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avatar rufee 2nd March 2015, 18:33 PM

Valve's Gamebreaking Syndrome

This was supposed to be a PM to Jessie, but screw it lets make a journal :)

Anyway, what my problem with Valve is that they are/have become a monopoly and are slowly turning to EA, maybe not that bad, but the tendencies are there. Monopolies aside what really frustrated me was Valve's spontaneous new ideas for their old games. I don't remember when and with which game it started, but i have been putting together what looks like a tendency Valve follows with every game they make and later break.

Call me old fashioned, but i don't see why you need to try and revive old games that are in a state of "community management". The gsrc engine falls into that category, ever since they for some reason decided to upgrade the engine which broke camera movement, added unnecessary features like Anti-Aliasing and some other things. Granted this was done to offer cross-platform compatibility, but this could have been done a different way without touching the look and feel of a game. Not to mention they broke half of the servers.

TF2 comes in next. The game has gone downhill since the trading system was introduced. I know everyone wants money and all, but why break the game for the people who like the game for what it was? I mean you didn't add hats, weapons and other **** to CS 1.6 or CSS and everything worked fine for a very very very long time. In a matter of 2-3 years Valve basically killed what was a very little pro-scene to begin with, even the community got a stab in the back with "matchmaking" and official servers, on top of many other things i won't name. Instead of fixing the annoying game crash which plagued me since i first started playing, i have switched between 3-4 machines since then and the game still crashes (Stojke can relate), they pumped out more hats.

L4D, they game has a good concept everything was going ok and then L4D2, which would have been alright if not for the merge of the two few years later. Also the debut of Valve's "matchmaking" system.

Dota2, i have been with this game since the very beginning. The "hats" in this game don't bother me so much since impact to gameplay is very minimal. What really bothers me about it is that we can see Valve's focus is oriented towards milking the series for as much money as possible and then leave it rotting on the side of the road. The joke on youtube about the servers got me thinking, maybe its not that far fetched as it seemed. In the beginning the pings for me were about 40ms that jumped to 100ms in the same region. Ok there are more players which has an influence on this, but why not scale with the growing community and upgrade your damn network infrastructure?

CS:GO, il let the skins slide. What infuriates me is paying for maps ? really ? As i only play competitive i am displeased with this. I can't really comment on this much since its not that broken yet, we will see.

I am kind of old fashioned in the sense of modding, what i really liked about Valve is that everything was in the communities hands. Maps, models, servers everything. Now it just feels like they are ripping the soul of modding out from their games with Steam Workshop, to me modding has and always will be a community oriented thing, not a reddit on steam with an "Add to game" button. Yes it has become easy to add stuff to your game with this, but the hard way of doing it was the whole experience for me, taught me way more than push a few buttons to get what i want ever will.

I can't really come up with an example to compare to, Id software did it well, but then again it was early in the days of the online gaming we know today.

Well here was my little rant about Valve, they in my mind aren't what they used to be and never will be.

Comments

avatar Jessie says: 2nd March 2015, 19:17 PM
My question was specifically about TF2's items, which you skimmed over. The only other one I can really comment on is L4D/L4D2, both of which I've played a fair bit of, and I don't really understand your complaints about that, unless you'd care to elaborate.

But no digression. You claim they "broke" TF2. In what way? I was playing TF2 not an hour ago, and it seemed perfectly playable and enjoyable.
avatar rufee says: 2nd March 2015, 20:08 PM
I liked TF2 when you didn't have silly weapons - swords, shields, fish, piss and many more. To me it unbalances the game. The medic update was probably the only good one which added payload and some useful weapons. Valve didn't put jars of piss in CS or any other game, i hoped they had the courtesy to keep TF2 enjoyable for those of us who came from CS and other fps'es and not litter it with nonsense.
Its really hard to explain actually why i don't like it. The best i could do is CS never had major updates like this and it was great, i expected them to treat TF2 the same way it was a more elaborate and fun game to start with in the first place over CS, more choices and everything. Items ruined it for me.
avatar Captain Terror says: 2nd March 2015, 21:00 PM
Great journal post Ruf, and I agree with everything you said. When you monetize every aspect of a game you ruin it. Valve doesn't have enough money already filling their swimming pools full of money? It really makes you wonder sometimes.

