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Half-Life 2

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Product Update - Valve
Big Picture Support
- Added controller menu navigation
- Dual stick controllers are now the default controller layout
- Fixed controller disabling the crosshair
- Fixed some weapons not being selectable with controller for some players
- Fixed file loading crash that affected some players
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jim Rossignol)

Haha. Yeah, Garry knows what to do. I’ve posted videos of his Kinect experiments below, and you can see exactly why the infamously aberrant Half-Life 2 mod actually needs Kinect support by watching those. Readers with memories will recall that we talked to Garry about his plans for the mod earlier in the year.

The Kinect support will apparently arrive “this week or next”. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Guillermo del Toro has the right “horror vibe” to direct a Half-Life film, says writer Marc Laidlaw">Half-Life 2 Episode Two Hunter







Hollywood studios have approached Valve in the past to explore the possibility of adapting Half-Life for the silver screen, but before you could spit out "Uwe Boll," Valve declared that any sort of movie involving Freeman and Friends® would be created by its very hands. What-ifs persist, of course, and in an interview with New Rising Media (via VG247), Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw named Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro as a good fit for a hypothetical adaptation.



"Guillermo del Toro has the horror vibe that I think a lot of people miss out on when thinking about a Half-Life movie," Laidlaw said. "Half-Life is essentially horror after all. The science in it barely passes as hand-waving, but when a headcrab jumps at your head, it’s a precisely engineered jolt."



Laidlaw also thinks Total Recall and Starship Troopers director Paul Verhoeven could concoct something "insane" for a Half-Life film, and pointed to The Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson as a "purveyor of faithful adaptations." "There are probably a lot of good potential directors, but I think most of them are busy pursuing their own visions," he added.



Regardless of who would come aboard for the supposed project, they'd need the thumbs-up from Valve boss Gabe Newell, who holds a rather soured opinion of what Hollywood offered him so far. "Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story," he told us. "And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst. Not understanding what made the game a good game, or what made the property an interesting thing for people to be a fan of."
Kotaku

All I Want For Christmas is a Headcrab Zombie Action Figure From Half-Life 2Supremely talented custom toy builder Jin Saotome is back with another masterpiece, this time featuring the Half-Life series' most sharply-dressed bad guy, the headcrab zombie.



Standing 7" tall, the headcrab comes off to reveal a zombified skull inside. He's also got a busted-open chest and some great blood detail.



The good news? He's for sale! The bad news? He's up on eBay, so the bids might get a little out of control.



Custom HEADCRAB ZOMBIE Half Life 2 [eBay, via Gamesniped]





All I Want For Christmas is a Headcrab Zombie Action Figure From Half-Life 2 All I Want For Christmas is a Headcrab Zombie Action Figure From Half-Life 2
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Let’s stop calling games “too repetitive”">Hotline Miami is all about learning through repetition, then executing a perfect murder-spree.



Hotline Miami is all about learning through repetition, then executing a perfect murder ballet.



Tyler Wilde, Associate EditorThe word "repetitive" commonly has a negative connotation, and it's especially used negatively (all the time, every time, forever and ever) when talking about games. And often it's followed by a bunch of no elaboration at all. That doesn't make sense. I'm sure I've done it before, but criticizing a game for being "too repetitive" and leaving it at that is—strictly speaking—meaningless. A game might lack variety, but every game is repetitive. We repeat some pattern of input—running and shooting, stacking blocks, bouncing balls off blue dots—over and over, and expect uniform feedback. Then the problem changes slightly, and we tweak our input pattern. And then again. And yet "too repetitive" is lobbed at games all the time.



Alright, I know that sounds a bit pedantic, and I do recognize the difference in tone between "repetition" and "repetitive." Lack of variety is a fair criticism, but "too repetitive" is an extremely vague way to say it, and it dodges the truth: when we criticize a game for being "too repetitive," I think we often mean that we just don't like what we're doing. "It's repetitive" is shorthand for "this isn't fun (for some reason)."



If we like what we're doing, repetition is desirable. I like solving puzzles in Portal, and once I solve one I want to solve more. I don't want to solve the exact same puzzle again, but I don't want to stumble into a surprise Sudoku chamber, either. So Portal gives me increasingly clever arrangements of portal-ey logic problems. The puzzles get harder, but they're all just iterations of the same basic spatial problem I solved in the first puzzle. So after all my twisty, knotty figuring arrives at a solution, it always seems just as simple as the first time. That sense of clarity comes from repetition.



