PC Gamer

Team Fortress 2 would probably work as a musical, but, unless Valve has something spectacular planned for the game's ninth year, we'll have to make do with this mod. Created by 'Vincentor', it replaces every piece of dialogue in the game with exactly the same piece of dialogue, only auto-tuned.

The mod covers all vocals—including every class, NPC and the announcer. To install, just download the mod and extract it into "tf/custom" folder inside your Team Fortress 2 root directory. You'll have to supply the house backing track yourself.

PC Gamer

I know, right? I'm asking you to watch a twenty-minute internet video. Think how many shorter videos you could watch in that time! Think how many gifs you could see! You could watch this video of two geese honking almost 60 times.

Don't though, because Live and Let Spy is a quality Source Filmmaker production. It starts as a heist movie, goes a little bit James Bond, and then ends in all-out cartoon war.

Yes, the animation is a little off in places—the Spy/Heavy holding a broom is a bit weird, and the main Medic's arms are kinda odd. Still, for the majority of the film it's impressively smooth and expressive.

This is the third part of The Winglet's "Fedora Chronicles" series. It's a sequel to The Bolted Behemoth, which you can watch here.

PC Gamer

Thanks to a new user-made TF2 taunt, you can play as a saxophonic Sniper.

...

What, you don't think that's enough for a news story? Fine, as part of that—maybe even because they saw an epic sax Sniper—Valve has opened up the Steam Workshop to accept TF2 taunts.

You can use the Source Filmmaker to create one, and submit it for community approval in the usual way. As always for curation-based Workshop items, Steam users will vote for their favourites and the best have a chance of being added into the game and sold for actual money.

Three user-made taunts have been added, and you can see them all in the below video.

You can get more details at the TF2 blog, and see this technical FAQ for help making your own taunts.

PC Gamer

The Steam Workshop is a giant thing, containing over 24,000 Skyrim mods, over 413,000 Portal 2 levels and, for some reason, over 100 Goat Simulator characters and mutators. It's also a profitable thing. Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive all have curated Workshops—letting players pick the community-made items that will go on sale in the game.

Valve has now announced that, since the launch of the Workshop in 2011, the total payments to individuals for the creation of in-game items has surpassed $57 million.

Previously, only Valve games had curated item Workshops—something Valve attributes to the "sheer number of challenges required in order to scale to a global audience of creators and players". Seemingly, these hurdles have been overcome, as the Workshop is now hosting curated item Workshops for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare and Dungeon Defenders: Eternity.

"Purchases of this great new content directly enables those community members to continue practicing their craft and making more awesome content," writes Valve, before going on to say that they expect more curated Workshops in "the coming weeks and months".

PC Gamer

Valve is pretty much an unknowable obelisk: giant, powerful and unfeelingly silent. Due to this absence of communication, the few voices that do emerge from the studio are amplified ten-fold. Hence why you may recognise the name Yanis Varoufakis. During his time as Valve's economist-in-residence, he ran a blog dedicated to analysing and explaining the studio's virtual economies.

Now, Varoufakis has a new job. He's today been named Greece's finance minister.

Varoufakis was at Valve from 2012-2013. Despite not playing games, he said in his introductory post that he was fascinated by the virtual economy Valve had built—specifically that it was an economy with hard data for every transaction. "Think of it: An economy where every action leaves a digital trail, every transaction is recorded;" he wrote at the time. "Indeed, an economy where we do not need statistics since we have all the data!"

Through Varoufakis's analysing, we learned how gifting played a part in TF2's economy, how a sophisticated bartering and arbitration formed around trades, and how Valve doesn't even fire people like a normal company.

Varoufakis's role as finance minister is quite a departure from the academic study of non-existent headwear. Greece was hard-hit by the economic crisis, leading to a debt crisis that has resulted in high unemployment and bankruptcy. Varoufakis himself is seen as a radical—one who has referred to austerity measures as "fiscal waterboarding".

That, though, is the purview of serious political reporters. As a videogame reporter, I feel it's my responsibility to do something dumb. Here, then, is a series of suggestions Varoufakis could take from his days at Valve that would instantly, definitely, fix Greece's economy.

  • Randomly give a fish on a stick to citizens as they go about their day. Also, sometimes a trilby.
  • If you set a hat on fire it is worth more money. Because reasons.
  • All trade will now be based on the conversion rate: Two Refined = Stout Shako.
  • The most valuable thing you can own is now a decapitated rabbit's head.
  • Abolish physical crop exports. Switch to digital :weed: exports. They're worth more.
  • The Trojan Horse, but with Crates.
  • Make Half-Life 3
PC Gamer

The PC doesn't have a platform holder, and that's a blessing. But there's no denying that Valve's role is an important one in the industry, and that its decisions often have a tremendous impact on our hobby. With great popularity comes great responsibility: here's how we'd like to see Valve apply itself this year.

