Archive for the ‘Valve’ Category

Valve confirms code leak for two online games, offers assurances for one of them

April 22nd, 2020
A gleeful video game character stands in front of huge screen of programming code.

Enlarge / Valve's cagey response to news of a code leak may not be great news for fans of Team Fortress 2. (credit: Valve / Aurich Lawson / Getty)

A major source code leak for Valve's biggest competitive PC multiplayer games—Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2began making the rounds late Tuesday. Amid worries that this code leak for active, online games would lead to hackers finding exploits and developing remote code executions (RCEs), Valve issued a statement on Wednesday that such worries were moot.

There's a catch, however. In an emailed statement to Ars Technica about the nature of the leak, Valve only offered a statement about CS:GO:

We have reviewed the leaked code and believe it to be a reposting of a limited CS:GO engine code depot released to partners in late 2017, and originally leaked in 2018. From this review, we have not found any reason for players to be alarmed or avoid the current builds (as always, playing on the official servers is recommended for greatest security). We will continue to investigate the situation and will update news outlets and players if we find anything to prove otherwise. In the meantime, if anyone has more information about the leak, the Valve security page (https://www.valvesoftware.com/en/security) describes how best to report that information.

(To clarify: Valve's Source Engine emerged in 2004 as the framework for a different version of Counter-Strike. Before Valve launched any games with that engine, its source code leaked. This week's news is about an entirely different leak, which Valve claims first took place in 2018.)

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Posted in Counter-Strike, cs:go, Gaming & Culture, source code, Team Fortress 2, Valve | Comments (0)

Ars analysis: ~80% of Steam games earn under $5K in first two weeks

April 7th, 2020

It has been roughly two years now since Valve shut off the source of Steam Spy's huge, randomly sampled sales estimates and promised a "more accurate and more useful" replacement to come. We got our first glimpse of what that replacement might entail today, as Valve gave a rare glimpse into its treasure trove of aggregate sales data across thousands of PC games.

The blog post sharing that data correctly points out that the raw number of games finding some minimum level of sales success on Steam has increased vastly since 2012 (when Valve launched Steam Greenlight and loosened its tight control of what games could appear on the storefront). But Valve's selective view of the data leaves out a huge mass of games that make less than $5,000 in their first two weeks on Steam's virtual shelves. An Ars analysis finds those titles have made up the vast majority of Steam releases for the last five years.

Filling in the holes

To get at that data for the charts above, we started with the graphs Valve itself provided in its blog post today. These lay out the number of games making over $5,000, $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, and $250,000 in their first two weeks, respectively, by release year. I used photo editing software to measure and convert the bars in those graphs into raw numbers, but the actual numbers may be off by a fraction of a percentage point from Valve's internal benchmarks (we didn't decipher the graphs for 2005 and 2006, when the total number of Steam releases was too small to draw much meaningful data).

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, sales, Steam, steam spy, Valve | Comments (0)

As Half-Life: Alyx launches, Valve talks about what happened to Half-Life 3

March 24th, 2020

This week's launch of Half-Life: Alyx marks the first new release in the Half-Life series since late 2007. But despite well over a decade of promises from Valve for a true sequel, Alyx's prequel storyline still leaves us hanging on Half-Life 2: Episode 2's long-dangling cliffhanger ending.

So now that Valve has proven it can actually make a Half-Life game again, why hasn't it been able to make one with a "3" in the title? IGN delved into that question with Valve staffers in a recent interview that gives as detailed an answer as we've yet seen.

Back to the ’00s

The history goes back to 2004, the end of a six-year span that saw Valve developing Half-Life 2 and its Source game engine at the same time. That lengthy, parallel development of engine and game was difficult enough that the company has found it never wants to repeat it, according to veteran Valve level designer Dario Casali. "I think our main takeaway from that is ‘get some stable technology and then build a game on top of it,'" he told IGN.

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Posted in alyx, Gaming & Culture, Half-Life, Valve, virtual reality, VR | Comments (0)

Valve: Half-Life: Alyx is “not the end” of the franchise

March 4th, 2020

Still happy to have any excuse to post this video.

