Welcome to Three Lane Highway, Chris' weekly column all about Dota 2.
Sand King is - like Lich, Axe, and, I like to think, Phoenix - a gentleman's hero. Characters with a lot of early and midgame potential are key to setting the pace of the match, and if your team is snowballing off the back of a few crucial early kills then it's likely that someone like Sand King was involved. Opting to play Sand King is a declaration that you are a team player; that you will buy wards and smoke; that first blood will be secured with a reliable two second stun and the sound - distant, like thunder - of somebody listening to Darude.
Welcome to Three Lane Highway, Chris' weekly column all about Dota 2.
The International, Valve's annual Dota 2 tournament, is one of the largest gaming events in the world, a celebration of Steam's most-played game that last year took over a symphony hall in Seattle. A report at onGamers, citing sources from eSports teams and officials, indicates that this year's event will move from July from August, and according to Valve's Gabe Newell, may take over a sports stadium.
Valve’s Gabe Newell did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today, answering scores of community questions and no, not revealing that he has a build of Half-Life 3 hidden in a volcano lair. If you're hearing otherwise, one user edited his (now deleted) question to include Half-Life 3 and create the appearance that Newell confirmed it. Nope. He did, however, talk about Source 2, Steam, CS: GO, and Dota 2, as well as answer a question vaguely related to HL3 in the form of a question about Ricochet 2.
Sharing is caring, and there’s no better way to show your friends and family you care than to let them have a taste of your abundant Steam library. Today, after six month in beta, Valve announced Steam Family Sharing is available to all Steam users.
Windows 8 hasn't exactly been a stunning success. Fewer than 12 percent of PCs run Windows 8 or 8.1, compared with 47 percent for Windows 7 and 29 percent for XP. It's still more than Mac OS X and Vista combined, but that's small consolation. So we're already looking forward to Windows 9, which will hopefully continue the tradition—firmly entrenched in both Windows and Star Trek chronology—of coming out with something good every other try. (Galaxy Quest counts as one of the good Star Treks, by the way.)
Windows 9, codenamed Threshold, is still at least a year away. Sourcey-types peg it at April 2015, so there's plenty of time for Microsoft to release something that's fully baked to make up for the melange of awesome and not-awesome that is Windows 8. So with that, here are our demands for Windows 9.
Valve is nipping at your heels, Microsoft. It's time to pay attention to PC gamers again.
Valve have released a new CS:GO 'Operation' pack, bringing unlimited official server access to a selection of community made maps. For Operation Phoenix, the maps were chosen by popular vote - and as such, round up some of the best battlegrounds featured in previous operations. Although, if you're anything like me, the quality is less important than the variety. When you're inevitably killed in the first few seconds of the round, it's important to have some nice level design to enjoy through the death camera.
Thanks to the Titanfall beta, my week has been mostly defined by super-stompy death machines. Even though that's over, my appreciation for the colossal metal monsters isn't about to end. For anyone else pining for the powerful crush of hydraulic hands, here's a brief hit in the form of a TF2 Source Filmmaker short. Unlike the game's actual giant robots, this version is a dramatically difficult challenge to bring down.
Free to Play, the Valve-made film exploring the highly competitive and demanding world of Dota 2 eSports, will appear on Steam March 19 following a premiere event at San Francisco's Castro Theatre. True to its name, Free to Play won't cost anything to stream or download, but a paid Dota 2 item and skin pack will also be available that will donate 25 percent of purchases toward the players featured in the movie.
Two days ago, Reddit user theonlybond posted lines of code from Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC), the software Steam uses to curb online cheating, accusing it of scanning users' internet browsing history and sending it back to Valve. Other users were quick to point out that the accusations were unfounded, but the discussion got serious enough for Gabe Newell to make an official statement.
If gaming can sometimes seem like a solitary experience, Spela Modigt // Play Bravely shows what happens when a group of players finds the chemistry and will to take the bad with the good and still succeed. The new documentary follows professional Counter-Strike: GO player Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg and his Fnatic team as it attempts to win the Dreamhack Winter 2013 tournament.
