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Sometimes, you’d rather stretch out on the living room couch in your underwear than be the deli meat in a couch co-op sandwich. Valve today shared its plans to make Steam’s local multiplayer games playable online, so from now on, you won’t have to elbow your way into some personal space when you’re already screaming at your teammates for dropping the pasta in Overcooked 2.
Valve announced the feature, called Remote Play Together, to developers who then shared the news with the public. Its beta is launching around October 21. Any game that offers local multiplayer (including split-screen and local-co-op play) will be able to plug in an online player 2 using a Steam Overlay. “When the Friend accepts an invitation to play, it’s as though they’re playing side by side at the same machine,” Valve’s message reads. It continues:
“Much like a traditional split-screen experience, the host’s computer is running the game, but with Remote Play Together friends can join using their own controllers, voice, audio, and display — regardless of whether they also own the game on Steam.
Any controllers connected to the second player’s computer will act as if they’re plugged directly into the first computer. The player hosting the game can also choose to allow or block inputs to their shared keyboard and mouse.”
Up to four players will be able to game with each other with Remote Play Together. Valve says it “renders 60 frames per second at a resolution of 1080p,” too, if your internet is good enough.
Half-Life is one of the best games of all time, but it’s not without flaws. First released on CD-ROM in 1998, in the early days it wasn’t always easy to update. It’s easier these days . This week, Valve updated the game, even though it’s been two decades since release.
A new patch for Half-Lifereleased on Steam yesterday, making a few tweaks to the landmark first person shooter. Some of the changes are small, but a few of them fix surprising issues. Chief among these is a change to the MP5 submachinegun’s bullet spread. It turns out that the current version of Half-Life had incorrect values: The bullet spread pattern for multiplayer was being used in single player, and the single player version was used in multiplayer. Another interesting issue affected by the patch prevents players from changing the value of the console command “sv_cheats” in multiplayer. As you might guess from the name, “sv_cheats” is a console command used to turn on cheat codes. Many an old-school player, eager to mess with the game, has set the value to 1 and then toggled god mode or used the “impulse 101” command to have every weapon in the game. Yesterday’s change prevents players from turning on cheats while in a multiplayer server, instead letting the server owner dictate that.
Another change theoretically affects speedrunners, although in practice things will mostly remain unchanged. In early versions of Half-Life, it was possible to make characters such as scientists and security guards to turn faster if you limited your framerate to 20 frames per second. This made them turn and head to objectives faster. The new fix adjusts turning speed on modern versions of the game. Since most Half-Life speedruns are done on much older version, this won’t affect much, but the idea of Valve somehow patching out an old exploit after 20 years is exciting.
Half-Life isn’t the only game in the series to be patched recently. Half-Life 2 received a patch last month which finally allowed non-playable characters to blink again. And while I’m totally sure that Valve is working on Half-Life 3 for the PlayStation 6, it’s reassuring to know that the older games still get some love.
Among them were 48 PS4 and Xbox One games. Which he sold to GameStop for $335.
Last month, Bellevue Police charged 32 year-old Shawn Shaputis with a succession of burglaries in 2018, including repeatedly breaking into the headquarters of Valve and stealing a bunch of games, computers and accessories.
As Polygon report, he was charged with one count of burglary and one count of trafficking of stolen property related to the GameStop sale, which was a real thing and price and not just a joke I made up for the intro.
Police say he gained access to Valve HQ through a “non-functioning stairwell door”, and was able to steal the games and equipment from the 11th floor of the building, one of nine occupied by the company.
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Back in 2015, Valve got sued by a French consumer organization called UFC-Que Choisir (not to be confused with non-French, non-consumer organization the Ultimate Fighting Championship). UFC-Que Choisir had a multitude of bones to pick with the longtime Steam steward, the biggest among them being that Steam doesn’t let users resell their games. Four years later, a French court has ruled in UFC-Que Choisir’s favor. Valve plans to appeal.
