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Sep 24, 2012
Gorgeous Greenlight projects. A planned Left 4 Dead 2 map on meta-horror. Dildo bats, crazy cats, and space hats. What does it all mean? It probably all makes sense on a metaphysical level, but we're pretty sure they're just more news we're rounding up and sending your way like a caring grandmother. A caring zombie grandmother.
The Light brands itself as "an interactive philosophical story." Sweet, sweet urban decay.
Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard almost worked with Valve on a potential Left 4 Dead 2 map pack tie-in.
The Secret World gets a new director, former lead content designer Joel Bylos, and reveals the name of its next Issue update as "The Cat God." Let's hope Bylos didn't have to endure through an elaborate initiation ceremony involving complicated hand gestures.
The entirety of Saints Row: The Third's DLC is included in the upcoming Full Package version releasing on November 9 for $50.
Super-long Assassin's Creed 3 gameplay video reveals Connor actually talking. Oh, and chopping people's faces in.
Sep 21, 2012
The Steam Workshop is coming to Left 4 Dead 2. That'll make it even easier for players to sample user created campaigns, but Valve are planning to take things a bit further and release an "expanded scripting tool" that will let modders create "deeper and more varied experiences inside of Left 4 Dead 2." That includes new rule sets that can be integrated into new campaigns, or traded as custom mutations through the workshop.
"To compliment the new access to maps, weapons, and items, we are also creating an expanded scripting tool to allow deeper and more varied experiences inside of Left 4 Dead 2," say the Left 4 Dead team on the Left 4 Dead 2 blog, though no further details are provided. Perhaps this'll take the form of an auto-update with a community spotlighted mutation of the week, but who knows. It might integrate a Spitter into your lounge for all I can guess. I really hope it doesn't do that.
The news heralds a change in this week's official mutation to a fresh one called Follow the Liter, which will only let survivors salvage a single can at any one time. This ought to focus the action a bit on those scattershot Scavenge mode maps.
Update: Oh yes, these bonus features are planned "also for Linux users as well starting in the middle of next month and rolling out from there." Woot!
Sep 20, 2012
NSW has joined the ACT in passing the legislation necessary to implement the R18+ rating for games in Australia. Having passed at a federal level, the legislation must now be passed by every state and territory before it can be implemented. NSW passed the legislation overnight, following the ACT's move last month.
The new law will enable adults to access content deemed inappropriate for younger gamers, although when the finalised guidelines were announced last week some were left concerned that many games would still be refused classification, effectively banning them in Australia.
With NSW and the ACT passing the R18+ legislation it's left to the remaining six states and territories to complete the process. The R18+ rating is expected to be in place by January.
Aug 20, 2012
The Saxxy Awards are back, giving budding film makers the opportunity to craft a masterpiece and win a Saxxy Award in Team Fortress 2. The winniest winner of the shortlist of category winners will be flown out to Valve for a sit down session with Valve's Source Filmmakers, which is a great prize because I don't know if you've ever tried it but flying is BRILLIANT. The Valve filmmaker folk are probably quite nice as well. Once there you'll have the chance to get your work "aired on GTTV's VGA preshow this December."
There are four categories, the most challenging of which is likely to be "Original Universe" which requires that all featured assets be custom made. There are other gongs available for best action, drama and comedy. All entries must be submitted between Nobember 1 and November 15. No sooner, no later.
That's one of a number of rules Valve have come up with to stop this thing getting out of hand and turning into a "who can make the best version of Homeward Bound using nothing but bits of the Pyro" competition, which nobody wants. NOBODY. Here are those rules.
Entries must be no longer than five minutes.
Each entry must be at least 720p.
All entries must be submitted using the Source Filmmaker's upload to YouTube™ and Steam Community menu option.
Only entries submitted between Nov. 1, 12:00 AM and Nov. 15, 12:00 AM GMT will be considered.
Voting begins Nov. 16.
Winners, selected by Valve from the community-chosen nominees, will be announced by Dec. 31, 2012
All co-creators must be finalized by submission deadline to be considered.
You are free to use any Valve IP.
If you use any non-Valve IP, you must be the copyright owner or have explicit permission from the owner.
Multiple submissions per person are fine.
Submissions must be free of advertisements.
Find out more on the Team Fortress 2 site. Note that you're free to use any of Valve's IPs. It'll be interesting to see if we get many Dota 2 entries.
It looks as though Valve are working on a proper follow up to the Source Engine they've been gradually improving over the course of the last decade. Valve Time have pulled numerous references to a "next-gen 'Source 2'" engine along with various "Source 2 tools" icons from the guts of the Source Film Maker.
Valve have previously played down the need for an entirely new version of Source, and have concentrated instead on updating the original version to keep up with modern engine tech. That's worked quite nicely so far, but if these references are correct, a more significant step up is on the way. Here are a few of the pulled strings referring to Source 2.
def setEngine( self, version=ENGINE.SOURCE ):
Set the engine version for the project, i.e. 'Source 2'
'''Return an str with the current engine version.
