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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor
Valve has released a new Team Fortress 2 animated short! Oh, and a big update for the free-to-play FPS too, I guess. That's what the video is about, really. The patch focuses on TF2's co-op Mann vs. Machine mode, bringing two new urban maps and shiny new weapon upgrades, but also adds a new community-made Control Point map.
Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia
As we reach the dawn of Halloween, it's time for Valve's Team Fortress 2 to once again celebrate the holiday. The fifth annual "Scream Fortress" update is now live and will feature a new Payload Race map called Helltower. Oh, did I mention that everyone gets to wield magic? That's an important detail.
Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Gosh, it's been over four years since Team Fortress 2 introduced random item drops. Four years of people standing idle in servers waiting for hats. Curiously, Valve's now chosen to clamp down on that. It's all perfectly reasonable but, well, hasn't everyone already moved onto idling in other games to score Steam Trading Cards?

"We recently made a change that helps ensure players are playing TF2, not just leaving their computers on in order to get item drops," Valve explained in a blog post yesterday. "As of last week, players can no longer receive item drops unless they are actively playing the game."

"Active" players are people who are: on a sever with Valve Anti-Cheat enabled; not running TF2 in the terminal-like 'textmode'; only running one copy of TF2; and responding to drop notifications without using an external program. You know: people who are actually playing TF2. They're not affected at all.

Valve says the change is to "designed to make the TF2 experience equally rewarding for all players." Though, farming items is also a messy loose end as Valve introduces more and more things to trade with others or sell on Steam's Community Market. It'll be interesting to see if Steam Trading Cards receive similar changes once the initial hype wears off.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Double Action: Boogaloo may have missed its crowdfunding goal to fund full-time development, but it continues in slow-motion.

The John Woo-y HL2 mod, whose makers include folks behind Half-Life mod The Specialists, have dropped an alpha version which is naturally a bit barebones but has the core of what you want: akimbo pistols; dives; rolls; slides; wall-running; slow-motion; and other men to shoot.

You can download the alpha ("or is it beta?" the announcement wonders) from Mod DB. All you need to play it is to have the Source SDK Base 2007 installed on Steam.

The team ran a Kickstarter in March looking for $18,000 to let them skip work over the summer and finish up a proper release version, but only raised $1,586. Expect that first release to take a while longer, but it is still coming.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Gosh, what a big happy family everyone is on PC. Hello Games today announced that it's buddying up with Team Fortress 2 and Minecraft for the PC editions of its Joe Danger games. You'll be able to be blockmen and make blocky levels in Joe Danger 2, and play as TF2 characters in both.

The full cast of TF2 classes are available for your racing enjoyment, which Minecraft's offerings are Steve and the eerie Pigman. Minecraft blocks are available in the level editor too.

"Just for fun Aaron started adding TF2 characters into Joe Danger and I was in love with how good they looked. We completely had to make them happen for real, so we called Valve, and now it's a real thing!" Hello manager director Sean Murray explained. He added, "Is this the first time Minecraft is on Steam? Is this legal?"

Joe Danger and Joe Danger 2 somersault onto Steam next Monday, June 24.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Update: Oh yes! And maps!

"No one cares about Team Fortress 2 since it became all about hats," an unpleasant caricature I've created for rhetorical effect snorts. Well, someone must, as Valve has now paid over $10 million to folks who've created items for sale in the free-to-play shooter's store and to mappers from 'sticker' sales. Yes, that's after Valve's own cut too. Lots of money. And hats.

"Over the weekend we hit a new landmark, with over ten million dollars paid out to over 400 contributors and partners," Valve said in a blog post yesterday.

Almost $250,000 of that went to the sixty-odd community members who created all of the recent Robotic Boogaloo update--staggering considering it only just over three weeks ago.

Do note that the money didn't go purely to noble, dedicated fans toiling away by candlelight: the store also sells things created by (inherently evil) faceless corporate entities like Adult Swim, Bethesda and Weta. But still, ten million dollars! That's an awful lot of dollars.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Team Fortress 2 has gotten a new, community-created update. The "Robotic Boogaloo" is the first update entirely made by the community, and it features a plethora of new hats for your metal minions.

The official site gives the details. Robotic Boogaloo features 57 new items, with a particular focus on mechanical hats. Similar to the usual updates, it even features a comic and accompanying short, all created by the community. Valve also mentioned in a blog post that all of the creators will be sharing the revenue, not just the hat-makers.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

What do you do when your platform already sells and launches video games? Make the platform itself a video game, naturally. Valve announced the beta launch of "Steam Trading Cards" today. The collectible meta-game lets you upgrade your Steam profile by playing games and collecting and trading their associated (virtual) cards.

The trading card system earns you cards for playing supported games, along with collecting and trading. Once you earn enough, you can craft a game badge, which can be used to earn rewards like profile backgrounds, emoticons, and Steam coupons. This also adds a leveling mechanic to your badges, in which you can earn XP to earn rewards like extra friends list slots and profile showcases. Joining the Trading Cards group will put you in a queue to get into the beta, and Valve will be allowing people into it in waves.

So far, the beta supports Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, Don't Starve, Half-Life 2, Portal 2, and Team Fortress 2. Valve promises it will expand to more games in the coming months. You can check out the FAQ for more details.

Shacknews - John Keefer

Valve has offered a treat to Linux users with the release of a Left 4 Dead 2 beta. A Portal beta for Linux is also available, but Valve has been a bit mum on that release. If you own any of those three games, the betas should appear in your Steam library.

The Left 4 Dead blog announced the release, revealing that they will use this build as a testing ground for the Extended Mutation System for script authors. Players will also get access to the authoring tools and the beta dedicated server. The Linux version is the same size as the original game, so go grab some food while you wait for the download.

BluesNews is also reporting that the Linux versions of Portal has started showing up in user libraries as well, so check for it if you own the game.

Shacknews - John Keefer

It's been about six years since the Minerva mod for Half-Life 2 was released, but after some cajoling from co-workers at Valve, developer Adam Foster has given it a new coat of paint and is releasing it on Steam as a Director's Cut.

"It's taken long enough, but via lots of nagging and prompting from fellow Valve employees I've finally got round to getting MINERVA, the Half-Life 2 mod which got me a job at Valve, up on to Steam," Foster said in an email to Shacknews. "It was originally released in late 2007 to pretty much universal acclaim, but now there's about to be a super-fancy Director's Cut edition with tweaked visuals, bug fixes, better puzzles and all kinds of subtle improvements. Nothing hugely new, just old stuff tidied and polished for this re-release."

The mod, which is still free, tasks you with uncovering the mystery of an underground Combine facility while being fed information via text by a female character named Minerva. To play, you will need Half-Life 2: Episode One installed.

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