PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The pros and cons of SteamOS">steamOS







By announcing SteamOS yesterday, Valve declared that PC gaming is more than desktop gaming, that Windows is not our master, and that—finally—cats can own Steam accounts. The free, Linux-based, cat-friendly operating system is designed for gaming on living room PCs, because PC gaming according to Valve isn't about WASD and DirectX—it's about openness and collaboration.



We're free to choose our hardware, our software, our mods, and soon more than ever, how we play, where we play, and whether or not Microsoft gets a cut. If SteamOS takes off, PC gaming will undergo one of its most dramatic changes ever—possibly one more significant than the introduction of the free-to-play model and crowdfunding. That's thrilling, but also scary as hell, so we've worked through our fears with a list of SteamOS pros and cons, followed by deep breaths in anticipation of tomorrow's announcement.



The Pros

 

It's free. If you have a living room PC, or plan to build one, you can ditch Windows for free. That feels really good to say, but the adoption rate hinges on SteamOS launching with native support for everything we want in a media and gaming center. Streaming games from a secondary PC is neat, but we'd rather run them natively on the machine we paid to put in our living room. It also needs native Netflix and Hulu apps, and all the other media services offered by the consoles.



Valve says it's got this covered, announcing that it's "working with many of the media services you know and love," and that "hundreds of great games are already running natively on SteamOS," with native "AAA titles" to be announced in the coming weeks.



It encourages competition in the console market. May the best Steam Box win! Windows isn't designed for TVs, so neither are many PCs. Now Valve is giving away a platform for games, movies, and music, challenging hardware manufacturers to make systems that are powerful, quiet, and inexpensive. It used to be Microsoft vs. Sony vs. Nintendo fighting for the top of the living room ecosystem's food chain—soon it may be Microsoft vs. Sony vs. Nintendo vs. Everyone.



It should run some games better. One of the few advantages consoles have over PCs (whether or not they always make the best of it) is an OS specifically designed for gaming. Meanwhile, we have Windows, which is clearly not designed to be an ideal gaming platform. With SteamOS, however, Valve claims it has "achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing," and is now working on "audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level."



Last year, Valve posted a performance test of Left 4 Dead 2 running on Windows 7 and on Ubuntu, and the Linux build came out ahead, saying that the test "speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL." This isn't close to being an objective experiment—and we'll look forward to making our own evaluations—but it is encouraging.



It means more Linux games, and more couch-friendly PC games. SteamOS is as much about ditching Windows as it is putting PC gaming in the living room, so it affects even those firmly planted in their desk chairs. If SteamOS achieves the install base it needs for developers big and small embrace Linux, the Microsoft shackles may be broken forever.



The Cons

 

Steam Boxes may struggle to compete in price. A PC designed to run SteamOS skips over the Windows fee, but unlike a console, the manufacturer can't rely on game licensing fees to recoup costs—that money goes to Valve. Sony and Microsoft, however, can price their consoles competitively with that revenue in mind, which gives them the advantage. Valve itself could price hardware this way, but that would undercut third-party hardware manufacturers and could turn out to be anti-competitive. Unless, of course, Valve makes the unlikely move to subsidize the cost of these systems.



It could increase development costs. Major game developers aren't going to ditch Windows, the platform with the world's largest install base. If SteamOS becomes a competitive gaming platform, competitive developers will have yet another version to make, soaking up more resources.



The pessimistic angle is that this can only result in either lower quality games or more expensive games. The optimistic angle is that SteamOS will be embraced and prioritized by developers with the same enthusiasm as the consoles.



It could further fragment games and smother certain genres. If SteamOS eclipses the popularity of desktop gaming, developers will have less incentive to develop desktop games. Just as developers rushed into mobile and Facebook development, we could see a flood of controller-based Steam games that push niche and classic-style PC games into the slums.



It's a scary thought, but when we un-jerk our knees and really consider this scenario, it's a very minor concern. Crowdfunding has proven without a doubt that there's still a huge appetite for old fashioned mouse and keyboard PC games. The positive—and more likely—angle is that we'll see just greater diversity in the Steam library.



It gives Valve even more power over PC gaming. Valve isn't PC gaming. We know that, and millions of League of Legends players, World of Tanks enthusiasts, GOG.com users, modders, and more know that. But Steam is the most popular digital distribution service, and soon, it will be a platform. SteamOS may be free, but it's only as open as Valve allows. We don't know yet if we can use SteamOS to play non-Steam games, or if Valve will make exclusivity deals. We've asked, and Valve's answer will be a huge indicator of its intentions.



