Three Lane Highway: why Dota 2 isn't really about heroes at all

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

It is the most human thing in the world to want to be the coolest person in the room. Competition for status is written into our society and culture. It is why we valourise the assertion of individual will and downplay collective success. It's how teenagers figure out who they are. It's how democracy (sort of) functions, how movies get made, how lies pass into general acceptance. It's a process we can't shake, a process that generates politicians and celebrities and bullies and—to the point—some really, really shitty Dota players.

What I learned about CS:GO after watching the Twitch stream of someone I beat

Evan Lahti at

I played a vitamin D deficiency-fostering amount of CS:GO over the long weekend. In one of my dozen-some competitive matches (CS:GO’s excellent five-on-five matchmaking mode), I noticed that one of my opponents was livestreaming.

After we won, we booted up the archived video together, commenting in Mumble as we watched. It was a rare chance for my CS:GO group and I to see ourselves through an opponent’s eyes (and comms)—what did it look like to play against us? These were my takeaways.

Steam Controller delayed to more 'realistic' 2015 release window

Shaun Prescott at

Valve's Steam Controller will no longer release in 2014, an official post on the Steam Community forum confirms. According to the update the delay to a 2015 release window has been prompted by "a ton" of useful playtesting feedback.

Giveaway: win tickets to the ESL One Dota 2 finals in Frankfurt

PC Gamer at

At the end of June some of the best Dota 2 teams in the world will meet in the 51,000-seat Commerzbank Arena to battle for a prize pool of nearly $200,000. It's sure to be a terrific event for anyone who loves Dota, or watching esports with huge crowds of fans, and we have five pairs of weekend passes to give away.

"I did see some concept art for Half-Life 3" says Counter-Strike co-creator. Left 4 Dead 3 "looks great"

Tom Senior at

Counter-Strike creator Minh Le has been talking to goRGNtv about Valve's most anticipated projects. He's seen artwork of Valve's next Half-Life game, and more of Left 4 Dead 3, which has been rumoured since the Valve database leak late last year.

Three Lane Highway: $18m is an awful lot of money to spend on magic books and other thoughts on the Compendium

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

Somewhere, in the offices of a distant videogame publisher, a mid-level business guy is crying. He's crying because a couple of years ago he was all like "we should sell an internet magic computer book for our competitive online game" and his bosses were all like "lol no". He's crying because everyday he has to fill out reports with words like "outreach" and "conversion" on them. He's crying because the Dota community has, at the time of writing, spent $18,867,328 on internet magic computer books.

Steam In-Home Streaming tested: remotely play games from any PC in your network

Tyler Wilde at

Much has been said about streaming from a Windows PC to SteamOS, but that functionality is available on other OSes, and fully integrated with Steam as of today. Let the Steam client update, and you can now stream a game running on a Windows PC to another Windows PC, a Linux PC, or a Mac on the same network, with "support for more systems coming soon." I tried streaming between two Windows PCs on our office network, and wouldn't you know it, it worked swimmingly.

CS:GO crosshair generator is a must-use web tool for all players

Evan Lahti at

A tiny PSA for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players: Skarbo's web-based CS:GO crosshair generator is really handy. The tool lets you build a crosshair dynamically, then spits out the corresponding console commands for you to paste in-game or into an autoexec file. After 416 hours spent in CS:GO I can't believe it took me this long to stumble on this.

Portal 2 community map-pack Cosmogony is a great reason to return to Aperture

Phil Savage at

Every now and then, I like to visit Portal 2's Steam Workshop page. Not to download anything, you understand, but to experience the panic attack of knowing that somewhere in that list of 353,637 maps, there's something really good that nobody has bothered to play. Like great painters not recognised until long after their death, their masterpieces are untouched and their genius is unrecognised. And then I get drunk.

This time, I was too distracted by Cosmogony: a new six-part map-pack that was released earlier this month. Created by 'Dreey', it features a custom story, new locations and clever level design.

Update: Alienware says its Steam Machine will be its "least profitable" system

Cory Banks at

Update: The original version of this story implied that Alienware wasn’t confident in the potential success of Steam Machines as a broader initiative. We’ve since omitted this. We apologize for the error.

Valve's Steam Machines are strange beasts. They're PCs running a Valve-specific version of Linux, attached to televisions in the living room and driven by a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse. That's a tough sell for PC gamers, and a big challenge for the hardware companies who will sell the systems, often at low prices so they can compete against the cheaper consoles. Alienware, the Dell-owned gaming PC manufacturer and largest company in the space, definitely understands how tough the marketplace will be. Individually, the company doesn't believe its Steam Machines will be very profitable compared to the profit it nets from its existing desktops and laptops.

