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Posts in "PC Gamer" channel about:
Valve are beta testing a community-run self-regulation system for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It will allow certain experienced players to review reports of "disruptive behaviour", watch replays, and issue temporary bans where necessary. Naturally, Valve have called this program "Overwatch", which was also the title of the transhuman Combine soldiers of Half-Life 2. Not that there are any parallels. This is just an enforcement squad, working under a larger body that has ultimate power over... Oh...
Valve explain how the Overwatch will function in a post about the now-live beta. "Prospective Overwatch Investigators are presented with an active Overwatch button in the main menu, which indicates that there is a pending case for them to evaluate. The investigators can then choose to participate by watching a replay (eight rounds’ worth or roughly 10 minutes) and selecting a verdict.
"If the investigators collectively agree that an offense has occurred, a ban will be issued. The ban duration will depend on the severity of the offense and the suspect’s history of convictions, if any."
Investigators are selected around a variety of conditions, including account age, game time, and a low report history. And the more an Overwatch member participates, and the higher their resulting accuracy, the more weight their decisions will carry in the future.
For now, though, the scheme is just being trialled. Overwatch cases will be reviewed and analysed before any bans are enforced, giving Valve the chance to ensure they aren't creating a force of power-mad storm troopers.
You can read the full details of the Overwatch program here.
If you don't have beta participation turned on in your Steam settings, go do that so you can start collecting trading cards, earning XP, and leveling up. Yup, Steam just got gamified.
The games participating in the Trading Cards beta are Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2, and "up to half the card set" for each can be earned by playing them. The other half of each set is "earned through your collecting prowess," which presumably means trading with Steam users who got different drops.
Once you collect a complete set, you'll be able to craft a game badge which will appear on your profile and unlock "marketable items like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and coupons." Badges can be leveled up by collecting the required trading cards again, and all badges—including any you already have—now give you XP which contributes to your "Steam Level." Leveling up has its own benefits, awarding you "non-tradable items like profile showcases, extra friends list slots, and more."
Now that playing games on Steam is a game, are you bothered that someone out there is already beating you? If so, the PC Gamer Steam group may be a good place to start looking for trades.
Update: ESEA co-founder Craig "Torbull" Levine has responded with a more official statement, posted to the ESEA news page. He admits they were testing Bitcoin integration, to "determine whether it was a feature that we might want to add in the future." Ultimately, Torbull says, they decided against it.
He goes to claim that "an employee who was involved in the test has been using the test code for his own personal gain since April 13, 2013."
"The owners and management at ESEA all apologize to each of you that were impacted by the recent events and intend to make things right," Torbull continues. "ESEA has issued a free month of ESEA Premium to all of our community members who were enrolled in Premium for the month of April. We also ask anyone who has experienced any physical damage to their computers to open an ESEA support ticket.
"In an effort to maintain complete transparency, we have released all of the Bitcoin wallet addresses as well as data dumps of the wallets themselves. The value of the mined Bitcoins was $3,713.55 and ESEA will be donating 100% of the $3,713.55 to the American Cancer Society. ESEA will also match 100% of this amount for a total of $7,427.10 donated. ESEA is also increasing the Season 14 League prize pot by $3,713.55."
Original Story: Multiplayer eSports network ESEA was found to have malware in its anti-cheat client, which used users' graphics cards to mine for Bitcoins. Information about the exploit was posted to the ESEA's forums by user "ENJOY ESEA SHEEP", who found he had been unwittingly farming Bitcoins for someone in the community after noticing excessively high idle GPU usage.
Mining is the legitimate, and deliberately system-intensive process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin's public ledger - generating Bitcoins for the miner in the process. The ESEA client had been pooling the GPUs of users in order to generate more money for wallets held by ESEA staff.
ESEA co-founder Eric ‘lpkane’ Thunberg responded to the accusation, initially claiming it was a mistakenly released April Fool's joke. His first statement is kind of amazing:
"Lol that got aggressive quickly.
"Back towards the end of march, as BTC was skyrocketing, Jaguar and I were talking about how cool it would be if we could use massive amounts of GPUs logged into the client to mine.
"We went back and forth about it, considered doing something for April fools, didn't get it done in time, and eventually elected to put some test code in the client and try it on a few admin accounts, ours included.
"We ran the test for a few days on our accounts, decided it wasn't worth the potential drama, and pulled the plug, or so we thought.
"Fast forward to 48 hours ago, a fuck up in the client server results in a restart which results in a setting getting changed which enables it for all idle users, and here we are."
Thunberg claimed the combined efforts of ESEA users' unaware mining netted them roughly 2BTC, or $280, which he promised would be put towards the Season 14 prize pot.
He returned with a second statement a few hours later, after users pointed out that anti-viruses had been flagging the client for longer than the claimed 48 hours. He admits the mining had been part of the client since 14th April, and that the overall money mined totaled $3,602.21, before going to say:
"So first the bad news, this is way more shady than I originally thought, and as the person who is ultimately responsible for everything it's 100% my fault.
"Now the good news, as of the client update released in the last hour, all the BTC stuff is out which should solve the GPU and AV warnings."
Thunberg once again promised to use the now substantially higher total as part of the Season 14 prize pot, and that - as recompense for the additional strain that's been placed on user's GPUs - would gift a free one month Premium code for Premium account holders. He finished by saying, "once again, our bad, thanks for keeping us honest."
Thanks, Cadred and PCGamesN.
