PC Gamer

Last week, Valve reactivated TF2's five previous Halloween parties, and now the main event—the sixth—has gone live. Scream Fortress 6 adds a spooky carnival map, an evil hypnowizard controlling it, plenty of Halloween gear and achievements, oh and bumper cars, because why not. You have until the 12th of November to make the most of it, at which point TF2 will return to its regular, sadly bumperless self.

The new Carnival map is based on Doomsday, and contains a cornucopia of activities seen over by the wizard Merasmus. If you're wondering why you're fighting those dastardly blue/red guys there, you'll want to read the event's prequel comic. To cut a long story short: Merasmus forgot to build his carnival on top of an ancient burial ground, so he's hoping to create one with our corpses. A strongman, spells, curses, copious amounts of urine, and bumper cars feature heavily in his plan.

Valve have made big changes to the way gifts work in this latest Halloween event: you'll now receive a bag of items just for logging in, with the chance to earn a second during the event. You can read the reasoning behind this decision here, but it's basically an attempt to inject some fun back into proceedings.

For more information, check out this poster for the event, or, y'know, log in to Team Fortress 2.

PC Gamer

More Valve; more Halloween. Team Fortress 2 feels more suited to the festivities than Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and already has a back catalogue of five previous scream-filled events.

In preparation for the sixth, the TF2 team are now reprising these events. "If we threw you into the 900-mile-an-hour hellride we've got planned this year without warming you up first, you'd essentially be going from an idle state of terrorlessness to a shrieking nightmare of solid 100% terror almost instantly," write Valve, who write this sort of thing. "It would be the equivalent of going from seeing zero skeletons to seeing a thousand skeletons at once."

As a result, you can now Quickplay any of the five previous events—providing easy access to terrifying scares comedy bosses. Expect details of TF2's sixth Halloween event to surface later this month.

PC Gamer

Everyone still wants Half-Life 3. People feel its continued absence like a pain in the gut. Some people carry this weight around with them every day, and may well do so for the rest of their lives. Some people, when you say something nice has happened, silently whisper to themselves "Half-Life 3 confirmed?" 

This doesn't mean we ought to 'engulf' the lives of Valve employees, as a press release for a new crowdfunding campaign calls upon us to do. A ploy concocted by two interns at New Mexico ad firm McKee Wallwork & Co., the campaign is seeking $150,000 to organise a series of events and advertising sprees intended to persuade Valve to develop the anticipated installment. 

It's a unique idea - and it's probably not as dodgy as it sounds - but some of the wording is very problematic indeed, especially in light of recent harassment campaigns in the games industry. According to the press release received by VentureBeat, Half-Life fans have "never truly shown a united front", though "a little concentrated effort might finally get us what we want. The press release headline reads Indiegogo campaign to engulf Valve employee s lives.

VentureBeat reached out to the campaign creators Chris Salem and Kyle Mazzei, and this is what they had to say regarding the potential for harrassment. Obviously, lines like [engulf people's lives] is a little sensationalized to get people s attention, Salem said. But we think we re doing everything in a good-hearted way. We aren t going to have people camped out in front of Valve headquarters for weeks at a time. It s just going to be a one-day thing.

The IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign involves the purchase of Google Ad Words, mobile billboards, a Valve doorstop campaign populated by Gabe Newell look-alikes and a concert. It's currently raised $36.

PC Gamer

The Valve community hive-mind has spoken—well, pulsated—and the best Source Filmmaker films have been chosen. Unless they were wrong, which would fundamentally undermine Valve's entire business strategy for the last few years. Probably.

Here, then, are the official winners of the Saxxy Awards 2014:

Best Short

Best Comedy

Best Action

Best Drama

Overall Winner

A strong selection, I'd say. Rivalry Rush is a particular highlight of mine, with the winner, Animation vs. Animator, also providing a healthy amount of laughs. Still, it's a surprise to see that the winners are all TF2-based. Valve opened up a few different games for this year's competition, and there were some great entries for a few of their other games. I wonder if the community is just too heavily entrenched in the game, or if film makers are just more comfortable playing with TF2's cartoon-oriented antics.

If you've got a favourite that didn't make it into the winners list, post it in the comments for others to enjoy. You can see the full list of nominations here.

PC Gamer

There have been a lot of visions of the post-apocalypse, but if you've been waiting for one in which a sleepy-voiced robot guides you through a series train-based environmental puzzles in the year 2525, then you're in luck. Also, you're a little strange. Also, this mod is a little strange, even in name. It's called Steam, Tracks, Trouble & Riddles and it's for Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

First, some back-story, which is presented nicely through a series of hand-drawn images. It seems the Cuban Missile Crisis didn't end so agreeably in this reality. The nukes were launched, humans were essentially wiped out, and... well, frankly, how that leads to solving train puzzles in Berlin in the distant future, I'm not entirely sure. The important thing is, there's a bunch of train puzzles and a friendly robot to help you solve them.

At least he's on our side. I'm so used to fighting robots in the future.

