PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam Time Analysis tool compares friend data, tells you how much you’ve spent in Steam">Steam Time Analysis







Lambent Stew's free, web-based Steam Time Analysis tool laid bare my backlog of shame by breaking down time spent (or not spent) on each of my library's games like some sort of cold, ruthless PowerPoint presentation. The breadth of information provided is quite impressive. Over email, Stew told us the new build includes a few new features that further visualize users' habits.



You're now be able to compare your profile with those on your friends list for games owned, how many were played, and total hours played. (Our own Executive Editor Evan Lahti only played around 16 percent of his over 1300-game stable, the lazy bum.)



Similar to another homebrewed utility, a new worth calculator also provides combined figures for minimum, maximum, and current game prices in your library. Locating your own profile should be easier with improved search: just type in your Steam profile ID, and the tool should easily zero in on your data.



Check out the tool for yourself on Lambent Stew's website. How do you rank against your friends? What's your most-played game?
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Dota 2 Polycount Contest overall winner revealed; Frostivus announced">Dota 2 Frostivus thumb







Valve have revealed the final five winners of the Dota 2 Polycount Contest, including the recipient of the Best Overall award. The modelling competition tasked entrants with creating a unique item set for one of the heroes, and the Dota 2 team have been listing their favourites over the past week.



The winning set, Rider of the Storm, gives a new mount and items to the Disruptor. Valve said of their pick, "the mount, Rampant the Scaled Hunter, is a wicked alternative to the default with both runed beak and feathers drawing attention and creating a sleek sense of direction. Disruptor himself looks battleready and grim. The beard design and eye-patch make the portrait stand apart and both also read well at game-distance. Technical execution is at the professional level."



Disruptor - Rider of the Storm



There were also sets announced for Doom Bringer, Dazzle, Shadow Shaman and Sniper. All eleven announced winners will be rolled into the game for Frostivus, Dota 2's typically strange Christmas event. The update promises "riotous behaviour," presents nestled under towers and possibly ice-skating.



The victorious creators will each receive a share of the sales from their in-game items, as well as their own special versions and a custom trophy-ward.



Doom Bringer - Elven Curses



Dazzle - Ancestral Trappings



Shadow Shaman - Mysterious Vagabond



Sniper - Gear of the Tally-ho Hunter
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The 15 best co-op games of all time">coop header







Games get a bad rap for being a solitary, violence-obsessed form of entertainment. But they can also be a collaborative, violence-obsessed form of entertainment. Just ask the close-knit PC Gamer team.



Tom F: Co-op based games teach us the value of teamwork better than any kitten based motivational poster, by showing us how many more of our enemies we can crush if we can just learn to work together.



Graham: They’re not just violent either. We can build giant penis statues together in Minecraft. No, wait, that’s bad. We can control egotistical millionaires in FIFA! Oh God, no. Rich?



Rich: Well, Supreme Commander celebrates the pioneering spirit, by asking us to build a host of clanking deathbots... I got nothing. Chris?



Chris: Uh. Diablo III shows that hell is easier with other people? Hm. Senior? Bail me out?



Tom S: I can’t, I’m too busy shooting these damn zombies. Stop intro-ing and let’s go play together.







Portal 2 - 2 players, Online

 

How does it work? You and a friend play comedy robots in co-op-only test chambers.



Why is it good?



Tom F: The puzzles get magnificently complicated when designed for two. You can jump through each other’s portals, so you’re often setting up a jump that your partner will perform. And because every puzzle requires two players, you’ve got to figure out where to put four different portals, and coordinate your approach. It bent my brain in the same ridiculous ways that Portal 1 did.



Graham: I use my portals to make a corridor slick with gloopy paint. Tom places his at either end of the corridor, creating the world’s first infinite slip ’n’ slide. I run down it and build absurd momentum, and as I reach terminal velocity, Tom moves one of his portals so that when I exit, I’m flung out over a chasm filled with acid. Co-op Portal 2 means entwining not just your portals, but your brains.







Minecraft - 2 to many, online or LAN

 

How does it work? Join a server and collaborate with friends – or strangers – to build the biggest, best, and most phallic structures you can.



Why is it good?



