With "The Lab" having been out for a little over a month and a half at this point, it's definitely the perfect time for Valve to re-inject some life into their freely available virtual reality title. Today's "Appliance of Science" update, available free of charge, adds a bunch of extra functionality into The Lab's three most replayable mini-games, Longbow, Xortex, and Slingshot.
Global leaderboards, endless modes, and minor gameplay tweaks are among the changes that Valve hopes will keep players coming back to The Lab time and time again much in the same way simple yet replayable games such as Audioshield and Space Pirate Trainer can retain players despite being so seemingly basic on the surface. In Longbow, the game will now continue past the standard 8 rounds, spawning more enemies with tougher armour as waves continue and build in difficulty. For Xortex, a new "Xortex Infinite" mode allows players to enjoy Xortex indefinitely without having to worry about the on-going boss battle as a new "Spinner" enemy looks to disrupt the battlefield. For Slingshot, you can expect to see a somewhat overhauled point system alongside even more powerful explosive barrels!
Other miscellaneous changes added to The Lab in the Appliance of Science update include voice subtitles and translations, additional haptic feedback support while petting Fetchbot, and extra commands to help skip certain unnecessary scenes. More details are available at Valve's official announcement post, so check them out!
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.
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