Ah, it seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Half-Life 2: Episode 3's original announcement. But now, as we approach 14 years since the promise of a Half-Life that has the number "3" in the title, the impending release of the VR-exclusive prequel Half-Life: Alyx has proven Valve hasn't totally forgotten about the franchise.

What does all the work on Alyx mean for the long-delayed vision of an honest-to-goodness Half-Life 3? Game Informer put that very question to Valve's Robin Walker in a recent interview, and the answer, though vague, is the clearest indication in years that Valve hasn't given up on the idea of an honest "threequel."

Half-Life means a lot to us, and it's been incredibly rewarding to refamiliarize ourselves with its characters, setting, and mechanics. There are Half-Life: Alyx team members who have been at Valve since Half-Life 2, and quite a few who go back to the original Half-Life. There are also people on the team for whom Half-Life: Alyx is their first time working on this series at all—and many of them certainly hope it's not the last. We absolutely see Half-Life: Alyx as our return to this world, not the end of it.

Walker's discussion of the current makeup of the Half-Life: Alyx team is important to note here. Long-time Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw left the company in 2016 (before sharing a potential Half-Life 3 plot summary on his blog), followed the next year by the departure of series scribes Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek. Animator Doug Wood, designer/writer Marc Laidlaw, and Senior Engineer Ken Birdwell also left the company in 2016, rounding out a handful of other notable departures since the last time Valve worked on a Half-Life game.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Half-Life 3, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)

Ten minutes of Half-Life: Alyx: The biggest VR goosebumps we’ve ever had

March 2nd, 2020

On Monday, three weeks before its retail launch on Windows PCs, Half-Life: Alyx received its most revealing look yet. This new video series, weighing in at 10 minutes, is an incredible summary of the upcoming VR game's three pillars: puzzles, action, and creeping dread.

I can confirm that this footage is spliced from various moments through the campaign, with only one scene, labeled "Gameplay Video 1," taking place within the game's earliest section. Based on what I've learned from multiple sources, this video series has been very carefully curated, because it focuses more on how Alyx's VR movement and beat-by-beat gameplay will look and feel, as opposed to spoiling its storytelling or more complicated puzzles.

The three-part series has one huge component in common: the Gravity Gloves. This new control system appears to work exactly as I'd learned ahead of last year's reveal:

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Half-Life, half-life alyx, htc vive, oculus rift, Valve, valve index, Valve Software, virtual reality | Comments (0)

Half-Life: Alyx receives firm release date: March 23

February 13th, 2020

Valve's first announcements about its upcoming, VR-exclusive game Half-Life: Alyx included a vague launch window of March 2020. In a world where Valve game delays are the rule, rather than the exception, a lack of a firm release date was enough to make the developers' fans anxious about Valve Time rearing its head again.

On Thursday, Valve made it a bit tougher to weasel out of its announced plans, as the company confirmed a firm release date for HLA: March 23, 2020.

The announcement first appeared on the company's social media feed, and as of press time, the exact date has yet to appear on either the game's official site nor its Steam sales listing. Today's news also came with a brief gallery of brand-new game images. While they don't point to any new gameplay mechanics, they're a welcome look into a virtual world that looks plenty authentic to the beloved Half-Life universe.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Half-Life, half-life alyx, oculus rift, steamvr, Valve, valve index, virtual reality | Comments (0)

Report: Valve Index sales more than doubled amid Half-Life Alyx reveal

January 29th, 2020

Sales for Valve's Index virtual reality headset more than doubled between the third and fourth quarter of last year, according to a new report from tracking firm SuperData. That increase—from 46,000 units to 103,000 units sold—would likely have been even greater if the $999 system hadn't sold out due to inventory issues, the firm wrote.

As we've seen in years past, virtual reality hardware sales tend to spike in the holiday quarter, thanks to gift-buying and general holiday splurging. But SuperData cites "anticipation for Half-Life: Alyx" as a main driver for the Index's holiday sales increase (even though the game will run on any PC-based VR headset). And the Index's particularly large holiday sales spike seems to have put it ahead of lower-priced (and older) PC-based VR competition from the likes of the Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, and numerous Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Wireless, console VR rules over the niche

Despite the holiday spike, sales for all the PC-based headsets continue to pale in comparison to the self-contained, wireless Oculus Quest, which moved 317,000 units during the holiday quarter, according to SuperData. That number might have been even higher, SuperData writes, if Oculus was able to avoid inventory-limited sellouts for parts of the quarter.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, half-life alyx, index, oculus, quest, Valve, virtual reality | Comments (0)

Valve opens up about Half-Life: Alyx, Source 2 engine on Reddit

January 22nd, 2020
Valve released this promotional illustration for <em>Half-Life: Alyx</em> on Tuesday, thus revealing a bit more about the game's "Multi-tool" system we've mentioned in previous reports on the VR-exclusive game.

