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Whenever I visit an internet cafe in China, be it Shanghai, Beijing or wherever, it always surprises me how many of the games available are MMO's or bad rip-offs of western games. Normally I would scroll past the Chinese fare and move onto something a little more domestic like Call of Duty or Ages of Empires, but Final Combat caught and its colorful banner caught my eye and my attention.
At first glance, Final Combat looks exactly like a cheap Team Fortress 2 rip with two female classes. The characters look like uninspiring copies of Valve's own creations, and the game play looks like every other FPS to date.
Like many Chinese online games, FC is a free-to-play client based game. Most internet cafes have the game preinstalled on their servers, to date I've only ever been to three that didn't have the game.
The only problem I had was registering for an account. Unfortunately, for an American expatriate like myself, I couldn't register for the game because I didn't have a legal Chinese name or ID number. To get around this barrier, I swiped my colleague's ID and signed up an account under his identity.
With my assumed identity ready, I was ready to play some FC. Logging on and going through the menus were as easy as pie, anyone who's played online games before should be able to navigate it sans Chinese reading abilities and all. Finding a match took less than a minute.
The gameplay is broken down into the generic FPS game types such as team death match, free-for-all, and capture the flag. There are also some added game types which seem to be directly taken from TF2, such the boss battles.
For a free-to-play online game, I can say that FC plays very smoothly. It's graphically pleasing, and the gameplay is somewhat rewarding. Depending on the game type, when you shoot another player, you earn money points that can be used to upgrade and purchase new starting weapons and classes.
FC has a total of 16 playable classes, however since I just started out I was only allowed to choose from four basic classes. The classes I was allowed to go with were the Office Lady sniper, "Heavy gunning Mexican Fisherman", French Commando, and Fire Fighter. Like in TF2, each class has a set of special weapons and different perks. Throughout my time with the game, I played as the most time as the OL sniper and the French Commando.
I had a blast playing as the Commando running around with what looks like a FAMAS. The Office Lady sniper on the other hand didn't play as I expected—plus I'm not really much of a camper.
One aspect of the game that I did not get a chance to explore was the in game micro-transactions. Unfortunately I don't have a Chinese credit card, but from what the internet cafe employee tells me, there are loads of perks that you can purchase in game. Some of the perks listed on the FC homepage are items such as extra ammo and health packs, which to me are deal breakers. I am personally very against the pay to win model and FC like so many other Chinese made online game is "pay to win".
Apart from looking and playing pretty much exactly like a TF 2 rip, I am amazed at how smooth and clear FC is. The controls are the same easy-to-use ones found in pretty much every popular FPS. Despite the fact that the game has "play to win" elements, all in all, the draw for me was pretty much the fact that it was something slightly different from the regular games found in Chinese net cafes.
Final Combat [Official Site]
Mar 12, 2012
A pair of Team Fortress 2 modders have taken the game's bones, a bunch of angry Scottish men and the classic Hudson game Bomberman and turned it into something wonderful.
Their TF2 mod, called TF2 Bomberman, keeps the original game's core principles of bombs and a maze while putting you in control of Team Fortress 2's Demoman.
You can grab it below.
Feb 16, 2012
Valve's $100 Valentine's Day gag was actually taken up by a lot of people, who figured the money was well spent since it gave them a chance to broadcast a message to the entire Team Fortress 2 community.
What resulted, then, were not actual engagements, but people making Half-Life 3 jokes for the whole world to see. Which may be what Valve expected all along, and is why the entry barrier to such power was set so high.
TF2′s $100 wedding rings are one dirty joke [PC Gamer]
So you know how there were images of Team Fortress 2 action figures from last weekend's Toy Fair in New York? There weren't any pics of the Demoman. Even though he was there.
Because he'd been stolen. And not even the whole figure. Just a very important part of it.
Toy company NECA, who is producing the figures, reports that "a few hours" after opening their booth for business on the Sunday, they noticed that the Demoman's head was missing.
Adding that "a police report was filed, right at the booth", NECA has made up for it with a proper press shot of the figure, showing him in all his Scottish glory.
Team Fortress 2 developers Valve have put together "the most accurate simulation of an actual Valentine's Day gift ever made available to the public", and today made it available as an in-game item to owners of the multiplayer shooter.