Super Meat Boy replays your failures, illustrating your own learning process.



Repetition is also how we learn, and both Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami succeed by embracing that power. They present problems in small chunks—a level in Super Meat Boy and a floor of thugs in Hotline Miami—and rapidly reset them every time we fail. Each attempt gives us new information to apply to the next, building layers of experience on the way to that one perfect run. And that perfect run feels good: it's an accomplishment, like unknotting an especially tricky puzzle in Portal. Except in Hotline Miami there's more brain-stuff and skull chunks lying around afterward.



The same goes for Counter-Strike, StarCraft, and the rest. At their most basic levels, they're about repeating and mutating input patterns to solve variable, but not totally unpredictable, problems. The variables in Counter-Strike, for example, are the guns, maps, and opponents. That's been enough variety to keep us repetitively shooting at each other for 13 years.



Repetition can be pretty damn fun, so we've got to be specific, and always ask ourselves if it's really the repetition of a theme that bothers us, or the theme itself. I can shoot bad guys all day, so complaining that "the shooting is repetitive" in Medal of Honor: Warfighter would be confusing. Further examination would reveal that the guns, maps, and enemies have specific traits I don't like, which has nothing to do with repetition (except that the more I do them, the less I like them).



Fearing the dreaded "repetitiveness" may even be bad for games: that's probably how we end up with off-key phrases at pivotal moments, like a boss fight which takes away the gun I've been using the whole time and sticks me in a surprise platformer. It's variety, but it screws up the whole composition. A performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, for example, would not benefit from an unexpected dubstep interlude. No, I wasn't talking to you, Skrillex. Are you drunk? Go home, dude.



Anyway, if at first glance this looks like an ostentatious rant about a personal pet-peeve, then you may have seen correctly. But maybe not: try Googling any game name with the phrase "too repetitive." It's everywhere. I get what's meant by it (sort of, kind of, some of the time), but it says very little. It may not even be a criticism, because games like Hotline Miami wouldn't be fun without repetition. If dying and respawning didn't reset the level, and our prior kills stayed bloodied, it would be ruined. Maybe then we'd say that it's not repetitive enough?
Kotaku

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three Remember when you first finished Half-Life 2: Episode 2? The excitement? The shock? You were ready to set out with Alyx at your side, ready to show those alien bastards who's boss. The trilogy, and with it, the Combine's rule over Earth, would end soon.



Except it didn't. At the time of this writing, almost five years have passed since the supposed release date of the final installment in Gordon Freeman's saga. Half-Life 2: Episode Three was slated to arrive Christmas 2007. It didn't. As the weeks and months went by, confused fans tried to glean whatever information they could from Valve, but, by and large, they were unsuccessful. The company remained silent.



In this Kotaku Timeline, we follow the fans' process of dealing with Valve's silence, cataloging their forays into leaked code, and their communications with the developers. We detail the ways the gaming press interacted with Valve over the years, and list what little has been revealed. In addition, we will keep watch over the game, and take note of any events, good or bad, in the months and years to come.



There were no mentions of the final episode—called Half-Life 3 by some—between 1999, when Valve registered the domain halflife3.com, and 2006. But then, announcements were made, and names were dropped. And so this is where our timeline begins...





Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


April/May—Gaben and episodic gaming

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeIn the May issue of the print version of PC Gamer, Valve Software co-founder Gabe Newell talks about Half-Life 2 and its episodes (including Episode 3!), and why he thinks episodic gaming is the way to go. A full transcript is available through the link below.




May 26—Remaining episodes announced, dated

Valve officially announces Episodes 2 & 3, saying that the trilogy is slated to end by Christmas 2007. Yeah.




June 6—Lots of little Episode 3 details

Gabe: "Half-Life 3 [a.k.a. Episodes One to Three] is about the relationship with the G-Man and what happens when he loses control of you."

Eurogamer talks to Valve about the upcoming episodes, who divulge a few details regarding locations, characters and possible expansions.




Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


May 17—Episode 3's already being worked on

Lombardi: "Pre-production is definitely going, and it'll be ramping up rather quickly now that they're ramping down on Episode Two."

Eurogamer gets hold of Valve marketing director Doug Lombardi, who talks about Episode 3, which is apparently already in pre-production.




