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PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Face Off: What was the best decade for PC gaming?">face-off







Face Off pits two gladiators against each other as they tackle gaming's most perplexing conundrums. This New Year's Eve edition is a chronological throw-down: which decade gave PC gaming the most? Podcast Producer Erik Belsaas says it was the '90s—the origin of modern PC gaming. Executive Editor Evan Lahti insists it was the '00s, with its speedy internet, better PCs, and shinier graphics engines.



Evan: The 1990s had the CD-ROM and the McRib sandwich. The ‘00s had Windows XP and two terrible Star Wars movies. I think the latter birthed better games: the Battlefield series, Crysis, Company of Heroes, BioShock, Dragon Age: Origins, Guild Wars, The Sims, Rome: Total War, Star Wars: KOTOR, and the best Civilization games happened then. What've you got, Erik?



Erik: Lucasarts, id, Ion Storm, Interplay, Blizzard: the iconic names that created franchises that we still discuss today. “RTS,” “FPS,” and “MMO” had no meaning before the pioneers of the '90s came along with some-thing other than sequels and rehashes: Baldur's Gate, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, MechWarrior, Unreal Tournament and every LucasArts adventure game from Sam & Max to Grim Fandango.



Evan: This is going to devolve into who can name-drop more game titles, isn't it?



Erik: Pretty much.



Evan: Cool. In that case, let’s put the best we've got on the page. What are the top three games from your decade? Mine: WoW, Counter-Strike, and Half-Life 2.



Erik: Just three? How about X-COM, Fallout, and The Secret of Monkey Island. Timeless classics that we still play today.



Evan: Is that the best that the decade that gave us the Spice Girls has got, grandpa? The innovations of the '00s will last far longer. Half-Life 2 wasn't just the basis for the way modern action games tell stories, it’s the technological foundation for the most ambitious mods we have today and the preferred canvas for machinima creators. World of Warcraft’s meteoric rise brought PC gaming into popular culture, ruined innumerable marriages, and earned its own South Park episode. Top that.



Erik:Your great games are all parts of established franchises that began in the '90s. For that matter, the original Counter-Strike mod came out in 1999, before Valve turned it into a retail product! Take away the names that began in the '90s, the '00s would've created very little of their own.



Evan: Megabyte for megabyte, I’d rather replay Half-Life 2 than its predecessor. Likewise for Diablo II, Warcraft III, Fallout 3 and other major franchises that began in the '90s but matured in the '00s. I really think that the tech of the '00s (better operating systems, fast internet, faster PCs) produced better gaming experiences. EVE Online couldn't exist in the '90s. Team Fortress 2's dozens of free content updates couldn't have streamed down our wimpy modems—the same goes for 25-man WoW raids or a heavily modded playthrough of Oblivion or Morrowind.



Erik: You've got a short memory. EverQuest allowed 72-man raids. And before Oblivion and Morrowind came Daggerfall, which was amazing and heavily modded. Doom, the father of modding, came out in '93.



Evan: I’ll play your game, Belsaas. Here's my ace: Deus Ex, our most favorite game ever, happened in 2000.



Erik: Deus Ex is a good game...but how about StarCraft? Has any other game absolutely defined its genre or rallied an entire nation behind it like a sport?







Evan: I was worried you’d play the Korea card. What can I counter that with? The 100-million-selling main-stream success of The Sims? The booming popularity of independent gaming? ...Peggle?



Erik: Peggle? Well I’ve got...you know...uh...Carmen Sandiego. Fine. Peggle wins.
Kotaku

You'll Want These Portal Action Figures Next ChristmasThey're from ThreeA, so your loved ones will need the time to save up, but look at them. They'll be worth it.



We've seen these before in their unpainted prototype state, but these painted models are just to die for.



Still no word on a release date or price.



ThreeA x VALVe Portal [ThreeA]


Community Announcements - SZ


Though we think we’ve done a good job rewarding community contributors who make cosmetics and weapons, we could definitely do more for TF’s diligent, underappreciated map makers. With that in mind, we’re trying two new approaches to the problem.

Map Stamp Improvements

After taunting in a community map that you’ve contributed to, you now leave behind a trail of large stamps. The more you contribute, the longer the trail!

We’re now also tracking hours played in each map. In the “Maps” section of the in-game Mann Co. Store, you can see how many hours you’ve played each community map and how many times you’ve contributed to it. Plus, occasionally, on check out, you’ll be gently reminded that it might be nice to add a stamp to your cart for a map that you’ve played frequently but haven’t contributed much to. After you’ve seen this reminder once, you can have it show other map stamp suggestions by checking the “Support Community Map Mapers” box near the “check out” button.

Map-Specific Strange Filters

Sold in the store, these new filters let you set your strange weapons to only track events on specific community maps. For instance, if you only care about kills on “Yukon”, you can change the filter on your shotgun to just capture that. When filtering stats for a weapon, you’ll also get a custom rank modifier. So, in the aforementioned “Yukon” example, you’d now have a “Strange Canadian Shotgun”. The goal is to give players who really like specific community maps a way to both track their stats on those maps and broadcast their interest even when they’re playing on other levels.