Rich: Within minutes, I was building a spa. I don’t know why I was building a spa. No one had said “let’s build a spa” in the chat channel, but there it was, forming before us. Graham, now-departed Craig Pearson and I, had hollowed out an underground chamber, constructed a raised dais of glass, and diverted water to create a lovely jacuzzi pool. Our subterranean sauna was lit by lava, and we sat in it, content.



Graham: My first time was on a new, private server with a few folks from the PCG community. In three hours we dotted the landscape with giant Darwinians, and built an underground bunker with launch missiles, library and steam rooms to avoid a player who had built an ugly golden bridge around the world. It felt like I’d spent an afternoon building sandcastles with friends.







Fifa 12 - 2-5 players, local

 

How does it work? Two or more players join forces to defeat the nefarious forces of Computron, the dark lord of kicking.



Why is it good?



Rich: Football is incredibly frustrating. FIFA recreates that frustration perfectly: genius moves undone by idiot players. But in co-op, I managed to reduce that frustration through one simple method: blame someone else. I think I’m great at FIFA 12 at the best of times; when I’m playing in co-op, I’m flawless. Graham, on the other hand, is terrible.



Graham: And Rich smells bad. For a while, we were playing two-on-two, but then our fourth man lost interest. We started playing two-on-one. Here’s what we found: the player controlling a team on their own has the advantage. To work together in FIFA is to anticipate the other’s moves, making runs and pulling away defenders. If you do it right, you’re unstoppable. If you’re Rich and I, Rich smells bad.











Diablo 3 - Up to four, drop-in, drop-out co-op across the whole campaign

 

How does it work? Every player you add to a game of Diablo III boosts the health of your enemies, increasing the challenge – but far less than it did on launch, when damage increased as well. Otherwise, it’s just Diablo III with more people.



Why is it good?



Chris: D3’s normal difficulty is very easy, but it gains a lot of life if you’re doing it with friends. Experimenting with new skills adds a slapstick dimension to demonbashing that’s better with other people. It’s basically that bit from Lord of the Rings where Legolas and Gimli are competing to kill the most orcs, strung out over 15 hours.



Tom S: Having a friend or two around gives you more freedom to experiment with new abilities. If you’ve got a Barbarian chum to wave and shout and take punches to the face, you can sacrifice a defensive ability for that demonic ghost bat bombing run skill you’ve been dying to try. Few things amaze and terrify a co-op partner as effectively as an unannounced demonic ghost bat bombing run.



Chris: It used to be that co-op Diablo III didn’t work: it was too diffi cult, and actually reduced the amount of loot you seemed to get. Patches have since redressed the balance, and working together to crack Inferno is a satisfying challenge.







Alien Swarm - Up to 4 players, online



How does it work? It’s a top-down shooter where you control a squad of four marines shooting aliens in a scripted campaign.

 

Why is it good?



Rich: People love swarms. The swarms of aliens in Alien Swarm (clue’s in the name), are best dealt with by coordination: one of your group becomes point-man, clearing rooms with shotguns and flamethrowers. Another takes up the rear, machinegun blaring to dissuade any would-be alien pouncers. This coordination is the result of a kind of natural, happy trance that players fall into, rather than tiresome enforcement.



Tom F: I’m a Medic, which used to mean I was the sensible, cautious, team player. Until I realised I could take a chainsaw. It’s terrible. It’s a terrible weapon, don’t use it. You can’t just charge into alien hordes, blade revving. OK, just one more go.







Trine - Up to 3 players, online or LAN

 

How does it work? Each player can transform themselves into a thief, warrior or wizard at any time. In the mode we play, you can have two Thieves at once if you like.



Why is it good?



Tom F: It’s a physics-based platform puzzler, which in co-op means dropping heavy objects on each other for fun. The wizard can create boxes and levitate them, and your co-op partner can stand on them. Most of our solutions involved carting each other around on telekinetic elevators.



Graham: Trine’s best class is the grapple-hooking, arrow-firing thief, because of the arrow-fi ring but specifically because of the grapple-hooking. In the singleplayer game, you’re forced to switch away from the thief to navigate obstacles and fi ght larger enemies. In co-op, two thieves are better than one, and combined you’re able to spend more time as a swinging idiot. The best kind of idiot.







