Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (ESFI World)

Our e-sports correspondent is ESFI World’s Samuel Lingle>

It’s been a month since the last e-sports update, but fear not. They’re returning with weekly regularity. In theory.

Today I’m going to recap most of the bigger events of the past month or so, considering there was a lot of exciting stuff you guys may have missed. It’s StarCraft heavy by necessity, as the majority of e-sport events these days feature Blizzard’s popular RTS.

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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Pro Counter-Strike player slams CS:GO: “It’s not fun. It’s a terrible game right now.”">storm the front

Valve, who continues to expand the beta for CS:GO before a release this summer, has been vocal about its cooperation with the eSports community. But Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen believes that message hasn’t been backed up by game design that’s conducive to a competitive game. In a thread on the official forums, Kovanen calls CS:GO “terrible” and “not by any means fun.” He adds: “That's what every top player thinks as far as I can tell.”

These aren’t the complaints of a forum wildman, they’re from someone who formerly led Evil Geniuses’ CS team, and who's earned $340,000 in (team) prize money playing CS since 2005. Why does Kovanen feel this way? I spoke with him to get more perspective on what he describes as a “handicapped” game.



In our interview, Kovanen, a CS 1.6 player, pointed to map changes, bad visibility, player movement, and recoil as aspects of design that he believes undermine CS:GO’s chances at being a good competitive game.

“I played CS:GO for three hours a night, four nights in a row for the CES Plantronics thing. And on day four I still couldn’t tell who was a CT or a T. So I just shot everyone at first to find out if they’re a teammate or an enemy,” Kovanen says of CS:GO’s “desaturated” lighting. “It feels almost black and white. It's really hard to see player models from textures or random objects in the map.”


See some of the differences between 1.6, CS:S, and CS:GO in the video above.

Changes to map geometry and layout are another sour point for Kovanen. “De_train is the worst with two towers, the bomb train in the middle of outside, oversized trains, ladders on the sides of trains, most of trains removed in the inner site, et cetera. De_nuke has a lot of its best parts removed without backstairs to lower and back bombsite and short hall in lower. It all feels like they just really want to handicap the game by making it easier.” From Valve’s perspective, these map changes are probably in place to shake up tactics that’ve held up for more than a decade and accommodate new items and new game balance. Kovanen later added: “The game even has casual and competitive modes, I don’t understand why they cant make them vastly different if necessary, sort of like a built-in ProMod.”

Kovanen is also unhappy about weapon recoil. “Right now it feels like the recoil is just too strong,” he says. “It’s really hard to control (if even possible) and it feels like you could never spray at a spot, turn 90 degrees and still be accurate at another guy. You're basically stuck one-bulleting people or going for mindless sprays which might result in two people emptying their clips at one another with both people surviving. The bullet tracers are also really annoying and I don’t understand why they’re even in the game, It seems like another effect to make it more console-like; it’s just something more that will get in the way of seeing things clearly.”

Other figures in CS’ competitive community have been outspoken about CS:GO’s current weapon feedback. Former pro and now-caster Jimmy Whisenhunt believes that screen movement is the issue, not recoil.

http://youtu.be/TYeM6W_actM

I asked Kovanen what aspect of CS:GO he’d like to see changed most. “Player movement. Not only does that play a giant role in the game being fun, it adds a lot of skill to it as well. One of the things that makes CS:GO so frustrating to play is that the movement feels sluggish and slow and you don’t feel in perfect control of your character."

But Kovanen, who played on Team Europe in Valve’s first big CS:GO showmatch late last year, says all this criticism stems from wanting the game to succeed. “I believe in eSports. And if there are a lot of people who enjoy the game like I have enjoyed CS 1.6 over the years, good for them. I’m sure there were people who disliked 1.6, yet it has played a big part in how the last seven years of my life, so I’d hope other people get to experience something similar in their lives. I hope it will be successful, but with the way the game currently is and how I believe it will end up without listening to us, I don’t think it can be successful. I wouldn't be surprised if it got picked up for one or two years at most, and then FPS games got dropped out as a whole because of lack of CS:GO popularity. The ironic thing is all the pros would wanna help to try to make it a decent game because they all know there would be more money, more tournaments, and so on if it was a good game and everyone switched.”

Valve continues to make changes to CS:GO leading up to the game's summer release. Will you watch CS:GO competitive play? How well do you think the game will do as an eSport?
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Intel Extreme Masters World Championship is underway, watch top e-sports talent in action">StarCraft 2 TvZ

The best StarCraft 2, League of Legends and Counter-Strike 1.6 players are duking it out in Hanover this week for massive cash prizes at the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship. We're on day two, but we're still in the group stages, so there's still plenty of competition left.

The whole event is being livestreamed, and you can watch them for free on the ESL World site. Counter-Strike and League of Legends teams are competing for a $50,000 first prize, while StarCraft 2 individuals are fighting for a top prize of $35,000. Not a bad week in the office for those who claim the top spot on Saturday.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to arrive this summer, cross platform play dropped">Counter-Strike Global Offensive - confused soldier in suburbia

CS:GO should be with us come summer, according to Valve, giving us a bit of time to train our mouse hand muscles and hone our twitch headshot skills before inevitably suffering repetitive death at the hands of seasoned CS 1.6 pros on release. Those pros can't touch console bros, though. Valve's Chet Faliszeck yesterday told Joystiq cross-platform play is gone from CS:GO. Awww.

