the final decision on this issue”, the end of the line. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam overhauls privacy settings, locking SteamSpy out

Valve have overhauled the privacy settings for Steam user profiles, letting us hide more data and setting more of it to be hidden from strangers by default – including the list of games you own. Good. More online platforms should default to hiding personal data. We can now hide our playtime on games if we want too, so our pals can e.g. see that we own The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth but not that we’ve played it for e.g. 871 hours, in case we feel e.g. shame about that (not me: I’ll tell you it’s just that good).

This does have the knock-on effect of locking out Steam Spy, the popular non-Valve site which scans vast numbers of public profiles to estimate how many people own a game and how much they play it. In a secretive industry, it’s one of the few ways to have a sense of how well a game is doing. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam Machines “aren’t exactly flying off the shelves” but Valve are sticking with Linux

Steam Machines went nowhere, Valve have basically said (I’m paraphrasing a touch), but nah, don’t sweat it, they are still committed to improving gaming on Linux. After shuffling Steam Machines deeper into the labyrinth of Steam’s website menus, and the ensuing cybersquawking over Valve having done a thing, they’ve reflected a little on their PC branding partnership and the Linux-based SteamOS beneath it.

“Given that this change has sparked a lot of interest, we thought it’d make sense to address some of the points we’ve seen people take away from it,” Valve’s Pierre-Loup Griffais said. Internet, eh? Read the rest of this entry »

Vermintide: taking the torch of Left 4 Dead from its cold, undead hands

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I’d wager most folk around these parts devoured Left 4 Dead back in the day, just as I did. Valve’s “28 Days Later with your friends” infected my life for a good year, and a bigger, better sequel one year later only strengthened the disease. But as Valve haven’t really been in the business of making games for a good few years – hopefully, that’s about to change – and while it felt like Left 4 Dead was going to change the world back in (oh no) 2008, for a long time nothing filled the rotten hole where my heart used to be.

That is, until Fatshark’s rowdy rat-smash, Vermintide. The four vs the world setup and the UI were highly reminiscent of Left 4 Dead, and what are Gutter Runners and Pack Masters if not reskinned Hunters and Smokers? But there was much more to that game than swapping out zombies for skaven. With both series now/still on their second games, let’s look at how Vermintide ran with the legacy of Left 4 Dead, while managing to forge its own identity.

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6 exciting VR games we saw at GDC

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The blessed boys and girls of Valve were showing off some VR games for the upcoming Vive Pro at the Game Developers Conference last week. They were encamped near the press room in a large chamber split up into little shacks, each running a game such as the robot-avoiding comedy stealth of Budget Cuts, or the sunbathing relaxation of Vacation Simulator. I went on a rapidfire journey through this shantytown of virtual reality, jacking into game after game, each lasting about 20 minutes. The results: this round-up, and an intense visual migraine that rendered me incapable of reading for a full 5 minutes. I’m being serious. I thought I was having a stroke.

But enough about visual anomalies that float around the inside of your eye like a terrifying optical aurora, let’s talk videogames. Here are the strange worlds I entered and all the ways in which I tried to undermine the developers from inside their own game. Sorry, VR fans!

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive reworking Negev again

Valve are again tinkering with the Negev light machine gun in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, trying to find its role as a support weapon. The changes are relatively minor on the scale of things, but I’m still fascinated by the fact that CS has held basically the same form for almost 19 years yet the developers are still tinkering with fine details. Samuel Horti was jolly excited when the initial Negev rework in 2017 turned a joke gun into a murderous bullet beam intended to deny areas to enemies, but the devs are not quite happy with its suppressive fire. And so, changes! Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, Canada! Dota 2 International moves venue

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In the period of my life where free time basically equated to Dota time, I’d have loved nothing more than to go the International – especially if it was the one where my friends managed to get themselves trapped in a lift with Blitz. No doubt to avoid a repeat of that incident, Valve are moving this year’s main Dota 2 tournament to Canada, where every elevator comes equipped with a button that summons Justin Trudeau himself to sort things out.

So, Seattle is no longer the seat of the largest esport event in the world. Sorry, Seattle.

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The 2017 Saxxy Award nominees are in and I’ve already picked the winners

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Update: the official winners are now in.

If you haven’t heard of the Saxxy Awards, then you’ve been missing out. It’s an annual Source Filmmaker competition orchestrated by Valve, and I reckon this year has a particularly strong crop of nominees. The official winners will be announced later today, but who cares about that? I’ve saved Valve the trouble and already picked out the best ones below.

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Why users write Steam reviews

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One of the most interesting and controversial features of Steam’s user reviews is the system’s open-ended nature. Reviews can can range from a couple of lines to thousands of words, can adopt virtually any style, and only need to possess passing relevance to the game in question. What results is a system where thoughtfully written reviews reside alongside jokey one-liners, incoherent rants, and political rallying cries.

This issue has led for some developers to call for more stringent moderation of reviews, either to separate them into different categories or remove certain kinds of reviews entirely. Yet while the opinions of user reviewers are visible for everyone to see, why users are compelled to leave the kinds of reviews they do in the first place is less obvious. Hence, I reached out to several very different reviewers, each of whom has posted a large number of reviews, to find out their motivations behind what they write and why they write it. Read the rest of this entry »

What developers think of Steam reviews

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Since 2013, Steam has allowed its users to leave reviews on the Steam page of games they have purchased. Using the system, players can leave a written description of the game in question, and then award it a binary “Recommended” or “Not Recommended” rating. These reviews are then aggregated into “recent” and “overall” ratings for the game which are displayed on the game’s Steam page. These ratings range from “Overwhelmingly Positive” to “Mostly Negative.”

