Virtual Reality is undoubtedly the next big thing when it comes to videogames. The Rift, from VR peddlers Oculus is approaching being consumer ready, Google and Samsung are making their own Virtual Reality plays and Valve is reported to be entering the fray with their own virtual reality device. And it seems there may be another player set to join in the VR fun: Nvidia.
The Games Developer Conference, or GDC, is just under a week away. It’s a hub for some of the best game creators to come together and mingle for a few days, but it’s also a prime opportunity for companies to get on stage and talk about their vision of the future of gaming. One such company will be Valve – and they’ve got a lot of hardware to reveal during their time under the spotlight.
Developers and publishers love to bandy around terms to show off how popular their games are. Perhaps it's "registered users" or "current profiles" or any other number of PR buzz-words. However, we all know that those numbers are useless if no one is playing the game. Dota 2 has lots of players, so many that they've broken Steam records.
I do believe that gaming, like all other forms of art, is a platform for freedom of expression. There are, however, games that sometimes make me question that, with Hatred being the latest example. Despite its gratuitous violence and subsequent Adults-Only rating, the isometric genocide simulator has its very own Steam page, regardless of Valve’s stance on adult restricted content.
We’re a week away from Chinese New Year, which is a festive time for most Chinese communities around the world. More importantly, it’s a festive time for every Dota 2 player on the globe, as the New Bloom update looms. Bringing a new game mode, items and more, New Bloom is one of the biggest events for the game of the year. Only this time, there’s a new character joining the action as well.
Valve’s Greenlight system is an interesting one, and it’s great in that it enables independent developers to find a platform; and a rather large one at that. It lets consumers take a look at in-development games that they’d otherwise never hear of, and vote for them to find a place on Steam’s digital store shelves. But there’s a problem. People have been essentially bribing users; asking for Greenlight votes in exchange for keys to the games once they’re available. Valve really wants people to stop doing that.
Valve really knows what people love, even if people themselves don’t know it yet. It’s why Steam Hats, in the literally and figurative sense, become such a massive market on the digital store front, enticing designers from around the world to try their hand at creation and trade. It’s only been open to a handful of games, but Valve is now busting that wide open.
If there's one thing that gets PC gamers excited, it's any news about Half Life 3. Anything and everything can be taken as a sign that the game is confirmed. This new video is brilliantly done and totally confirms that the game is coming, but Gordon Freeman might need some training before launch day.
Valve is consistently trying to improve Steam’s rather clunky UI, adding in some oft-requested features like the FPS counter last year. One of the most painful processes is trying to see which DLC you own for a particular game, which usually involves hunting each piece down individually on the Store and checking whether it lists it as purchased. Thankfully, Steam is making that easier.
There’s a great deal of focus at the moment on Microsoft’s next generation API, DirectX 12, and indeed on AMD’s own low-level interface, Mantle. Both promise a more console-like approach, with lower-level access to the hardware, unobstructed by layer upon layer of abstraction. There is another though; OpenGL. The Silicon Graphics API that let you play Quake with hardware rendering is set for an update – and it’ll be revealed next month. Interestingly, it’ll be revealed by – amongst others - Valve.
Valve seems to be incapable of making games that end in 3. There’s no sign of Left 4 Dead 3, Half Life 3 seems like it’ll never be released and Portal 3 doesn’t appear to be in active development. Of the lot, it’s a third Portal I’d be most keen for. Clever puzzles, clever dialogue and AIs gone out of control? We might never get Portal 3, but here’s something to keep the dream alive.
Steam is a global heavyweight; a distribution service that is so integral to PC gaming that I can't imagine a world without it at this stage. Everyone around the globe uses Valve's program, but there are some markets that are undeniably more important than others. So who is sucking the Steam servers dry every single day?
One of the biggest events in eSports each year is Dota 2's The International. With the top teams going head to head, it is like the Super Bowl or Curry Cup for eSports. Even people who don't play much Dota watch it; it's made particularly accessible with excellent viewing options. And it's coming back this year a little later in the calendar.
We’ve been slacking on the Dota news ever since Matty, intern of the century, left. But that stops right now, because there’s a brand new shopkeeper you can grab for Valve’s MOBA, and it’s the definition of awesome.
If there’s one thing that I absolutely adore about PC Gaming, it’s framerates. Funnily enough, it’s also the one thing I really hate about it too, since it’s a constant reminder that my hardware is aging, no matter how much love and attention I give it. I obsess over watching FPS counters while I game, so it’s pretty neat that Valve has finally decided to add one of their own.