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.

Portal 2: Aperture Tag mod adds level editor and Steam Workshop support

Emanuel Maiberg at

Aperture Tag is a Portal 2 mod inspired by Tag: The Power of Paint, the 2009 DigiPen student project which influenced Portal 2's gel mechanics and puzzles. Instead of shooting portals, you shoot the game’s orange and blue liquids, which make you run faster and jump higher, respectively. And now you'll be able to add your own mods to the mix.

Unreal Engine 4 update adds SteamOS and Linux support

Omri Petitte at

It's been but a month since Epic unleashed the source code and toolset for its powerful Unreal Engine 4 to studios and individual subscribers alike, but major updates are already bolstering the engine's considerable capabilities. The big news in Epic's 4.1 update notes is full support for packaging games onto SteamOS and Linux platforms, a strong move catering to indie game-smiths and companies looking to unhook themselves from a reliance on Windows.

Three Lane Highway Revisited: Dota 2, performance and play

Chris Thursten at

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

I wrote the following article a couple of weeks after I started playing Dota 2, back in July of 2012. Now that I'm approaching my two-year anniversary with the game I've been thinking a bit about why I'd recommend it to other people. There are lots of reasons, obviously. It's exciting, deep, and there's a badger tied to some balloons in it. There's also a mammoth-rhinoceros-minotaur guy who can alter the properties of matter and a shit load of skeletons, albeit fewer of the latter now than there used to be. There are lots of wizards.

What I'm saying is that there are many reasons to like Dota 2, but that doesn't necessarily help somebody face down that vertical learning curve. The game is arguably less forgiving now than it was in beta: the community is larger, and more players are willing to create new accounts to beat up newcomers. The game has had time to settle, and in that environment it's easier to feel like a total outsider.

Portal 2 mod Thinking With Time Machine now available on Steam

Phil Savage at

Steam's Portal 2 Workshop is filled with unique twists on the space-bending puzzler's central mechanic. With such creativity lurking in the primordial soup of the Workshop, it would take something special to crawl out and into the main Steam storefront.

That something is Thinking With Time Machine, and it fits the bill for two reasons. Firstly, it introduces a new time recording mechanic, in which you can replay your actions to create a temporary clone in-level. Secondly, it lets you look at your legs.

Dota 2's The Stanley Parable announcer pack has been recorded, reveals narrator

Phil Savage at

This is the story of a videogame named Dota 2. Dota 2 was a popular game about wizards and pushed lanes and unprompted apologies. It had absolutely nothing to do with another game, called The Stanley Parable, but for one exception: they both contained voice-overs. And so, last year, the creator of The Stanley Parable announced a desire to write and record a Dota 2 announcer pack featuring the meta-comedy's narrator. And, after a long silence, it was revealed that the pack had been recorded, and will likely soon be available to buy.

Garry's Mod "Cough" virus is cured, but it could have been worse

Emanuel Maiberg at

You may have noticed some strange behavior in Garry’s Mod if you played it a couple of days ago. An exploit that took advantage of the Source Engine’s file sending mechanism made it possible to send files with any extension to the client or server. Strangely, this was used to change users’ Steam name to “VINH'LL FIX IT,” and using them to spam friends and players with the word “cough” over chat. The exploit is mostly fixed now, but Garry’s Mod’s own Garry Newman tells us it could have been a lot worse.

Steam phishing scam bypasses Steam Guard, goes fishing for your trading cards

Tom Sykes at

Valve has so much faith in its Steam Guard technology that Gabe Newell once famously gave the world his password and dared it to gain access to his account - but the system is not entirely secure. A new phishing scam can bypass Steam Guard entirely, by gaining access to a specific file on the hackee's computer. I'll detail it below, but the gist is that if Steam ever tells you it needs to download a special SSFN file, do not comply. Also: that's not the wallet inspector.

Report lists Steam's most popular (and most untouched) games

Omri Petitte at

Have you played every single game in your Steam library? No? Neither have I—and that accomplishment is apparently just a small sand grain in the over 288 million games in Steam collections that have never felt a press of the Play button. That's a surprising figure from a new report by Ars Technica researching the most active and popular games on Steam straight from the recorded statistics of some of the platform's 75-million-strong community.

Three Lane Highway: how to communicate effectively in solo ranked matchmaking

Chris Thursten at

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

It's scary, talking to strangers. You probably spent the first ten years of your life being told not to do it, the second ten years of your life trying to summon the courage to do it, and the third ten years of your life doing it but wishing that you were somewhere else. Playing Dota 2 by yourself complicates this already complicated scenario. Language differences. Age differences. Wildly divergent opinions on topics like 'who's fault was that' and 'what are reports for'.

Half-Life gets new world record speedrun; watch it be finished in 20 minutes 41 seconds

Phil Savage at

You know that first level of Mirror's Edge? I'm quite good at that. Pretty fast. Adequate. That's small comfort when faced with this: a new world-record segmented speed-run of Half-Life. The speedrunning team of quadrazid, CRASH FORT, coolkid, pineapple, YaLTeR, Spider-Waffle and FELip have completely demolished Valve's 1998 FPS, beating the previous record by nine minutes. If you've got a spare 20 minutes (and 41 seconds), it's well worth a watch. Gordon's balletic flight through the halls of Black Mesa is almost mesmerising in its fluidity.

Source: Steam Controller will be available in "October or November"

Evan Lahti at

A trusted hardware source with knowledge of Valve’s Steam Machines project told PC Gamer at PAX East that Valve’s Steam Controller will release in October or November of 2014.

Three Lane Highway: several exciting ways for friends to lose games of Dota 2 together

Chris Thursten at

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

I've been in a few teams in the two years I've been playing Dota. I say 'teams', but what I mean is 'groups of five people that agree to put up with each other's ceaseless theorycrafting'. I'm in a team right now, in fact. We're called the Hot Dukes and if you play on Europe West you've probably beaten us.

It's a lot of fun. One of the things I like most about playing with a dedicated stack is learning new and imaginative ways to throw matches. I mean, we're not terrible - our matchmaking ratings range from Questionable to Pretty Good - and we're all capable of big plays in the right conditions. But we're nonetheless capable of falling on our assess with a weight and precision that belies the fact that we'd rather not fall on our assess at all. We've developed a methodology for screwing up that approaches a kind of science, and it's this methodology that I'd like to share with you today. If your friends are looking for new ways to extend the range of your throwing arm, or are simply looking for an explanation for why you lost that game, I think I might be able to help.