As for CSGO it's been quite some time since I played regularly, but I feel they've done a pretty good job with it so far. I'm happy I can say all the workshop maps I've uploaded still work years later--even with constant updates--, so there is something to be said about that.

CSGO items don't bother me too much, but constant random people asking you for deagle skins and trading cards does(not Valves fault I guess), gets old pretty fast.

If I had one complaint about CSGO it would be that they repeat maps over and over againg in different operations. I mean, i can understand paying for a map once, but I think it's annoying and lame to pay for the same map twice...
avatar Jessie says: 2nd March 2015, 21:00 PM
But TF2 isn't CS. You do get that, right? TF2 is a comic-styled game, in art style, characters, setting... In that regard, it has every right to have slightly less-than-serious weapons. As for the actual gameplay around them, there are no weapons that unbalance the game. They all have their pros and cons, and never stray too far from the class' intended purpose. They provide each class with a wealth of variety without changing the balances between the classes overly. I daresay without all the weapons, TF2 would be an incredibly dull and repetitive experience... well, much like CS, aye?

Wouldn't it be fairer to say that TF2 just isn't your kind of game, rather than that it's broken? Because it obviously isn't, especially since your response didn't have anything more damning than "I don't like it". If it actually was "unplayable", and wasn't before, the point would be more valid.

EDIT: I'm curious, seeing as everyone always moans about the way Valve makes their money... how much money have you actually put into these games? Open question.
avatar rufee says: 2nd March 2015, 22:01 PM
"TF2 would be an incredibly dull and repetitive experience... well, much like CS, aye?" I was and it was awesome, call me weird, but it was the must fun i had every evening until - items. And the f*cking crash still happens.

Ive made 15 euros for playing Dota2 and spent it on other games, if that answers your question.
avatar Captain Terror says: 2nd March 2015, 22:07 PM
<REDACTED>
avatar Archie says: 2nd March 2015, 23:43 PM
I disagree with almost every point you've brought up, and in particular I must defend the Steam Workshop. As a modder you should be jumping for joy that your creations now have versioning, automatic updates, unified comments, promotion and hosting all rolled into one easy to use system. And they can even make some money! The Workshop system is brilliant and is introducing whole new generations to the modding world.

I highly recommend you watch this video when it comes to the way Valve are monetizing their games nowadays. If you compare their systems to almost any other in-game transactions, it's black and white that Valve's system is clearly on the right path - particularly in Dota.

I will admit that in TF2, after revisiting it for the first time since the first Pyro update, I was quite quickly overwhelmed with trying to learn what different weapons were doing, which is arguably a negative, though I will point out that all the classes still played clearly defined roles and it was still fun. Since TF2 is a silly, casual game - not a competetive one - it makes sense that Valve were more willing to experiment with it.

If a games company is willing to support and update their entire back catalogue more than 15 years later I wholeheartedly support them, but then I've never experienced any of the crashes or bugs you seem to have encountered. I know a couple of GldSrc mods were buggered by the Steampipe update, but The Core showed zero ill-effects, so I can't really complain. The ones that broke were those with so many engine modifications they weren't recognisably Goldsource anymore.
avatar Penguinboy says: 3rd March 2015, 00:12 AM
Yep, I have no idea how any modder could possibly think the workshop is bad. What used to be difficult and inaccessible is now simple and straight-forward - and custom content being exposed to many more people, so there will be more maps, more mappers, and a bigger modding community. Everybody wins, there's absolutely no downside to this.

I'd agree that TF2's item and trading is quite over-the-top, but I think there's an option for "classic servers", which has no items and just the original weapon loadouts. I don't know how many of these servers are active, though.

