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title="Permanent Link to The pros and cons of SteamOS">steamOS



By announcing SteamOS yesterday, Valve declared that PC gaming is more than desktop gaming, that Windows is not our master, and that—finally—cats can own Steam accounts. The free, Linux-based, cat-friendly operating system is designed for gaming on living room PCs, because PC gaming according to Valve isn't about WASD and DirectX—it's about openness and collaboration.

We're free to choose our hardware, our software, our mods, and soon more than ever, how we play, where we play, and whether or not Microsoft gets a cut. If SteamOS takes off, PC gaming will undergo one of its most dramatic changes ever—possibly one more significant than the introduction of the free-to-play model and crowdfunding. That's thrilling, but also scary as hell, so we've worked through our fears with a list of SteamOS pros and cons, followed by deep breaths in anticipation of tomorrow's announcement.

The Pros
 
It's free. If you have a living room PC, or plan to build one, you can ditch Windows for free. That feels really good to say, but the adoption rate hinges on SteamOS launching with native support for everything we want in a media and gaming center. Streaming games from a secondary PC is neat, but we'd rather run them natively on the machine we paid to put in our living room. It also needs native Netflix and Hulu apps, and all the other media services offered by the consoles.

Valve says it's got this covered, announcing that it's "working with many of the media services you know and love," and that "hundreds of great games are already running natively on SteamOS," with native "AAA titles" to be announced in the coming weeks.

It encourages competition in the console market. May the best Steam Box win! Windows isn't designed for TVs, so neither are many PCs. Now Valve is giving away a platform for games, movies, and music, challenging hardware manufacturers to make systems that are powerful, quiet, and inexpensive. It used to be Microsoft vs. Sony vs. Nintendo fighting for the top of the living room ecosystem's food chain—soon it may be Microsoft vs. Sony vs. Nintendo vs. Everyone.

It should run some games better. One of the few advantages consoles have over PCs (whether or not they always make the best of it) is an OS specifically designed for gaming. Meanwhile, we have Windows, which is clearly not designed to be an ideal gaming platform. With SteamOS, however, Valve claims it has "achieved significant performance increases in graphics processing," and is now working on "audio performance and reductions in input latency at the operating system level."

Last year, Valve posted a performance test of Left 4 Dead 2 running on Windows 7 and on Ubuntu, and the Linux build came out ahead, saying that the test "speak to the underlying efficiency of the kernel and OpenGL." This isn't close to being an objective experiment—and we'll look forward to making our own evaluations—but it is encouraging.

It means more Linux games, and more couch-friendly PC games. SteamOS is as much about ditching Windows as it is putting PC gaming in the living room, so it affects even those firmly planted in their desk chairs. If SteamOS achieves the install base it needs for developers big and small embrace Linux, the Microsoft shackles may be broken forever.

The Cons
 
Steam Boxes may struggle to compete in price. A PC designed to run SteamOS skips over the Windows fee, but unlike a console, the manufacturer can't rely on game licensing fees to recoup costs—that money goes to Valve. Sony and Microsoft, however, can price their consoles competitively with that revenue in mind, which gives them the advantage. Valve itself could price hardware this way, but that would undercut third-party hardware manufacturers and could turn out to be anti-competitive. Unless, of course, Valve makes the unlikely move to subsidize the cost of these systems.

It could increase development costs. Major game developers aren't going to ditch Windows, the platform with the world's largest install base. If SteamOS becomes a competitive gaming platform, competitive developers will have yet another version to make, soaking up more resources.

The pessimistic angle is that this can only result in either lower quality games or more expensive games. The optimistic angle is that SteamOS will be embraced and prioritized by developers with the same enthusiasm as the consoles.

It could further fragment games and smother certain genres. If SteamOS eclipses the popularity of desktop gaming, developers will have less incentive to develop desktop games. Just as developers rushed into mobile and Facebook development, we could see a flood of controller-based Steam games that push niche and classic-style PC games into the slums.

