PC Gamer
Dota 2
It's barely news, I know: Valve just sent out a sneaky 7 o'clock press release formally declaring Dota 2 free to play. Like League of Legends and nearly every other MOBA known to man, it'll supported by microtransactions.

More noteworthy is the confirmation that Dota 2 will utilize Steam Workshop, and that, like TF2, the Dota Store will be putting player-made items on sale. A few are on sale now, actually—the "Early Access Bundle." "The opening of the Dota Store is a big part of our final push to launch," said IceFrog, design lead on Dota 2.

Dota 2 will release on PC later this year, Valve says. Expect a big coming-out party for the game during The International at PAX Prime.
PC Gamer
dota 2 free
Unusually close to our bedtime, Valve has launched Dota 2's microtransaction shop as it formally declares the game free to play. Click here to read the fancy Dota 2 Store announcement page.

We expected Dota 2 to be a free-to-play game—that's barely news. But more noteworthy is the confirmation that all of the game's playable heroes will be free with no limitations, that Dota 2 will utilize Steam Workshop, and that, like TF2, the Dota Store will be putting player-made items on sale. 67 items are in Dota 2's section of the Steam Workshop now, and almost 200 are in the Dota Store.

Dota 2 will release on PC later this year, Valve says. Expect a big coming-out party for the game during The International at PAX Prime.
PC Gamer
valve employee big
The Internet is often a place for things that don't belong on it. Things like a 56-page internal manual written for the people that work at the most private gaming company in the world.

Yep, you can read that now. What appears to be Valve's 2012 Employee Handbook has crept onto the web, and it's just as insightful to read as that incredible blog by Michael Abrash from last week.

It's a rare, detailed self-description of the company that includes mantras like "We are all stewards of our long-term relationship with our customers," policies like "Nobody has ever been fired at Valve for making a mistake. It wouldn't make sense for us to operate that way," and expressions of Valve's independence that include "Fortunately, we don’t have to make growth decisions based on any external pressures—only our own business goals."

Click inside to see the handbook.

The document is also filled with custom illustrations. And at least one Half-Life 3 logo. Sections of special interest include the entries:
"What is Valve not good at?" (p. 52)
"How does Valve decide what to work on?" (p. 13)
"But what if we ALL screw up?" (p. 23)


The handbook (PDF) was originally found here. A bottom-page watermark claims "handbook courtesy Valve." Well, duh. I've uploaded a copy to our server that you can read here.
PC Gamer
Dota 2
" is going to be free-to-play. It'll have some twists, but that's the easiest way for people to think about it."

As reported by Polygon, that's what Gabe Newell had to say on a recent Seven Day Cool Down podcast. Valve's big wheel has already admitted to playing the MOBA for a staggering 800 hours, and now he's talking cash. Valve have already developed some interesting ideas on how to reward valued members of the community: the Team Fortress 2 workshop allows people to create in-game items, and make a significant profit if they sell. Now Valve are hoping to reward player's good behaviour too.

"The issue that we're struggling with quite a bit is something I've kind of talked about before, which is how do you properly value people's contributions to a community?" says Gabe. "We're trying to figure out ways so that people who are more valuable to everybody else recognized and accommodated. We all know people where if they're playing we want to play, and there are other people where if they're playing we would be on the other side of the planet."

According to the master of Valve, individual games don't need to have completely separate communities. Valve have already experimented with this way of thinking in Steam's item trading system, where you can feasibly swap a Team Fortress 2 hat for a copy of Portal, if you find someone who's willing.

"When you start thinking about the different games that people play and you try to think about how people can create value or a service in one game and benefit somebody in a different game, you can start to see how the different games sort knit together," said Valve's big wheel.

We'll have more on DOTA 2 soon. If Steam stats are anything to go by (which they are), a lot of you are playing it right now.

PC Gamer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utdvpAGMJss

The folks at youtube.com/lore just published a dense, remarkably coherent explanation of TF2's zany family feud. If you haven't yet, watch the animated lore mini-tales of Portal, Half-Life, X-COM, Magicka, and Elder Scrolls.
PC Gamer
Team Fortress 2 bonus hats
Revenge! Charity! Stamps! These will be the dominant market forces in Team Fortress 2's economy of death over the next week or so. A post written in the guise of TF2's announcer on the TF2 blog announces that three "absolutely unique one-of-a-kind hats" have been added to TF2. They won't go on sale in the Mann Co store, though. One of each will be awarded every day to the player that gives the most gifts, wins the most duels, and buys the most map stamps during that 24 hour period.

