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Portal 2

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PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam Trading Cards releases in beta, introduces game badges, XP, and leveling">steam trading cards







If you don't have beta participation turned on in your Steam settings, go do that so you can start collecting trading cards, earning XP, and leveling up. Yup, Steam just got gamified.



The games participating in the Trading Cards beta are Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2, and "up to half the card set" for each can be earned by playing them. The other half of each set is "earned through your collecting prowess," which presumably means trading with Steam users who got different drops.



Once you collect a complete set, you'll be able to craft a game badge which will appear on your profile and unlock "marketable items like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and coupons." Badges can be leveled up by collecting the required trading cards again, and all badges—including any you already have—now give you XP which contributes to your "Steam Level." Leveling up has its own benefits, awarding you "non-tradable items like profile showcases, extra friends list slots, and more."



Now that playing games on Steam is a game, are you bothered that someone out there is already beating you? If so, the PC Gamer Steam group may be a good place to start looking for trades.
PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam Trading Cards releases in beta, introduces game badges, XP, and leveling">steam trading cards







Join the Steam Trading Cards group on Steam to score a beta invite so you can start collecting trading cards, earning XP, and leveling up—yup, Steam just got gamified.



The games participating in the Trading Cards beta are Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2, and up to half of the new virtual trading cards for each can be earned by playing them. The other half of each set is earned "through your collecting prowess," which presumably means trading with Steam users who got different drops.



Once you collect a complete set, you'll be able to craft a game badge which will appear on your profile and unlock "marketable items like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and coupons." Badges can be leveled up by collecting the required trading cards again, and all badges—including any you already have—now give you XP which contributes to your "Steam Level." Leveling up has its own benefits, awarding you "non-tradable items like profile showcases, extra friends list slots, and more."



Now that playing games on Steam is a game, are you bothered that someone out there is already beating you? If so, the PC Gamer Steam group may be a good place to start looking for trades.
Shacknews - Steve Watts

What do you do when your platform already sells and launches video games? Make the platform itself a video game, naturally. Valve announced the beta launch of "Steam Trading Cards" today. The collectible meta-game lets you upgrade your Steam profile by playing games and collecting and trading their associated (virtual) cards.

The trading card system earns you cards for playing supported games, along with collecting and trading. Once you earn enough, you can craft a game badge, which can be used to earn rewards like profile backgrounds, emoticons, and Steam coupons. This also adds a leveling mechanic to your badges, in which you can earn XP to earn rewards like extra friends list slots and profile showcases. Joining the Trading Cards group will put you in a queue to get into the beta, and Valve will be allowing people into it in waves.

So far, the beta supports Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Don't Starve, Half-Life 2, Portal 2, and Team Fortress 2. Valve promises it will expand to more games in the coming months. You can check out the FAQ for more details.

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Don’t be nervous, but Valve still wants to measure your sweat">rsz_tf2_medic







There may come a day when preparing for the next chapter of a Left 4 Dead game will include wiping down your sweaty palms and taking a deep, deep breath. If you don’t, the zombies will get faster.



In remarks during the 2013 NeuroGaming Conference and Expo (via VentureBeat), Valve’s in-house experimental psychologist—Wait, hold on. Did you know that Valve employs an experimental psychologist? I wonder if he has lunch sometimes with the economist.



Anyway, Valve’s in-house mad scientist, Mike Ambinder, discussed experiments where players’ overall nervousness and agitation were measured, in part by recording sweatiness. If players began to show signs of nervousness or fear, the game would speed up. This new control scheme—mouse, keyboard, sweat-measuring skin pads—added another way for the player to interact with the game. Shoot zombie, reload pistols, keep calm. Signal for rescue, throw molotov, keep calm.



Ambinder also described other experiments in game design and biofeedback—which Valve has been talking about for a few years—including a version of Portal 2 that was played via eye tracking. Exploring the next generation of possible gaming inputs shows once again that Valve continues to operate, and plan, on a whole different level.



So good for you, Mike Ambinder. Just stay away from the mega-baboon hearts and everything will work out just fine.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Don’t be nervous, but Valve still wants to measure your sweat">rsz_tf2_medic







There may come a day when preparing for the next chapter of a Left 4 Dead game will include wiping down your sweaty palms and taking a deep, deep breath. If you don’t, the zombies will get faster.



In remarks during the 2013 NeuroGaming Conference and Expo (via VentureBeat), Valve’s in-house experimental psychologist—Wait, hold on. Did you know that Valve employs an experimental psychologist? I wonder if he has lunch sometimes with the economist.



Anyway, Valve’s in-house mad scientist, Mike Ambinder, discussed experiments where players’ overall nervousness and agitation were measured, in part by recording sweatiness. If players began to show signs of nervousness or fear, the game would speed up. This new control scheme—mouse, keyboard, sweat-measuring skin pads—added another way for the player to interact with the game. Shoot zombie, reload pistols, keep calm. Signal for rescue, throw molotov, keep calm.



Ambinder also described other experiments in game design and biofeedback—which Valve has been talking about for a few years—including a version of Portal 2 that was played via eye tracking. Exploring the next generation of possible gaming inputs shows once again that Valve continues to operate, and plan, on a whole different level.



