Portal 2

Valve has returned to the world of Portal for Moondust, a brand new virtual reality demo. Working for Aperture Science's Lunar Resources Initiative, you are sent into spaaaace to construct a modular space station, and then down onto the Moon itself for further testing.

Moondust is a sandbox experience designed to show off the Knuckles EV2, Valve's latest VR controller. Specifically, you'll be manipulating objects using the device's pinch grip technology and ability to finely detect hand poses and movement.

On board with that? Then you'll be crushing moon rocks, driving a moon buggy, building things and lobbing items onto targets in no time.

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Dota 2

It seems the Netherlands' threat to prosecute video game companies over loot boxes has claimed its first victim: Valve.

Players of CS:GO and Dota 2 in the Netherlands were today greeted with a message from Valve saying the company had pulled item trading and Steam Marketplace transfers for both games.

Valve said the move was in response to the Dutch threat to prosecute video game companies who failed to alter their game's design by 20th June after it found some loot boxes were gambling.

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Half-Life 2

Have you ever wondered what video game cities would look like as Ordnance Survey maps? A new project is working on turning the likes of City 17 from Half-Life, Los Santos from Grand Theft Auto and New Vegas from Fallout into city maps, so we may soon find out.

Konstantinos Dimopoulos, a game urbanist, writer and designer with a PhD in urban planning and geography is working with visual artist Maria Kallikaki to create the very first atlas of video game cities, the appropriately-named Virtual Cities.

Virtual Cities, which is currently looking for funding on Unbound, includes over 40 game cities, including Yakuza's Kamurocho, Silent Hill, Ant Attack's Antescher and Shadowrun's Hong Kong. Over 40 original maps and more than 100 drawings are being worked on.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Hot on the heels of the Netherlands declaring loot boxes are gambling and therefore illegal, Belgium has had its say.

The Belgian Gaming Commission looked at Star Wars Battlefront 2, FIFA 18, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and found only Star Wars was not in violation of the country's gambling legislation - and that's only because EA stripped out the game's loot boxes after its launch debacle.

It determined FIFA 18, Overwatch and CS:GO's loot boxes are a game of chance and so are subject to Belgian gambling law. Battlefront 2, at the time the investigation was conducted, did not have loot boxes, so escapes unscathed.

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Dota 2

The Netherlands has determined some loot boxes are gambling - and warned video game publishers to modify their loot boxes to remove "addiction-sensitive" elements before mid-June.

The Dutch gaming authority said it had looked into loot boxes in 10 games (it sounds like they picked the 10 most popular games on Twitch), and found four contravened its Betting and Gaming Act. It said the content of these loot boxes was determined by chance and, crucially, the prizes could be traded outside of the game. Therefore, the prizes have a market value.

"Offering this type of game of chance to Dutch players without a licence is prohibited," the Dutch gaming authority concluded.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

I have no idea how dunking a bunch of 20-somethings in a hole in a frozen lake helps pro esports organisation Fnatic find a new Counter-Strike: Global Offensive academy team, nor how watching a largely unfit group tackle a kind of special ops obstacle course helps their cause, but it's cringingly fun to watch. And that, I suppose, is what Season 2 of CSGO reality show Gamerz is all about.


Gamerz whittles CSGO applications from all over Europe (this is the Euro edition) into two teams of six players, then moves them into a house together for 20 days, and peppers them with various challenges in addition to playing the game. Over the course of the show, underperforming players will be turfed out and replaced by new challengers entering the fray.

There's a new episode every day, in addition to live lunchtime practices, and Episode 3 airs today. Episode 1 follows the gang, which includes two UK players - ardiis and neph - as they meet each other, do the military exercises mentioned above, and settle into their new house. It's all a bit contrived and awkward, naturally, but settles in Episode 2 when the two fresh teams get down to business in a best of 30 CSGO match.

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Dota 2

Capcom has submitted an Amaterasu Courier for use in Dota 2 - and it looks like it will be added to the game.

Amaterasu, protagonist of Capcom's lovely Okami series, is currently up for votes on the Steam Workshop. The reception has been positive, so it looks like Valve will approve this one for inclusion in its hugely popular MOBA.

The video, below, shows off how Amaterasu looks in Dota 2.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive


Counter-strike: Global Offensive has a new matchmaking system which takes into account your behaviour across Steam - not just in CS:GO.

Valve's new system assigns every player a hidden value, known as their Trust Factor. This score is derived from how you have played CS:GO - whether you have had reports lodged against you for cheating, for example - but also your activities in other Steam games.

In a blog post explaining the system, Valve said it deliberately avoiding explaining what other activities it was monitoring that would be folded into your Trust Factor value.

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Team Fortress 2


Valve's decision to make online shooter Team Fortress 2 free to play was a resounding success, it's said.


Revenue from the game was 12 times higher than the game's monthly sales following the June 2011 switch, Valve's Joe Ludwig said during a Gamasutra attended GDC panel.


Prior to that, when Valve introduced the item store to the game, money made from the sale of virtual items was four times larger than revenues from sales of the game itself.


In hindsight, it seems like the decision to go F2P was a no brainer, but according to Ludwig, Valve were worried about it.


"This is just the beginning of taking the lessons we've learned from TF2 and applying them to Steam itself," Ludwig said. "It was risky, everything could have gone horribly wrong, but we felt it was worth the risk to try the new business model."


Valve's decision to make TF2 F2P was motivated by issues with the triple-A boxed game business.


"The trouble is, when you're a AAA box game, the only people who can earn you new revenue are the people who haven't bought your game," Ludwig explained.


"This drives you to build new content to attract new people, There's a fundamental tension between building the game to satisfy existing players and attract new players."


In October last year Valve boss Gabe Newell said TF2's user base had increased by a factor of five since it adopted the free-to-play model.


The game enjoys a 20 to 30 per cent conversion rate of people who are playing who buy something - much higher than other F2P games.

Half-Life 2


Upcoming Valve games Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive will support the Razer Hydra PC motion controller.


Motion gaming support has been added to over 250 of the most popular games on Steam, including Left 4 Dead 2, Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2, via creator Sixense's MotionCreatorTM 2.0 software.


Steam users will get motion control updates for current and future titles automatically from now on. A new in-game overlay lets you view control maps for the Razer Hydra as you play.


The Razer Hydra uses an electromagnetic field, via a base station, to track hand movements as you hold two motion-sensing controllers, both complete with thumb sticks.


We first heard of the Razer Hydra Valve love affair early last year, when we discovered those who owned the Razer Hydra were entitled to exclusive Portal 2 content.

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