November 9—Valve doesn't want to overcommit

While talking to RPS, Episode 2 project lead David Speyrer says the reason for not having an Episode 3 trailer is that they don't want to make promises they can't keep. (Which is ironic, considering Episode 3 was supposed to ship in 2007.)




December 19—Episode 3 is not the end of Half-Life

In an interview with StuffWeLike, Doug Lombardi drops the fact that the Half-Life franchise won't end with Episode 3.




Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


March 1—The Oranger Box

GTTV interviews Gabe about a variety of things, managing to squeeze in a question about Episode 3. (Thanks, commenter Cursed Frogurt!) Transcript below.


GTTV: Episode 3. What do we know about it? What can you tell us?



Gabe: From our point of view there's enough newness in there that we want to sort of spring it on people and say "here's a bunch of things you've never seen before" — we have multiple of those.



GTTV: And that's graphically, or in terms of the gameplay, or...



Gabe: There's stuff that visually hasn't been in games before, and there's certainly a bunch of game elements, on the order of Portal, that have never been done before.



GTTV: So even better than the portal gun?



Gabe: Oh yeah.



GTTV: Really? New gameplay paradigms?



Gabe: Uh-huh. I think that we're really happy with how the Orange Box did, and we'd do an Oranger Box next time, certainly.







April 21—The first Episode 3 files are found

Three files are found by a Steam forum user in a folder titled "Episode3" in the Source SDK. They're later described as unused leftover assets by a Valve employee.




June 27—Episode 3 won't be at E3

Doug Lombardi debunks the rumor that the latest Half-Life episode would be presented at E3 2008.




July 10—Our first look at Episode 3

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three The first pieces of concept art for Episode 3 are released. Take a long, good look at them, folks, 'cause you won't be seeing anything like these for a while.




October 15—Lombardi and the Long Wait

Kikizo interviews Doug Lombardi, who promises more details by the end of the year. (Unsurprisingly, Valve doesn't deliver.)




October 17—Episode 3's taking too long? Blame Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2

Lombardi: "We want the next installment of Half-Life 2 to be really big."

Doug Lombardi tells Shacknews that the reason why development on Episode 3 is so slow is that the company is focusing on their other games.




Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


June 4—A call for communication

Steam forum user surfrock22 creates a petition, asking Valve for more and better communication after their latest failure to deliver news on Episode 3 (they announced Left 4 Dead 2 instead.)




August 7—Episode 3 might have a deaf character





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Gabe talks about the possibility of introducing a deaf character, and with it, sign language, to the Half-Life series with Episode 3.




August 12—Gabe talks to Steamcast, but doesn't have much to say

Steamcast, a (now discontinued) fan podcast for all things Valve, nabs an exclusive interview with Gabe Newell, who briefly talks about why there's been no Episode 3 news. You can read a transcript of the relevant segments below.

Steamcast: Alright, first question: this is one of the most commonly asked questions that we had received and we've tried to format it into something you might be able to answer: you'd kept Episode 3 under incredibly heavy wraps thus far; we'd like to know why have you chosen to adapt such a reclusive approach this time around, as opposed to previous releases. Was it based on the reception you'd received about letting out too much info prior to Episode 2, or just something completely different?



Gabe Newell: I think that what's going on, you know, we're sort of always experimenting, we're always trying out different kinds of things, and that has positive as well as negative consequences for ourselves and for the community—so if you look at our different products, we're trying out these different rhythms. (Ed.: Here Gabe talks about how Valve handles updates for Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead.) Right now, the Half-Life 2 episodes themselves are on a third sort of rhythm, and, you know, we think it makes sense for the product and for what we're trying to do there. The reason that we're not talking about anything is mainly that we don't have anything to say; it's not like we decided we released too much information, it's just that if we had information that we were in a position to deliver to people, we would—and right now we don't have anything to say about it. It really is a consequence of these different rhythms to release schedules we're trying out. (...) So, Ep 3 is sort of victim to our willingness to experiment, and as soon as we have stuff that we're ready to say about Ep 3, we will.



Steamcast: Alright, fair enough.








Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


January 19—No new Half-Life in 2010

According to the January issue of Game Informer magazine—specifically, its rumors column—Episode 3 won't be landing in 2010.




