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title="Permanent Link to Report lists Steam’s most popular (and most untouched) games">Steam graphs







Have you played every single game in your Steam library? No? Neither have I and that accomplishment is apparently just a small sand grain in the over 288 million games in Steam collections that have never felt a press of the Play button. That's a surprising figure from a new report by Ars Technica researching the most active and popular games on Steam straight from the recorded statistics of some of the platform's 75-million-strong community.



Ars' method for its number flood involves sampling registered games and their played hours via profiles and their unique Steam IDs. With the help of a server for computational muscle, Ars randomly polled more than 100,000 profiles daily for two months to pull together an idea of which games see the most time on everyone's monitors. In other words, your Backlog of Shame (don't deny it, everyone has one) probably took part in some SCIENCE at some point. Exciting.



Some caveats exist, though. The data Ars looked at for its research only extends back to 2009, when Steam brought in its "hours played" tracking system. Owned and played/unplayed games are thus slightly skewed to not account for older releases from the early noughties, and any length of time spent in offline mode wouldn't get picked up by Steam either. Still, Ars claims its results deliver a good picture of Steam gaming trends for the past five years albeit with some imperfections.



Predictably, Valve's personal products stack high on the list in terms of ownership and most played hours. Dota 2 takes the crown with an estimated 26 million players who ganked faces at some point in the MOBA, but free-to-play FPS Team Fortress 2 follows closely behind with a little over 20 million users. Counter-Strike: Source rounds out the top three with nearly 9 million players, but it's also collecting dust in over 3 million libraries.



As for non-Valve games, Skyrim wins in activity, barely edging out Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with 5.7 million estimated active owners. Civilization V kept 5.4 million players hooked for Just One More Turn, and Garry's Mod boasts 4.6 million budding physics artists.



Want to know what the most unplayed Steam game is? It's Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, the Source tech demo given free to pretty much everyone on Steam who bought or fired up Half-Life 2. It hasn't been touched by an approximate 10.7 million players. I guess that old fisherman is feeling pretty lonely right now.



My favorite stat is the total of played hours divided by game mode, more specifically the separate multiplayer clients of the Steam versions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops. The single-player campaigns for each respective title sits modestly within the mid-20-hour range, but the multiplayer side balloons well into the hundreds of hours. It's a pretty obvious indicator of where the biggest chunk of popularity resides in FPS gaming, but it's not like you wouldn't get weird looks for claiming you play Call of Duty for the story anyway.



See more of Ars' results in both number and pretty orange graph form in its report.
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.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Oculus VR hires Valve VR expert Michael Abrash as chief scientist">Photo by Dan Tabar, from "Faces of Virtual Reality." Click for gallery.



Photo by Dan Tab r, from "Faces of Virtual Reality." Click for gallery.



Three days after Oculus announced that it was being purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, the VR company has hired programmer Michael Abrash, who has worked at Valve since 2011. Abrash has been working on Valve's virtual reality technology for the last couple years, and regularly posts deep technical discussions of VR on his blog. Abrash is joining Oculus as Chief Scientist, and in his introductory post on Oculus' website, he cites the Facebook acquisition--and Facebook's deep pockets--as "the final piece of the puzzle" necessary for VR to achieve greatness.



"A lot of what it will take to make VR great is well understood at this point, so it's engineering, not research; hard engineering, to be sure, but clearly within reach," Abrash writes in his introductory post. "However, it's expensive engineering. ... That's why I've written before that VR wouldn't become truly great until some company stepped up and invested the considerable capital to build the right hardware and that it wouldn't be clear that it made sense to spend that capital until VR was truly great. I was afraid that that Catch-22 would cause VR to fail to achieve liftoff.



"That worry is now gone. Facebook's acquisition of Oculus means that VR is going to happen in all its glory. The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR and some of them are hard indeed. I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can."



Abrash previously worked with John Carmack at id on Quake. He's also worked on Windows for Microsoft and on software graphics rendering.



Just last year, Abrash gave a talk at the Game Developer's Conference about the challenges of VR and showed off Valve's experiments with adding VR support to Team Fortress 2. At the time, Abrash claimed it would take years, or decades, to help VR overcome the limitations of technology. But when Valve showed off its VR technology at Steam Dev Days in January, attendees claimed it was even better than Oculus' Crystal Cove prototype. With Abrash and Carmack now both working at Oculus, Valve's hardware likely won't maintain that edge for long.