Note that in both cases, 100% of the revenue (minus net taxes) goes to the contributor, so let’s get out there and support our map makers!
TF2 Blog




Though we think we’ve done a good job rewarding community contributors who make cosmetics and weapons, we could definitely do more for TF’s diligent, underappreciated map makers. With that in mind, we’re trying two new approaches to the problem.



Map Stamp Improvements



After taunting in a community map that you’ve contributed to, you now leave behind a trail of large stamps. The more you contribute, the longer the trail!



We’re now also tracking hours played in each map. In the “Maps” section of the in-game Mann Co. Store, you can see how many hours you’ve played each community map and how many times you’ve contributed to it. Plus, occasionally, on check out, you’ll be gently reminded that it might be nice to add a stamp to your cart for a map that you’ve played frequently but haven’t contributed much to. After you’ve seen this reminder once, you can have it show other map stamp suggestions by checking the “Support Community Map Mapers” box near the “check out” button.



Map-Specific Strange Filters



Sold in the store, these new filters let you set your strange weapons to only track events on specific community maps. For instance, if you only care about kills on “Yukon”, you can change the filter on your shotgun to just capture that. When filtering stats for a weapon, you’ll also get a custom rank modifier. So, in the aforementioned “Yukon” example, you’d now have a “Strange Canadian Shotgun”. The goal is to give players who really like specific community maps a way to both track their stats on those maps and broadcast their interest even when they’re playing on other levels.



Note that in both cases, 100% of the revenue (minus net taxes) goes to the contributor, so let’s get out there and support our map makers!

Kotaku

This Motion-Tracking Portal Turret Uses Your Webcam To Keep Intruders OutActually r4di0fly3r's motion-tracking turret probably won't keep intruders out. But it will startle them. And it will probably keep cats and dogs out from sheer terror of "OH GOD WHAT IS THAT."



You can download the software for your PC or Mac, or just run it off of the deviantART page since that didn't seem to work for me.



Interactive Portal Turret [deviantART via Reddit]


Product Update - Valve
Release Notes for 12/24/2012

[ MISC ]
* Added the ability to commend and report players from the player details view that can be accessed in the scoreboard.
* Number of competitive wins, and unique commendations are now shown in the main menu along with skill group.
* Competitive scoreboard will show number of competitive wins needed to display your skill group if you have not displayed it yet.
* Fixed movement on ladders ignoring the walk button. Now climbing ladders while holding walk is slow and silent, which fixes previous exploit of being able to climb ladders at fullspeed without making sound.
* Fixed failure to fire after weapon switching away from a reload and back (fake-reloading).
* Whitelisted tv_password convar to set GOTV password.
* Reduced fps in main menu when not connected to a server from 300 fps to 120 fps to help with laptops and desktop video cards doing excessive work. Exposed fps_max_menu convar to control fps in main menu.
* Added one more minute of grace period for players to reconnect to their competitive match before a cooldown for failing to reconnect is assigned. Cooldown for failing to reconnect is now assigned after player has remained disconnected for at least 4 minutes, not counting the round of disconnection and not counting the round in which 4 minutes grace period elapses.
* Fixed Hammer crash on exit.
* Added some holiday cheer.
Kotaku





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allowfullscreen="true">

Murraythis breaks out the Source Filmmaker to bring the internet a very Team Fortress Christmas.



Such great animation, and the Scout was the perfect choice to play the Christmas Eve sneak. He's such a dick.



Night Before Christmas... [YouTube]


PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to PC Gamer’s best features of 2012">features of the year







You needn’t see out the last few days of 2012 wallowing in a figgy pudding-induced sugar-crash: perk yourself up with this collection of the great features we’ve put up on the site this year. We’ve got informative how-to guides, insightful retrospectives, polemics, play-throughs, ‘making of’ stories and much more. Bookmark it now while you're still compos mentis and you’re sure to find something in here to jolt you back to life or, at the very least, help to annul the post-Crimbo indigestion.



Minecraft Renders



PCG UK’s handsome and hirsute editor Graham Smith teaches you how to pull out equally handsome (but not especially hirsute) renders from Minecraft, while marvelling at the astonishing feats of architecture to be found on the PCG UK server.



10 best Portal 2 co-op maps



Phil Savage grabs a buddy and puts the community’s best Portal 2 maps to the test, or possibly vice versa. Convection funnels, laser death and no small amount of inter-player bickering ensues.



Skyrim: Week of Madness



The name does not lie: Rich Cobbett’s Skyrim diary, in which he installs 100 randomly selected mods is an experiment in genuine derangement. Not entirely safe for work, unless your workplace encourages inarticulately rendered BDSM.



Making of Minecraft



I wrote this! And I got in trouble for quoting Notch’s swearwords. Sorry, everyone who bought the magazine for their kids. Still, once you get past the F-word opener, it settles into a heartwarming tale of indie devs done good, a triumph born from equal parts serendipity and smarts.



