Nov 20, 2012
Product Update - Valve
- Fixed the Tank's primary attack sometimes choosing different sequences between the client and server. Fixes hit traces not always matching the visible animation.
- Fixed the Tank's left-handed attack using the right hand's position for hit traces.
- Player-controlled Tanks now always choose the right arm horizontal swing sequence for primary attacks. Fixes some attacks not connecting when it appears they should have, due to the inability to predict which swing animation would be randomly chosen.
Product Update - Valve
Big Picture Support
- Added 2 controller splitscreen support for Standard Co-Op. Press X on the second controller inside the first Co-op menu to activate it.
- Fixed controller's ‘quick ping’ button causing the player’s movement to stop.
- Fixed not being able to exit Robot Enrichment or Create Test Chambers menus with the controller.

Well, file this USB Portal turret under "Things you can get me for Christmas that I'll only use once but will still totally love."

You can buy one for the Portal fan in your life (or for yourself) for $40 at Thinkgeek.

(Via John Davison)


Skylanders Battlegrounds and the Best iPad Peripheral a Collector Can HaveSince the release of Skylanders Cloud Patrol for iOS last year, fans of Activision's toys-meet-games franchise have been clamoring for a more direct way to interact with their precious plastic playmates than entering in a cold, impersonal numeric code. Tomorrow's release of Skylanders Battlegrounds finally gets a Bluetooth summoning portal into players hands, along with a game that puts it to excellent use.

There's a reason Battlegrounds was selected to be included as a code in the Skylanders Mobile Starter Pack. The first two mobile offerings, Cloud Patrol and the recently-released Lost Islands, use the Skylanders toys in a fire-and-forget fashion. Players need only place their figure on the portal once to register it, and that's it.

Skylanders Battlegrounds, on the other glowing circle of plastic, is an board-meets-action game. At any given time the player can have two different Skylanders in battle. The Bluetooth portal allows those two Skylanders to be swapped out at will.

One can certainly use the portal as they do with the other iOS Skylanders games, registering their toys and then putting them back on the shelf. The creatures under your control are always just a menu away. Using the portal actively just adds a deeper level of interaction to the game, bringing the experience much closer to that of its console cousins.

The portal can also be used to port your figures into Lost Islands and Cloud Patrol, perfect for stupid folks like me that threw away their web codes after opening their toys.

The Battlegrounds game itself isn't too shabby either. The player maneuvers about a hex-based map, clearing it of treasure and enemies before moving on to the next map. Entering the same hex as an enemy unit transports the players' Skylanders to a battle map where they fight waves of enemies in real-time. Players manuever their champions around the map, tapping enemies to begin auto-attacking. Each Skylander has special powers they can learn through gaining experience, adding some depth to the battle system.

It's fun. It's even more fun with the Bluetooth portal.

Skylanders Battlegrounds will be available tomorrow on iTunes for the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch for $6.99. The Skylanders Battlegrounds Mobile Starter Kit comes with the Bluetooth portal, three figures and a code for downloading the game for $49.99.

Skylanders Battlegrounds and the Best iPad Peripheral a Collector Can Have

PC Gamer
Counter-Strike Global Offensive Pro Tip AWP

At least, that's probably the sort of nomenclature you'd reap from public servers after applying the skills picked up from Team Dynamic marksman Keven "AZK" Larivière for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's one-hit wonder AWP sniper rifle. As part of Valve's Pro Tip video series, Larivière spills the bullets on the best uses of a sniper's superior oversight, when each of the two zoom levels come most in handy, and how shooting the legs off a careless opponent equates to a high-caliber "tsk-tsk."

The real secret of a successful AWPer, however, probably lies with mastering quickswitch tics in a cacophony of deployment noises, as Larivière's lightspeed weapon swapping both defies and defines efficiency. Its mesmerizing effect probably lulls unaware victims into an easy kill like a rubber-armed spider.

Buy Your Own Floating Portal Core (That Actually Floats)Now that the world has moved on from making giant sharks float around by the magic of fancy air, we can move onto more interesting things like Portal personality cores.

