17th July 2013 – ValveTime Weekly (and a half) News Round-Up


American Today News

Hi, and welcome to the ValveTime news. Each week (and a half), we’ll bring you the biggest talking points regarding Valve and the community. I was on vacation until early this week, which is why you’re just getting this episode now on Wednesday. Let’s not delay any further… now, the news: It was a rather momentous week (and a half) for Valve after a number of surprise reveals, updates, and releases continued to flow out almost continuously. The ball got rolling on Wednesday with Dota 2, after an accidental update to the Steam Store page revealed something rather interesting. At around 6pm PST on Tuesday July 9th 2013, Valve uploaded a new blog post to the Dota 2 website entitled “The Beta Is Over,” explaining how, after almost two years of beta testing, the invite-only constraints have been removed from Dota 2 for the first time, making the game public after around 3-4 years of internal development. While anyone can now download Dota 2 for free from the Steam Store page, there is a catch, as outlined in the “Transitioning to Launch Mode” blog post released back in late June. For the time being at least, Valve are releasing the game to the community in player waves by introducing a download queue, which will automatically notify the user when it is their time to download the game and play.

While this system may initially seem restrictive and counter-productive, an announcement page released alongside the blog post goes into significant details regarding the game’s rolling launch, highlighting that their worldwide server hubs currently have enough capacity to host an additional 450,000 concurrent players on top of the 300,000+ peak player base active each day. The release queue prevents large influxes of players from crashing or overwhelming the existing server infrastructure in order to avoid disastrous always-online launches similar to that of Diablo 3 and SimCity. If you’re looking to learn more about the release, or you would like to get your hands on the game itself, be sure to head on to the links in the video description to both the Steam Store and the Dota 2 blog.

We’re still deciding whether or not we feel Dota 2 can be reviewed with a traditional video review, so stay tuned for that possibly coming soon sometime in the near future. The launch of Dota 2 was celebrated with one of the largest patches in the game’s already long and storied history. The update, which was released to the test client on Wednesday and applied to the main client on Friday, introduced a brand new melee strength hero known as Abaddon. While he is largely played in a support role, Abaddon is also one of the most versatile heroes in the game thanks to his powerful utility abilities which include Aphotic Shield, a damage blocking barrier capable of preventing the target unit from taking 200 damage over a 15 second period; and Death Coil, a ranged nuked which also doubles as a friendly heal, allowing Abaddon to heal 250hp to allies or deal 250 damage to enemy units.

His ultimate, known as Borrowed Time, creates a shield around Abaddon which removes most negative buffs while causing all damage taken to heal him instead of injuring. While support for the Linux and Mac operating systems was added to the test client, Valve are keen to keep the feature away from the main client until a number of key issues have been ironed out. The update also introduced several cosmetic item sets for AntiMage, Dark Seer, Clinkz, Morphling, Doom, Spirit Breaker, and many more. Other cosmetic items included in the update include a new Dragon Scale HUD, the LGD Golden Skipper, Mok the Mandrill and Smeevil Crab couriers, and an all new Defense Grid announcer pack. “All pick! Congratulations!” “You’ve proven your mettle and beaten back the enemy.” “We now return to our regularly-scheduled carnage.” The International Interactive Compendium also received multiple major updates including Smeevil treat rewards for the player card collection mini-game, a page for the Solo 1v1 Championship voting, and a new “International Fantasy Challenge.” The new fantasy system allows compendium owners to select eight professional tournament players to place into a fantasy team.

Professional players will then automatically generate points for the fantasy teams based on their performance in their respective role as a carry, solo hero, or support. A new spectator dropdown box named “Fantasy Points” allows viewers of live matches to check out how well players in their fantasy team may or may not be doing. Players will be able to earn new items based on how well their fantasy teams perform each day during the main International 3 tournament in August of this year.

For more information regarding this week’s Dota 2 patch, head on over to our full write-up on ValveTime.net, CyborgMatt’s full patch analysis, or the official update changelog over on the Dota 2 wiki. Earlier in the Dota 2 segment we mentioned it was July, and July means summer (mostly), and summer means the Steam Summer Sale, which arrived on Thursday of last week. This year’s “Steam Summer Getaway Sale” event will run from July 11th until July 22nd and has introduced the return of the lengthy 24-hour daily sales, brief eight hour flash deals, and the vote-determined community choice.

