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With Valve continuing down its path of never making another game ever again, it’s shed another one of its writers—an increasingly common occurrence. This time it’s Jay Pinkerton, who has been writing for Valve since 2008 and co-wrote Portal 2.
Pinkerton joined Valve after leaving Cracked.com, where he was an editor. He worked with Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek, co-writing Portal 2. Wolpaw left Valve in February, while Faliszek left in May after working on Valve’s virtual reality projects.
You can also thank Pinkerton for a lot of the ancillary stuff that Valve churns out, like the comics and videos that expand Team Fortress 2.
So that’s almost all of Valve’s writers gone in a space of less than two years. The real surprise is that it’s taken this long, frankly. There hasn’t been a game for them to write for in a very long time, only the additional stuff that supports older games.
It’s still a shame, of course. Valve used to be famed for its writing. But on the plus side, there are now considerably more top-notch writers out there actually doing things instead of getting covered in cobwebs inside a broom closet in Valve HQ.
I am stuck. There are 15 short levels currently available in ECHOPLEX, a first-person puzzler along the lines of Portal and Antichamber, and I am stuck on level 11. It is a toughie. The thing is, I m not sure if the game is working as intended. Bugs are part of the early access merry-go-round, for sure, but if they show up in the strict logic of a puzzle game they can be boldly destructive. But there s a bigger problem than that: I don t know if what I m seeing is a bug, or if it is simply part of the puzzle that hasn t been explained. … [visit site to read more]
Erik Wolpaw, a long-time Valve writer who has worked on game series including Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead, and Portal, revealed today that he is no longer with the company. Marc Laidlaw, himself a former Valve writer, let the news slip on Twitter, while Wolpaw confirmed it in a status update on his Facebook page.
Wolpaw joined Valve in 2004, and has credits on Half-Life: Episode One and Two, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and Portal 2. Prior to that, he was with Double-Fine, where he co-wrote the outstanding platform-adventure Psychonauts, and before that he was one-half of the brilliant (and sadly defunct) gaming site Old Man Murray. He's currently involved in the development of Psychonauts 2, which was successfully crowdfunded in early 2016.
A reason for Wolpaw's departure wasn't given, but it does appear to be legitimate this time around. A report that he had left Valve also surfaced last summer, but in that case it turned out that he'd just called in sick for the day.
I've emailed Valve for more information, and will update if and when I received a reply.
Update: The report originally stated that writer Jay Pinkterton had also left the company, but apparently not.
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As you may have spied last week, the creators of Superhot are running a competition which encourages entrants to get creative with the time-manipulating FPS in mind. Named #MAKEITSUPERHOT, entrants are asked to craft games, mods, or arts and crafts inspired by Superhot Team's flagship game whereby a winner will be crowned on February 26.
One such entrant is modder WhyNott's PORTALHOT, which cleverly combines Valve's Portal and it's orange and blue vortex mechanics, with the movement-related slow-mo features of Superhot.
Although cautious to single out any one project, the competition is being judged by ModDB, Superhot Team, and IMGN.PRO (and not the public), therefore I thought it okay to showcase this one on its own. It's really rather cool:
"So, how does one turn a non-violent FPP (first person perspective) puzzle-adventure game into something reminiscent of an ultrafast semi-tactical FPS with high-stakes gameplay?" asks WhyNott in the mod's first developer diary featured on ModDB. "It's not all that difficult, really! Portal's lack of violence really depends on your point of view. Enemies are definitely not a problem here. Sentry turrets are more than capable at filling that role, and if you're bored with bullets you also have other options.
"It's a little different on player's side, but not by a large margin. Generally, with a good aim and a bit of time to think strategically, portal gun can be as devastating of a weapon as any other. Couple this with the trademark ability to move quickly over large distances, and you'll find the stakes to be evened out somewhat. In reality, the 'time moves only when you move' mechanic is good enough to carry almost any kind of game. It synergizes really well with the concept of 'portal combat', since you have that extra time to think about how to place each portal to deal with sentry guns efficiently."
A second dev diary dives deeper into what makes the mod tick, while WhyNott has been chatting with commenters about the hows and whys of the Portal-meets-Superhot mashup, all which makes for interesting reading.