If you've got a passionate thought about SteamOS, we'd love to include it in our next issue of PC Gamer. We're always listening at letters@pcgamer.com.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive launches second community map event, Operation Bravo">Operation Bravo







Valve have launched the second community map event for CS:GO, after the first - Operation Payback - proved hugely successful this summer. Once again, eight locations have been chosen as this season's must-visit destinations for the discerning terrorist. For a $6/£3.50 downpayment, you'll secure official server access to each user-made map in casual, deathmatch and - for the first time - competitive modes.



As with Payback, Operation Bravo also supplies buyers with an event coin that displays next to their avatar. The coin can be upgraded through playtime and wins, and grants access to a scorecard, which tracks competitive performance throughout the duration of the event, on both Bravo and regular maps.



And look, there's more. The Bravo pass also grants access to 15 map-themed weapon skins, which will drop periodically during play. Special Bravo-themed cases have also been created, and will get delivered to players' inventories, whether they own a Bravo pass or not.



The new maps for the event are Agency, Ali, Cache, Chinatown, Gwalior, Ruins and Siege. Bravo also includes the return of Seaside. Of course, as with Payback, all maps are currently available through the Steam Workshop, with the pass making them playable on official servers until the end of the event on January 20th.



For more details, see the CS:GO blog's Operation Bravo page.
Product Update - Valve
Release Notes for 9/19/2013

[OPERATION BRAVO]
- Added Operation Bravo Pass for access to Workshop maps in Deathmatch, Casual and Competitive. Visit http://blog.counter-strike.net/operationbravo/ for details!

[GAMEPLAY]
- Fixed the buy menu not allowing players to buy a helmet+vest when they had a vest but not enough to buy the helmet+vest.

[MAPS]
- Inferno
-- Removed flowerpots on balcony near Mid.
-- Blocked visibility through haycart at Banana.
-- Blocked visibility through sandbags in Banana.
-- Blocked one way visibility through yellow car in Banana.

- Mirage
-- Tweaked cover in Bombsite A.
-- Removed trashcan near connector into Bombsite A.
-- Added cover at top of CT stairs into Bombsite A.
-- Widened box near T tunnel into Bombsite A.
-- Blocked visibility under the van at Bombsite B.
-- Removed the red pushcart near Bombsite B.
-- Removed bed in apartments near Bombsite B.
-- Removed center divider in CT sniper window.
-- Added cover inside Palace.
-- Removed scaffolding in alley near Apartments, tweaked skybox volume.
-- Removed chairs in Underpass.

[UI]
- Fixed vest and helmet+vest armor costs in the buy menu.
- Fixed flashbang grenade overlap bug in the UI.
- The "flashed" icon no longer shows up when the cl_draw_only_deathnotices is set.
- Fixed missing localization text for status of players playing the Weapons Course.
- Increased resolution of death message weapons icons.

[MISC]
- Replaced "Arms Deal Collection Contract" with "Trade Up Contract" that can be used with weapons from any Collection.
- Holstered weapons now correctly show their silenced/unsilenced state.
- Fixed expired Operation Payback Passes not being redeemable for Operation Payback Coin.

[COMMUNITY SERVERS]
- Fixed a community server crash in certain Deathmatch mode settings.
- Fixed a community server file transfer exploit.
- Custom map scenario text files can now contain "RULESHERE" as the very first thing in the text which will get replaced by the game mode rules that are currently being loaded. The rest of the scenario text file will be added to the end of the rules text.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

Thanks to the Steam Workshop, I have more random things installed on my PC than ever before. Wanderin through the workshops has become a routine in my downtime. They are the curio shops of games, a tiny sliver of insight into someone’s passions put on display. I’ll find something, subscribe, forget I have it, then turn on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and discover it has underwater maps, battlegrounds inspired by Alice In Wonderland, and motherboards to run around on. Here’s a few of my favourites. (more…)

Product Update - Valve
Release Notes for 9/12/2013

[CONTRACTS]
- Added the Arms Deal Contract, allowing players to exchange items from the Arms Deal case.
-- Use the Arms Deal Contract to exchange 10 of your Arms Deal Collection items of identical quality for a single Arms Deal Collection item of a quality one tier higher. Note: Knives are not part of collections.

[ARMS DEAL]
- It is now possible to use Name Tags on stock/default items.

[UI]
- Clan tags are now displayed in the lobby.

[GAMEPLAY]
- Players can now only purchase 1 smoke grenade per round.
- Synchronized M4A1 and M4A4 reload completion event with visual magazine insertion and sound effect.
- Improved some bad cases of player radar visibility through smoke volumes.
- Enemy target IDs now only appear when the crosshair is over a target player's hitboxes instead of their overall bounding box.
- Looking at a weapon in-game (default F) no longer interrupts attaching or detaching silencers.