So good for you, Mike Ambinder. Just stay away from the mega-baboon hearts and everything will work out just fine.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

They do something

We’re waiting for you, Valve. In the sweat chamber. Show us what your mad wearable computing tech can do, instead of all this teasing. Latest report is that they’ve come up with kit which can measure assorted bodily responses, including heart rate, facial expression, brain waves, eye movement, pupil dilation, body temperature and, indeed, sweatability. Based on how you appear to be feeling, the game will alter factors such as difficulty and intensity to suit. (more…)

PC Gamer
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title="Permanent Link to Steam for Linux gets beta builds of Portal, Left 4 Dead 2">L4D2 Linux







Valve has thrown a bit more of its weight behind Linux with the release of beta builds of Portal and Left 4 Dead 2. If you own either (or both) games you should find that beta versions have materialised in your Steam library - along with Portal 2, according to some. The Linux build of the first-person puzzler has so far gone unheralded by Valve, but here's a blog post describing the latest beta version of Left 4 Dead 2. In addition to letting Linux users play Valve's zombie hit, the download acts as a "testing ground" for its new Extended Mutation System. Thankfully, you can try the beta on Windows and Mac too.



The beta version of Left 4 Dead 2 is the same size as the main game, so you have a hefty download ahead of you. (I assume the same is true of Portal.) Steam for Linux officially launched in February, so it hasn't taken too long to get Portal and L4D2 on there. Half-Life 2 next?



Thanks to BluesNews and Kotaku.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Mod of the Week: Dilapidation, for Portal 2">Dilapidation







I haven't really played many community-made Portal 2 maps. Whenever I get the urge for more Portal, it's usually because I'm in the mood for the biting insults of GLaDoS, the goofy earnestness of Wheatley, or the brusque instructional tones of Cave Johnson, as opposed to simply wanting more puzzles. This week, though, I decided to finally see what the Portal community has been up to, and I managed to find a decent seven-part single-player campaign called Dilapidation, set in a damaged and deeply unstable corner of Aperture Science.



Dilapidation was created by modder LoneWolf2056, whose name suggests that he or she is either a lone wolf from the near future or perhaps the 2,056th lone wolf to join the Steam Community. The campaign takes place after Chell's latest escape from the Aperture labs, and begins with you, an unnamed tester, waking up next to what remains of your stasis cube in the Enrichment Center. Like a series mentioned last year on PC Gamer, Decay, the Enrichment Center of Dilapidation is busted, rusted, broken down and getting worse. It's filled with shattered walls, piles of rubble, overgrown plants, and even some birds that have gotten in through some missing ceiling tiles that provide a few tantalizing glimpses of sky.



The  Weighted Companion Cube, doing its best G-Man impression.



The puzzles of Dilapidation are mostly very large, generally made up a series of smaller interconnected test chambers that form one big puzzle requiring a number of coordinated steps to complete. There are no gel puzzles or turrets, but just about everything else from Portal 2 is used: laser beams and fields, buttons and switches, storage cubes and discouragement redirection cubes, light bridges and excursion funnels, and plenty of emancipation grids. There are also a few puzzles involving faith plates and a couple that require you to power up a circuit.



The elevators don't arrive on time. And don't stop in the right place.



It's not just puzzles that are on display: Dilapidation also has a fantastic sense of atmosphere. There are some great sequences between puzzles where the floors buckle, bridges collapse, and elevators malfunction, sending you tumbling deeper and deeper into the facility. These events aren't just for show, either. At one point a metal catwalk collapses, dropping you into a new test chamber, and the section of the metal walkway that plunges in with you winds up being part of the puzzle's solution. Crafty!



Cube holsters on the floor AND ceiling. I'm not getting out of here for a while.



The beginning of each new chapter picks up right where the last left off, making it feel like a complete game as opposed to just a series of maps with the same theme. The whole thing feels pretty expertly done and well-planned. Rather than just give players a challenge, it's clear the modder wanted to provide an entire experience, and I'd call it a success.



The more you burn, the faster the fan spins. What should I burn next?



With almost no dialogue (you get a bit in the final chapter, as Dilapidation closes with a genuine boss fight) you wouldn't think there would be a lot humor in this campaign. And, of course, there isn't. Still, I wound up laughing a few times due to the Weighted Companion Cube, which appears here and there throughout the maps, tantalizingly close but just out of reach. It actually becomes a running gag as you try to reunite with the box-shaped heart, but are constantly stymied by the crumbling architecture and faulty equipment.



Come on, door. I've got five out of six checks! That's a passing grade! Let me PASS



How hard are the puzzles? The creator describes them as medium/hard, which for me translates to hard/quite damn hard/this is very, very hard. On the other hand, I've never been particularly great at Portal's puzzles anyway, so I expect the average gamer will do a bit better. It took me about three hours, so it'll probably take you around two hours, except for the one guy in the comments who will inevitably claim to have beaten all of the maps in fifteen minutes without even using the portal gun.



Oh, look who's awake.



Installation: Steam Workshop makes it easy as pie cake. Just subscribe to the Dilapidation collection, start Portal 2, select Community Test Chambers, then select Play Singleplayer Chambers. All the maps (0 through 6) will be listed in your queue!
Announcement - Valve
Save 75% on Portal 2 as part of this week's Weekend Deal*!

Portal 2 draws from the award-winning formula of innovative gameplay, story, and music that earned the original Portal over 70 industry accolades and created a cult following.

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time
Mar 21, 2013
Product Update - Valve
Changes:
- Fixed an issue Mac users were having when trying to compile community maps they had created.
...

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