Check out our predictions for the future of Oculus Rift in the wake of its acquisition by Facebook.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to The future of PC gaming: virtual reality">futurepcgaming-vr







Illustration by Marsh Davies



All week long, we're peering ahead to what the future holds for the PC gaming industry. Not just the hardware and software in our rigs, but how and where we use them, and how they impact the games we play. Here's part three of our five-part series; stay tuned all week for more from the future of PC gaming.



Palmer Luckey has dedicated his career to virtual reality and bet millions of investment dollars on the idea, so it s expected that he would call it the most exciting technology of the last century. But it s still a bold statement from the young entrepreneur and founder of Oculus VR, and we told him as much during our chat at CES 2014.



I didn t say it s going to be the most successful, responded Luckey. But I think it is one of the most exciting, especially when you think of the potential.



Luckey has a lot of backup there; science fiction writers and scientists alike have been spinning tales of VR s potential for ages. All the way back in the 80s, Jaron Lanier the computer scientist credited with coining the term very accurately and excitedly predicted the virtual reality trends emerging in PC gaming today: massively multiplayer worlds, motion controls, and head-mounted displays (HMDs) through which we re immersed in stereoscopic visions of unreal places.



A US Navy hospital corpsman demonstrating a virtual reality parachute trainer.



And even before Lanier s predictions, there s been a persisting sense that virtual reality is both feasible and inevitable, which made growing up in the 80s and 90s terribly disappointing. The VR revolution just never came to pass. The technology never really worked in a consumer setting, and VR became a joke a list of novelty failures like the Virtual Boy.



Palmer Luckey and the Oculus Rift VR headset are putting that all behind us. It isn t a proven success yet, but it has proven that it s not a joke. By all indications, including the millions of dollars from enthusiastic Kickstarter backers and major technology investors, the virtual reality dream is finally becoming a reality.

Why VR works now

Consumer head-mounted displays existed before the Oculus Rift, but they weren t nearly the stuff of cyberpunk fiction. Shining stereoscopic images into the eyes is easy a plastic toy can do that but immersing the wearer s head in a world without making their stomach feel like an airborne water balloon is a lot harder.



Virtual reality that feels anything like reality requires an HMD with low-latency head tracking, high-resolution screens, minimal motion blur, and a field-of-view expansive enough to reach the peripheral vision. The first Rift prototype came near to solving these problems, but still made our managing editor, Cory Banks, quit Half-Life 2 with the contents of his stomach.







The latest hi-res prototype, however, strapped Cory and his stomach into a space battle with enough fidelity to keep his lunch secure. By overcoming its biggest critic the finicky human body virtual reality has proven that it s ready to arrive in our homes. It is no longer the stuff of failed Nintendo systems, theme park rides, and arcade installations of the 90s. It s real, and we ll be using it in the next year or two.



Mind you, modern VR technology is nowhere near the dreams of sci-fi writers we still need better motion control, haptic feedback, and face capture solutions but think of the Rift as the PC you would have played Doom on in 1993. We look back at those Pentium-powered antiques and laugh, but we bought them then because Doom was worth it. The VR tech of 2034 will make today s Oculus Rift look silly, but VR is just sophisticated enough now to be worth having, and that s why this is its watershed moment.

Game changer

The most important and exciting thing about this moment is that it isn t just about playing the same games with screens strapped to our faces. Virtual reality isn t a type of display it s a new gaming platform and it needs its own kind of games. In my ideal fantasy of the near future, we're still playing all the games we play now, but we have an expansive set of mutated genres made possible by VR.



As a first step, simulation makes sense. The closer technology gets to simulating reality, the better suited it is for simulations of reality. In the most basic VR scenario, you re sitting in a chair with a headset on, which makes it perfect for games about sitting in a cockpit or driver s seat. Expect VR support to be standard in driving, flight, and space sims Project Cars, for instance, already supports the Rift, and EVE Online developer CCP is making a dogfighting game designed specifically for the headset called EVE Valkyrie. Elite: Dangerous looks very promising as well see Andy talking about it below.







First-person shooters work in VR, too I played through part of Half-Life 2 with a Rift developer kit but slower is better. I doubt Titanfall would make a good VR shooter, for instance. Jetpacking up walls and being flung around by giant mechs might disorient even astronauts.