[MISC]
- The kill panel now correctly displays item rarity and owner.
- Kill panel damage given and received stats no longer add damage from before a player took over a bot.
- Fixed weapon inventory hud flashing when it didn't find the selected weapon in edge cases where you just threw a grenade.
- Fixed hud inventory not refreshing properly in some cases when picking up a flashbang.
- Fixed a bug that reported "hltv_changed_target" as an unused event in the console.
- Fixed weapon icons appearing dark for some Mac versions.
- When watching friends games on official servers, GOTV information is now requested asynchronously from matchmaking servers.
- CS:GO inventory items in Steam Community profiles now list most recently acquired items first.
- Improved CS:GO matchmaking servers stability.
- Fixed context menu popping up over the client info panel in the lobby.
- Added a cheat protected convar named "cl_draw_only_deathnotices" that turns off most hud except for death notices (for movie makers).
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to MSI’s Beat It! qualifiers gives you the chance to play against CS:GO pros">1240_698_crop_80







If you've got three friends and the urge to break into the pro Conter-Strike: Global Offensive scene, MSI's Beat It! Open Qualifiers open for US teams this weekend. There are slots for 64 teams, the top two of which will advance to face the likes of Curse and Complexity in an eight team playoff. The winner of that playoff gets to go to Beijing to compete for $22,000 in prizes.



Check-ins for the open qualifier are first come, first served... so keep your browser pointed at the check-in page on September 8 at 5 p.m. Eastern, 2 p.m. Pacific. The qualifier will progress in rapid-fire rounds, with the finalists to be decided by 10 p.m Pacific. So you might want to have some snacks on hand if you're planning to go all the way. The playoffs for the US Qualifiers are scheduled for the 10th, 11th, 14th, and 15th.



You can read more about the competition on the official announcement page.



Product Update - Valve
Release Notes for 8/29/2013

[UI]
- Added ability to rename a weapon’s name with a custom engraved nameplate via Name Tags.
- Simplified trading with other players by adding a Start Chat button to CS:GO profiles.

[GAMEPLAY]
- Chicken changes based on pro feedback:
-- Reduced chicken sounds dBs and volume.
-- Reduced idle clucking rate.
-- Reduced range that scares chickens when running.

[MISC]
- Adjusted Weapon Case Key and Payback Pass prices for foreign currencies based on current international exchange rates.
- Fixed an issue causing poor rendering performance, especially for SLI/Crossfire users.
- Fixed M4A4 loadout selection not saving correctly between sessions.
- Fixed competitive round backups restoring M4A1-S as M4A4 and USP-S as P2000.
- Fixed observers seeing smoke screen overlay when a smoke grenade popped on their last alive position.
- Fixed bomb activate/plant/defuse sounds not playing if the bomb was out of view
- Fixed Payback Coin description incorrectly displaying the number of hours logged in game.
- Fixed missing localization for Payback map maker Coins.
- Fixed an empty item panel sometimes showing on the scoreboard.
- Fixed Elite world model physics.
- Added flipping sound to inspecting the Desert Eagle.
Product Update - Valve
Release Notes for 8/21/2013

[GAMEPLAY]
- SSG08:
-- Reduced price from 2500 to 2000.
-- Reduced standing and crouching accuracy recovery times.
- Reduced Molotov price from 500 to 400.
- Reduced Incendiary Grenade price from 850 to 600.
- Reduced Glock damage from 33 to 28.
- Fixed bug that NiP discovered where the aimpunch experienced when compensating for recoil was incorrect.
- Third person silenced muzzleflash light brightness is no longer a portion of unsilenced brightness, instead it is now completely removed.
- Chickens are no longer scared when moving silently near them or shooting near them with silenced weapons.
- Fixed a bug where removing/adding a silencer would also drop a magazine on the ground.


[MAPS]
- Fixed map placed weapons not working properly.

Aztec:
--New connector between A and B bombsites.
--More cover in underpass.
--More cover in overpass.
--More cover at bombsite A.
--Changed cover at CT side of bridge.
--Removed railings on bridge.
--Added player collision inside large vegetation models.
--Removed collision on some props.
--Clipped stairs.
--Reduced fog.
--Reduced noise in textures.

Train:
--Tweaked shower room.
--Moved ladders to ends of traincars.
--Made T entrance into bombsite A wider.
--Reduced size of CT sniper position.
--Removed some cover from CT sniper position.
--Blocked visibility under electrical box at bombsite A.
--Blocked visibility through yellow barrels at bombsite A.
--Brightened textures near bombsite A.
--Removed some wires at bombsite A.
--Blocked visibility under traincars.
--Rearranged trains at bombsite B.
--Widened back of bombsite B, T side.
--Replaced cover at back of bombsite B, T side.
--Clipped stairs.
--Optimizations.
--Fixed radar naming.
--Blocked visibility through concrete bags near Ivy.
--Brightened door near Ivy.
--Removed railing at top of ladder.
--Brightened environment light.
--Reduced fog.

