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Shacknews - Steve Watts
If you ve ever felt ashamed of games you ve picked up but never played, at least you can rest assured you aren t alone. A study into Steam playing habits has found that more than a third of all games purchased through the service have never been loaded up even once.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

These guys don't stand a chance.

Like any form of competition, speedrunning generates arguments over authenticity. Does a speedrun count if it relies on a bunny-hopping mod, in-game glitches and different runners tackling different parts of the game in short segments? I’m not sure I care either way. No matter the methods, Half-Life 1 being completed in 20 minutes and 41 seconds is an accomplishment of endurance, skill and effort. More importantly it’s a beautifully entertaining video, full of ingenuity and grace and physical comedy. The new record time is embedded below. You must watch it.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life gets new world record speedrun; watch it be finished in 20 minutes 41 seconds">Half-Life screen







You know that first level of Mirror's Edge? I'm quite good at that. Pretty quick. Adequate. Such limited achievement at being fast in games is a small comfort when faced with this: a new world-record segmented speedrun of Half-Life. The speedrunning team of quadrazid, CRASH FORT, coolkid, pineapple, YaLTeR, Spider-Waffle and FELip have completely demolished Valve's 1998 FPS, beating the previous record by nine minutes. If you've got a spare 20 minutes (and 41 seconds), it's well worth a watch. Gordon's balletic flight through the halls of Black Mesa is almost mesmerising in its fluidity.







According to the team, the run took "almost four years of painstaking planning, theorycrafting and execution". It's a segmented run, which means the game's been divided into repeatable (and perfectible) chunks. In fact, the video's description reveals that over 317 segments were used, over 200 of which were under five seconds in length.



Additionally, the run makes heavy use of custom scripts. As the runner explain, "the most widely used scripts are jump spam, duck spam, 180 turn for gauss boost and precise use-key actions."



For comparison, the best single-segment run is 36:58, by Max 'coolkid' Lundberg, who was also part of the segmented team. You can see that slightly less acrobatic achievement over at Speed Demos Archive.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
There's a lot of nostalgia on this week's Twitch menu, but not until we take a look at one of the more recent (and divisive) games of the last few weeks. Chatty's inc77 plays through The Elder Scrolls Online and actually likes what he sees. Meanwhile, Sapiens plays through the shooter that continues to live on nearly a decade after it was first released, Team Fortress 2. And dael takes us back in time with the PlayStation 2 classic, Shadow of the Colossus.

Here's a compilation of some of the best Shacknews Twitch highlights for the week of April 12, 2014.
TF2 Blog




Register now to take part in the Second Annual Reddit vs Tumblr TF2 Match, a month of friendly competition between Tumblr and Reddit. In these show-matches all levels of experience are welcome to apply. In the words of the event's creators: "One of the cornerstones of the event is to create a venue for players with varying levels of skill to have a chance to play and have fun."




This season will have five teams representing each community from around the world: June 14th - US West; June 15th - US East; June 21st - EU; June 22nd - Aus/Oceania; and a "Mystery Game" June 28th. Check out the FAQ for more information.



PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to How Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Overpass map evolved">overpass







The average player might not even notice the changes, but if you ve put a couple hundred hours into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive the evolution of the Overpass map makes a world of difference. As Valve explains, it is the first completely new defuse map designed with competitive play in mind, and since its release in December 2013, it has been updated seven times based on feedback and data.



Take for example the changes made to Bombsite A, which unlike most diffuse maps, is easier to defend from a distance. Retaking the site from the A tunnels was originally very difficult, because defenders could keep tabs on the area from many angles, Valve said in a post on the Counter Strike blog. Move the Terrorist s Target a bit so it s easier to reach from the tunnels, remove a car that was giving Counter Terrorists too much cover, and the area is completely rebalanced.



The post details a few of these small but fascinating changes that went into Overpass, and highlights them with fancy, interactive before and after screenshots. It s a good read if you re into Counter-Strike or map design in general. Even better is our three part series from mapmaker Shawn "FMPONE Snelling and pro Counter-Strike player/mapmaker Sal "VOLCANO" Garozzo, which reveals the inspiration and building process for their CS:GO map Crown.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Building Crown, part three: collaborating with the Counter-Strike community">buildingcrown3-teaser







Building Crown is a three part series from mapmaker Shawn "FMPONE Snelling and pro Counter-Strike player/mapmaker Sal "VOLCANO" Garozzo, revealing the inspiration and building process for their map Crown. Their goal with Crown is simple: build the best competitive Counter-Strike map ever. In part three, Snelling talks about iteration in map design and listening to community feedback to improve Crown.



Releasing de_crown has been a fascinating experience for Volcano and I. When we decided Crown was ready for broader community testing, we released the first public build with the same mixture of anxiety and excitement that always accompanies a new map release. Thankfully, the launch went smoothly! Crown received over 1000 favorites in its first week on the map workshop (the highest rated map on the workshop is over a year old, and has about 1500). Crown ranked within the top five maps of all time virtually overnight. Crown was also the most played map on AltPug s community Matchmaking service during that time period, and the feedback we received there was generally positive.



The community was engaged, but Counter-Strike fans are used to playing high quality, nuanced maps with years of competitive polish. This is a high standard for any brand new map to compete with. Not all the news was positive. In public beta testing, several issues were identified which needed fixing, some of which such as the addition of a new path would require major surgery.









Generally speaking, I find that that the most effective feedback happens during a dialogue. I like to turn players into problem solvers, since many folks already have brilliant, innovative solutions in mind which I might never have considered.



