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Has Source Engine 2 been soft-launched in the latest DOTA 2 update?

Modders and reverse engineers believe so, developers less sure

Valve, in what would be a quintessentially Valve-like manoeuvre, seems to have slipped a soft-launch of Source Engine 2 into the latest tools update for Dota 2, modders and reverse engineers believe.

A thread on Reddit is speculating that, in an update to DOTA 2's Workshop tools, the enigmatic developer may have also pushed an update to its legendary engine, which has powered games like Half Life, Left For Dead, Portal and Dear Esther in its long history.

Yesterday, Valve announced the update to its workshop tools for the phenomenally popular DOTA 2, but made no mention of what would be an enormously significant move.

"This is the first release of a new set of tools to create, play, and share custom maps and game modes for Dota. This is a developer focused release and currently has high system requirements which means not everyone will be able to run the tools."

Nonetheless, Reddit user RoyAwesome has compiled a list of 'evidence' which he and other Redditors think points to the presence of Source 2 in the Workshop code.

"Everything that would share a name with Source is named '...2'. That's 'engine2.dll', 'vconsole2.exe', 'vphysics2.dll'," he writes.

"When you go to open a map in Hammer, it asks for .vmap files. One of the other options is '.vmf (Source 1.0)' files.

"What we're seeing here could be Source 2, or it could be that a bunch of components from Source 2 have been backported. Either way it's kind of meaningless... If the game looks and plays the same what difference does it make?"

Garry Newman, CEO Facepunch Studios, creator of Garry's Mod

"There is a new Key-Value like format (that i'm gonna call KV2). It is type safe. It looks like this: The engine calls them 'Schema Files', written by CSchemaTextWriter.

"That script also allows for different dlls to load and render different assets (vmaps are rendered by worldrenderer.dll, etc). This is a completely new architecture from Valves previous system. This bit alone would indicate a significant amount of engine work has been done to split these bits out of the engine and into their own libraries. That means the engine is also completely plug-and-play with new engine level components if valve creates them for different games. This is pretty freaking huge."

However, not everyone is convinced. Garry Newman, CEO of Facepunch Studios and creator of Rust and the seminal Garry's Mod - the toolset which introduced millions to the original Source Engine's potential - is exercising caution.

"The Source Engine is pretty modular," he told "The components talk to each other through interfaces. It's possible to upgrade certain elements like physics, sound, GUI, renderer, engine without having to upgrade the entire engine.

"What we're seeing here could be Source 2, or it could be that a bunch of components from Source 2 have been backported. Either way it's kind of meaningless... If the game looks and plays the same what difference does it make?"

Of course, as with every possible sliver of activity from Valve, the names of Half Life 3 and Left For Dead 3 are being whispered in increasingly urgent tones across the internet. It makes sense that Valve would want to launch these games on a new engine, and to have big name games to promote the engine when it does launch, but prepare for speculation to reach the point of saturation before anything is confirmed.

Valve has been contacted for confirmation. Don't hold your collective breath.

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Latest comments (4)

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd7 years ago
This seems possible, but still unlikely. I'm not totally convinced Valve will EVER replace Source, just continue to upgrade the various modular components of it as Newman suggested they may have done here. They have made statements to that effect in the past, mind you it's been a few years.
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Joel Hruska Analyst/Journalist 7 years ago
Of course they will.

No game engine is designed to last forever. Source has had a good run, as did Unreal 3, but eventually -- inevitably -- you wind up with capabilities that you want to expand and extend. If Valve wants to use Mantle, DX12, Apple's Metal, or Nvidia's Gameworks libraries, it has to do some deep core-level stuff to fully leverage them.

There comes a point when every engine needs to be tossed and a new product developed, regardless of how extensible it was designed to be. As a simple example, I'm not sure any of the Source games have ever been updated to use DirectX 11.

Custom, close-to-metal APIs are the new black in game programming, and it's likely that Valve will want a piece of that action in some form. Eventually it's easier to start again with a clean slate than to keep trying to shoehorn capabilities back into an engine that was never designed to support them.

EDIT: Confirmed that Source 1.0 was never updated to support DX11 or even OGL 4.x.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Joel Hruska on 7th August 2014 9:19pm

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee7 years ago
A lot of these engine/middle-ware solutions are dropping the number these days, it more important what has changed beneath the name. A lot has happened in computer graphics since the original Source engine, so I'd be surprised if the next version resembled it much.
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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments7 years ago
Unless it's being licensed out, I very much doubt anyone outside of valve really knows what "source 2" is - it might be a new engine, it might be a major rewrite, or it might be a label for a set of updates to components that combine to achieve a generational increment. Given that "source" as a public brand allegedly stems from the folder name on their server, it may even be simply a marketing label for a somewhat arbitrary marker on a line of incremental improvements.

@Joel whether certain updates need the whole engine to be discarded or not is something only valve can answer - it's hypothetically possible for an engine to be almost entirely rewritten without ever needing to discard it all at once.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Neil Young on 8th August 2014 12:23pm

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