According to the French gaming siteNumerama, as well as UFC-Que Choisir itself, the High Court of Paris ruled in UFC-Que Choisir’s favor earlier this week. If Valve’s appeal fails, this ruling stands to have ramifications not just in France, but across the European Union. Specifically, the court didn’t find Valve’s defense that Steam is a subscription service compelling. As a result, the court declared that users should be allowed to resell Steam games.
The court ruled in favor of UFC-Que Choisir on other counts, too. In its original suit, the organization had also taken aim at the fact that, if a user leaves Steam, Valve would keep whatever currency was left in their Steam Wallet. The recent ruling states that the company will instead have to reimburse users who request it. Valve must now also accept responsibility when users say an item on Steam caused them harm, even if it’s in beta. Valve’s rights to users’ mods and community content will also be diminished, and the company will have to clarify the conditions under which users can lose access to Steam for poor behavior.
If Valve refuses to change its rules and post the court’s decision to Steam within a month, it will have to pay a fine of up to 3,000 Euros per day for up to six months.
Again, though, Valve, plans to appeal the ruling. “We disagree with the decision of the Paris Court of First Instance and will appeal it,” a Valve representative told Kotaku in an email. “The decision will have no effect on Steam while the case is on appeal.”
So don’t expect any major changes in the near future. Still, it’s notable that UFC-Que Choisir scored this victory, and it could very well lead to changes on Valve’s platform. A 2014 Australian court ruling, for example, led to Steam’s current refund policy. Similarly, the company began to go after the 2.3 billion dollar Counter-Strike gambling ring that sprung up in its backyard in 2016 only after lawsuits began to trickle in. For now, however, the appeal still lies ahead, so probably don’t go around trying to pawn off your old, digital-dust-covered games just yet.
Valve released a matchmaking update for DOTA 2 yesterday, and as part of it, some players breaking the rules have begun receiving comically long bans.
Valve’s notice for the update says it’s targeting “bad actors”, aka those with “exceptionally low behavior scores”, anyone buying or selling Steam accounts to get a higher rank, players “using exploits to gain an advantage over other players” and smurf accounts.
That’s how online ban waves always work, but some of the bans being handed out in this case are huge. Like our guy YeezyReseller, who woke up to find his account banned for 19 years, orzatlant here who asked the community why he was also banned for the same amount of time and quickly received a response (he had quit over 60% of his games).
The idea of a 19-year ban for a video game is absolutely hilarious to me, but doubly so when you see the end date is 2038. That’s the future.
Like, these guys will be living in a climate-ravaged hellhole, sweating in their 100-to-a-room underground living pods, working their 40s away in an AmazonDisney Corp bitcoin mine, and in January 2038 they’ll get a calendar reminder that they can now play DOTA 2 again. For a second their hearts will race, until they remember DOTA 2 was kicked through the Moon Door by Chancellor Barron Trump in 2037, and they’ll trudge back into the mines, remembering the good old days, when their racist jokes over video game chat were just that, jokes man, lighten up.
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Yesterday, Steam’s first big library overhaul in eons entered open beta. The fresh coat of paint and (virtual) new shelves make for welcome additions, but it’s going to take some getting used to. Then there’s the new community-centric game page display, which somewhat ironically has the community divided. Here are some tips to help you deal with all of that and more.
Accessing the new library
For now, the new Steam library is still in beta, so by default, you’re stuck with the old digs for a little longer. Savor these more innocent times, because when change comes, it strikes like an arrow. That’s tip number one, and it also doubles as life advice.
Tip number two (but the first tip that exclusively applies to Steam): If you want to access the new library now, click the “Steam” drop-down menu in the upper-left corner of Steam, select “settings,” and click over to the “account” tab. You should see a section labeled “beta participation.” From there, select “change,” because ultimately, you are the arbiter of change in your own life, not some mindless tumbleweed being blown whichever way the wind takes you (turns out the second tip was also life advice after all, surprise). Doing that should make a pop-up appear. Select “Steam beta update,” restart Steam, and you’ll be good to go.
