Product Update - Valve
- Added Compendium Immortals
- Items now drop for all leagues types with more than 500 spectators. The number of drops increases the more spectators there are.
- As of week 3, any fantasy players that are in invalid slots (a Core in a Support slot, or a Support in a Core slot) will score no points.
- Amateur leagues will no longer cause players to show up as Scheduled in the fantasy panels.
- Fixed fantasy player addition priority being in the wrong order.
Community Announcements - Programmer Joe
The Beta for Half-Life 2 has been updated. This includes Episode 1, Episode 2, Lost Coast, and Half-Life: Source.

Changes include:
  • Fixed radio buttons in the Difficulty options.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Alice O'Connor)

No scrubs.

One problem with using Let’s Plays and livestreams to fill video game-shaped longings in my life when I can’t summon the will to actually play one myself–and there may be several problems with this–is that so many are terrible. While good players or good performers can be genuinely entertaining, if they’re not I can’t pretend I’m not trying to fill a gaping emotional hole with ‘content’ and human voices. So huzzah! Twitch is tapping its Steam connection to use magical metadata so viewers can find the good stuff, starting with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

… [visit site to read more]

May 29, 2014
Community Announcements - Programmer Joe
Half-Life 2 (including Lost Coast, Episode 1, Episode 2, and Half-Life: Source) has been updated. This includes all the changes in the Beta since November 2013.

The following changes are included:
  • Improved readability of the UI in VR
  • Removed the IPD calibration tool. TF2 will now obey the Oculus configuration file. Use the Oculus calibration tool in your SDK or install and run "OpenVR" under Tools in Steam to calibrate your IPD.
  • Added dropdown to enable VR mode in the Video options. Removed the -vr command line option.
  • Added the ability to switch in and out of VR mode without quitting the game
  • By default VR mode will run full screen. To switch back to a borderless window set the vr_force_windowed convar.
  • Added support for VR mode on Linux
  • Added VR support to Half-Life: Source
  • Fix for an issue some players were seeing for the second train in Route Kanal getting stuck and blocking forward progress.
PC Gamer
Crystal Maiden Snowdrop

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

It is the most human thing in the world to want to be the coolest person in the room. Competition for status is written into our society and culture. It is why we valourise the assertion of individual will and downplay collective success. It's how teenagers figure out who they are. It's how democracy (sort of) functions, how movies get made, how lies pass into general acceptance. It's a process we can't shake, a process that generates politicians and celebrities and bullies and to the point some really, really shitty Dota players.

Dota 2 is about other people. Its strangest contradiction is that it demands a huge amount of collaboration and selflessness but that the loudest praise will always be reserved for individual people and individual plays. This contradiction is how the same crowd that went wild for fountain-hooking at last year's International can then decry the tournament's eventual champions as rats for making a series of solid if unflashy strategic decisions. We're trained to praise the exceptional over the capable, to chase exceptional victories instead of, you know, victories. This is one of those lazy default positions that demands real thought to conquer. It's essential to get over yourself in order to be any good at Dota, but doing so means shaking yourself out of the notion that a competitive game is there to give you what you want. It means losing the idea that you are the hero.

When a game becomes a sport, it sheds many of the ideas that come with being a commercial entertainment product. In sport, you don't assume that everybody who takes part has a right to win or even a right to have everything their way. These assumptions are common in gaming, however, legacies of the notion that the customer knows best; that the player is the person in charge. Yet in Dota, as in sport, there will always be people who try to buy in to the kind of legitimacy that only practice can really earn; who believe that they can warp sport into a game that they control. The guy who buys lots of Pudge cosmetics and locks him at the start of every game is the same guy who shows up to a tennis court with expensive gear and no idea what he's doing.

Pudge is the most popular hero in the game by an order of magnitude because he's Dendi's hero, even though Dendi rarely plays him competitively; because he represents the lone skillful player rather than the boring collective. Yet locking Pudge is also shorthand for a naive and solipsistic view of the game for exactly this reason it indicates that somebody is incapable of putting the game at hand ahead of the fantasies that they'd like to entertain about themselves.