No matter how good you make a VR headset, it won t necessarily let you do everything you can do on a monitor without feeling disorienting," says Luckey. "And that s because a lot of things that you do in traditional games would make you sick if you did them in real life.



Call of Duty multiplayer, for instance, would probably not benefit from VR. Constant sprinting, 360-degree spinning, and bunny-hopping? No thanks and I doubt you'd get a competitive edge. That doesn't mean VR games will all be mundane strolls through static scenery, but even in a single-player shooter or on a psychedelic trip to Mars, I expect movement will need to be more natural. How often do you actually strafe across a room or walk backward around corners?



So, we ll move more like people move, and we ll also explore more with the Rift, just being in a place is instantly more interesting than it ever was on a flat monitor and more and more, we ll stop being asked to wield a gun at all times. In VR-land, pure shooters will further lose status as the dominant genre for first-person games. In their place, the survival-horror genre will continue its recent ascension Zombie Studios is already developing the Rift-compatible, properly terrifying Daylight and the less masochistic will find a greater number of first-person RPGs like Skyrim and exploration games like Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable, and Gone Home.



Many Oculus Rift demos are simply places to explore and experience, such as RedOfPaw's rendition of The Boiler Room from Spirited Away.



VR will be optimally used for simulation, exploration, and role-playing, and the games won t always fit into traditional definitions of games (as the last three I mentioned are either accused of or praised for, depending on who you ask). We ll visit foreign landmarks by exploring photorealistic 3D-scanned replicas. We ll bounce on the surface of the moon with friends. We ll dive into the Mariana trench in personal submarines.



These ideas call back to the multimedia CD-ROM experiences of the mid- 90s. The era s video encyclopedias and FMV games didn t earn the best reputation, but they ll come back in a much better way with VR. Consider Star Trek s reality-generating holodeck. The crew of the Enterprise didn t jump into the horrors of war as endlessly respawning soldiers. As much fun as that is (don't think I'm going to stop enjoying Rising Storm), I don't see it as the most exciting use of VR technology. No, Picard and crew experienced places, stories, and simulated people. They were role-playing, and even though the holodeck was just a plot device, I foresee real VR technology leading to the same thing. I also expect it to spur on advances in relatively un-advanced segments of game design and programming.

A new reality

For instance, role playing in virtual reality should lead to more convincing characters. Right now, short of hiring actors to populate my personal Sherlock episode in some kind of multiplayer murder theater, there s no way to have a natural interaction with a non-player character in a game. People don t fall in love via dialog wheel or blink idly when they have nothing to say, and as games start to feel more like reality, we ll expect their characters to act more like real people. AI and voice recognition will improve, and communication will become more important.



And when VR hardware is sophisticated enough, the goal of improving graphics and motion controls will be wholly replaced with the task of better simulating reality. That s the ultimate dream of VR from the perspective of many who have written about it a reality substitute, where people play, socialize, shop, and do business, as in Neal Stephenson s Snowcrash and other sci-fi fiction before and after it.



VR Cinema is a novel way to watch movies with extremely high resolution headsets, it could be a great way to share the theater experience with distant friends.



Virtual Reality starts out as a medium just like television or computers or written language, said Lanier in a 1988 interview with now-defunct magazine Whole Earth Review. But once it gets to be used to a certain degree, it ceases to be a medium and simply becomes another reality that we can inhabit.



Today, Luckey is saying much the same thing. When VR is going to be exciting is when it gets as good as real life at everything, he says. And you start to say, well, Why would I travel on a business meeting across the world just to go sit face-to-face with people, if we can just plug in Rifts and get all of the same nuance of communication we could have gotten otherwise?



But that s not to say that gamers aren t important, or that the goal of VR is to leave gaming behind. We re vital, according to Luckey and I agree because that grand cyberspace future will never get off the ground without us.



"Gamers are the ones that I think are most accepting of this kind of new technology," he says. "Gamers are willing to take time out of their day to go do something that s out of the ordinary and fantastical. And VR is one of the best ways we re going to have to do that."
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to The future of PC gaming: virtual reality">futurepcgaming-vr







Illustration by Marsh Davies



All week long, we're peering ahead to what the future holds for the PC gaming industry. Not just the hardware and software in our rigs, but how and where we use them, and how they impact the games we play. Here's part three of our five-part series; stay tuned all week for more from the future of PC gaming.