Thinkgeek are selling two variants of the item you see above, Wheatley or Space, for $20 each. Sadly, they're not remote-controlled. They're basically glorified balloons. But they're glorified Portal balloons.

Portal 2 Inflatable Personality Core [Thinkgeek, via Copiously Geeky]

PC Gamer
Water: essential
Water: essential

I've played 183 hours of Dota 2. Some of you will be saying "Whoa dude, that's time you could have spent making a mean batch of marmalade." Others will be saying "Rofl, l2play noob."

But Dota 2's depth means that despite me having played longer than it took Apollo 13 to fly to the Moon and return to Earth, there's still heaps of heroes that I never played a single game as. This is a problem that faces many new players -- how to get up to competence as quickly as possible with a hero you haven't played before. Here's how I learn a new hero in two hours.

First, go and get yourself some paper, a pen, and a big glass of water -- ideally a pint glass or bigger. Good hydration is essential for learning - it's necessary to maintain the tone of your cranial membranes for optimum neurotransmission. If you're dehydrated, you won't learn a thing.

Enigma is definitely one of the shiniest heroes.

Go to the Dota 2 wiki and search for your hero. I'm going to use Enigma as an example, because I've never played as him, and I've rarely seen him in battle. Look at the page, and write down three things. The first is whether they're a strength, agility or intelligence hero. Enigma is an intelligence hero. The second is whether they're ranged or melee - Enigma is ranged. Finally, write down the list of recommended roles -- initiator, disabler and jungler, in this case.

Now go to Dota Cinema's Heroes page and find your hero. There are no names here, but learning how to recognise heroes from their portraits is useful. Click through, and watch the Spotlight video to see how your hero's abilities work. Make notes, if you want to, of things to remember - the idea is to create a cheat sheet you can glance at while you play.

Now stop for a second and think. When are you going to use each of your abilities to best effect? For Enigma, I'm thinking I want to use Malefice to get ganks in early game, and when chasing later on. I want to use Demonic Conversion when jungling and pushing. I want to lay down Midnight Pulse early on in a teamfight, and want to combo that with a Black Hole. To make that work, I'm already thinking I'm probably going to need to build a blink dagger. Again, write down some brief notes.

Very funny.

Okay. We're ten minutes in, and you already know how you want to play your new hero. Load up a bot-match. Grab the recommended items, and put points in skills wherever you think you should based on how the game is going. DON'T LOOK AT A GUIDE YET. Blindly following a guide is a bad way to learn a hero, because you'll get dependent on it and get ganked while you're trying to read.

How did that go? Did you win? It actually doesn't matter. What matters is whether you used your skills. Go back to the notes you made and see whether you got the most out of your abilities. Make some more notes based on the game you played. In my case, I was pretty happy with my skill use - but I found they were powerful but very mana-intensive in the early game, so I made a note to buy more clarities and go for a quick soul ring. One thing I wasn't too good at was being present in teamfights, so I wrote "teamfights" and underlined it. Twice.

Go make a cup of tea to get a screen break, and think some more about the game while it's brewing.

Don't use these until you've played at least one game with a hero.

Now you're allowed to read some guides. Head over to Dotafire and see what others have to say about the hero you want to learn. Now you've got some experience yourself, you can judge whether a guide is on-the-money or not. You'll almost certainly learn some new things about your abilities too, and some tips on how to use them well. Make more notes, grab more paper if you need to, but try and keep all the information on a single sheet if you can - it's easier to take in that way.

For Enigma, I learnt several things. I learnt that I can use Demonic Conversion on friendly creeps, which is useful for tower pushing. I learnt that I should hide before teamfights so that my black hole can be more of a surprise. I also learnt to stay the hell away from silencing heroes.

Time to hit a real game. Make sure you've got "all pick" selected, and find a match. In any downtime (pauses, waiting for loaders, etc), glance at your notes to keep them fresh in your mind. Godspeed.

I always get heaps of assists, damnit.

