Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

In almost every strategy, management or sim game I play, I will immediately turn off the music which comes with the game in favour of my own. That means that Steam Music Player sounds like a good idea to me even if I long ago abandoned mp3s in favour of streaming. The built-in functionality, which lets you browse your music library and control playback from in-game using the Steam overlay, has just left beta after its initial announcement back in February.

To celebrate, Valve have made the soundtracks for some of their games freely available to those who own the associated games, including Half-Life, Half-Life 2 and its Episodes, Portal, Portal 2, and the Dota 2 documentary Free to Play.

… [visit site to read more]

Portal 2 Blog

It seems Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 have launched Merchandise Workshops, where the community can submit, vote on and sell their own non-virtual, actually real t-shirts and posters. And so far, the response from their communities has been overwhelmingly positive. So we thought: What if we applied that same idea, but to a good game, with a smarter, more attractive community? Introducing the Portal Merchandise Workshop, where you can heroes can bravely design their own Portal universe concepts.


"But what if my ideas are bad and I don't have any talent?" you ask. Don't sweat it, you're still covered.


PC Gamer
Saxxy 4


The Saxxy Awards, Valve's annual Source Filmmaker competition, is now in its fourth year, and to shake things up a bit they're encouraging players/directors to make films about something other than Team Fortress 2 - namely Portal. All of Portal 2's assets (minus, er, the portals and a few other things) can now be downloaded into SFM as free DLC, enabling that Spy vs Wheatley crossover animation that (probably) hasn't been able to exist until now. That isn't the only content pack headed to the program either: Puny Human are offering up select assets from Blade Symphony too.

The deadline for submissions this year is September 24th, giving you just under two months to create your masterpiece. You'll find the guidelines for the awards here.

If you need inspiration and/or films to compare your efforts to, be sure to check out the winners from last year. This one won best short:

Shacknews - Steve Watts
Nvidia is aiming to sell Project Shield to gamers with two highly-regarded classics. Half-Life 2 and Portal are now available natively on the device. In a short promotional video, Nvidia announced the pair of games and says it worked with Valve to bring them to Shield.
PC Gamer
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
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
Portal 2


For those, like me, who only need the merest reason to play Portal again, keep an eye on Portal: Alive and Kicking. It's "a full remake and re-imagining" of Portal 1 in Portal 2's fancier iteration of Source. The free mod that's been passed through the latest batch of Greenlight approvals, and has the confident endorsement of Jeep Barnett, Valve designer and co-creator of the proto-Portal student project, Narbacular Drop. "Every tile on every panel has been revisited with loving detail," he writes. "Not only have the visuals been updated to match Portal 2, but the weaker puzzle cues have been improved."

The mod also includes a new set of advanced maps based on Portal chambers 13-18, but with "all new puzzles and set in the "Old Aperture" visual theme seen in Portal 2." The adaptive soundtrack has been expanded and Portal's original advanced maps have been recreated in the Portal 2's ruined Aperture aesthetic. It looks a bit like this.



"WEEEEEEEEEEE."

I was a bit skeptical about fan-make remakes of old games until I played Black Mesa: Source. The act of recreation through the lens of intense fandom added dozens of loving touches that enhanced Valve's original vision for Half-Life. See also, The Dark Mod, which did a great job of capturing the magic of Thief. Hopefully Alive and Kicking will do the same for Glados et al.
PC Gamer
Non-Euclidian Level Design
PC Gamer
Scale


Scale, a new first-person puzzle game created by developer Steve Swink, features a young girl armed with a potent power: the ability to scale anything up or down almost infinitely. Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, Scale looks a lot like a Portal-alike, with its female protagonist and sci-fi Game Mechanic gun, but it’s a comparison that Swink categorically rejects.



“Yeah, we’re busy redesigning to the gun to be less Portal-like as I speak," he tells PC Gamer. "It got chucked in there quickly before PAX. It’s the obvious comparison to make, totally understandable, but the game is about exploring and discovery… rather than a linear series of puzzles that show how much I’ve explored the mechanic and how clever I am as a designer.”

Set around 40 years in the future, Scale follows the protagonist, Penny, a brilliant young physicist. While working to study elementary particles, Penny loses patience with the hit-or-miss world of supercolliders and settles on a different plan: a device that can enlarge anything so she can just zap an electron, make it as big as a minivan, and take a look. Naturally, she destroys the entire east coast of the United States.



Though Penny has a story she’s following, the exploration and puzzles are self-directed. In a gameplay video, Swink shows one where the player needs to cross some water to an island. Penny hops on a landlocked sailboat and then enlarges the moon, causing the seas to rise. I ask him how else it could be done. Penny could also stand on a flower and scale it until she just steps onto the other island, or just scale the boat itself until it’s big enough to be a bridge.

It seems that every new game with an experimental mechanic has to follow the Portal formula, so it’s nice to see a game with the ambition to set players free. Scale has a few days left on Kickstarter before it continues development for a planned December 2014 release.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

I don't have kids, but I do have a house full of kid's books.

Consider this your daily dose of nice. Artist Joey Spiotto, aka Joebot, draws films and videogames as the covers of children’s books. His game work includes imagined covers for Half-Life 2 (above, in part), Skyrim, BioShock, Portal, Mass Effect and more. (more…)

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