Dota 2 gets meta with The Stanley Parable announcer pack, available now

Phil Savage at

Now you can get in the mood for DIGITAL SPORTS! with the help of the smooth, comforting and somewhat sociopathic Narrator from The Stanley Parable. As teased all those months ago, his gently mocking wit is now available as a Dota 2 announcer pack. Sure, it's not hard to make fun of an incomprehensible game about internet wizards, but it takes skill to do it and still make the game's fans want to give you money.

Three Lane Highway: why The International's prize distribution should change this year

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes serious column about Dota 2.

Last year I arrived in Seattle a couple of days before The International began. Being ahead of schedule meant spending a few afternoons hovering around the hotel where the players were housed, watching the group stages and trying to grab interviews with whoever I could. Some of that material ended up in the feature that I subsequently wrote about the tournament, but a lot of it didn't.

Every player I spoke to was keen to point out that the prize money wasn't as important to them as being able to say that they were the best in the world at something. Despite that, many players felt dissatisfied with the way the prize pool itself was divided up.

Steam indicates which user reviews are of Early Access versions

Emanuel Maiberg at

As Steam becomes a more open, self-publishing platform (as Gabe Newell called it), it’s going to need more tools that allow the community to sort through its catalog and raise the cream to the top. User reviews are one of the most useful tools that help you determine if you should bother with a game or not, and today they got a little bit more helpful.

Dota 2's Compendium helps The International 2014 prize pool break $4 million

Phil Savage at

The Compendium is a magical tome filled with knowledge, riches, and small pictures of people who are absurdly good at Dota 2. No wonder then that the community has been snapping up copies in record numbers. The digital sticker-book-companion to The International 2014 has upped the tournament's prize pool to over $4 million—a more than $1.24 million increase over the last International. Impressively, it's done all this in under 5 days.

Three Lane Highway Revisited: anger as failure, and other thoughts on empathy in Dota

Chris Thursten at

Three Lane Highway is Chris' sometimes silly, sometimes earnest column about Dota 2. The following was originally posted on the Three Lane Highway Tumblr in September 2013 - we're republishing it today as Chris is currently on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic. Enjoy!

In 2005 the late David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech to graduates at Kenyon College, Ohio. I’m going to quote a few paragraphs of it below, but before I do I want to lay out why it is relevant to you, a person who presumably came here to read about Dota.

The majority of the things you need to learn to be good at Dota are not things that will make you good at real life. You are probably never going to land a sick Sacred Arrow on a fleeing mugger. You won’t place wards at strategic locations around your cubicle to let you know when you should be alt-tabbing away from Reddit. You’re not going to invest an unexpected tax return - sensible as it might seem to do so - in a courier upgrade and the first parts of a Mekansm.

Three Lane Highway: how forming a team has improved my enjoyment of Dota 2

Chris Thursten at

Dota 2 is a staircase. Like any other competitive exercise your progress is defined by improvements and plateaus, periods of progress and periods of stagnation. The thrill of the former is balanced by the frustration of the latter, and identifying what you're doing wrong—and how to fix it—isn't easy. You are asking yourself to find a lack in your own play that you are by definition ignorant of: the weakness of the staircase analogy is that staircases typically go in one direction. Dota 2's skill curve twists, turns, and doubles back on itself. Getting better is hard. It means finding new routes, opening new pathways within your thinking.

Steam in-home streaming now available in open beta

Wes Fenlon at

In-home streaming for everyone! After three months of testing Steam in-home streaming in a closed beta community, Valve has added the feature to the Steam beta client accessible to all. Want to stream games from your office desktop to a living room PC while luxuriating on the couch? The power is yours. Just remember that this particular power is still a work-in-progress, which means it may be laggy or fail altogether with certain games on Steam.

Valve are collaborating on a Left 4 Dead arcade game

Phil Savage at

In the UK, most arcade machines are gaudy, flashing money-sinks, designed to trap the arms of extra-strength-beer-swilling drunks as they attempt to pry loose change from the coin return slot. They are places of hellish despair, rich with unique smells and suspicious stains. In other countries, they also contain the promise of fun, friendship, and not stepping in a puddle of sick. Nowhere is this more the case than in Japan, where an array of popular arcades can still attract the interest of developers. Valve, for instance, are now collaborating with arcade specialists Taito on an arcade port of Left 4 Dead.

The International 2014 teams announced for Dota 2 championship

Evan Lahti at

Valve has announced the teams that will participate in its third championship for our eSport of the year 2013, Dota 2's The International.

Dota 2 Spring Cleaning update changes heroes, interface, bugs

Ian Birnbaum at

Dota 2 hasn't been out officially for even a year, but the most popular game on Steam is getting a host of updates and changes in next week's patch. Titled “Spring Cleaning,” the update includes dozens of changes to the game’s inventory, interface, and heroes.