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A fan campaign designed to encourage more Half-Life information from developer Valve plans a mass gameplay session this Saturday.


Steam group A Call for Communication (Half-Life), which boasts more than than 29,500 members, has organised a huge Half-Life 2 play session this weekend, designed to raise awareness of its campaign by boosting the game up Steam's most-played list.


The fan collective aims to encourage information from Valve on when the Half-Life series might return, be that in the form of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 or a fully-fledged Half-Life 3.


Group numbers have swelled from 10,000 members since the campaign first hit the headlines two weeks ago.


A Call for Communication's Half-Life 2 play session begins at 7pm UK time this Saturday night.


"Instead of focusing efforts in a negative and disrespectful way, we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message: 'Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication,'" the Steam group's description reads.


"Hopefully such attention will be recognized by Valve, and the community's voice will be heard."

Eurogamer


Classic PC game Counter-Strike (1.6) has been recreated for Android devices using the nifty Unity 3D engine.


There are two versions of Counter-Strike Portable available from the XDA forum now for free. One version - 5o - is for older phones; the other - 6p - for Android 2.3+ devices.


Online multiplayer is supported, and new maps are being added.


A video of Counter-Strike Portable running on Xperia Play can be found below.

Eurogamer


More than 10,000 gamers have joined the Steam Group campaigning for more Half-Life communication from Valve.


In other words, fans want to know when the series will return, be it via Half Life 2: Episode 3 or Half-Life 3.


"The lack of communication between Valve and the Half-Life community has been a frustrating experience," stated the group. "While continued support for current and future products is greatly appreciated, fans of the Half-Life series have waited years for a word on when the franchise will return.


"So, Instead of focusing efforts in a negative and disrespectful way, we have decided to gain Valve's attention by delivering a basic message:

"Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."

A Call for Communication, Steam Group


"Your oldest and longest running fanbase would like better communication."


The Steam Group, named A Call for Communication (Half-Life), added that, "Waiting patiently for over four years is a daunting task, especially when E3 comes and goes without any beat of a Half-Life pulse, time and time again."


"Valve had stated that information was scheduled to be released towards the end of 2008, and we believe that if they have chosen, for whatever reason, to withhold this information, fans should at least be acknowledged in some way, regardless of developmental plans for the next Half-Life project.


"The entire trilogy of episodes was supposed to be completed and released by 2007, and if Valve have decided to do other things for the time being, that is fine; all that we ask for is a basic response on the matter, and to let fans know whether or not the current story arc is scheduled to conclude at another point in time.


"In addition: This message is in no way, shape or form attempting to rush the development of the Half-Life series; in fact, most members agree that Valve should take the time needed to deliver a complete and polished product."


The post concluded with a line asking gamers to join the A Call for Communication Steam Group if they agreed with the sentiment.


"Hopefully such attention will be recognized by Valve," the post closed, "and the community's voice will be heard."


Half-Life 2: Episode 2 was released alongside Portal and Team Fortress 2 in autumn 2007. Since then, Valve has produced Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Alien Swarm and Portal 2.


Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are in development.


Few of those games originated inside Valve, however - most were ideas that belonged to external teams or creators Valve eventually hired.


Some observers suggest that Steam's development has hampered Valve's game development; in building the world's most successful PC game digital distribution service, Valve neglected to create new games of its own.

Eurogamer


Valve has announced the second annual Christmas-themed update for free-to-play shooter Team Fortress 2.


The Australian Christmas update part two includes two retro-futuristic "Dr. Grordbort" class packs for the Engineer and Pyro, designed by Weta Workshop's Greg Broadmore.


It adds CP_Foundry, a new five-cap control point map designed by Valve's Team Fortress 2 team and featuring 12 map-specific achievements.


The update also adds 14 new Christmas-themed weapons, hats and items made by the Team Fortress community's item creators using the Steam Workshop.


For Christmas, Valve has knocked up to 75 per cent off over 50 items in the Mann Co. in-game store. This sale lasts until 2nd January 2012. Valve has also doubled the in-game item drop rate for the first week of the event.

Eurogamer


A Valve employee has been spotted out in the wild sporting a Half Life 3 T-shirt.


As reported by VG247, the unnamed individual was snapped by Chandana Ekanayake of Monday Night Combat studio Uber Entertainment at a Seattle developer event last night.


Ekanayake then posted the image to his Twitter feed, adding that he had asked permission to take the picture.


So, just a spot of cruel trolling on the part of the individual concerned, or is something else afoot?

'Valve employee spotted in Half Life 3 shirt' Screenshot 1
Eurogamer


Valve co-founder and CEO Gabe Newell believes piracy stems not from price, but from convenience. And as Steam boasts fast access to a dizzying selection of games, so piracy has become "basically a non-issue" for Valve.


"In general, we think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy," Newell told The Cambridge Student, via VG247. "Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem.


"For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24x7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country 3 months after the US release, and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate's service is more valuable. Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customers use or by creating uncertainty.


"Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company.


"For example," Newell added, "prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe.

"We were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe."

Gabe Newell, CEO and co-founder, Valve


Steam's digital distribution platform requires you download and log into a Steam application each time you wish to play a game. This simple check performs a service many DRM services are criticised for. Steam also ensures games are up to date, as well as offers multiplayer matchmaking facilities, friend lists, achievements and various other platform-based community features.


