Oh happy day. As someone who resents leaving the safety of his Ubuntu desktop every time I want to play a game or do some benchmarking, today's headline from Phoronix.com is frankly the news I've been waiting for for years.
Valve has been recruiting for at least one Linux specialist to help port Windows games with this job ad since January. But it looks like they're getting very serious, and keen to push on with the project. Phoronix' Michael Larabel has received an email from Gabe himself asking for help head hunting.
The email to Larabel, which has been confirmed as genuine, reads:
We are running into a bunch of performance issues in Linux drivers (e.g. 50 millisecond draw calls because thedriver is compiling a shader).
We'd like to hire someone to work on these performance issues. If you know of anyone we should be talking to, I'd appreciate getting connected with them.
Gabe Newell Valve, Bellevue
This isn't overly surprising, but it is reassuring. With the rapid rise of Android as a gaming platform, and recent changes to the Linux kernel which integrate Android code, there's every reason for developers to start treating open source more seriously. The Humble Indie Bundle has proven that there's a market for Linux gaming too, as grateful Tuxheads spending more than Mac users.
It could well be that they're looking for someone purely for internal testing and research with no firm plans to bring Steam or games to Linux yet. But neither the ad or the email seem particularly speculative.
I'd never be as foolish as to predict the rise of the Linux desktop, but the operating system is pervasive in other ways that might become a more common desktop alternative.
We've seen some impressive fan-made Portal guns in the past, but they've been rare, costly one-off projects. Valve are giving us the chance to get hold of our own Aperture Science Handheld Portal Devices without having to burn ourselves horribly putting together an injection mould. Joystiq mention that, at Valve's request, toy manufacturers, NECA have put together a life-sized Portal gun. It'll hit the shops this summer with a $130 price tag attached.
There will be lights and those lights will change colour, but will it make the "pwung" noise? There's only one way to find out, and that's to buy at least five. Perhaps ten. Maybe more. More. MORE.
NECA will also be releasing a line of Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life action figures, a few of which were shown off at the NYC Toy Fair. The Team Fortress 2 wiki has a snap of the new figures, you'll find that below along with a few shots of that Portal gun. Baggsy the Heavy.
This Saturday the 28,000 members of this Steam group are planning to play Half-Life 2 together. It's single player, of course, but there's nothing stopping fans from getting together to stroke their chins and nod slowly in mass mutual appreciation for one of the best shooters ever made.
The group hopes that the massive play session will shoot Half-Life 2 up the Steam most-played list and let Valve know how many people are still waiting for Half-Life 2: Episode 3. Valve certainly know this already, and probably receive dozens of emails every day asking "WHERE AM HL3?" but the group hopes to deliver the message in a more appreciative way.
"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," they say on the Steam group page.
Even if you're not interested in sending Valve a message, any excuse is a good excuse to dip into Half Life 2 again, so why not join in? You can join the Call for Communication to add your weight to their message, or you can boot up and play a little for old times' sake and spend some time with Eli, Alyx and the crew. It's set to kick off at 7PM GMT / 11AM PST this Saturday. Thanks to Brett and Smash for the heads up.
Even though Lego Lord of the Rings has been announced, we reckon they’re fast running out of franchises to render in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. Lego James Bond is the one we always mention when we see the Traveller’s Tales guys, but so far we’ve had no luck convincing them that squashing a plastic version of Sean Bean with a giant satellite array would be a very good thing.
Flickr user Catsy has completely inspired us to believe that a Lego version of Half-Life would be the way for Lego to go. As Kotaku reported, he/she has created a Lego version of Gordon Freeman using stock Lego bits and bobs, equipped with a customised Overwatch Standard Issue Pulse Rifle made from a Lego tommy gun.
As Catsy notes, Freeman needs a little more smoothing and painting. But between his/her and Orrange Stahl’s attempts at Lego Half-Life, we think there’s more than enough to convince the Danish toy giants to create Lego versions of Freeman, Alyx Vance, The G-Man et al. Who knows, maybe they could even make a game of it.
It's just a man in a T-shirt of course, but there's a Half-Life 3 logo on the front of it and a Valve employee inside it.
Art director and executive producer at UberEnt (the team behind Super Monday Night Combat) posted the photo above on Twitter with the message "All I'm saying is I saw this at a local game developer event worn by a Valve employee," sensibly attaching a #ValveTrolling hashtag. He couldn't get any more info out of Valve's man but he confirms that "I did try to smother my face in his chest on the HL3 logo." This did not help.
A long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Valve announced that they'd release three follow up episodes for Half-Life 2, allowing them to put out shorter stories at a faster clip. The episodes so far have taken longer and longer to develop, and Episode 2 ended up being longer than most modern shooter campaigns. Years on from Episode 2's release, it would make sense for the next game to ditch the episode format and become Half Life 3. Recently, the Cambridge Student asked Gabe Newell whether he considers releasing Half-Life 2 sequels in an episodic form a mistake. "Not yet," he said.
Valve have repeatedly said that they're still committed to the Half Life series. We'll surely see another one one day. WE JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW IT ENDS.