Oof. I got demolished in my first game with Enigma. How did you do? I got unlucky with jungle spawns, and I couldn't quite get off ganks on the long lane, even with the help of Lion -- we didn't have enough damage early on, and another of our lanes was getting demolished so they slowly snowballed us.

But that's okay. I didn't play too badly, which after just a single bot-match with a hero isn't anything to be ashamed of. The key is knowing the hero's strengths and weaknesses, how best to use their abilities, and situations to avoid in the future. And keeping those at the front of your mind.

Now go, I hereby graduate you from the two-hour-hero academy. You're no expert, but you're well along the road. Good luck.
PC Gamer
portal 2 coop

We recently gave you our selection of the best Portal 2 single player maps and campaigns available on the Steam Workshop. There's some great feats of level design in that list, but if you really want to see mapmakers skills stretched to the limit, you have to turn to co-op.

With two brains and four portals available, the levels must be exponentially more complicated. They need to emphasise teamwork, provide an inventive challenge and be tightly crafted so as to stop players exploiting their way through. With that in mind, I enlisted the help of my Perpetual Testing Partner to dig out the ten best co-operative maps around. As always, if you've a favourite that's not listed, let us know about it.

1. Six Extra Seconds of Trust

The title refers to this Cave Johnson sales pitch for co-operating robots. It's apt: Six Extra Seconds of Trust takes place in a room full of buttons and switches, with each player on either side of a glass wall, trying to figure out how to help the other. The work gone into creating such a labyrinthian series of connections is truly impressive. Download Six Extra Seconds of Trust here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I've got it! Just take that cube to... wait... no. That won't work for all sorts of reasons"

2. Buttons, Elevators and Goo

...And funnels, lasers, jumping puzzles, blind leaps of faith and those damn emancipation grids. B,E&G contains a large room full of corridors and side-chambers, each concealing a cube needed to complete a collection of buttons. Each area contains or requires a different puzzle element, and its the variety of challenges and their enjoyable solutions that make this a great map. Download Buttons, Elevators and Goo here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "NOOoooooo..! *splash* Balls."

3. Camtasia

A clever little chamber comprised of two rooms, one on top of the other. While neither player can reach the other directly, laser guarded holes in the ground allow you to share the limited resources back and forth, and buttons allow you to deactivate obstacles in your partners way. There's not much portalling to be done, but co-ordination and teamwork are still key. Download Camtasia here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I'm stuck in this hole again. :("

4. Fortunate Buttons

A super-contained single room challenge with plenty of black walls blocking your progress. Fortunate Buttons is an order of sequence puzzle in which every step seemingly throws in more complications and leaps of logic as you move towards your solution. It always feels like you're on the edge between completion and completely messing it all up as you attempt to stretch a limited number of cubes further than seems possible. Download Fortunate Buttons here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "Just go and- NO, NOT THE FAITH PLATE! Idiot."

5. There's No I in Team, 01

Part of a series of co-op maps made by mapmaker LPChip. Part one starts with a tricky excursion funnel challenge that requires you to really think through the positioning of each player before you make a move. But it's the finale, in which you share a sphere back and forth between each other, that really exemplifies the "accidental" comic slapstick at the heart of the the best Portal 2 co-op maps. Download There's No I in Team here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I know how to do this! I have to die!"

Hit the next page for more vents, ramps and tactical suicides.

6. Co-op Vents

It's pretty easy to complete, but there's a lot to like about Co-op Vents. You and your partner split off into two separate corridors (or vents, I guess), which intersect at rooms designed to put one player's life in the hands of the other. The difficulty lies less in the puzzles themselves and more in resisting the urge to blow up your friend. Download Co-op Vents here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "What is it about lasers that turns you into a homicidal maniac?."

7. Rampage

Rampage heavily explores the possibilities of hard light bridge based puzzling. The three rooms use a mixture of ramps, bridges and emancipation grids to create interesting and unique challenges that require some seriously involved portal co-ordination. Also smart: It allows respawned players to easily make their way back to where they died. It's a problem in some maps, thanks to a level editor that doesn't allow checkpoint placement. Download Rampage here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "Wait, STOP! Not yet! *splash* DAMN IT!"