Aside from that: what Archie said.
avatar Dimbeak says: 3rd March 2015, 00:35 AM
You don't have to buy maps at CSGO. You have the option of paying if you want to have a medal that shows how many hours you've spent playing them, and exists just to give money to the mappers who contributed and make it into the operation.
avatar AJ says: 3rd March 2015, 01:17 AM
Going to have to agree with Archie and Penguinboy here. I'm not particularly enamoured with the various choices that Valve makes (Steam is a DRM; a very wooly refund policy that either doesn't strictly adhere to local laws or obfuscates the process; etc), but the Workshop concept is a massive boon to the creators and the players.

I especially disagree about the changes to the Goldsource engine. The fact that I can quite easily play a game released in 1998 on a 2k resolution on my Mac, or Windows machine is fantastic. And saying AA is unnecessary seems a bit over the top, particularly when you can just turn it off if the aesthetic is not to your taste. Furthermore, it feels very unreasonable to me that Valve should be expected to ensure 100% backwards compatibility with every mod ever released, particularly after they've provided better tools to developers to update their mods. Valve choose to support modding out of general goodwill, not obligation. They could've easily updated the Goldsource engine and completely locked out modding as well. Instead, they simplified the distribution and installation of mods and gave creators a chance to earn some money back on the content they produced. As Pebs said, there's really no downside to this.
avatar Bruce says: 3rd March 2015, 01:55 AM
dont blame valve, blame the 30000 calorie pink cookie that illuminati sent them, rumors are that theyre still eating it, since 1998
avatar Strider says: 3rd March 2015, 04:50 AM
Don't know about the Goldsource stuff, but I really don't like what Valve have done with TF2, it's beyond messy. I also think L4D2 was a disaster of game design and timing.

As the others have said though, the workshop is a great tool. It doesn't conflict with any of the traditional modding methods, it just eases distribution and gives your work a greater chance of being noticed. The greater crime is the massive neglect the Source SDK tools are receiving.

Valve's methods of monetizing their games are the least offensive I've seen in the industry today, but none-the-less they all seem to come at the expense of tight, focused design. I'm honestly pretty much done with Valve's multiplayer efforts.

What they do with their next big single-player experience will be very interesting. If they try to needlessly monetize that too, it'll be very telling.
avatar Suparsonik says: 3rd March 2015, 05:18 AM
[quote]I know a couple of GldSrc mods were buggered by the Steampipe update, but The Core showed zero ill-effects, so I can't really complain. The ones that broke were those with so many engine modifications they weren't recognisably Goldsource anymore.[/quote]

While these mods are included, you're missing plenty of other Half-Life mods that are broken that DO NOT modify the engine and simply just run on an earlier version of the gamecode. HL Rally is an example of this. It refuses to run on the Steam version of Half-Life AT ALL, but runs on the retail version of Half-Life just fine.
avatar Penguinboy says: 3rd March 2015, 06:30 AM
This might be the OSS developer in me talking, but I honestly think that's an issue that the modder should fix. If the original creator no longer wants to support their software, they should release the source code so others are able to. I don't care if it's a mod, game, application, or any other piece of software. Compatibility issues happen, and the creator should be responsible for the fixes. In the case of a mod, the responsibility for a fix lies solely on the mod creator.
avatar Suparsonik says: 3rd March 2015, 15:10 PM
Believe me, I'd love to see more stuff open sourced.
avatar 2muchvideogames says: 4th March 2015, 05:11 AM
I think we can all agree on the fact that valve is now putting money ahead of game quality at this point. I think this might not actually be the case back when HL1 or 2 first came out. But now that they are mostly dependent on steam and f2p multiplayer games raking in huge money, they prolly arent as concerned about quality now than before. I can't count the number of times in tf2 where there were floating cosmetics or csgo random crashes. I even had a crash playing training dota. Of course I dont blame the developer for not finding everything that can cause crashes or glitches. However it is just that there appears to be this general attitude in valve that money is more important now. This actually happens with every small company that goes big (like facebook) and shouldn't come as a surprise, but it did.

Certain parts of modding are completely abandoned because it is not monetizeable. Only things that go thru the workshop AND are monetizeable are supported.