Left 4 Dead 2 - Up to 4 players, online or LAN

 

How does it work? - There are lots of game modes now, but the one we play most is still the campaign: four players against the AI-controlled zombie hordes.



Why is it good?



Tom S: I ran through Left 4 Dead 1’s campaign on its hardest diffi culty setting with a group of regulars. We played in the 4 6 5 same small room for many hot, panicked hours until our cries of fear overruled the rattling pistol fire coming out of our speakers. The defence events and climactic mission fi nales offered us a chance to take stock and plan, but the best moments happened when those plans disintegrated in the face of an unexpected Tank charge, or a perfectly placed Witch.



The AI director never quite offered the longevity that it promised, and the monsters lost their scare factor after a while, but Left 4 Dead is still a superb, if harrowing, co-op experience. Ever since Valve ported the fi rst game’s superior maps into the sequel, Left 4 Dead 2 has been the better choice of the pair.



Tom F: There’s an achievement for winning a garden gnome on the fairground level, and taking it all the way through the rest of that campaign. For me, that is the game. It takes both hands to carry the gnome, so whoever’s holding it can’t fi re their weapons. You can set it down and grab it later, but among huge crowds of zombies and charging Tanks, it tends to get kicked around with alarming force.



So you take it in turns to sacrifice your firepower and carry the precious cargo, relying completely on your friends to protect you and your porcelain companion when it’s your turn. If a zombie does get to you, all you can really do is bash him with the gnome.



The carnival finale, set in a huge stadium, was just too intense for any of us to survive it gunless. So when the helicopter finally arrived to bail us out, the real challenge was a frantic scavenger hunt for a chipped red hat among the seething infected. Finding him, grabbing him, and making it out alive was the most nail-biting co-op experience I’ve ever had with the game.











Half Life 2 - 2-10 players, online or LAN

 

How does it work? The Synergy mod enables two or more of you to jump straight into Half-Life 2, Episode One or Episode Two’s singleplayer campaign.



Why is it good?



Tom F: Half-Life 2 is a huge and amazing adventure. And while there are a lot of great co-op games, there aren’t many that are huge and amazing adventures. People don’t make long, varied, story-driven journeys through meticulously detailed and gorgeous places when they’re making a co-op campaign. So a mod that makes Half-Life 2 and its two episodic expansions work cooperatively is an amazing discovery. I don’t know how it works, but it does.



Graham: Tom and I played through the entire of Half-Life 2, and into Episode Two, over many happy lunchtimes. The best part is the Highway 17 segment in Half-Life 2. You’re both given your own buggy to drive across the countryside, and the solitary bungalows that dot the coast are perfect for cooperative assault: one person bursting through the front door while the other circles around the back. The Combine only seem to be expecting one of you, for some reason...







Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 - " players in campaign mode, 2-4 players in terrorist hunt, online or LAN

 

How does it work? We play Terrorist Hunt: you and the other players have to clear out a big, complex building in which a fixed number of terrorists run around and try to ambush you. It’s brilliant.



Why is it good?



Tom F: Terrorist Hunt is an immediately exciting concept, because it feels more like a simulation of a real armed-response firefight than any campaign level could be. You can’t be sure the level designer isn’t going to have the terrorists suddenly come from behind you, because the level designer doesn’t make that call: the terrorists do.



Graham: It’s doubly cool in co-op, because the challenge is so overwhelming. Even with the foresight of a snake camera under the door, it’s just tough to take out six terrorists in a room before any of them kill you. So you plan: I’ll take the left two... You throw a frag... I’ll come from the other door... You rope down to the window. And then you completely screw it up.







Mass Effect 3 - Up to 4 players online

 

How does it work? Fight to complete a mixture of objectives on small but open levels against randomised enemy forces. Level up characters and promote them into the singleplayer campaign to improve Shepard’s chances.



Why is it good?



Chris: ME3 multiplayer takes what is good about co-op survival modes – last-stand heroics and impromptu acts of daring – and adds incredibly varied races, classes and weapons that prevent it from ever becoming samey. Right now, I’m enjoying a Quarian infi ltrator that disintegrates enemies at close range with the Reegar Carbine, a gun we’ve come to call THE PLASMA HOSE. I’m just as happy charging around as a Krogan vanguard, or racking up headshots as a Turian sentinel carrying a Black Widow.



