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Sep 30, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (Craig Pearson)
Portal 2 wasn’t nearly as messed-up as it could have been. I loved it, and still pop in now and again to enjoy the physics and writing, but I always wish they’d went further and curly-wurlied the gravity and surroundings. Every time a room was fixed in front of me, I wished the same tech was used to just turn everything upside down, inside out, or that it would twist the testing chambers into odd, broken configurations. I am a very needy person. With that in mind, I’m interested in this Greenlight begging puzzle game, Tri. A FPS puzzle game where you drag out triangular walkways to cross the world. (more…)
Sep 21, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - email@example.com (Nathan Grayson)
You might remember that DOTA 2 officially launched not too long ago. This may in part be due to the fact that it’s one of the biggest PC games ever>, making it difficult to forget about in the same way that a herd of rhinoceroses just kind of hanging out in your living room would at least spend a fair amount of time in your peripheral vision. It is, of course, already quite good, but Valve plans to continue updating it until the Earth molts away its wriggly organic shell, leaving behind naught but dust and roaches. The first step in that process? A (very) soon-to-be-launched update fittingly titled First Blood. It includes LAN play! Also lots of other things, including Portal’s own wise-cracking cracker of psyches GLaDOS as an announcer. Details below.
Sep 20, 2013
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - firstname.lastname@example.org (RPS)
Words by Hamish Todd.>
Portal has the best-designed first-person puzzles I’ve ever seen. They’re surprising, focused, and concise. They are also designed very perceptively, and we can learn a lot from looking at this perceptiveness. Read on for an analysis of Portal’s level design, and some lessons about what learning from it can do to improve game design.
BE WARNED: This article uses multiple animated .gif images on the same page, and might be tough to load on slower connections. (more…)
Valve are up to their old tricks again, concealing tasty teasers in otherwise unrelated blog posts. I like to think of it as Lazy ARG-ing. Bigger announcements would get a scrambled HTML comment that decoded into a website, containing an mp3 that, when run through a spectrograph analyser, would create a map pointing to an abandoned shack in the outer Hebrides, containing a switch that activated thousands of lasers that combined to broadcast a message on the moon. This, the first taste of the GLaDOS announcement pack for Dota 2, gets a hidden link in a full stop.
Right at the bottom of the Dota 2 blog's International 2013 round-up post, underneath a picture of GLaDOS voice actor Ellen McLain, and at the end of the very last sentence, the full stop that closes the whole thing off links to an mp3 of one of the AI's announcements. Here's an embeddable mirror of the line, courtesy of Reddit:
Dammit guys, we've been pronouncing it wrong this whole time!
During The International, McLain revealed that a GLaDOS pack was being made. This brief sample shows that work on the new lines has already begun. So far, no date has been given for the announcement pack's release.
Aug 2, 2013
Announcement - Valve
Nothing says “indie” quite like breaking down the walls of copyright and adding a bunch of characters from games you had no hand in making. And wouldn’t you know it, Gaijin Games is doing just that with their cardiovascular improvement simulator, BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien or "Runner 2" for those who need to work on their lung capacity.
Those who drop $3 for the “Good Friends Character Pack” will have access to Psychonauts’ Raz, Cave Story’s Quote, Machinarium’s Josef, Super Meat Boy’s Dr. Fetus, Portal 2’s Atlas (who’s Steam exclusive), Bit.Trip’s invisible Commander Video, and Spelunky's, er, Spelunky Guy.
We’re a little bummed that the DLC doesn’t offer new levels of some kind, but it’s hard to complain about anything when it’s a paltry $3, which, as developer Dant Rambo notes, is less than "a bag of hot dog chips." Still, here’s hoping we get some new levels to break in this new cast somewhere in the near future. In the meantime, why don't you watch these character introductions narrated by none other than Charles Martinet, aka, the voice of Mario. Yes, that Mario.
A Steam news note announces the arrival of an updated version of Valve's software development kit, which grants "support for Mac OS X and Linux to mod developers" and adds "the ability for virtual reality support in your mod." Yes, expect to see a wealth of Oculus Rift mods heading to a Source game near you. Ricochet with Oculus Rift support! The dream lives.
There have been other alterations, too. The source code is now up on github and a tweak to the license agreement allows users to share modified versions of the kit for free. If you're interested in making mods, the Valve Developer Community wiki is a good place to learn.
VR is the talk of the town at the moment, with the Rift's impressive showings at Eve Fanfest and E3. You can keep up with the latest VR news here.
Jun 26, 2013
Just as promised, Steam Trading Cards is now live. The virtual cards can be earned by playing participating games on Steam, trading with other users, or buying on the Steam Marketplace. Complete a set to create a badge, earn rewards and XP, and level up. The user with the highest Steam level at the end of the year gets to high five Gabe Newell while announcing Half-Life 3. In space.
In other true facts, I'm already hearing from users playing the Steam marketplace to profit off the cards' initial popularity. One user I spoke to has been buying low and selling high to pad his Steam wallet, even creating scarcity by buying up low-value cards in quantity. I'll keep an eye on marketplace prices as more users start trading the collectibles.
I was hoping to find a good deal on a 1952 Mickey Mantle card, but unfortunately, baseball isn't a participating game. You can see which of the games you own are participating here.
Jun 26, 2013
Product Update - Valve
- Fixed a content issue that could cause certain textures to look very bright in some levels
Jun 19, 2013
When Portal 2 was announced, the news dropped through an elaborate scavenger hunt puzzle that sent thousands of players crawling all over the internet. Years later, we finally get to see some of the work that went into making that alternate reality game, as told by celebrated Half-Life modder (now Valve employee) Adam Foster in a blog post at Gamasutra.
Foster, one of the designers of the ARG puzzle from Valve, describes the elaborate trail of puzzles that the Portal-playing community was able to decipher. It began with a seemingly mundane game update for Portal 1: “changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations.” That update changed the radios found throughout Portal into Morse Code-dispensers. The code was deciphered into slow-scan television images. Somehow—my knowledge of information theory and cryptography ran dry a paragraph ago—these images were combined into an elaborate code, which was then hacked. Remember: none of us is as smart as all of us.
The result? A phone number to an ancient modem in Foster’s kitchen that slowly drip-fed Portal 2 concept art to announce the game to the world. The ARG team at Valve did a fun thing with no budget, and it caught the attention of the world’s games media. It was also an intricately designed puzzle that, despite a few false positives, played out exactly as Valve designed. As Foster writes, “Estimated time to 'solve' the initial puzzles: seven hours. Actual time to solve: seven hours and sixteen minutes. This wasn't an accident.”
We are all just puppets dancing on Gabe Newell’s strings, aren't we? Check out the full blog post from Foster for a lot of fascinating details about ARGs and the devious geniuses at Valve.