March 26—The new Half-Life better be scary

Gabe: "I feel like we've gotten away from genuinely scaring the player more than I'd like."

While talking with Edge Magazine, Gabe mentions that they'd like Half-Life to return to its terrifying roots.




April 4—Gabe doesn't want Gordon to change

In yet another interview with Edge Magazine, Gabe says that he wants series protagonist Gordon Freeman to remain the blank slate he's always been.




July 21—More Episode 3 assets found in the Alien Swarm SDK

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeSteam forum denizen StickZer0 (his image to the left) happens upon several Episode 3-related files while poking around in the Alien Swarm SDK.




September 23—Even Peter Molyneux's son is sick of waiting





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Peter Molyneux puts up a video of his son protesting Valve's silence.




December 18—"Call for Communication" hits 1,000 signatures

The "Call for Communication" petition hits its original goal of 1000 collected signatures. The creator sends an email to Valve, but unfortunately, there's no response.




Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


February 21—Valve still won't budge

While organizing a conference call with Valve's writing team for a Portal 2 Q&A session, News.com.au deviously sneaks in a question about Episode 3. Sadly, they don't get an answer.




April 8—What does Portal 2's co-op campaign have to do with Half-Life?

Kotaku has a theory on why Episode 3 could be taking so long.




April 25—No more single-player games from Valve?

Keighley: "Portal 2 will probably be Valve's last game with an isolated single-player experience."

A quote from the Final Hours of Portal 2, a documentary-app detailing the last stages of Portal 2's development, seems to suggest that Valve is done making single-player games.




May 7—Valve to introduce "single-player plus"





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Gabe talks about the importance of sharing your single-player experience with friends in an interview with a high-school student.




May 14—Valve has a hole in its pocket; Episode 3 code found in the Portal 2 SDK

Someone finds code pertaining to Half-Life's slug-like Combine enemies, the Advisors, in the Portal 2 SDK.




May 18—Valve won't be showing up at E3 2011

Replying to reporters asking for appointment times for E3 2011, Valve announces that they won't be showcasing any games at the event.




June 22—Gabe still refuses to talk about Episode 3

Gabe: "If you know enough to ask the question, you know what the answer is."

Gabe appears at the Games for Change festival held at NYU, primarily to talk about the role of video games in education. When asked about Episode 3, he (predictably) refuses to answer.




August 10—Protesters show up near Valve HQ

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeA pair of young Canadian gamers show up on the lawn of Valve Software HQ, wielding cardboard signs, demanding that Valve release some Episode 3 info.




August 11—These protesters are quite persistent

It's day two for the protest on Valve's lawn, and it's still going strong.




August 17—What did Gabe tell those protesters?

Gabe: "They wanted to know when Episode Three was coming out. I said 'I can't tell you.' And they were, like, 'Okay...'"

The protest ends peacefully. Kotaku catches up with Gabe to speak to him about what happened.




September 19—Hey, guess what; there's some new Episode 3 code out in the wild

A beta tester leaks the Dota 2 beta client. People immediately begin datamining the files, and they naturally find several bits of code related to Episode 3. At this point, one begins to wonder if Valve is doing it on purpose.




September 22—Gabe knows when Episode 3's coming, but it won't fit in a haiku

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeA redditor posts an e-mail exchange he's had with Gabe.




September 23—That Episode 3 code doesn't mean anything

Faliszek: "I guarantee that if you went into the original Half-Life source code now, you'd probably find mention of unrelated stuff labelled 'HL3'."

Valve writer Chet Faliszek tells NowGamer that there's nothing to get excited about.




November 24—Even Volition wants to know where the hell Episode 3 is

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three Reader Naroon sends in an Episode 3-related easter egg from Saints Row 3.




December 2—Half-Life 3 T-Shirt Confirmed

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeAn Uber Entertainment employee sees someone wearing a very peculiar shirt at a game developer event in Seattle.




December 9—They might already be recording dialogue for Episode 3

A US-based voice actor tells the Official Xbox Magazine that he's been working with Valve on recording lines for a certain "Half-Life Episode 3".




December 20—It's coming in 2012. Yes or no?

Two video game journalists decide to make a bet. Their dignity's on the line.




Dec 22—Here's a fresh new batch of Episode 3 rumors



~12:55am—A fairly crazy theory of a possible new game in 2012





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Valve releases the unaired Video Game Awards Character of the Year acceptance speech of Wheatley, one of Portal 2's main characters. An off-hand remark Wheatley makes prompts some wild speculation about a new game.