This is where the nature of videogames and, in particular, Dota's origins as an RPG-RTS hybrid complicate things even further. I used to try to embody myself in every competitive game I played. I had a couple of boring and unoriginal ideas about who I wanted to be the assassin, the lone wolf, the rogue agent and I bullishly stuck to them regardless of my success level or the needs of the people around me. I slipped into scrubland, to borrow David Sirlin's use of the term. I wanted to win on my own terms, not somebody else's.

To an extent, this is reasonable. The promise of an RPG is experiencing adventure and triumph as an idealised version of yourself; the appeal of an RTS is in seeing your strategic mind actualised in the movement of pieces on a board or map. I can look at Dota 2's roster of heroes and see myself in some of them but not others. I might want to be Storm Spirit, and decide that Storm Spirit is who I'm going to play, but then I'm going to learn that I'm really Dark Seer. I'm really Phoenix. I'm really Centaur Warrunner. I'm really Mirana. I'm really whoever the hell my team needs me to be.

Playing as part of an organised team has taught me a lot over the last couple of weeks, but the biggest thing I've learned is that it's wins that matter, not people or plays. Dota 2 is a game about looking at five players and five heroes and figuring out how to arrange them so that the other guy's magical rock garden blows up. That's all there it is to it but resolving that formula requires selflessness and collaboration. It requires individuals to give up their individuality in service to a greater goal, and that is why it is such an uphill struggle when you're queuing for matches by yourself. Individualism is the norm; the dream that this time this time! I'm going to be the hero is the game's most crooked draw.

If you feel like you can only play a particular kind of Dota, force yourself into the unfamiliar. Play Single Draft, or Least Played, or something. If you only want to play a particular kind of Dota, then understand that you're waiving your right to complain when games don't go your way. Dota, like society or any other cooperative enterprise, does not function when individuals are only looking out for themselves. I appreciate that I am probably going to piss off a bunch of libertarians by framing the issue in that way, but I'm okay with that.

The really cool thing about videogames is that they can be used as a way of practicing shifts in behaviour or thinking that can be mirrored in other contexts. The game is victim to all sorts of social and cultural pressures that bring about undesirable traits in its players, but it also exists in dialogue with those pressures it is possible, by learning to put other people before yourself in a videogame, to get some sense of what that change might look like in the rest of your life.

To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - (Nathan Grayson)

Evolve is the next game from original Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock, and that alone should be enough to turn an eye or two or however many you happen to have. I was a giant firebreathing space mutant recently, so I can’t judge. I got to go hands-on with Evolve’s second batch of Hunters and gameplay options, and I came away with opinions. Powerful ones, beastly thoughts that couldn’t be caged by mere words alone. So I made this video for you instead. Watch it below.>

… [visit site to read more]

Community Announcements - Programmer Joe
The Beta version of Half-Life 2 has been updated. This update includes a fix some players were seeing for the second train in Route Kanal getting stuck and blocking forward progress. Episode 1, Episode 2, Lost Coast, and Half-Life: Source betas have also been updated because of the code they share with Half-Life 2.
Community Announcements - CS:GO Official
Release Notes for 5/28/2014

- Cobblestone
-- Blocked long sightline from back of Bombsite B
-- No longer possible to plant on top of hut at bombsite A
-- Made statue base at bombsite B taller, so players can't peek over
-- Made hut on bombsite B catwalk wider
-- Moved all T spawns to upper level
-- Decreased fog
-- Removed small tree near platform in mid
-- Pushed down some vegetation that players could hide in
-- Disabled collision on small rocks
-- Blocked visibility through cart in mid
-- Revised cover in Bombsite B courtyard

- Overpass
-- Redesigned the connector between canal and park
-- Made tunnels under Bombsite A easier to navigate
-- Added lights to hut near Bombsite A

