Posts Tagged ‘Valve’

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

Steam Lunar New Year sale

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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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive survival mode speculation continues

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Since 2016, players poking into data files from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have found traces of a mysterious Survival Mode. Valve have never announced any such mode for their FPS and none of the traces in data files definitively confirm either what the mode is or that it’s definitely coming, but folks have enjoyed speculating. In a new video, the fan behind the Valve News Network pulls together traces of Survival mode, objects including crate beacons and sonar-scan grenades, and an island map to conclude that Valve are likely working on a Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds-style mode for CS:GO. I’m not convinced but was interested to see VNN lay out the argument. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam update aims to make games run smoother the first time you play

The latest Steam client update introduces a feature aiming to stop the longer load times and framerate stuttering that can happen the first few times you load a game after installing it. It’ll do this by trying to download and pre-cache the game’s shaders, part of their technoguts which your own computer can need to compile when you first launch it. That compilation is what can cause the hold-up. This doesn’t affect every game and isn’t a huge problem but hey, anything that makes getting into a game smoother is welcome. You shouldn’t need to do anything to benefit from this.

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Portal returns! … as a Bridge Constructor spin-off!?

Life's a bridge

Here’s an odd fusion. Portal is being mixed with the Bridge Constructor series to create a spin-off game about making fragile bridges that transport forklifts from one side of the Aperture Science facility to the other. In Bridge Constructor Portal we’ll see GLaDOS, the robot marm of the passive aggressive puzzler, return to torment the player with what I presume will be a characteristically snide voiceover, provided by Ellen McLain. Here’s a brief teaser. Read the rest of this entry »

We asked Dota 2’s Frostivus contest participants about spec work

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Frostivus is coming, but it’s not designed by the people you might expect. Frostivus is the Christmas event that Valve used to run for Dota 2 every year, though their last effort was way back in 2014. This year, Valve are turning to their modding community to revive the event in the form of a contest, with a $30,000 prize for the winner. I spoke to several participants about their games, and how they feel about doing what many would consider as spec work.

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Dota 2’s matchmaking update introduces rank medals

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With Dota 2’s Duelling Fates update just behind us — read what Matt made of the update — Valve’s been fiddling around with the ranked matchmaking system, to coincide with the start of the new ranked season. Players will be able to earn rank medals for their profile, showing off their best performance level for the season. And don’t worry — no matter how many rough games you have, your medal won’t decrease once you’ve earned it.

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Valve’s Steam Link costs a mere $5 this Black Friday

Steam Link

Just when you thought Valve’s Steam Link box (which lets you play your PC stuff streamed to your TV in another room) couldn’t get any cheaper than it did a few months ago, Gamestop has the deal of all deals for those in the US right now. Available now for just $5 on its own, it would almost be rude not to, really.

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Valve still trying to stop Steam user review manipulation

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Valve are making more changes to Steam reviews in response to a different kind of review manipulation. This time the changes are to how Steam decides which user reviews are most helpful, and to make the user reviews that are displayed on Steam’s homepage representative of its overall review score. This is on top of changes made back in September designed to reduce the impact of organised “review bombing” campaigns.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s new matchmaking weeds out jerks, rummages in your bins

Valve have launched a new way to vet players in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the goal of matchmaking noble, respectable players with their peers. The new ‘Trust Factor’ matchmaking system considers a player’s behaviour across Steam in general as well as in CS:GO, trying to judge whether they’re likely to be a cheater, a smurf, or a straight-up jerk. Valve say the goal is to match players “who are likely to have a good experience playing together.” It’s an interesting expansion of Steam’s benevolent police state. Read the rest of this entry »

Dota 2 is more interesting than ever with the Duelling Fates update

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Dota 2 gets a major patch about once a year, and it’s always A Big Deal. Old strategies have to be thrown out of the window as the metagame and individual players adjust to the changes, and the 7.07 Duelling Fates update is an even bigger shakeup than usual.

The update adds two new heroes, five new items and overhauls the talent tree system that Valve introduced last year. Many abilities have been tweaked too, and multiple changes to how XP is gained from lane creeps has altered the flow of every game. As we haven’t had a new character since Monkey King last December, those two new heroes will be the most exciting addition for most people so I’ll dive into them first.

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Have you played… Portal?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Is there any greater testament to the power of writing in games than all the fandom that spilled forth from Portal? Valve’s first-person puzzler recently turned ten years old, and when I think back on it, so much of what I remember is otherwise plain and functional. Read the rest of this entry »

Scream Fortress IX brings back every Halloween TF2 event

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As if the hordes of pyros weren’t scary enough, Team Fortress 2‘s Halloween event launched on Friday. Instead of doing something new, they’ve chosen to make every previous Scream Fortress – going back to 2009 – playable once again. Get your spooks in while you can, because the event ends on November the 8th.

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Dota 2 adds two new heroes in Duelling Fates update

Two brand new heroes have arrived in Dota 2 with the launch of version 7.07, the long-awaited Duelling Fates update. Please welcome to the battle arena Dark Willow, a spoOoky nuker, and the zippy swordsman Pangolier. They’re the first new heroes added since the Monkey King way back in December 2016. The update is far bigger than just this pair, also adding new items, a new model for Ancient Apparition, seasons for ranked play, and oodles of skill changes and balance tweaks. Read the rest of this entry »

Steam curators will soon be able to embed videos

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Valve has been quietly working on the Steam Curators system – the swarm of publications and people that recommend games to users – and they are poised to roll out a significant update. It includes video reviews, customisation options, analytics and a new feature that will make it easier for developers to connect with curators. It’s entering closed beta today.

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Steam introduces digital gift cards and a lot of hassle

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Can’t think of a decent birthday present for that sort-of-but-not-really friend or distant family member? Don’t worry: Steam has your back. Instead of just giving them some cash that they’ll probably spend on a game anyway, why not show that you care — but not too much — by picking up a digital gift card from Steam? They’re available now, if you’re willing to jump through some hoops.

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