Several new features have also been implemented for the first time, including the daily unveiling of trading card support for a number of featured titles currently on sale, including Bioshock Infinite and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, and the arrival of a new “Summer Getaway Badge.” Remember the “mystery” cards we told you about last week? Well, the cards continued to update every two days until the sale arrived on Thursday, where they were eventually changed to Summer Getaway Trading Cards, a set of ten used to craft the newly revealed badge. Unlike normal game trading cards, Summer Getaway cards can only be received via three unique methods, which include crafting other game badges, spending over $10 in the Steam Store, and for voting three times in the previously mentioned community choice.

After collecting all ten cards and crafting the summer getaway badge, the user will be rewarded with limited edition summer-themed emoticons and profile customization, include planes, postcards, and support game backgrounds. While we’re not running a daily Summer Sale Summary series like last year, we have included useful links in the video description which you can use to visit the sale FAQ page and the main Steam Store. Happy shopping! After a number of additional preview blog posts this week, the large Team Fortress 2 update Valve revealed last week was finally released.

The update, which was released late on Wednesday, introduced 64 new items, a series of eight new summer-themed crates, a wide selection of weapon balance tweaks, and an impressive number of map fixes alongside two new control point maps known as cp_process, a straightforward 5CP map; and cp_standin, a more unusual level with only 3 points which may be captured in any order and must be held at the same time to claim victory over the opposing team. As teased in the blog post last week, a large number of major changes and tweaks were also made, such as fixes for standard and Mann vs Machine maps such as Dustbowl, Badlands, 2fort, Goldrush, Badwater Basin, Coaltown Event, Big Rock, and many more. A blog post early last week previewed a number of changes included with the update set to dramatically alter a multitude of weapons and item sets in order to refresh the metagame and to rebalance certain builds. These changes include the removal of gameplay bonuses for numerous itemsets including the Heavy’s Hibernating Bear, the Pyro’s Gas Jockey’s Gear, the Sniper’s Croc-o-Style Kit, and several others.

Other weapon changes made with the update include an added overheal limit for the Medic’s Quick-Fix, an additional 40% cloak duration for the Spy’s L’Etranger, afterburn fire immunity for the Demoman’s Chargin Targe, and a marked-for-death effect for the Soldier’s Escape Plan, and many more. The update included too many changes for us to talk about here, so we’ve included links in the video description to our full write-up over on ValveTime.net, each of the preview blog posts on the Team Fortress 2 website, and the official update changelog over on the game’s wiki.

For this week’s discussion, we want to know if you’re satisfied with the Team Fortress 2 update or not. Don’t forget to explain what you’re happy or unhappy about. Oh yes, that reminds me! Last episode, we mentioned we would give a free Steam copy of Frozen Synapse to one lucky viewer who participated in our weekly discussion, and we’re glad to announce we have chosen our winner. Congratulations to GamingObvious, who explained why they would like to see an account partnership with Amazon to allow Steam users to buy Steam Gift cards and games from the website before having the content instantly available to them on their main Steam client. While we don’t see this as a particularly viable or realistic possibility, given the additional middleman charges required for such a partnership to be viable, it’s an extremely interesting idea which we could really see working with some other kind of online outlet.

Since we think it would be unfair to ignore pwnage73, who also suggested a similar idea two days earlier, we have decided to expand the giveaway by giving Frozen Synapse to GamingObvious and by offering an extra gift to pwnage73. Check your YouTube inboxes shortly, as we’ll send messages your way letting you know how you can claim your prizes. Well done to everyone who took part. We had some really great and original suggestions, so we look forward to running more similar contests soon. Ever wondered what interns at Valve get up to? Well, now we know. On Friday of this week, a number of high school interns currently working at Valve released a new video which previewed a new web-based educational initiative service known as “Valve Pipeline.” The new, entirely intern-designed initiative has been created to help provide advice and assistance to teenagers and young people looking to start a career in the video game or film industries.