Tying rewards to map stamps is quite a nice move. Each stamp corresponds to a community made arena and all proceeds from stamp sales go to that map's creator. The investment needed to take the duelling hat is harder to justify. You need to buy an item to initiate duels in TF2. The cheaper way is to incite others to duel you and then win, sidestepping the item cost and earning an additional tick towards hat victory. The hat earned for giving gifts could prompt some players to clear out old items they've been hoarding in their backpacks, which will hopefully result in lots of apparently random acts of generosity.

"LET ME GIVE YOU FREE STUFF!" "GIVE ME FREE STUFF!" and "DUEL ME YOU COWARDS!" may become standard battle cries in the TF2 in the days to come. As the madness unfolds, you'll be able to track stats like headshots and gib shots using Strange Parts, which can now be found in crates. These can by used with Strange Weapons to keep track of your actions. "Strange Parts are still a work in progress," says the blog. "So if the mood takes you, visit the TF2 forum and let him know what you're interested in tracking."
PC Gamer
Steam Collection thumbnail
Valve have just announced Steam Collections: a new feature which will let anyone create lists of Steam Workshop mods that let players subscribe to the lot in one click. You can make Collections of anything in the Steam Workshop, but right now only Team Fortress 2 and Skyrim have Workshop content live. Skyrim is where it works best: all the mods in the Workshop are available to play, and Collections make it even easier to get them into the game.

Case in point, we've created two to get you started and show how they work: The PC Gamer Skyrim Mod Collection: Improvements, for the community's best tweaks and touches, and another for our favourite New Content - much more substantial additions that change the game, but still for the better. You can subscribe to either in one click, add both, or even pick and choose from within our selections.

The idea is to let the community help filter the vast amounts of awesome player-made content coming out. You can rate Collections, so the community favourites will be easy to find and subscribe to. Future Workshop games can let players bundle mods, maps and campaign tools into a Collection, making it super simple for us to expand our games. They're already pretty diverse: our Skyrim packs are loadouts of mods that you can install and play all at once. The TF2 community, meanwhile, are making themed sets of content, sometimes by multiple authors, assembled into packs like Valve's class updates.

Expect more games to get support soon. Earlier in the month, Paradox announced that Gettysburg: Armored Warfare will ship with an editor and integrated sharing via the Workshop. And Valve have already mentioned they'll be using the Workshop for Portal 2 maps and Left 4 Dead 2 content.

Just like the Steamworks toolset and Steam Cloud features, it’s up to developers whether they’d like to use Steam Workshop and Steam Collection features in their games. As far as we can tell, it's a massive win-win for modders, gamers, and modding gamers alike. We'll be updating our Collections as we find more cool stuff, and starting a few new ones. In the meantime, here's Valve's blog post about them.
PC Gamer
photoshop masterpiece
Sometime soon, I'm going to be called to defend the honor of PC Gamer against Notch, Robin Walker, Yogscast, Freddie Wong, friends of PCG Brian Brushwood and Veronica Belmont, and other people that are more important than me. The men behind TF2 Mix-up have organized another showmatch, a 9-on-9 battle royale between web celebs that benefits Child's Play.

Want to play with us? Donators are eligible to fill a vacant player slot. On April 1, the event's organizers will randomly pick three donors who will each be offered a place in the match along with some signed merchandise. Donate more, and you'll increase your chances. Donate here. The match's date is secret, but it should be held sometime in April. We'll post the match video once it's available, assuming I don't dishonor you all.
PC Gamer



Would Bomberman have been better if its little arsonists were replaced with angry one-eyed men with grenade launchers? Absolutely yes. A pair of modders spent just 24 hours coding this multiplayer Bomberman mod for Team Fortress 2. The rules are simple: use sticky grenades to blow a path to nearby enemies, and then reduce them to a blood splatter using more bombs when you get there.

It looks like the bombs don't behave in quite the same way as they did in Bomberman. The old explosions would obliterate almost the entire length of a corridor, but there's still plenty of destruction, and a lot more blood. There are power-ups, too. These will increase your Demoman's running and reloading speed. The map's currently playable on rotation on the modders' server. You can get there using the link below the video on the MechatheSlag site.
PC Gamer



Evan, Josh, Tyler and Chris reflect on our week of coverage, talks, and appointments at the Game Developers Conference right here in our backyard of San Francisco. That includes MechWarrior Online, Valve's "History of TF2" talk, the infamous Steam Box, SimCity, PlanetSide 2, and (duh) Mass Effect 3. Josh also checks in about the SWTOR guild summit, reported on in more detail here.

PC Gamer US Podcast 308: GDC 2012 Recap

Have a question, comment, complaint or observation? Leave a voicemail: 1-877-404-1337 ext 724 or email the mp3 to pcgamerpodcast@gmail.com.

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