Jan 18, 2013
Valve have posted a patch for Left 4 Dead 2 this morning. Along with the regular old incomprehensible patch notes, ("Cleaned up DLC add-on file dependencies and simplified talker file structure." Huh?) they've finally enabled Steam Workshop support, creating an easy system for browsing and installing new weapons, campaigns, items and - er - clothing. I guess the Venn diagram of fashion enthusiasts and mod creators does have some crossover.
As it's only been live for a few hours, L4D2's Workshop listing is still a bit barren. It shouldn't take long for some top content to appear, though - Left 4 Dead 2 already has a healthy modding community, so, with any luck, some of the best will be uploaded in the coming days.
Adding mods to the game was already a relatively simple process, but of course the Workshop streamlines it down further and, perhaps more importantly, will automatically each mod with any patch the creator uploads.
Hopefully we'll soon see some of the great community created campaigns start to appear, like these brilliant Back 2 School maps.
Someday, Valve will eventually run out of wonderful features to pack into its mega-gaming-hub Steam. Let's hope it's a long way off, because we'll all be busy poring over the user-written manuals, walkthroughs, and tips for our various games in the newly launched Steam Guides section of Steam's Community area.
Anyone can create and submit a guide for the game of their choice by clicking the new Guide tab on a game's Community Hub page. You can pretty up your words with images and embedded YouTube videos as well, and the guides also appear upon Steam's overlay whenever you're running a program. Neat. I can finally whip up my "How to avoid tigers" guide I've been planning for Far Cry 3 quickly and easily.
Head over to the Steam Guides page to take a look at the over 1,000 guides already created.
Jan 10, 2013
Contrary to popular belief, the anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality headset doesn't run on pixie dust and elf tears. Like all hardware, it needs software drivers. And while its 20-year-old creator, Palmer Luckey, focuses on manufacturing more developer kits to meet the exceedingly high demand, enthusiastic 3D fans are already planning homebrewed custom drivers. One such project is CyberReality's Vireio Perception which extends Rift 3D support to first-person greats such as Portal 2, Skyrim, Mirror's Edge, and Left 4 Dead.
As CyberReality describes it, Vireio (or Virtual Reality Input Output, but we like how the shorthand name sounds like an enemy boss) can "pre-warp the image to match the Oculus Rift optics, handle custom aspect-ratios (needed for the Rift's strange 8:10 screen), and utilize full 3D head-tracking." As we describe it: Whoa.
The drivers work with nine games so far: Left 4 Dead, Half-Life 2, Portal 2, Skyrim, Mirror's Edge, AaAaAA!!!, Unreal Tournament 3, Dear Esther, and DiRT 2. CyberReality plans to add additional games in the future after spending more time with the kit. If all goes well, the possibilities are enormous: Think of revisiting classics such as Thief or Deus Ex with full head-tracking vision. Oh, yes, this is exciting.
Nov 16, 2012
Valve fired the starting pistol on the Saxxy video awards back in August, inviting fans to create the best videos they can using the Source Filmmaker tool released earlier this year. The entries are in, and the voting has started. You can start dishing out thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs by logging in and working through the queue on the Saxxy Steam page.
The quality is mixed, as you'd expect, but every so often you run into a gem that makes it worthwhile. My favourite so far is the Midnight Power short embedded below, a slow pan out on a fight scene that stretches the number of moving objects and characters the filmmaker can handle to its limit.
Discover more great filmmaker videos in our round-up of ten of the best.
After three years of work the user-created Back to School campaign for Left 4 Dead 2 has reached version 1.0. You can download it now from the ModDB page, where they've also uploaded a trailer that gave me a terrible hunger to play Left 4 Dead again. A terrible, terrible hunger that not even this egg mayonnaise sandwich can help with. If only those eggs were more, I don't know ... brainy. Weird.
Oh well, not to worry. I'm sure everything's fine. Let's just sit back and enjoy this trailuuuuurrrrrrgh:
Free to play "weekends" seem to be getting bigger and bigger, but you don't hear me complaining. As a relaxing aside to the spooky Halloween weather some of us will be experiencing, Valve's calming co-op zombie apocalypse shooter, Left 4 Dead 2, will be entirely free from today through to Monday. The expiry date is moot, however, as we'll all have been eaten by ghosts by then.