Make TF2 exciting again

Phil Savage

My favourite Valve thing of 2014 was the anticipation around the release of Love and War update. There was excitement, there was speculation, there was a funny Source Filmmaker video. It was everything a TF2 update used to be, with one exception: the update. There was a time when TF2 updates warranted the amount of excitement they received. The class events were significant. They dramatically changed the way you could play a class—giving new, divergent tactics to familiar operators. Also maps. TF2 launched with six maps. It now has over 70.

The Love and War update didn't have that game changing feeling... Sorry, I'll try that again. With the exception of the Conga taunt, the Love and War update didn't have that game changing feeling. The weapons were good, but I don't think weapons—even something as well-defined and desirable as the BASE Jumper—carry the same weight they once did. When there's only one way to play a class, a new item set has massive ramifications. Now there are multiple ways to play, and one more doesn't make as much difference.

In all, 2014 was a quiet year for TF2. Even the long-anticipated End of the Line community update was muted by Valve's decision not to include the Snowplow map. Their reason, supposedly, was that it was deemed too confusing and challenging for new players . And this is from the people who made Hydro. This is my worry with Valve now. It feels like they're afraid to take risks. The most exciting new inclusion of the year was the grappling hook, and that happened without fanfare as part of the Mann Co. Beta initiative.

Imagine if the same energy and excitement leading up to the Love and War update was rewarded by a new game mode, new maps and a goddamn grappling hook—all definitively released, rather than hiding away in beta. TF2 would, once again, feel like an event. Yes, maybe one of those maps would be terrible, but that would only make it more exciting when more maps appeared—these ones learning from past mistakes.

Aside from the Halloween event, every map added to TF2 in 2014 was released into beta. In 2015, I'd love to see the confidence come back. To see the TF2 team declare something ready—not just with a release, but with a week-long build-up that showed how a seven-year-old game could still feel fresh, exciting and essential.

Make the Steam Controller work

Tyler Wilde

It feels like ages ago that we were all talking about Steam Machines and the Steam Controller. It wasn t really that long ago, but Valve went pretty quiet on both fronts after a generating a lot of interest. I m still interested—not so much in Steam Machines, because if I stick a PC under my TV it ll probably be a laptop or something I build myself, but in the Steam Controller.

I m fascinated by what Valve s trying to do with the thing. Back when Evan tried it last year, he found the trackpads unwieldy, but if Valve can really design a new kind of controller that both emulates a mouse (and it ll never be as effective, of course) and works for games I d rather play with a d-pad or analog stick, then we may have a new best PC gaming controller in our hands. It s promising that, after we were a bit unimpressed by the first demos, new mockups keep appearing, which suggests that Valve is still tinkering with the whole design. I hope we see the latest prototype soon, and I m betting we will at this year s GDC.

Grow CS:GO

Evan Lahti

CS:GO became, with plenty of breathing room, the second-most played game on Steam in 2014, hitting 400,000 concurrent players for the first time this month. A lot of that growth is owed to CS:GO s reawoken popularity as an e-sport: more people than ever are watching competitive Counter-Strike, and the recent DreamHack Winter tournament (even with a bit of controversy) was an exciting watch.

But Valve s content updates, patches, and e-sports aid hasn t come close to the support given to its flagship game, Dota 2. CS:GO s support isn t proportional to its popularity, and Valve faces a playerbase that s hungry for anti-cheat fixes, new maps, weapon skins, and ways to engage with the game they re invested in if they want CS:GO to retain its position as the most popular FPS on PC against games like Evolve and Rainbow Six Siege.

Valve needs to continue to keep pace with hackers, and it needs to look to the old days of TF2 for ideas on launching in-game events that don t simply feel like money-grabs veiled in playfulness. But what would really propel CS:GO is a proper, The International-level major tournament—something that Valve owned and operated itself rather than relying on CS:GO s great-but-fragmented leagues to build interest around it as an e-sport.

Beyond that, I d love to see a CS:GO API opened up. Part of Counter-Strike is eliminating bad habits, and right now there s no easy way to track your match history (beyond watching your last few replays) or dig into meaningful stats.

A full year of Dota 2 updates

Chris Thursten

In 2015, I'd like to see the Dota 2 team continue to open up about their plans and processes. At the same time, I really hope that they're able to make this a bigger year for the game than last year. A lot of time has been invested in an engine update that will introduce custom game modes and make it easier for Valve to develop new additions in the future. That's great news - and user-generated content represents a potentially exponential increase in the game's scope. At the same time, I don't think I'm alone in wanting a stronger run of official updates. That means more new heroes in 2015 - potentially the first Dota 2-specific heroes - and proper seasonal events.