- Matches in which a whole team gets disconnected will no longer terminate and the disconnected players will get the opportunity to reconnect and finish the match.
- Added a new context menu option 'Use With Trade Up Contract,' which will be visible when you own ten or more items of the same quality.
- Weapons can no longer be deleted from the inventory.
- Added a game setting for streamers to allow backend integration with new directory.
- Added backend integration with Steam Community for better inventory filtering and Steam Community Market search.
- Added support for per-channel ratelimits in engine threaded network layer, ratelimits are controlled with a group of net_threaded_socket convars.
- Fixed pistol round achievements to award player progress in the pistol round of the second half in competitive matches.
- Fixed several rare crashes on clients and servers.
- Fixed a problem in tournament round backups when players had invalid characters in their persona names.
PC Gamer

I played a vitamin D deficiency-fostering amount of CS:GO over the long weekend. In one of my dozen-some competitive matches (CS:GO s excellent five-on-five matchmaking mode), I noticed that one of my opponents was livestreaming. After we won, we booted up the archived video together, commenting in Mumble as we watched. It was a rare chance for my CS:GO group and I to see ourselves through an opponent s eyes (and comms) what did it look like to play against us? These were my takeaways.

Here's the replay file of the match, if you're into that: steam://rungame/730/76561202255233023/+csgo_download_match%20CSGO-X8bCn-P5Cmw-MBvNv-naDSf-YYmQD
My mental picture of my opponents is completely wrong
I ve won 107 competitive matches. My rank swings between Master Guardian II and Master Guardian Elite, which places me at the outer edge of average. At that level, 13th rank out of a possible 18, I expect a basic set of skills from opponents:

Comprehensive map knowledge
Smart money management
Good marksmanship, anticipation, audio awareness

For the most part, our opponents had all of this. They won both pistol rounds against us (and the two eco rounds that followed). Their accuracy was good. Their rotations were a little slow on defense, but big deal.

I tend to assume, perhaps as a defense mechanism, perhaps out of insecure cowardice, that everyone I play a competitive game against is better than me. But watching the game from their perspective revealed a bunch of bad decisions and impulsive decision-making, stuff that s invisible to me when I m not looking through the eyes of my enemy. At 7:15 the livestreaming player walks through smoke with a grenade pulled and dies; at 7:30 his teammate walks through the same smoke and dies. At 8:30 they again walk through smoke together to bombsite B. In round 13, down 8-4 (absolutely not an insurmountable deficit for the Terrorist side they actually tie it 9-9 after switching to CT), and with $7700 in the bank, he buys an armor, a Desert Eagle, and a decoy grenade. Round 14, their plan is to rush through smoke on B, which they bicker over a bit before clumsily committing to. Second round, second half, he buys a Scout after winning the pistol round.

But beyond those avoidable mistakes... how can I put it? Over my hundreds of hours in competitive mode, some portion of which has involved being taunted and called a long list of creative insults, I d painted this image of my hypothetical opponent being a hardcore, misanthropic, snarking, probably-racist with a chip their shoulder.

In reality, I was playing against someone barely out of their adolescence, 32-ounce Jamba Juice cup perpetually in-hand, who listens to EDM mid-match, and whose mom at one point barges in on him. Late in the match, presumably bored or having given up, he goes AFK multiple times to text on his phone. I haven t showered in two days, he confesses at 5:09.

Hackers are everywhere, but maybe it doesn t matter
Even after our recent investigation, it s tough to say just how prevalent hacking is in CS:GO based on my own anecdotal evidence, but there s certainly enough distrust swirling around competitive play to make it unpleasant. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but the reality is that the inability to spectate your opponents mid-match leaves a lot of room for suspicion, especially because most hacks can be toggled on or off at will. So you look for signals, like a Steam profile with a miniscule amount of hours-played, no weapon skins, or that only owns CS:GO all evidence that signifies a smurf account but even in cases where someone s openly hacking there isn t anything you can do in the context of your match apart from outplaying them.

