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The Saxxy Awards are Valve’s annual celebration of the Source Filmmaker community and their efforts to make short films using the Source engine and Valve’s game assets. The community has been producing better and better stuff since the tool was released three years ago, and this year’s winners, nominees and honourable mentions are all worth ruining your productivity over.
Here’s the deserving Overall Winner for this year. (more…)
OK, time for a truth bomb: I haven’t played Team Fortress 2 in age– *KATHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMSPLURSHHHHHH* Oh jeez, wow. That was actually a regular bomb lightly sprinkled with truth. My bad. I’m gonna need to un-bury John and Alec from the wreckage momentarily (Graham was out, and Adam is immune to explosions), but quickly: I haven’t played Team Fortress 2 in quite some time, but I still get excited about updates. Why, you ask? Because Valve always delivers brilliant laughs on top of them. Go below for delightful text and a gruesomely enjoyable video of the new, Medic-immortality-granting Two Cities update.
James McVinnie has been making machinima for years, for the Half-Life modding community, for BioWare as a cinematic director on Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and more recently for himself. His Source Filmmaker short, Practical Problems, was a finalist in the comedy category at the 2012 Saxxy awards.
His latest project is End of the Line, an eight-minute Source Filmmaker short due out early next year. It again stars a cast of Team Fortress 2 characters, but it’s more ambitious than any SFM short I’ve seen before. A minute-long trailer released in August garnered so much attention that Valve have asked McVinnie and his team to explore creating an official community update for Team Fortress 2 to coincide with the film’s release.
I spoke with James about his time with BioWare, and his process for making films within videogame engines. In response to one of my questions, he made an illustrative video. (more…)
I don’t want to make any jokes in this post, because doing so would make me feel like the rubbish, nervous compère trying to entertain the crowd before an amazing comedian, for instance Bruce Forsyth or Jim from Neighbours, comes on. TF2 is a funny game, with funny promotional material around it. It is definitely funnier than I am. Funny like a clown, yes. For instance, this comic, heralding Valve’s shootybang game’s mysterious but surely impending Halloween update. By page two, it’s triumphed with its concept of ‘toilet wine.’ On page five, it’s got bald ghosts pinching each other’s noses. Then there are raccoon sanctuaries, and wills made of human skin and… And, well, yes, very good.
There’s also a teasing mention of portals to the nether realm, which may or may not be the next big thing in TF2 itself. (more…)
The trailer for End of the Line, a Source Filmmaker short, was released in August and has 600,000 views on YouTube. Since we’ve never posted about it and around 500,000 of those viewers were me, I’m betting there’s plenty among you who haven’t seen it yet. This is your chance to correct that. (more…)
Get your secret decoder rings out, make sure you have access to a librarian with a murky past, and would it kill you to put on some tweed? Team Fortress celebrated 17 years of being Team Fortress on August 24th, which Valve completely missed. To sort-of-but-not celebrate this occasion, they’ve made a new comic starring everyone’s favourite sky-diving CEO, Saxton Hale. Part one is long and here, and there’s more to follow. This is typically when Valve pulls some sort of trick on everyone, so I’ve saved the blogpost, and sent a copy via carrier pigeon to CERN. If they can’t figure out if anything’s been secreted away, then no-one can. Valve also added a new crafting tool into the game, and it’s pretty Strange.
My Team Fortress 2 addiction, which is now mostly in hand thanks for asking, used to be fueled by Valve’s updates. The magnificent teases that they were, they’d hold my attention with week-long pieces of performance art. The mighty clang when everything finally dropped and was unwrapped was the best thing ever. Now, with the community contributions happening in plain sight in the Workshop, that seems to be lost. We know what’s going to be in the game, and Valve have said things will be added more swiftly. So we’ve probably seen the end of things like the Spy uncloaking during the Sniper reveal. The latest, even with two new maps and over 60 new community addons, arrived instead with a quiet thump. And another. And another. Wait, that’s my heart… (more…)
There are some things that need to fixed in Team Fortress 2. Valve explain: “Unfortunately, as players’ tactics and abilities have grown, so have the bugs and exploits in some of the maps. For example, since Badwater shipped in The Heavy Update, TF2 has added more than 140 weapons to the game, some of which introduced new capabilities: sentry jumping, rocket jumping with no health cost, the ability to pick up and move your buildings. All of these are just a fraction of the many ways players can now turn maps like Badwater upside down.” But there’s also some content on the way, too, with two new maps appearing: ” Introducing two all-new Capture Point maps: Process and Standin. Beyond a great polish, both of these maps offer unique and exciting gameplay; Process with its five streamlined Capture Points and Standin with its triple Cap Point free-for-all.” The new maps are by community mapper Ian Cuslidge, so congratulations to him.
When they’re not spinning around and around in their expensive chairs, weaving hats, or thinking up other ways to not make games that people want (“Shall we all got to Hawaii this week, or shall we crack open that HL3 design document?” “Aloha! Aloha! Aloha!”), Valve’s brain drones are at least attempting to create a community of people that can earn a living from making and contributing to games. Sometimes it’s a bit broken, like Greenlight is right now. Other times it can be so successful that Valve can afford to share the wealth between organisations that contributed to the success, but had no way to monetise their involvement. So now, when a community item in Team Fortress 2 or Dota 2 is sold in either game’s store, it’s possible for some of Valve’s take to be directed to the likes of Blender and Polycount. Ooh, just thought up a new word for it: Valvetruism. (more…)
I rarely role-play in games. I’d like to believe it’s because I have such a well-defined personality that I simply can’t accept not being myself, but the real reason is that I’m rubbish. I only ever have one well-defined notion of what I want to be: Garrett. Every opportunity to create a character in a game for me means loading up on stealth options, and when I do I don’t really feel the character. I’m just a dude in the dark. But my last Skyrim character was lost to the great platter splatter* of October 2012, and I’m keen to go back the Fus Ro Dah. The question of whether or not I replay as a Garrett lookalike or roll something more adventurous has been answered with this mod that puts Team Fortress 2′s heavy into the dragon’s lair. I can tell I’m not going to be loading up on stealth options with this one. (more…)