1:00am—A new site pops up

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeA new site displaying a huge Half-Life 3 logo appears. While a troll, it's still somewhat clever. At least we get a sweet wallpaper out of it.




~1:15pm—Half-Life hints are go... or, maybe not

A Steamcast co-host posts on the Steam Forums that he's been told by an unnamed informant that Gabe "has given the go ahead to drop hints for the next Half-Life game." Gabe later partly debunks this rumor.




December 23—JPL denies any involvement in Episode 3

JPL: "Wish I had better news for you. I would love to do another episode."

John Patrick Lowrie, veteran Half-Life voice actor and husband of GLaDOS' voice actress Ellen McLain, in a post unrelated to Half-Life, tells commenters that neither he nor his wife have been contacted by Valve regarding Episode 3.




December 24—LambdaGeneration's Rumor Roundup

LambdaGeneration looks at exactly how Valve has been teasing the community lately.




December 28—Debunking rumors left and right

Faliszek: "This is the community trolling the community, nothing more."

Valve (specifically, Chet Faliszek) shares their opinion on the newest Episode 3 rumors.




Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three


January 6—Operation: Crowbar

A bunch of fans decide to send Valve cheap crowbars in protest. While the approach is refreshingly crazy, Valve won't budge.




January 8—A call for communication; round two

MtV: "Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."

Remember that petition from 2009? It's gotten a lot bigger, and it even has its own Steam group now.




January 10—There really should be an announcement coming this year

IGN argues that there's no reason for Valve not to break their silence in 2012.




January 12—Garry Newman is a funny guy

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeGarry Newman, the man behind the vastly popular Garry's Mod, tweets a picture of a Half-Life 3 shirt supposedly sent to him by Valve. Later, he says it was only a joke. This of course kicks the LambdaGeneration rumor mill into overdrive.




January 18—Half-Life easter eggs? CS:GO has them

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeA resourceful Steam forum user uploads all the Half-Life references he could find in CS:GO's files. Unsurprisingly, nothing of real value is found.




January 21—Jesus in toast: Half-Life edition

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeVaguely lambda-shaped onion ring? Half-Life 3 confirmed.




January 31—A red letter day

In a move far less insane than Operation: Crowbar, tens of thousands of fans plan to play Half-Life 2 together on the same day to send Valve a message.




February 5—Aftermath of the red letter day

The event catapults Half-Life 2 to the 11th spot on Steam's list of most played games. But did it have the effect the organizers had hoped it would? (Spoilers: It didn't.)




March 1—Portal 2 still holds some secrets





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The ever-vigilant Steam forum community uncovers some animation files belonging to a side character from Episode 2 that are definitely new. Not very interesting, but new.




April 18—April fools!

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode ThreeA redditor tries to start a hoax involving a supposed pre-order ad for Episode 3 at Best Buy. It doesn't work out.




April 20—Gabe finally spills the beans on Ricochet 2. Wait, what?

Gabe: "We think that the twists and turns that we're going through would probably drive people more crazy than just being silent about it."

On Seven Day Cooldown, a gaming podcast, Gabe Newell talks about the future of Ricochet 2. If you know what I mean.




April 28—It's time to look at the numbers

Kotaku reader Igor explains, using the magic of numbers, that Episode 3 will definitely be revealed at this year's E3. Except...




May 2—No Episode 3 at E3 this year

Shock and awe.




June 9—These things take time





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Gabe himself appears as a neat little Episode 3 easter egg in the Kickstarter video for Clang. (Thanks, commenter lambdacore!)




June 27—Here's some new Half-Life concept art!

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three Valvetime posts a bunch of concept art that they've received from an anonymous source. However, the images are at least four years old.




August 14—Half-Life 3 at Gamescom! Or not!



7:22am—Half-Life 3 to be shown at Gamescom

A product listing advertises that Valve will be attending Gamescom and showing off Half-Life 3.




8:15 am—Valve steps in

Doug Lombardi confirms that the listing was a mistake. Oh well.




August 15—Buy this keyboard to play Half-Life 3 with!

Kotaku Timeline: Half-Life 2: Episode Three Mad Catz releases an ad for their new keyboard that shows a Half-Life 3 icon. Wild speculation and nerdrage follow.