Palmer Luckey has dedicated his career to virtual reality and bet millions of investment dollars on the idea, so it s expected that he would call it the most exciting technology of the last century. It s still a bold statement from the young entrepreneur and founder of Oculus VR, and we told him as much during our chat at CES 2014.



I didn t say it s going to be the most successful, said Luckey. But I think it is one of the most exciting, especially when you think of the potential.



Luckey has a lot of support there; science fiction writers and scientists alike have been spinning tales of VR s potential for ages. All the way back in the 80s, Jaron Lanier the computer scientist credited with coining the term very accurately and excitedly predicted the virtual reality trends emerging in PC gaming today: massively multiplayer worlds, motion controls, and head-mounted displays (HMDs) through which we re immersed in stereoscopic visions of unreal places.



A US Navy hospital corpsman demonstrating a virtual reality parachute trainer.



And even before Lanier s predictions, there s been a persisting sense that virtual reality is both feasible and inevitable, but the VR revolution just never came to pass. The technology didn't work in a consumer setting, and VR became a joke a list of novelty failures like the Virtual Boy.



Palmer Luckey and the Oculus Rift VR headset are putting that behind us. The device isn t a proven success yet, but it has proven that it s not a joke. By all indications, including the millions of dollars from enthusiastic Kickstarter backers and major technology investors, the virtual reality dream is real.



Why VR works now

 

Consumer head-mounted displays existed before the Oculus Rift, but they weren t nearly the stuff of cyberpunk fiction. Shining stereoscopic images into the eyes is easy a plastic toy can do that but immersing the wearer s head in a world without making their stomach feel like an airborne water balloon is a lot harder.



Virtual reality that feels anything like reality requires an HMD with low-latency head tracking, high-resolution screens, minimal motion blur, and a field-of-view expansive enough to reach the peripheral vision. The first Oculus Rift prototype came near to solving these problems, but still made our managing editor, Cory Banks, quit Half-Life 2 with the contents of his stomach.







The latest hi-res prototype, however, strapped Cory and his stomach into a space battle with enough fidelity to keep his lunch secure. By overcoming its biggest critic the finicky human body virtual reality has proven that it s ready to arrive in our homes. It is no longer the stuff of failed Nintendo systems, theme park rides, and arcade installations of the 90s. It s real, and we ll be using it in the next year or two.



Mind you, modern VR technology is nowhere near the dreams of sci-fi writers we still need better motion control, haptic feedback, and face capture solutions but think of the Rift as the PC you would have played Doom on in 1993. We look back at those Pentium-powered antiques and laugh, but Doom was worth it. The VR tech of 2034 will make today s Oculus Rift look silly too, but VR is just sophisticated enough now to be worth having, and that s why this is its watershed moment.



Game changer

 

What this moment will do for games is the most exciting unknown. It isn t just about playing the same games with screens strapped to our faces. Virtual reality isn t a type of display it s a new gaming platform and it needs its own kind of games. In my ideal fantasy of the near future, we're still playing all the games we play now, but we have an expansive set of mutated genres made possible by VR.



As a first step, simulation makes sense. The closer technology gets to simulating reality, the better suited it is for simulations of reality. In the most basic VR scenario, you re sitting in a chair with a headset on, which makes it perfect for games about sitting in a cockpit or driver s seat. Expect VR support to be standard in driving, flight, and space sims Project Cars, for instance, already supports the Rift, and EVE Online developer CCP is making EVE Valkyrie, a dogfighting game designed specifically for the headset. Elite: Dangerous looks very promising as well see Andy talking about it below.







First-person shooters work in VR, too I played through part of Half-Life 2 with a Rift developer kit but slower is better. With a Rift on my head, I spent more time than ever before walking around looking at the details of Half-Life 2's floors and ceilings. I also noticed that, when I took my time observing, I was able to create a better mental map of the levels than I recall making during any previous playthrough.



I doubt, however, that Titanfall would make a good VR shooter. Jetpacking up walls and being flung around by giant mechs might disorient even astronauts.



No matter how good you make a VR headset, it won t necessarily let you do everything you can do on a monitor without feeling disorienting," says Luckey. "And that s because a lot of things that you do in traditional games would make you sick if you did them in real life.