Tom S: New classes and bizarre new weapons are added regularly through free updates. You’re always holding out against waves of familiar enemies, but the variety of ways in which you can off these enemies expands every month. The N7 classes BioWare added recently push the boundaries of what the Mass Effect universe can sensibly contain. The Shadow can dart across the map and slash foes with a psychically infused katana, the Destroyer’s weighty carapace gives him the grounding to wield a rapid-fire grenade launcher with decent accuracy and the Slayer is a teleporting martial arts expert. With so many powerful abilities to choose from, playing with friends becomes more about showing off than anything else.



Chris: BioWare’s free updates to the game have been excellent and generous, particularly the new maps. They’ve drawn me back to the game and kept it feeling fresh, which is essential for co-op.



SCREENSHOT MISSING



Supreme Commander - 2-7 players, online or LAN

 

How does it work?



Start a multiplayer game, put all humans on team 1, and some nice tough AIs on team 2. Crush.



Why is it good?



Tom F: It’s not the first co-op game you think of, but playing it cooperatively is how we’ve had the most fun with it. It can be dauntingly complex, so it’s great to have friends in there to help out if you forget to build anti-air or crash your power economy. In theory. In practice what usually happens is we beaver away on our own bases in silence for seven minutes then one of us says “Shit, fuck, they’re dropping in my base and I forgot to build point defence again, have you got anything that can help?” and the other says...



Graham: No, soz :(



Tom F: It’s about hatching your own masterplans, surviving long enough to see them complete, then raining the giant robotic fruits of your labours down on the enemy at the same time. My giant laser spiders are ready! Your flying fortresses are ready? Let’s go! My towering Galactic Colossus is ready! Your swarm of invincible death bricks is ready? Let’s go!











Dawn of War: Last Stand - Up to 3 players online

 

How does it work? - Unlike the main game, Last Stand gives you only one hero each. You’ve got to fi ght off increasingly tough waves of enemies until you die (likely) or beat wave 20 (unlikely). After the match, you usually unlock new equipment for your character.



Why is it good?



Tom F: I didn’t really get Last Stand until I levelled up a few times. The fun is in discovering new builds, and the role they can play in your group. As the Ork, I thought I was the longrange damage dealer: my autocannon certainly works for that, and when enemies get close I use my teleporting armour to get away. The notion of using the much tougher set, the one that can’t teleport, seemed pretty ridiculous. Until I unlocked the knife. The knife doesn’t do much damage, but it regenerates your health. Add some armour bonus trinkets, a self-healing trait, and an item that stops me being knocked down, and I can turn myself into an unstoppable tank. Suddenly I’m the guy charging into a nest of Tyranids to keep them off my friends, and coming out at full health.



Tom S: In the grim darkness of the future, three dudes battle ridiculous odds in a small stone circle. The setup may seem contrived, but DoW2’s overlooked co-op mode does a much better job of realising the Warhammer 40K fantasy than the campaign. Absurdly powerful heroes dominate the fiction, so I got a kick out of levelling up my venerable Space Marine captain and testing him against the hordes.



Last Stand understands 40K’s scale as well. The final waves throw more foes into the arena than you’ll see in any of the singleplayer missions, so victory may seem impossible. After a few levels you can start combining your heroes’ most powerful abilities to create a maelstrom of death. The glorious slaughterfest that results is worthy of a Space Marine’s final heroic moments.







Killing Floor - Up to 6 players, online or LAN

 

How does it work? Fight together to fend off waves of mutants, then stock up on guns and ammo at a shop that’s never in the same place twice.



Why is it good?



Chris: Without its guns, Killing Floor would be the bleakest, muddiest depiction of Britain at the end of the world since a bunch of Romans said “let’s go home, it’s cold and everyone here is mental.” With its guns, it’s one of the most satisfying co-op shooters around. My favourite is the bolt-action rifl e, which takes mutant head-popping and turns it into an avant garde musical genre. Bang! Chunk. Click. Bang! Blargh! Splatter.



Rich: I like the dual desert eagles. They go ‘whump’, like a pie dropped down a hole. But a really big pie, one that kills anyone unlucky enough to be standing under it in a spray of arterial blood. And when it kills them, this pie, it makes everything slow motion for a while, so your team can marvel at your incredible pie-dropping-stroke-gun-shooting skills.