Inferno:
--Fixed missing collision in an area in mid.
--Made railing at back of bombsite A easier to see through.
--Widened doors in construction.
--Reduced wall penetration in construction.
--Removed wall supports in apartments hallway.
--Increased C4 explosion radius to make it consistent with other maps.

Nuke:
--Fixed a bug in ramp room.
--Widened door in rafters.
--Fixed some radar naming bugs.
--Increased C4 explosion radius to make it consistent with other maps.

Mirage:
--Added more light to CT window into bombsite B.
--Fixed some graphical bugs.
--Removed small trashbags that could be mistaken for players.

Dust2:
--Made it easier to spot enemies at back of long A, CT side.
--Removed center scaffolding in tunnels.

[UI]
- Added warning message for when there is a new update available.
- Fixed Main Menu for 21x9 monitors.
- Weapon Case Unlock Animation:
-- Fixed animation stopping on an item when the connection to the item server is actually unresponsive.
-- Fixed animation not closing if error dialog occurs.
-- Fixed animation restarting if space bar was pressed.
- In-game previews of StatTrak™ weapons and unusual knives now correctly display those attributes in the name.
- Weapon target ID text now colors the weapon the color of its rarity.
- Fixed StatTrak HUD element for knives hiding.
- Fixed Tooltip backgrounds disappearing when browsing Workshop maps.
- Fixed Matchmaking 'ACCEPT' button not reappearing after you accept a match and not everyone accepts.
- Fixed spectator player panels were showing up when they shouldn't be (wrong team, wrong mode, etc).
- Fixed the spectator panel not using the new knife icons properly.
- Moved the “flashed” icon from the center of the screen, made it more subtle and added fringe fades for when your target is flashed when connected via GOTV.
- Fixed Rescue Kit displaying as Defuse Kit in hostage maps.
- Fixed pause menu missing entries.
- Fixed item drops displaying for 'Unknown' players.
- Fixed formatting of AWP kill award text in Classic Competitive.
- Teammate’s names now always show overhead during freeze time.
- Additional work on inventory, addressing edge cases where HUD positions would not update properly after a weapon had been added or removed.

[MISC]
- Added "Five Year Veteran Coin" awarded to players who were a member of the Counter-Strike community for over 5 years.
- Fixed Overwatch not displaying new cases after viewing one case.
- Fixed extended delay in the end of Classic Competitive games that had GOTV spectators.
- While watching matches in GOTV, the Autodirector is paused, not deactivated, if the spectator follows a specific player.
- Added weapon_m4a1_silencer and weapon_usp_silencer FGD entries for map makers.
- Fixed several exploits affecting dedicated servers.
- Added a server convar sv_quota_stringcmdspersecond to allow rate-limiting client string commands.
- Reduced memory usage on dedicated server.
- Fixed weapon switch and knife swing animations being choppy at low ping.
- Stability fixes in shaders
- Identified a memory allocation bug involving nVidia Geforce Drivers version 320.49 or earlier. We suggest that you update to the latest beta driver version 326.80.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Craig Pearson)

Who is this guy? I don't know, so it must be an ARG. I have a jar of ball bearings on my desk. For each kill in CS: GO, I drop a ball into a hole in desk. The bearing rolls into a rat’s cage. The rat squeaks in terror, and a noise-activated switch turns on a fan. The fan blows a toy boat across a bucket of water, and the boat’s mast tips a small bucket of sand into another bucket. That bucket is on a string that’s tied to a switch, and it gently tugs at it, releasing another ball bearing from a small cage on a shelf above me. That other ball bearing drops into another jar. If I want to know how many kills I have, I count the balls in the jar. How do you track your kills in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive? You just use one of the StatTrak modules from the now live Arms Deal update? Show off. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to CS: GO Arms Deal update adds more than 100 weapon skins, supports eSports">GunsGunsGuns







The Arms Deal Update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is live, adding in a Team Fortress 2-style system of random drops, over 100 new weapon skins, two new stock weapons, and a purchasable item that helps fund competitive play.



The new weapon skins will drop randomly while you play CS:GO, much like new items in Team Fortress 2. Unlike TF2, all of the modifications are purely cosmetic. You will also occasionally find weapon cases, similar to TF2's crates, which must be opened by a key. These come in two styles: standard variety, and a special eSports case. The proceeds from eSports case keys will go towards larger prize pools and greater visibility for competitive CS:GO.



It's not all just paint jobs and microtransactions, though. We're also seeing the return of the silenced variants for the M4A1 and the USP, which feature a smaller price tag and magazine size than their louder brethren.



Arms Deal is available now, and you can read more about it on the official announcement page.
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