To tempt Left 4 Dead veterans back into the fray, Valve have added a new achievement called "Good Guy Nick" which will be awarded to those who help new players to survive a campaign. "Who is a free weekend player? You’re going to have to talk to each other to find out." Talking to people? On the INTERNET? 'Tis Halloween indeed.
Left 4 Dead 2 will go free at some point today according to the latest post on the Left 4 Dead 2 blog.
Oct 13, 2012
Since its launch, Valve's Source Filmmaker has helped budding directors create literally hundreds of movies - some good, some bad, most.... incredibly goofy. The Team Fortress 2 cast especially has sung seemingly every song, played out every meme and worn every hat and every expression - sometimes at once! But what are the ten best creations? We've scoured YouTube in search of the funniest, the most dramatic, and the just plain prettiest Source Filmmaker movies.
Scout vs. Witch
Easily one of the best directed SFM movies out there, mixing Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and a fine sense of timing. Scout (no relation to Scout) is one of the more popular TF2 mercs, with his cockiness the perfect antidote to all that zombie misery. At least, while the moment lasts.
Just One More Hat
And he's back, in this fashion-conscious spin on one of Disney's most parodied songs. More worksafe than Dirty Little Mermaid, more morally conscious than Slaughter Your World, it also wins bonus points for having an original TF2 version of a song instead of just looping in a more general one.
Meet The Family
Mostly made (naughty naughty) with the leaked SFM, this was one of the first epic projects to be finished and still one of the best. Scout and Spy team up as literal brothers in blood to kick off a perfectly choreographed race for that all-important Intelligence. Guest starring music from The Incredibles to add pace and more than a little style. No "da-da-da" sting at the end though.
Adventures Of The F2P Engineer
He's smart enough to whip up teleporters and sentries on the battlefield... but he didn't pay for the privilege, so he's probably doing it with his flies open and his shoes undone. When he's having this much fun though, can you really begrudge him? The answer is yes. Even if you're on the other team, sometimes it just gets... sad. Luckily, there are other engineers on hand, like...
An epic war between two professionals who know what they're doing, but don't know when to quit. A little parable about the importance of good manners, respect, and most importantly, not ****ing with another man's sandvich. A true Lesson For The Ages, with some fine music right alongside.
Meet The Soldier (Directed By Michael Bay)
We're firmly back in parody territory for this one; a relatively straight replay of Meet The Soldier, but with rather more boom and a surprising (though not unwelcome) lack of Alyx, Zoey, Rochelle or Chell forcibly being draped over a motorbike or anything at any point to complete the picture of one of cinema's most successful nostalgia murderers. Love or hate it, it's better than Transformers 2 any day.
The First Wave
It's not just a game mode... it's war! Mann vs. Machine gets dramatic in this epic four minutes of the mercs facing their durable doubles for the first time. Bonus points for a return of the disembodied Blue Spy, and a death scene with the power to spawn a thousand bits of erotic TF2 fan-fiction. Which exist. You'd better believe they exist. You have been warned.
DOTA Hero Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise
Not so much a 'parody' of the Potter Puppet Pals original as a straight copy with DOTA characters in it, this is still one of the more accomplished movies to come from that game. We just need another eighty or so instalments to cover the other characters, and I see no reason new players shouldn't have enough data to compete at professional level/troll like champions.
Heavy Doo, Where Are You?
I never understood "Scooby Doo, Where Are You?" as a show title. Admittedly my memory is a little fuzzy about the actual cartoons, but I definitely remember Fred, Daphne and Velma doing most of the mystery-solving gruntwork, with Scooby's role being to blunder into helpful things. If you called him, you'd prevent him from doing that. The song makes no sense, is what I'm saying. This movie is more reasonable. If you had to fight Old Man Peterson, having a Gatling wielding Russian psychopath on hand definitely beats anything Scrappy Doo could serve up. Admittedly, so would a crouton.
Chell's life after Aperture isn't exactly unexplored territory, but this Exile Vilify backed slice is one of the more interestingly melancholic SFM movies so far. A little clunky in terms of animation, largely due to the poor Chell rig (at least one other movie opted to reskin Zoey instead of using it), but it makes up for it with a different kind of atmosphere to most and that lovely outdoor setting.