August 17—Gabe Newell hates sharks

Gabe: "I hate sharks."

Spike TV interviews Gabe. They get to the question about Episode 3. Gabe says he hates sharks. It makes perfect sense!




September 20—Someone says Half-Life 3 is now an open-world game

French gamer site Journal de Gamer reports that, according to an anonymous source close to Valve (we certainly haven't heard that before), the series is moving away from its linear roots towards Skyrim-esque open-world gameplay.




November 11—Gabe tells /v/ all about Source 2





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During /v/'s birthday visit to Gabe at Valve HQ, he (shockingly) shows willingness to divulge a few facts about a new engine they're working on. Unfortunately, he doesn't really talk about what it's for. Full video of the event to the left.





developer:

valve corporation

publisher:

valve corporation

platform:

pc

release date:

tba

genre:

first-person shooter

modes:

single-player

rating:

tba


PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Discouraging mod development “doesn’t make sense” says Black Mesa dev">Black Mesa Source







Nailing down the range of possibilities afforded by modding's creativity yawns past the comprehension of us mere mortals. Yet, for a platform housing exploding horses, rug-cutting Combine, and the nesting-doll appeal of Minecraft's game-in-a-game sandbox, the PC keeps its lot of closed environments precipitated by developers and publishers as a means for balanced gameplay or brand protection. In an interview with True PC Gaming, Black Mesa Project Lead Carlos Montero flatly stated such a hindrance for mod growth "doesn't make sense."



"When you think about it, modders are like the ultimate fans," Montero explained. "They love this game so much, they're doing real, difficult, skilled work that you usually pay people for. Not only that, but they can add so much value to your game for the rest of your audience. Yet you still see companies look at this as competition. They sue and shut down these projects and ignore or drop support for people to mod their games. It doesn't make any sense. In my opinion, it’s the product of businesses (or lawyers) looking at this too analytically and short-term without understanding the long-term value it can create for their games."



Although Black Mesa earned the silent blessing of Valve during its lengthy session in the testing chamber, other ambitious projects met a not-so-friendly response from license holders legally stifling efforts. Montero's thoughts—the rest of which you can read in the interview—reflect a sentiment by modder-turned-developer Tripwire Interactive expressing confusion over why companies would stop mods on their games.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Valve firing process echoes studio’s peer-driven structure">Valve offices







For Valve's employees, working at one of the most secretive development studios around constitutes a once-in-a-respawn experience. The leakage of Valve's employee handbook earlier this year colorfully outlined a flat management structure culturing a counterintuitive emphasis on peer-driven independence. Speaking to Seattle Interactive Conference attendees yesterday (as reported by GeekWire), Valve Product Designer Greg Coomer said the same free-form philosophy governing the company's work ethic also factors into firing someone.



"I wish that we had covered firing in the employee handbook," Coomer said. "It was one of the things that we left out. We tried writing it, but we didn't feel like we were capturing how Valve thinks about (firing) in a well enough way. It was almost a wording problem. We couldn't get it done in the time that we wouldn't to finish the handbook. The short answer of how we handle terminations, really, is the same as we approach all other decisions at the company: It's a peer-driven process.



"If it turns out that we made a bad hiring decision, or that somebody is just not working out, there’s a method we use to get the people who are involved in the same room and to walk through the decision about what should really happen as a result of this person not functioning very well. Some of the details are kind of boring, but the main answer is that it's peer-driven, just like we evaluate each other as peers.”



I wonder what a caricaturized "Termination and You" chapter in the handbook would look like—probably the Pyro immolating an office chair or something. Still, Coomer attributed Valve's higher rate of self-fulfillment to the significant flexibility it bestows upon its workers, saying, “There are attributes that other companies have quoted about themselves that they allow their (employees) to spend some fraction of their time actually deciding on their own what to work on, but at Valve that percentage of your time is 100 percent. Every single person is responsible for deciding what they do every day."
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Rise and mine, Mr. Freeman: Early Half-Life levels recreated in Minecraft">Half-Life Minecraft testing







Of all the user-made interpretations of Half-Life's doomed resonance cascade in the Black Mesa facility, the version fashioned by Minecraft modder "Xannot" might very well include the first Swiss-cheese-lined test chamber. Really, Xannot's Minecraft-ed Black Mesa appears quite faithful to the original, with explorable hallways, tram rails, and an open-oven microwave.