Apr 25, 2013
Opportunities for misdirection maneuvers are less common in multiplayer shooters, so I'm compelled to highlight this absurdly creative flashbang feint I spotted on the ESEA YouTube channel from last weekend's ESEA S13 LAN in Dallas.
The setup: two teams whittle each other down to a one-on-one scenario around bomb site A on de_dust2. Watch how Swag (Team Dynamic) handles KennyS (VERYGAMES) after the bomb plant.
Reflex Gamers has made a brilliant addition to its 24/7 cs_office server for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive—the map now features the "Sourcemod Entertainment System" (SMES), a playable console which runs "Super Mareo Bruhs" on a TV in the projector room.
I just jumped into the server to check it out (video below), and it works as advertised, with support for two players and animated controller buttons. Someone even has to put the Super Mareo Bruhs cartridge into the SMES and turn it on to play. PC gaming: even the games in our games are high-fidelity.
You can play Super Mareo Bruhs yourself on Reflex's cs_office server, which lives at 184.108.40.206. The plugin's coder, Pray and Spray, deserves a barrage of internet high-fives for this feat.
Valve has sent out a patch for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that focuses on tweaking Hostage Rescue rules for stronger balance and to entice players away from the long-favored Bomb Defusal. Most notably, CTs have now adopted the tactical doctrine of draping hostages across their shoulders like a squishy scarf, and only a single rescue is needed to secure a win for the good guys.
You'll need to interact with a hostage for a lengthy four seconds to get him to hop on for a ride, and a new "rescue kit" shortens pickup time to a single second by presumably wowing hostages with attractively padded and comfortable-looking shoulder guards to rest on. Taking a note of influence from community-made maps such as cs_motel, hostage spawns are now randomized per match.
Valve is also continuing to stock GO's maps with updated versions of classic Counter-Strike levels, with cs_militia being the latest addition. It's structured similarly to cs_assault, where Ts benefit from an entrenched interior location to bunker in while CTs attempt rescue through multiple points of entry.
Defusing bombs got a small but significant change as well: turning too far away from a bomb while defusing it will cancel the process, a jump in risk and exposure for CTs trying for the win while Ts yet linger to guard the bomb. They could sure use one of those hostage-capes for extra protection.
Oh, and the rumored Support Pass for a community map rotation on official servers isn't happening. Valve even pokes fun at earlier reports of the pass with a new data string, "CSGO_Ticket_CommunitySeasonOneSpring2013_Leak," and its single-word description: "lol." Oh, Valve. Don't ever change.
See the rest of the patch notes over on Steam.
The CS community took out their knives and eagerly sprinted forward to the hundreds of user-made maps filling Global Offensive's Workshop since last month. We've got a nice stack of them running on our own server, and Valve is evidently looking to copy that setup on its own servers. Data-divers of reddit have found mention of a "Support Pass" in the next patch for players to purchase and access a pool of community maps soon to join the official server rotation.
A list of new data strings found in the patch mentions a "Community Support Pass Season One" to "grant access to Season One's featured community maps on official servers." The proceeds are distributed evenly to map contributors in what's likely an incentive to encourage an increasingly large selection of maps to feature.
The data doesn't mention a price, but Valve has a similar system in place with Team Fortress 2's co-op Mann vs. Machine mode, where players access multi-map sessions by purchasing $0.99 tickets. Assuming GO's passes carry a similar cost, it should result in a relatively simple way to jump into high-quality custom battles for little effort. The patch is expected to hit this week, so we'll have a clearer understanding of Valve's plans soon enough.
Mar 15, 2013
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a lot of custom maps. Seriously, browse its Steam Workshop page and see for yourself. We've talked about some of our favorites (all of which appear in our CS:GO sessions on our server), but a classic map layout we've yet to see a worthy update for is de_rats' bomb-defusal play in an oversized kitchen. DJ PC820 and TastySlopsicle's de_dolls_csgo is perhaps the best spiritual iteration we've spotted yet.
Instead of a kitchen, de_dolls_csgo takes us into a heavily pink bedroom which I assume is the property of a little girl, but the power of pink is genderless. Just like in rats, the jumbo furniture provides multiple nooks and alcoves for plinking across the map, including a doll house with furniture and a duct passage for moving around without exposing yourself to the AWPer's paradise of the main bedroom floor.
The map supports both classic and deathmatch play as well as bots for offline practice. You can easily download it by hitting the green "subscribe" button on its Workshop page.
Valve boss Gabe Newell stepped up to the stage during last week's BAFTA awards to receive the prestigious Academy Fellowship for his contributions to gaming. Presumably momentarily distracted by accepting a trophy modeled after a smirking face, a bewhiskered Newell fielded some interview questions over the normally airtight subject of Valve's business performance that hinted at the monumental scale of the studio's prosperity.
Newell chalked up Valve's successes largely to user-generated content on open platforms such as Steam Workshop before sharing some jaw-dropping numbers. "There's sort of an insatiable demand for gaming right now," Newell said. "I think our business has grown by about 50 percent on the back of opportunities created by having these open platforms.
"And just so people understand how big this sort of scale is getting, we were generating 3.5 terabits per second during the last Dota 2 update," he added. "That's about 2 percent of all the mobile- and land-based Internet activity."
Wait, what? We're not exactly sure what Newell meant when he dropped that bombshell of data info, apart from maybe claiming responsibility for all those times my connection speeds chugged while browsing these past few months. Still, it seems entirely plausible—Dota 2 has a lot of players, and the MOBA recently took the crown for the highest concurrent user amount of any Steam game ever. If any Steam game can feasibly take a bite out of the entire Internet, Dota 2 holds the best chance.