Valve Software

The future of PC gaming: the living room

Cory Banks at

If anyone can direct and dictate the course of PC gaming for the next 10 years, it’s Valve. The creators of Steam—and a little game called Half-Life—have already changed how we get our games, and the prices we’re willing to pay for them. Now the company is going one step further, with an initiative that will expand where PC games are played.

It’s a plan comprised of three parts: SteamOS, the open-source operating system compiled by Valve and running on the Linux kernel; Steam Machines, PCs that are custom-built for living in an entertainment center; and Steam Controller, Valve’s solution to the input issues that have made living room computing, at best, an uncomfortable compromise. The message, according to Valve, is simple: “You want to bring your Steam library onto your sofa, and we’re building the best way for you to do that.”

25 Greenlight games you should vote for right now

PC Gamer at

Puntastic puzzlers, pretty underworld platformers, robots party planners and games of expansionist imperial politicking: there are a lot of excellent upcoming games going unnoticed on Greenlight. We've done our bit to address the signal-to-noise ratio, bundling together the games we think are most deserving of a Steam release into the PC Gamer Greenlight Collection. Why not do your bit by throwing a few votes their way? Let us know in the comments if you've spotted other lamentably unchampioned titles.

Valve's Robin Walker on six figure item sales and the future of modding

Craig Pearson at

Following my look at the Steam Workshop’s biggest sellers earlier this week, I got a chance to put some questions to Valve's Robin Walker. He was one of the original developers of Team Fortress, back in 1996, and joined Valve soon after. His work as a modder informed his work at Valve, leading, in a roundabout way, to Team Fortress 2's current use as a platform to pay modders for their in-game work. In this pretty wide-ranging interview, I talk to him about the big numbers the modding scene generates, what makes a good item, virtual ownership, the future of free-to-play and Valve’s evolving relationship with its community.

Tales from the Steam Workshop: we talk to modelers making six figure sums

Craig Pearson at

Valve's Steam Workshop is life-changing. The community curated creative space has finally realised the dream of modders everywhere, rewarding them for the work they put into making games better. Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2 enable contributors to earn money from their creations, leading to some modders earning a six-figure income, according to comments made by Gabe Newell at CES. A living wage from making intangible hats, fish, and imaginary weaponry? I had to find out who these people were, and what modding - specifically modding Team Fortress 2 - has added to their lives.

Team Fortress 2 guide - conquering Mann vs Machine's expert mode

Elliot Metson at

Mann vs Machine is Team Fortress 2’s robot-slaying, wave-based, co-op game-mode. Though both TF2 and the MvM mode are free, those looking for a little extra challenge can buy tickets to access its advanced difficulty Mann Up missions. Designed for skilled players and well-coordinated teams, Mann Up's toughest tour of duty is Operation Gear Grinder - sure to test the mettle of the most hardened bot-bashing TF2 crews. It's hard. Very hard. In this guide I’m going to take you through some tips for dealing with each of Gear Grinder's missions, suggest team set-ups and lay out the loadouts you should be using if you want a chance at snagging the operation's ultimate reward: a diamond botkiller weapon.

Valve confirms Steam Box - a "very controlled" PC for the living room

Marsh Davies at

Gabe Newell appears to have confirmed rumours that Valve are working on a "Steam Box" - a hardware package designed to bring the PC right to the living room. Talking to Kotaku on the red carpet at the VGAs, Newell said that the response to Big Picture mode was "stronger than expected" and that this, combined with the ongoing push into Linux, gave Valve a lot of flexibility when it came to designing their own living room-friendly hardware.

Portal 2 patch adds splitscreen, Big Picture support

Marsh Davies at

Caring, sharing types rejoice: Valve have released a patch which enables two-controller splitscreen play for Portal 2, making it all the easier to give your co-op buddy a purple nurple when they "accidentally" mis-time the placement of an Excursion Funnel. Again.

And you aren't restricted to squinting at a fraction of your desktop monitor, either: the update adds support for Big Picture mode, allowing you to bicker over who gets to hold the Discouragement Redirection Cube in the comfort of your own living room.