It's a scary thought, but when we un-jerk our knees and really consider this scenario, it's a very minor concern. Crowdfunding has proven without a doubt that there's still a huge appetite for old fashioned mouse and keyboard PC games. The positive—and more likely—angle is that we'll see just greater diversity in the Steam library.

It gives Valve even more power over PC gaming. Valve isn't PC gaming. We know that, and millions of League of Legends players, World of Tanks enthusiasts, GOG.com users, modders, and more know that. But Steam is the most popular digital distribution service, and soon, it will be a platform. SteamOS may be free, but it's only as open as Valve allows. We don't know yet if we can use SteamOS to play non-Steam games, or if Valve will make exclusivity deals. We've asked, and Valve's answer will be a huge indicator of its intentions.

If you've got a passionate thought about SteamOS, we'd love to include it in our next issue of PC Gamer. We're always listening at letters@pcgamer.com.
Community Announcements - Chet


Building on the work from our last update, we are now releasing the entire set of “older” Left 4 Dead 1 models.

It was an interesting walk back through our content tree to find all the various pieces and versions. Depending on your definition of the old models, some of these may vary in some slight detail as we work in an iterative process and never internally defined a version of these models. They have always just been Zoey, Louis, Bill, and Francis to us.

We want to give special thanks to Doktor Haus for being more than willing to supply his server and his assistance in testing the mods, starter kits and ZeqMacaw for assisting with testing the mods and starter kits, troubleshooting the mods' compile coding. Thanks!

While we were in the history books we found some other interesting bits.

There are these versions of Zoey with different colors (BlueYellow). A really, really early character concept sheet from September 2005, and the internal release notes for the January 25, 2006 update. The highlights of the notes include:

* NEW: The Hospital Urban map has been split into four separate maps, with HL2-style map transitions. When all living Survivors enter a checkpoint and the door is closed, the next map in the sequence will load. All items, players, and infected will retain their state across map transitions. Checkpoint doors are impervious to damage until all of the Survivors leave the Checkpoint once (with a few exceptions). The "exit" door of a Checkpoint cannot be opened until after the map transition.

* NEW: When a Survivor's health reaches zero, he no longer immediately dies but instead falls to the ground "incapacitated". While incapacitated, the victim cannot move, slowly "bleeds out", and can take additional damage from the Infected, friendly fire, explosions, etc. If a friend can reach the incapacitated Survivor before he bleeds to death, the rescuer can +use him to "help him to his feet", leaving the injured player with a small amount of virtual (blue) health. A First Aid Kit can also be used to revive an incapaciated player, healing him in the process. Incapacitated players can press their attack button to call for help, and can wave their flashlight around to help others find them. Note that traumatic damage (explosions, steep falls) still kill Survivors outright.

- Baseball Bat has been removed

It took us some iteration, but we got that baseball bat back in 3 years later.
L4D Blog


Building on the work from our last update, we are now releasing the entire set of older Left 4 Dead 1 models.



It was an interesting walk back through our content tree to find all the various pieces and versions. Depending on your definition of the old models, some of these may vary in some slight detail as we work in an iterative process and never internally defined a version of these models. They have always just been Zoey, Louis, Bill, and Francis to us.


Aug 16, 2013
Community Announcements - Chet

As the workshop continues to grow we have been working with some members of the modding community to learn where the tools can be improved and to help remove bottlenecks to creating new content.

Instead of endless emails, chat, or Skype sessions, we thought summer was a perfect time to fly up one of the most prolific modders out there - Splinks, or as we know him Zander.

Zander has been sitting in our office alongside the team for the last few months helping us. Today is the first update thanks to his work. Alongside the additions to the Authoring Tools that involve really technical stuff meant for fellow modders, we have added one fun bit in this update - an older version of Francis. We can’t promise we can get all of the other older survivors working, but we are looking into resurrecting them for forthcoming updates.