That simulation comes in the form of a $100 diamond engagement ring, which Valve admits is "basically useless". It can only be gifted, and once sent to a player, if it's accepted, the entire TF2 community will get a message broadcasting the engagement. Both players will then be wearing the ring on their in-game models.
So it's only basically useless, not entirely useless! It can, if someone actually pays up, be heart-warming. And also a useful experiment to test just when, and how, people will stop buying superfluous shit for this game.
Happy Valentine's Day! [Valve]
Feb 9, 2012
There's a new item in Team Fortress 2 that the Scout can employ which plays music. Sounds pretty trivial, but man, you've got to read Valve's description of the item.
My radio's bad from the Boulevard.
I'm a hip-hop gangster and my name is Todd.
Terrorising my neighbours with the heavy bass.
I keep the suckas in fear by the look on my face.
-LL Cool J, 1985
Most people only know LL Cool J as a rapper, actor, fashion designer, record producer, and author. Now, though, you can add "spooky-ass Nostradamus" to that list, because we've just released a misc slot item for the Scout called "The Boston Boom Bringer" that pretty much exactly matches the lyrics LL penned almost thirty years ago. Is it a radio? Yes! Is it "bad"? Yes! When you taunt while it's equipped, will it play music to terrorize your neighbors and scare suckas? Yes! Are you a hip-hop gangster named Todd? That's gonna vary from person to person, obviously, but it's not totally out of the question! The point is, there's probably an LL Cool J song that predicts your death. The secondary point is everything we just said about the sweet new boom box item.
We went through LL Cool J's back catalog looking for other prescient rap songs that described musical items available for the other eight classes, but apparently one of the Ls stands for "lazy", because it doesn't look like he wrote any. So just in case anyone out there wants to succeed where LL Cool J failed, we've added a special "Sound Device" category to both the in-game item submission UI and in the Workshop so that you can tag your sound-themed submissions. Make something good enough and it may join the ranks of Aladdin's Private Reserve, The Conquistador, and the Lucky Shot, all great community-made items we've shipped this year that were mentioned by name on rap oracle LL Cool J's 1987 album "Bigger and Deffer".
Is it wrong I enjoyed that description more than I'll probably enjoy the item itself?
I Can't Taunt Without My Radio [Valve]
Jan 12, 2012
Brazilian artist Will Murai has worked extensively in the video games, comics and advertising industries. But that's not why we're here today. We're talking about Will because of his amazing fan art.
Using a style that's halfway between 'classic pin-up" and "newspaper caricature", Murai has paid the ultimate, illustrative homage to some of his favourite characters and series.
We've actually shown one of these before, as his Assassin's Creed piece was selected for Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: The Encyclopedia, but above you'll find images drawn in tribute to Darkstalkers, Team Fortress 2, Neon Genesis, Akira and more.
You can see more of Will's work at his personal site.
Will Murai [Official Site]
Should you ever feel the need to propose to that special someone in the middle of a game of Team Fortress 2, you can now do just that, after developers Valve added an official wedding ring to the game.
It's called the Something Special For Someone Special, and is available as a crafted item. It was added as part of a December 19 update to the game.
If you want to use it to actually propose, great! If not, I'm sure machinima creators will put it to good use.
Done with that Zynga story? Thought that was all the economics you were getting today? Nope. While he's not recommending investor action, writer Paul Manwaring did some number crunching and conservatively valued Team Fortress 2's unique items economy at, oh, about $50 million.
Now, that's not $50 million in real money that Valve has either made, or has been invested by gamers into a system and is floating around loose somewhere. Hats and unique items are found by unlocking crates, crates are unlocked with keys, and keys can be acquired for free, basically at the equivalence of 18 dropped weapons to one key. (They may also be bought for actual money, too.) This is a valuation, nothing more.
Manwaring examined the statistics kept (and made public) for TF2 and, long story short, finds that a community of 30,000 concurrent players each day in TF2 on Steam is injecting $1.54 million worth of "refined metal" into this virtual economy each week. Refined metal is what creates a key. Since the hat economy began in May 2009, Manwaring estimates that "we can be confident in a minimum figure of $52.7 million," as its valuation, "without even taking into account weapons bought in the store, promotional items and more. The true figure is probably double this."
I highly recommend you read Manwaring's entire post. Again, it's not money in Valve's bank account. But it is another way to characterize the enthusiasm and time investment Team Fortress 2's dedicated players sink into the game.
The $50 Million Virtual Millinery [Paul Manwaring, for The Online Society]