8. Quest for the Edgeless Safety Cubes

In which you must find three spheres to unlock the exit, each hiding behind some difficult puzzles in sub-chambers that themselves can be hard to access. The main puzzle room is full of buttons and laser-activated switches, and just deciphering what controls what is a challenge. Despite that, the level has some well crafted puzzles that require inventive portal work to complete. Download Quest for the Edgeless Safety Cubes here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I meant to die there. It was tactical."

9. Mazed

Mazed casts you as lab rats, working through corridors looking out onto a large, unreachable cube. Each player must help the other to progress through their respective routes. What at first starts out as simple switch activation soon becomes an involved series of timing challenges and backtracking in order to make a small bit of progress. It's a strangely claustrophobic experience. Download Mazed here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "I should have picked your route. There's less pissing about with turrets."

10. Super Happy Fun Time

Finally, a one room puzzle that features lots of thinking through the use of an excursion funnel as it pushes and pulls cubes and players through four portals and a variety of improbable obstacles. The division of labour is a bit off balance, with one player required to do little more than push buttons at the right time, but the central problem requires plenty of discussion to overcome. Download Super Happy Fun Time here.

Notes from the Testing Partner: "Sure, the bit with the funnel was fun. But super happy fun?"

Bonus: Geolocity Stage 2

As with the single player maps, some creators prefer to use Hammer, the Source engine's level editor, to create more detailed works. Hammer's co-op selection is less focused on custom campaigns than the solo stuff, but its use still enables handy additions like visual variation and player checkpointing.

It can also be used to reimagine Portal 2 as something else entirely. Something like a racing game. Geolocity Stage 2 abandons puzzles for a track covered in orange speed goo. You have to run, jump and portal your way through the course, avoiding plenty of obstacles and thinking on-the-fly to get through some tricky sections as quickly as possible. While the first Geolocity is also a lot of fun, Stage 2 adds in the ability to screw over your opponent with targets that, when activated by the ping tool, can reverse excursion funnels, create barriers or activate crushers. Download Geolocity Stage 2 here.
Product Update - Valve
Release Notes for 11/16/2012

[ MISC ]

- Eliminated the vignette effect from the scoreboard.
- Scoreboard has been narrowed.
- Smoke grenade visibility on the edges of smokes has been adjusted to obscure vision less.
- Improved some cases of particle sorting between smoke and molotovs and other particle systems.
- Adjusted the loser bonus for Terrorists when time has run out. Surviving Terrorists get no income, but dead teammates receive a normal payout.
- Removed match start and round end info panel animation sfx.
Product Update - Valve
Updates to Team Fortress 2, Day of Defeat: Source and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:

Source Engine Changes (TF2, DoD:S, HL2:DM)
  • Fixed an audio problem for Mac users
  • Added a new ConVar sv_shutdown_timeout_minutes
    • Forces a server to shutdown if it has been requested to do so, even if the server is not empty

Team Fortress 2
  • Added new promo items
  • Fixed a crash in the class loadout panel for Mac users
  • Fixed a dedicated server memory leak when running Mann vs. Machine mode
  • Fixed tf_forced_holiday not properly forcing the holiday mode
  • Fixed an Mann vs. Machine exploit that allowed permanent ubercharge/critboost effects on non-Mann-Up servers.
  • Added missing style names for the Plutonidome, Sir Hootsalot, and the Bat Outta Hell
  • Fixed column header labels being clipped in the scoreboard
  • Fixed a dedicated server performance issue related to bots
  • Fixed an incorrect texture for the Jumper's Jeepcap
  • Fixed team colors for the Voodoo JuJu (Slight Return)
  • Updated the localization files
  • Updated cp_gullywash_final1
    • Fixed the large curved railing in the Blu Base to mirror the railing in the Red Base
    • Fixed Red Capture Point 2 to prevent capping through a wall behind the point