Old friends: an ode to Defense of the Ancients



Cara Ellison recalls the original DotA. “Some people think that gaming is a solitary hobby. But for me, DotA was a way to connect with my real life friends through an experience that didn’t include a darkened room serving overpriced alcohol we couldn’t afford.”



The indies guide to game-making



Tom Francis hunts down the world’s premier indie devs, unfurls his needle-thin proboscis, plunges it into their brains and slurps out every last drop of advice from them. Then he squirts it all back out here. Drink deep, budding indies, for the advice is good!



Hearthfire: the beginner’s guide to homesteading and mass murder



All Chris Livingstone wanted was a home to call his own. Things don’t go to plan. “The air fills with the screams of the dying and the streets run crimson with the blood of the dead.” Oops!



12 year war: rise of wargaming



World of Tanks is now one of the biggest games on the planet, and its curators at Wargaming.net are, shall we say, rather comfortable. How did they find themselves with such phenomenal wealth? Tom Senior finds out.



Crapshoot 2012



It would be unfair to pick just one of Rich Cobbett’s terrific retrospectives (which we run every Saturday dontchaknow), so here’s his top three picks for this year: Hard Time, Les Miserables and Shadow President.



Flash of greatness



Rich McCormick stares enviously at the bright lights of the pro-gaming scene, and charts the ascendancy of Lee Young Ho, known to the Star Craft scene as Flash. Wipe your chin, McCormick!



Sim-plicity 2012



Chris Livingston has retired from videogame heroism. Instead, every Sunday, he embarks on a career of more modest proportions: driving buses, cutting wood and occasionally igniting entire airports in a deadly maelstrom of flame.



Day z photo diary



Evan Lahti charts an epic journey through Chernarus in this excellent two-parter: “He was a survivor with one life to live. His backpack: filled with beans. His world: filled with zombies. These are his tales, and the tales of his inconsistently-brave friends. And the tales of the woman played by a man who loved him.” Part two is here.





The best Skyrim mods



Whether you’re looking for new looks, new loot, homesteads or fulsome quests, Tom Hatfield’s compilation of the finest mods should see you good.



The Elder Strolls



Chris Livingston once again proves that the most valiant path is often the most humble: “My name is Nordrick. I’m not a hero, I’m an NPC, and I’m here not to play Skyrim, but to live in it.”



Inside the final hours of Star Wars: Galaxies



When Star Wars: Galaxies shut down its servers, it was as if millions of headline writers trotted out the same Obi Wan quote and were suddenly silenced. Our very own Imperial agent Chris Thursten was there to watch the mighty MMO’s light wink out.



An Illusionist in Skyrim



Tom Francis is a coward. Not in real life, of course, where he is bold and manly and frequently wrestles giant salamanders with his bare hands. But when he wants to get away from it all, he settles into Skyrim: “This is the diary of me attempting to play Skyrim using only Illusion magic: I’m not allowed any weapons, armour, or magical items, and I can’t attack anyone directly.”



The E3 2012 press conference PC gamers deserve



Graham Smith imagines an alternative E3 - the one we deserve. “The first parties were more concerned with propping up their platforms with lifestyle buzzwords than making great games. Even the big publishers, EA and Ubisoft, seemed lost in the tall grass, offering almost nothing other than the expected sequels. I can’t help but think we could do it better.”
Product Update - Valve
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:

  • Added "Benign infiltration" to the Mann Vs. Machine mission-cycle file for servers
  • Fixed a Dead Ringer Spy exploit in Mann Vs. Machine mode
  • Fixed a regression with mini-crit damage calculation
  • Fixed a client crash in the Medi Gun charge meter when using a custom HUD
  • Fixed Festive Huntsman arrows and Rescue Ranger bolts using incorrect hit boxes
  • Fixed Tough Stuff Muffs not using the correct model for the Engineer
  • Fixed a clipping problem with the Hunger Force
  • Fixed Strange Festive Sandviches leveling up multiple times in a single use
  • Fixed a lighting issue in mvm_bigrock
  • Updated the backpack icon for the Festive Ambassador
TF2 Blog
An update to Team Fortress 2 has been released. The update will be applied automatically when you restart Team Fortress 2. The major changes include:


  • Added "Benign infiltration" to the Mann Vs. Machine mission-cycle file for servers
  • Fixed a Dead Ringer Spy exploit in Mann Vs. Machine mode
  • Fixed a regression with mini-crit damage calculation
  • Fixed a client crash in the Medi Gun charge meter when using a custom HUD
  • Fixed Festive Huntsman arrows and Rescue Ranger bolts using incorrect hit boxes
  • Fixed Tough Stuff Muffs not using the correct model for the Engineer
  • Fixed a clipping problem with the Hunger Force
  • Fixed Strange Festive Sandviches leveling up multiple times in a single use
  • Fixed a lighting issue in mvm_bigrock
  • Updated the backpack icon for the Festive Ambassador

...

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