Although slightly later than planned, this week's Round-Up episode covers an interesting and wide spread of news and discussions. Headlines from the past week include a huge sexual discrimination legal case against Valve, the release of early Vulkan support for Dota 2, and claims by Valve engineer Alan Yates that the Oculus Rift is just a big copycat!
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Alan Yates, who likes to refer to himself as Chief Pharologist at Valve, is one of the senior engineers working on the Lighthouse tracking system and other VR technologies for the HTC Vive. According to him, both the Vive and the Rift use the same core features from Valve's research program.
Yates took to Reddit yesterday and declared, "the CV1 is otherwise a direct copy of the architecture of the 1080p Steam Sight prototype Valve lent Oculus when we installed a copy of the 'Valve Room' at their headquarters." He went on to say, "I would call Oculus the first SteamVR licensee."
With Valve's technology in their possession, it would have helped Oculus to acquire the engineers behind it, too. Michael Abrash was a key piece in that acquisition strategy, but they failed to grab much more. "Unfortunately for them they did not succeed and the great majority of the team that actually made it work remains at Valve," Yates said in September 2015.
In this very Dota-centric Round-Up episode, we're talking about the introduction of The International 2016 Battle Pass and the amazing success it has garnered thus far, before briefly discussing the welcome return of the Dota 2 Short Film Contest!
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Following the enormous success of last year's Dota 2 Short Film Contest, Valve are bringing back the now-annual tradition to allow for a whole new set of videos to be created and submitted. Between May 20th and July 26th, Valve will be accepting Dota-themed videos of no longer than one minute, which will then be voted on by the Steam Community and Valve's staff to potentially win one of ten top prizes. These include $25,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, $5,000 for third place, and $500 for each of the other seven finalists.
As you might except, using non-Valve IP without permission is not permitted, nor is using ads on your YouTube upload. Despite Source Filmmaker being one of Valve's highest profile tools, it is not actually required to enter the contest, meaning live action or totally different animation styles can also be used if desired. Like last year, the winning videos will be publicly revealed during a dedicated segment during The International 2016 event in August. The winners of last year's contest can be found over on our own dedicated playlist, should you have yet to check them out!
A full FAQ for this year's event is available here, so take a look if you're looking to participate or vote.
As part of the run-up to this year's International 2016 tournament for Dota 2, Valve have today released the event's Battle Pass and Compendium. Available for $9.99 / £7.19, the Battle Pass provides players with access to the statistical compendium from previous years and the usual host of cosmetic items, challenges, and rewards. These rewards include three Immortal Treasures, Spring-themed terrain, a weather effect, a music pack, "evolving" wards and couriers, a cursor pack, numerous emoticon packs, a custom HUD, a Crystal Maiden announcer pack, various loading screens, and a TI6-themed Effigy block. Like all previous compendiums, more rewards of increasing rarity can be acquired by levelling up the Battle Pass, either by paying for extra points or by earning them.
Like the previously successful Winter Battle Pass, this new Battle Pass also provides numerous gameplay incentives in the form of quests, achievements, match wagering, and community challenges. These features largely function the same as their older counterparts, only with new sets and items to win. The aforementioned community challenges also introduce a new pachinko machine mini-game known as "Lina's Battle Blaze", where dropped balls will randomly grand players the ability to win additional Battle Points to level up their Battle Passes.
Other new game mechanics include the ability to compete in an on-going Weekend Battle Cup as teams battle one another across brackets, and a "Prize Pool Prediction" allowing players to channel their inner Oracle as they place bets on where they think the final, steadily-rising total will end up (currently just above $2M at time of writing). Should this year's prize pool surpass that of 2015, all Battle Pass owners will be awarded special treasures able to give Arcana item sets, immortal items, and ultra-rare, expensive items retired in years gone by.
Those looking to level their Battle Passes up as far as they can will be treated well, as, alongside regular Immortal drops, players can also look to get their hands on 21 increasingly-flashy skins for a courier, a "Prestige" item for Legion Commander, unique particle effects for various items and buffs, 8 taunts for various heroes, and two extremely interesting visual effects. The first effect, "Rival Vials" periodically unlock new coloured liquid effects for players to fill the river with, effects which will then be shown to all players in that current game. The other, known as the "Immortal Gardens Terrain", is a permanent map theme which looks phenomenal and yet can still be used in regular games alongside players who don't have it equipped. This is thanks to the extensive work Valve put into the Source 2 tile system late last year, which keeps layouts functionally consistent, regardless of how they look.
We could literally sit here all night discussing the details of each and every one of these items, quests, and objectives, but you're honestly better off heading on over to the announcement page to learn more for yourself or to pick up your own Battle Pass. I've got mine - have you?!
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