Because of Steam’s ubiquity on the PC, Steam reviews have become one of the main ways that developers receive feedback on their games. But how do developers feel about the system itself? Do Steam reviews provide a beneficial service that can help improve games? Or is it a perpetual nuisance warped by review bombing and ‘joke’ reviews that cause stress and confusion to the people who make the games we play? Read the rest of this entry »

Dota 2 launches Dota Plus subscription service

Valve have launched a subscription service for Dota 2, named Dota Plus, which is replacing the old tournament-centric Battle Passes with gobs of ongoing statistics and cosmetic bits. Basically, paying £3 per month for Dota Plus member gives you a load of progression tracks and challenges to unlock new skins and voiced taunts and bits. It does have something for beginners too, offering access to an AI assistant giving advice across matches. But it basically continues Dota’s free-to-play philosophy of monetisation being optional and not changing the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Jealousy drives Gabe Newell to start shipping games again

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Valve’s new game Artifact has a vague release window of 2018, but thanks to a bit of jealousy on Gabe Newell’s part it won’t be the only Valve game we can look forward to in the next few years. Who do we have to thank for this? Nintendo.
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Richard Garfield is working on Valve’s Artifact

“Hooray! Valve’s going to start shipping games again,” studio head honcho Gabe Newell has exclaimed. During a recent press preview event for Artifact, cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer reports, Newell said that the upcoming Dota 2 card game spin-off “is the first of several games that are going to be coming from us.” What those others might be is a mystery, but this is the sort of quote that gets certain people all in a tizzy so I’ll say it at the start and you can sit here fizzing away.

For people who don’t go weak at the knees any time they see a crowbar, hey, this is hot: the Artifact team includes Richard Garfield, the designer behind such fine card and board games as Magic: The Gathering, the original Netrunner, and King Of Tokyo. Ooh! Read the rest of this entry »

Ring in the Lunar New Year with Steam’s latest sale

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If you go on Twitter, where every second image is of a dog being cuddled, rated, or dressed up as a Star Wars character, it’s a reasonable assumption that every year is the year of the dog – however Valve, not to mention the ancient Chinese zodiac, are here to tell you that’s not the case. As of today, it legitimately is the year of the dog, which is why Valve’s latest sale is adorned with images of famous game pups including Okami’s Amaterasu, Half-Life 2’s DOG, and I, er, don’t recognise any of the other doggos.

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Dota 2 makes life easier with the Spring Cleaning update

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Dota 2 has cracked out its ‘quality of life’ duster and set about some spring cleaning. Yesterday’s patch was the first of the new fortnightly updates, and its focus is on improvements that make the game less fiddly. Dota can be more fiddly than an eleven-piece folk band, so this is good news. That’s especially true for newer players, who have enough to deal with without worrying about micromanaging the courier or figuring out which jungle camps are the deadly ones. Two of my favourite smaller changes target those issues, but there’s plenty more here besides. They’ve added in-game tips about recent hero changes, redesigned player profiles and thrown in a whole bunch of UI tweaks and balance changes – and that’s just scratching the surface.

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Dota 2 is ditching twice-yearly megapatches, will get fortnightly updates instead

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Ahh, how I miss Dota 2 patch note parties. They were glorious affairs that could go on for several hours, where me and my Dota chums would hop on skype and pour over literally hundreds of major changes to the game that formed a major part of our lives. Those mega updates would arrive a couple of times a year, and they’d mix the games up so much that much of it would have to be relearned. Dota would still get tweaked throughout the year, but those changes would typically revolve around balance adjustments rather than new additions or major reworks.

It looks like those patch note parties are a thing of the past, to be replaced with patch note… nibbles? Lead developer ‘Icefrog’ has tweeted to say that instead of huge twice-yearly updates they’re going to try smaller, fortnightly patches for the next 6 months.

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Valve pull support from major Philippines Dota 2 tournament, citing privacy concerns

Valve have stopped supporting an upcoming Dota 2 tournament over concerns that the Philippines government would make “unreasonable infringements on the privacy” of players entering the country. Valve don’t elaborate on why they’re dropping the Galaxy Battles 2018 tourney, which was due to run January 15-21, but it seems mandatory government drug testing for esports players is likely to blame. The tournament might continue in some form, but it would be without Valve, not as an official ‘Major’ on the Dota Pro Circuit, and not with all the teams. Read the rest of this entry »

The Joy of Chell’s design in Portal

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The Orange Box turned 10 years old this year, and by extension Portal celebrated its anniversary too. Sitting alongside continuations of well-loved games, the short puzzle adventure could have been quickly forgotten. Tacked on to bulk up the box. It was, however, a surprise hit, winning over players with its smart spatial puzzles and writing that fans continue to quote. And while I can list lines off with the best of them (don’t even get me started on that cake), this classic’s hold on my heart comes from a person who never speaks one.

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Dota 2’s Frostivus event is a series of merry mini-games

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Frostivus ain’t what it used to be. This year’s Christmas event for Dota 2 launched last Thursday, and it’s the product of a community contest rather than Valve themselves. The winner, VicFrank, has eschewed the traditional format in favour of mini-games: each match consists of ten separate games that are pulled from a pool of 30. I’ve thrown myself into the festivities, and had a surprising amount of fun.

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