Enlarge / Valve released this promotional illustration for Half-Life: Alyx on Tuesday, thus revealing a bit more about the game's "Multi-tool" system we've mentioned in previous reports on the VR-exclusive game. (credit: Valve)

With approximately two months left to go until their next game's launch, the developers at Valve opened up to the throngs at Reddit for a thousands-strong "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session on Wednesday. Unsurprisingly, most of the questions were ignored—especially ones that mentioned the number "three"—but the team still revealed some new and interesting tidbits about March's upcoming VR-exclusive game Half-Life: Alyx.

Perhaps most importantly, the development team insists the game is still on schedule to launch in its announced window of March 2020. "With the exception of some tweaks to the absolute final scene, the game is done," an unnamed staff member says in one post. "We let the Valve Time happen before we announced the game." This statement alludes to the company's tradition of letting release schedules slip until a game reaches "it's done" territory, but that wasn't clarified in further answers.

That means the game's full suite of movement options within VR are complete, Valve says, "including things like Seated, Left-Handed mode, etc." The new game's suite of "accessibility" features are still being iterated on, particularly support for one-handed play.

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Posted in ama, Gaming & Culture, Half-Life, half-life alyx, Valve, valve index, Valve Software, virtual reality | Comments (0)

Every classic Half-Life game is now free on Steam

January 21st, 2020
Completely free... for now.

Enlarge / Completely free... for now. (credit: Valve / Sam Machkovech)

As Valve gears up for the launch of its first official Half-Life game in 13 years, the developer has given fans a big freebie to tide them over while they wait for March 2020: every previous official Half-Life game for free.

On Tuesday, Valve announced that both Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and each expansion pack and episode published directly by the game maker, would be free for all Steam users for a limited time. As of press time, this offer appears to be a temporary unlock of the games until the VR-only adventure game Half-Life Alyx launches in roughly two months; their free availability will likely expire after HL:A launches. Click the announcement link to check out the eligible game selection (though it doesn't link to the eligible HL1 expansion packs, which you can find here).

Fans may very well want to connect the plot dots between the biggest Half-Life adventures ahead of HL:A's launch. Valve has announced that the new VR-only game is a "prequel" that takes place between the events of Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2, while its developers have suggested in interviews that the new game is "the next part" of the series. Hence, you may want to brush up on every tidbit, should the new game contain any continuation of what was left unfinished in Half-Life 2: Episode 2. (Reminder: HL:A is not free as part of this promotion. The new game does come for free with the purchase of any part of the Valve Index VR system.)

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Half-Life, half-life alyx, Steam, Valve, valve index | Comments (0)

Firewatch developer’s next game “on hold” after Valve acquisition

December 4th, 2019

The 2017 announcement video for In the Valley of the Gods, which is now "on hold" as a Valve project.

Fans of 2017 indie forest exploration title Firewatch (including us) have been excited for developer Campo Santo's next project, the Egyptian-influenced In the Valley of the Gods, since it was announced in late 2017. Those fans got even more excited when Valve acquired Campo Santo in 2018, suggesting big things were in the works from both companies ahead of the game's planned 2019 release.

But with 2019 drawing to a close, and with 19 months of radio silence regarding the game's progress, Campo Santo fans began to worry that In the Valley of the Gods had joined a long list of cancelled Valve game projects. Those worries heightened when a number of Campo Santo developers removed all mention of In the Valley of the Gods from their Twitter profiles following last month's announcement of Half-Life: Alyx.

This week, Campo Santo cofounder Jake Rodkin confirmed some of those fears to Polygon, saying that development of In the Valley of the Gods is officially "on hold," but it "certainly feels like a project people can and may return to." As he put it in a statement:

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