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Valve is Making a Card Game

Heard about this one yet?

Valve is making Halflife 3  "Artifact" - a DotA Card Game. Yep, that's right, a card game.​

Initial reaction: WTF? Trolled!

Followup reaction: Ugh, don't they know card games are becoming a trope? Whyyyyyy? It's Valve! We want Valve games!​ This is Hearthstone all over again -- no seriously, Hearthstone was made based on Warcraft and so was DotA. So essentially this is Hearthstone.

Thoughtful reaction: Blizzard makes millions on Hearthstone. Ohhhhhh.

They either have absolutely no idea what they're doing (unlikely)


Plan to make gazillions of dollars.​

I'm going with the money making play here. It's no different than making their games free to play then making millions on selling EFFING HATS and cosmetics. Market research and data trump the golden gut every time.

You wouldn't think that based on the fan reaction, though.

Props to Day9 for trying with all he had not to laugh and put some heart into that casting. The crowd wasn't having it.

I think card games are a trope now. They're turning into a "go-to". I haven't found them fun yet. I think Hearthstone is well-made, and certainly polished. I just can't find the fun in there.

​I also feel like card games wreak of cash grabs. I'm coming off a recent F2P burn so maybe I'm sensitive right now. 

Finally, I once read that Valve employees have a lot of freedom to work on whatever projects they want. The multiple sources all talked about how the games that get made are the ones the employees want to work on. Anyone else remember that? If still true (or ever true) then I wonder why this gets made and we don't see games like HL anymore.

Scratch that, I know exactly why. Market research & data show they won't make anywhere near as much as selling hats and card packs.​

P.S. This is relevant.​

Halflife 3 Dota Card Game Troll

Mic drop.


Paid Mods

Update: Bethesda/Zenimax has cancelled their paid mods with Steam. Refunds for all according to Valve.

Steam has once again made a move toward monetizing all things games and placing themselves smack dab in the middle to take a cut. Now the Steam Workshop is going to support “paid creations” aka paying for mods.

I’m not going to come right out and say that I am in blanket opposition to all paid mods. There are some mods that end up being better than the original game. In fact, some of the best games we’ve ever seen come straight from studios who started out as being mod developers. I support this 100%. Some mods are good enough that I have and would in the future donate to the creator.

Part of what makes mods so incredible is the that they are largely free. The people who make these mods are downright passionate about what they do, and they are doing so fueled entirely by that passion. What we see from them is a result of their own desire to create the mod, make a name for themselves, or do something fun. When you monetize modding, something special there is lost. Motivations change.

Art of the Catch taken down for using someone else's work for profit.

Art of the Catch taken down for using someone else’s work for profit.

Modding in general has often been what feels like an open-source community. People take mods and combine them with other mods to create the perfect modding packages. Sometimes mod devs would tweak someone else’s mod and create something new. Paid mods have only been available for like 24 hours and Steam has already taken down a mod for “using the work of other modders.” This is just the beginning.

Part of what feels so slimy here is Steam. I don’t like Greenlight, I don’t like their early access stuff, and I don’t like the idea of them creating a marketplace for mods. I don’t like the precedent. Personally, I hope it doesn’t take off. I hope most game studios will not allow their games or brands to be monetized in this fashion.

Good mods do not go unrewarded or unnoticed. There are many examples where mod devs actually get recruited to work at the company that made the game they modded. I’m torn between this feeling that mod devs should be compensated for their work, and a desire to never have to pay $5 to download a map mod for Skyrim. I can’t shake my gut feeling that says, “Keen, this doesn’t seem right.”

Update: Steam is also now removing links to off-site donations. You know those “If you like this mod consider donating to the creator” solicitations? Yep, gone. Looks like Steam wants their cut.


DOTA 2 insight and SWTOR replayability

A mixed bag of stuff tonight.


I’ve been having some great games today in DOTA 2.  I played a couple solo, some with Graev, and some with 3 other guys from the community.  I’m getting better — I can actually tell that my skill is increasing for the first time in a while.  I remember being terrible with certain heroes from the Warcraft 3 days of DOTA… and some things never change.  Valve added Naix (Lifestealer) to the game yesterday, and no matter how hard I try it feels like I’m never as good with him as others are when I face Naix.

A few lessons for anyone thinking about getting into DOTA 2.

  • Have confidence because you never know what your team can accomplish if you work together without fear.  Slink back or not move as one, and your opponents will surround you like sharks.
  • Keep the offensive momentum.
  • Don’t give up -too- early.  Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it’s over, but tonight reminded me why it’s important to keep trying.  I was playing Earthshaker and couldn’t get any gold early on — I thought we should give up.  We were facing two pairs of Chinese friends and couldn’t get early momentum.  We persevered, despite my despair, and a couple of us got blink daggers + our ults, roam ganked together, and it was a solid victory.