Hiding those pesky community features
The new Steam library is heavily community oriented, which isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. As far as I can tell, this is the most complained-about element of the overhaul at the time of writing. In particular, folks seem to take issue with the way that individual games’ pages put the game activity of your friends and, regrettably, a whole bunch of randos front and center. Fun fact: The Steam community likes to post porn! Not all of that porn gets moderated right away! Fortunately, your friends get prime real estate at the top of the activity feed, but even then, their achievements and screenshots can still spoil major portions of games you might be playing.
Currently, there’s no option to entirely disable this, but there is a workaround. First, open up the same settings menu you used to enable the new library. This time, select the “library” tab. In there, you should see an option called “low bandwidth mode.” Select it. This will, among other things, disable community content by default. This doesn’t remove your friends’ accomplishments from the activity feed, so you’ll still have to watch out for that, but it renders broader community content entirely optional.
If you activated low bandwidth mode, you’re already part of the way to shrinking the Goliath-like footprint of new Steam. Part two is just as easy. Simply go to the same too-tucked-away menu and select “low performance mode.” You’ll lose out on a few graphical effects, but everything will load much faster. It’s a worthwhile trade-off if you’re running Steam on an older machine, or even if you’ve got a snarling hotrod of a PC and just want to play your dang games already.
Dragging and dropping
The new Steam library places a big emphasis on “collections,” which allow you to organize games according to Steam-generated tags or whatever arbitrary criteria you please. If you want to add a new game to a collection, you can right click on that game and scroll down to “add to,” but that’s a pain. Instead, just drag that game’s icon or title to whichever collection you please and drop it there. This works whether you’re in the sub-menu for a particular collection or viewing your Steam library as a whole.
Stopping games before they start
You know the nightmare lurking in the heart of man, for you have lived it: You’re scrolling through your Steam library, looking to play a particular game, but you’re only half-thinking about the task at hand, and before you know it, you’ve launched the wrong game. Now you have to watch a bunch of splash screens and other obligatory nonsense that you don’t and will never under any condition give even a single shit about. Then, and only then, can you quit to desktop.
If, however, you look near a game’s title in its new detail page after you’ve launched it, you should see a big “STOP” button. Hit that, and Steam will abort the launch. Thank god.
Viewing games by size on your hard drive
If you’re anything like me, your hard drive is constantly on the brink of heaving its girth into an increasingly tantalizing grave because you’re terrible at efficiently managing space. However, eventually, something has to give, such as when it’s time to install a new game. The new Steam library makes it easy. In every category (or “shelf,” as Steam now calls them), there’s a range of “sort by” options, one of which is “size on disk.” You can do this for your entire library, or just in particular categories. Now go ask yourself if you’re really ever going to finish Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, or if it’s time to say goodbye.
You have a bunch of new games now; don’t panic
After the library update, you might find your game collection looking a little more voluminous than before. This is because Steam now displays free-to-play games you’ve played in your library, even if you don’t “own” them or they’ve been removed from the Steam store. Some Steam users may choose to wear this bigger, buffer game number as a badge of pride. However, if you don’t want your library cluttered up by games that you may never play again, you can just create a collection dedicated to free-to-play games and then, in the library’s list view, shift-click all of those games, right click, go to the “manage” tab, and click on “hide selected games.”
Sorting your pile of shame
If you really enjoy feeling bad about yourself, why not formalize the list of games that you feel ashamed you haven’t gotten around to playing? When creating a new collection, there’s now a category for “play state.” This includes an “unplayed” option, which will group together every game you’ve never laid a finger on, you constantly overwhelmed, guilt-ridden game goblin. Today I learned that I have exactly 666 unplayed games on Steam. “See you in hell,” I’ll tell my game collection when I’m on my deathbed. “You tell them who sent you,” it’ll reply.