Chris: Definitely play it with voice chat, though. Partly so that you can coordinate properly and warn your friends when they’re about to be sawn in half, but mostly so that you can talk over the truly, deeply dreadful voice acting. I started playing it during the Portal 2 promo campaign, when all the shopkeepers were replaced by GlaDOS. It was a huge improvement.







Borderlands 2 - Up to 4 players, online or LAN

 

How does it work? The whole campaign is playable in drop-in, drop-out co-op.



Why is it good?



Tom F: Two reasons – for one, the different abilities of each class mix well in a team fight. It’s great to see your Siren pluck a boss up into the air, and into range of your Commando’s turret and your Gunzerker’s... gunzerk. Secondly, cooperative play is good for diffi culty spikes, and Borderlands 2 sure has those. Dealing with an inordinately tough boss is less frustrating when there’s a whole a bunch of you coming up with new ideas and tactics, and a wider variety of weapons to try.



Tom S: Almost anything can pop out of Borderlands 2’s unfolding robot boxes. It could be a revolver that shoots lightning grenades, it could be a glowing, five-foot-long sniper rifl e with an enormous bayonet on the end. Whatever you get, it’s always better to have friends there to go “WOAH” or “whaaaat” or “give me that immediately.” Borderlands 2’s batty enemies are more fun to fi ght in a team, a constant stream of new gadgets to crow over makes it feel like the best sort of trick or treat trip, the sort where you get bazookas instead of sweets.







Arma 2 - 2 to many, online or LAN

 

How does it work? Players can join and play custom missions with each other, or mess around in the weapon playground add-on pack, Private Military Academy.



Why is it good?



Rich: The first time I played an Arma 2 custom mission with Marsh and Owen, it ended with me rolling sideways up a hill and giggling like a maniac. The second time, we were shot before we realised what the ‘open backpack’ key was mapped to. The third time, we found ourselves on a hillside, standing next to a crumpled chopper. It was dark, but the sky was brightening slowly as the sun rose somewhere off in the east. It would’ve been idyllic, were it not for the crowd of ornery locals taking potshots at us.



Together, we made it into a nearby settlement, where our rendezvous chopper was settling down into the dust. We sprinted towards it, tracer fire whistling over our heads, as we howled fears for our safety down our microphones. We were silly men, but Arma 2 quickly made us feel like (mildly inept) soldiers.



Marsh: Most of the time, my Arma 2 experience seems to consist of dying instantly or getting stuck in rocks. But occasionally, you roll the incredibly-complex-emergent-behaviour dice and get a scene as gripping and fluidly dramatic as anything from Full Metal Jacket. I don’t mean the toilet-suicide sequence. Running for that chopper with a busted leg and three shots left in my pistol as the enemy tightened the noose was one of the most extensive workouts my heart has undergone in many years. And it wouldn’t have been half the experience without Owen and Rich bellowing, “COME ON! YOU CAN DO IT!” as I lurched the final few yards.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam adds guides, lets you share your wisdom with the community">Steam Guide thumb







I think Steam gets a bit jealous when you visit other places for gaming related information. That would explain why it's slowly trying to integrate every aspect of the internet into its darkened pages. The latest: game guides, previously the preserve of YouTube, wikis and £15 books that surely no-one actually bought.



Steam are currently beta testing an addition to their new game hubs, which adds a space for users to publish guides that cover any aspect of a game's experience. Think of it like a Steam Workshop for words: you can browse subcategories in game - like cheats, walkthroughs and modding - and can also rate each guide to ensure the most thorough rise to the surface.



Even at this beta stage, it's all looking rather slick. Guide creators can embed images and videos, and add subheadings to make sure the relevant information is easily accessible.



There's already an impressive range of information emerging. TF2's guide page hosts everything from class run-downs to tutorials on how to run a multiplayer server or ensure you don't get ripped off when trading. And while Dota 2 is currently looking rather light, it's sure to become an invaluable resource for new players in the future.



