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 - Alice O'Connor

Telltale's original Poker Night at the Inventory rewarded good play with shiny unlockables for Valve's Team Fortress 2, and Poker Night 2 is really upping the ante. With characters from Portal, The Evil Dead, Sam & Max, Venture Bros. and more, the sequel will rifle through their possessions to offer Borderlands 2 heads and skins on all platforms, as well as other platform-specific unlocks.

As it's such a big multimedia cross-over, all sorts of oddities are up for grabs. Borderlands 2 players can pick up Brock Samson's hair, a Max mask, dealer's visor, Portal turret mask, and more, a new trailer reveals. These'll be available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

On PC and Mac only, you can also unlock TF2 items including Brock's knife, Chell's springy shoes, Evil Ash's skull helmet, and Handsome Jack's, er, face. The Xbox 360 gets Avatar items such as the Necronomicon and a Portal test chamber. Lastly, the PS3 scores exclusive premium themes.

Plus you can unlock stuff that, you know, actually has an effect on Poker Night 2 itself.

Poker Night 2 is coming to PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 later this month.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You try hurrying when your knees are splintered and tear rotten flesh with every step. After almost three years of development, Source mod Zombie Master 2 launched over the weekend. The follow-up drags the asymmetrical multiplayer RTS-FPS into the Orange Box version of Valve's engine with new features t'boot.

Zombie Master 2 pits a team of human survivors against hordes of naughty AI zombies, which are spawned and controlled by one single lord of the undead. The humans need to work together to complete objectives, not to mention scavenge for weapons and supplies, while the macabre manager works to stop them. The sole spook supervisor can spawn different strains of zombie with assorted attributes, controlling them from an RTS view.

As well as being spiffier thanks to the updated engine, having previously been on the plain old Half-Life 2 edition of Source, the sequel introduces new weapons for survivors, and the zombie master gets more monsters and traps to trigger. A team of ZM fans released the mod, building upon the code open-sourced after development on the original mod stopped in 2009.

Things are a bit wonky, this being the initial public beta release, but patches are promised. Hit the Mod DB page for more and to download Zombie Master 2.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You try hurrying when your knees are splintered and tear rotten flesh with every step. After almost three years of development, Source mod Zombie Master 2 launched over the weekend. The follow-up drags the asymmetrical multiplayer RTS-FPS into the Orange Box version of Valve's engine with new features t'boot.

Zombie Master 2 pits a team of human survivors against hordes of naughty AI zombies, which are spawned and controlled by one single lord of the undead. The humans need to work together to complete objectives, not to mention scavenge for weapons and supplies, while the macabre manager works to stop them. The sole spook supervisor can spawn different strains of zombie with assorted attributes, controlling them from an RTS view.

As well as being spiffier thanks to the updated engine, having previously been on the plain old Half-Life 2 edition of Source, the sequel introduces new weapons for survivors, and the zombie master gets more monsters and traps to trigger. A team of ZM fans released the mod, building upon the code open-sourced after development on the original mod stopped in 2009.

Things are a bit wonky, this being the initial public beta release, but patches are promised. Hit the Mod DB page for more and to download Zombie Master 2.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Ever since Oculus Rift was unveiled, modders have been working on unofficially adding VR support to many PC games, including Valve's classic Half-Life 2. However, Valve has been experimenting with VR as well, and plans on launching an official "VR Mode" for its popular free-to-play shooter, Team Fortress 2.

Speaking to Engadget, Valve's Joe Ludwig says that Team Fortress 2 is the first Valve game to get VR support because the community is used to the game's frequent updates. "We use it as a place where we run experiments," Ludwig said.

Of course, Valve's catalog has a number of first-person games that would be ripe for a VR conversion, and that's something Valve is "interested" in. Team Fortress 2 may be the first game to get VR support from the studio, but it likely won't be the last. "We've played a bit in Left 4 Dead; we've played a bit in Half-Life 2. We haven't taken any of those other games to the point where they're anywhere close to being ready to be shipped; we've just sort of experimented with head tracking a little bit."

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Ever since Oculus Rift was unveiled, modders have been working on unofficially adding VR support to many PC games, including Valve's classic Half-Life 2. However, Valve has been experimenting with VR as well, and plans on launching an official "VR Mode" for its popular free-to-play shooter, Team Fortress 2.

Speaking to Engadget, Valve's Joe Ludwig says that Team Fortress 2 is the first Valve game to get VR support because the community is used to the game's frequent updates. "We use it as a place where we run experiments," Ludwig said.

Of course, Valve's catalog has a number of first-person games that would be ripe for a VR conversion, and that's something Valve is "interested" in. Team Fortress 2 may be the first game to get VR support from the studio, but it likely won't be the last. "We've played a bit in Left 4 Dead; we've played a bit in Half-Life 2. We haven't taken any of those other games to the point where they're anywhere close to being ready to be shipped; we've just sort of experimented with head tracking a little bit."

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

After a lengthy beta period, Valve has finally launched Steam for Linux officially. The client can be downloaded here. To coincide with the official launch of the service, all Linux games sold through Steam have been discounted, including Serious Sam 3: BFE, World of Goo, FTL, Trine 2, Bastion, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and more. Who knew Linux had so many games?

The sale runs until Wednesday, February 21, so feel free to peruse the shop at your leisure. And note: all games on Steam take advantage of "Steam Play," which means single purchases can be played across multiple OSes--Linux, Mac, and Windows. That means anyone can take advantage of the discounted prices.

Of course, given the numerous distributions of Linux available, Valve does note a preference. "For the best experience, run Steam for Linux on Ubuntu 12.04 using an NVIDIA GPU and drivers from NVIDIA," the company told us.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Team Fortress 2 has been a test bed for Valve's ideas, one of which was to let users create their own in-game items. This has turned into a lucrative marketplace, in which some item creators have made a killing making items for virtual killing.

"Ten times as much content comes from the userbase as comes from us," Valve president Gabe Newell told students at the University of Texas, reported by PC Gamer. "We think that we're super productive and badass at making TF2 content, but even at this early stage we cannot compete with our customers in the production of content for this environment."

So how much has do the top-earners pull in? "The most anybody has earned in a single year is $500,000, so they're making content, selling it to other customers, and we have a revenue share with those people and their takeaway is $500,000." Newell also joked that Paypal had concerns about the cash flow moving through the system, and asked if the drug trade was involved. "We actually had to work something out with them and said, 'no, they're making hats.'"

Obviously, not everyone is becoming a millionaire off of TF2 items, but the fact that one person could make that much shows how robust the market can be. The booming in-game economy led to real-life transactions and, eventually, the hiring of an economist. Late last year, Valve launched a real money marketplace.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Double Fine's The Cave is right around the corner, even with the still-nebulous "January" release listed. But it's close enough to be available for pre-order on Steam, and Valve has partnered to promote it the best way it knows how: Team Fortress 2 goodies.

The game is available for $14.99, and a pre-purchase on Steam nets you some items to play dress up like the game's Hillbilly character. It shows off these items on the Engineer, because let's face it, it's not exactly a stretch for him.

Pre-orders are up on other digital distributors too, minus the TF2 items but some have other perks. Green Man Gaming, for example, has it for $12.00 using the code GMG20-PJFEW-Y16HK, and The Cave activates on Steam anyway.

The game is also coming to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii U, but like the PC version, exact dates haven't been given. This will mark Ron Gilbert's first game since joining up with Double Fine, and our own Jeff Mattas was appropriately impressed when he saw the game last year. Check out our preview for more details.

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