PC Gamer

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.

PC Gamer

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. 

PC Gamer

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

Thanks, Gizmodo

PC Gamer

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.

PC Gamer

When IGN pressed for a status update on the rumoured Half-Life and Portal movies, JJ Abrams responded, "Not yet, but they're in development, and we've got writers, and we're working on both those stories. But nothing that would be an exciting update." Au contraire, Mr Abrams; confirmation of their existence is more exciting than you think.

If the concept of a Half-Life or Portal movie is all news to you, I'm not surprised—there was a brief flurry of activity on the subject in 2013, when Abrams and Gaben got together at the DICE summit to talk about cross-platform storytelling. Newell suggested that "either a Portal movie or a Half-Life movie" could work, while Abrams said he'd like to make a game with Valve.

Even further back, in 2010 Newell lamented the quality of pitches he'd received from a litany of Hollywood production companies for a movie based on the Half-Life franchise.

"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."

Evidently he found common ground with Abrams, because it seems the collaboration has the green light.

PC Gamer

The Valve News Network—obviously, not a Valve-run news network, but rather a thorough YouTube channel dedicated to all things Valve—has released a new video, about Portal. The Unseen History of Portal delves deep into the making of the classic puzzler, presenting a bunch of unseen footage and little-known info in the process.

SEE Portal's origins as student project Narbacular Drop, WITNESS its evolution into a Valve property and into the Source engine, and BEHOLD what came after, i.e. cake. PC Gamer even gets a (very) brief mention—did our site really used to look like that?

PC Gamer

We enjoyed a musical interlude last week in the form of an 80-person chorus singing the Skyrim song Dragonborn, despite the fact that it was a couple of years old, for two reasons. One, it was still really cool, and two, the track will appear on The Greatest Video Game Music III - Choral Edition, a new album—do the young people still call them albums?—that's coming out on January 29. Today we have another track to share with you, and even though there's no video this time around, I think you might like it.

Covering Still Alive is a tough nut to crack under the best of circumstances, because the original was essentially perfect. Even so, I like this version. It doesn't really kick into gear until around the halfway point, when the chorus gets involved, and even then it's not as boomingly powerful as Dragonborn—although that's not really a surprise, is it? But there's something almost playful about it, and despite the obvious Serious Business of 80 elite Swedish voices united in harmony, the choral take on it somehow comes off as lighter and more irreverent than GLaDOS' own rendition.

The Greatest Videogame Music III Choral Edition is a collaboration between the Swedish choir Orphei Drangar and singer Myrra Malmberg, who has appeared in numerous stage productions as well as Swedish versions of animated films including Aladdin, Happy Feet, and Toy Story 3. It will feature 13 tracks in total:

  • 1 Final Fantasy X—Hymn of the Fayth
  • 2 World of Warcraft—Invincible
  • 3 Skyrim—Age of Oppression
  • 4 Final Fantasy X—Hymn of the Fayth (Remix 1)
  • 5 Dragon Age Inquisition—Main Theme
  • 6 God of War 3—Anthem of the Dead
  • 7 The Last of Us—The Choice
  • 8 Skyrim—Dragonborn
  • 9 Final Fantasy X—Hymn of the Faith (Remix 2)
  • 10 Portal—Still Alive
  • 11 Portal 2—Cara Mia Addio
  • 12 Assassin's Creed IV—The Parting Glass
  • 13 Minecraft Volume Alpha—Sweden

The Greatest Videogame Music III Choral Edition is available for preorder on iTunes.

PC Gamer

Joy to the world, the tests are run! The result is a spectacular three-minute Portal carol built in Source Filmmaker by Harry 'Harry101UK' Callaghan. The turrets—including the Animal King, naturally—have come together at this special time of year to spread neurotoxin to the tune of Mykola Leontovych and Peter J. Wilhousky's Carol of the Bells.

Callaghan did the voices and music himself, with turret rigs provided by August 'Rantis' Loolam, which is an exhausting array of talent and an indictment of my own sorry skillset. You can find his YouTube channel here, and the song is available on Bandcamp.

PC Gamer

Portal's companion cubes, cake, and other memes that have been thoroughly run into the ground are coming to Rocket League next month, as bits of free car clobber you can win at random at the end of every match. They're officially licensed by Valve, and comprise cubes, cores, cake and various types of gel—all good things to slather all over your car.

Here's the full list:

  • Cake (Topper)
  • Conversion Gel (Rocket Trail)
  • Propulsion Gel (Rocket Trail)
  • Repulsion Gel (Rocket Trail)
  • Aperture Laboratories (Antenna)
  • Cake Sticker (Antenna)
  • Companion Cube (Antenna)
  • Personality Core (Antenna)
  • PotatOS (Antenna)

The customisation items are coming to Rocket League on December 1, and are "potentially rewarded at the end of every match, win or lose". It's a nice incentive to keep playing, regardless of how your team is doing—so no more quitting mid-match like a big baby.

That's not the only update coming to Rocket League next month. On December 14 it's getting a particularly Christmassy game mode that replaces the giant football with that most festive of sporting paraphernalia: the hockey puck.

PC Gamer
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