Motion control or virtual reality—where does the future lie? As it stands, Valve is experimenting with other technologies, including biometrics. Speaking at the NeuroGaming Conference and Expo last week, experimental psychology Mark Ambinder revealed that the studio is testing sweat and eye tracking in their games.
Sweat tracking is being used to figure out how excited players are in a game. Ambinder noted that they’re plugging the data in to Left 4 Dead 2 to provide more information to its AI director. He also added that the studio ran an experiment where players had to shoot 100 enemies. If they grew nervous or excited, the game’s speed would be adjusted, making it harder or easier.
As for eye-tracking, Ambinder noted that they’ve made a version of Portal 2 that could make use of eyes for movement since we can move them much faster than we move hands. Apparently, it worked well, though they still have to work on separating aiming from movement.
He further added that biofeedback can also take in other factors such as heart rate, facial expression, brain waves, body temperature, pupil dilation, and other such features to help improve matchmaking and spectacting. More importantly, Valve may potentially use all this during playtesting to further improve their future games.
The last bit sounds great to me. When you think about it, if Valve can get consistent results on whether a section of a game is boring or exciting, they can tailor it further to exploit its potential. This can be a breakthrough in game design or even gameplay if the technology becomes cheap and user friendly enough. It’s a very exciting time for gamers.
So, yeah, Blizzard totally lost a legal battle today. It wasn’t very pleased when Valve announced Dota 2, a commercial sequel to the wildly popular Warcraft III mod. Blizzard filed a court case, claiming that the DOTA brand is tied to the company.
The studio claimed that “Valve… never released, distributed, or sold any [DOTA] products” and that it never participated in the creation of the mod.
In response, Valve claimed that Blizzard “lacks standing to bring this dispute.” Apparently, it was right.
Now, the two behemoths have come to an agreement over the brand. Valve will continue using the brand name commercially, while Blizzard can use it noncommercially. Keeping that in mind, the studio has renamed its upcoming DOTA game to Blizzard All-Stars.
Speaking to NeoGamr, Valve revealed that over four million units of Portal 2 have been sold worldwide across PC, Mac and consoles. The original had also managed to shift similar figures, notwithstanding Steam sales which should push it to higher figures.
Available now is the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC for PC and Mac versions of the game. It adds a level editor with full Steam Workshop integration. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a console release.
Valve was never content with just releasing Team Fortress 2. Since the game has launched, the studio has released tons of updates and content for the game, building on its lore. Take, for example, this Engineer comic, which hints at two major updates to the Engineer class coming soon to the game.
A metal called Australium is the first addition. It has some special properties and a golden hue. The second addition will be a life-extender machine, which, as you can guess by now, extends life.
Valve’s work on Left 4 Dead has paid off, as the studio announced that the cooperative shooter has now sold over 2.5 million copies since its debut in November 2008.
This news came as part of project lead Michael Booth’s GDC presentation on the game. The figure includes both PC and Xbox 360 releases, but does not include sales from the company’s digital distribution platform Steam. The numbers would be higher of course, and it should be pointed out that a recent discount saw sales jump 3000%.
A new patch for Team Fortress 2 officially adds multicore rendering support, allowing users with dual core and quad core CPUs to take better advantage of the money they spent on their computers.
It was a hidden console command at first, but even though it is now official and included in the GUI, Valve notes that it is testing the compatibility of the feature, so the option is turned off by default. You will have to manually enable the option in the game’s menu.
Other changes in the patch include crash fixes, improvements to the engine and more.
Valve today announced that the first in-game DLC has hit Steam in the form of two expansion levels for The Maw.
Publishers can now sell their content from within the game rather than only through Steam’s storefront.
"DLC can now be added to any game on Steam, regardless of whether it was originally purchased via Steam, at retail, or via other digital outlets," the company stated. "It is also a feature of Steamworks, the suite of free tools and services available to game developers and publishers."
The two levels are “Brute Force” and “River Redirect”, both of which are now available for purchase for $1.25 each.
Following last week’s tease that it would hit the digital distribution platform, Criterion’s open-world racer Burnout Paradise is now on Steam. The download is priced at $39.99, the same as the retail version.
The PC version was released early last month. It features enhanced graphics and all of the downloadable content that has so far been released for the consoles, including the offline multiplayer Party pack.
Following up on its cryptic announcement last week, Valve has released a few details on the Survival Pack DLC for Left 4 Dead.
The new Survival mode will let “up to four players set records for the longest time surviving hordes of zombies on over 12 maps,” according to this GameTrailers TV video. It wasn’t specified whether those maps will be all-new or the current ones.
The pack will also include Versus Mode versions of the Dead Air and Death Toll campaigns. It is set for release this spring.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the release of the original Half-Life, and to celebrate the decade since the birth of the beloved shooter franchise, Valve is selling the game that started it all for only 98 cents.
Yes, you read that right: Half-Life for 98 cents. This offer is valid till tomorrow, so if you want to get into the franchise, now is the time to do so.