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
Counter-Strike Global Offensive - confused soldier in suburbia
The CS:GO beta is evolving. A post on the official Counter-Strike site yesterday announced the addition of more players to official maps. The update is one of the "most requested map features", according to the devs, and arrives as part of a larger update that rebalances a bunch of weapons based on feedback and data gathered from the community. Burst fire has been smoothened out, bullet tracers are more visible and, most importantly, chickens have been "added to inferno", which is a monstrous patch note if ever there was one. Here's the full changelist, as it appears on Steam.

Gameplay:

Updated weapons based on performance metrics:
Slightly increased the damage for the fiveseven to keep it on par with other pistols.
Lowered the max width of the recoil patterns for the MG's to make them better for their price point.
Lowered the spread on the Negev to be more in line with the m249.
Improvements have been made to burst fire and tapping.
Added player spawns to all maps to support up to 30 players.
Player spawns are now randomly selected from a prioritized list of spawn locations in order to better support more players per map.
Adjusted bot behavior to fix the “antline” looking behavior.
Added support for server operators to specify tick rate with the –tickrate parameter.
Physics simulation tick rate now set to be the same as the game tick interval.
Bullet tracers have had improvements made to speed, visual effect, and frequency.
Chickens added to Inferno

 
UI

The Server Browser sorts Favorites and Lan tabs by ping rather than Tags.
The radar will no longer display an ‘X’ for dying players when they are not within sight of the player or player’s teammate.
Weapons with a burst mode will now show which state the gun is in on the ammo panel.
Input device is now locked to whatever device launched the game session.
Updated the Kevlar and Kevlar + Helmet buy menu images.
Updated the Domination icons.

 
Audio

Footsteps update position more often by shifting position determination to client side entity tracking.
Tuned ambient sounds in most maps

 
Bug Fixes

Fixed a bug with individual pistol round-based achievements. They can only be earned in Classic game mode now.
Fix for changing video settings while in game sometimes causing a deadlock.
Added a popup message triggered when a player attempts to initiate a vote on a server with voting disable.
Fixed bug where player's nav area would be reported as being on the floor below them causing the radar location to be displayed incorrectly.
Fixed several UI related crash issues.
Third party map and _SE map names no longer display in the scoreboard with the #SFUI_MAP_ localization token.

 
PC Gamer
Left 4 Dead 2
In many ways, Payday: The Heist is very similar to Left 4 Dead. You team up with three friends, you fend off hordes of enemies and try to stay alive. But, in a few important ways, they're very different. In Left 4 Dead, a throng of zombies are trying to keep you out of a safe room, in Payday, you rob banks, take hostages and mow down legions of cops. According to a post on the Overkill blog, spotted by VG247, the Payday devs are working with Valve on a collaboration that will bring both concepts together.

"We are excited to be able to confirm that an in-depth collaboration between OVERKILL and Valve is currently in production." says Overkill director Ulf Andersson. "We are working on a very cool blend of PAYDAY and Left 4 Dead."

A "cool blend," eh. Time to indiscriminately mash Left 4 Dead and Payday's premises together until something works. Zombies robbing a bank? Survivors robbing a zombie bank? Tanks robbing a bank? Crims robbing a bank staffed by Tanks? This isn't working. What do you think it'll be?
PC Gamer
Quantum Conundrum
Speaking to Eurogamer, Portal 1 lead designer Kim Swift has explained that there are a couple of bumps in Valve's otherwise-flat management structure.

"They have management, there's the board of directors of the company, there's Gabe Newell" she explains. "Those guys at the top of the company definitely have opinions on how things should be run."

It's a slightly different picture to the one described in the Valve Employee Handbook, which a few weeks ago gave us a rare glimpse into the workings of the famously private developer - but it's doubtful that Swift's claims will surprise many people.

Her statements moderate Valve's own depiction of itself in a way that makes a lot of sense. "There are definitely people behind the scenes making decisions for the company" she says. "To me, that's normal."

What she says doesn't necessarily contradict Gabe Newell's recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, where he explained that Valve describe their employees as individual and group contributors rather than managers and employees. A flat system still provides room for people to exert influence, and it's no surprise that this is apparently the case at Valve.

Swift is currently working on dimension-shifting first-person puzzler Quantum Conundrum at Airtight Games, and she stresses that she parted from Valve on good terms. "I still have a great relationship with those guys."