If key doesn't doesn't exist, assume 'Source', otherwise invalid -- assume next-gen 'Source 2'.'''
Exciting stuff. But it wouldn't be a post about Valve and the future without somebody saying something about Half-Life 2: Episode Three. Is the reason that it's taken so long that it's being built in a more advanced engine that will explode our minds when it's finally released? I have no idea. Here are the icons that Valve Time discovered. Look at that high fidelity hammer. Oooo.
Looks like it's about time to dive back into Valve's zombie apocalypse/gnome rescue/friendly fire simulator, Left 4 Dead 2. An update announced on the Left 4 Dead blog has added a finished version of the community made map, Cold Stream, and has opened up all mutations. These are custom rulesets created by Valve and the community which used to rotate every week or so that operate as tense and often ridiculous alternative game modes. Highlights include Taaannnkkk! which replaces all special infected in versus with Tanks, and Last Gnome on Earth, which requires survivors to rescue and protect Gnome Chompski on every map.
A bunch of tweaks have been made to Crash Course, Death Toll, Dead Air and Blood Harvest to crush exploits, and to celebrate the entire ordeal, Left 4 Dead 2 is on sale on Steam at 75% off. Absorb the latest round of tweaks in the patch notes below, and browse the many available mutations archived over on the Left 4 Dead wiki.
Patch notes, via Steam:
Updates to Left 4 Dead 2 have been released. The updates will be applied automatically when your Steam client is restarted. The major changes include:
- Made all mutations accessible from the main menu
Crash Course 1:
- Fixed survivors being able to climb into infected-only territory from the top of the white truck in the early alley.
- Survivors can no longer leave the map bounds near the riverfront.
- Closed off a shortcut method to bypass the howitzer event.
Crash Course 2:
- Survivors can no longer jump on the generators in the finale area.
Death Toll 1:
- Moved car near the tunnel entrance away from the drooping traffic light, as standing on parts of the car near the traffic signal could put you into a permanently stuck position.
- Moved a traffic sign that allowed survivors to climb the drooping traffic light prop up to the top of the tunnel entrance.
Death Toll 2:
- Added an infected ladder leading in to the upper pipe in the large drain room.
- Survivors should no longer be able to cross the bridge-lowering event before the bridge has fully lowered.
- Survivors should no longer be able to access the infected-only areas toward the end of the level.
- Survivors should no longer be able to leave the playable areas of the map from the areas beyond the saferoom.
Death Toll 3:
- Added "Checkpoint" flag to the nav square at the end of the intro saferoom to prevent versus rounds from starting when survivors stand next to the door.
- Removed a nav square by the next-level saferoom door to prevent infected players from standing there to prevent the round ending.
- Tweaked saferoom level transition trigger brushes to prevent infected players outside of the saferoom preventing the transition.
Death Toll 4:
- Players can no longer access the right-hand corner just outside the starting saferoom. This is to address a permanent-stuck spot when the saferoom door is opened.
- Survivors can no longer climb over the van in the ally leading to the onslaught area, which allowed them to skip most of the level.
- Survivors should no longer be able to leave the map/enter infected-only areas outside of the onslaught even street.
Death Toll 5:
- Made the roof of the picnic area inaccessible to survivors. This resolves an invincible spot.
- Players can no longer jump on the electric box prop facing the water on the side of the lakehouse.
Dead Air 1:
- Moved a bookshelf in front of the window in the second interior area (before the ladder climb) to prevent players from skipping parts of the level.
Dead Air 2:
- Move the trailer below the office building out of jumping range to prevent players skipping the offices.
Dead Air 3:
- Moved the fence and fence-climbing props at the entrance to the construction yard further back into the alleyway.
- Several tweaks to the area near the construction yard to prevent survivors from setting off the barricade fire event before they enter the event arena.
- Boarded up a window in the construction yard to address survivors accessing an invincible area.
- Survivors should no longer be able to jump over the barricade.
Dead Air 4:
- Infected players should no longer get stuck climbing over the rubble that divides the start of the map from the balcony leading to the escalator side .
Dead Air 5:
- Fixed a visual bug caused by a cube map being hidden inside of a prop.
Blood Harvest 1:
- Survivors should no longer be able to leave the map by jumping to the left toward the end of the rope bridge..
Blood Harvest 2:
- It is no longer possible for survivors to climb in the vent above the alarm room.
- Survivors can no longer stand on the horizontal pipes under the catwalk in the area following the alarm door event.
- The high pipes along the sides of the train tunnel are no longer accessible to survivors.
Blood Harvest 4:
- The roof of the starting safe room is no longer accessible to survivors..
- Survivors can no longer jump on top of the “Richardson Atlantic” building.
Blood Harvest 5:
-Removed some of the crossbeams in the hay storage building.
Cold Stream 1:
- AI infected can now access the roof of the watchtower.
- Survivors can no longer jump on top of the roof of the single-storey cabin at the far end of the area after the rope bridge.
Cold Stream 2:
- It should no longer be possible for survivors to jump up to the top of the tunnel entrance pipe near the start of the map.