Call of Duty multiplayer, for instance, would also probably not benefit from VR. Constant sprinting, 360-degree spinning, and bunny-hopping? No thanks and I doubt you'd get a competitive edge. That doesn't mean VR games will all be mundane strolls through static scenery, but even in a shooter or on a psychedelic trip to Mars, I expect movement will need to be more natural. How often do you actually strafe across a room or walk backward around corners?



We ll move more like people move, we ll explore more with the Rift, just being in a place is instantly more interesting than it ever was on a flat monitor and more and more, we ll stop being asked to wield a gun at all times. Shooters will exist in VR-land, but they'll further lose status as the dominant genre for first-person games. The survival-horror genre will continue its recent ascension Zombie Studios is already developing the Rift-compatible, properly terrifying Daylight and the less masochistic will find a greater number of first-person RPGs like Skyrim and exploration games like Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable, and Gone Home.



Many Oculus Rift demos are simply places to explore and experience, such as RedOfPaw's rendition of The Boiler Room from Spirited Away.



VR games won t always fit into traditional definitions of games (as the last three I mentioned are either accused of or praised for, depending on who you ask). We ll visit foreign landmarks by exploring photorealistic 3D-scanned replicas. We ll bounce on the surface of the moon with friends. We ll dive into the Mariana trench in personal submarines.



These ideas call back to the multimedia CD-ROM experiences of the mid- 90s. The era s video encyclopedias and FMV games didn t earn the best reputation, but they ll come back in a much better way with VR. Consider Star Trek s reality-generating holodeck. The crew of the Enterprise didn t jump into the horrors of war as endlessly respawning soldiers. As much fun as that is (don't think I'm going to stop enjoying Rising Storm), I don't see it as the most exciting use of VR technology. No, Picard and crew experienced places, stories, and simulated people. They were role-playing, and even though the holodeck was just a plot device, I foresee real VR technology encouraging the same kinds of experiences. And with those experiences, I expect VR will spur on advances in relatively un-advanced segments of game design and programming.



A new reality

 

As one example, virtual reality should lead to more convincing characters. Right now, short of hiring actors to populate my personal Sherlock episode in some kind of multiplayer murder theater, there s no way to have a natural interaction with a non-player character in a game. People don t fall in love via dialog wheel or blink idly when they have nothing to say, and as games start to feel more like reality, we ll expect their characters to act more like real people. AI and voice recognition will improve, and communication will become more important to gameplay.



And when VR hardware is sophisticated enough, the goal of improving graphics and motion controls will be wholly replaced with the task creating more and more complex simulations. That s the ultimate dream of VR from the perspective of many who have written about it a reality substitute, where people play, socialize, shop, and do business, as in Neal Stephenson s Snowcrash and other sci-fi fiction before and after it.



VR Cinema is a novel way to watch movies with extremely high resolution headsets, it could be a great way to share the theater experience with distant friends.



Virtual Reality starts out as a medium just like television or computers or written language, said Lanier in a 1988 interview with now-defunct magazine Whole Earth Review. But once it gets to be used to a certain degree, it ceases to be a medium and simply becomes another reality that we can inhabit.



Today, Luckey is saying much the same thing. When VR is going to be exciting is when it gets as good as real life at everything, he says. And you start to say, well, Why would I travel on a business meeting across the world just to go sit face-to-face with people, if we can just plug in Rifts and get all of the same nuance of communication we could have gotten otherwise?



But that s not to say that gamers aren t important, or that the goal of VR is to leave gaming behind. We re vital, according to Luckey (and I agree), because that grand cyberspace future will never get off the ground without us.



"Gamers are the ones that I think are most accepting of this kind of new technology," he says. "Gamers are willing to take time out of their day to go do something that s out of the ordinary and fantastical. And VR is one of the best ways we re going to have to do that."
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to GLaDOS drops some science in new educational video from NASA">GLaDOS: science educator







Let's face it: learning science is always fun. You can build dioramas of the solar system with friends, study biology with a science teacher, or combine compounds in a lab with a partner. If we're being honest, though, the best way to learn any science is almost always with an evil artificial intelligence, bent on subjugating the world through its malfeasance, for science. That makes GLaDOS the best teacher ever, as demonstrated in a new NASA video.







In a new educational outreach video released by NASA s Spitzer Space Telescope, GLaDOS educates a couple of computer techs about the difference between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Both have to do with Helium and Hydrogen atoms slamming around, and both will eventually lead to GLaDOS taking over the world and exterminating all humanity. The finer distinctions are patiently explained by GLaDOS like it s Take Your Daughter To Work Day. Well, not that Take Your Daughter To Work Day. Some different one.