The announcement video features appearances from Gabe Newell and a number of interns and was released alongside a brand new website which provides a closer look at the Pipeline via a brief description and a FAQ explaining Valve’s motivations behind this new educational program. This quote from the FAQ briefly sums up the service: The team have included a sign-up section at the bottom of the website to allow interested individuals to sign up for an upcoming newsletter. While this is by no means some kind of easy foot-in-the-door access for aspiring students or game designers, Pipeline definitely seems like a good opportunity to acquire some insider knowledge and advice straight from Valve’s own employees. We’ve included links to the main Pipeline website and the introductory video in the description should you want to take a look. Earlier last week, Valve employees were reportedly scouting the scene at the “Develop in Brighton” conference in the hopes of opening a new office in the United Kingdom after the company opened an office in Luxembourg last year. While few details were shared about the potential new office, Valve did tell Develop that the Steam-focused Luxembourg S.A.R.L.

Office, which is currently manned by five employees, could be upgraded to a full development studio sometime in the future as the company continues to expand. The Luxembourg office provides Valve HQ with easier access to European developers with no massive time zone difference, and we imagine a new office in the UK would only improve their international connections, so we’ll be sure to keep you posted if and when we learn more. Remember a few weeks ago when the update for Sven Co-op was released alongside a brief hint at a major upcoming announcement for the long running Half-Life 1 mod? The development team over at Sven Co-op have finally revealed their next major step, as they were recently granted access by Valve to work on their own custom version of the Half-Life engine.

The next version of the mod, set for release at an undisclosed time in the “near future,” will appear as a standalone title on Steam which will be free for all users, meaning a purchase of the original Half-Life is no longer required even though the standalone mod will still feature the original game’s campaign. The standalone version will also feature many of the Steam features we have come to know and love, including frequent automatic updates, SteamPipe delivery support, and improved game stability. With access to the engine’s original 15 year old source code, Sven and the team are able to update the engine to feature improvements to Half-Life’s version of the original Hammer editor and increase technical limitations, allowing the engine to support larger and more detailed maps and in-game systems.

The team have promised to reveal more news and progress updates soon, so we’ll keep you posted. Until then, be sure to head on over to our full write-up on ValveTime.net, or check out the original news post over on the Sven Co-op website. Tim Larkin, one of Valve’s composers responsible for musical tracks found in Dota 2, is set to appear as a guest conductor at the Video Games Live San Diego Comic-Con pre-show on Saturday July 20th. The show will feature live orchestral performances of musical pieces from a variety of games, including Assassin’s Creed, Shadow of the Colossus, Chrono Trigger, Journey, and, of course, Dota 2. Saturday’s performance, which begins at 6pm PST, will begin with a two hour pre-show before the main event runs from 8pm until 10:30pm. Tim Larkin is set to take the stage as a guest conductor during the pre-show for ten minutes at 6:10pm. If you’re nowhere near San Diego and you’re unable to attend the event in person, Video Games Live are planning to live stream the full event on Twitch.TV, with the broadcast set to take place on the official VGL channel. We’ve included as a link in the video description should you want to head on over and take a look.

In merchandise news, the Valve Store revealed that NECA’s Gravity Gun full scale replica has finally been released, and is now available from retailers worldwide. We’ve included a link to NECA’s original reveal page in the video description, should you want to take a closer look at the zero-point energy field manipulator. Early last week, we were sent a video by community member James Beegle highlighting a video of something we’ve never really covered on the show before. The video in question, currently being shown on screen, features an astonishingly good segmented speedrun of Half-Life 2 by the team over at SourceRuns.org. The team, which consists of around 14 individuals, spent over 600 days attempting to complete the 1:world-record-breaking run, which they have dubbed “Half-Life 2 Done With a High Magnitude of Velocity.” While we won’t spoil much more of the speedrun for you here, we recommend you keep an eye out for a few select moments of intense brilliance, with our favorite sections undoubtedly being the “Highway 17” and “Sandtraps” chapters.

If you want to check out the full DWaHMoV speedrun for yourself, be sure to head on over via a link in the video description, or the annotation link set to appear on screen in a few moments. That brings us to the end of another week (and a half) of Valve news. Don’t forget to head on over to our Steam Workshop Dota 2 announcer pack submission to rate us positively! We’ve almost reached the 1,000 mark, so we’re quite excited. We’ll be back to our regular weekly schedule at the weekend, so try to enjoy the summer sale until then. Just… watch those wallets.

Thanks for watching and bye for now. .

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