What was illuminating about this match, though, was how quickly the other team was convinced that one of us were hacking as one of them are openly talking about activating their own hacks. At 16:30, Vagabond makes a disgusting AWP shot on bombsite B after another clutch pick on construction. Instantly, the livestreamer reports him. Later:

Vagabond s walling.
He s retarded for walling on his main account.

Vagabond and Tetharis, you guys are fucking hacking c****.

Sprinkled throughout, you can hear them talking openly about hacking:

Wait, so you re walling?
Yeah, how do you think we won that?

Down 9-13, one of them says I m gonna have to toggle again, I don t know if we re gonna win.

Had these guys just accepted hacking as a necessary evil in CS:GO? It was genuine surprise to learn that one of them were cheating, and it s annoying that there s no way I can report them after the fact, but should I care? We won pretty comfortably, by CS:GO standards. Are way more people hacking than I suspect, and I just don t notice because it doesn t have a significant impact on that match?

Either way, it supports my concern that at least some people are using CS:GO s reporting system out of spite and paranoid suspicion, and not with the restraint they should.

Above: Vagabond makes a bold, patient play on de_nuke.
...We re not terrible?
It s so easy, at least for me, to doubt and understate your skill level in competitive games. Matchmaking is designed to put you up against people about as good or better than you, and that experience, for me at least, tends to hide a lot of the actual learning and progress I make because you're so concerned with playing to the level of your opponent.

My group still makes plenty of mistakes, and I m constantly unhappy about how inconsistent my rifle accuracy is, but at this point in our CS:GO amateur careers I can see that we ve eliminated so many bad habits that we had two months ago. Our positioning is consistent, but we know when to juggle our tactics to avoid being predictable. We don t give up on rounds. We don't crouch-walk around corners. We can read and recognize when a grenade toss signifies a rush-feint. We have an understanding of each other s strengths and comfort zones. I know that drgmatt plays apartments on de_inferno with a P90, while Tetharis and Caesar like to play B with M4s. I love our flash on apartments at 37:27.

I m proudest of our comms, which are so much cleaner and abbreviated than our opponents . Our callouts are quick and to the point, respectful of the need to listen for footsteps and grenade clinks. Hearing opponents vocalize reactions to our plays was really valuable. CS:GO s built-in replay tool ( Watch on the main menu) doesn t archive any voice audio from matches, of course, but considering how quickly rounds come and go in Counter-Strike, it s still a terrific tool for understanding why you won or lost.
PC Gamer
Dota 2 ESL One Frankfurt

At the end of June some of the best Dota 2 teams in the world will meet in the 51,000-seat Commerzbank Arena to battle for a prize pool of nearly $200,000. It's sure to be a terrific event for anyone who loves Dota, or watching esports with huge crowds of fans, and we have five pairs of weekend passes to give away.

Teams include Fnatic, EG and International champs, Alliance and Na'Vi. They're playing for a prize pot enhanced by ESL's own version of the Dota 2 Compendium, with its own stretch goals.

The finals take place on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 of June. The tickets we're giving away will grant access to both days of competition. Alongside the games there will be autograph sessions, sessions with some of the Dota 2 workshop's most talented artists, a cosplay competition and a secret shop full of Dota 2 goodies.

To win a pair of tickets, invent a Dota 2 hero and describe them in under 50 words. Give them a name, and an ability. Please email your answer to with the subject header "ESL One Frankfurt Answer". Winners will be announced next Monday. NB: travel to Frankfurt isn't included as part of the prize.

UPDATE: we've had so many entries, we're going push back the announcement of the winners to Wednesday June 4. You're free to send your answers up until June 4, so there's still time!

If you'd like to buy tickets, you'll find various options on the ESL One Frankfurt bookings page. You can find out more in the event FAQ and on the ESL One Frankfurt site.


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