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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.
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.
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. (more…)
Greetings, readers. John, your regular guide to this hollow summary of ceaseless material consumption, is missing. We presume he has angered the company overlords with some sort of ill-judged diatribe against corporate consolidation, and has subsequently been reassigned to another media outlet, possibly The Re-education Supplement, or Gulag’s Weekly. Well, you won’t find any such insubordination from me. I have only the purest intentions of telling you the top ten best sellers on Steam this week, with a secondary goal of reinforcing the cold emptiness of our predominant mercantile culture. Let’s buy some games! (more…)
“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! (more…)
Ready Up opens with a shot of the CS:GO grand finals at ESL One. The size of the stadium dwarfs the players on the stage, who all wear deadly serious expressions. There are thousands of people in the audience, many of them frantically waving inflatable tubes covered in sponsorship scrawls. A member of one team makes a clutch pistol play, and the room erupts in a roar of screaming and thunderous chanting. The player solemnly acknowledges the applause with a showboating chef kiss, but he doesn’t look like he’s having much fun.
Then, we change rooms. A few dozen people are sitting in front of a screen, watching their friends compete at a Team Fortress 2 LAN event. The players seem focused, yet relaxed. “Ah, I’m dead” says one of them, half-grinning at his misfortune. At the heart of the competitive TF2 scene, it transpires, is a community with bonds that transcend the tribalism you might see in other esports. I spoke to Alex “Dashner” Pylyshyn over email, who co-directed Ready Up alongside Ness Uberchain Delacroix, about the past, present and future of competitive TF2.
Some Monday mornings, as I plonk myself down at my desk at 6.50am and load the RSS feed for the Steam Charts, I think to myself: you know what? There are so many other things I’d like to write about today. Anyway, here are the top ten games on Steam from the last week.
Valve are celebrating a big step in their push to improve gaming on non-Windows PCs after sponsoring an open-source release of software which lets devs use the zippy Vulkan graphics API on Macs. I won’t get too technical but: the MoltenVK tool runs the Vulkan API through Apple’s own Metal framework, bypassing Apple’s OpenGL drivers of ill repute. What do these acronyms actually mean for players? Valve’s own testing has seen the Mac version of Dota 2 run at framerates up to one-third faster with Vulkan than OpenGL. Obviously gains are situational and it mean nothings if developers don’t use the API, but it seems a firm foundation to lay. Congrats, Maccers. (more…)
Folks, I think we’re going to have to let Half-Life go. It’s been over a decade since Valve did anything with the license (beyond cross-promotion deals), and the seemingly posthumous leak of the sequel’s planned story beats cemented the sense that the series wouldn’t be returning any time soon.
Seemingly disinterested in using it themselves, Valve have been approving the use of the Half-Life setting and assets (if not the name) for use in commercial fan-works, Hunt Down The Freeman feels like it might just be the last nail in the coffin for the series, if public response thusfar has been any indication.
A lot of people have tried to argue over the years that it’s simply impossible to collate the top ten selling games on Steam from the last week, and then write a small comment accompanying each, beneath a screenshot. But today, for the first time, we hope to prove those people wrong. (more…)