Check out Tom's Quantum Conundrum preview for more on Kim Swift's next game.
PC Gamer



Graham, Chris and Tom Francis gather to discuss the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative, Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, upcoming MMO The Secret World and Deus Ex: Human Revolution's problematic cutscenes. We also talk about Graham and Rich's ongoing FIFA 12 rivalry and (try to) answer your questions from Twitter. Also, we decide that capitalism doesn't work. See below for show notes.

Download the MP3, subscribe, or find our older podcasts here.


Chris' Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative hands on video and the final map.
Tom's Torchlight 2 video series.
Chris and Tom Senior's first look at The Secret World.

 
PC Gamer
89581603629
Blizzard Entertainment and Valve announced in a press release today that an agreement has been reached, after a long dispute, over the use of the name DOTA, originally an abbreviation for the fan-made Warcraft III map Defense of the Ancients. Valve will retain the commercial trademark to DOTA, and will not be required to change the name of their upcoming title DOTA 2, a stand-alone sequel to the Warcraft III map.

Blizzard, however, will retain the right to use the DOTA name non-commercially. This includes promoting DOTA-style maps made for Blizzard games by the community. Their in-house DOTA successor, formerly known as Blizzard DOTA, will be renamed to Blizzard All-Stars while keeping the core gameplay mostly unchanged.

"We're pleased that we could come to an agreement with Blizzard without drawing things out in a way that would benefit no one," said Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve. "We both want to focus on the things our fans care about, creating and shipping great games for our communities."

This sets an interesting precedent, particularly for the group of players and developers that feel the name DOTA should be owned by the community that made it an international sensation. Do you think this agreement is a fair compromise for everyone involved?
PC Gamer
Portal 2 PeTI
Valve have announced that the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative puzzle maker has seen more than 35,000 levels published to the Steam Workshop since its release on Tuesday - and they've been downloaded over 1.3 million times.

In order to celebrate these really very large numbers, Valve have decided to make some other numbers much smaller: namely, the prices of Portal 2, Skyrim and TF2 Workshop Items on Steam. The 'Weekend Workshop Sale' will run until Monday and you can pick up Portal 2 for £5.09 and Skyrim for £23.44.

You can check out our first hands-on with the puzzle maker here, and if you're picking up Skyrim this weekend be sure to browse the PC Gamer mod collections for the best additions to the game.
PC Gamer
DOTA-2-Lycan
Today, Valve announced that the second annual tournament for a game that isn't out yet will take place at PAX Prime in Seattle. 2012's Dota 2 tourney will run the weekend of August 31st at the Benaroya Hall, alongside a stop on the $3 million League of Legends tournament organized by rival MOBA-developer Riot. The International uses an invitational format, and so far only two teams have confirmed their invites: China's DK, and last year's champions, Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) from the Ukraine.



Last year's inaugural tournament, which took place in Cologne during Gamescom, boasted a $1 million grand prize. Valve notes last year's prize in its press release, but hasn't directly stated the value of this year's pot. In an interview with joinDOTA which took place a few months ago, Valve's Erik Johnson stated that the total prize pot will be "at least" as large as 2011's $1.6 million. Dota 2 fans, what would you do with a million?
PC Gamer
Dota 2
Dota 2 is doing rather too well for a game that hasn't been released. According to Steam stats, it's the second most played game on Steam right now, ahead of Counter-Strike: Source, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Skyrim and lots of other games that have actually been released. Dota 2 is currently in an ever-expanding beta that's been running since late last year.

Back in September, Dota 2 dev IceFrog posted on the Dota 2 site to say that Valve had decided to speed up work on Dota 2 after the success of The International tournament. The original beta plan had been to keep the game in beta for a year to get the roster up to size. Given how well the beta seems to be doing that might not be such a bad plan after all.

Here's a graph built using Steam Graphs showing Steam player stats over the last few days. At peak times in the US Counter-Strike: Source and the king of Steam, Counter-Strike 1.6, retain the upper hand. Dota 2 overtakes both during those downtime hours, which suggests a strong, growing international community.



Fans on Dota 2 Reddit have spotted a blog post by Chinese esports team DK E-Sports which suggests they're among the first to be invited to the Dota 2 International 2 Seattle Invitational tourney, which is exciting. Valve have said that the sequel to last year's very successful Gamescom competition will have a prize pool of at least $1.6 million. We'll hopefully get to watch it using Dota 2's lovely spectator tools.

Are you playing Dota 2? What do you think of the beta so far?
...

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