- Survivors should no longer be able to jump over the fence on the bridge toward the end, skipping the barrel explosion event.
- Changed the M60 spawns into weapon_item_spawn to be more mutation friendly.
Cold Stream 3:
- The walls toward the back of the bridge (opposite of the direction players go to progress the level) are no longer accessible to survivors. This is to prevent survivors from getting into infected-only areas below the bridge, which they may not be able to escape from.
- Changed the M60 spawns into weapon_item_spawn to be more mutation friendly.
Cold Stream 4:
- Hooked up a quick conversation between the chopper pilot and the triggering survivor.
A new official blog called Valve Linux has popped up, put together by an 11-strong team of developers on a mission to "strengthen the gaming scene on Linux, both for players and developers. This includes Linux ports of Steam and Valve games, as well as partner games. We are also investigating open source initiatives that could benefit the community and game developers."
The team was set up last year, and have been experimenting with porting Steam and Left 4 Dead 2 over to popular Linux operating system, Ubuntu. "We’re just starting development and working with a single distribution is critical when you are experimenting, as we are. It reduces the variability of the testing space and makes early iteration easier and faster," say Valve.
That's just the beginning, however. "Based on the success of our efforts around Ubuntu, we will look at supporting other distributions in the future." They've got Left 4 Dead 2 running natively on Ubuntu, and a basic version of Steam. They're planning to polish both up over the course of the next few months and look into porting more games onto open source platforms.
"We’ll be posting more information about those projects (and others) on a regular basis. Since this is a new effort for the team, we’d love to hear your opinions about the blog so shoot us an email. We also encourage you to leave comments and ideas for future postings. We want this to be a community of game developers, communicating with each other and talking about current efforts and future efforts in a powerfully creative environment."
You can take part and let your view be known over on the Valve Linux site.
You love Steam sales. I love Steam sales. EA, however, don't love Steam sales. Just a few weeks ago their senior vice president made his opinion clear, claiming that they "cheapen" intellectual property. A few days ago the Origin Summer Sale kicked off anyway.
We asked Valve's director of business management, Jason Holtman, whether Steam sales have any affect on day-one purchases during last week's Develop conference. He doesn't agree with EA. Not even a little bit.
"If that’s what we thought was happening, or that’s what we saw happening, we wouldn't do it. Actually, all the data is contrary to that. A promotion is not a policy; a promotion is just a feature to give people more value," said Jason, speaking to PC Gamer.
"It’s not as if a 75% offer or a 50% off sale at some point in time cannibalises a sale that would have happened earlier, it’s just not true. We’re actually seeing both of them growing. We don’t see one cannibalising the other. If we did, we wouldn't do it." he continued.
Steam sales go from the sublime to the ridiculous-ly cheap. There's even one going on right now. Check out this real time evidence of a Steam summer sale in progress. It's a wonderful time for bargains.
"We put Left 4 Dead 2 and Portal 2 on sale. If we thought that was killing our franchise, or hurting the value of games, or hurting the revenue we could generate as a company, we wouldn't do it," continues Jason. "We've even gone so far as to give away Portal for free a couple of times. Whole days where it's not free for a day, it's just free."
Valve's sales still weren't dented: "We looked at this amazing data afterwards. The day after the sales were exactly the same, if not more," he says.
"People aren't making a decision thinking 'I'm always going to wait for perfect pricing.' There are time elements to it, there are fan elements to it, there are value elements to it. People sometimes like paying the full amount on the first day because they want to play it now and they want to be a fan.
"Those features you’re talking about - like the sales - we just think of them as customer features. They're not policies or mandates. Things like this are super smart: this would be fun; people would play this game; they’d pick it up if they didn’t have it; they’d tell their friends about it."
For more from Jason, check our story on how TF2 inspired Greenlight. We've also posted his views on Greenlight's rating system.
Thanks to Dan Griliopoulos for the image.
VG247 are reporting that Valve have finally announced a release date for Left 4 Dead 2's Cold Stream campaign. Now I know what you're thinking, you're thinking "But Tom! Isn't that campaign out already?" To which I reply "How can I hear what you're thinking, am I telepathic now?" But also "Nope, it's just been in beta testing. For a year." Which is a fairly speedy release in Valve time.
Cold Steam has spent the last year in community testing, with Valve gathering data on how the players perform on the map and adjusting it accordingly. But it's technically never been released until now, or rather until July 24th.
Assuming other Valve projects follow this release pattern, we estimate we'll be able to review Dota 2 sometime around 2014. In fact the truth is Half Life: Episode 3 was actually finished in 2009, but Valve feel it needs another six years of testing to be sure they got it right.*
*Probably not the truth.
A gentleman named Lambent Stew has put together a webpage that gathers some of your Steam data and arranges it like little quantitative ducks in a row. How nice.
There are a number of homemade utilities that reconstitute Steam information, like a Steam sales tracker, and a Steam account value calculator. What's unique to this one is it outputs some useful aggregate data, like total hours played, and what percentage of games you've bought you haven't opened, you jerk. Good lord, I haven't played 1,006 games. Tonight, Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships, it's you and me.