Half-Life: Origins comes from the same team behind the excellent Beyond Black Mesa short film released earlier this year. It's a short but evocative take on those famous first moments of the original Half-Life, the peaceful train journey before all that nastiness with the interdimensional portal, and the aliens, and the crowbar. It captures the workmanlike atmosphere of Black Mesa quite nicely, though the chap playing Gordon keeps reminding me how perfect Hugh Laurie would be for the role. Infectious Designer should ask him to do their next film, I'm sure he's not busy.
As reported on Gamasutra, a bunch of Valve's writers have been taking part in a roundtable question and answer session at GDC Online.
Read on for some insight from some of the most talented writers in the industry.
Valve might be famous for its use of silent protagonists but according to Mark Laidlaw, one of the writers at Valve, it can be a restrictive on a studio's creativity: "Now that some of Valve's most popular protagonists are silent, there’s no turning back. “At this point we’re fully committed to it and taking it as far as it possibly could go.”
Eric Wolpaw, another writer at Valve, also provided some insight. Referring to Valve's hugely successful free to play game, TF2, he said: “that whole game is us desperately trying to keep our jobs."
“Comedy stuff is tougher because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction," he said. Wolpaw added that sometimes it’s a bit depressing, when people playtest a part in a game that’s supposed to be funny, and there's little reaction. “Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny... It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.”
Laidlaw was equally humble when referring to his own work: “We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much...we always want to feel like we’re on the edge and challenging ourselves and growing all the time.”
What's your favourite example of writing in games? Let us know in the comments.
So now we know that Gordon Freeman will return in Renegade Ops. We can't say exactly why, but we can show you what he'll look like. See three new screenshots of Gordon's buggy in action below, along with some new artwork in which Gordon has a bit of a glare, perhaps a bit irate at how long it's taking for Episode 3 to come out.
Gordon Freeman will be a playable character in the PC version of Renegade Ops. The top down blaster will let us play as the Half Life hero and drive around in the Half Life 2 buggy, firing off rockets, taking out tanks with mounted machine guns and unleashing swarms of Antlions to quickly wipe out dozens of enemies at a time.
Renegade Ops is the latest from Just Cause and Just Cause 2 developers, Avalanche studios. A far cry from the sprawling, open world action of their previous titles, Renegade Ops will be a more traditional co-op shooter, with a very, very strange Gordon Freeman shaped twist.
“Working with Steam and the Half-Life team makes this game extra special.” said Sega's director of digital, John Clark. “Gordon Freeman is a deeply-established character in the gaming world and we are proud to have him included in Renegade Ops.”
Renegade Ops is out on Steam on October 14, and will cost $15.00 / £9.99 / €12.99 / AUD$ 20.00. Catch the first screenshot of Gordon in his buggy below, with more to follow on the site shortly. The One Free Man is back!
Freeman's Mind is one of the best gaming series on YouTube. The premise is simple: creator Ross Scott plays though the original Half-Life, narrating with the thoughts of mute protagonist Gordon. It's frequently funny, but episodes have been a little thin on the ground recently. Thankfully, episode 32 has been uploaded this week. Take a look, and if this is your first journey into the mind of a theoretical physicist, ensure you take a look at the back-catalogue of Gordon's adventures in Black Mesa.
Dead Block was announced this week, and is looking to be a cartoony take on Call of Duty's zombie mode. Players will have to defend their homes from an onslaught of zombies, playing as a construction worker, tough girl or a seemingly sandwich-addicted boy scout that appears to be stolen from Pixar's previous characters list. You can see the trailer at the game's official website, along with some other bits and pieces from this comedic zombie fest.
You know an RPG is good when you're perfectly willing to take time out from questing and just be a tourist in the world the developer has created. The Witcher 2 is destined to be one of these games, and here you can take a look why. The trailer is entirely comprised of simply shots of the game's environments, but even without blood-soaked swords it's exciting.
Portals are overrated. At least that's what this player thinks, solving one of Portal 2's test chambers without the use of the game's core mechanic. A little clever use of refractive lenses and a high-powered laser goes a long way... or at least as far as the door. Alternatively you could take a look at this montage of tricks performed in Portal, which contains far more of the game's namesake, but more impressively contains some pretty slick cube throwing.
Brink is on its way. Released at the end of this week, we're anxiously awaiting it in the office. It's a game that could achieve instant greatness with its blend of single player and multiplayer, or could plummet to unimaginable lows by missing its lofty ambitions by miles. The above trailer shows off the cool looking parkour in the game, spliced with some IRL footage filmed from the perspective of pro free-runners. It's a little bit nauseating, but a fun taster of what's to come.
The guys behind Dungeon Siege 3 have released a new trailer boasting the benefits of co-op. Essentially, the narrator just barks about how the game's heroes will be better united, and does little to show the true benefit of playing co-operatively. Looks like we'll be waiting until June 17 to see if it's worth buddying up for this dungeon crawler.
It's been a while since we saw a good Kinect hack, but this latest one is interesting. It combines Kinect and an iPhone to control a bespoke created game on a PC. The first player uses the iPhone's touch screen to control a twin set of gattling guns, whilst the second player uses the motion sensors on the Kinect to fly a spaceship. It's a pretty neat idea, despite being almost completely pointless.
And finally, to keep you busy for the rest of the week, a bunch of decent tutorials for Super Meat Boy's level editor has appeared on YouTube. It's split into six videos, providing an hours worth of tips on how to get the most out of this intricate tool.