Last week, Valve released an update as part of a recent push to make it easier for users to find new, under-the-radar games. The update purported to decrease the presence of popular games in Steam’s recommendation algorithms, increase overall variety, and give people a more personalized selection of games. However, the update appears to have produced some unintended ripple effects, especially for games that aren’t out yet. Now some developers are saying the trickles of traffic their game pages were getting before have now dried up almost entirely.
Over the weekend, a bunch of indie developers voiced their concerns on Twitter, posting graphs of their plummeting wishlist stats and citing sudden drop-offs in store page traffic. The developers of atmospheric puzzle-platformer Unbound: Worlds Apart kicked it off with their own graph of users’ wishlist numbers, which is not moving in a promising direction:
“Thank you Steam for killing indie gaming,” wrote Unbound’s developers.
Mark Viola, the creator of tactical turn-based JRPG Bright Red Skies, lamented similar data, writing, ““Noticed a huge drop as well.”
“Months of effort, ruined in an instant,” he wrote.
Other developers reached out to Kotaku with similar stories. “Our impressions and wishlists have dropped 80% since the change, and it’s a similar story with tons of others,” Alex M-O, a developer on action-platformer Rune Fencer Illyia, told Kotaku on Twitter.
“Our upcoming game went from 30-40 wishlists daily to negative numbers today,” said Failcore Games founder Jan Cieslar. “Thanks to the changes, more people are deleting [the game from] their wishlists than adding them. And it’s Steam who tells us to set up a page as soon as possible and prioritize wishlists if we want to succeed.”
“Our traffic and wishlists [dropped] to 20% of the normal one, and the conversion from view to wishlist has also dropped to 50%, which means they are showing our games to people from other niches or people who already saw them,” said Lowpoly Interactive founder Bogdan Radu.
Both store page impressions and wishlists are extremely important predictors of Steam games’ success, especially upcoming ones. The value of page impressions is pretty self-explanatory, but when users wishlist games, they receive notifications from Steam when the game comes out, as well as every time it goes on sale. That way, it doesn’t get lost in Steam’s ceaseless howling vortex of a shuffle. Wishlists are generally regarded by developers as the most effective way of making a game sell to its fullest potential when it comes out.
The developers who say their games have entered flaming traffic talespins have something in common: Their games aren’t out yet. A couple of developers behind games that are already out have said that their internal Steam stats are in a holding pattern or slightly up. Still, that’s done little to comfort the developers, who—in addition to their own long-term marketing efforts—had been relying on Steam’s recommendations to pull in pre-release wishlists.
“For example, a game like Hollow Knight,” wrote the developers of Unbound. “In the ‘More Like This’ section from the game page, they put only popular games and no smaller games. Moreover, games that will be launched in the near future are currently inexistent there, and this section brings the biggest organic traffic.”
I took a look at the version of the store Steam algorithmically generated for me and found this to largely be true. I had to scroll for multiple minutes through the recommendations section to find a game I didn’t recognize or that had failed to achieve some degree of high-profile success. While I did come across a couple compelling indies in the “More Like This” sections of recent cult hits like Hypnospace Outlaw and Wandersong, even many smaller games’ “More Like This” widgets were dominated by indie mega-hits, well-known classics, and barely-related triple-A games. Unreleased games, meanwhile, were nowhere to be found.
In a statement to Kotaku, Valve said that the update is “likely” to undergo further changes, but they may not necessarily be directed at this particular issue. “We’re monitoring the effects of the changes now that they’ve been deployed on a larger scale, and we’re reviewing the mix of feedback from all sources,” said a Valve representative in an email. “It’s too early to say what changes will be made, but new features and tweaks are always likely after initial release.”
In the meantime, indie developers with upcoming games on Steam are left in the cold.
“It’s a pretty clear pattern,” said M-O. “Upcoming games are given negative priority for visibility. ‘More Like This’ is roughly 50% relevant best-sellers, 50% non-relevant best-sellers, and a random [triple-A game] or two… It’s comedically opposite to their stated intention.”