I made a new Imperial Agent last night and he’s now approximately level 8.  I have a few videos you can watch.  The newest patch (or two, now) definitely increased my performance.  I was getting some sluggish play a few weeks ago but each patch has made it much more tolerable.  In fact, today I had zero complaints.  An interesting point I want to get across is SWTOR’s replayability.  I’ve played Hutta a few times now and each time I try to go about it differently.  I still enjoyed the story and the quests, despite having played them several times already.  I still recommend people give SWTOR a chance if they’re on the fence.


DOTA 2 is brilliant

DOTA 2's lobby reminds me of how Battle.net used to be

I’ve logged about 13 hours in DOTA 2 beta in the past couple of days.  Without a doubt, this is a quality production.   The feel of DOTA is there, and when I say DOTA I actually mean Defense of the Ancients and not “MOBA.”  There are a few beta-like glitches with sound, but for the most part the entire game feels remarkable polished.  A few traits stand out.

Steam Integration

There’s something to be said for the truly wonderful multiplayer experience Valve has crafted.  It feels like the original Battle.net and in many ways looks like it too.  Your Steam friends are listed right on the UI and those playing DOTA are highlighted separately.    Forming groups and/or inviting to games is also seamless and equally spectacular because of Steam.

Graphics and Performance

The game is beautiful and runs how I wish every game would run.  It even ran remarkably well on the four year old rig I have back at home.  The game feels polished — you know that ‘feel’ I’m talking about?  It’s like a tangible psychological feeling… like a warm blanket of fuzzy awesomeness that envelopes you and imbues you with mental clarity.

The art design is spot on.  Valve went with their classic stylized graphics but captured what I remember about DOTA from Warcraft 3’s engine.

Hero modernization

Valve did a great job implementing the heroes currently in the game.  There is some artistic license at work with some of the heroes and some of the abilities look and behave slightly different from how I remember them in DOTA1, but for the most part it only took a couple of hours to feel right at home.

DOTA 2 is easily going to take the crown for best MOBA game.  I’m extremely curious to see what Valve does with their TF2 style itemization as well as their payment options.  Valve has the ability to take this game places that other MOBAs have not and cannot go, because they are Valve.


Alien Swarm

Valve’s free title ‘Alien Swarm’ was released on Stream today.  It’s a third person isometric/semi top-down view shooter sharing many, many elements with L4D and other shooter titles.  Moving is done with WASD and aiming is done by moving your mouse which turns your character to face a direction and clicking.  You have a laser sight to help indicate the general area where you’re shooting and also a range indicator-like crosshair where you can determine how far or exactly what you’re shooting at.

Straight up, the game is quite fantastic.  It ‘feels’ perfect.  There’s a shocking number of guns and gear to unlock and multiple dimensions to how you’ll go about playing the game based upon the gear you choose.  Playing with other people, especially friends, is key and the teamwork opportunities make it all the more fun.  You can choose your class from Officer, Medic, Weapon Specialist, and Tech.  Each brings something unique to the group dynamic.  For example, tech can weld doors shut behind you to keep out baddies or unlock doors by playing a quick mini-game.

Right now there is only one campaign but it’s comprised of several levels.  Once you play through a few times you’ll notice that, unfortunately, it’s not randomly generated.  It suffers from the same problems that I feel L4D did with it feeling too repetitive after you’ve played a few times.   Luckily it has three modes that ramp up big time in difficulty.  We played for several hours today and aside from learning the maps really well I haven’t felt bored or tired of playing.

Like I mentioned, there are many elements from L4D.  The menu system and multiplayer grouping system are all the same.  So far it has been flawless.  In-game you’ll notice elements from Gears of War like the reloading mechanic where you need to time it right or else you’ll jam your weapon or take a while to reload.  The game as a whole feels like Left 4 Dead as you maneuver through the level whilst surviving the onslaught of alien bugs while trying to reach what feel like ‘safe points’.  The story is forgettable, but I haven’t cared.

The guns are excellent and each brings, in addition to the roles filled by the class you choose, an addition role to fill.  The longer range weapons like the machine gun really do fit in with the Tesla cannon and the shotgun.  The secondary items such as the combat flares for added aiming help or the damage increase add to the dynamic feel or how your group adapts to completing the levels.  Wrap it all up with an amazing UI ripe with features like drawing on the mini-map and an extremely functional load out pre-mission screen and the features are top notch.

My only real complaint at this point is that there isn’t more.  I want more campaigns.  I want this to be fleshed out but I fear they’re just releasing it as is without plans to continue.   Well done though, Valve, with this title.  I’d be willing to pay $20 or more for a game like it in the future or perhaps some form of payment for continued development via content updates or something like that.

Having Mod Tools on top of it all?  Mind = blown.

The below video is gameplay footage of my friends and I playing through some levels.