It's notable that Ross Scott voices the robot, which is cool, though his voice has been slowed down to the point where it feels like it could be anyone reading the lines, which is sort of an odd choice. I'm fairly sure Scott didn't write the script, either, as the robot isn't particularly funny. The robot is, however, well designed and animated, and I enjoy the fact that he has another, smaller robot living in his head who pops out now and then. Also, for a robot who trundles around on a single wheel, I find him much more enjoyable than, say, Claptrap, especially in terms of volume.

Even the Space Marine from Doom never had to deal with a key this big.

The first thing you do in the mod is sort of the worst thing: you manipulate the slowest-moving crane ever built into picking up the parts of a railway handcar and drop them into a pile. It's not hard, and there's only three pieces, it just takes a while. If you can power through it, things get more enjoyable.

I'm no engineer, but a skull and crossbones on a blueprint probably ain't good.

Once built, you drive your handcar along the tracks, stopping at occasional obstacles. Maybe there's a bridge that's not aligned properly, or a wall that needs to be destroyed, or some other sort of obstruction or obstacle on the track, meaning you'll need to stop, get out, look around, and figure out what the heck you're supposed to do. Often, there's a bit of guesswork involved before you can even start working on the puzzles. A series of valves and pipes means you'll need to open some and close others, obviously, but it can take a while to figure out exactly why the ones that need to be closed need to be closed. Y'know?

Oh man, it's gonna take ages to walk to the end of this quote.

Of course there's a generator puzzle, and some batteries have to be fetched to power certain devices, and this being built in Half-Life 2, you'll naturally need to find a cable with a giant plug to plug into a giant plug-hole at some point. There are also some explosive barrels to be disarmed, as well as some electrified tracks and poison muck to avoid falling into. Finally, you'll face a massive gauntlet of moving trains while traversing narrow passages near the end, which is sort of like playing Frogger from a first-person perspective. You can't sprint in this mod (for some reason) but hopping will speed you up. I recommend hopping. I recommend hopping everywhere, in fact.

Wish my computer had a big light-up GO! sign. It'd motivate me like crazy.

Help from your robot pal is somewhat intermittent. Sometimes he'll tell you exactly what to do, but other times he'll only provide encouragement. "Good job!" he said at one point, when I had been opening and closing valves more or less at random for several long minutes. It wasn't terribly specific, but at least he'd let me know I'd done something right, which helped me figure out the rest of the puzzle.

I like a little honesty in my buttons.

This isn't a terribly long mod, maybe two hours, unless you get stuck. (If you do, there's a lovely and fully comprehensive walk-through PDF created by the modder in the download section below). It's a bit uneven: some portions are really beautifully done, especially the robot and some of the custom machinery you'll need to manipulate, while some portions of the levels can feel a bit plain and uninspired. It's also not something to speed through: a lot of time needs to be spent just wandering around the various puzzles, experimenting and trying to determine what needs to be done. If you're looking for a thoughtful, mostly gentle, moderately paced puzzle mod, though, this is a nice one.

Installation: It's easy! Just download it here, open the .rar file, and drop the contents into your /sourcemods folder in your Steam directory. Then restart Steam and you'll see S.T.T.&R. in your Steam library, ready to launch.

PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Mod of the Week: Steam, Tracks, Trouble and Riddles for Half-Life 2: Episode 2">STTR



There have been a lot of visions of the post-apocalypse, but if you've been waiting for one in which a sleepy-voiced robot guides you through a series train-based environmental puzzles in the year 2525, then you're in luck. Also, you're a little strange. Also, this mod is a little strange, even in name. It's called Steam, Tracks, Trouble & Riddles and it's for Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

First, some back-story, which is presented nicely through a series of hand-drawn images. It seems the Cuban Missile Crisis didn't end so agreeably in this reality. The nukes were launched, humans were essentially wiped out, and... well, frankly, how that leads to solving train puzzles in Berlin in the distant future, I'm not entirely sure. The important thing is, there's a bunch of train puzzles and a friendly robot to help you solve them.

At least he's on our side. I'm so used to fighting robots in the future.

It's notable that Ross Scott voices the robot, which is cool, though his voice has been slowed down to the point where it feels like it could be anyone reading the lines, which is sort of an odd choice. I'm fairly sure Scott didn't write the script, either, as the robot isn't particularly funny. The robot is, however, well designed and animated, and I enjoy the fact that he has another, smaller robot living in his head who pops out now and then. Also, for a robot who trundles around on a single wheel, I find him much more enjoyable than, say, Claptrap, especially in terms of volume.

Even the Space Marine from Doom never had to deal with a key this big.

The first thing you do in the mod is sort of the worst thing: you manipulate the slowest-moving crane ever built into picking up the parts of a railway handcar and drop them into a pile. It's not hard, and there's only three pieces, it just takes a while. If you can power through it, things get more enjoyable.

I'm no engineer, but a skull and crossbones on a blueprint probably ain't good.

Once built, you drive your handcar along the tracks, stopping at occasional obstacles. Maybe there's a bridge that's not aligned properly, or a wall that needs to be destroyed, or some other sort of obstruction or obstacle on the track, meaning you'll need to stop, get out, look around, and figure out what the heck you're supposed to do. Often, there's a bit of guesswork involved before you can even start working on the puzzles. A series of valves and pipes means you'll need to open some and close others, obviously, but it can take a while to figure out exactly why the ones that need to be closed need to be closed. Y'know?