There's a good reason, though. "The beta has proved we want to update not just the beta, but the game itself post-launch frequently on the PC," Faliszeck told Joystiq, "To do that we need to separate the platforms so one doesn't hamstring the other. So for that, we have removed the idea of cross-platform play -- essentially make all platforms stronger by not mixing them."

Seems fair. It'll mean more updates for us PC players, most likely. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is currently in beta. You can complete a Steam survey for a chance to claim a spot ahead of release. Meanwhile, let me introduce you to some new CS:GO screenshots. I'm sure you'll get on like a house on fire.







PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Counter-Strike: GO beta keys can be yours if you complete Valve’s survey">cs go survey 2

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team just published a blog update detailing how future sets of beta keys for the game will be sent out. Key recipients will be selected from a pool of people that've completed a survey. The survey is a simple template intended to judge your CS savviness, combined with an automated peek at your hardware. Copy this into a Windows Explorer address bar to open Steam and start the survey: steam://takesurvey/2/

Being absolutely honest about your skill, as I have above, is probably in your interest. "Over the coming months we will make selections from the survey participants. Sometimes we might add experienced players, other times new players. Sometimes 1.6 players, sometimes CSS players, sometimes people who have played neither."

"If you don’t fill it out, you won’t be getting a key," reads the post. Of course, Valve also states that active, current CS:GO players can expect to receive keys to gift to their friends through Steam.

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta expands with new maps and weapons">Counter-Strike Global Offensive - poseur warriors

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive beta has sprung into action after a quiet couple of months. Last week the CS:GO website updated with the announcement of the addition of "more maps, more weapons, and most importantly more players." A massive patch added three new maps, Inferno, Train and Nuke and the weapon selection has been expanded with the addition of the Nova shotgun, Bizon and MP7 SMGs.

7,000 beta invites were also set out last week, with another 2000 planned for today. Valve say that they're sending out invites to active Counter-Strike community members, and are running contests on big CS sites like Gamebanana. "We will also have a survey up in the coming weeks that can help you get your name on the list for a key," they say.

The new Counter-Strike blog also mentions Valve's plans to balance the game based on feedback from top CS pros. Their main focus at the moment is on weapon recoil, which is essential to the feel of Counter-Strike's finely balanced guns.

"Recoil is tricky. It isn’t just math. It’s also about feel and one of the defining parts of Counter-Strike," say Valve in the latest blog post. "A few weeks back we had pro player Salvatore “Volcano” Garozzo by our offices and one of his biggest pieces of feedback he gave us was about recoil. It was still too hard to control."

Valve have adjusted weapon recoil twice in the last week, bringing it down and then asking players for their opinions each time. "During this Beta, community feedback is really important to us," they explain. "Counter-Strike has been around for 12 years and has been played by over 25 million players. We want to make sure to capture all of that experience and knowledge as we make Counter-Strike: Global Offensive the best version of Counter-Strike."
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Several hours of Steam downtime on Sunday left poor PC gamers unable to play their Steam games, caused by a power failure at Valve's data center. Initial reports suggest some of the desperate afflicted resorted to archaic and torturous forms of Sunday afternoon entertainment, including taking a stroll in the countryside, imbibing ale in a pub, and conversing with loved ones.

"Our data center's uninterruptible power supplies experienced a power failure," Valve's Al Farnsworth explained on the Steam forums. "We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Over 5 million Steam users were online when the troubles began at around 10:30am Pacific on Sunday. Some members of our fine Shacknews community reported not being able to use any part of Steam, while others could apparently still play games. The servers were back up and running by about 2:20pm.

Product Update - Valve
An update to Counter-Strike: Source has been released. The update will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:
  • Limit the effective FOV of players using wide-screen resolutions with aspect ratios wider than 1.85:1. The sv_restrict_aspect_ratio_fov ConVar can be changed to remove the restriction or make the restriction also apply to full-screen players.
  • Fixed a demo playback crash
  • Changed the way bot counts are displayed in the server browser: the bot column is now next to the player column and always visible. Bot count is no longer subtracted from maxplayers.
  • Adjusted error messages on servers when players drop due to Steam authentication failure to be more clear
  • Additional important server messages now go to the server log instead of just the console
  • Fixed the HUD radar not using the correct colors for players
  • Fixed the HUD radar background disappearing after level change
  • Fixed the class menu models not animating correctly
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

Erin sits here. I love her.

Ooh, that’s Dwight’s desk! Remember when Jim filled his phone with coins, so it got incrementally heavier? When he took them out, Dwight hit himself in the face? And Pam’s old desk. I have a small confession: I like Erin a bit more… What? Hmm, sorry, I got a bit lost in fanboying over a video of a Counter-Strike: Source map that recreates the American version of The Office. Oh, that’s where Oscar, Angela and Kevin sit… (more…)

Product Update - Valve
Updates to Counter-Strike: Source and Day of Defeat: Source have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:
  • Fixed the in-game overview map not drawing the background material
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