As a result of one such discussion, we added a trick jump to Crown, which you can see below. This trick jump, though easy enough to implement, added a nice layer of richness to the B-Bombsite it s challenging to make the jump successfully, but will allow skilled players to go from lower B to upper B in seconds flat.





What are people REALLY saying?

Volcano and I participated in playtests and spectated matches anonymously in order to understand how players really felt about Crown, because people typically temper their criticism somewhat when they know they re in the same server as a map creator. We heard lots of people saying Crown felt big and too open, so we added more horizontal details at eye-level and new architectural features designed to bring the map down to scale, in addition to reducing or closing several sightlines. A lot of times, making these gameplay adjustments is positive aesthetically, too: the map feels a lot more natural now.



An archway Volcano suggested



We also got tons of great feedback about Crown on Reddit. A few common themes about Crown which popped up on r/globaloffensive were that the map s rotation times were too long, the lack of a middle-connector was creating static gameplay, and the map s balance seemed T-sided. It was important for us to immediately make changes to fix these issues.



In many instances people took to Photoshop to actually illustrate how they wanted to see us implement the new changes (another example of how the community already has solutions in mind), and these illustrations were frequently very similar to one another, indicating that a consensus had formed.

Already Pro

Because Volcano is a professional Counter-Strike player in addition to being a level designer, pro feedback is cooked into Crown very deeply. I believe that Volcano and I make a great team because we know that if the other person raises an issue, that he speaks on behalf of a large segment of the community. I consider priority one of my job asking Volcano about the competitive repercussions of every design decision we initiate: leaving this window open vs. closed, the readability of this area, whether this area needs more cover, and so on.

The community was widely requesting a new path cutting from middle to CT courtyard due to lengthy rotation times and Volcano also felt that this was a necessary change to make. My stance was that I was satisfied with how Crown was playing, and that proper team coordination would give CT s enough time to rotate, especially once people were more familiar with the map. Volcano didn t necessarily disagree, but he was pretty certain that the community would be happier if we implemented the change, and that not implementing the change could ultimately limit Crown s variety in competitive play.

We had considered such a path early on in Crown s gray-box stage, but decided not to implement the path back then because we wanted to emphasize identifying fakes and making timely call-outs about what the Terrorists were doing. As it happened, the community didn t love the lengthened rotation times, perhaps because rotating places huge emphasis on the teamplay aspect of Counter-Strike, but truly relying on your teammates can be frustrating outside of a tournament-style setting.



I personally enjoyed the way Crown was playing, but sometimes as a mapper you have to accept that your personal preference might be in the minority. Sometimes you have to give the people what they want. Because Volcano was adamant that this was the right thing to do, because shortening rotation times was going to make the community happy, and because it would positively impact gameplay for players at all skill levels (especially in less formal settings like matchmaking), we implemented the new path.



View of the new path from Middle



View of the new path from CT Spawn



Another view of the new path from CT Spawn

The Ripple Effect

When major changes are made, other areas typically have to be adjusted to accommodate them. Here you can see the ripple effect the new path has already had.







We received some feedback that this sniper s nest felt overly large, out of place, and sort of pointless. Adding our new path mitigated those concerns.







We also needed to adjust the Armory area. We were told by Valve that Crown could benefit from some more lighting variety, and layout considerations required closing one of the walls in this area. Details like candles added some visual interest and narrative to the map while helping to sell the new changes.







Removing all vents was a top priority for us, because they hindered free and easy movement along Crown s various paths:











Here, much like on de_cache, players only need to jump one time in order to swiftly reach higher elevation at Middle.



We also added a well to CT Courtyard, giving players some minimal cover, helping the map s scale, and livening up the area.





Crown Continues

All in all, major surgery on Crown is now complete, but your feedback is still invaluable. If it weren t for the community, Crown might not have matured so much post-release. You made your voices heard, and Volcano and I were listening.



Check out the next page for a photographic tour of Crown's full evolution, from the blocky gray-box it once was, to the shippable, polished map it is now. We hope you continue to let us know how we re doing. Most importantly, we hope you enjoy the newly updated Crown when its big update goes live on the workshop very soon!



















































TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:


  • Fixed a problem that was preventing clients from uploading items to the Steam Workshop
Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Fixed a problem that was preventing clients from uploading items to the Steam Workshop
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Half-Life 2′s City 17 recreated in the Unreal Engine, looks stunning">HL2 Intro







For some reason, the Source engine is lodged in my mind as the default baseline for what a game looks like. It's almost ten years old now, but because its characters aren't the angular blockmen of older engines everything since feels like an improvement on that default unit of Graphics. Until, that is, somebody decides to post screenshots of their Unreal Engine recreation of the opening map from Half-Life 2, at which point I'm reminded that we live in 2014 and have access to exponentially more Graphics.



That somebody is environment artist Jeannot "Logithx" van Berlo, whose UDK remake of City 17's train station is a beautiful thing. And as good as these shots look, van Berlo is now considering converting his recreation to the newer, sexier Unreal Engine 4. Ultro-Graphics!



"Still tons of stuff to do like creating all the exterior stuff, train interiors and some smaller models (monitors and props) but then Epic released UE4 in all its glory," van Berlo posted to the Polycount community's "What Are You Working On?" thread. "Please note that there's lots of placeholder models/textures/lighting and general derpyness in these pics," he writes. "Can't wait to get going with UE4."



See all three shots below.















Thanks, Dan Marshall.
...

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