The mod's forum thread details the ongoing scope of completion (up to the first Houndeye encounter so far) and a handy download link for interested miners. Hopefully, Xannoc will add subsequent portions of Gordon Freeman's journey, as his efforts already look just as ambitious as other noteworthy creations.















PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Top 10 Source Filmmaker Movies">bonk







Since its launch, Valve's Source Filmmaker has helped budding directors create literally hundreds of movies - some good, some bad, most.... incredibly goofy. The Team Fortress 2 cast especially has sung seemingly every song, played out every meme and worn every hat and every expression - sometimes at once! But what are the ten best creations? We've scoured YouTube in search of the funniest, the most dramatic, and the just plain prettiest Source Filmmaker movies.



Scout vs. Witch







Easily one of the best directed SFM movies out there, mixing Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and a fine sense of timing. Scout (no relation to Scout) is one of the more popular TF2 mercs, with his cockiness the perfect antidote to all that zombie misery. At least, while the moment lasts.



Just One More Hat







And he's back, in this fashion-conscious spin on one of Disney's most parodied songs. More worksafe than Dirty Little Mermaid, more morally conscious than Slaughter Your World, it also wins bonus points for having an original TF2 version of a song instead of just looping in a more general one.



Meet The Family







Mostly made (naughty naughty) with the leaked SFM, this was one of the first epic projects to be finished and still one of the best. Scout and Spy team up as literal brothers in blood to kick off a perfectly choreographed race for that all-important Intelligence. Guest starring music from The Incredibles to add pace and more than a little style. No "da-da-da" sting at the end though.



Adventures Of The F2P Engineer







He's smart enough to whip up teleporters and sentries on the battlefield... but he didn't pay for the privilege, so he's probably doing it with his flies open and his shoes undone. When he's having this much fun though, can you really begrudge him? The answer is yes. Even if you're on the other team, sometimes it just gets... sad. Luckily, there are other engineers on hand, like...



Practical Problems







An epic war between two professionals who know what they're doing, but don't know when to quit. A little parable about the importance of good manners, respect, and most importantly, not ****ing with another man's sandvich. A true Lesson For The Ages, with some fine music right alongside.







Meet The Soldier (Directed By Michael Bay)







We're firmly back in parody territory for this one; a relatively straight replay of Meet The Soldier, but with rather more boom and a surprising (though not unwelcome) lack of Alyx, Zoey, Rochelle or Chell forcibly being draped over a motorbike or anything at any point to complete the picture of one of cinema's most successful nostalgia murderers. Love or hate it, it's better than Transformers 2 any day.



The First Wave







It's not just a game mode... it's war! Mann vs. Machine gets dramatic in this epic four minutes of the mercs facing their durable doubles for the first time. Bonus points for a return of the disembodied Blue Spy, and a death scene with the power to spawn a thousand bits of erotic TF2 fan-fiction. Which exist. You'd better believe they exist. You have been warned.



DOTA Hero Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise







Not so much a 'parody' of the Potter Puppet Pals original as a straight copy with DOTA characters in it, this is still one of the more accomplished movies to come from that game. We just need another eighty or so instalments to cover the other characters, and I see no reason new players shouldn't have enough data to compete at professional level/troll like champions.



Heavy Doo, Where Are You?







I never understood "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?" as a show title. Admittedly my memory is a little fuzzy about the actual cartoons, but I definitely remember Fred, Daphne and Velma doing most of the mystery-solving gruntwork, with Scooby's role being to blunder into helpful things. If you called him, you'd prevent him from doing that. The song makes no sense, is what I'm saying. This movie is more reasonable. If you had to fight Old Man Peterson, having a Gatling wielding Russian psychopath on hand definitely beats anything Scrappy Doo could serve up. Admittedly, so would a crouton.



After Aperture







Chell's life after Aperture isn't exactly unexplored territory, but this Exile Vilify backed slice is one of the more interestingly melancholic SFM movies so far. A little clunky in terms of animation, largely due to the poor Chell rig (at least one other movie opted to reskin Zoey instead of using it), but it makes up for it with a different kind of atmosphere to most and that lovely outdoor setting.



Those are our picks, but there are many more SFM movies out there. Have any particularly caught your attention, impressed you, or just made you laugh? Share their names below...



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