This is just the first of a few Authoring Tool updates focused on helping modders and includes:

Starter Kits:
• These are Zip files which include all the compiling files (Reference/Animation DMXs, Reference/Animation SMDs, QCs, and the VTA Morphs) used to create each Item, Weapon, Special Infected, and Survivor. In addition to providing a useful reference, these kits allow modders to start with a fully functional asset and then replace pieces incrementally instead of starting from scratch.
• These packs will also have the proper directory layout used by the game itself, so users will not have to reconstruct and look up where the model they're replacing needs to go.
• Each Starter Kit will have A COMPILE.BAT file which will need to be edited to match the user's local L4D2 install directory.

Maya Files:
These are the skeleton rigs that are used for each Item, Weapon, Special Infected, and Survivor. These allow modders to replace a model by attaching a new custom mesh skinned to the rig. Also included are all the animation scenes for the Items, Weapons, and Special Infected.

Tutorials:
In order to compile model files from SMDs and DMX, people will need to setup the SOURCE SDK TOOLS.

This tutorial will show people how to set everything up and how to address issues and fix them.
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=163206031

An example of one of the weapon Starter Kits and Maya files packages.

http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=159047840
Aug 16, 2013
L4D Blog

As the workshop continues to grow we have been working with some members of the modding community to learn where the tools can be improved and to help remove bottlenecks to creating new content.



Instead of endless emails, chat, or Skype sessions, we thought summer was a perfect time to fly up one of the most prolific modders out there - Splinks, or as we know him Zander.



Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

The internet jokes that Valve is allergic to the number 3. However, it appears one sequel may finally reach that ever-elusive number. A recent tour of Valve's office by Reddit members has unearthed a listing for "Left 4 Dead 3."

A snapshot of an idle monitor (via Gamespot) shows a thread by a Ted Carson. "Restored L4D3," it reads, preceded by mention of Source 2--Valve's next-gen engine.

Left 4 Dead 3 previously surfaced in a supposed Valve project tracker, which also mentioned Half-Life 3. Of course, with employees being able to freely work on whatever they want, these listings won't necessarily coalesce into a real product.

Jul 16, 2013
Community Announcements - Chet




Ever see a screenshot and wonder - what in the heck Workshop item are they using?

Good news, we can tell you. Just visit the image detail page of the screenshot and along the right side you will see the active Workshop items and a link to each.

To grab your own items for some screen shots, visit the L4D2 Workshop. To see more images, visit the screenshot page on the community hub.

If you need a hint on the above image before you click, it's a Hero from a little game we just launched called Dota 2.
Jul 16, 2013
L4D Blog




Ever see a screenshot and wonder - what in the heck Workshop item are they using?

Community Announcements - Chet


Celebrating Left 4 Dead 2’s official release on Linux and America’s Day of Independence, we’re putting L4D2 on sale for a stunning 75% off and it's free to play all weekend!

We know people have a busy weekend ahead of them with BBQs, sack races, blowing fingers off, and other fun summer time activities, so we made it a little more enticing to give it a try this weekend. We are making L4D2 free to play until 10am PST Monday morning.

To all our new Linux players this weekend, Hello.

To our returning players – we are bringing back a special achievement. Good Guy Nick - – “Plays games with free weekend players and helps them survive a campaign.” Who is a free weekend player? You’re going to have to talk to each other to find out or you could always let your friends know Left 4 Dead 2 is out on Linux and is free this weekend. After all, the zombie apocalypse was made to be fought with friends.

All kidding aside, it is going to be dangerous outside this weekend. Stay indoors. Play some L4D2.

Artwork created by Fisher.
L4D Blog


Celebrating Left 4 Dead 2 s official release on Linux and America s Day of Independence, we re putting L4D2 on sale for a stunning 75% off!



We know people have a busy weekend ahead of them with BBQs, sack races, blowing fingers off, and other fun summer time activities, so we made it a little more enticing to give it a try this weekend. We are making L4D2 free until 10am PST Monday morning.
...

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