To access the feature, you need to join the New Steam Community Beta group. After that, you can find a game's hub page and click the Guides tab to see what's available.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Yes, GLaDOS’ voice is in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim">Pacific Rim







Contrary to the norm, Hollywood isn't entirely composed of heartless corporate robots. It has people, too, and when not fetching oil martinis for their robot overlords, they like playing games. Take director Guillermo del Toro, for example. Sure, his latest science-fiction epic, Pacific Rim, tips its hat to the Japanese monster films of old with supersized bot-on-brute action, but that's probably not why its debut trailer caught onto gaming circles so quickly. Watch for yourself, but more importantly, listen carefully.



Yep, that's Ellen McLain lending a perfectly replicated GLaDOS voice to the computer systems of Pacific Rim's mega mechs. Someone—perhaps even del Toro himself—on the film crew is an avid Portal fan and decided McLain's modulated tones jives perfectly with punching giant beasts in the face. Considering everyone's favorite evil AI wouldn't ever get caught actually helping humans, that's an impressive feat.



Pacific Rim releases July 12 for the theater platform. McLain has previously trusted us with her delicious Pecan Tassies recipe, which we're still enjoying.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Valve selects first six winners of the Dota 2 Polycount Contest">Dota 2 Deadly Nightshade Polycount Contest







With bajillions over 180,000 players playing Dota 2 simultaneously on the daily, at least a few of the dedicated will know how to push around a digi-brush. The Dota 2 Polycount Contest collected nearly 75 high-quality entries of custom-designed armors to submit to Valve's judgement with the winners having their works included in the in-game store for purchase. On Dota 2's official blog, Valve revealed the first six lucky winners today and touted gorgeous new player-made duds for Crystal Maiden, Naga Siren, Beastmaster, Templar Assassin, Meepo, and Witch Doctor heroes.



Valve determines each contest entry by readability, design, detail, and character profile, offering thoughts and critiques on each winner through the blog. Though artistic flair always shows off a designer's prowess, Valve warned of the importance of exact attention to detail in color gradients and saturation for texture modeling, an especially critical element considering the model scale and viewpoint of most MOBAs. Still, that Beastmaster set is my favorite pick of the lot. Wow.



Valve will announce four additional winners tomorrow and a final grand winner on Friday. Keep checking Dota 2's blog for the latest announcements. Cyborgmatt's blog also contains images and snapshots of all the contest's entrants for browsing.



Beastmaster



Crystal Maiden



Meepo



Naga Siren



Templar Assassin



Witch Doctor
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Valve launches Steam Community Market beta for selling and buying items">Steam Community Market







We’ve been able to trade games for Team Fortress 2 items since last year. Expanding on that functionality, today Valve has made TF2 items sellable for real moneydollars through the new Steam Community Market public beta—with the caveat, of course, that Steam Wallet bucks can’t be extracted from Valve’s service.



The Market’s few categories remain limited to TF2 gear (paints, keys, and crates) for now, but Valve says they “may expand to include additional items from TF2 as well as items from other games” after beta. Considering TF2's roaring trade economy already allows you to barter unredeemed game gift codes for items, doling out Wallet dough isn't a major difference.



Also notable: Purchasing items carries a 5 percent anti-fraud transaction fee and a 10 percent TF2 fee collected by Steam, with the latter representing “a game-specific fee determined and collected by the publisher.” For the moment, a $200 limit on the maximum price (no minimum price) of individual items stands in effect. Both are open to change, Valve says, but baseline Market policy entails all purchases being final and non-refundable.



Head into the Market to browse a rapidly expanding listing of nearly 45,000 items. I half-expect some sort of hat tax when they inevitably show up on the Market as part of Valve’s diabolical plan to leave the video game industry and build a monopolistic headwear empire.

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Indie and Mod DB narrows top 100 nominations for pick of the year">Indie Mod DB awards







Choosing the best thing out of a pile of really good things is always a tough decision, but hey, we're used to it. You too can participate in the careful choicemaking by voting for your favorite mod and indie game of the year over at Mod DB and Indie DB, where the top 100 nominations were just plucked from a gargantuan pool of over 9,000 mods and 5,500 indies.



With friendly vote buttons large and in charge until December 21, each database's 100 selections are sorted by genre and game for easy perusal. Numerous strong contenders vie for your mouse-click's thumbs-up, including noteworthy entries DayZ, The Dark Mod, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and Natural Selection 2.



