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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive trailer reveals cross-platform play, Valve to host official servers

by Michael Arsenault on Friday, August 26, 2011 , under

The first trailer for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has landed on Gametrailers. In between messages mentioning the new weapons, maps and game modes, one pop up confirms that CS:GO will have cross platform play, giving us an opportunity to playfully shoot Playstation 3 and Mac players in the face.

Kotaku have spent some time with CS:GO, and can confirm a few new facts.  Global Offensive will have a "casual mode" which will give players funds to buy whatever they like between rounds. This mode will also support cross team chat and let you spectate enemy team members. "Competitive mode' will provide a more traditional Counter-Strike set up.

Valve are also planning to host their own servers for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Players will still be able to set up and host their own dedicated servers outside of Valve's systems, but official servers will come with their own skill-based matchmaking system, and aim to provide a consistent experience for competitive play.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is being shown at a number of trade shows over the next few weeks, including PAX, and will go into beta in October.  Valve haven't said much about new maps and modes, but told Kotaku that one of them would cast some players as bank robbers. CS:GO is out next year.
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DOTA vs Dota 2: Valve and Blizzard go to war

by Michael Arsenault on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 , under

Never mind the fuss over Scrolls/The Elder Scrolls - if you want trademark confusion, look to DOTA.

To recap. There's the original DOTA, aka Defense of the Ancients, a Warcraft III map. There's Valve's Dota 2, which doesn't actually stand for anything, acting as a direct commercial sequel.  Next year, we can expect Blizzard's official take, with a Starcraft map combining heroes from all of its units.  And then there's League of Legends, the same game at heart, whose creators want everyone to use the term MOBA - Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Sound fair? Perhaps, except that even if you ignore that about 99% of online action games could qualify as that, the likes of Funcom's Bloodline Champions apparently don't, at least not in the eyes of the players... because they're not DOTA.

That pain in your head is a migraine no amount of Neurofen will shift.

What's interesting about this fight is that it's set to be primarily one for the hearts and minds of players rather than a duel of lawyers. There's still time for them to get involved, but so far all sides are holding back. Speaking with Eurogamer at Gamescom, Blizzard provided comments like "I don't think it's critical [to have the name DOTA] to delivering that experience to the fans, personally", with Valve's Gabe Newell responding "I haven't had any customers or gamers react negatively to it. They seem to be pretty comfortable with it." Maybe both sides are hoping to score that all-important last hit bonus?

Hopefully this continues when the games actually launch, with the companies all furiously building the same basic game accepting that at the very least, they can afford to be gentleman if the community ultimately opts for the version with Diablo in it instead of free Team Fortress hats, or vice-versa. If not, Valve currently has by far the strongest hand, having registered the Dota trademark and hired one of the original map's maintainers, while Blizzard merely made the game other people used to create it.

Both games are expected next year.  Valve's Dota 2 arriving first as a standalone product, Blizzard's DOTA around the same time as Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm. To get your DOTA/MOBA on now, look to League of Legends or Heroes of Newerth, or the new kid on the block, Rise of Immortals.
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Diablo 3 game director on lack of offline mode: “the game’s not really being played right if it’s not online”

by Michael Arsenault on Monday, August 22, 2011 , under

We met up with Diablo 3 game director, Jay Wilson at Gamescom to discuss Diablo 3′s always-online requirement and some of the issues that PC gamers can face when playing online-only games.

Some players might not have access to a stable internet connection. What should a player do if, say, the internet wiring in his house is flawed?

“Erm… upgrade the wiring in his house?” suggests Wilson. “I mean, in this day and age the notion that there’s this a whole vast majority of players out there that don’t have online connectivity – this doesn’t really fly any more.

“I mean, at our hotel, there’s nine wi-fi networks that I can access. Just from the hotel! And they’re all public – they’re all paid – but they’re pretty cheap, and they’re all publicly available. So the notion that there’s just tons and tons of people out there that aren’t connected – isn’t… I don’t think is really accurate.”

Wilson also told us some of the philosophical and practical reasons behind the decision not to include any sort of offline mode.

“There’s two basic problems with us doing that,” said Wilson. “One is players default immediately to that. So, they basically unintentionally opt out of all the cooperative experience, all the trading experience, and the core of Diablo is a circle-trading game. So for us we’ve always viewed it as an online game – the game’s not really being played right if it’s not online, so when we have that specific question of why are we allowing it? Because that’s the best experience, why would you want it any other way?”

Wilson admits that the decision will alienate some players, but also suggests that it’s impossible to please everyone.

“You’ve got to make choices about what you want to do, and sometimes those choices are going to make some people unhappy, but if you feel like it’s what is the right thing to do to making a better product then you have to do it,” he says.

“An online experience is what we want to provide for this game. Every choice you make is going to omit some part of the audience. Some people don’t like fantasy games, so should we have not made Diablo a fantasy game, because some people don’t like that? Some people don’t like barbarians. Should we not have put a barbarian in the game because some people don’t like it?”

From a practical angle, piracy was also a concern for Blizzard when they made the decision to make Diablo 3 require an internet connection.

“If we allow an Offline mode, it changes the structure of the data that we have to put on the user’s system. Essentially we would have to put our server architecture onto the client so that it can run its own personal server. Doing that essentially is one of the reasons why Diablo 2 was a much easier game to hack than obviously any other game you’d mention and so it’s what led to extensive cheating and item dupes and things like that.”

“I would never guarantee that we’re never going to have those things in Diablo 3, but it’s one of the things that our community has been the most vocal about, wanting this fixed, and if we essentially are putting the server out there…we’re not really going to be able to better than Diablo 2.”
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