There's been a new update for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which, according to Steam's not at all ridiculous new tagging system, is a Competitive Tactical Multiplayer Shooter. And a CoD-Like. Whatever Steam users think about the game, the community now has access to a new weapon type. Alongisde highly important features like "added diagnostic info to debug video config reset", the most recent patch has introduced the CZ75-Auto, a fully automatic pistol.
When billionaire bro Cave Johnson turned his vision away from the exciting world of shower curtains to tossing money at a bunch of science stuff, what if paint guns instead of portals were the result? That's the setting for Aperture Tag: The Paint Gun Testing Initiative, a fledgling Portal 2 mod boasting 26 new puzzle floors designed for no portals whatsoever. Instead, we'll sail through that exit door by laying down carpets and dollops of the much-adored red and blue paint for speedy acceleration and longer airtime.
Valve's official Operations for CS:GO have proven to be remarkably popular among CT's and T's alike. Naturally, Valve are readying for the game's third major Operation, and have been holding a vote to determine which community maps would get the official server treatment. While, according to Valve, those votes are still being counted (what, are they doing it by hand?), some maps have proved popular enough to have already secured a place. In a post on the CS:GO blog, Cache is announced as the operation's first confirmed battleground.
Has the desire for hats, hats, delicious TF2 hats diminished over the last few years, or is the public's interest in digital head-adornment as strong as ever? I ask because Valve and Irrational are adding BioShock clobber to Team Fortress 2, and- hey, don't all load up the game at once. You'll need to buy BioShock Infinite's season pass on Steam to gain access to it, which I believe comes with a few pieces of downloadable content in addition to a very small selection of hats. Full details here.
You already own more games on Steam than you'll ever manage to play, and if that wasn't enough to keep up with, games you did play are often updated with significant additional content. For example, did you know that Shadow Warrior received a free and totally great challenge mode? It was easy to miss. Valve is hoping that will happen less often with the addition of the "Recently Updated" section to Steam.
Released yesterday, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's latest update adds Sticker Capsules to the game. Each capsule contains one sticker out of a series of sticker designs. The Sticker Capsules are dropped at the end of matches, and are opened with a Sticker Capsule key. The stickers can be applied to any gun in the game. You can also apply multiple stickers to a single weapon. They're a little like Team Fortress 2 hats, only for your guns. Gun hats!
For those, like me, who only need the merest reason to play Portal again, keep an eye on Portal: Alive and Kicking. It's "a full remake and re-imagining" of Portal 1 in Portal 2's fancier iteration of Source. The free mod that's been passed through the latest batch of Greenlight approvals, and has the confident endorsement of Jeep Barnett, Valve designer and co-creator of the proto-Portal student project, Narbacular Drop. "Every tile on every panel has been revisited with loving detail," he writes. "Not only have the visuals been updated to match Portal 2, but the weaker puzzle cues have been improved."
Steam OS and Big Picture modes will soon include a music interface, as revealed by Valve last week. Gamers will be able to listen to their personal music collection while playing games with the integrated music player, which can organize music by album or artist. For gamers who spend hundreds of hours in a game, this added feature will be an added convenience for anyone who has special playlists for exploring in Skyrim or strategizing in Crusader Kings 2.
There's a lot riding on Turtle Rock Studios' upcoming first-person shooter Evolve. As its first project after Left 4 Dead, Evolve needs to prove not only that the studio can capture lightning in a bottle once again, but that it can do it without the help of Valve. But, as a recent interview reveals, Turtle Rock hasn't ruled out coming back to Valve and Left 4 Dead in the future.
Phoenixes traditionally symbolise rebirth, but that's not always the case. They also have pretty strong links to death: as seen by the quality of the third X-Men movie, or here, by the deadliness of Dota 2's new Hero. The eternally inflammable bird headlines the Day 3 announcement phase of tomorrow's New Bloom update. The update won't be completely without the spirit of renewal, however. A newly announced feature will let players Quantum Leap into replays, taking control of the action in an attempt to rewrite history.