Those are our picks, but there are many more SFM movies out there. Have any particularly caught your attention, impressed you, or just made you laugh? Share their names below...
Sep 21, 2012
The Steam Workshop is coming to Left 4 Dead 2. That'll make it even easier for players to sample user created campaigns, but Valve are planning to take things a bit further and release an "expanded scripting tool" that will let modders create "deeper and more varied experiences inside of Left 4 Dead 2." That includes new rule sets that can be integrated into new campaigns, or traded as custom mutations through the workshop.
"To compliment the new access to maps, weapons, and items, we are also creating an expanded scripting tool to allow deeper and more varied experiences inside of Left 4 Dead 2," say the Left 4 Dead team on the Left 4 Dead 2 blog, though no further details are provided. Perhaps this'll take the form of an auto-update with a community spotlighted mutation of the week, but who knows. It might integrate a Spitter into your lounge for all I can guess. I really hope it doesn't do that.
The news heralds a change in this week's official mutation to a fresh one called Follow the Liter, which will only let survivors salvage a single can at any one time. This ought to focus the action a bit on those scattershot Scavenge mode maps.
Update: Oh yes, these bonus features are planned "also for Linux users as well starting in the middle of next month and rolling out from there." Woot!
Aug 20, 2012
The Saxxy Awards are back, giving budding film makers the opportunity to craft a masterpiece and win a Saxxy Award in Team Fortress 2. The winniest winner of the shortlist of category winners will be flown out to Valve for a sit down session with Valve's Source Filmmakers, which is a great prize because I don't know if you've ever tried it but flying is BRILLIANT. The Valve filmmaker folk are probably quite nice as well. Once there you'll have the chance to get your work "aired on GTTV's VGA preshow this December."
There are four categories, the most challenging of which is likely to be "Original Universe" which requires that all featured assets be custom made. There are other gongs available for best action, drama and comedy. All entries must be submitted between Nobember 1 and November 15. No sooner, no later.
That's one of a number of rules Valve have come up with to stop this thing getting out of hand and turning into a "who can make the best version of Homeward Bound using nothing but bits of the Pyro" competition, which nobody wants. NOBODY. Here are those rules.
Entries must be no longer than five minutes.
Each entry must be at least 720p.
All entries must be submitted using the Source Filmmaker's upload to YouTube™ and Steam Community menu option.
Only entries submitted between Nov. 1, 12:00 AM and Nov. 15, 12:00 AM GMT will be considered.
Voting begins Nov. 16.
Winners, selected by Valve from the community-chosen nominees, will be announced by Dec. 31, 2012
All co-creators must be finalized by submission deadline to be considered.
You are free to use any Valve IP.
If you use any non-Valve IP, you must be the copyright owner or have explicit permission from the owner.
Multiple submissions per person are fine.
Submissions must be free of advertisements.
Find out more on the Team Fortress 2 site. Note that you're free to use any of Valve's IPs. It'll be interesting to see if we get many Dota 2 entries.
It looks as though Valve are working on a proper follow up to the Source Engine they've been gradually improving over the course of the last decade. Valve Time have pulled numerous references to a "next-gen 'Source 2'" engine along with various "Source 2 tools" icons from the guts of the Source Film Maker.
Valve have previously played down the need for an entirely new version of Source, and have concentrated instead on updating the original version to keep up with modern engine tech. That's worked quite nicely so far, but if these references are correct, a more significant step up is on the way. Here are a few of the pulled strings referring to Source 2.
def setEngine( self, version=ENGINE.SOURCE ):
Set the engine version for the project, i.e. 'Source 2'
'''Return an str with the current engine version.
If key doesn't doesn't exist, assume 'Source', otherwise invalid -- assume next-gen 'Source 2'.'''
Exciting stuff. But it wouldn't be a post about Valve and the future without somebody saying something about Half-Life 2: Episode Three. Is the reason that it's taken so long that it's being built in a more advanced engine that will explode our minds when it's finally released? I have no idea. Here are the icons that Valve Time discovered. Look at that high fidelity hammer. Oooo.