The sound effects from the original Half-Life are burned into my brain after playing the game nearly every year since it came out back in 1998. So hearing these iconic sounds and voices inserted into famous scenes from classic 80s films creates a weird mix of nostalgia and humor. And surprisingly this mash-up actually works.
YouTuber TheMostUpset first uploaded a scene from Back To The Future featuring Half-Life sound effects, music, and voices a week ago.
It is impressive how TheMostUpset is able to use the somewhat limited sound effect and voice library from Half-Life to perfectly work with this famous scene. Well, except for the dog. Half-Life doesn’t have any dogs barking in it, so instead he uses a Houndeye chirp.
Another famous scene that was dubbed using Half-Life sound effects is the action-packed police station sequence from Terminator. A nice detail is how TheMostUpset adds the loud and shuffling footstep sound effect to characters as they move around. They sync up so well that I almost didn’t notice it.
TheMostUpset has since moved away from adding Half-Life sounds to only classic films and is starting to add the sounds to viral videos and more modern movies. These still work wonderfully, but I do prefer the classic films getting the Half-Life treatment. Something about The Terminator talking in the robotic announcement voice from Black Mesa just feels right.
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At this point, I have spent nearly 50 hours with Dota Underlords. I still do not know what an Underlord is. This is because Valve’s early-access auto battler still does not contain its shadowy namesakes. In a matter of weeks, however, that’s going to change.
Today, Valve outlined its plans for the future of Dota Underlords in the runup to its full-release, non-early-access version. Within the next few weeks, the company said in a Steam post, Underlords will be getting many major new changes: a duos mode that allows two players to team up and battle three other teams, big UI tweaks, new heroes and alliances, and, yes, some gosh dang Underlords.
Presumably, Underlords will act as stand-ins for the player, not unlike Teamfight Tactics’ Little Legends, which players can move around arenas and who take HP damage when players’ armies lose rounds. Valve, however, is still being cagey about how exactly Underlords will function, saying only that the development team is “really excited about this feature” because “these Underlords are a core part of the game, and we think they will add a layer of fun and strategy to every match.”
Valve also noted that the order and content of upcoming updates is subject to change, but that hopefully, these things will put the game on track to becoming a complete experience—as opposed to the somewhat barebones proof-of-concept it is right now. The goal, ultimately, is for new features to culminate in Dota Underlords season one, with a fully functional battle pass and other fancy fixings.
“This is normally where we’d say ‘that’s about it’—but knowing us and our community, we can pretty honestly say that things will change,” Valve wrote. “Season 1 is the update where our Beta turns into a fully released game, so expect features like the new and improved Battle Pass and others like City Crawl to make their first appearance there. Stay tuned.”
Valve has quietly changed the way the Steam Workshop handles new content and updates to existing content. Maps, weapons and other user-created items will now need to go through moderation and get approved before they can be downloaded by other players.
This was first spotted on the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive subreddit by PCGN.User TanookiSuit3 shared some screenshots showing the change in policy. The messages state that users will need to wait for a verification email from Valve and moderator approval before content will be visible to others in the Workshop.
According to an updated Steam Support post, players will need to have their content approved by moderators. Updates to old and already approved content will also need to be checked by moderators before other players can download that updated content. Players already using the older, non-updated content can still use it while the update waits for approval.
On that same support post, Valve says the process should take less than a day.
As of now, Valve has yet to release an official statement or comment about this new policy. However, it seems very likely this is in response to numerous problems CS:GO players have had with fake and spam content on the Workshop.
Popular CSGO YouTuber 3kliksphilip has covered this issue extensively and explains that many creators were frustrated by how actual content, like user-made maps, would constantly be pushed off the front page and replaced with ads for free weapon skins. Many believed these were getting upvoted via bots, showing evidence that these bots might also be downvoting popular content to keep the fake content at the top.
Of course, we don’t know for sure if this new policy change is a direct result of these issues or if this policy change will apply to all games on Steam that have Workshop support. We also don’t know who is actually moderating this content and how that process works.