Valve may not see it the same way: they could argue, convincingly, that the future of Dota 2 was and should be in the hands of its community. Be that as it may, I think the last couple of years have shown that leaving everything up to the wisdom of crowds creates confused expectations and entrenches divisions. From the pro scene to the potato bracket, the Dota 2 community could use a bit of stability - and a solid year of official updates from Valve could help establish that.

Steam would benefit from a visual overhaul

Andy Kelly

Steam s feature set took a big step up with the addition of curators and, er, the colour blue in the client s basic skin in 2014. I would like to see a bit of housecleaning on the design of it—maybe contemporise the fonts a little bit. Reskinning is obviously an option, but I d like Valve s basic layout to be little more up to date. It s still very similar to when I first signed up years ago. On the one hand, that familiarity is nice, but on the other, Big Picture Mode and the Steam app on iOS show how much cleaner the basic layout of Steam could be with a refresh.

The thing we all really want

Chris Livingston

Let's address the strider in the room. For years now, every single bit of Valve news and every update Steam pushes through has resulted in a fresh round of sarcastic yet subliminally hopeful chatter: Half-Life 3 confirmed!

To which I say: slow your roll, Internet. We've got some unfinished business to attend to. A broken promise. A missing chapter. A little something called Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

I'm confident this is, deep down, what we all really want: another two-to-three hours of content using the same assets and enemies from Half-Life 2. We want to fight more slow, stupid Combine soldiers while they issue their familiar barks. We want to solve yet another giant see-saw puzzle with the gravity gun. We want to stare at a brick wall waiting for a new level to load, then run through the new level for three minutes, then stare at another wall while the next level loads. We want to climb back into that rusty, ugly-ass car and hit the gas only to immediately hit the brakes because the radar is showing a supply cache. We want to spend more time watching Alyx Vance do a bunch of cool things like bashing zombies with the butt of a shotgun or using a sniper rifle or climbing over walls, which we, as Gordon Freeman, cannot do ourselves for some reason. Most of all, we need to hold Valve accountable for their promise, made in June of 2006, that the three episode series will conclude by Christmas 2007. That's the "three" that's important, here. Not Half-Life 3. Episode 3. Make it happen.

j/k, of course. This year, Valve, just announce something, anything genuine about Half-Life 3, even if the announcement is that it's never going to come.

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

Valve's Source Filmmaker is regularly used to parody Team Fortress 2. Here, instead, it's being used to accurately (and stylishly) portray an entirely different game. With the help of TF2's Heavy, and taking a mere 24 seconds, here is Skyrim in a nutshell.

The short was created by Ferhod, who previously made the Saxxy 2014 winning TF2 film Animation vs. Animator.

PC Gamer

As part of this year's Smissmas celebrations - it's a thing - Team Fortress 2 has received a new way to play it. It's called Mannpower Mode, and it features grappling hooks.

Merry Smissmas, one and all!

Mannpower Mode is very much a beta offering, being used to test the water for a bunch of different mechanics, including the grappling hooks. Because there are grappling hooks in it.

Currently you can play the capture the flag-alike Mannpower on modified versions of the Ctf_foundry and Ctf_gorge maps, and as well as the grappling hooks (did I mention those?) there are a few other tweaks and features added.

Nine power-ups, including strength, resistance, haste and warlock, are currently available, though there are more on the way. Each... well, powers you up, obviously, just in a different way for each of the nine.

There's also a grappling hook! Wait, I said that a couple of times already. But the fact is, grappling hooks are brilliant and should be in all games - so it's great to see them added for all classes in Mannpower Mode.

Accessing it is as simple as this: "Click on Play Multiplayer, enable Play Beta Maps checkbox, and then choose Mannpower Mode."

Grappling hooks!

PC Gamer

Holy. Shit.

I've watched a lot of Source Filmmaker stuff over the years. I've seen the trailer for End of the Line about a hundred times. But now the full thing is out, and it's good. It's really good.

The community film was directed by James McVinnie, and releases alongside an End of the Line themed TF2 community update—containing hats, a new weapon and some new unusual effects.

I'd give a summary of the film, but why ruin the surprise? It's got a train in it, if that helps. It's also got a very distinct tone. The zanier edges of the TF2 roster have been sanded away, leaving a relatively dramatic piece that nevertheless contains more than its fair share of comedy.

Set aside 15 minutes and enjoy one of the best SFM films we'll likely see for a while.

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