Check out the NASA Spitzer YouTube channel for more science videos, though this is so far the only one featuring power-hungry computer program.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Cryptozoic is making a Portal board game">portal



Image via ICV2.com

Board game publisher Cryptozoic announced that it is making a board game based on Portal. The tentatively titled Portal: Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game is set for a release in the third quarter of 2014. Its suggested retail price is currently set around $50. A portal gun that defies the laws of physics is not included.

Cryptozoic has experience translating different franchises into board games. Earlier this month it announced Assassin s Creed: Arena. At the American International Toy Fair, it revealed it s making a DC Comics card game and a dice game based on The Walking Dead television show.

That s where Cryptozoic also revealed the Portal game, but it s still unclear how the game will play. In addition to the tentative release date and price, all Cryptozoic said is that it s designed by the creators of Portal, that it will deliver a rich, smart, and utterly unique narrative experience, and that it will be for 2-4 players.

Playing pieces will include test subject, sentry turret, weighted companion cube, and delicious cake.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Team Fortress 2 fan-made Source Filmmaker short reveals the durability of robots">Team Fortress 2







Thanks to the Titanfall beta, my week has been mostly defined by super-stompy death machines. Even though that's over, my appreciation for the colossal metal monsters isn't about to end. For anyone else pining for the powerful crush of hydraulic hands, here's a brief hit in the form of a TF2 Source Filmmaker short. Unlike the game's actual giant robots, this version is a dramatically difficult challenge to bring down.







This is the second video in creator "Fedora Chronicles", although according to the creator, it doesn't have much in common with the first. Instead, it's a fully standalone story, and one of the best made SFM shorts I've seen for a while.



Thanks, Kotaku.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Source SDK mod Estranged: Act I now on Steam for free">Estranged: Act I







It's always nice to see a mod progress from humble beginnings to its own Steam product page, and Estranged is fully deserving of the achievement. Alan Edwardes' spooky, puzzle-filled FPS plays and looks like a first-person Alan Wake, and it's an excellent deviation from standard run-and-gun zombie-fragging with its supernatural twists and an atmospheric sense of foreboding. The first act is available on Steam as a free download independent of any Source-based game, so you won't need Half-Life 2 to jump in and start exploring.



Washing ashore on a misty, moonlit island coastline, you'll need to both figure out what happened and how to escape from the island's strange and sometimes hostile inhabitants. The story, like most well-crafted horror yarns, shrouds itself with mystery and urges exploration to reveal the truth. It's a particularly effective strategy, as Edwardes and his team poured a wonderful degree of detail into the island's foggy docks, murky woodlands, and eerily empty houses.



And when the monsters glowy-eyed zombie/infected hybrids do jump out from the shadows, the game shines with a less-is-more approach of eschewing musical cues or zombie groans for more silent and sudden attacks. Running away is often just as correct as fighting, since you'll find yourself hoarding the precious bullets and medical supplies you'll scrounge up as long as possible. Trust me, after getting my back clawed to pieces by a zombie who I could've sworn wasn't behind me a second ago, I can assure that rush of adrenaline will be genuine.



Estranged has come a long way since its beta became the Mod of the Week last September, and seeing just the first act appear on Steam suggests more to come from Edwardes to further unravel more pieces of the island's riddle. Grab it for free on Steam, and check out the official website for more screenshots and info.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to BioShock paraphernalia coming to Team Fortress 2">Biohats







Has the desire for hats, hats, delicious TF2 hats diminished over the last few years, or is the public's interest in digital head-adornment as strong as ever? I ask because Valve and Irrational are adding BioShock clobber to Team Fortress 2, and- hey, don't all load up the game at once. You'll need to buy BioShock Infinite's season pass on Steam to gain access to it, which I believe comes with a few pieces of downloadable content in addition to a very small selection of hats. Full details here.



The items are only available until the 25th of March - the date that Burial at Sea part 2 is scheduled to release - and comprise a Mister Bubbles doll, a George Washington and a Benjamin Franklin mask. It's not a whole lot of content, but if you still play TF2 and you already own a season pass, then free stuff is always nice, I guess. Here's a pic of that digital clobber, as modelled by the cast of TF2:



...

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