Current favorites leading the pack are Half-Life 2's powerful mod lineup—among which Black Mesa and our own 2011 Mod of the Year No More Room in Hell count themselves among the ranks—and role-playing indie games. You'll find Legend of Grimrock, Dear Esther, Mount & Blade: Warband, and others in the latter category. But like everyone's slowly expanding backlog of shame, plenty of other potentials yearn for your attention. Head to both award pages for the full lists.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Dota 2 hits new high with 180k concurrent players">Dota 2







Dota 2's popularity hit a new peak on Saturday when it passed the 180,000 concurrent players point. A glance at stats gathered from Steam using Steamgraph turns up a new high for Valve's Dotalike, which has continued to gain popularity after a spike in September triggered by The International tournament. Dota 2's peak figure is second only to Skyrim, which hit 287,411 players shortly after launch late last year.



And no, it's still not out yet, but Valve are pushing out more and more invite tickets to current players. Valve have said that they're rolling Dota 2 out slowly to stop their servers from melting into a plastic puddle, which seems sensible given the consistent player uptake over the past year.



It's not just the expanding playerbase that makes Dota 2 one to watch, Valve's decision to allow tournament organisers to charge for tickets seems to be taking off. The latest post on the Dota 2 blog highlights the success of The Defense 3 tourney, which has "has earned several times more in its first week than The Defense 1 did in its lifetime."



Valve say that "while sponsors and ad revenue are useful sources for tournaments, they’re indirect – the funding doesn’t come from the tournament viewers themselves. We believe that long-term, for tournaments to be stable and grow year over year they need to be self-sustainable from direct revenue, and not at the mercy of changing attitudes in sponsoring companies."



As the year draws to a close it's interesting to try and guess which games will go nova next year. If Dota 2 continues to grow at this rate it could outstrip stern competition from League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth and Blizzard's own long-teased version of Dota. We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, here's that graph showing how the Dota 2 beta has grown since November 2011.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The PC Gamer 2012 Game of the Year nominees">PC Gamer GOTY Nominees







At the end of each year we hand out awards to honor the experiences that live in our best memories of the preceding months—the games that moved us with their ambition, quality, and pioneering spirit. None of the decisions are ever easy, and there's no secret formula: we pit opinion against opinion with straightforward, old-fashioned arguing until one winner is left standing in the GOTY battle cage. Look below for the first landmark of that exciting week-long debate: a list of our eligible winners in 11 categories, including Game of the Year.



Beyond recognizing what games we loved most this year, though, it’s crucial to call attention to a truth that connects them all: PC gaming is exploding. Our hobby is many-tentacled and unbridled—practically every niche, genre, and business model mutated in a meaningful way this year. Two shooters built on new, PC-only technology released (PlanetSide 2 and Natural Selection 2). Dota 2 grew into its adolescence. League of Legends’ Season 2 Championship drew an audience of 8.2 million—the most ever for an eSports event. Modders resurrected content that was thought to be lost. So many remakes and spiritual successors to old school PC games got crowdfunded that we're sure we’d miss some if we tried to list them all.



That said, the following list marks the peaks of this mountainous year, and you'll find out which games won in the next issue of PC Gamer, and here on the web soon.







Dota 2

Dishonored

Mass Effect 3

PlanetSide 2

The Walking Dead

Tribes: Ascend

XCOM: Enemy Unknown







Crusader Kings II

FTL: Faster Than Light

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion

XCOM: Enemy Unknown







Guild Wars 2

PlanetSide 2

Rift: Storm Legion

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria







Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

Diablo III

Mass Effect 3

Torchlight II







Borderlands 2

Dishonored

Far Cry 3

Max Payne 3

Spec Ops: The Line







Hawken

Natural Selection 2

PlanetSide 2

Tribes: Ascend







Dota 2

League of Legends

StarCraft II









Black Mesa: Source

Crusader Kings II: A Game of Thrones

DayZ

The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod







Lone Survivor

The Walking Dead

Thirty Flights of Loving

Resonance









FTL: Faster Than Light

Hotline Miami

Legend of Grimrock

Thirty Flights of Loving







Euro Truck Simulator 2

aeroflyFS

XPlane

Football Manager 2013

...