The 10 best Portal 2 co-op maps

Phil Savage at

We recently gave you our selection of the best Portal 2 single player maps and campaigns available on the Steam Workshop. There's some great feats of level design in that list, but if you really want to see mapmakers skills stretched to the limit, you have to turn to co-op.

With two brains and four portals available, the levels must be exponentially more complicated. They need to emphasise teamwork, provide an inventive challenge and be tightly crafted so as to stop players exploiting their way through. With that in mind, I enlisted the help of my Perpetual Testing Partner to dig out the ten best co-operative maps around. As always, if you've a favourite that's not listed, let us know about it.

The best Portal 2 singleplayer maps and campaigns

Phil Savage at

Thanks to the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC's easy-to-use and fun-to-play-with level editor, Portal 2 has a near-endless supply of new puzzles for players to enjoy. Since its release, over 200,000 new community made levels have been uploaded to the Steam Workshop, ready for a one-click download and integration into Cave Johnson's pan-dimensional scam. Whether you love lasers, revere repulsion gel or crave companion cubes (don't we all?) there's sure to be something out there.

Here's our pick of the best ten community-created puzzles available, and a further five fulsome campaigns. Obviously, with so many to choose from, some are bound to have fallen through the cracks. Be sure to share your favourites in the comments, and keep your eyes peeled for our top co-op maps in the very near future.

Dota 2 Diretide impressions - does Valve's new game mode trick or treat?

Duncan Geere at

Undying is slaughtering zombies, Phantom Lancer is tearing through ghosts, and Roshan is ramping around the map carrying a big bucket of sweets. What the hell has happened to Dota 2?

Diretide is what. It's a newly-added game mode which asks the opposing teams to compete over candy. And it's insane.

Dota 2 diary: jungling is massive

Duncan Geere at

I don't like playing with others in Dota 2. I find team fights deeply stressful. I get way too nervous while ganking, and unless I have a huge level advantage, I don't like even getting too close to enemy heroes if I don't have to.

You might think that kind of attitude is a little against the spirit of a five-a-side team game. It's a bit like the winger in a football team just playing keepy-up on his own on the sidelines. But in Dota, there's a place for me. A place where I can be alone. That place is the jungle.

Team Fortress 2 poised for Linux support, beta update suggests

Marsh Davies at

A Slashdot user has spotted that the beta version of Team Fortress 2 has received a sneaky update, introducing changes which emit the heady and appealing whiff of Linux support.

"Among the modified files are some Linux-related files including a hardware driver compatibility list, optimal graphics settings, and a shell script launcher (previously only for OS X, now with a case for Linux as well)," writes Slashdot submitter spacenet.

Dota 2 data yields ideal team composition

Duncan Geere at

What's the ideal Dota team composition? You might be thinking that the answer is something like a carry, a semi-carry/initiator, a pusher, a support and a disabler, or something along those lines. That would make sense right?

Well, Reddit user KjellJagland wanted to find out for sure, so he turned to good, hard, statistics. He sucked in a bunch of Dota data from stats site Dotabuff, ran it through an open source C# app, and ranked different team compositions according to their win ratios.

How Steam is about to change its role

Tom Francis at

On Monday night, myself and around a hundred indie developers sat in a London bar with a cinema screen, waiting to find out why Valve had asked us all there. Popular theories were a) Steam deals would be thrown out into the crowd in an Oprah-esque display of arbitrary generosity, b) the doors would lock and we would be forced to add hats to TF2 indefinitely, or c) we would all be hired on the spot, pronounced to be Valve UK, and tasked with finishing Episode Three by Christmas.

Surprisingly, it was none of these. Instead, Valve reps Anna Sweet and DJ Powers took us through a series of new Steam features that change its role in the industry: from an under-staffed megapublisher to a hands-off distribution platform.

Steam Greenlight announced, will let gamers vote indie games on to Steam

Graham Smith at

Valve have just announced Steam Greenlight. The new service will work like the Steam Workshop, but for indie games. Creators can submit their work, whether it's an unfinished playable build or screenshots and videos, and gamers can then vote on the games they like. The best rated games will enter Valve's approval process for inclusion in the Steam store.

Steam Greenlight is currently due to launch at the end of August, and it should be a boon to any developer trying to make a living from indie games.