Oh man, it's gonna take ages to walk to the end of this quote.

Of course there's a generator puzzle, and some batteries have to be fetched to power certain devices, and this being built in Half-Life 2, you'll naturally need to find a cable with a giant plug to plug into a giant plug-hole at some point. There are also some explosive barrels to be disarmed, as well as some electrified tracks and poison muck to avoid falling into. Finally, you'll face a massive gauntlet of moving trains while traversing narrow passages near the end, which is sort of like playing Frogger from a first-person perspective. You can't sprint in this mod (for some reason) but hopping will speed you up. I recommend hopping. I recommend hopping everywhere, in fact.

Wish my computer had a big light-up GO! sign. It'd motivate me like crazy.

Help from your robot pal is somewhat intermittent. Sometimes he'll tell you exactly what to do, but other times he'll only provide encouragement. "Good job!" he said at one point, when I had been opening and closing valves more or less at random for several long minutes. It wasn't terribly specific, but at least he'd let me know I'd done something right, which helped me figure out the rest of the puzzle.

I like a little honesty in my buttons.

This isn't a terribly long mod, maybe two hours, unless you get stuck. (If you do, there's a lovely and fully comprehensive walk-through PDF created by the modder in the download section below). It's a bit uneven: some portions are really beautifully done, especially the robot and some of the custom machinery you'll need to manipulate, while some portions of the levels can feel a bit plain and uninspired. It's also not something to speed through: a lot of time needs to be spent just wandering around the various puzzles, experimenting and trying to determine what needs to be done. If you're looking for a thoughtful, mostly gentle, moderately paced puzzle mod, though, this is a nice one.

Installation: It's easy! Just download it here, open the .rar file, and drop the contents into your /sourcemods folder in your Steam directory. Then restart Steam and you'll see S.T.T.&R. in your Steam library, ready to launch.

 
PC Gamer







Hey, you! Do you like frittering your life away on the internet, in a near-fugue state of YouTube videos and silent judgement? If so, you're needed for the 4th annual Saxxy Awards. Voting for Valve's Source Filmmaker awards has begun, meaning there's a big ol' pile of action-packed, funny, dramatic or, er, "short" videos to be seen.

The voting is taking place through

Steam's Saxxy page. It's a modified Steam Workshop page; modified so that you can't generate a list of the most popular videos. Instead, you'll be shown a random queue of hopefuls and asked to up or down-vote accordingly.

This year, the rules have expanded—the Saxxy's no longer being a specifically TF2-based award. Before the submission process began, Valve released a series of content packs for the tool, allowing users a greater range of both Valve and third-party assets. It will hopefully lead to some unusual cross-game situations...

Voting will end on 11:59pm PDT on Monday, 29 September. You can see last year's

Saxxy winners here

.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to 4th Annual Saxxy Award voting begins">Saxxy



Hey, you! Do you like frittering your life away on the internet, in a near-fugue state of YouTube videos and silent judgement? If so, you're needed for the 4th annual Saxxy Awards. Voting for Valve's Source Filmmaker awards has begun, meaning there's a big ol' pile of action-packed, funny, dramatic or, er, "short" videos to be seen.

The voting is taking place through Steam's Saxxy page. It's a modified Steam Workshop page; modified so that you can't generate a list of the most popular videos. Instead, you'll be shown a random queue of hopefuls, and be asked to up or down-vote accordingly.

This year, the rules have expanded the Saxxy's no longer being a specifically TF2-based award. Before the submission process began, Valve released a series of content packs for the tool, allowing users a greater range of both Valve and third-party assets. It will hopefully lead to some unusual cross-game situations...



Voting will end on 11:59pm PDT on Monday, 29 September. You can see last year's Saxxy winners here.
PC Gamer
rel="bookmark"
title="Permanent Link to Team Fortress 2 poster mistaken for US propaganda on Russian state television">soldier

Image source: http://tjournal.ru/paper/1tv-team-fortress

As part of an effort to show how the United States uses propaganda to influence the mindset of its citizens, a historical documentary recently aired by Russia's Channel One offered up what it said was a First World War poster portraying German soldiers as monsters who literally eat babies. One problem: It wasn't a soldier, it was the Soldier, and the poster is actually Team Fortress 2 fan art.

The show, which presumably came about as a result of rising tensions between the US and Russia, offered the poster as evidence of US efforts to demonize its enemies, "regardless of any logic or common sense," according to the International Business Times. "The American public had to firmly acknowledge that Germans were evil," the narrator says.

And the guy on the poster certain looks evil. "Soldiers eat babies. That's a fact," it states, before exhorting readers to join Team Demoman, a giveaway that clearly eluded the show's non-English-speaking creators. TJournal.ru picked up on it, however, and noted that it was actually created by DeviantArt user TankTaur for a Team Fortress 2 propaganda contest.



We weren't certain at first that this was real, but the image posted by TJournal carries the Channel One watermark, and even better, we also managed to track down the program on YouTube. It's in Russian, but you don't need to speak it to get it.
...

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