Workshop compatible: Tf2 models, CSGO skins, CSGO maps, CSGO stickers, dota models
Workshop incompatible: Tf2 maps, CSGO model replacements, any HL2 mod/map or goldsrc single player mods/maps

Really, the workshop only exists to monetize content from modders for valve, and note that only things that can go thru the workshop is supported by valve. Most HL and HL2 maps and mods are not really supported , nor does valve want to add things that doesn't go thru workshop, like tf2 maps. L4d stuff can go thru workshop, but cannot be monetized, so that game was simply abandoned.

As for HL3, I won't be 100% on this but I don't think it will ever come out unless in a monetized form. Nothing like your typical HL2 single player. I think you all know how valve fired their modellers and stuff because its simply better to depend on the workshop for all their modelling needs. I'm not totally up to date on gaming news so you all might know more but with the general profit-based direction the company is taking, single player games simply isn't worth their time. No single player game is going to make as much money as their four big microtransaction stores (steam, tf2, csgo, dota).
avatar Crypt says: 4th March 2015, 05:20 AM
I more or less agree w/ the rest.

I think Valve's intentions were clear w/ TF2. It's whacky. You could argue it was fine when it was released, but now it's got personality, style, humor. It's totally casual and fun, and I don't find anything unbalanced about it, either.

I've also gotta agree, it's totally up to the mod designer to maintain compatibility down the line. I've seen some crybaby stuff about Valve breaking Half-Life (2, Ep2, etc.) mods, and how they OBVIOUSLY don't care about their modding community, but I hardly see that as worth getting upset at Valve over. Their game is the priority, I don't really think they're obligated to make sure they don't break fan-made content (unless that's the whole point, like SDK stuff). Steampipe update is a good example, in my opinion. Lots of mods got broken or bugged, but as far as I can tell, totally fixable by the mod developer in most cases. If they don't wanna fix it, blame the modder.

I don't even know what GoldSrc issues you're talking about, or how they changed the look and feel of the game in any meaningful way. But in the opposite direction, that complaint seems super odd to me. Developers shouldn't step in to their old games to help the "community handled" stuff work? I don't think I follow.

On Workshop, again, agree with the others, though I do have the point to add, that of all the things that I like the experience of doing things the hard way, installing mods is not one of them. "Only compatible with version 2.0.7.1. To find your version, install this tool. If you have problem, install this patch tool. Use this tool to open this file, and this other tool to edit it. Don't forget to back everything up."

I'll take a directly integrated "Add to game" button over anything else any day.

I just think the overall idea of a company attempting to make money being a bad thing is stupid. Especially when met with complaints such as "Your free game needs more servers, go throw money at it until the problem goes away." Sure, Valve's HQ is held together by Benjamin-based papier-mache, but is that even relevant? It's wrong to want to replace money you may or may not spend? I think I've played pretty much every single Valve multiplayer game, and not once did I ever feel like their monetizing was in the way of anything. I feel like if the markets were just a catalogue of free things, nothing about the game itself would feel any different.
avatar Archie says: 4th March 2015, 10:49 AM
"I think we can all agree on the fact that valve is now putting money ahead of game quality at this point [...] they prolly arent as concerned about quality now than before"
Nonsense, look at HL3. They could have easily shat out a sequel and raked in billions from the brainless fans (us). The very fact that they're taking so much time and care over it shows where their priorities lie. They very, very rarely make a decision without first asking how it can benefit players.
Don't get me wrong, they're incredibly shrewd when it comes to making money, but their infinite funds allow them to experiment and shape the way we play games.

They take their time and refine their first-party titles whilst providing an incredible ecosystem for the third-party games on Steam. Nostalgia is not an excuse to halt progress.
avatar AJ says: 4th March 2015, 11:20 AM
I'm not sure HL3 is a credible example, Archie. I think that Valve's open-plan hierarchy is a massive hinderance at times. There's more than a few accounts of ex-Valve developers who have openly criticised the lack of structure and its inefficiencies in keeping projects on track and organised. Granted, those accounts may or may not be biased, and we'll probably never know the full story, but a lot of what they say makes sense. Few games that are in development for this amount of time end up demonstrating where all that time went.
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