The #MAKEITSUPERHOT contest wraps up at 12am UTC on February 26, 2017. All entrants receive a Steam key for Superhot Team's Superhot.
Today, remakes, reboots and remasters are à la mode, however there's something to be said about the process in reverse. Vince Weaver, an assistant professor at the University of Main's Electrical and Computing Engineering department understands this, which is why he's recreated Valve's 2007 puzzle platformer Portal using Applesoft BASIC for the Apple II.
In crude 8-bit visuals, Weaver reimagines protagonist Chell, sentient robot antagonist GlaDOS, and the game's signature orange and blue portal mechanics with aplomb—and he's even managed to capture the game's underlying tongue-in-cheek humour. The video below runs for close to eight minutes, however is at its best when Weaver gets to the final showdown around the 2.55 mark (if you're yet to play Portal, the following borders spoiler territory).
Once the battle with GlaDOS runs its course, Jonathan Coulton's end credits song Still Alive plays and sounds pretty fantastic in chiptune style. We may not be getting Half-Life 3 anytime soon, nor HL2: Episode 3, and the same might be the case for Portal 3. If so, this might have to do us—head to Weaver's site to give it a bash via the downloadable emulator there, or this in-browser emulator.
Word of J.J. Abrams-led Portal and Half-Life movies first surfaced three years ago when the esteemed film director and Valve's Gabe Newell floated the idea at the DICE 2013 summit in Las Vegas. In March of this year, Abrams confirmed both films' existence "they're in development", he said however information has been thin on the ground since. When pressed by IGN at Wednesday's Westworld red carpet event, Abrahams confirmed he's meeting with Valve next week.
"We have a meeting coming up next week with Valve, we re very active, I m hoping that there will be a Portal announcement fairly soon," Abrams told IGN. "We are having some really interesting discussions with writers, many of whom...once you said you re doing a movie or show about a specific thing that is a known quantity you start to find people who are rabid about these things."
Which is pretty reassuring, given the fact Newell has spoken before about the poor quality of pitches he's received from Hollywood production companies over the years some of which were "brutally, the worse", as a result of "not understanding what made the game good."
Abrams continued: "As someone who loves playing Half Life and Portal, what s the movie of this, it s incredible when you talk to someone who just gets it, it s like, oh my god, it s really the seed for this incredible tree you re growing.
"I look forward to being able to talk about it and announce who's working on it."
As do I. Now, which Hollywood actors would best suit these roles, I wonder?
The Church in the Darkness plays like top down Hitman-lite in a 1970s religious cult. Your character decides to check in on a relative and infiltrates the sect to figure out how they're doing and what's really going on at church camp.
You navigate buildings and avoid the scrutiny of the cultists by staying out of sight, but unlike most stealth games, they won't get suspicious if you're in their line of sight, only if you get too close. By investigating the buildings around camp and searching for supplies, you'll find tools to help out with the denser parts of camp. For instance, I found a worker outfit that decreased the 'suspicion' cone around each camper so I could navigate more freely. I got in without alerting anyone, but you're free to go guns blazing if you like. I have concerns about the stealth feeling a bit too simple, but until I know what kind of challenges and tools the final game has in store, I'll keep checking in.
All the while, the church leader spouts their doctrine over the loudspeakers, but it's never quite the same every time. Voiced by videogame VO power couple Ellen McLain (GLaDOS) and John Patrick Lowrie (TF2's Sniper), the two leaders' teachings change with each playthrough. During one, they might actually be a fairly peaceful, if peculiar, religious group. During the next, they might be getting ready to take the world down with them. It's a creative form of narrative direction that I hope will influence how players choose to go about infiltrating camp. If they're a nice crew, the moral impetus might be to get in and out without harming a fly. If they're bloodthirsty zealots, well, a few flies won't matter.
The Church in the Darkness arrives some time next year.
The Lab is a free, semi-Portal-themed collection of minigames and vignettes from Valve, designed to show of the capabilities of their new VR headset, the Vive. It’s out now, but clearly most of you won’t be able to try it – even if you ordered a Vive, you’re weeks or more away from receiving it. Given this is, in theory, the first new Valve game in quite some time, I thought I’d tell you all about it.