Such is Steam's persuasion that many top-tier publishers and developers now opt for Steamworks tools to be implemented deep within their games. This packages Steam's clever bits - multiplayer, cloud saving, authentication, etc. - so that developers can build them into games early on.


Half-Life 2 effectively launched Steam in 2004, but it wasn't until 2005 that the service welcomed its first third-party games. Today, seven years after HL2, Steam dominates the PC (and Mac) digital distribution video game market.

Eurogamer


Team Fortress 2 item makers have made over $2 million selling their digital creations, Valve has announced.


Yesterday marked the first full year of the in-game Mann Co. Store, and during that time user-generated content creators have made millions selling their virtual wares.


The Mann Co. Store is where the community designs, buys, sells and trades items TF2 characters can wear, such as hats.


"The 'Mann Co. Store' represents an important new direction for games and game makers," said Valve boss Gabe Newell.


"By leveraging and extending the platform features of Steam, Team Fortress 2 has enabled a viable marketplace for independent content creators and significantly extended the gameplay experience in an incredibly short amount of time."


Meanwhile, Valve has made live the Steam Workshop, an improved submission hub for community-created content. It's designed to make it easy to upload entries, check their status and get feedback from Valve. The Team Fortress community can view, comment on and rate items there, too.


Valve's added 30 new hats and cosmetic items, an item decal system, a "try before you buy" system, loadout presets, improved game performance and a new taunt as part of the Manniversary Update, which the company describes as "one of the largest and most ambitious in TF2's four-year history".

Video:

Eurogamer


Pre-purchasing Football Manager 2012 from Steam gets you a handful of exclusive in-game Team Fortress 2 extras, Valve has announced.

Put down your £29.99 now ahead of the Sega footie sim's release later this month and you'll receive the following:

  • The Merc's Pride Scarf can be worn by each class.
  • The Ball-Kicking Boots are available for the Scout and spawn a team-colored ball that everyone can play with.
  • Vuvuzela Noise maker.
Eurogamer


For some, a video game doesn't stop when the power is turned off - their gaming experiences are bleeding into their day-to-day lives.


This can lead to video game-like reactions to real-life situations, Nottingham Trent University and Stockholm University have discovered.


It's called Game Transfer Phenomena.


The study - Game Transfer Phenomena in Video Game Playing: A Qualitative Interview Study - interviewed 42 "frequent" gamers aged between 15 and 21 years old. "Many" of the subjects "appeared to integrate elements of video game playing into their real lives".


The full study must be bought for $30. One amusing excerpt reported on The Metro website describe a 15 year-old boy wanting to use a gravity gun from Half-Life 2 to fetch something from the fridge. And why not?


One 19-year-old Price of Persia: Sands of Time enthusiast dropped his sandwich and immediately his finger used to press the rewind-time button twitched. A natural response.


Another 19-year-old thought he could use World of Warcraft's search function to locate his brother in a crowd. What a good idea.


Apparently half of the gamers interviewed said they'd looked for something from a video game to solve a real-life issue. One interviewee apparently saw a menu of topics available for him to think about (Heavy Rain?); another formulated a list of possible responses after being insulted (Mass Effect 2?).


Of course, there is a darker side to all of this. Use of aggressive, criminal and/or violent fantasies as solutions to real-life problems were reported by "a few" of the players.


The Daily Mail focused on one particular 15-year-old who said that "sometimes" he wants to be able to get a gun and "shoot down" people. "Irritating people", mind you.


"A recurring trend suggests that intensive gaming may lead to negative psychological, emotional or behavioural consequences," concluded report author professor Mark Griffiths, "with enormous implications for software developers, parents, policy makers and mental health professionals."


This research is being followed up by a study of 2000 gamers.


The Game Transfer Phenomena report hits headlines a day after Grand Theft Auto was linked to a shooting spree and eventually a murder onboard a Royal Navy submarine.

Video: What a useful tool the Gravity Gun would be.

Eurogamer


Code possibly belonging to Half-Life 2: Episode 3 has been spotted in the leaked beta client for Dota 2.


The lines of code are for something called "ep3". Take a leap and transform that to Episode 3, and the code suggests the project lives on.


Not only that, we're also given an insight into some weaponry - an ice gun, a flamethrower and a "weaponizer".


    /src/game/server/ep3/weapon_icegun.cpp
    /src/game/server/ep3/weaponizer_concrete.cpp
    /src/game/server/ep3/weaponizer_liquid.cpp
    /src/game/server/ep3/weaponizer_metal.cpp
    /src/game/server/ep3/weapon_flamethrower.cpp


Half-Life 2 was released in 2004; Episode 1 in 2006; Episode 2 in 2007.


Four years and many Valve games - Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Portal 2 - have passed since. And now Valve concentrates on Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.


The absence of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 from Valve press releases, coupled with suggestions that the runaway success of Steam may have impeded Valve's game development, have led many to give up hope.


Has the boat sailed for Episode 3? Should Valve instead concentrate on Half-Life 3?


The Dota 2 beta client link comes from Vietnam. Lambda Generation has rounded up the data mined from the leak.

Video: Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

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